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Take your English to the next level today!
OK, let’s start the episode.
Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for beginners. The name of the story is Why the Sea is Salty. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Sea. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Sea. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation after it.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
If something is salty, then it has salt in it, it tastes of salt. Salt is a white powder that you use when cooking. It is also called sodium, and the scientific symbol for it is NaCl. Some people love salty food, but some people prefer sweet food. Japanese food is very salty.
When you cheat, you lie or do things in a bad way so that you can have an advantage, so that things can be better for you, but just for you. For example, if you are playing Monopoly and you steal money from the bank, you are cheating. If you are in an exam and you copy someone’s answers, that’s cheating. If you tell someone that you will help them if they give you money, but you just take the money and don’t help them, then you are cheating the person.
Hell is the place bad people go when they die. In many religions, there is the idea of Hell. If you are bad during your life, after you die you go to Hell. In Christianity, Hell is full of fire.
The King of Hell is called the Devil. He is a red man with a tail and horns, and he likes hurting people and cheating people. There is a famous story called Faust about a man who makes a deal with the Devil. If he gives the Devil his soul, the Devil will give him all the knowledge in the world.
Flour is a white powder that we use in cooking. When you bake food, like bread, cakes, pancakes and so on, you always use flour. For example, to make pancakes, you mix flour with eggs and milk.
Wheat is a type of cereal or grain. Wheat is used very often in food. We use wheat to make flour, which we can use to make bread and pasta. Wheat grows in fields and is very long. Many British breakfast cereals have wheat in them, for example Shredded Wheat and Weetabix.
When you want to make something into a powder, or into lots of small pieces, you grind it, and the past tense is ground. Basically, you rub it together until it breaks apart. For example, sometimes when you buy salt or pepper, it is in big pieces. To put it on food, you need to grind it first. When you want to make a cup of coffee, and you have coffee beans, you have to grind them first. You can make flour by grinding wheat.
A millstone is a big stone, a big tool, for grinding wheat into flour. You put wheat under the millstone and grind it to turn it into flour. Nowadays, people use machines instead of millstones, but you can still sometimes see them in museums. They are big, round and very heavy.
When something sinks, and the past tense is sank, it goes underwater. For example, if a ship has lots of holes on it, or something very heavy is on it, it will sink into the water. This can be very dangerous, because the people on the ship will sink as well.
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OK, so listen and enjoy!
Why the Sea is Salty
Once there were two brothers. One brother was a poor farmer. He worked in the fields, and when the weather was bad, he had no food. But he was kind and worked a lot. The other brother was a rich man who worked on a ship. He was not kind, and he often cheated people. In this time, there was no salt in the sea, so he travelled to other countries to get salt. He brought the salt back, and the King paid him lots of money.
One winter, the weather was very bad. It rained and rained, and the poor brother had no food. He went to his rich brother and said, ‘Dear brother, I know that you work a lot for your money. But please, we have no food. Can you give me just a small piece of food? I will do anything you want.’
The rich brother hated giving things for free, so he said, ‘Take this piece of ham and go to Hell.’
‘Thank you, dear brother!’ said the poor brother.
As he had said that he would do whatever his brother wanted, he now had to go to Hell. So he walked all day, and finally he came to a dark house. Outside, there was an old man with a big white beard.
‘Is this Hell?’ asked the poor man.
‘Yes!’ said the old man. ‘Ah, I see you have ham. That is very good. There is no meat in Hell, so the Devil will want that very much. He has a special millstone on his door. If he wants your meat, then ask for his millstone.’
When the poor man went into the house, the Devil said, ‘Ah, is that ham? I have not eaten ham in so long! What do you want for it? I will give you anything. Here, I have gold. Or maybe you want a beautiful wife? I could also make you very strong.’
‘Hmm,’ said the poor man. ‘No, I don’t want those things. I want that millstone on the door.’
‘Are you sure?’ said the Devil. ‘It is only an old millstone. Gold is much better.’
‘No, I will have the millstone.’
‘Fine,’ said the Devil.
The man gave him the ham, and the Devil ate it with his fingers. Then he took the millstone off the door and gave it to the poor man, who went home.
At first, he didn’t understand why the millstone was special. But he had a bit of wheat, so he ground it in the millstone. While he ground, he was very hungry, and he thought about lots of food: bread and cheese and soup and salad… Normally, millstones ground out flour. But this millstone did not grind out flour, it ground out the food the man was thinking about!
‘Amazing!’ said the man. ‘Thank you, dear millstone.’
When he said the words, the millstone stopped making food.
‘My dear wife! My dear child!’ said the man. ‘Come, we will have dinner.’
He ground out lots of lovely food. The only thing the millstone could not grind out was meat. But that didn’t matter. They had lots of food, and they ate well. After the man ground the food, he always said, ‘Thank you, dear millstone,’ and it stopped making food.
A few days later, the poor man wanted to say thank you to his brother. If his brother had not told him to go to Hell, he would not have the millstone. So he invited him to dinner.
‘Hah!’ said the rich man. ‘What are we going to eat, air?’
But when he saw all the food, he was very surprised.
‘How do you have all this food?’ he asked. ‘I thought you were poor.’
‘Ah, dear brother,’ said the poor man. ‘I have a special millstone. You grind wheat, and it can make anything. Only, it cannot make meat.’
‘Can you grind salt with it?’ asked the rich brother.
‘Salt? Do you like salty food, brother? Yes, you can grind salt with it. But you can’t eat just salt!’
‘Brother,’ said the rich man, ‘I will buy your millstone! How much do you want?’
The poor man was surprised. ‘I am not selling it. Anyway, you do not need it. You have lots of money.’
‘Ah, but I am old,’ said the rich man. ‘My back hurts, and I don’t like working. I always have to travel to other countries to get salt. If this millstone can make me salt, I can bring it to the King, and I won’t have to travel.’
‘But that is cheating,’ said the poor man. ‘If the King knew, he would not be happy.’
‘It does not matter!’ said the rich man. ‘I will give you ten thousand pounds.’
Ten thousand pounds was a lot of money. The poor man could not say no.
‘Fine then,’ he said.
So the rich man gave him ten thousand pounds and took the millstone.
The next day, the King told him to go and get salt. He had to go on his ship. If he did not, then the King would know that he was cheating. Then the King would take his ship, and the rich man liked his ship a lot.
He rode the ship into the sea, and then he took out the millstone.
‘Now, make me salt!’ he said.
He started grinding wheat, and the millstone made salt.
‘Perfect!’ said the man. ‘That is lots of salt.’
But the millstone did not stop. It made mountains of salt. There was salt everywhere!
‘Stop, stop!’ said the man.
And still, the millstone ground salt. The whole ship filled up with salt.
The ship started to sink. The salt fell into the sea. All the men in the ship jumped out and swam back home.
‘I hate my brother!’ said the rich man.
So the ship sank to the bottom of the sea, and the millstone sank with it. Today, the millstone sits at the bottom of the sea. It still grinds and grinds, making more and more salt, and that is why the sea is salty.
Thank you for listening. I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. There’s going to be a short conversation part today because I am very tired.
I know many of you were looking forward to the Halloween live stream on Saturday, and I’m really sorry that I had to cancel it.
I honestly feel very stupid. I didn’t realise how tired I was until Saturday morning.
I have been writing a novel and I wrote the first draft, the first go at the novel, really fast. I wrote it in like, two months. And then all of my energy just left my body. I was so tired. I didn’t realise how hard I had been working.
I am autistic. If that’s something you don’t know about, I talk about it more on Elevenses with Ariel. But anyway, I am autistic, which means I burn out, I lose my energy, very easily. And what I had on Saturday was a very burnt out state. I couldn’t think easily, I couldn’t talk easily. So if I did the live stream, I would just tire myself out. It wouldn’t be fun for me and it probably wouldn’t be fun for you.
And actually, that’s something I’ve realised. I love the live streams, but they are really tiring. That’s partly the reason I stopped before, because I had to always put on a face, act a certain way, and bring lots of energy. And I know I could theoretically do a relaxed live stream, but when I start I bring the energy. I can’t stop myself. I love performing. But when I’m tired, and I push myself to perform, it’s not good for my health.
So, I’m really happy that I had already decided to take Monday and Tuesday as holidays. I might even take Wednesday as a holiday, I don’t know. But I needed a few days just to really relax and let my brain recover.
So I’m really sorry about that. But it was the best thing for my health and for the podcast in the end. I don’t know if I will do live streams in future. They give me a lot of anxiety, I guess? I do really enjoy them, though, and I know you really enjoy them. So it’s difficult. I’m thinking about it.
Because, in about five weeks, I think? We will have the 100th episode of the podcast. So I need to do something really special to celebrate 100 episodes.
Anyway, if you enjoyed the story, please consider supporting me on Patreon. Go to Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. For just a few dollars a month you can get extra episodes, conversational podcasts, exercises, and much more. Thank you for listening, and until next week.