The Miller And The Ogre
Once there lived a poor miller who had seven children. Although he worked hard every day grinding wheat into flour and grew as many vegetables as he could in his tiny garden patch, they still had barely enough to eat.
To make matters worse, a great ogre lived in the castle on top of the hill. He demanded rent from the miller for his mill, several sacks of flour each year.
One year, the crops were evil. There was hardly any money or food to spare, and the miller’s seven children often went hungry. The miller’s wife used all the milk from their one cow to make butter, which she took to the market and sold for a few pence.
Hard as they worked, they could not save enough money or flour to pay the ogre, and they waited for his yearly visit in fear and trembling. The miller set his seven children to watch the castle and warn him of the ogre’s approach. One evening, just as they had finished supper, the eldest boy called out that the ogre was on his way.
The miller looked out of his window and saw the ogre, club in hand, striding down the hill towards them. He quickly bundled his wife and all his children into the barn and hid them under the straw and chaff. When not even a hair was to be seen, the miller crawled under the trash, too, so that when the ogre arrived, he found the mill deserted.
Hard as he banged and loud as he shouted, he could get no reply, and at last, in a great rage, he set off back up the hill, swearing to return and have his vengeance on the miller. On the way, he passed the miller’s old cow, and in his fury, he lifted his club and gave it such a blow between the horns that it fell dead.
When all was quiet, the miller and his family crawled out from under the trash, pleased to have escaped the ogre, but when they saw their poor old cow lying dead in the field, they were agitated. “Well, it can’t be helped,” said the miller. “We shall have to take the skin to market and hope we can sell it for a few pence. At least the meat will make us a fine stew for a few days.”
They skinned the old cow, and the miller set off for the market. His way led through a dark wood, and he heard several men approaching as he went. Fearing robbers, he climbed into a tree with his cow skin to hide until they had gone past.
However, the robbers stopped under his tree and threw down the sacks they carried. They were full of gold which the robbers settled down to count. The miller was SO scared that he began to tremble. This made the branches shake, the leaves rustle, and the robbers called out, “Who is there?”
It gave the miller such a fright that he let go of the cow skin, and with horns, hooves and tail flying, it fell onto the robbers. They, thinking it was the devil who came to get them, left their gold and fled.
After a time, the miller plucked up the courage to come down from the tree. He laid the sacks of gold on the cow- skin and dragged them back home.
His family was delighted, and his wife said, “if only we had a bushel measure, we could weigh the gold and see how much is here.”
The miller smiled. “I will go and borrow one from the ogre,” he said and set off.
The ogre could hardly believe his ears when the miller said he wanted a bushel measure to weigh his gold. He was even more amazed when the miller explained that he had got it by taking their cow skin to market. He could hardly wait to kill his herd of forty fine cows and send his servant to market with their skins.
When the servant said he wanted four sacks of gold for each skin, everyone laughed at him, and he returned home with only a few shillings.
In a towering rage, the ogre set off down the hill to the miller’s house.
The miller, who had been expecting this, called to his wife to help him carry the stew pot from the fire into the garden. Then he started to whip the pot with a large whip. The bank, which had just been taken off the fire, continued to bubble merrily.
The ogre watched in amazement- meant, and the miller explained that it was a magic pot. When whipped hard enough, it began to boil. So pleased was the ogre that he picked up the bank and, ignoring the miller’s cries, carried it back to his castle, but hard as he whipped, he could not make it boil.
He took a large sack in great fury and went back down the hill. This time he took the miller by surprise, picked him up, dropped him into the bag and set out for the river.
“This time, I have you, my fine friend,” he said. “You have tricked me once too often. I shall take you to the nearest river and drop you in, and then we shall see how your tricks will help you.”
The day was hot, so the ogre stopped at an inn for a drink on the way. He left the sack with the miller in it outside the door.
Soon a merchant came past, driving twelve donkeys laden with goods to sell in the market. The miller called out, “Let me out, good friend.”
“Why should I?” asked the merchant, stopping and walking curiously around the sack.
“Because a rich nobleman is taking me off to his castle to marry his daughter, and I do not want to be married, even for the half of her father’s wealth he has promised,” cried the miller.
“What a fool,” said the merchant.” It is an offer I would not refuse.”
“But I have one wife already,” said the miller. “She is more trouble than I can deal with. Why not change places with me if you are keen to marry? The nobleman will not care as long as he has a husband for his daughter.”
The merchant agreed, let the miller out of the sack and climbed in himself. “Take good care of my wares and see that none are lost,” he said as the miller retired the string. “I shall return for them as soon as I am married.”
The miller promised, and then he picked up a stick and drove the donkeys to the market as fast as he could. The ogre came out of the inn, picked up the sack, carried it to the river and threw it in, pleased to think that that was the last of the miller. However, on his way through the market, who should he see but the miller selling fine wares from a stall?
“You should be at the bottom of the river, where I put you,” roared the ogre.
“But look what I found there,” the miller pointed to his wares. “I could not leave them all there.”
“Tell me,” said the ogre in a softer voice, “did you bring them all, or are there more left?”
“Oh, there is much more at the bottom of the river, but this was all I could bring,” replied the miller. “Real gold and silver, some of the other things were. Far too rich for a poor man like me.”
The ogre did not wait to hear more. He rushed back to the river and leapt right into the middle, but as he could not swim, he could not get to the bank again, and the strong current carried him away so that he was never seen again.
The miller went happily back to his home and family to live a life of comfort with the robbers’ gold.