Salt is Better than Gold

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1 Salt is Better than Gold Long ago and far away, in a grand castle, in a splendid kingdom, lived a King. The King enjoyed fine food and held sumptuous feasts in the great hall of the grand castle. The King had three daughters. The two oldest daughters enjoyed all the fine clothes and jewels their father gave them. The youngest daughter, Lidushka, lived simply. She enjoyed tending the castle gardens and playing with the colourful birds that beat their gentle wings as they flew above her. Lidushka was beautiful, kind and wise, and everyone loved her. This made the two oldest daughters jealous. They went to the King and whispered, Lidushka does not wear your fine clothes and jewels because she does not love you. At first the King did not listen. But their whisperings continued. Lidushka does not love you. Not as much as we do. And so the King began to doubt beautiful, kind and wise Lidushka s love. He called the three daughters to him. How much do you love me? he asked the first, oldest, and jealous daughter. As much as gold she replied. How much do you love me? he asked the second, oldest, and jealous daughter. As much as silver and precious jewels she replied. The King was pleased with these answers.

2 And how much do you love me? he asked the beautiful, kind and wise Lidushka. I love you more than anything else in the world. Even more than salt she replied. The king was furious that Lidushka had compared her love for him with nothing more than common salt. He gave her a handful of salt in a small bag. Do not return until this handful of salt is worth more than gold he said, and banished her from the grand castle. Beautiful, kind and wise Lidushka was very sad. She wandered for hours through the dark forest surrounding the castle until she was completely lost. As she sat down to rest, she heard the beat of gentle wings above her. Looking up she saw the colourful birds from the castle gardens. Lidushka followed them through the dark forest until they came to a cottage. Smoke curled from its chimney and a light glowed at its tiny window. Lidushka tapped timidly on the door. A gnarled old woman answered. Come in beautiful, kind and wise Lidushka she said. I have been waiting for you. The gnarled old woman was actually a gnarled old witch. She knew all about the two oldest and jealous sisters and Lidushka s banishment, and she had a plan to make the King see the error of his ways. Bending low over her swirling cauldron she muttered, The King does not appreciate the value of salt, so he shall have none!

3 That night, and every night that followed, caravans carrying salt to the grand castle were robbed by brigands. Not one grain of salt entered the splendid kingdom. In the great hall of the grand castle the King continued to hold sumptuous feasts. But in the smoky kitchens of the grand castle, where salt was needed to preserve meat and flavour dishes, it was running out. The King sent armed guards to escort the salt caravans into the splendid kingdom. But instead of being attacked by brigands, the salt was washed from the caravans by heavy rains. Still not one grain of salt entered the splendid kingdom. The skilful cooks from the smoky kitchens went to the King. Give us salt they said. But the King could not. So he ordered them to make sugary sweet foods instead. The skilful cooks from the smoky kitchens made cream cakes, jellies and caramel custards. The two oldest and jealous sisters ate them greedily. But after a while they began to feel sick with sugary sweetness. The skilful cooks from the smoky kitchens tried to disguise the food by making cakes in the shape of roast chickens and fish out of chocolate. But as soon as the King and his two oldest and jealous daughters tasted the food they pushed it away. The King offered a reward for the cook who could prepare him a proper meal.the skilful cooks from the smoky kitchens went to the King. Give us salt they said.

4 But the King could not. So he ordered his men to offer the ordinary hardworking people of the splendid kingdom the same weight in gold for each bag of salt they had. But the ordinary hardworking people would not exchange their salt for any amount of gold. They understood the value of salt for preserving meat and flavouring dishes. They knew it was better than gold. How the King regretted banishing the beautiful, kind and wise Lidushka. He sent his men to search for her, but no one had seen her. So he sent his men to search for someone who could cure his two oldest and jealous daughters who were too ill with sugary sweetness to get out of bed. Doctors, alchemists, magicians, herbalists, astrologers and wizards came to the grand castle. All of these experts agreed that only salt could cure the two oldest and jealous daughters. And there was not one grain of salt in the whole of the splendid kingdom. Soon the King himself became too ill with sugary sweetness and bitter regret to get out of bed. That night, a gnarled old woman, and a young girl appeared at the grand castle gates. They said they could cure the King and his two oldest and jealous daughters, so they were taken to the King s bed chamber. The young girl held out a small bag. Here is the handful of salt you once considered worthless she said.

5 The King recognised the beautiful, kind and wise Lidushka. He took her in his arms and spoke of his bitter regret and she gladly forgave him. And so the gnarled old woman s spell was broken. Caravans of salt arrived once more at the doors of the smoky kitchens in the grand castle. Lidushka turned to thank the gnarled old woman, but she had slipped quietly away. The King and his two oldest and jealous daughters were cured of their sugary sweetness with the help of a little salt, and some forgiveness from Lidushka. A sumptuous feast was held in the great hall of the grand castle to celebrate Lidushka s return. The skilful cooks in the smoky kitchens produced savoury soups, mouthwatering meats and fantastic fish pies, all with the help of a little salt. As the King watched his happy daughters, and tasted the delicious food he understood at last that the small and simple things in life are worth more than all the riches in the world.

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