The God of the North Wind
The final Chapter.

The North Wind, who was called Bor1or Boreas by the Northmen, was a very jolly fellow. He was always laughing and playing tricks, but kindly ones, not like the wicked and cruel tricks of Loke the mischief-maker, Boreas, then was a kind-hearted god who loved romping over the countryside, making the trees sway, and the grass and flowers bend their heads as he passed over them. Boreas also loved to blow peoples' hats away and send them racing after their hats before the strong north wind.
One day Boreas in a cheerful but mischievous mood, was interested to see a boy sitting under a large oak tree. The boy had been walking all the morning and was feeling very hungry. He had just sat down to eat his lunch, and had taken out the first of a pile of sandwiches2 his mother had made for him. Before the poor boy could take even one bite, away went the sandwich, and, in fact, the whole pile of them. Boreas was up to his tricks! Soon the whole of his lunch was out of sight, and what a sad, as well as a hungry young fellow sat there under the tree!

As you can well imagine, the boy was very angry and called out: "What a big  nuisance you are, North Wind! you are always up to your silly tricks,' he shouted. 'That was my lunch and I was very hungry."
Now North Wind was not really an unkind god, although he did like to have fun with people, and he was very sorry that his rather thoughtless prank had so upset the boy. So he tried to make amends for the harm he had done. He gave the boy a lovely white table-cloth and told him that wherever he might be, if he wanted a meal, he must ask for a table. Then said Boreas, "All that you have to do is wish! Do this, and I will see, at once, that the meal you desire is brought to you as soon as you have placed this cloth upon the table."
"But" warned the god of the North Wind, "do remember that this cloth is very valuable, take great care of it, and never leave it in an unguarded room. Always lock the door to safeguard the the cloth, or people will try to take it away from you."
The boy thanked Boreas and ran away happily, feeling ,and quite rightly to, that Boreas had more than paid him for the loss one single lunch. So he went on his journey, with the tablecloth safely hidden away.
At last he came to an inn, and, feeling hungry he went inside the inn and asked the inn-keeper for a room.
"A room,' laughed the inn-keeper, "surely you mean some supper"
"No,' answered the boy, "Please show me a room and bring me a table, and that is all I shall need for tonight, thankyou.'
All the money the boy had with him was just sufficient to pay the landlord for the rent of the room for one night, but the inn-keeper did what had been asked of him, and the boy locked the door behind him as the inn-keeper went out. Then he carefully spread the magic-making tablecloth very carefully on the table-and wished for a really good, hot supper.
At once there was a gust of air through the open window, and in swept North Wind.
there was the supper on the table, exactly as Boeras had promised; and the meal was hot and tasty for the meal had been brought by Boreas in specially made containers.. It was a most delicious supper, and soon the boy, the door as he thought safely locked, was fast asleep for he had had a long day in the forests and over the mountain paths. He did not know that, his curiosity aroused, the inn-keeper had been watching him through the key-hole!

During the night, the North Wind watched quietly while he saw the landlord open the door with his key, and very softly creep into the room. Then he saw the inn-keeper pick up the magic cloth, and creep quietly out of the room again, locking the door behind him. When the boy awoke the next morning, the magic cloth had gone, and so had the table, for the inn-keeper had taken both the table and the cloth.
What a bitter disappointment it was, for being young and healthy, the boy was quite ready for his breakfast . . for which he had no money to pay. You can understand that he was very angry, and knowing he had locked the door the previous night, he quite naturally thought that Boreas had played another trick on him.
"You old cheat," he called out. 'North Wind where are you? You have stolen away the magic tablecloth while I was sleeping. What do you mean by it?" he demanded.
"No," said Boreas. "I have not taken away the cloth. I do not do things like that for, when I give a person something, I have given them it for always." Away ran Boreas for he felt quite hurt that the boy did not trust him.

Boreas did not see the boy for a day or two, but the next time they met, he explained to the boy that he was sorry that the cloth had gone., but that he had had nothing to do with its disappearance. He did not explain however, that he had seen the landlord carry out the mean theft, but he gave the boy an even more valuable gift.
"At the inn," said Boreas, "you will find a sheep, and that sheep is for you. It will be tied to the stable-door. Take it for it is a gift from me. Whenever you want any money, just pat the sheep gently and you will find a golden coin on its fleece3
"What a wonderful gift," thought the boy, as he ran speedily towards the inn, having thanked Boreas for his great kindness. As he ran down the forest-glade, Boreas called after him a warning to take great care of the sheep for it was a very valuable one.
"I shall," called back the boy. "I will make sure no thief takes from me your wonderful gift, and I am sorry that I thought you had been playing a trick on me."

When the boy reached the inn, there, sure enough, was the sheep tied to the door of the stable. He set it free, and took it up to the room he had had on the previous occasion. Then he patted the sheep, found a golden coin as Boreas had promised, and went down-stairs and booked his room for a whole week.
Of course he locked the door behind him, but the inn-keeper was even more puzzled than on the previous occasion. To think that a boy like this should have a gold coin with which to pay for his lodging!
The boy handed over the coin to the inn-keeper and went back to his room, saying that he would not want to order any meals for a time.
"This is fine," laughed the boy. "Now, North Wind what about a good meal for me, and some hay for my sheep?"
In through the window came both food for the boy and the sheep, and they both had a fine feed, the boy delighted that Boreas was proving such a good friend. For two nights all went well, and then the landlord could hold back his curiosity no longer. He watched carefully through the key-hole again, and he saw the boy pat the sheep. Then he saw the golden coin in the boy's hand. The landlord knew the second secret and crept quietly down-stairs. This was a temptation the landlord could not resist, so he crept into the boy's room that night, quietly unlocking the door, and stole the sheep, re-locking the door as he left the room.
The next morning the boy awakened, and although it was rather foolish of him, he again blamed Boreas for being the thief. Fortunately for him, Boreas was kind-hearted and forgiving, so he was not seriously annoyed when he heard the boy call out.
"North Wind! North Wind! Where are you/ This is a bit too much. Why have you taken the magical sheep away from me/ I was taking great care of it, and now it has gone. Only you knew the secret; you must have taken back your gift"
'No," said the North quietly. "It is not I who have robbed you, for you had done all that you could to look safely after the sheep. Another thief is at work, and I will help you to find, and to punish him.
"When you are in the room and the door is locked, begin to talk quietly to the bag as though there were a valuable jewel hidden in the bag,' advised Boreas. "You have paid the rent of the room for a week so the land-lord will not be able to prevent you using it."

So back to the inn went the boy, the bag carefully hidden from prying eyes. The landlord saw him go upstairs but said nothing to him. When he was in his room the boy locked the door, as North Wind had advised him, and then, after having spoken gently to the bag with the wooden stick, he went to sleep, for he was worn out with all the excitement of the day.

The Landlord receives his punishment Soon he was fast asleep, little knowing that the inn-keeper had been watching and listening at the key-hole. Then he had a shock! He woke to hear the most terrible screams, and when he sat up in bed he saw the landlord being chased round and round the room , pursued by the queer stick, which was beating the landlord most severely. Then, at last, the boy knew what had happened on the previous occasions. He knew that the kindly Boreas had had nothing to do with the disappearance of either the magical tablecloth or the gold-giving sheep.
"You wicked fellow,' he called out. :Where is my tablecloth, and where is my sheep? You, you wicked thief, must have taken them both. Give them back to me! Tell me where you have hidden them!"
"Call off your stick, fellow," bellowed the inn-keeper. "It is beating me black and blue."
"Tell me first where my treasures are hidden," replied the boy, " and then the stick will stop belabourng you."
"Hidden in the stable! Hidden in the stable!" called out the wretched inn-keeper, and the boy ran off downstairs to the stable. There in truth were both tablecloth and the sheep, and the boy hastened away, carrying the magical cloth, and leading the sheep down the mountain path. He quiet forgot about the inn-keeper, who was still in that room being beaten by the sick for his wickedness!
So, in those cold lands of the North, the boy had indeed great treasure, the gifts of the kindly Boreas who had more than re-paid the boy for his first mischievous trick played on him. The Northmen, as you can see, had a great respect for Boreas, god of the North Wind, who they, rather strange to say in those cold lands of the North, looked upon as a kindly god who would not do anyone serious harm. How different from Loke was Boreas of the North Wind!
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1. The origin of the word bore/boring, a long cold wind from the North.
2. Sandwiches were not generally in use prior to the Duke of Sandwichs' demands.
3. A precursor to "The Goose that laid the Golden Egg"

 © T. & K. Midgley, Illustrations by R. Beaumont,  links revised  July 2023.