I hadn’t heard of this story before so I was super excited to get reading it.
It’s about a wealthy city called Stavoren that was on the short of Zuyder Zee. It had a fine harbour that carried goods from distant lands. All of the merchants became so rich that they ate from silver dishes. The richest was a lady who lived in an amazing house. She wore rubies, pearls and slept on a golden bed that was carved with peacocks. Despite her grandeur she wasn’t happy. She always wanted more to prove that she was richer than everyone else.
She called for the captain of the fleet and asked him to find her the most precious thing in the world. For months and months, he searched for something precious but he had no idea what to give to the lady. The crew suggest bread because no one could live without it. He bought sacks and sacks of wheat and gave it to the lady. She flew into a rage and demanded that he should throw it over the edge as she could live without it.
A boy stepped forward and said that he would love to eat some because his mother couldn’t feed him. The nasty lady glared at him and told him it was hers and nobody could eat it. She ordered the crew to chuck it over the edge. The captain told her she’d regret it one day. She took the ring from her finger and dropped it into the harbour. she told the crew that the ring would return to her before she ever begged for something.
At supper the next evening, when the lady cut into the fish she found her ring. She was shocked. A messenger arrived and told her that all of her ships had been wrecked in a storm. That night, her house was also struck by lightning. Every thing was destroyed and no one was willing to help her.
Without her fortune, the lady found herself begging for bread on the street. (Karma?) At the bottom of the harbour, the wheat grains began to grow up through the water, blocking ships from passing in and out. After a short period of time all of the merchants of Stavoren were ruined and themselves begging for bread, despite the fact that at the harbour the lady’s wheat was growing but wasn’t able to offer them a single grain!
An extract from A Year Full of Stories, by Angela McAllister, illustrated by Christopher Corr (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2016)