17. The Mill


THE NEXT ISLAND they came to, not far from the last, had a large mill on it. Near the door stood the miller; he was a huge, strong, and burly man. Both the mill and the miller were hideous, and ugly to the eye.

Máel Dúin saw countless crowds of men and horses laden with corn coming towards the mill; and they waited until their corn was ground, and then collected it and carried it away.

There were also great herds of cattle approaching the mill, covering the plain as far as the eye could see. They were all pulling wagons laden with every kind of wealth that is produced in the world.

All the corn, and all the wealth, and all the cattle, and all the carts, the miller put into the mouth of his mill to be ground, and the hideous machinery never stopped.

Máel Dúin spoke to the miller, and asked him the name of the mill, and the meaning of the mysterious things that they had seen on the island.

“This mill is the Mill of Inver tre Kenand, and I am the Miller of Hell. Half the corn of the world is ground here. And all the riches of the world that men are dissatisfied with, or which they complain of, or which they begrudge each other, are sent here to be ground; and also every precious article which men covet, and every kind of wealth which men try to conceal from God. All these I grind in the mill until they are a fine dust, and then it is all sent away to the west.”

And Máel Dúin saw again the countless laden horses and human beings bending under the weight of heavy sacks, and all were going to and from the mill, forever. And forever, without pause, the unground corn and riches came from the east, and forever the ground corn and riches was carried westward in bulging sacks as an endless stream of dust.

The miller said no more, but turned around and busied himself with his work.

And the voyagers, with much wonder and awe in their hearts, crossed themselves and returned to their curragh and sailed away.

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