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Pot of Hot Porridge

In the beautiful land of Switzerland is a little town named Zurich. Not far from here is the larger city of Strasburg. The people of Zurich had long looked with envy on the larger city and wanted to become a part of it. At last they decided to send an appeal to the magistrates. This they did, but the great magistrate of Strasburg bluntly refused the honor of such a union.

“Zurich is of no importance,” they said, “and besides it is too far away to be of any help in time of need.”

When the councilors of Zurich heard the Strasburger’s answer, they were very angry, indeed. They even talked of challenging the great magistrates.

“No,” said the youngest of the Zurich councilors, “I will make them eat their words. I pledge you my honor that I shall bring you a different answer before long.”

The other councilors were glad to be relieved of the matter, so they agreed and returned leisurely to their dwellings. The youngest councilor went home in a great hurry. He went at once to the kitchen and selected the biggest pot there.

“What are you going to do with that?” asked his wife.

“You will see,” he replied. “Fill it with as much oatmeal as it will contain and cook it as quickly as possible.”

His wife wondered much at this strange command, but she bade her servants build a roaring fire. This they did and soon the great pot of oatmeal was cooking. Then such a time as they had stirring the oatmeal to keep it from burning.

In the meantime, the youngest councilor ran down to the quay and prepared the swiftest vessel. He collected a number of the best oarsmen and when all was ready, bade two of them accompany him home.

He sprang breathless into the kitchen. The oatmeal was ready.

“Come boys,” he cried, “lift the vessel from the fire and run down to the boat with it.”

He followed them closely and saw it placed in the boat. Then, turning to the men, he exclaimed,

“Now, lads, row with all your might. We are bound to prove to those stupid old Strasburgers that we are near enough to serve them a hot supper in case of need.”

Aroused by these words, the youths bent to the oars. The vessel shot down the Simwat, Aar, and Rhine, leaving town, village, and farms in its wake. Never did it stop once till it reached the quay at Strasburg.

The councilor sprang ashore and bade the two youths follow with the huge pot. He strode into the council hall and had[56] them set it before the assembled magistrates.

“Gentlemen, Zurich sends you a warm answer to your cold refusal,” he exclaimed.

With open mouths the Strasburgers gazed at the still steaming pot. When the young Zuricher explained how it got there they laughed heartily. They were so amused with the wit and promptitude of their neighbors that they voted at once to grant their request.

The papers for the alliance were signed and sealed. Then the great magistrates called for spoons and ate every bit of the oatmeal. They called it excellent, and it proved hot enough to burn more than one councilor’s mouth.

Ever since then this huge iron pot has been known as the “pot of alliance.” It has been carefully kept in the town hall of Strasburg, where it can still be seen.

Frary, Marie H, and Stebbins, Charles M. The Crystal Palace and other Legends. New York: Stebbins and Company, 1909. Edited by S.E. Schlosser. This story is in the public domain and is part of the cited work.