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The Bottle Neck

It went with Peter Jensen on board the very same ship as this young officer who had been betrothed. He hadn't yet seen the Bottle again, and if he had, he wouldn't have recognized it, or thought, "This is the bottle from which the toasts to our betrothal and my homecoming were drunk!"

Now, of course, it no longer contained red wine, but there was something just as good in it. Whenever Peter Jensen brought it out, his shipmates always called it "the Apothecary"; it provided good medicine for the stomach, they agreed, and indeed it helped them as long as there was a drop left in it. Those were happy times, and the Bottle sang when it was rubbed with the cork, and thus it came to be called "the grand lark," and "Peter Jensen's lark."

A long time had passed; the Bottle stood empty in a corner, and it did not know whether it was on the voyage out or bound for home, for it hadn't been ashore. Then a mighty storm arose. Huge, heavy, black waves rose up and hurled the vessel about. The mast crashed overboard; a mighty wave smashed in a plank, and the pumps were useless. The ship was sinking, but in the last minute the young officer wrote on a piece of paper, "Lord Jesus have mercy on us - we perish!" He wrote his fiancée's name, his own, and that of the ship, put the note into an empty bottle he found near by, pressed the cork in tightly, and then flung the bottle out into the stormy sea. Never did he realize that this was the Bottle that had provided wine for toasts to his and her happiness and the fulfillment of their hopes. It now tossed on the surging billows, carrying its tidings of death, its greeting to the living.

The ship sank, and the crew with it. The Bottle was like a bird in flight, the way it was tossed above the waves - and, what's more, it had a heart within it, in the form of a lover's message. The sun rose, and the sun set - and that reminded the Bottle of the time of its birth, in the red, glowing furnace; it longed to fly back into the heat.

It went through calm seas and more storms; it was neither dashed against rocks nor swallowed by a shark.

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Category: Native American folktales
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