(Adapted from a Dutch folktale. Any deviations from the "official" version are the result of a rotten translator.)

In most countries of the world, real estate is a fixed quantity. There's only so much of say, Switzerland, or Haiti, and people have to deal with it the best they can. Not so in the Netherlands. Because of the cops-and-robbers game played by the ingenious Dutch and the North Sea, real estate is regularly added to, and occasionally subtracted, on a regular basis. This means that historically, lots of people have found themselves walking around the country, looking for a job and a place to live, and also, someplace else, some villages and even whole provinces have appeared where once there were only fish. This is a story about that.

It appeared, that in one province, there were two villages without names. Well, there were names, but no one could agree on them. The Provincial Council was eager for this situation to be resolved. There was also a 'till', a small stone bridge, that similarly had no name. Finally, at the end of one session, a man, with a foreign accent stood up. The Counsel asked his name for the record.
"Abel Stok, sir." he said.
"A good name, and how do you propose to name these villages?"
"Well, I don't know about one of them, and the bridge --"
"--till--" corrected the counsellor.
"But I propose, for at least one, a pole-vaulting contest."
"Good idea! And, I suppose, the winner gets to name the village?"
"The very same. Do I get paid for this?"
"If you can name all of them, you will have a hundred florins, and a home near the 'till'.

Well, he chose rightly, since pole-vaulting was, well, just about the most popular sport in the Netherlands at the time. Pretty much every kid found vaulting a great way of getting over canals and drainage ditches, and even the oldest farmer used a rake to hop from one stepping stone to another. So it was, that everyone in the province, nearly, turned out for the event. There were many laughs as some got wet in the canal, some were pretty good jumpers, but at the last, it was Abel Stok's turn. He gritted his jaw, took up his pole....and was up, up, in the air for what seemed an eternity. On one side of the canal everyone cried "Wehe!" (which is medieval Dutch for "Whoah!", but on the other side, there was complete silence, until an old woman cried out:

"When shall we see such a man again?"
And Managan was the name of the village.

The second village seemed to have no real distinguishing features. Abel stood in the square, biding his time, looking for something interesting about it, and then, a baker walked out of his shop, loudly blowing a horn.

"What was that?" Abel Stok asked.
"Oh, that's the crazy baker. Always does horn practise when the bread is cooling from the oven."
And THE HORN was the name of the village.

For the 'till', Abel Stok stood in the middle of it, and thought, and thought. Nothing was coming to him. He stood there so long, a woman was heard to say "It's by that till Abel Stok is always standing on."

And so, the bridge was called "Abelstok Till.", and is there, yes, till this day.


Subsequent research has uncovered a village in the far Northern province of Groningen dating from the late 1300's called Mensingweer which could translate to "man again". Now populated by only 200 residents, it connects with the much larger Wehe-Den Hoorn by a bridge called, astonishingly, Abelstoktil. The most interesting thing about this is that Wehe-Den Hoorn was racked by a great deal of religious strife during the Protestant Reformation: the people of Wehe were and are solidly Calvinist, while Den Hoorn (immediately adjacent, by which I mean they have town streets in common) was the territory of a pious jonker who stubbornly refused to follow the rest of the country's conversion, and even invited other Catholics to settle there. Modern scholars have dismissed the above story as a legend, but, who knows?

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