"Believe it or Knot"
5 x 7 inches
India ink on Bristol board.
“Believe It or Knot” (a story)
There’s a plump sort of sandpiper called a Knot (Calidris canutus) whose name hints at a legendary origin.
Cnut the Great was an 11th century English warrior king who was much feared and respected. Some even said he even wielded supernatural abilities. When word reached his ears that his people were in such awe of him, he ordered that his courtiers place his throne on the seashore just as the tide was coming in.
Then Cnut called out in his most commanding voice: “Sea! You are subject to me, as is the land on which I am sitting is mine, and no one has resisted my overlordship with impunity. I command you, therefore, not to rise onto my land, nor to presume to wet the clothing or limbs of your master."
Nevertheless the sea continued to rise, and the waves soaked the king up to his waist. The people were aghast!
Cnut then calmly waded ashore, dried himself off and said, “Let all the world know that the power of kings is empty and worthless. There is no king worthy of the name save Him by whose will heaven, earth and the sea obey eternal laws."
And with that, he took off his crown and placed it on the ground, never to wear it again.
Some say that the local sandpipers who witnessed the scene were so impressed by such humility, that they would forever murmur, “Cnut Cnut!” amongst themselves as they dashed back and forth in the tide.
Others say that the birds were simply a favorite dish of the king, best served piping hot with bread and milk.
Either way, the species now bears his name, which over time corrupted from “Cnut” into “knot”.