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The Lord, St. Peter, and the Blacksmith

IN a little town about as large as Sehio or Thiene once lived a master smith,-a good, industrious, and skilful man, but so proud of his skill that he would not deign to reply to any one who did not address him as "Professor." This pride in a man otherwise so blameless gave universal dissatisfaction. One day our Lord appeared in the blacksmith's shop, accompanied by St. Peter, whom He was always in the habit of taking with Him on such excursions. "Professor," said the Lord, "will you be so good as to permit me to do a little work at your forge?" "Why not? It is at your service," replied the flattered smith. "What do you wish to make?" "That you will soon see," said the Lord, and took up a pair of tongs, with which he seized Peter and held him in the forge until he was red-hot. Then he drew him out and hammered him on all sides, and in less than ten minutes the old bald-headed apostle was forged anew into a wonderfully handsome youth with beautiful hair. The blacksmith stood speechless with astonishment, while the Lord and St. Peter exchanged the most courteous thanks and compliments. Finally the master-smith recovered himself and ran straight up to the second story, where his sick old father lay in bed. "Father," he cried, "come quickly! I have just learned how to make a strong young man of you." "My son, have you lost your senses?" said the old man, half terrified. "No; only believe me. I have just seen it myself." Finding that the old man protested against the attempt, his son seized him forcibly, carried him to the shop, and in spite of his shrieks and entreaties, thrust him into the forge, but brought nothing out but a piece of charred leg, which fell to pieces at the first blow of the hammer. Then he was seized with anguish and remorse. He ran quickly in search of the two men, and fortunately found them in the market-place. "Sir," he cried, "what have you done? You have misled me. I wanted to imitate your skill, and I have burned my father alive! Come with me quickly, and help me, if you can!" Then the Lord smiled graciously, and said: "Go home com forted. You will find your father alive and well, but an old man again." And so he did find him, to his great joy. From that time his pride disappeared, and whenever any one called him "Professor" he would exclaim: "Ah, what folly that is! There are gentlemen in Venice and professors in Padua, but I am a bungler."

* * * * * * * * * *

THE VERSION in Knust is different. It is called "A Journey of Our Say- jour on Earth," and is, in substance, as follows: A father whose son is a gambler, makes him become a soldier. The son deserts during a stormy night and takes refuge in an inn. There he meets a man who seems acquainted with his whole life and whose name is Salvatore (Saviour). He knows that Peter has deserted and is pursued, but he will save him. To gain a livelihood, he proposes to him to travel together and heal the sick. An opportunity to do this is soon offered. A rich man is ill, and Salvatore promises to heal him in three days. He makes every one withdraw, prepares a potion from herbs, and cures the patient. The relatives of the rich man offer in their gratitude all manner of costly things to Salvatore, who, how ever, accepts only enough to support life. Such an unreasonable proceeding enrages his companion to such a degree that he parts from him. He wishes to cure people independently, and promises a king to heal his sick daughter at once. But although he does everything exactly like Salvatore, the only effect of the potion is to kill the princess. As soon as the king learns this, he has Peter thrown into prison. On his way there he meets Salvatore, who is ready to help him at his request. The latter goes to the king and promises to raise his daughter if he will release to him the prisoner. The king consents, but threatens Salvatore with death in case of failure. The dead, however, comes to life, and in gratitude offers her hand, through her father, to Salvatore, who declares that it is his vocation to wander over the earth. He asks that the maiden be given to his companion.

In a story from Venice our Lord and St. Peter are hospitably received by a poor woman who has no bed to offer them, but makes up one for them from some straw and five ells of linen which she has bought that day. When the Lord departs the next morning he bestows on the woman the power of doing all day the first thing she does in the morning. She begins by taking the linen from the bed of her guests, and pulls off piece after piece of linen. A friend of hers learns this and determines to do the same, but is punished by the Lord for her selfishness.

Crane, Thomas Frederick. Italian Popular Tales. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1885.
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Italian Popular Tales by Thomas Crane

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