In the days when our Lord and St. Peter walked on earth, they came, once upon a time,
to a smith who had bargained with the devil to belong to him after seven years if during
that time he could be the master of all other smiths; and both the smith and the devil
had signed their names to this contract. That was why the smith had set up over his
smithy door a big sign which read: “Here lives the master of all masters!”
When our Lord came along and saw this, he went in.
“Who are you?” he said to the smith.
“Read what’s over the door,” said the smith, “and if you can’t read, you’ll have to wait till
someone comes along to help you.”
Before our Lord could answer, a man came along leading a horse which he wanted the
smith to shoe.
“Won’t you let me shoe him?” said our Lord.
“You can try,” said the smith. “You can’t do it so badly but I can’t fix it again.”
So our Lord went out and cut off one of the horse’s forelegs, put it in the forge,
made the leg glowing hot, sharpened the calks and nails and drove them home and
then put the leg, whole and perfect, back on the horse. When that was done, he took
the other front leg and did the same, and after putting that leg back, took the two hind
legs, fight the right and then the left, put them in the forge till the shoes were white with
heat, sharpened calks and nails and drove them in and finally put these legs, too, back
on the horse.
The smith stood by all the time watching him.
“You are not such a bad smith, after all,” he said.
“Do you think so?” said our Lord.
Soon after, the smith’s mother came to tell him dinner was ready. She was old
and wrinkled, bent double, barely able to walk.
“Now you mark carefully what you see,” said our Lord and he took the old woman, put
her into the forge, and changed her into a beautiful young girl.
Then the smith
tried to out matched the Lord...