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The Folktale Project

Jul 30, 2018

Once upon a time there was a smith who had a son six years old—a sturdy and sensible lad. One day the old man was going into the church, and stood in front of a picture of the Last Judgment. And he saw there was a devil painted there so terrible, so black, with horns and tail! "What a fine devil!" he thought. "I will go and paint such a devil for myself in the smithy." So he sent for a painter and told him to paint on the doors of the smithy a devil who should be exactly the same as the one he had seen in the church. This was done.

From this time forward, the old man, whenever he went into the smithy, always looked at the devil and said, "Hail, fellow-countryman!" And soon after he would go up to the forge, light the fire, and set to work. So he went on living for some ten years on most excellent terms with the devil. Then he fell ill and died. His son succeeded him and took over the smithy. But he had no such respect for the devil as his father had had. Whether he went early to the smithy or not, nothing prospered; and, instead of greeting the devil kindly, he went and took his very biggest hammer and knocked the devil three times on his forehead, and then set to work. When a holy feast-day came by, he went into the church and lit a taper in front of the saints; but, as he approached the devil he spat on him. For three whole years this went on; and every day he greeted the unclean spirit with a hammer and spat on him.