The smith stood by all the time watching Him.
“You’re 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, and 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.
“I repeat what I’ve said,” said the smith, “you’re quite a smith. Over my door stands: ‘Here lives the master of all masters,’ but even if I have to say it myself, ‘We live and learn,’ ” and, so saying, he went home to eat his dinner. When he came back to the smithy, a man rode up and wanted his horse shod. Our Lord and St. Peter were still there.
“I’ll do it in a jiffy,” said the smith; “I’ve just learned a new way of shoeing which isn’t so bad when the days are short.” So he began to cut and break till he had taken off the horse’s four legs. “For,” said he, “I don’t see why one should bother to take them one by one.”
He put the legs into the forge just as he had seen Our Lord do, heaped on a lot of coal, and told the apprentices to work the bellows hard. But it turned out just as one might have expected; the legs burnt up, and the smith had to pay for the horse. That did not please him at all.
Just then a poor old hag came hobbling along, and the smith thought that, though he had not succeeded in one thing, he was sure to with the other, so he grabbed the old woman and put her into the forge, paying no attention to her cries and prayers.
“Old as you are, you don’t know what’s good for you,” said the smith; “you’ll be a young girl again in a minute, and I won’t charge you a cent for the forging.” But it went no better with the old woman than with the horse’s legs.
“That was a shame,” said Our Lord.
“Oh, she won’t be missed,” answered the smith; “but the devil ought to be ashamed: he is hardly keeping to what stands over my door.”
“Suppose I were to give you three wishes, what would they be?” said Our Lord.
“Just try,” said the smith, “and you’ll find out.”
Our Lord asked him what they were.