“Oh, ouch, oh!” shrieked the devil. “Oh, please let me out, and I’ll promise faithfully never to come back again.”
“Well, now, I guess the joints are pretty well soldered,” said the smith, “so I’ll let you out.”
So the smith opened the purse, and the devil jumped out and rushed off in such a hurry, he did not even dare to look back.
As the smith thought over the whole matter, he thought he had made a mistake in falling out with the devil. “For if I don’t get into heaven,” he said to himself, “I might be without lodgings, since I’m on bad terms with the fellow who rules in hell.”
He decided he might as well try now as later to see whether he could get into either heaven or hell; then he would know what was in store for him. So he shouldered his hammer and started off.
When he had gone quite a bit, he came to the crossroads where they branched off to heaven and hell, and there he met a tailor’s apprentice, shuffling along with his pressing iron in his hand.
“How do you do?” said the smith. “Where are you going?”
“To heaven, if I can only get in,” answered the tailor.
.“Well, I’m afraid, we can’t keep company very long,” answered the smith. “I thought I’d first try hell, for I know the devil slightly from old days. ”
So they said good-bye, and each went his way. The smith, who was a big, husky fellow, walked more quickly than the tailor, and it took him only a short time to reach the gates of hell. He told the watchman to say there was someone waiting outside who wanted to speak to the devil.
“Go out and ask who it is,” said the devil to the watchman, who hurried off to do his bidding.
“Tell him it’s the smith who owned the purse,” said the smith. “He’ll know, and beg him kindly to let me in at once, for I’m pretty tired, having worked till noon, and been walking ever since.”
When the devil heard who it was, he ordered the watchman to lock all the nine locks of hell. “And put an extra bolt on, too,” he said, “for if that fellow gets in, he’ll raise an awful row in hell.”
“There’s no use hanging around here,” said the smith to himself, when he heard how fast everything was being locked. “I’ll have to try heaven.” So he turned around and went back till he reached the crossroads, where he took the road the tailor had taken.
As he was angry at having gone so far in vain, he hurried along, and reached the gates of heaven just as St. Peter opened them wide enough to let the thin tailor squeeze through. The smith was some six or seven feet off. “There’s no time to lose,” he thought, and he hurled his hammer at the crack of the gate, just as the tailor was slipping through.
If the smith did not get through the crack, then I don’t know what has become of him.