Master Pfriem (Master Cobbler's Awl)



Master Pfriem was a short, thin, but lively man, who never rested a moment. His face, of which his turned-up nose was the only prominent feature, was marked with small-pox and pale as death, his hair was gray and shaggy, his eyes small, but they glanced perpetually about on all sides. He saw everything, criticised everything, knew everything best, and was always in the right. When he went into the streets, he moved his arms about as if he were rowing; and once he struck the pail of a girl, who was carrying water, so high in the air that he himself was wetted all over by it. "Stupid thing," cried he to her, while he was shaking himself, "couldst thou not see that I was coming behind thee?" By trade he was a shoemaker, and when he worked he pulled his thread out with such force that he drove his fist into every one who did not keep far enough off. No apprentice stayed more than a month with him, for he had always some fault to find with the very best work. At one time it was that the stitches were not even, at another that one shoe was too long, or one heel higher than the other, or the leather not cut large enough. "Wait," said he to his apprentice, "I will soon show thee how we make skins soft," and he brought a strap and gave him a couple of strokes across the back. He called them all sluggards. He himself did not turn much work out of his hands, for he never sat still for a quarter of an hour. If his wife got up very early in the morning and lighted the fire, he jumped out of bed, and ran bare-footed into the kitchen, crying, "Wilt thou burn my house down for me? That is a fire one could roast an ox by! Does wood cost nothing?" If the servants were standing by their wash-tubs and laughing, and telling each other all they knew, he scolded them, and said, "There stand the geese cackling, and forgetting their work, to gossip! And why fresh soap? Disgraceful extravagance and shameful idleness into the bargain! They want to save their hands, and not rub the things properly!" And out he would run and knock a pail full of soap and water over, so that the whole kitchen was flooded. Someone was building a new house, so he hurried to the window to look on. "There, they are using that red sand-stone again that never dries!" cried he. "No one will ever be healthy in that house! and just look how badly the fellows are laying the stones! Besides, the mortar is good for nothing! It ought to have gravel in it, not sand. I shall live to see that house tumble down on the people who are in it." He sat down, put a couple of stitches in, and then jumped up again, unfastened his leather-apron, and cried, "I will just go out, and appeal to those men's consciences." He stumbled on the carpenters. "What's this?" cried he, "you are not working by the line! Do you expect the beams to be straight?--one wrong will put all wrong." He snatched an axe out of a carpenter's hand and wanted to show him how he ought to cut; but as a cart loaded with clay came by, he threw the axe away, and hastened to the peasant who was walking by the side of it: "You are not in your right mind," said he, "who yokes young horses to a heavily-laden cart? The poor beasts will die on the spot." The peasant did not give him an answer, and Pfriem in a rage ran back into his workshop. When he was setting himself to work again, the apprentice reached him a shoe. "Well, what's that again?" screamed he, "Haven't I told you you ought not to cut shoes so broad? Who would buy a shoe like this, which is hardly anything else but a sole? I insist on my orders being followed exactly." Master," answered the apprentice, "you may easily be quite right about the shoe being a bad one, but it is the one which you yourself cut out, and yourself set to work at. When you jumped up a while since, you knocked it off the table, and I have only just picked it up. An angel from heaven, however, would never make you believe that."
One night Master Pfriem dreamed he was dead, and on his way to heaven. When he got there, he knocked loudly at the door. "I wonder," said he to himself, "that they have no knocker on the door, -- one knocks one's knuckles sore." The apostle Peter opened the door, and wanted to see who demanded admission so noisily. "Ah, it's you, Master Pfriem;" said he, "well, I'll let you in, but I warn you that you must give up that habit of yours, and find fault with nothing you see in heaven, or you may fare ill." - "You might have spared your warning," answered Pfriem. "I know already what is seemly, and here, God be thanked, everything is perfect, and there is nothing to blame as there is on earth." So he went in, and walked up and down the wide expanses of heaven. He looked around him, to the left and to the right, but sometimes shook his head, or muttered something to himself. Then he saw two angels who were carrying away a beam. It was the beam which some one had had in his own eye whilst he was looking for the splinter in the eye of another. They did not, however, carry the beam lengthways, but obliquely. "Did any one ever see such a piece of stupidity?" thought Master Pfriem; but he said nothing, and seemed satisfied with it. "It comes to the same thing after all, whichever way they carry the beam, straight or crooked, if they only get along with it, and truly I do not see them knock against anything." Soon after this he saw two angels who were drawing water out of a well into a bucket, but at the same time he observed that the bucket was full of holes, and that the water was running out of it on every side. They were watering the earth with rain. "Hang it," he exclaimed; but happily recollected himself, and thought, "Perhaps it is only a pastime. If it is an amusement, then it seems they can do useless things of this kind even here in heaven, where people, as I have already noticed, do nothing but idle about." He went farther and saw a cart which had stuck fast in a deep hole. "It's no wonder," said he to the man who stood by it; "who would load so unreasonably? what have you there?" - "Good wishes," replied the man, "I could not go along the right way with it, but still I have pushed it safely up here, and they won't leave me sticking here." In fact an angel did come and harnessed two horses to it. "That's quite right," thought Pfriem, "but two horses won't get that cart out, it must at least have four to it." Another angel came and brought two more horses; she did not, however, harness them in front of it, but behind. That was too much for Master Pfriem, "Clumsy creature," he burst out with, "what are you doing there? Has any one ever since the world began seen a cart drawn in that way? But you, in your conceited arrogance, think that you know everything best." He was going to say more, but one of the inhabitants of heaven seized him by the throat and pushed him forth with irresistible strength. Beneath the gateway Master Pfriem turned his head round to take one more look at the cart, and saw that it was being raised into the air by four winged horses.

At this moment Master Pfriem awoke. "Things are certainly arranged in heaven otherwise than they are on earth," said he to himself, "and that excuses much; but who can see horses harnessed both behind and before with patience; to be sure they had wings, but who could know that? It is, besides, great folly to fix a pair of wings to a horse that has four legs to run with already! But I must get up, or else they will make nothing but mistakes for me in my house. It is a lucky thing for me though, that I am not really dead."
鞋匠师傅个子矮小、枯瘦如柴却又生性活泼,他可是一刻也闲不住。 他长着个突出的鼻子朝上翻起,有着一张灰色的麻脸,留着一头灰不溜秋的蓬松头发,和一双不停左右闪烁的小眯眼。 他什么都看在眼里,对什么都吹毛求疵;他对什么都清楚,而且总是他有理。 他走在大街上,总喜欢指手划脚,就像在划船一样。 一次他把人家女孩子提的桶子撞到了半空中,自己也成了落汤鸡。 他却边抖水,边对女孩吼道:"你这蠢货!没看见我就走在你后头吗?"他是个有手艺的鞋匠,干活时,拔起线来总是很用劲,站得离他不远的人准会挨拳头。 没有哪个学生能在他那儿干上一个月,因为他对最好的手艺也要挑剔找岔,不是说缝得不齐,就是说一只鞋长了;不是说一只鞋跟比另一只高,就是说皮子没锤够。 "慢着,"他对学徒说,"让我告诉你怎样把皮子锤软。"说着他就操起根皮带,在学徒的背上狠狠抽几鞭。 他把他们全叫作懒虫,而他自己也没干多少活,因为他不可能耐得住。 如果他妻子早上起来把火生上,他就会跳下床来,光着脚丫子冲进厨房,吼道:"你要把我的屋子给烧了吗?火这么大,可以考熟一头牛。你以为柴火不要钱的吗?"如果女仆站在洗衣桶旁说笑,他就骂她们,说:"你们这些呱呱叫的鹅,有活不干,只晓得搬弄事非!怎么,用的是新肥皂?真是可怕的浪费,可耻的懒惰!你们只想保养手,不肯好生地搓衣服。"他会跳上去踢倒装满肥皂水的桶,整个厨房可就闹水了。 如果有人造房子,他就赶紧跑到窗口去看看,"瞧,他们又在用永远干不了的红砂石!"他叫着,"住在里面不生病才怪!看看这些人砖砌得有多糟!另外,这砂浆也一点不顶用,里面不能放砂,应放砾石!等这屋子倒塌下来砸了人头,到时有好戏看了。"他坐了下来,上了几针线,又跳了起来,解开围裙,叫道,"我要出去,劝劝他们讲点良心。"他碰到了木匠们,"这是什么?"他喊道,"你们没按墨线干活!你想横梁会直吗?一下就会散架的!"他从一个木匠手里夺过斧子要给他作示范,可是,当一辆装满泥土的车子过来时,他扔下斧子,直奔站在车边的农民:"你是不是糊涂了?"他说,"谁会把小马套在这么重的车子上?可怜的小东西不当场压死才怪呢!"农民没理他,鞋匠师傅只得气鼓鼓地跑回他的作坊。 他刚坐下,学徒就递给他一只鞋。 "哎,这又是什么东西?"他一声尖叫,"难道我没教过你别把鞋底切得这么宽吗?谁愿意要这种鞋?除了鞋底什么都没有了。我重申一切都要按我的吩咐做!""师傅,"学徒回答说,"您说得很对,这只鞋是只坏的,可是,它是出自您之手,刚才您跳起来时把它碰到桌子底下,我只是把他拣起来,就是天上的神仙说,您也不会相信。"
一天晚上,鞋匠师傅梦见自己死了,正向天堂走去。 到了天堂,他使劲地敲门,"真奇怪!"他自言自语说,"他们的门上连个门环也没有,叫人敲得指关节痛。"使徒彼得打开了门,想看是谁这么急着要进来。
"啊,是你呀,鞋匠师傅,"他说,"好吧,我让你进来,可你得改掉你这坏毛病,不要找天堂里任何东西的岔子,不然你会倒霉的。""用不着你警告我,"鞋匠师傅说,"我知道好歹,再说,这儿的一切,谢天谢地,都是完美的。这与尘世不同,无可挑剔。"于是他踏了进去,在广阔的天堂里四处游荡。 他环顾四周,左瞧瞧,右瞅瞅,时不时地摇摇头,口里嘀咕着什么。 这时,他瞧见了两个天使抬起了一根木梁,他们不是竖着抬梁木,而是横着扛着。 "世上没见过这么蠢的事!"鞋匠师傅想,可他并没有说什么,表面上露出了满意的模样。 "反正结果一样,不管他们横着拿还是竖着拿,只要他们觉得合适就行,话又说回来,我的确没看见他们撞倒什么东西。"不一会儿,他又瞧见两个天使在用桶从井里打水,不过他也注意到那桶是漏的,水从四面八方流了出来。 原来他们是在给大地浇灌雨水。 "得了吧,"他突然喊道,但幸亏他改了口没骂出来,心想,"或许这只是好玩吧,但如果只为了消遣,那天堂里他们什么也不必做,只是闲逛。"他又继续往前走,看到了一辆深陷在泥里的推车。 "难怪,"他对站在车旁的人说,"谁会这样装东西?你放了些什么在上面?""良好的愿望,"那人说,"我没法把它们拉到正道上,但幸亏我还是把车拉了上来,在这个地方他们不会叫我陷落的。"果然来了个天使,在他车前套了两匹马。 "那就对了,"鞋匠师傅想,"但两匹还不够,至少要四匹才能把车拉出来。"这时另一个天使又牵来了两匹马,可是他并没有把马套在前头,而是套在车后面。 这下鞋匠师傅再也忍不住了,"蠢货!"他大发雷霆,"瞧你们干了什么事?自从开天辟地以来有谁见过那样拉车子的?可是你们,傲慢无知,自欺欺人,还以为什么都懂!"他还想一个劲地说下去,一位天堂居民堵住了他的喉咙,用一种不可抗拒的力量把他推出了天门。 在天门下,鞋匠师傅回过头朝那辆车望去,看见它被四匹长着翅膀的马拉了上来。 就在这时,鞋匠师傅醒了。 "天堂和人间就是不一样,"他自言自语道,"那儿有许多事情是情有可原的。但是谁有耐心看着四匹马一前一后地套在车子上而不发火呢?再说,给长有四条腿的马装上一对翅膀本来就是画蛇添足,愚蠢之至。我得起身了,不然他们会把屋子弄得一团糟的。我没有当真死去,真幸运!"

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