Master Pfriem (Master Cobbler's Awl)


Mester Syl

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."
Gamle mester Syl var en lille, mager, livlig mand, som ikke havde ro på sig et øjeblik. Han havde braknæse, var koparret og meget bleg, hans hår var gråt og stridt, og han havde ganske små øjne, som hele tiden lynede til højre og venstre. Han lagde mærke til alting, havde noget at sige på alting, vidste altid bedre besked og havde altid ret. Når han gik på gaden, slog han vældigt ud med armene, og engang, da han gik forbi en pige, som kom bærende med noget vand, gav han spanden et puf, så den fløj op i luften, og vandet løb ned over ham. "Fæhovede," råbte han, "kunne du ikke også se, at jeg kom bagved." Han var skomager, og når han sad og arbejdede, trak han tråden så langt ud, at han stødte hånden lige i maven på den, der ikke holdt sig i tilbørlig afstand. Ingen af hans svende blev hos ham længere end en måned, for han havde altid noget at udsætte på deres arbejde, hvor godt det så var. Så var stingene ikke lige nok, så var den ene sko længere end den anden, den ene hæl for høj eller læderet ikke banket længe nok. "Vent du bare," sagde han til læredrengen, "så skal jeg vise dig, hvordan man får skindet blødt." Derpå gav han drengen et par ordentlige slag over ryggen med en rem. Han skældte dem allesammen ud for dovenkroppe. Han udrettede dog ikke ret meget selv, fordi han ikke kunne sidde stille i fem minutter. Når hans kone stod tidligt op om morgenen og gjorde ild, sprang han ud af sengen og løb på bare ben ud i køkkenet. "Vil du brænde huset af over hovedet på os," råbte han, "der er jo et bål, så man kunne stege en okse. Eller tror du måske, man får brændet forærende?" Når pigerne stod og vaskede og leende fortalte hinanden forskellige historier, skældte han dem ud. "Der står de gæs og snadrer og glemmer at bestille noget. Og hvorfor skal de have al den gode sæbe. Det er den pure ødselhed," og løb af sted igen, men kom til at støde til en spand med lud, så hele køkkenet blev oversvømmet. Når der blev bygget et nyt hus, stod han ved vinduet og så på det. "Nu murer de igen med røde sandsten," råbte han, "det bliver jo aldrig tørt. De mennesker, der flytter derind, bliver jo syge. Se bare, hvor svendene lægger de sten dårligt. Den mørtel duer heller ikke. Der må grus i og ikke sand. Jeg oplever såmænd nok at se det hus styrte sammen over hovedet på dem, der bor der." Han satte sig, syede et par sting, men sprang så op igen, tog sit skødskind af og råbte: "Jeg må ud og tale de mennesker til." Så kom han hen til tømmermændene. "Hvordan er det, I bærer jer ad," råbte han. "I hugger jo skævt. Tror I, at de bjælker kan stå lige. De giver sig jo i alle fuger." Han rev øksen ud af hånden på tømmermesteren og ville vise ham, hvordan han skulle hugge. Men i det samme kom der en vogn kørende, belæsset med ler, og så kastede han øksen fra sig og sprang hen til bonden, som gik ved siden af. "I er nok ikke rigtig i hovedet," sagde han, "hvor kan I spænde unge heste for sådan en tung vogn. De stakkels dyr styrter jo." Bonden svarede ikke, og mester Syl løb ærgerlig tilbage til sit værksted. Da han igen ville sætte sig til sit arbejde, rakte læredrengen ham en sko. "Hvad er nu det igen," skreg han, "har jeg ikke sagt, at I skal lade være med at skære skoene så meget ud. Hvem tror I køber sådan en sko, som ikke består af andet end sål. I skal gøre, hvad jeg siger." - "Det kan såmænd gerne være, I har ret i, at skoen ikke duer, mester," sagde læredrengen, "men I har selv skåret den til og syet den. I kastede den ned på gulvet, da I gik før, og så tog jeg den op. Men selv en engel fra himlen kan ikke gøre jer tilpas."

En nat drømte mester Syl, at han var død og var på vej til himlen. Da han kom derhen, bankede han hårdt på porten. "Det er dog løjerligt, at her ikke er en klokke," tænkte han, "man slår jo hul på fingrene." Peter lukkede nu porten op for at se, hvem det var, som bankede så voldsomt. "Er det jer, mester Syl," sagde han, "ja, I kan jo nok komme ind, men jeg råder jer til, at I aflægger jeres gamle vaner og ikke rakker ned på, hvad I får at se herinde. Det kunne let blive ubehageligt for jer." - "Den tale kunne I have sparet jer," svarede mester Syl, "jeg ved nok, hvad der passer sig, og her er jo gudskelov alting fuldkomment og ikke sådan som nede på jorden." Han kom nu ind og gik frem og tilbage i de store sale. Han så sig om til højre og venstre, rystede undertiden på hovedet og brummede i skægget. Imidlertid fik han øje på to engle, som kom bærende med en bjælke. Den havde siddet i øjet på en, som søgte efter en splint i en andens øje. De bar den ikke på langs men på tværs. "Har man nogensinde set mage til dumhed," tænkte mester Syl, men bed det dog i sig og tav stille. "Det er jo i grunden også ligegyldigt, på hvad led man bærer en bjælke, når man bare ikke støder imod noget," tænkte han, "og det går jo virkelig udmærket for dem." Lidt efter så han to engle stå ved en brønd og øse vand i et fad, som var helt gennemhullet så vandet løb ud til alle sider. De sendte regn ned over jorden. "For tusind pokker," brød han ud, men han greb sig heldigvis i det og tænkte: "Det er måske bare tidsfordriv. Når det morer en, kan man jo gerne gøre sådan tossede ting. Desuden ser jeg jo nok, at man ikke bestiller andet end drive her i himlen." Han gik nu videre og kom til en vogn som sad fast i et dybt hul. "Det er jo intet under," sagde han til manden, som stod ved siden af, "hvem finder også på at belæsse den sådan. Hvad er det I har der?" - "Fromme ønsker," svarede manden, "jeg kunne ikke komme ind på den rigtige vej, men hertil fik jeg den dog lykkelig og vel. Men jeg bliver såmænd nok hjulpet, skal I se." Der kom nu virkelig også en engel og spændte to heste for. "Ja, det kan jo være meget godt," sagde han, "men to heste er for lidt. Vi må mindst have fire." Nu kom der en anden engel med to heste, men de blev spændt bagved vognen. Det var for meget for mester Syl. "Din idiot," udbrød han, "hvordan er det, du bærer dig ad? Har du nogensinde, så længe verden har stået, set en vogn blive trukket på den måde. Men de er her så tåbelig indbildske, at de tror, de forstår alting." Han ville have sagt mere endnu, men så var der nogen, der greb fat i ham og satte ham udenfor, uden at han kunne gøre modstand. Da han var i porten, drejede han hovedet om og så, at fire bevingede heste løftede vognen i vejret.

I samme øjeblik vågnede han. "Det går rigtignok noget anderledes til i himlen end her på jorden," tænkte han, "der er der jo en hel del, som kan undskyldes, "men hvem kan roligt se på, at man spænder heste både for og bag. Ganske vist havde de vinger, men det kan man da umuligt vide. For resten er det en utrolig dumhed at sætte et par vinger på heste, som har fire ben til at gå på. Men nu er det nok bedst, jeg står op, ellers går de hen og laver alt for mange gale streger her. Det var dog et held, at jeg ikke virkelig var død."

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