A fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm
One very fine day it came to pass that the good God wished to enjoy
himself in the heavenly garden, and took all the apostles and saints
with him, so that no one stayed in heaven but Saint Peter. The Lord
had commanded him to let no one in during his absence, so Peter
stood by the door and kept watch.
Before long someone knocked. Peter asked who was there, and what
"I am a poor, honest tailor who prays for admission,"
replied a smooth voice.
"Honest indeed," said Peter, "like the thief
on the gallows. You have been light-fingered and have snipped
folks, clothes away. You will not get into heaven. The Lord has
forbidden me to let anyone in while he is out."
"Come, do be
merciful," cried the tailor. "Little scraps which fall off the table
of their own accord are not stolen, and are not worth speaking
about. Look, I am lame, and have blisters on my feet from walking
here, I cannot possibly turn back again. Just let me in, and I shall
do all the dirty work. I shall carry the children, and wash their
clothes, and scrub and clean the benches on which they have been
playing, and patch all their torn frocks." Saint Peter let himself
be moved by pity, and opened the door of heaven just wide enough for
the lame tailor to slip his lean body in. He was forced to sit down
in a corner behind the door, and told to stay quietly and peaceably
there, in order that the Lord, when he returned, might not observe
him and be angry. The tailor obeyed, but once when Saint Peter went
outside the door, he got up, and full of curiosity, peeped into
every corner of heaven, and inspected the arrangement of the whole
place. At length he came to a spot where many beautiful and
precious chairs were standing, and in the midst was a seat all of
gold which was set with shining jewels. Likewise it was much higher
than the other chairs, and a footstool of gold was before it. It
was the seat, however, on which the Lord sat when he was at home,
and from which he could see all that happened on earth. The tailor
stood still, and looked at the seat for a long time, for it pleased
him better than all else. At last he could master his curiosity no
longer, and climbed up and seated himself in the chair. Then he saw
everything which was happening on earth, and observed an ugly old
woman who was standing washing by the side of a stream, secretly
laying two veils on one side for herself. The sight of this
made the tailor so angry that he laid hold of the golden footstool,
and threw it down to earth through heaven, at the old thief. But
since he could not bring the stool back again, he slipped quietly
out of the chair, seated himself in his place behind the door, and
behaved as if he had never stirred from the spot.
When the Lord and master returned again with his heavenly
he did not see the tailor behind the door, but when he seated
himself on his chair the footstool was missing. He asked Saint
Peter what had become of the stool, but he did not know. Then he
asked if he had let anyone come in.
"I know of no one who has been
here," answered Peter, "but a lame tailor, who is still
sitting behind the door." Then the Lord had the tailor brought
before him, and asked him if he had taken away the stool, and where
he had put it.
"Oh, Lord, answered the tailor joyously, "I threw it
in my anger down to earth at an old woman whom I saw stealing two
veils at the washing."
"Oh, you knave," said the Lord, "were I to
judge as you judge, how do you think you could have escaped so long?
I should long ago have had no chairs, benches, seats, nay, not even
an oven-fork, but should have thrown everything down at the sinners.
Henceforth you can stay no longer in heaven, but must go outside the
door again. Then go where you will. No one will give punishment
here, but I alone, the Lord."
Peter was obliged to take the tailor out of heaven again, and as
he had torn shoes, and feet covered with blisters, he took a stick
in his hand, and went to wait-a-while, where the good soldiers sit
and make merry.