A fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm.

During the time when our Lord still walked the Earth, he headed one evening with Saint Peter to a blacksmith's, and received free lodgings.

Now it happened that a poor beggar, harshly pinched by old age and frailty, came to the house and begged alms from the smith. Peter took pity on him and said, "Father and master, if it pleases you, cure him of his torment, so that he may earn his own bread."
The Lord spoke gently, "Smith, lend me your forge and lay me down some coal; I wish to rejuvenate this ill old man."

The smith was wholly willing, and Peter drew the bellows, and when the coal-fire had grown large and intense, our Father took the old man, put him into the forge in the very centre of the red flames, so that he glowed like a rosebush, and praised God with a loud voice. Then the Lord stepped towards the quenching-trough, placed the little glowing man into it so that the water wrapped over him and, after he had cooled him finely, gave him His blessing: behold, out sprang the little man nimbly, tender, straight, healthy, and as if he were but twenty years old.

The smith, who had been watching carefully and attentively, summoned them all to supper. He, however, had one half-blind, humpbacked mother-in-law, who went to the young man and inquired earnestly whether the fire had burnt him terribly. Never had he been better, he replied; he had sat in the fire as if in a cool dew.

The young man's words rang in the old woman's ears the whole night, and early next morning when the Lord was returning to the road and had thanked the smith well, the man thought that he also could make his old mother-in-law young, as he had watched everything carefully and precisely, and it lay in the province of his art.

He therefore called her to him, and asked if she wished to be like a leaping young girl of eighteen. She said, "With all my heart," because the young man had come out of it so nicely. So the smith made a great fire and shoved the old woman into it, causing her to writhe back and forth and set up gruesome cries of murder.

"Sit still, why are you screaming and hopping about? I want to heat you thoroughly," the smith scolded. He then blew the bellows again, until all her rags burnt. The old woman screeched without ceasing, and the smith thought, "I have not got quite the hang of this skill," and took her out and threw her into the quenching-trough. Then the woman screamed so very loudly that up in the top of the house the smith's wife and her daughter-in-law heard: they both ran down the stairs, and saw the old woman howling and wailing, lying in the trough burnt all over, her face wrinkled, collapsed and deformed. Thereupon the two, who were both with child, were so horrified that on the same night their two babies were born, who were not made like men, but like apes, and they ran into the woods, and from them came the race of apes.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.