Flemish Legend Smetse Smee by Charles de Coster Chapter 2

How Slimbroek the Red put out the fire in Smetse’s forge

By and by there came to the Quai aux Oignons a certain Adriaen Slimbroek, who set up, with the licence of the guild, another smithy. This Slimbroek was an ugly, wizened, lean and puny personage, white-faced, underhung in the jaw like a fox, and nicknamed the Red on account of the colour of his hair.

Skilled in intrigue, expert in sharp-practice, master of arts in cant and hypocrisy, and making himself out to be the finest of smiths, he had interested in his business all the rich and gentle folk of the town, who from fear or otherwise held to the Spaniards and wished ill to those of the reformed faith. They were before, for the most part, customers of Smetse, but Slimbroek had put them against him, saying: “This Smetse is a knave to the bottom of his heart, he was a marauder in his young days, sailing the seas with the men of Zeeland in despite of Spain, on the side of this religion which they call reformed. He still has many friends and relatives in Walcheren, more particularly at Middelburg, Arnemuiden, Camp-Veere, and Flushing, all obstinate Protestants, and speaking of the Pope of Rome and my Lords the Archdukes without veneration.

“And for the rest,” added he, “this fellow Smetse is altogether an atheist, reading the bible of Antwerp in despite of the decrees, and going to church only because he is afraid, and not at all because he will.”

By such slanders as these Slimbroek robbed Smetse of all his customers.

And soon the fire was out in the forge of the good smith, and soon, too, the savings were eaten up, and Dame Misery came to the dwelling.