Flemish Legend Smetse Smee by Charles de Coster Chapter 6

Wherein the wife of Smetse shows the great length of her tongue

When the day was up, Smetse and his wife sat down together to the good loaves, the fat ham, the fine cheese, the double bruinbier, and the good wines, and so eased their stomachs, hurt a little by being such a long while hungry.

Suddenly there came in all the old workmen, and they said:

“Baes Smetse, thou didst send for us; here we are, right glad to see thy fire lit up again, and to work for thee who wast always so good a master.”

“By Artevelde!” said Smetse, “here they all are: Pier, Dolf, Flipke, Toon, Hendrik, and the rest. Good day, my lads!” and he gripped them by the hand, “we must drink.”

While they were drinking, his wife said suddenly with a toss of the head: “But no one sent for you all! Is that not so, Smetse?”

“Wife, wife,” said the smith, “wilt thou never learn to hold thy tongue?”

“But,” said she, “I am speaking the truth, my man.”

“Thou art speaking foolishly,” said he, “of things whereof thou knowest nothing. Stay in thy kitchen and do not come meddling in my forge.”

“Baesine,” said Flipke, “without wishing to belie you, I must tell you that a message was sent to us in the name of the baes. For a man came in the middle of the night knocking on the doors of our houses, shouting out that we should all of us come hither without fail this morning for work of great urgency, and that for this we should each be given a royal as forfeit to our several masters. And we came, all of us, not wishing to leave our baes in the lurch.”

“’Tis good of you,” said Smetse, “ye shall have the promised royal. But come with me, I will apportion to each of you the usual task.” This he did, and once again the good music of sledges beating, anvils ringing, bellows blowing, and workmen singing was heard in the forge of the good smith.

Meanwhile Smetse went to his wife and said to her with great heat: “Dost think it a fine thing to gainsay me before these good men! Chattering magpie, wilt never learn to hold thy tongue? Hast not already to-night been admonished sharply enough? Must thou have more telling?”

“But, Smetse,” said his wife, “I did not know that you had sent for them.”

“That is no reason,” he said, “why thou shouldst give me the lie before all my workmen; canst thou not leave thy speaking until I have done, or else hold thy tongue altogether, which would be better still.”

“Smetse,” said his wife, “I never saw you so angry before. Do not beat me, my man, I will be henceforward as dumb as this cheese.”

“So you should,” said Smetse.

“But, my man,” said she, “canst not explain to me somewhat of all these happenings?”

“Sometime,” he said, and went back into his smithy.