Flemish Legend Smetse Smee by Charles de Coster Chapter 14

Of the great fears and pains of Smetse’s wife

Smetse, going to look for his wife, found her in the kitchen on her knees before the picture of St. Joseph. “Well, mother,” said he, “what didst think of our dance? Was it not a merry one? Ah, henceforth they will call our house the House of Beaten Devils.”

“Yes,” said his wife, wagging her head, “yes, and also the house of Smetse who was carried away to hell. For that is where thou wilt go; I know it, I feel it, I foretell it. This devil’s coming all accoutred for war presages evil. He will come back, no longer alone, but with a hundred thousand devils armed like himself. Ah, my poor man! They will carry lances, swords, pikes, hooked axes, and arquebuses. They will drag behind them canon which they will fire at us; and everything will be ground to pieces, thou, I, the smithy, and the workmen. Alas, everything will be levelled to the ground! And where our smithy now stands will be nothing but a sorry heap of dust. And the folk walking past along the quay will say when they see this dust: ‘There lies the house of Smetse, the fool who sold his soul to the devil.’ And I, after dying in this fashion, shall go to Paradise, as I dare to hope. But thee, my man, oh, woe unspeakable! they will take away with them and drag through fire, smoke, brimstone, pitch, boiling oil, to that terrible place where those are punished who, wishing to break a pact made with the devil, have no special help from God or his holy saints. Poor little man, my good comrade, dost know what there is in store for thee? Ho, a gulf as deep as the heavens are high, and studded all down its terrible sides with jutting points of rock, iron spikes, horrid spears, and a thousand dreadful pikes. And dost know what manner of gulf this is, my man? ’Tis a gulf wherein a man may keep falling always – dost understand me, always, always – gashed by the rocks, cut about by the spears, torn open by the pikes, always, always, down all the long length of eternity.”

“But, wife,” said Smetse, “hast ever seen this gulf whereof thou speakest?”

“Nay,” said she, “but I know what manner of place it is, for I have often heard tell of it in the church of St. Bavon. And the good canon predicant would not lie.”

“Ah, no,” said Smetse.