THE MASTER AND HIS PUPIL
HERE was once a very learned man in the north country who
knew all the languages under the sun, and who was acquainted
with all the mysteries of creation. He had one big book
bound in black calf and clasped with iron, and with iron
corners, and chained to a table which was made fast to the
 floor; and when he read out of this book, he unlocked it
with an iron key, and none but he read from it, for it
contained all the secrets of the spiritual world. It told
how many angels there were in heaven: and how they marched
in their ranks, and sang in their quires, and what were
their several functions, and what was the name of each great
angel of might. And it told of the demons, how many of them
there were, and what were their several powers, and their
labours, and their names, and how they might be summoned,
and how tasks might be imposed on them, and how they might
be chained to be as slaves to man.
Now the master had a pupil who was but a foolish lad, and he
acted as servant to the great master, but never was he
suffered to look into the black book, hardly to enter the
One day the master was out, and then the lad, as curious as
could be, hurried to the chamber where his master kept his
wondrous apparatus for changing copper into silver, and
where was his mirror in which he could see all that was
passing in the world, and where was the shell which when
held to. his ear whispered all the words that were being
spoken by any one the master desired to know about. The lad
tried in vain with the crucibles to turn copper and lead
into gold and silver—he looked long and vainly into the
mirror; smoke and clouds passed over it, but he saw nothing
plain, and the shell to his ear produced only indistinct
murmurings, like the breaking of distant seas on an unknown
"I can do nothing," he said, "as I don't know the right
words to utter, and they are locked up in yon book."
looked round, and, see! the book was unfastened; the master
had forgotten to lock it before he went out. The boy rushed
to it and unclosed the volume. It was written with red and
black ink, and much of it he could not understand; but he
put his finger on a line and spelled it through.
At once the room was darkened, and the house trembled; a
clap of thunder rolled through the passage and the old room,
and there stood before him a horrible, horrible form,
breathing fire, and with eyes like burning lamps. It was the
demon Beelzebub, whom he had called up to serve him.
"Set me a task," said he, with a voice like the roaring of
an iron furnace.
The boy only trembled and his hair stood up.
"Set me a task, or I shall strangle thee!"
But the lad could not speak. Then the evil spirit stepped
towards him, and putting forth his hands touched his throat.
The fingers burned his flesh. "Set me a task."
"Water yon flower," cried the boy in despair, pointing to a
geranium which stood in a pot on the floor.
Instantly the spirit left the room, but in another instant
he returned with a barrel on his back, and poured the
contents over the flower; and again and again he went and
came, and poured more and more water, till the floor of the
room was ankle-deep.
"Enough, enough!" gasped the lad; but the demon heeded him
not; the lad didn't know the words by which to send him
away, and still he fetched water.
It rose to the boy's knees and still more water was
It mounted to his waist, and Beelzebub still kept on
bringing barrels full. It rose to his armpits, and he
scrambled to the table-top. And now the water in the room
stood up to the window and washed against the glass and
swirled around his feet on the table. It still rose; it
reached his breast. In vain he cried; the evil spirit would
not be dismissed, and to this day he would have been pouring
water, and would have drowned all Yorkshire. But the master
remembered on his journey that he had not locked the book,
and therefore returned, and at the moment when the water was
bubbling about the pupil's chin, rushed into the room and
spoke the words which cast Beelzebub back into his fiery
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