21. We Do Not Know What the Dawn May Bring

The Minister of War, hurriedly, called the chief blacksmith of the Army and ordered him to have two hundred thousand horseshoes made immediately. The blacksmith was horrified, and explained that to make such a quantity of horseshoes, both time and workers would be required. The Minister replied, “It is the order of his Majesty that these two hundred thousand horseshoes be ready by tomorrow; if not, your head will pay the penalty.”

The poor blacksmith replied, that knowing now that he was doomed he would be unable to make even a fifth of the number. The Minister would not listen to reason, and left in anger, repeating the order of his Majesty.

The blacksmith retired to his home deeply dejected. His wife tried to encourage and comfort him, saying, “Cheer up, husband, drink your wine, eat your bread, and be cheerful, for we do not know what the dawn may bring.”

“Ah!” said the blacksmith, “the dawn will not bring two hundred thousand horseshoes, and my head will pay the penalty.”

Late that night there was a tremendous knocking at his door. The poor blacksmith thought that it was an inquiry as to how many horseshoes were already made, and trembling with fear went and opened the door. What was his surprise, when on opening the door and inquiring the object of the visit, to be greeted with, “Hurry, blacksmith, let us have sixteen nails, for the Minister of War has been suddenly removed to Paradise by the hand of God.”

The blacksmith gathered, not sixteen but forty nails of the best he had, and, handing them to the messenger, said, “Nail him down well, friend, so that he will not get up again, for had not this happened, the nails would have been required to keep me in my coffin.”