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This story is suitable for children age 6 to 8 approx.
Master and his pupil.
From English Fairy Tales, by Joseph Jacobs (coll. & ed.)
Start of Story
There 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 private room.
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 gold, and lead 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 the ear whispered all the words
that were being spoken by anyone 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 shore. "I can do nothing," he said; "as I don't
know the right words to utter, and they are locked up in yon book."
He 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
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 its 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
"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
It rose to the boy's knees and still more water was poured. 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 his 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