The Shoeless Shoemaker

As his family had done for countless centuries, the cobbler labored long hours each day to make shoes for the good people of the village. The shoe-making techniques his family passed down through the years yielded shoes that were of peerless quality, and the good people of the village would wear no other. When his son grew old enough to begin learning the secrets of the trade, the cobbler told him the story his father once told him, about a time when the first shoe-maker in their family was very poor and down to the last of his leather for shoes. His problems were solved by dwarves who came in the night and made perfect shoes for him, so that he soon became renowned through the village and the country as the best shoemaker in the land.

That was the source of the family’s superior shoe-making trade, the cobbler explained to his son, and it has been handed down through the years, father to son.

And so the father taught the son.

The cobbler also instructed his son on one other point: each year before spring, the son should do as his father and his father’s father and so on had done each year, which was to craft a pair of small outfits, two small shirts and coats, two pairs of pants, and two small pairs of shoes, all of which should be set out on the porch step on the first spring morning. Each spring their family had done so, and each spring the clothes were gone. This, the father instructed the son, was how they ensured that their shoes would continue to be of outstanding quality.

For many years, the father and son worked side by side in the shoe shop, and each year at spring the father crafted clothes to set out on the first spring morning. The son smiled at his father’s superstition, but took no part in it. If his father was content to make clothes each spring that were doubtlessly taken away by the neighborhood children, such was his choice.

When the son had a wife and child of his own, his father took ill and passed away, leaving the family shoe shop under the younger shoemaker’s watchful eye.

The younger shoemaker was diligent in his practice of his father’s shoe-making techniques, and continued to earn the praise of the good people of the village and country for making the best shoes in the land. The first spring morning came and went, and the young shoemaker set no clothes on his porch steps, nor did the thought of doing so ever cross his mind.

Before the moon had completed its first cycle of the spring, the young shoemaker had taken ill. His feet swelled and grew, and became tender and painful to the touch. He could not stand on his feet to do his work, nor could he conceive of covering his feet with shoes, socks, or even a light sheet as he lay in bed.

His wife did her best to make the shoes in his absence, but already the word had spread across the land. He became known as the shoeless shoemaker, and his family quickly grew poor and lost their home.

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