® The Cobbler's Woe: A true story

Once upon a time, not so long ago, there lived in the village of Lala, a quiet little cobbler. He was an earnest, hardworking shoe smith, good at his trade, thoughtful, and kind to all. Over a period of time he gained many friends who just happened to also be his customers, their shoes his love and joy. All was well.

Then one day a rival cobbler, his shop freshly hacked out of the woods and his tools having still the gleam of newness on them, desiring to sully the old man's reputation to an unknown end, schemed with a pubmate to trick the old cobbler and stain the poor man's good name. So he and the village idiot sent the old man a set of shoes in need of repair, stating they had recently been looked to by another, and waited for their trap to spring. And spring it did. The gentle old cobbler explained long and patiently to the imposter just what was needed to put said shoes aright, and that should have been the end of it.

But alas the kindly old man was verbally set upon by he who asked for help, and coached by the rival, so wearied the old gentleman with assertions and threats that in the face of desperate illogic and even more dearth of reason, our quiet old cobbler could only wave them both away, and turn sadly again to his beloved workbench.

But the dust had not settled before a message came to the old man, a seemingly usual inquiry into another set of shoes to repair. The inquirer soon subtly turned the conversation to the matter of the aforementioned rival, and the old man naively told the account of the first shoes again, not realizing it was the rival himself to whom he was speaking, pretending to be someone else! Dear reader, you can readily guess the outcome of that conversation!

Sometime later still, but really not long, a third bearer of shoes communicated with the old man, and again the conversation turned quickly to the subject of the dastardly rival. Once again the cobbler simplemindedly and guilelessly told the story of the original shoes, as this third pretender bid him to do, then suddenly at the last the cobbler caught on to the trick, and bid the villain good day! Thus armed, the crafty newcomer used this grist to publish throughout the realm all that had been said. Yea, and verily much more than had been said, and also much calumniatory rantings, whilst leaving out the proclaimer's devilishness, until our kind cobbler could not ken any of it.

And were that it ended there, but it did not. For the rival cobbler anon fires flaming darts at the old man, guised still variously, as well as spreads his evil words, until at least one village nobleman has proclaimed "halt," and ever and anon the wicked fellow continues elsewhere to spread his aggression.


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