The Pink Fairy Book HTML version
The Cunning Shoemaker
Once upon a time there lived a shoemaker who could get no work to do, and was so poor
that he and his wife nearly died of hunger. At last he said to her, 'It is no use waiting on
here--I can find nothing; so I shall go down to Mascalucia, and perhaps there I shall be
So down he went to Mascalucia, and walked through the streets crying, 'Who wants some
shoes?' And very soon a window was pushed up, and a woman's head was thrust out of it.
'Here are a pair for you to patch,' she said. And he sat down on her doorstep and set about
'How much do I owe you?' she asked when they were done.
'Here is eighteenpence, and good luck to you.' And he went his way. He turned into the
next street and set up his cry again, and it was not long before another window was
pushed up and another head appeared.
'Here are some shoes for you to patch.'
And the shoemaker sat down on the doorstep and patched them.
'How much do I owe you?' asked the woman when the shoes were finished.
'Here is a crown piece, and good luck to you.' And she shut the window.
'Well,' thought the shoemaker, 'I have done finely. But I will not go back to my wife just
yet, as, if I only go on at this rate, I shall soon have enough money to buy a donkey.'
Having made up his mind what was best to do, he stayed in the town a few days longer
till he had four gold pieces safe in his purse. Then he went to the market and for two of
them he bought a good strong donkey, and, mounting on its back, he rode home to
Catania. But as he entered a thick wood he saw in the distance a band of robbers who
were coming quickly towards him.
'I am lost,' thought he; 'they are sure to take from me all the money that I have earned,
and I shall be as poor as ever I was. What can I do?' However, being a clever little man
and full of spirit, he did not lose heart, but, taking five florins, he fastened them out of
sight under the donkey's thick mane. Then he rode on.
Directly the robber came up to him they seized him exactly as he had foretold and took
away all his money.