The cobbler was a quiet, thoughtful man who said very little during our whole journey. He listened carefully to all that was being said, taking much of it to heart. We knew very little of him except for that his thoughtfulness made him to appear a very pretentious man, particularly for lowly status. So when it came time for him to tell his tale, I doubt that any of us were surprised when he began with this following interlude:
Fellow pilgrims, I, unlike many of you have little experience in love and marriage. However, I do know that if one were to be given the chance at true love you wouldn't have the courage to face it. You can defend your honor and say that of course you would have such courage or you can scoff at the very idea of true love, saying how could you, a lowly cobbler, know of such grand romance? Well, I might be lowly but I have seen love pass before my eyes and felt great sorrow for the man who shied from its calling. Take my story as a warning dear pilgrims and perhaps you will have the courage when it is required of you.
Once there was a poor, widowed cobbler whose only joy in life was his work. He had no children or family to speak of and the person closest to him was a lazy apprentice. Despite his misery, the cobbler was a good, honest man. He always charged the right price, made quality work and never cheated his customer. For this reason he was well-known throughout the land. If a passing stranger needed a quick repair he was the one the townsfolk recommended.
One day, while he was working on a pair a boots for the village's baker, the cobbler heard a heavy knocking on his back door. This surprised him for most customers came to the front door. Intrigued, he went to answer the knocking. Outside stood the most odd yet magnificent women he had ever seen. She was tall and dressed in an assortment of colorful silks and heavy furs. But perhaps the
most striking feature of the lady was her headgear. She was wearing a fantastically wide brimmed hat and had a heavy black veil strung in front of her face so that even her slightest features were hidden. For most people this would have been seen as a warning but not for the honest, kindhearted cobbler.
Instead of judging the lady, he said, “Good day, dear madam. What may I do for you?”
“I request a pair of shoes before dusk falls,” replied the lady in a near whisper, “I heard you are the best around.”
“What sort of shoes are you thinking of?” asked the cobbler.
“A pair of simple boots, cow hide, black,” whispered the lady.
“Certainly madam. You said by dusk, yes?”asked the cobbler.
“Indeed by dusk. Do you think it possible?”
Immediately after coming to this agreement the lady left, leaving the way she had arrived. The cobbler rushed to finish. He quickly gathered and cut the fabric, working for many hours into the afternoon. “Where is that darned apprentice when I need him?” he thought. Finally, just as the sun was beginning to melt into...