There once was a shoemaker who lived with his wife. He enjoyed his work very much and set up his shop inside their small house. But times were hard for the shoemaker and his wife.
Snowstorms had kept everyone indoors for weeks, so no one could buy any shoes. The shoemaker had little money for food, and he had only enough leather left to make one more pair of shoes.
His wife asked, "What are we to do? The cupboards are bare, and we have no firewood. Even our last candle has almost burned away." Her voice was gentle. She knew her husband worked hard for what little they had.
"We must not worry," said the shoemaker. "Things will work out for us. You'll see, I will finish these shoes tomorrow, and someone will buy them."
He cut out the leather and then went to bed. The shoemaker would finish working first thing in the morning.
When the shoemaker woke up early the next morning, the whole house was cold. His body shivered, and he was very tired. The shoemaker went to his workbench rubbing his tired eyes.
When he looked down, the shoemaker thought he would find the pieces of leather just as he had left them. What he saw instead made him rub his eyes again. A finished pair of shoes were on the workbench!
The shoemaker ran his hands over the shoes. Sure enough, they were made from the same leather that he had cut the previous night. The shoes were very beautiful! The shoemaker admired the tight, even stitching, the placement of the bows, and the silky shine of the leather.
He could not have made better shoes himself. The shoemaker called for his wife to come and look at the wonderful shoes. She was just as amazed as he was. "Who could have made these shoes?" she asked.
The shoemaker and his wife did not know who had given them such a wonderful gift. They did know that the shoes were worth a lot and would bring a good price.
"What a great day," said the shoemaker. "We have a pair of shoes to sell, and the weather is finally clear. Maybe our good luck will continue and someone will buy these shoes."
At that moment there was a knock on the door. It was a traveler who had seen the shoemaker's sign. "I work for the king," he explained, "and I have been traveling throughout the countryside. My travels have worn holes in my shoes. I was hoping that I could buy a pair from you."
The traveler tried on the new shoes, and they fit his feet perfectly. He walked around the shop for a few moments and said, "These are the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn." Then he gave the shoemaker a shiny gold coin to pay for them.
With the gold coin the shoemaker had enough money to buy some things he really needed. He bought food, firewood, and enough leather to make two pairs of shoes. He also bought a wool shawl for his wife.
The couple was very thankful for their good luck, and they decided they would work harder than ever to keep it.
Continue to the next page to find out what else happened to the shoemaker.
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