The Shoemaker Once upon a time there lived a shoemaker. Every day he went to his small shop in the gloomy, deep forest near his home. There he made lovely leather shoes which he sold at the local market. He understood his customers needs and he knew all of the different types of shoes that everyone wanted. Since he was a careful workman he had plenty of customers and made a decent living to support his family. For a long time he was quite happy and content, and asked for nothing better than what he had.
In the forest in which the shoemaker kept his shop, dwelt a spirit. Every now and then it appeared before people, and helped them in many ways to become rich and prosperous. The shoemaker, however, had never seen this phantom, and only shook his head in disbelief when anyone spoke of the visitor. But a time was coming when he would learn to change his opinion.
A time was coming when he too would become a believer.
One day the shoemaker delivered a pair of shoes to the house of a rich man, and saw there all sorts of beautiful things, of which he had never even dreamed. There were ten rooms, in each one were marvelous paintings full of color and zest. There were five bathrooms and in each a gold tub. The most impressive however, were the five maids that filled ever wish and demand that the man ever wanted. Suddenly the shoemaker's daily work seemed to grow harder and heavier, and he said to himself: "Oh, if only I were a rich man, and could sleep in a bed with silk sheets and golden tassels, how happy I should be!" Then suddenly, a resonant, sonorous voice answered him: "Your wish is heard; a rich man you shall be!" At the sound of the voice the shoemaker looked around, but could not see anybody. He looked all around for the voice but could see nothing, and turned his thoughts to other things. He thought it was only his imagination. So he picked up his tools and went home; for he did not feel too inclined to do any more work that day. But when he reached the little, pitiful house where he lived, he stood still with amazement. Instead of his wooden hut was a grand palace filled with splendid furniture, and most splendid of all was the bed, in every respect like the one he had envied. The bed was gigantic! It had silk sheets (just like he wanted) and tassels hanging off the end. There were six pillows and on the center one was a bowl of fruit with the most magnificent fruits the shoemaker had ever seen. He was nearly beside himself with joy, and in his new, good, life the old one was soon forgotten.
It was now the beginning of summer, and each day the sun blazed more fiercely. One morning the heat was so great that the shoemaker could scarcely breathe, the hot air was suffocating him and he soon finished his work for the day. He decided he would finish his work later and headed home. He was pacing and wondering around his home trying to think of what to do. He was peeping through the closed blinds to see what was going on in the street, when a little carriage passed by, drawn by servants dressed in blue and silver. In the carriage sat a prince, and over his head a golden umbrella shielded him from the sun's rays. His shiny shoes and robes made from gold thread were simply astonishing. The prince seemed to glow like a star in the blistering sun.
"Oh, if only I were a prince!" said the shoemaker to himself, as the carriage disappeared around the corner. "Oh, if I were only a prince, and could go in such a carriage, have shiny shoes and have a golden umbrella held over me, how happy I could be! I would never wish for anything again." Within a blink of an eye he became a prince. Before his carriage rode one company of men and another behind it; servants dressed in maroon and gold bore him along; the coveted umbrella was held over his head and he looked just like a gentleman. Everything his heart could desire was his. But yet it was not enough. The prince looked around still for something to wish for even though he promised he would not make anymore wishes. Then when he saw that in spite of the water he poured on the grass the rays of the sun scorched it, and that in spite of the umbrella held over his head each day his face grew browner and browner, he cried in his anger: "The sun is mightier than I, its not fair; oh, if only I were the sun! This is the last wish I shall ever make." And the forest spirit answered: "Your wish is heard; the sun you shall be." Soon enough the prince became a sun, and felt proud of his power. He shot his beams above and below, on earth and in heaven; he burnt up the grass in the fields and scorched the faces of princes as well as of poorer folk. But in a short time he began to grow tired of his might, for there seemed nothing left for him to do. (He could never entertain himself for too long). Gloom once more filled his soul, and when a rain drop covered his face, and watered the earth below him, he cried in his anger: "Does the rain block out my light, and is it mightier than me? Oh, what I would do to be rain, the most powerful of all!" And the forest spirit answered: "Your wish is heard; rain you shall be!" Rain he was, and he lay between the sun and the earth. He covered the sun's beams and hid them, and to his joy the earth grew green again and flowers blossomed. But that was not enough for him once again, and for days and weeks he poured rain till the rivers overflowed their banks, and the crops were immersed in water. Towns and villages were destroyed by the power of the rain, only one great tree on the mountainside remained unmoved. The rain drop was amazed at the sight, and cried in wonder: "Is the tree, then, mightier than I? Oh, if I were only the tree! I would be the most powerful of all." The forest spirit answered; "Your wish is heard; the tree you shall be!" The tree he soon became, and gloried in his new found power. Proudly he stood, and neither the heat of the sun nor the force of the rain could move him. "This is better than all! I am the strongest" he said to himself. But one day he heard a strange noise at his feet, and when he looked down to see what it could be, he saw a shoemaker sharpening tools on a rock nearby. Even while he looked a trembling feeling ran all through him. Then he cried in his wrath: "Is a mere child of earth mightier than a tree? Oh, if I were only a man!" And the mountain spirit answered: "Your wish is heard. A man once more you shall be!" A man he was, and in the sweat of his brow he toiled again at his trade of shoe making. His bed was hard and his food scarce, but he had learned to be satisfied with it, and did not long to be something or somebody else. As he never asked for things he did not have, or desired to be greater and mightier than other people, he was happy at last, and never again heard the voice of the mountain spirit. The man went on to tell his story to everyone he saw. People learned to be happy with who they were and they stopped wishing to be someone else. They started to take pride in their work and finally became happy. From that day they on no one ever seeked the help of the spirits and they never came again.