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Main > Czechoslovak folktale > Fairy tale "The Shoemaker's Apron: The Story of the Man Who Sits Near the Golden Gate"

The Shoemaker's Apron: The Story of the Man Who Sits Near the Golden Gate

There was once a shoemaker who made so little at his trade that his wife suffered and his children went hungry. In desperation he offered to sell his soul to a devil.

"How much do you want for your soul?" the devil asked him.

"I want work enough to give me a good livelihood," the shoemaker said, "so that my wife won't suffer nor my children starve."

The devil agreed to this and the shoemaker put his mark on the contract. After that trade improved and soon the little shoemaker was happy and prosperous.

Now one night it happened that Christ and the blessed St. Peter, who were walking about on earth, stopped at the little shoemaker's cottage and asked for a night's lodging. The shoemaker received them most hospitably. He had his wife cook them a fine supper and after supper he gave them his own bed to sleep on while he and his wife went to the garret and slept on straw.

In the morning he had his wife prepare them a good breakfast and after breakfast he took them on their way for a mile or two.

As he was leaving them, St. Peter whispered to Christ:

"Master, this poor man has given us of his best. Don't you think you ought to reward him?"

Christ nodded and, turning to the little shoemaker, he said:

"For your kindness to us this day I will reward you. Make three wishes and they will be granted."

The shoemaker thanked Christ and said:

"Well then, these are my wishes: first, may whoever sits down on my cobbler's stool be unable to get up until I permit him; second, may whoever looks into the window of my cottage have to stand there until I let him go; and third, may whoever shakes the pear-tree in my garden stick to the tree until I set him free."

"Your wishes will be granted," Christ promised. Then he and St. Peter went on their way and the shoemaker returned to his cottage.

The years went by and at last one afternoon the devil stood before the shoemaker and said:

"Ho, shoemaker, your time has come! Are you ready?"

"Just let me have a bite of supper first," the shoemaker said.

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