The Cobbler of Burgos
Not far from the Garden of the Widows, in Burgos, lived a cobbler who was so poor that he had not even smiled for many years. Every day he saw the widow ladies pass his small shop on the way to and from the garden; but in their bereavement it would not have been considered correct for them to have bestowed a glance on him, and they required all the money they could scrape together, after making ample provision for their comfort—which, as ladies, they did not neglect—to pay for Masses for the repose of the souls of their husbands, according to the doctrines of the faith which was pinned on to them in childhood.
The priests, however, would sometimes bestow their blessing on Sancho the cobbler; but beyond words he got nothing from the comforters of the widows and of the orphans.
Some of the great families would have their boots soled by him; but being very great and rich people, they demanded long credit, so that he was heard to say that a rich man’s money was almost as scarce as virtue.
Now, one night, when he was about to close his shop, a lovely young widow lady pushed her way by him into the shop, and sitting on the only chair in the room, she bid him close the door immediately, as she had something to say to him in confidence.
Being a true Spaniard, he showed no surprise, but obeyed orders, and stood before the young widow lady, who, after looking at him carefully for a minute, implored him to go upstairs and see that the windows were secure and the shutters barred and bolted.
This done, he again stood before her, when she showed signs of fear, and requested him to ensure against the doors being burst open by piling what furniture he had against them and against the shutters; and then, assuring herself that she was safe, she exclaimed—
“Ah, friend Sancho, it is good to beware of evil tongues. I come to you because I know you to be honest and silent. To-night you must sleep on the roof; get out through the skylight, and I will rest here.”
To refuse a lady’s commands, however singular they may be, is not in the nature of a Spaniard, so Sancho got out through the skylight, when the young widow began screaming, “Let me out, kind people—let me out!