The Cunning Shoemaker
Once upon a time...
Once upon a time there lived a shoemaker who could get no work to do， and was so poor that he and his wife nearly died of hunger. At last he said to her， ' waiting on here--I can find nothing; so I shall go down to Mascalucia， and perhaps there I shall be more lucky.'
So down he went to Mascalucia， and walked through the streets crying， 'Who wants some shoes?' up， and a woman' out of it.
'Here are a pair for you to patch，' she said. And he sat down on her doorstep and set about patching them.
'How much do I owe you?' she asked when they were done.
'Here is eighteenpence， and good luck to you.' And he went his way. He turned into the next street and set up his cry again， up and another head appeared.
'Here are some shoes for you to patch.'
And the shoemaker sat down on the doorstep and patched them.
'How much do I owe you?' asked the woman when the shoes were finished.
'Here is a crown piece， and good luck to you.' And she shut the window.
'Well，' thought the shoemaker， ' yet， as， if I only go on at this rate， I shall soon have enough money to buy a donkey.'
Having made up his mind what was best to do， he stayed in the town a few days longer till he had four gold pieces safe in his purse. Then he went to the market and for two of them he bought a good strong donkey， and， mounting on its back， he rode home to Catania. quickly towards him.
'I am lost，' thought he; 'they are sure to take from me all the money that I have earned， and I shall be as poor as ever I was. What can I do?' However， being a clever little man and full of spirit， he did not lose heart， but， taking five florins， he fastened them out of sight under the donkey's thick mane. Then he rode on.
Directly the robber came up to him they seized him exactly as he had foretold and took away all his money.
'Oh， dear friends!' he cried， wringing his hands， 'I am only a poor shoemaker， and have nothing but this donkey left in the world.'
As he spoke the donkey gave himself a shake， and down fell the five florins.
' from?' asked the robbers.
'Ah，' replied the shoemaker， 'you have guessed my secret. The donkey is a golden donkey， and supplies me with all my money.'
'，' said the robbers. 'We will give you any price you like.'
The shoemaker at first declared that nothing would induce him to sell him， but at last he agreed to hand him over to the robbers for fifty gold pieces. 'But listen to what I tell you，' said he. ' each take it in turn to own him for a night and a day， or else you will all be fighting over the money.'
With these words they parted， the robbers driving the donkey to their cave in the forest and the shoemaker returning home， stopped on the way to pick up a good dinner， and the next day spent most of his gains in buying a small vineyard.
Meanwhile the robbers had arrived at the cave where they lived， and the captain， calling them all round him， agreed， and then he told his wife to put a mattress in the stable. She asked if he had gone out of his mind， but he answered crossly， 'What is that to you? Do as you are bid， and to-morrow I will bring you some treasures.'
Very early the captain awoke and searched the stable， but could find nothing， and guessed that Master Joseph had been making fun of them. 'Well，' he said to himself， 'if I have been taken in， off any better.'
So， when one of his men arrived and asked him eagerly how much money he had got， he answered gaily， 'Oh，， if you only knew! But I shall say nothing about it till everyone has had his turn!'
One after another they all took the donkey， for anybody. At length， when all the band had been tricked， they held a council， and resolved to march to the shoemaker' as before， the shoemaker saw them a long way off， and began to think how he could outwit them again. When he had hit upon a plan he called his wife， and said to her， 'Take a bladder and fill it with blood， and demand the money they gave me for the donkey I shall shout to you and tell you to get it quickly. argue with me， and decline to obey me， and then I shall plunge my knife into the bladder， lie till I play on my guitar; then get up and begin to dance.'
The wife made haste to do as she was bid， and there was no time to lose， They entered with a great noise， and overwhelmed the shoemaker with reproaches for having deceived them about the donkey.
' have lost its power owing to the change of masters，' said he; 'but we will not quarrel about it. You shall have back the fifty gold pieces that you gave for him. Aite，' he cried to his wife， 'go quickly to the chest upstairs， and bring down the money for these gentlemen.'
'Wait a little，' answered she; ' first bake this fish. It will be spoilt if I leave it now.'
'Go this instant， as you are bid，' shouted the shoemaker， stamping as if he was in a great passion; but， as she did not stir， he drew his knife， and stabbed her in the neck. The blood spurted out freely， and she fell to the ground as if she was dead.
'What have you done?' asked the robbers， looking at him in dismay. 'The poor woman was doing nothing.'
'Perhaps I was hasty， but it is easily set right，' replied the shoemaker， taking down his guitar and beginning to play. Hardly had he struck the first notes than his wife sat up; then got on her feet and danced.
The robbers stared with open mouths， and at last they said， 'Master Joseph， what you will take for your guitar，?'
'Oh， that is impossible!' replied the shoemaker， ' strike her dead， such a habit with me that I don't think I could break myself of it; and， of course， if I got rid of the guitar I could never bring her back to life again.'
However， the robbers would not listen to him， and at last he consented to take forty gold pieces for the guitar.
Then they all returned to their cave in the forest， delighted with their new purchase， and longing for a chance of trying its powers. But the captain declared that the first trial belonged to him， and after that the others might have their turn.
That evening he called to his wife and said， 'What have you got for supper?'
'Macaroni，' answered she.
'Why have you not boiled a fish?' he cried， and stabber in the neck so that she fell dead. The captain， who was not in the least angry， seized the guitar and began to play; but， let him play as loud as he would， the dead woman never stirred. 'Oh， lying shoemaker! Oh， abominable knave! Twice has he got the better of me. But I will pay him out!'
So he raged and swore， but it did him no good. The fact remained that he had killed his wife and could not bring her back again.
The next morning came one of the robbers to fetch the guitar， and to hear what had happened.
'Well， how have you got on?'
'Oh， splendidly! I stabbed my wife， and then began to play， and now she is as well as ever.'
'Did you really? Then this evening I will try for myself.'
Of course the same thing happened over again， till all the wives had been killed secretly， and when there were no more left they whispered to each other the dreadful tale， and swore to be aven