The Shoelaces


Frederick the shoemaker liked to make shoes. He liked to make dancing slippers for young ladies and work shoes for farmers. He liked to make school shoes for children. And he liked to make house shoes for their mothers. But most of all he liked to make hunting boots for young gentlemen.

As he carefully stitched each boot, Frederick would say to his wife, “Someday I will make myself a pair of boots like these.”

But the young shoemaker never even had enough money to make new shoes for himself, much less a pair of hunting boots. Once in a while, however, he made himself a new pair of shoelaces out of leftover scraps to wear in his old shoes.

“A shoemaker should have more than new shoelaces,” he said one day. “A shoemaker should have a new pair of hunting boots!”

“But how can we afford them?” asked his wife. “With the little money we have, we must buy food to eat, candles to light the house at night, and new leather to make more shoes to sell.”

“I know. But only shoelaces! It isn’t right.” He sighed, then worked in silence for a few minutes. “Maybe,” he said at last, “maybe if I’m careful, I can save a wee bit of money here and there. And then maybe someday I can have more than just new shoelaces.”

And so Frederick saved two small coins from every pair of shoes he sold. He began burning one candle on his workbench at night instead of his usual two candles. He saved even more by drinking two glasses of milk a day instead of his usual three glasses.

At last Frederick had saved enough money to buy leather for a pair of hunting boots for himself. At night, by the light of his candle, he stitched and sewed. Finally the boots were finished. “These are the most handsome boots I have ever made,” he said to his wife. He put on the new boots and tucked his old shoes into the back of his closet.

The shoemaker loved his new boots. He wore them around the shop every day, and he wore them hunting on Saturdays. As a matter of fact, he wore them for years and years.

At last they wore out. Frederick turned the boots over and over in his hands. I think there might be enough good leather here to make some work shoes, he thought.

So he cut and snipped, and he stitched and sewed, until at last his work shoes were finished.

Frederick was almost as proud of his new work shoes as he had been of his boots. He wore them around the shop every day, and he wore them to church on Sundays. As a matter of fact, he wore them for years and years.

At last they, too, wore out. Frederick turned the work shoes over and over in his hands. I think there might be enough good leather here to make some house slippers, he thought. So he cut and snipped, and he stitched and sewed, until at last his house slippers were finished.

The shoemaker was almost as proud of his new slippers as he had been of his boots and his work shoes. He wore them in the shop all day, and he wore them while he sat in front of his fire at night. As a matter of fact, he wore them for years and years.

At last they, too, wore out. Frederick turned the slippers over and over in his hands. I think there might be just enough good leather here to make one more thing, he thought. So he cut and snipped, until at last a pair of shoelaces was finished.

Then he reached way back into his closet and pulled out his old shoes. He cleaned and polished them and put in the new shoelaces. The shoemaker was happy with these new shoelaces because he remembered the handsome hunting boots and the sturdy work shoes and the comfortable house slippers they had once been.

And he wore those shoelaces forever.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Shauna Mooney