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The Cobbler And The Ghosts
by [?]

Long ago there lived a cobbler who had very poor wits, but by strict industry he could earn enough to keep himself and his widowed mother in comfort.

In this manner he had lived for many years in peace and prosperity, when a distant relative died who left him a certain sum of money. This so elated the cobbler that he could think of nothing else, and his only talk was of the best way of spending the legacy.

His mother advised him to lay it by against a rainy day.

“For,” said she, “we have lived long in much comfort as we are, and have need of nothing; but when you grow old, or if it should please Heaven that you become disabled, you will then be glad of your savings.”

But to this the cobbler would not listen. “No,” said he, “if we save the money it may be stolen, but if we spend it well, we shall have the use of what we buy, and may sell it again if we are so minded.”

He then proposed one purchase after another, and each was more foolish than the rest. When this had gone on for some time, one morning he exclaimed: “I have it at last! We will buy the house. It cannot be stolen or lost, and when it is ours we shall have no rent to pay, and I shall not have to work so hard.”

“He will never hit on a wiser plan than that,” thought the widow; “it is not to be expected.” So she fully consented to this arrangement, which was duly carried out; and the bargain left the cobbler with a few shillings, which he tied up in a bag and put in his pocket, having first changed them into pence, that they might make more noise when he jingled the bag as he walked down the street.

Presently he said; “It is not fit that a man who lives in his own house, and has ready money in his pocket too, should spend the whole day in labouring with his hands. Since by good luck I can read, it would be well that I should borrow a book from the professor, for study is an occupation suitable to my present position.”

Accordingly, he went to the professor, whom he found seated in his library, and preferred his request.

“What book do you want?” asked the professor.

The cobbler stood and scratched his head thoughtfully. The professor thought that he was trying to recall the name of the work; but in reality he was saying to himself: “How much additional knowledge one requires if he has risen ever so little in life! Now, if I did but know where it is proper to begin in a case full of books like this! Should one take the first on the top shelf, or the bottom shelf, to the left, or to the right?”

At last he resolved to choose the book nearest to him; so drawing it out from the rest, he answered–

“This one, if it please you, learned sir.” The professor lent it to him, and he took it home and began to read.

It was, as it happened, a book about ghosts and apparitions; and the cobbler’s mind was soon so full of these marvels that he could talk of nothing else, and hardly did a stroke of work for reading and pondering over what he read. He could find none of his neighbours who had seen a ghost, though most had heard of such things, and many believed in them.

“Live and learn,” thought the cobbler; “here is fame as well as wealth. If I could but see a ghost there would be no more to desire.” And with this intent he sallied forth late one night to the churchyard.

Meanwhile a thief (who had heard the jingle of his money-bag) resolved to profit by the cobbler’s whim; so wrapping himself in a sheet, he laid wait for him in a field that he must cross to reach the church.