The shoemaker sat at his workbench and hammered the final nail into the pair of shoes he was working on. He lifted them up to his eyes and scrutinized them with an expert’s gaze.
“As fine a pair as I’ve ever made.”
Just then the door to his shop burst open and his apprentice briskly walked inside, nearly tripping over the shoemaker’s daughter as she toddled across the room. The shoemaker’s rich baritone filled the room even as he continued to stare at his latest creation. “Careful, Lucien.”
“Quite alright, young one. Tell me, why are you so eager to cobble today?”
Lucien’s face lit up. “I have something to show you.” Even as he spoke, Lucien fished through his leather satchel.
The shoemaker turned from his workbench and looked upon his apprentice and was struck by how much Lucien had grown. No longer was he the little boy he had invited to apprentice with him… Lucien was well on his way towards becoming a man. His hair hung shaggily toward the bottom of his ears and his jawline was marred with his finest attempt at a beard. As it ever was, Lucien’s most striking feature remained his eyes. Despite being dark, they shone with the radiance of a furnace.
“Behold… our very future.” With that, Lucien revealed a pair of ornate shoes and held them out for the shoemaker to examine.
“My goodness… Where did these come from?”
Lucien beamed with pride. “I made them.”
Muttering more to himself, the shoemaker replied “is that right?”
“Yes sir. I’ve been working on them every night when I return home.”
“They’re quite lovely… I can’t place the materials… What are they made out of?”
“That’s the best part! They were made with the scraps of the carpenter and the tanner. They cost nearly nothing to manufacture, and we can charge anything we want because they look so exquisite!”
The Shoemaker peered up at his young student. “Were these scraps treated? The wood feels rough and the leather is a little loose.”
“Well… No, sir. That would raise production cost.”
“You know what happens if an untreated shoe is worn… The wearer gets splinters, the shoe begins to hurt, and it doesn’t last. I know I taught you that.”
“Exactly! Your shoes last forever! Imagine how much more business you’d do if people had to buy multiple pairs! We could even dress them differently, people would buy more than they needed, wear them out, and buy them again!”
“That’s not how we do business. We’ll not harm and take advantage of our neighbors for profit.”
“But nothing. Put it out of your mind. You’re a skilled cobbler, Lucien. Best to continue mastering the craft.”
But Lucien wasn’t able to put it out of his mind. He went to his workbench and stared at the simple materials the shoemaker always used. He didn’t understand. Lucien had it in him to be something more than the cobbler. With the skills the shoemaker had taught him, he could become something else… a businessman. Yes, he would be a cobbler like the shoe maker, but he would be rich too.
Who was the shoemaker to pass judgment on him? Hadn’t he spent his life obeying his orders? He deserved this chance. He deserved this opportunity. Slowly, the perceived injustice began to eat away at him.
Lucien walked out of the shop that night, but not before destroying his work station. He threw materials into the furnace, knocked shelves of shoes to the floor, and told the shoemaker exactly what he thought about him and his store.
From that night on, Lucien was into business for himself. Much to his frustration, however, he found it harder than he thought to convince those around to wear his shoes. Who needed his fancy fall-apart shoes when the shoemaker could provide comfortable, long-lasting shoes at an affordable price? For that reason, Lucien had to go further and further from his village to find places the shoemaker’s influence had not yet reached.
Despite the difficulties he faced, he made his fortune. However, he never spoke to the shoemaker again. So consumed was he with anger that he blamed the shoemaker for every problem he faced.
And now, after decades of living with hate and frustration and resentment, the one thing he could use to hurt the shoemaker sat across the table from him. He would use the shoemaker’s daughter to hurt the shoemaker more than he ever could on his own.