From Ailenroc’s Book, by Cornelia Alexander
He was only a poor, lone old man, small, wrinkled, and bent; yet, directly after he moved into Hillsboro and set up his modest little sign, “Shoe and Boot-making and Mending,” the boys chose to invest him with a kind of mystery. It is very likely that none of them had heard of “the little man in black,” the descendant of the renowned “Limpkin Fidilius;” certain it is they laid nothing weird or ghostly to his credit; and, instead of avoiding his little shop, they had a way of flocking into it at odd times and on rainy days to hear his odd tales of foreign lands, and thus it came about that those youngsters dreamed dreams and wove romances concerning the little bent shoemaker.
The boys were about all the company he had. The preacher, looking out over his audience on Sundays, noted the shrunken figure of the shoemaker always in its place; but it never occurred to him to hunt up the little man in his home and converse with him. The doctor, a good brother in the church, sometimes heard, in passing, a startling cough ring out from the shoeshop, and knew that at the cost of a few cents he could stop that cough and the pain it caused; but he was a practicing physician, whose business was to go when called for, and help when paid. The deacons wondered what church the little old man belonged to; but when they heard the wild tales the boys told, they voted him an old cheat and passed by on the other side. Sometimes the good sisters, on baking days, gatherings, etc., thought of the lonely old man, and thought of sending him a toothsome lunch; but they reasoned that it might cause him to be troublesome, so they let him alone. Thus it happened that the boys were his only companions.
What strange tales he could tell! Of frozen lands, of ice and snow, of storms and tempests; and, again, of tropical climes, where flowers bloomed, sluggish waters ran, and venomous serpents and bloodthirsty beasts hid in the jungles. Read More