OF THE HAUNTED SHOEMAKER OF CONSTANTINOPLE

There was a shoemaker of Constantinople who surpassed all others in his craft. He could do in a day what others could not do in two and the work that he did so quickly was far superior than that which the other masters laboured over. He had only to look at a bare foot and he would at once clothe it with a perfectly fitted shoe. He would not work from a pattern but only the living foot and he found favour with the gentry and had no time for the poor. He was also a champion wrestler, so was considered a wonder. One day Satalia, a beautiful maiden and daughter of a rich merchant, came to his window with a great train of followers and showed him her bare foot. He studied it intently, made and sold the shoes and then, for the rest of that day, could not put the thought of that foot from his mind, from the foot, he soon thought intently of what was above. The woman was so above him in status that he languished for love and, in the end, gave up his work and decided to become a soldier, hoping that, by exchanging the meanness of his work for a more gentlemanly trade, he might eventually obtain his heart’s desire. It was typical of the manner of the man that he studied the art of soldiering closely and soon became as respected in that trade as he had in shoemaking. When he had amassed what he thought was sufficient wealth and fame he went to Satalia’s father and expressed his desire. Her father had other, noble, ambitions for his daughter and rejected his request. Now the shoemaker was angry. He determined to gain by force what his lack of estate denied him and he collected together a band of pirates and was soon feared on sea as he had been respected on land. It was at this point that news reached him that Satalia had died. In agony he disguised himself and went to the funeral. He carefully remembered the spot where his love was buried and, that night, returned, broke into the grave and lay with the corpse as if she had still been alive. As he left he seemed to hear a voice in his head telling him to return in nine months. Refusing to give into his fear, he did so and found a bag lying on the grave. Again he heard the voice saying that the bag contained a human head so terrible that he must never show it to anyone unless he wished that person slain. He placed it in a strong box. Now he was no longer satisfied with victories at sea but moved to the land. Whatever cities or villages his force attacked, he had only to reach inside the box and hold up the Gorgon’s head and his enemies would instantly fall dead. Now he was feared beyond measure and all were induced to accept him as their lord. No one understood his power because none who had seen it survived. On the death of the emperor of Constantinople he demanded that he would be appointed the new emperor and marry the emperor’s only daughter. No one had the courage to deny him. On their wedding night she questioned him about that box, that he kept with him at all times. She would not let him rest until she learnt the truth. So she did and, when he had fallen asleep, went to the box, carefully took out the contents, held it in front of him and then gave him a shake. So he was caught by his own snare. The head and the shoemaker’s body were taken to the deepest point of the Grecian Sea and cast into it. Immediately the water began to boil as if resisting the gift it had been given. When this subsided there remained a whirlpool which takes everything that comes within it reach. It is called the Whirlpool of Satalia and can be found, if you care to search, in the Gulf of Antalya.

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