In The Earl of Her Dreams a reference is made to the tale of Joshua McShaver and Caroline Travis. An intrepid young soul decided to
tell his tale try his hand at the tale. Enjoy!
Corralling the Cobbler
aka The Tale of Joshua McShaver
by Joshua Dulce-Besos
joshua.dulce.besos [AT] gmail.com
WHAM! Crashed the bedframe to the floor, and McShaver along with it.
From the washroom emerged the shapely form of – what was her name again? – ah yes, Elaine.
“Joshy-poo, what was that noise? Oh, why is the bed on the floor?”
A lesser man would have been embarrassed in this situation. He had just started carving the latest notch in a leg of his wood frame bed, each notch representing one of the countless ladies that he had… entertained. Countless that is until he started carving the bed to keep track. A fine plan, he thought, until today when the leg finally gave way from one too many notches.
A lesser man would have been embarrassed, but Joshua McShaver was not a lesser man, so he just smiled and explained it away.
“They sure don’t make furniture like they used to.” And he walked over and kissed Elaine, knowing she would immediately lose interest in the bed. Or at least she would lose interest in the collapse of the bed, he realized, as they fell back into the sheets.
As Joshua left his flat, he glanced in a mirror.
“I shall have to invest in a much stronger bed if I am to continue cataloging my conquests.” He thought to himself as he admired the image in the mirror.
Though vain, Joshua’s opinion of himself was accurate. Joshua was a man with the height of an athlete, and the strength of a wrestler. His careful diet had preserved his boyish good looks. By excluding meat, eating many seeds and nuts and receiving vitamin infusions from his nutritionist Cliff, he had kept his skin firm and smooth and his hair full and without a hint of grey. Yes, Joshua McShaver was looking good, and he knew it.
As he walked through town he would tip his hat at each lady, single or married, alone or accompanied, and each would sigh or giggle in response. His cobblery was constantly busy, though much of the business was repair of ladies’ footwear that seemed to not be in need of repair. Word had spread, it seemed, that his rakish good looks extended beneath his Cobbler’s Apron, and that he knew how to use his awl.
On this particular spring morning, into his shop walked a girl he had not only not slept with before, but had never seen before. This promised to be an interesting day.
“Good morning, M’Lady. I’m Joshua McShaver, no doubt you’ve heard of me.”
A blank look appeared on her face, and then a laugh and a delightful smile. He realized she was laughing at him.
“No, sorry. I’m new to town and in need of some new riding boots. Can you help me with that?”
“Certainly… I’m sorry I didn’t get your name?” He said as he looked her over. Her long slender legs and full bosom suggested several names that he’d like to call her…
“Certainly Miss Travis. I am familiar with all forms of riding… boots, and it will be my pleasure to size you. Please have a seat and take off your shoes.”
As she sat, Joshua removed his shirt and, somewhat methodically, put on his apron. Then he set to work. As he used his tape measure and notepad, he explained to Miss Travis the importance of measuring all aspects of the leg.
“Lesser cobblers measure merely the width and length of the foot. They ignore the crucial diameter of the ankle,”
as he caressed her ankle
“or the calf, vital to ensure that the boot stays positioned correctly on the leg.”
as he massaged her calf. Then, as his hand moved upward
“In fact even the thigh is important for –“
All was black
When Joshua came to, he was surrounded by young women who were all asking whether he was okay. Many of them had some extremely convincing suggestions of ways they could help him recover, and their care seemed to extend to areas of his body that had not been injured. They had taken off his apron and breeches “For air” they said, though it was a cool morning still. Miss Travis was nowhere to be seen. Though normally the concern and care from these girls would have all of his attention, he could now only think about what had happened.
She had resisted his finest move! The “foot massage especial” as he called it, had never failed. More than half of the women currently tending to him had fallen for it. Perhaps she had hit him accidentally, and left in embarrassment, he thought. But the growing lump on his head said otherwise.
He ordered everyone out of his shop, locked the door, and went home for the day. Though his new bed with reinforced legs was delivered that afternoon, it remained un-notched that evening.
The next morning Joshua had brunch with his friend Matthias Rawling, the town tinker. Rawling was almost the complete opposite of McShaver, spending most of his time devising clever and complicated mechanical contraptions to do simple tasks. Currently he was building what he called a remote communicator. McShaver was never clear exactly what it was supposed to do, but it seemed to be a fantastic combination of pulleys, levers, and cables that allowed a person in one room to display a message in the next room. McShaver was never clear why this was preferable to simply walking to the next room, but Rawling seemed convinced that avoiding this human contact was critical.
Rawling was a short red-headed man, who unlike McShaver had settled down much earlier in life. He had married Anna Cani, who he had met in the most unlikely of ways.
He had been working on an earlier invention in his second floor flat, and through the breaking of a portion of the contraption, a marble had shot out of the window and hit Miss Cani in the head. She was uninjured, but he was so apologetic and so sweet in an awkward, clumsy way, that she was irresistibly drawn to him.
Despite their differences, Rawling and McShaver had become good friends, and so it was to Rawling that McShaver related the story of the previous day.
“You must mean Caroline Travis,” said Rawling. “She just arrived a few days ago. She is a schoolteacher, and I guess that makes her skilled in dealing with immature, childish…”
“Alright, enough!” McShaver complained. “But what do you think I should do about it?”
“Do about it? Why there’s nothing you need to do at all. I assure you she will not be coming back to your shop,” he said with a hearty laugh, “so there’s really no need for you to do anything.”
McShaver nodded, and they finished their brunch. He headed to his cobblery to start making up for the work he should have done the previous day. First, he needed to clean up the mess caused by his … fall. He picked up some shoes that had gone flying, and some tools, and – the notepad made him stop.
It still had her measurements on it. Reading the diameter of her thigh immediately brought back a memory of her. But no, she was just like all of the other girls. Sure, her calf to ankle ratio was perfect, but that wasn’t everything. And it did seem a shame that her creamy white skin would be covered up by inferior footwear, but…
He had an idea. He had her measurements, and he was a cobbler. He would make her a fine pair of riding boots, to apologize for his behavior.
The reality was that McShaver normally created a pair of boots using only the width and length of the foot. In this case though, as a side effect of his foot massage, he really did have a complete set of measurements. With these measurements he set out to make the best boots he ever had. He chose a fine white leather for the outers, with suede highlights, and brass eyelets for the laces. It took him the entire day (where a normal pair of boots would take an hour) but he was proud of the result.
But how to deliver them? He couldn’t just walk up to her door. Based on their parting terms, he thought that might not work out well. So he called in the little girl who worked at the florist next door. Justine Reeder was used to running small errands of this type.
“Justine, I need you to deliver these shoes, and a dozen roses, to Miss Caroline Travis. Tell her they are from the cobbler, who apologizes for his behavior.”
That evening a knock came on his door. He opened it and was stunned to see Caroline. She was barefoot, and wet, for a warm rain was falling from the dusk sky. The orange glow of the sky lit up her brown hair, so it looked almost on fire.
“Come in, come in. Sorry, I wasn’t expecting you.” Joshua said, a bit less suave than was normal for him.
“I’m sorry for barging in. I got your gift. They are wonderful. As riding boots should be, they are a bit tight. I imagine you are good at making things…fit.”
“Why yes, I think I can help with that. And I’m sure you will like the fit.” McShaver said, and his face became a bit flushed.
“And I imagine that you take your time with the…fitting?”
“Definitely, M’Lady. My pride in my cobbling requires…”
“Just put on my boots please.” Caroline interjected, as she removed her wet clothing, leaving just a light, sleeveless summer dress.
“Certainly, just take a seat here on the couch.”
Joshua started to try to put the boots on, but he was trying to do so without actually touching Caroline. He realized he was actually afraid. Just one day earlier in this position he had been knocked out, and even worse, he had been rejected! He wasn’t willing to risk that happening again, but putting on the shoe without touching her foot was not working.
Caroline started laughing, a giggle at first, and then a full laugh. Joshua was mortified and for the first time in years, he didn’t know what to do.
As she was laughing, Caroline pushed the boots to the side, slid to the floor next to Joshua, and said, “Kiss me, cobbler.”
And as it started to pour outside, Caroline Travis and Joshua McShaver came together, and all was well in the worlds of cobblery and love.