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Shaggy Dog (part two)

In which the story continues


If you need to catch up, part one is here.

The carpenter was asked to build a bookshelf for the mayor of the
nearest town. He built the best bookshelf anyone in the area had ever
seen. It had strong, firm shelves, yet such fine carving that anybody
who saw it was amazed. Other carpenters from around the county came
to see it, and all came away disappointed that they would never be
able to create such a bookshelf themselves.

The mayor said: “Plain wood will not match the furniture I already
have. Would you paint it for me?”

The carpenter replied: “I have created some of my finest carvings for
this bookshelf. Painting them would ruin the sharpness and the
definition. In any case, I am a carpenter. My craft is wood, not
paint. I will not paint the bookshelves for you.”

The mayor went away disappointed, despite now having the finest
bookshelves anyone had ever seen. All the visitors to his home wanted
to see them and admire them, and the carpenter’s fame grew further.

The bishop of the diocese travelled to the carpenter’s village to see
him. “My palace needs a new dining suite,” he said. “Will you be
able to build me one?”

It was the carpenter’s largest commission yet, but he took it up with
confidence, even though so many people were giving him work that he
was having to turn people away. After several months, he had
completed the finest dining suite yet seen, with intricate seat-backs
and delicate table legs, so finely-carved you would barely believe it
was made of wood.

“Will you paint it for me?” said the Bishop.

“I am not a painter!” said the carpenter. “I am the finest carpenter
this country has known, but people keep asking me to paint my work!
Slapping thick, sticky paint on such delicate chairs would ruin them!
And besides, I am not a painter. I am a carpenter. I work with wood.
I am the finest woodworker anybody knows, but I cannot paint. I will
not paint these chairs, because that is not my craft.”

The bishop went away, disappointed, even though he had the finest
dining suite in the land.

To be concluded…

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