A Pair of Shoes A Story About Common Sense

In ancient times, there lived a learned man. One day, he noticed that his shoes were worn out.

The minute he returned home, he immediately surrounded himself with the books of the wise men he admired and began searching an answer to the question: what should a man do when his shoes have become tattered?

He leafed through the books for a long time before he found out that the only thing he could do was go and buy a new pair of shoes. But, there was a new problem now: where should he go?

Many nights the scientist read through the books before he found an answer to this second question. Afterwards, he spent a lot of time learning how to know for sure that the shoes he will buy will fit his feet perfectly. He was satisfied with the answers and proud with himself. If he hadn’t read all these books, the learned man thought to himself, he would have probably gone barefoot until the day he died.

Just as the books said, the learned man took a straw, measured his foot with it, and, pleased, went to the market. He went around a lot of shops until he found a pair of shoes that he liked.

Unfortunately, the straw wasn’t in his pocket. So, he had to go back home. The shop was far from his home, so when the scientist went back with the straw, the shop had closed. To make matters worse, his shoes completely split up, and, since he didn’t have another pair, the next day he had to go to the market barefoot. But the shoes he picked the day before were now sold.

The learned man explained his situation to the shopkeeper. The shopkeeper was surprised:

– But why didn’t you buy the pair yesterday?

– Because, you see, I forgot the straw I used for measuring my foot back home.

– But your foot was with you, wasn’t it? Why didn’t you just try the shoes?

– Well, the wise men in the books say that shoes should always be bought by the measure.

The owner laughed and replied:

– Oh, no my friend! To buy shoes, you don’t need the books of the wise men. You just need to have a pair of legs and some money.


The Lesson

  • The moral? For the learned man science is a joy, for the fool – a bore. But besides knowledge, you need to have some common sense as well.



  • A Casket of Wisdom. Ancient Chinese Fables. L., 1961.
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