Oh, Mascugani—what an odd old tale to tell…
In the foot lands of Mount Skyward, there dwelt a shack of impeccable rusted metal. Lady Ma’am, otherwise known as Lady Mascugani, lived there alone and always in company of wandering souls. She lived alongside the Shrooblin that watched over those woods. Some claim her ancestry somehow tied to the Trissellah, though she would but chuckle at such assumption.
She had no age for no age could be given her that would amply bring justice to her complexion. She was not but five foot and never wore a sock in her life—rather known for carrying her socks about her thick leather belt.
Two old, dirty, and worn socks.
It was those very socks that lured her company, for many would travel a distance to hear her story. It was a tale ever soft, ever warming, and everlasting. It was always spoken of around the campfires and cozy blankets at bedtime. Everyone loved to hear it and to share in the laughter, the joy and memory.
They—the socks, that is—belonged to her long, passed lover. Some untold years ago, she herself stumbled upon that metal shack, only then it was dwelled by a man of the greatest beard and largest feet. It is said one whiff of the man’s toes would be enough to wake a sleeping beauty.
Yet the man bore a heart of the most giving sacrifice, and it happened that when she stumbled upon him, she was in desperate need. You see, Lady Mascugani had lost her way. She had not but a nightgown and a pair of the most sparkled shoes ever beheld—shoes given to her by the Shoetress herself. But in her negligence, she refused to take them off and, in the hype of having received them, forgot to put on socks.
As the days passed, people began to notice. What at first was the talk-of-the-town for sparkling shoes slowly turned into the stench-of-the-town. Her friends and family tried to tell her she needed but wash her feet and put socks on, but she neither listened nor cared… until it was too late.
For the shoes found their hold and had molded to her feet! Thus she came to be known as Lady Mascugani, the Mistress of Stinky Feet. Into despair she and her toes went until no more could she take. Seeking all the help she could, no one could speak to her through the stench. Here and there, to and fro she tried to hide but the sparkles shone through. She was becoming hopeless in ever escaping her sparkling shoes.
The townspeople tried the best they could to help her, but the mask they made and the fans they built could not overcome the smell. Instead they built her campfires by night and left her food as they could. She needed not worry of harm for no creature dared to approach. But one cold night, on the eve of winter’s coming, she found a note mixed in her basket of fruit.
“Dear Mascugani,” it read, “I hear you are in need of remedy. I can read the rhythms of your heartbeat and must say you should not have let your sparkle lead you astray. I see your tear, I feel it slipping from your eye, but know the warmth of this fire of which your family did provide. And while you may feel abandoned and deserted by your surroundings, know also the light that has changed within and before you.”
It was then she looked up to surprise, for all her surroundings had changed! No longer in white, no longer cold, she dazzled at the trees and moss and mountain dew! A trail lay pattered before her, the note still in her hand—the tear she had felt gave a glimmer more glamorous than the shoes she still wore.
Thus she followed that trail as it wound, still captivated by the greenery around. The trees swayed and bent as though guiding her feet to here and there, and to a small, metal shack she was led, a bearded man with the brightest grin looking her way.
“Welcome!” he said, a cup of tea stretched out in his hand.
She was ashamed and shy, you see, for she knew of her stench, but upon further notice she saw the biggest of clothespins about the man’s nose. “But how?” she asked. “Not even masks back home could quench the smell.”
The man smiled seamlessly at her. “Who nose? That is beside the point!” he laughed.
She did too, finding the courage to step forward. And so she shared tea with the first company able to withstand the curse of her smelly feet. Cheer and joy filled her with each sip, hearing his tales of all the logs he’d split. For the bearded man was a Grave Logger—a man whose duty it was to find fallen trees and build from them crafts of beauty where their stumps did lay.
And quickly did she come to fancy his manner of speaking, however slurred and heavy spoken it was, for it seemed easiest to understand all that he spoke from his heart.
A joy so overflowing, it couldn’t help but overtake her and slowly dissolve the memory of her feet. He spoke to her through that morning as though they had been acquainted many years already. With each sip of tea, she found herself more relaxed in the sympathy he shared.
“My dear lady,” said he finally, “do you mind if I remove those shoes?”
The wood tea cup was empty now, and her consciousness returned to her of the stench.
“Now, now,” he said, “you need not harm yourself. The tea I made was only to help. It is a special kind that brings courage and comfort. Courage for you to overcome the only thing you’ve known to cling to—courage to cling to something better to comfort you. I know you treasured those shoes. Oh how they sparkled for you. The way your heart fluttered as the Shoetress gave them to you.
“But you let that feeling overtake you and your achievement became who you were. You put all of your identity in what you had achieved and lost yourself in it. The shoes bound to you for you desperately clang to them for justification despite the stench they were beginning to bring. It is okay, my dear Lady Mascugani, to treasure success, but your achievement is in you, not your shoes. I feel your heartbeat and am all-the-more captured in the sparkle that is you.”
Reaching out, the bearded man untangled the knots of her shoes and for the first time in the longest time did her feet breathe. Oh the joy that swept over her as she dazzled at her newfound feet. The cold water tickled her toes now lathered in soap, the sweet aroma touching her nose of fragrance more splendid than she had ever known. She knew not where he had placed the shoes once and still sparkling, but she cared no more for them, instead admiring his company.
So they had met and so they remained—and she swore to never wear shoes again. And it happened that upon their wedding day, instead of golden rings, the bearded man presented to her a pair of plain socks—an accumulation of his entire life’s savings. To one he clang and to the other did she, never forgetting each other’s first meeting.
And when time did see fit to claim his joy, she took his sock and placed it near hers, always tucked about the leather belt. For though he had passed, his work did remain; and she would journey from stump to stump polishing the stain—as the Grave Logger’s wife, Lady Mascugani.