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The Shoemaker And The Little Elves

from Boys And Girls Bookshelf - STORIES _for_ LITTLE GIRLS





BY THE BROTHERS GRIMM

There was once a shoemaker, who, from no fault of his own, had become so
poor that at last he had nothing left, but just sufficient leather for
one pair of shoes. In the evening he cut out the leather, intending to
make it up in the morning; and, as he had a good conscience, he lay
quietly down to sleep, first commending himself to God. In the morning
he said his prayers, and then sat down to work; but, behold, the pair of
shoes were already made, and there they stood upon his board. The poor
man was amazed, and knew not what to think; but he took the shoes into
his hand to look at them more closely, and they were so neatly worked,
that not a stitch was wrong; just as if they had been made for a prize.
Presently a customer came in; and as the shoes pleased him very much, he
paid down more than was usual; and so much that the shoemaker was able
to buy with it leather for two pairs. By the evening he had got his
leather shaped out; and when he arose the next morning, he prepared to
work with fresh spirit; but there was no need--for the shoes stood all
perfect on his board. He did not want either for customers; for two came
who paid him so liberally for the shoes, that he bought with the money
material for four pairs more. These also--when he awoke--he found all
ready-made, and so it continued; what he cut out overnight was, in the
morning, turned into the neatest shoes possible. This went on until he
had regained his former appearance, and was becoming prosperous.

One evening--not long before Christmas--as he had cut out the usual
quantity, he said to his wife before going to bed, "What say you to
stopping up this night, to see who it is that helps us so kindly?" His
wife was satisfied, and fastened up a light; and then they hid
themselves in the corner of the room, where hung some clothes which
concealed them. As soon as it was midnight in came two little manikins,
who squatted down on the board; and, taking up the prepared work, set to
with their little fingers, stitching and sewing, and hammering so
swiftly and lightly, that the shoemaker could not take his eyes off them
for astonishment. They did not cease until all was brought to an end,
and the shoes stood ready on the table; and then they sprang quickly
away.



The following morning the wife said, "The little men have made us rich,
and we must show our gratitude to them; for although they run about they
must be cold, for they have nothing on their bodies. I will make a
little shirt, coat, waistcoat, trousers, and stockings for each, and do
you make a pair of shoes for each."

The husband assented; and one evening, when all was ready, they laid
presents, instead of the usual work, on the board, and hid themselves to
see the result.

At midnight in came the Elves, jumping about, and soon prepared to work,
but when they saw no leather, but the natty little clothes, they at
first were astonished, but soon showed their rapturous glee. They drew
on their coats, and smoothing them down, sang--

"Smart and natty boys are we;
Cobblers we'll no longer be."

And so they went on hopping and jumping over the stools and chairs, and
at last out at the door. After that evening they did not come again, but
the shoemaker prospered in all he undertook, and lived happily to the
end of his days.





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