The Elves And The Shoemaker





There was once a shoemaker, who worked very hard and was very honest:

but still he could not earn enough to live upon; and at last all he

had in the world was gone, save just leather enough to make one pair of

shoes.



Then he cut his leather out, all ready to make up the next day, meaning

to rise early in the morning to his work. His conscience was clear and

his heart light amidst all his troubles; so he went peaceably to bed,

left all his cares to Heaven, and soon fell asleep. In the morning after

he had said his prayers, he sat himself down to his work; when, to his

great wonder, there stood the shoes all ready made, upon the table. The

good man knew not what to say or think at such an odd thing happening.

He looked at the workmanship; there was not one false stitch in the

whole job; all was so neat and true, that it was quite a masterpiece.



The same day a customer came in, and the shoes suited him so well that

he willingly paid a price higher than usual for them; and the poor

shoemaker, with the money, bought leather enough to make two pairs more.

In the evening he cut out the work, and went to bed early, that he might

get up and begin betimes next day; but he was saved all the trouble, for

when he got up in the morning the work was done ready to his hand. Soon

in came buyers, who paid him handsomely for his goods, so that he bought

leather enough for four pair more. He cut out the work again overnight

and found it done in the morning, as before; and so it went on for some

time: what was got ready in the evening was always done by daybreak, and

the good man soon became thriving and well off again.



One evening, about Christmas-time, as he and his wife were sitting over

the fire chatting together, he said to her, 'I should like to sit up and

watch tonight, that we may see who it is that comes and does my work for

me.' The wife liked the thought; so they left a light burning, and hid

themselves in a corner of the room, behind a curtain that was hung up

there, and watched what would happen.



As soon as it was midnight, there came in two little naked dwarfs; and

they sat themselves upon the shoemaker's bench, took up all the work

that was cut out, and began to ply with their little fingers, stitching

and rapping and tapping away at such a rate, that the shoemaker was all

wonder, and could not take his eyes off them. And on they went, till the

job was quite done, and the shoes stood ready for use upon the table.

This was long before daybreak; and then they bustled away as quick as

lightning.



The next day the wife said to the shoemaker. 'These little wights have

made us rich, and we ought to be thankful to them, and do them a good

turn if we can. I am quite sorry to see them run about as they do; and

indeed it is not very decent, for they have nothing upon their backs to

keep off the cold. I'll tell you what, I will make each of them a shirt,

and a coat and waistcoat, and a pair of pantaloons into the bargain; and

do you make each of them a little pair of shoes.'



The thought pleased the good cobbler very much; and one evening, when

all the things were ready, they laid them on the table, instead of the

work that they used to cut out, and then went and hid themselves, to

watch what the little elves would do.



About midnight in they came, dancing and skipping, hopped round the

room, and then went to sit down to their work as usual; but when they

saw the clothes lying for them, they laughed and chuckled, and seemed

mightily delighted.



Then they dressed themselves in the twinkling of an eye, and danced and

capered and sprang about, as merry as could be; till at last they danced

out at the door, and away over the green.



The good couple saw them no more; but everything went well with them

from that time forward, as long as they lived.





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