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The Shoemaker and the Elves

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 was already made, and there they stood upon his board. The poor man was amazed, and knew not what to say; 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 done wrong; just as if they had been done for a prize. Presently a customer came in; and because 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 even becoming a prosperous man.

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 hung some clothes which concealed them. As soon as it was midnight in came two little mannikins, who squatted down on the board; and, taking u 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.

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 e cold, for they have nothing on their bodies. I will make a little shirt, coat, waistcoat, trousers and stocking 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 results.

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;
Shoemakers 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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