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Grimm's Fairy Tales.

The Elves - 3

A shoemaker, by no fault of his own, had become so poor that at
last he had nothing left but leather for one pair of shoes. So in
the evening, he cut out the shoes which he wished to begin to
make the next morning, and as he had a good conscience, he lay
down quietly in his bed, commended himself to God, and fell
asleep. In the morning, after he had said his prayers, and was
just going to sit down to work, the two shoes stood quite finished
on his table. He was astounded, and knew not what to think. He
took the shoes in his hands to observe them closer, and they were
so neatly made, with not one bad stitch in them, that it was just
as if they were intended as a masterpiece. Before long, a buyer
came in, and as the shoes pleased him so well, he paid more for
them than was customary, and, with the money, the shoemaker was
able to purchase leather for two pairs of shoes. He cut them out
at night, and next morning was about to set to work with fresh
courage, but he had no need to do so for, when he got up, they
were already made, and buyers also were not wanting, who gave
him money enough to buy leather for four pairs of shoes. Again
the following morning he found the pairs made, and so it went on
constantly, what he cut out in the evening was finished by the
morning, so that he soon had his honest independence again, and
at last became a wealthy man.
Now it befell that one evening not long before christmas, when
the man had been cutting out, he said to his wife, before going to
bed, what think you if we were to stay up to-night to see who it
is that lends us this helping hand. The woman liked the idea,
and lighted a candle, and then they hid themselves in a corner of
the room, behind some clothes which were hanging up there, and
watched. When it was midnight, two pretty little naked men came,
sat down by the shoemaker's table, took all the work which was
cut out before them and began to stitch, and sew, and hammer so
skilfully and so quickly with their little fingers that the
shoemaker could not avert his eyes for astonishment. They did
not stop until all was done, and stood finished on the table,
and they ran quickly away.
Next morning the woman said, the little men have made us rich,
and we really must show that we are grateful for it. They run
about so, and have nothing on, and must be cold. I'll tell you
what I'll do, I will make them little shirts, and coats, and
vests, and trousers, and knit both of them a pair of stockings,
and you make them two little pairs of shoes. The man said, I shall
be very glad to do it. And one night, when everything was ready,
they laid their presents all together on the table instead of
the cut-out work, and then concealed themselves to see how the
little men would behave. At midnight they came bounding in, and
wanted to get to work at once, but as they did not find any
leather cut out, but only the pretty little articles of clothing,
they were at first astonished, and then they showed intense
delight. They dressed themselves with the greatest rapidity, put
on the beautiful clothes, and sang,
now we are boys so fine to see,
why should we longer cobblers be.
Then they danced and skipped and leapt over chairs and benches.
At last they danced out of doors. From that time forth they
came no more, but as long as the shoemaker lived all went well
with him, and all his efforts prospered.


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