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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; an...

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 hadin the world was gone, save just leather enough to make one pair ofshoes.

Then he cut his leather out, all ready to make up the next day, meaningto rise early in the morning to his work. His conscience was clear andhis heart light amidst all his troubles; so he went peaceably to bed,left all his cares to Heaven, and soon fell asleep. In the morningafter he had said his prayers, he sat himself down to his work;when, to his great wonder, there stood the shoes all ready made, uponthe table. The good man knew not what to say or think at such an oddthing happening. He looked at the workmanship; there was not one falsestitch in the whole job; all was so neat and true, that it was quite amasterpiece.

The same day a customer came in, and the shoes suited him so well thathe willingly paid a price higher than usual for them; and the poorshoemaker, with the money, bought leather enough to make two pairsmore. In the evening he cut out the work, and went to bed early, thathe might get up and begin betimes next day; but he was saved all thetrouble, for when he got up in the morning the work was done ready tohis 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 thework again overnight and found it done in the morning, as before; andso it went on for some time: what was got ready in the evening wasalways done by daybreak, and the good man soon became thriving and welloff again.

One evening, about Christmas-time, as he and his wife were sittingover the fire chatting together, he said to her, «I should like to situp and watch tonight, that we may see who it is that comes and does mywork for me.» The wife liked the thought; so they left a lightburning, and hid themselves in a corner of the room, behind acurtain 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 workthat was cut out, and began to ply with their little fingers,stitching and rapping and tapping away at such a rate, that theshoemaker was all wonder, and could not take his eyes off them. Andon they went, till the job was quite done, and the shoes stood readyfor use upon the table. This was long before daybreak; and thenthey bustled away as quick as lightning.

The next day the wife said to the shoemaker. «These little wightshave made us rich, and we ought to be thankful to them, and do them agood 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 theirbacks to keep off the cold. I’ll tell you what, I will make each ofthem a shirt, and a coat and waistcoat, and a pair of pantaloons intothe bargain; and do you make each of them a little pair of shoes.»

The thought pleased the good cobbler very much; and one evening, whenall the things were ready, they laid them on the table, instead of thework that they used to cut out, and then went and hid themselves, towatch what the little elves would do.

About midnight in they came, dancing and skipping, hopped round theroom, and then went to sit down to their work as usual; but when theysaw the clothes lying for them, they laughed and chuckled, andseemed mightily delighted.

Then they dressed themselves in the twinkling of an eye, and dancedand capered and sprang about, as merry as could be; till at last theydanced out at the door, and away over the green.

The good couple saw them no more; but everything went well with themfrom that time forward, as long as they lived.

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