LITTLE SISTER AND BROTHER
AVE you ever heard of the little gnomes?—little men who
live under the ground, where the coal, stone, iron,
gold, and silver are found? Sometimes they are called
dwarfs. They have long gray beards, and wear leather
aprons, with a hammer stuck in the belt, while on their
caps, right in front, is a little light, and if that
light goes out, or they should lose their caps, they
cannot find their way back into the ground.
Now, they work in the ground, getting gold, silver,
diamonds, rubies, and all kinds of precious stones out
of the black earth. Sometimes they come up to the top,
where we live, but we have to keep our eyes wide open
to see them, for when they have their little magic caps on their
heads, we cannot see them unless we have magic
Do you know, one cold day in November, the sleet was
coming down like rain, and the rough north wind was
blowing very hard and all the
 ground was covered
with ice, so that people could not walk unless they had
stockings on their shoes. On this bad night a poor
little gnome lost his cap while on top of the earth,
and of course could not find his way home again. The
rain had soaked into his shoes and even into his coat,
so he was wet to the skin. What should he do for a bed
to sleep in that night, and how should he get a supper?
he was so very hungry!
He walked in the rain and sleet bareheaded until he was
almost tired to death, when he came to a village with
many large and small houses in it. Some were made of
stone, while a great many were made of brick and wood.
The little gnome thought he would knock at the door of
the largest house first and ask for some supper and a
bed for the night.
Knock, knock, knock, went his little fingers on the
great door, but no one heard him. He knocked louder and
louder, until at last some one did hear his knock and
came to open it.
He was so small, and it was so dark, that the lady did
not see him, and was just about to close it again, when
he said, "Kind lady, can you give me a little supper,
and a bed to sleep in? I have lost my way and am wet
and cold." "O," said the lady, "our supper is just
over, and the dishes are washed and put away; you
should have come sooner, now it is too late. I can give
you nothing to-night," and with that she closed the
door, which was not kind at all.
How badly the little gnome felt! He went to the next
house and knocked at that door, but was treated just
like he had been at the first house. From house to
house he went, but no one had a supper or a bed for
"I guess I will have to stay out all night in the cold
and sleet;" saying this, he was just about to sit on a
large stone in the street when he saw a tiny light at
the other end of the village, where all the small
houses were, in which the poor people lived. "Well,"
said he, "I suppose it is no use to ask those people
for supper, for they are almost too poor to give me
 some of theirs, but I am so very hungry and tired,
I will try my luck there anyhow."
So off he walked toward the light, and when he came
near, he found it came from a tiny window. This window
was in the front wall of a little house that looked as
if it would fall to pieces. Before he knocked at the
door, he went to the window and peeped in, and just
think! he had to stand on his tip-toes to see into the
room, he was so very small. This is what he saw: A
clean little room, in the middle of which stood a table
with a clean white table-cloth spread upon it, and two
cups, two plates, two knives, two forks and two spoons.
There was a little girl at the open fire stirring
something, which was boiling in a small iron pot. A
little boy stood close by talking to the little girl,
and soon he walked away and set two chairs at the
When the little gnome had seen all this, he said to
himself, "How poor they must be; they have only two of
every thing. I had better not ask for supper, but,
however, I will try them." So, rap! rap! rap! at the
door, and he did not have to wait a second when the
little boy opened it and said, "Why, little man, where
do you come from this cold night? Come right in and dry
your clothes at our fire and have some supper." You
see, he did not even have to ask for supper here.
When he came in, the little boy took off his wet coat
and hung it upon a nail to dry. The little girl said to
him, "Little man, you have just come in time, our
porridge is done and we can have our supper." She took
the pot from the fire and ladled the hot porridge into
the two plates. The little girl ate her porridge out of
the iron pot because they only had two plates, and used
the cooking spoon as they had only two spoons. She did
not mind that at all.
After the dishes were washed and put away, they sat
around the fire and told stories. They had only two
chairs, so the little brother sat on the floor, but he
did not mind that, and was only too glad to give his
chair to the stranger.
They talked so long and told so many stories that at
last they got
 very tired and sleepy. The little
boy said to the gnome, "Little man, we have only two
beds, so you can sleep in mine, and I will sleep on the
rug before the fire." "No! No!" said the little girl,
"I will sleep on the rug and you can sleep in my bed."
"No," said the little gnome, "I
would rather sleep on the rug, it will help to dry my
clothes. Do let me sleep on the rug!" He begged so long
until they said he might. The little sister said, "It
is not right, you are our guest, and ought to sleep in
The little gnome would not hear of it and just when
they were going to their rooms (the little sister to
hers and little brother to his), the little gnome said
to them, "Now, before you say goodnight, tell me where
are your parents?" They then told him they had died,
and they (the little sister and brother), lived
together and wished always to do so. "Well," said the
little man, "because you have been so kind to me, I will
grant you three wishes. Whatever you wish shall come
true; so wish for anything you would like very much to
"Oh," said the little sister, "brother, do let us wish
for a house upon the hill, then the water could not
come into our house, as it does in the springtime when
the river rises." "Yes, yes," said the brother,
"you know every Spring the
water comes up into the house, and we have to move all
of our furniture into the attic, and it always makes us
sick, the house is so damp. Yes, that is what we will
"That is a good wish," said the little gnome. "Now you
have two left, what shall they be?"
"Let it be a tree before the door and a little bench
under the tree, so we can sit there and see the sun set
and the boats come up the river."
"That is a nice thing to wish for, but what shall the
third wish be? Make haste and tell me, it is getting
They could not think of any thing they wanted. At last
the little brother cried out and clapped his hands, "I
have the third wish. Why, don't you know, little
sister, we will not always be young as we are now, and
after a while deep wrinkles will come into our faces,
our eyes will
 grow weak and our hair grow
white—then we will have to die. I am sure you will not
want to die before I do and I not before you do, so do
you not think our last wish ought to be, after we have
lived happily together for so many years, we would like
the angel of death to come and kiss us both at once and
take us up to heaven together?" "Oh, yes," said the
little sister, "let that be our third wish, little
He said it would be, and with that they all went to
The little gnome only pretended to sleep, for when
every thing was quiet and he was sure little sister and
brother were sound asleep, he got up very softly,
opened the door as quietly as a fairy would do and went
out into the night. The clear moon was peeping from
behind the flying clouds. When he had walked to the
foot of the hill, he took a little whistle from his
pocket, put it up to his mouth and blew such a shrill,
sharp whistle, and the funniest thing happened. Just
think! the ground opened, and so many, many little
gnomes, each with a cap and light on his head, came
jumping out of it. They all went up to our little
gnome, shook hands, and said to him, "We found your
cap; it had fallen into a cave when you were digging
for silver—here it is, put it on."
Then they asked what they were called upon to do. Some
were carrying saws, others planes, hammers, spades,
boxes of nails and planks.
He told them how kind little brother and sister had
been to him, and how they had wished for a house on the
hill. They all went to work, and in a few hours the
house was finished; then they made a bench, and one of
the little gnomes took a seed from his pocket, dug a
hole in the ground, planted it and in a few minutes two
little green leaves peeped out, next a stem came, which
grew larger and larger every minute until at last a
large tree stood beside the bench. After this, the
little gnomes went into the ground again.
Next morning little brother and sister got up early to
prepare breakfast for the little man, but when they
came into the room he had gone.
"Well," said the brother, "I suppose he had a long
journey to make, and got up before daybreak."
 He went to the window and looked out, and when he
looked up at the hill he could hardly believe his eyes,
for up on the hill was a house and bench and even the
tree they had wished for. After breakfast they moved in
and spent a pleasant time up there; they sat on the
bench at sunset and saw the boats come up the beautiful
One evening, after many years, little brother and
sister were sitting on the bench together; they said to
each other, "We must be getting quite old now, for I
can hardly see the boats as they come up the river."
"Your hair is getting as white as snow, little sister."
"And so is yours, little brother," she said. "Is it
almost time for the angel to come?" The little girl
answered, "Dear brother, look at that lovely pink cloud
sailing in the sky, does it not look like a boat?"
"Yes, it does," said the brother, "and I see something
white in it. Do you not see something white in it
also?" "Why, see it is coming this way nearer and
Sure enough, it was an angel as white as snow, with
silver wings, sailing in a pink cloud boat, and when it
came up close to where the little brother and sister
sat, it stepped out, Oh, so softly. It went up to them,
kissed them both on the forehead, and they closed their
eyes and went to sleep. Then the angel took them up to
heaven at once, and their third wish was fulfilled.