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THE ELVES AND THE SHOEMAKER
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 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, lo! both shoes stood
all finished on his table. He was astounded, and did
not know what to say. He took the shoes in his hands
to examine them closer, and they were so neatly made
that there was not one bad stitch in them, just as if
they were meant for a masterpiece.
Soon after, a buyer came in, and as the shoes pleased
him 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.
The following morning, too, he found the four pairs
made. And so it went on constantly, what he cut out in
the evening was finished by morning, so that he soon
had his honest living again, and at last became a
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 there, and
When it was midnight, two pretty tiny naked Little Men
came, sat down by the shoemaker's table, took all the
work which was cut out before them and began to stitch,
sew, and hammer so skillfully and so quickly with their
little fingers, that the shoemaker could not turn away
his eyes for astonishment. They did not stop until all
was done, and stood finished on the table, and then
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 much, and have nothing on,
and must be cold. I'll tell you what I'll do. I will
make them little shirts, coats, vests, and trousers,
and knit both of them a pair of stockings. Do 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
 presents, instead of the cut-out work, all together on
the table, 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, 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, putting the pretty clothes on, and singing:
"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