The elves




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 say to it. He took the shoes in his hands to observe them closer, and they were so neatly made that there was not one bad stitch in them, just as if they were intended as a masterpiece. Soon after, 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. 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 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 turn away 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 thee 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 do thou, too, 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, 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 undertakings prospered.


There was once a poor servant-girl, who was industrious and cleanly, and swept the house every day, and emptied her sweepings on the great heap in front of the door. One morning when she was just going back to her work, she found a letter on this heap, and as she could not read, she put her broom in the corner, and took the letter to her master and mistress, and behold it was an invitation from the elves, who asked the girl to hold a child for them at its christening. The girl did not know what to do, but at length, after much persuasion, and as they told her that it was not right to refuse an invitation of this kind, she consented. Then three elves came and conducted her to a hollow mountain, where the little folks lived. Everything there was small, but more elegant and beautiful than can be described. The baby's mother lay in a bed of black ebony ornamented with pearls, the coverlids were embroidered with gold, the cradle was of ivory, the bath of gold. The girl stood as godmother, and then wanted to go home again, but the little elves urgently entreated her to stay three days with them. So she stayed, and passed the time in pleasure and gaiety, and the little folks did all they could to make her happy. At last she set out on her way home. Then first they filled her pockets quite full of money, and after that they led her out of the mountain again. When she got home, she wanted to begin her work, and took the broom, which was still standing in the corner, in her hand and began to sweep. Then some strangers came out of the house, who asked her who she was, and what business she had there? And she had not, as she thought, been three days with the little men in the mountains, but seven years, and in the meantime her former masters had died.


A certain mother's child had been taken away out of its cradle by the elves, and a changeling with a large head and staring eyes, which would do nothing but eat and drink, laid in its place. In her trouble she went to her neighbour, and asked her advice. The neighbour said that she was to carry the changeling into the kitchen, set it down on the hearth, light a fire, and boil some water in two egg-shells, which would make the changeling laugh, and if he laughed, all would be over with him. The woman did everything that her neighbour bade her. When she put the egg-shells with water on the fire, the imp said, "I am as old now as the Wester forest, but never yet have I seen any one boil anything in an egg-shell!" And he began to laugh at it. Whilst he was laughing, suddenly came a host of little elves, who brought the right child, set it down on the hearth, and took the changeling away with them.
从前有个鞋匠,生意上从来没出过什么差错,日子却过得越来越穷,后来穷到连做鞋子的材料也没有了,只剩下了一张皮子。 他把这张皮子裁剪好,发现刚刚够做一双鞋子。 然后他就上床休息,睡前还做了祈祷。 由于他为人问心无愧,所以睡得很香很甜。
第二天一大早,他洗漱完毕,穿好衣服,走到工作台前正准备做鞋,却惊奇地发现,鞋已经做好了,他完全给弄糊涂了,不知道这到底是怎么一回事。 他拿起鞋子仔细查看……活儿做得一丝不苟,没有哪一针缝得马虎。 事实上,这双鞋是令鞋匠都感到骄傲的杰作。
过了一小会儿,一位顾客走了进来。 他一见这双鞋子也就爱不释手,花了高价买下了这双鞋。 这样一来,鞋匠就有了足够的钱去买可做四双鞋子的皮子。
第二天清早,鞋匠发现四双鞋子已经做好了。 于是,就这样日复一日,他头天晚上裁剪好的皮料,次日一早就变成了缝制好的鞋子。 不久 ,随着鞋匠生意的兴隆,他也成了一个有钱的人。
圣诞节前几天的一个晚上,鞋匠在上床睡觉前对妻子说:"咱们今晚上熬个通宵,看看到底是谁这样帮助我们,好不好?"他妻子欣然同意,并点燃了一根蜡烛。 随后他们俩便藏在挂着衣服的屋角里,注意着周围的动静。 午夜一到,只见两个光着身子的小人儿走了进来,坐在鞋匠工作台前。 他们刚一坐下,就拿起裁剪好的皮料,用他们纤细的手指开始做鞋,又是锥,又是缝,还不时地敲敲打打。 鞋匠目不转睛地看着他们,对他们的工作赞赏不已。 他们做好了鞋子,又把东西整理得井井有条,然后才急急忙忙地离去。
她丈夫很赞成这个主意。 到了晚上,给两个小人儿的礼物全都做好了,他们把礼物放在工作台上,没有再放裁剪好的皮料。 然后他们自己又躲藏起来,想看看两个小人儿会说些什么。
午夜时分,两个小人儿蹦蹦跳跳地跑了进来,准备马上开始干活儿,可他们怎么也找不到裁剪好的皮料,却发现了两套漂亮的小衣服,他们喜形于色,高兴得手舞足蹈起来。 两个小人儿飞快地穿上衣服,接着唱了起来:
何必还要当个皮鞋匠! "
他们俩在椅子和工作台上又是蹦啊,又是跳,最后蹦跳着离开了房门。 从此,两个小人儿再没有来过,而鞋匠一直过着富足的日子,事事称心如意。

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