The Elves & The Shoemaker

The Elves and the Shoemaker is one of the best Christmas stories.

There was once a shoemaker who worked very hard and was very honest. Still,

he could not earn enough to live upon, and at last, all he had in the world was gone,

save just leather enough to make one pair of shoes. Then he cut his leather out,

all ready to make up the next day, meaning to rise early in the morning to his work.

His conscience was clear, and his heart light amidst all his troubles. So he went

peaceably to bed, left all his cares to Heaven, and soon fell asleep. In the morning,

after he had said his prayers, he sat himself down to his work when, to his great

wonder, there stood the shoes, all readymade, upon the table. The good man knew

not what to say or think at such an odd thing happening.

He looked at the workmanship—there was not one false stitch in the whole job;

all was so neat and true that it was quite a masterpiece. The same day a customer

came in, and the shoes suited him so well that he willingly paid a price higher

than usual for them. The poor shoemaker, with the money, bought leather enough

to make two pairs more. In the evening, he cut out the work and went to bed early,

that he might get up and begin the next day, but he was saved all the trouble, for when

he got up in the morning, the work was done ready to his hand. Soon in came buyers,

who paid him handsomely for his goods so that he bought leather enough for four

pairs more. He cut out the work again overnight and found it done in the morning,

as before. So it went on for some time—what was got ready in the evening was always

done by daybreak, and the good man soon became thriving and well off. One evening,

about Christmas-time, as he and his wife were sitting over the fire chatting together,

he said to her,

“I should like to sit up and watch tonight so that we may see who it is that comes and does my work for me.”

The wife liked the thought, so they left a light burning, hid in a corner of the room

behind a curtain that was hung up there, and watched what would happen.

As soon as it was midnight, there came two little elves, and they sat upon

the shoemaker’s bench, took up all the work that was cut out, and began to play with

their little fingers, stitching and rapping and tapping away at such a rate that

the shoemaker was all wonderful and could not take his eyes off them.

And on they went, The Elves and the Shoemaker, ‘til the job was quite done,

and the shoes stood ready for use on the table. This was long before daybreak,

and then they bustled away as quickly as lightning. The next day the wife said

to the shoemaker,

“These little wights have made us rich, and we ought to be thankful to them and do them a good 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 their backs to keep off the cold. I’ll tell you what—I will make each of them a shirt, coat, waistcoat, and pair
of pantaloons, and you make each of them a little pair
of shoes.”

The thought pleased the good cobbler very much, and one evening, when all

the things were ready; they laid them on the table instead of the work that they used

to cut out and then went and hid to watch what the little elves would do.

About midnight in, they came, dancing and skipping, hopped around the room,

and then went to sit down to their work as usual; but when they saw the clothes lying

for them, they laughed and chuckled and seemed mightily delighted.

Then they dressed in the twinkling of an eye and danced and capered and sprang

about, as merry as could be, ‘til at last, they danced out the door and away over

the green. The good couple saw them no more, but everything went well with them

from that time forward as long as they lived.

The End