Once upon a time there was an honest
shoemaker, who was very poor. He worked
as hard as he could, and still he could not
earn enough to keep himself and his wife.
At last there came a day when he had
nothing left but one piece of leather, big
enough to make one pair of shoes. He
cut out the shoes, ready to stitch, and left
them on the bench; then he said his prayers
and went to bed, trusting that he could
finish the shoes on the next day and sell
Bright and early the next morning, he
rose and went to his work-bench. There
lay a pair of shoes, beautifully made, and
the leather was gone! There was no sign
of any one's having been there. The shoemaker
and his wife did not know what to
make of it. But the first customer who
came was so pleased with the beautiful
shoes that he bought them, and paid so
much that the shoemaker was able to buy
leather enough for two pairs.
Happily, he cut them out, and then, as
it was late, he left the pieces on the bench,
ready to sew in the morning. But when
morning came, two pairs of shoes lay on the
bench, most beautifully made, and no sign
of any one who had been there. The shoemaker
and his wife were quite at a loss.
That day a customer came and bought
both pairs, and paid so much for them that
the shoemaker bought leather for four
pairs, with the money.
Once more he cut out the shoes and left
them on the bench. And in the morning
all four pairs were made.
It went on like this until the shoemaker
and his wife were prosperous people. But
they could not be satisfied to have so much
done for them and not know to whom they
should be grateful. So one night, after the
shoemaker had left the pieces of leather
on the bench, he and his wife hid themselves
behind a curtain, and left a light in
Just as the clock struck twelve the door
opened softly, and two tiny elves came
dancing into the room, hopped on to the
bench, and began to put the pieces
together. They were quite naked, but they
had wee little scissors and hammers and
thread. Tap! tap! went the little hammers;
stitch, stitch, went the thread, and
the little elves were hard at work. No one
ever worked so fast as they. In almost no
time all the shoes were stitched and
finished. Then the tiny elves took hold of
each other's hands and danced round the
shoes on the bench, till the shoemaker and
his wife had hard work not to laugh aloud.
But as the clock struck two, the little
creatures whisked away out of the window,
and left the room all as it was before.
The shoemaker and his wife looked at
each other, and said, "How can we thank
the little elves who have made us happy
"I should like to make them some pretty
clothes," said the wife, "they are quite
"I will make the shoes if you will make
the coats," said her husband.
That very day they set about it. The
wife cut out two tiny, tiny coats of green,
two weeny, weeny waistcoats of yellow,
two little pairs of trousers, of white, two
bits of caps, bright red (for every one
knows the elves love bright colors), and
her husband made two little pairs of shoes
with long, pointed toes. They made the
wee clothes as dainty as could be, with
nice little stitches and pretty buttons; and
by Christmas time, they were finished.
On Christmas eve, the shoemaker cleaned
his bench, and on it, instead of leather,
he laid the two sets of gay little fairy-
clothes. Then he and his wife hid away
as before, to watch.
Promptly at midnight, the little naked
elves came in. They hopped upon the
bench; but when they saw the little clothes
there, they laughed and danced for joy.
Each one caught up his little coat and
things and began to put them on. Then
they looked at each other and made all
kinds of funny motions in their delight.
At last they began to dance, and when
the clock struck two, they danced quite
away, out of the window.
They never came back any more, but
from that day they gave the shoemaker
and his wife good luck, so that they never
needed any more help.