Home Tales from the Grimm Brothers


Once upon a time there lived a poor shoemaker. He lived in misery because as he grew old he could not see all that well anymore and, consequently he could not work like he used to.

One night he went to bed sad, without finishing a repair job he had begun. In the morning he found the job done.

During the day he set out all the tools and material necessary to make a new pair of shoes for a rich customer.

"Tomorrow morning, when it will be sunny and bright, I will begin working on them," he thought. But the morning after, instead of the leather he had left the night before, the shoemaker was very surprised to find a beautiful pair of brand new shoes. Later on in the day, the customer went by the shop to see how his new shoes were coming along. When he found a very nice pair of shoes ready, he was very happy and paid the shoemaker twice the price they had agreed upon.

The shoemaker was very confused and wondered what had happened. That night, he left out some more leather and the next morning he found another shiny and perfect pair of new shoes. These shoes were sold at an even higher price. Now the shoemaker left out leather and tools to his mysterious helper every night, and, every morning, he found a new pair of shoes. Pretty soon, the shoemaker was able to save a good sum of money. When the shoemaker's wife noticed all the money the shoemaker had saved, she grew suspicious and demanded an explanation. When she was informed of the unusual nocturnal occurrences, she proposed:

"Let's wait until nightfall. We will hide and find out what's happening."

And so the shoemaker and his wife hid and, around midnight, saw two elves sneak into the shoemaker's shop. The quick and skilled elves made a new pair of shoes in a flash. It was winter and the elves, dressed in ragged clothes, shivered while they worked.

"Poor fellows! They must be very cold," the shoemaker's wife whispered to her husband. "Tomorrow I will make them two heavy wool jackets. That way they will be warmer and maybe, instead of one pair of shoes, they will make two!"

The following midnight, next to the leather, the two elves found two elegant red jackets with gold buttons. They put on the jackets and were very happy. They danced shouting:

"What beautiful jackets! We'll never be cold again." But when one of the elves said:

"Let's get to work now," the other answered:

"Work? What for? With two jackets like these we are rich. We will never have to work again."

The two elves left the shop of the astonished shoemaker and his even more puzzled wife and were never seen again.

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