The Elves and the Shoemaker

Read by Anthony Rapp

Full Text

"The Elves and the Shoemaker" by The Brothers Grimm

Once upon a time, there was a kind shoemaker who was very poor.

In fact, one night, the shoemaker realized that he only had one last piece of leather.

It was only big enough to make one pair of shoes and thereafter he would have to close his shop.

He and his wife did not know what they would do. They might starve because they had no money to pay for food.

The man sat at his workbench and cut out the last piece of leather.

He prayed that somehow he and his wife would find a way to survive.

He went to bed and planned to wake up early the next morning to make his last pair of shoes from the last piece of leather.

The next morning the man woke up and went to the workbench in his shop.

To his great surprise, a pair of shoes had already been made out of the last piece of leather.

The shoes were perfect. There was not a single thread or stitch that was out of place.

The shoemaker could not believe his eyes.

Someone had done his work for him!

"Mary, Mary come quick!" the shoemaker called to his wife.

Mary ran downstairs to the shop to see what was the matter.

"What's wrong?" asked Mary.

"Nothing," said the shoemaker. "Actually, something wonderful and amazing has happened. Somebody made these shoes last night while we were sleeping."

Mary gasped in surprised. "But who would do such a kind thing for us?" she wondered aloud. "They made these shoes perfectly."

Soon, the shoemaker opened his shop and a customer came in and tried on the shoes. They fit him perfectly.

And because they were so well made and fit so well, he paid much more for the shoes than the normal price. The shoemaker was so happy.

He took the money that he got from the sale of the shoes and bought enough leather to make two pairs of shoes and dinner for his wife and himself.

They had not eaten for two days.

That night before bed, the shoemaker sat down at his workbench and cut out the leather into two pieces for the two pairs of shoes that he would make in the morning.

Then, he went to sleep.

The next morning the shoemaker went to his shop to make the two shoes out of the leather pieces, but when he got to his workbench, two pairs of shoes were already made.

They were perfect in every way.
The shoemaker could not believe his luck.

Someone had done his work for him a second night.

"Mary, Mary," the shoemaker called. "Guess what? Someone has made our shoes again!" he shouted.

Mary ran down stairs and started dancing a little out of sheer happiness as she ran over to see the new shoes.

"Oh, that is incredible! I wish I knew who was helping us. I would thank them. I would give them—"

Mary stopped.

She realized that they had almost nothing to give anyone.

"Well, I would at least thank them very much."

The shoemaker opened the shop and soon two customers came and bought the shoes and again, because they were so well made and fit so well, the two customers both paid much more for the shoes than the normal price.

The shoemaker and his wife went to the leather smith and bought enough leather for four pairs of shoes.

Then they went to the market and bought enough food to last two days.

They felt like a king and queen.

On the way home, the shoemaker spotted a wild daisy growing on its own on the side of the road.

He picked the flower and gave it to his wife.

She smiled and put it in her hair. "I am going to put this in a vase later so that we have something pretty to look at during dinner," said Mary.

At dinner, the shoemaker and his wife tried to guess who might be making the shoes for them but had no luck.

Finally, it was getting late.

The shoemaker went downstairs to cut his leather and while he worked, he had an idea.

He finished quickly and ran back upstairs to tell his wife.

"Mary, I've just thought of something. We should hide in the workroom of the shop and wait for the mysterious helpers to come tonight. That way we will know who is helping us."

"That's a great idea. Let's do it," said Mary.

And so, they hid behind a large armchair and waited for the helpers to appear.

After quite a while, two elves, who were naked from head-to-toe, entered the workroom of the shop, and began to make the shoes.

They zoomed around at lightening speed and finished making all fours pairs in two minutes.

And then, they zoomed right out of the shop.

They were gone before the shoemaker or his wife could thank them or talk to them.

The next morning, the shoemaker and his wife decided that they could not allow the elves to run around naked when they had helped the couple so much.

"They must get cold at night and when winter comes I hate to think of how cold they will be," said Mary almost crying at the thought.

Then, Mary thought of the curtains that hung in their bedroom and how beautiful and soft they were and she realized that they would make a good fabric for clothing.

And so, she took down the curtains and with a needle and thread she began to make an outfit for each of the two elves.

She made two shirts, two pairs of pants, two pairs of slippers, two coats, two pairs of gloves, two scarves, and two hats.

That day, the shoemaker sold the four pairs of shoes and used the money from the sales to buy enough leather to keep him in business for a few weeks.

When night came and it was very late, the shoemaker and his wife went down to the shop and laid out the clothes that Mary had made for the elves on the workbench.

Then, they hid behind the armchair and waited.
When the elves finally arrived, they saw the clothes on the workbench and began to dance in joy.

They dressed quickly and zoomed out of the shop.

From that moment on, life was always good for the shoemaker and his wife.

They were never poor or hungry again and they never forgot the kind elves who helped them.

They lived happily ever after.