The Elves and the Shoemaker

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A struggling shoemaker and his wife don't know how they'll survive, until they wake one morning to find a beautifully crafted pair of shoes. Morning after morning, they find more and more shoes made. The shoemaker and his wife want to find out who is doing all this work so they can properly give their thanks. When they discover the hardworking elves, they know just how to thank them in this tale about hard work, hope, and the kindness of strangers.

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Once upon a time, there was a kind
shoemaker who was very poor.
In fact, one night, the shoemaker
realized he 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.
“Northing,” said the shoemaker.
“Actually, something wonderful and
amazing has happened. Somebody
made these shoes last night while
we were sleeping.”
Mary gasped in surprise.
“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 downstairs 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.
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 lightning
speed and finished making all four
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.

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  • Based on the story by: The Brothers Grimm
  • Illustrated by: Laura Gonzalez