The Elves and the Shoemaker
by Horace E. Scudder,
Book of Fables and Folk Stories
There was once a shoemaker who worked very
hard and was honest. Still, he could not earn
enough to live on. At last, all he had in the world
was gone except just leather enough to make one
pair of shoes. He cut these out at night, and
meant to rise early the next morning to make
His heart was light in spite of his troubles, for
his conscience was clear. So he went quietly to
bed, left all his cares to God, and fell asleep. In
the morning he said his prayers, and sat down to
work, when, to his great wonder, there stood the
shoes, already made, upon the table.
The good man knew not what to say or think.
He looked at the work. There was not one false
stitch in the whole job. All was neat and true.
That same day a customer came in, and the
shoes pleased him so well that he readily paid a
price higher than usual for them. The shoemaker
took the money and bought leather enough to
make two pairs more. He cut out the work in the
evening, and went to bed early. He wished to
be up with the sun and get to work.
He was saved all trouble, for when he got up
in the morning, the work was done. Pretty soon
buyers came in, who paid him well for his goods.
So he bought leather enough for four pairs more.
He cut out the work again overnight, and found
it finished in the morning as before. So it went
on for some time. What was got ready at night
was always done by daybreak, and the good man
soon was well-to-do.
One evening, at Christmas-time,
he and his wife sat over the fire, chatting, and he said: "I
should like to sit up and watch tonight, that we
may see who it is that comes and does my work
for me." So they left the light burning, and hid
themselves behind a curtain to see what would
As soon as it was midnight, there came two
little Elves. They sat upon the shoemaker's
bench, took up all the work that was cut out, and
began to ply their little fingers. They stitched
and rapped and tapped at such a rate that the
shoemaker was amazed, and could not take his
eyes off them for a moment.
On they went till the job was done, and the
shoes stood, ready for use, upon the table. This
was long before daybreak. Then they ran away
as quick as lightning.
The next day the wife said to
the shoemaker, "These little Elves have made us
rich, and we ought to be thankful to them, and do them
some good in return. I am vexed to see them run about
as they do. They have nothing upon their backs
to keep off the cold. I'll tell you what we must
do. I will make each of them a shirt, and a coat
and waistcoat, and a pair of pantaloons into the
bargain. Do you make each of them a little pair
The good shoemaker liked the thought very
well. One evening he and his wife had the clothes
ready, and laid them on the table instead of the
work they used to cut out. Then they went and
hid behind the curtain to watch what the little
Elves would do.
At midnight the Elves came in and were going
to sit down at their work as usual. But when they
saw the clothes lying there for them, they laughed
and were in high glee. They dressed themselves in
the twinkling of an eye, and danced and capered
and sprang about as merry as could be, till at
last they danced out of the door, and over the
The shoemaker saw them no more, but
everything went well with him as long as he lived.