Fairy tales from ancient Egypt!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Elves of Christmas


Grimm’s Fairy Tale No. 39: The Elves of Christmas (or: Die Wichtelmaenner)

Through no fault of his own, a shoemaker had slipped into abject poverty. Finally he became so poor that he had nothing left but a bit of leather for a single pair of shoes. And so in the evening he cut out the leather and planned to begin his work the next morning.

Because he had a clear conscience he went to bed peacefully, commended himself to God and fell asleep. In the morning after saying his prayer, he wanted to sit down to work. But there before him stood two shoes on his table, completely finished! He was amazed and did not know what to say. He took the shoes in his hand to examine them more carefully. They were so cleanly made and no stitch was wrong, the shoes seemed to be his masterpiece! Soon a buyer arrived and because he liked the shoes so much he paid more than the usual amount and shoemaker could negotiate more than the customary fee.

Now with the money he was able to buy leather for two pairs of shoes. In the evening he cut out the leather and intended to start work the next morning with a fresh heart. But when he awoke the shoes were already finished and buyers were also not in short supply. They offered him so much money that he could buy leather for four pairs of shoes. And so it continued. Whatever he cut out at night was finished in the morning so that he soon had an honorable income, and finally, he even became a wealthy man.

Now it happened one evening not long before Christmas, that the man began his cutting work. He said to his wife “How would it be if we stayed up tonight to see who lends us a helping hand?” The wife was satisfied and made a light. Then they hid themselves in the corner, behind the clothes hanging there, and watched. When it was midnight two small little naked men emerged, sat down at the shoemaker’s table and took up the freshly cut leather. They began to stitch, sew and tap so that the shoemaker, in his amazement, could not turn his eyes away. They did not stop until everything was finished and stood complete on the table. Then they hopped away quickly.

The next morning the woman said “The small men have made us rich. We must show our gratitude. They were busy running around all night and had no clothes to warm them. They must have been freezing! Do you know? I will sew a little shirt, jacket, jerkin and pants for them. I will knit for each one a pair of stockings and you shall make a pair of shoes for each.” The man replied “Yes, I am satisfied.” And in the evening when they had everything finished they placed the gifts on the table instead of the leather. Then they hid to see what the little men would do. At midnight they appeared and wanted to immediately start their work, but they did not find leather cut out and ready but cute pieces of clothing. First they were amazed but then they were gripped by tremendous joy. Quickly they put on the clothing, ran their hands over the pretty cloth and sang:

“Are we not fellows fine? Why should we be shoemakers more?”

Then they jumped and danced and leapt over chair and bench. Finally they danced through the door. They never returned and the shoemaker lived a long and prosperous life and as long as he lived he was successful in everything he did.

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