A shoemaker, by no fault of his own, had become so poor
that at last he had nothing left but leather for one pair
of shoes. So in the evening, he cut out the shoes which
he wished to begin to make the next morning, and as he
had a good conscience, he lay down quietly in his bed, commended himself to God, and fell asleep. In the morning,
after he had said his prayers, and was just going to sit down to work, the two shoes stood quite finished on his table. He was astounded, and knew not what to think.
He took the shoes in his hands to observe them closer, and they were so neatly made, with not one bad stitch in them, that it was just as if they were intended as a masterpiece. Before long, a buyer came in, and as the shoes pleased him so well, he paid more for them than was customary, and, with
the money, the shoemaker was able to purchase leather for
two pairs of shoes. He cut them out at night, and next morning was about to set to work with fresh courage, but he had no
need to do so for, when he got up, they were already made,
and buyers also were not wanting, who gave him money
enough to buy leather for four pairs of shoes.
Again the following morning he found the pairs made,
and so it went on constantly, what he cut out in the evening
was finished by the morning, so that he soon had his
honest independence again, and at last became a wealthy man.
Now it befell
that one evening not long before christmas,
when the man
had been cutting out, he said to his wife, before going to bed, what think you
if we were to stay up to-night to see who it is that lends us this
helping hand. The woman liked the idea, and lighted a
candle, and then they hid themselves in a corner of the room, behind some clothes which were hanging up there, and watched. When it was midnight, two pretty little naked men came,
sat down by the shoemaker's table, took all the work which
was cut out before them and began to stitch, and sew, and hammer so skilfully and so quickly with their little fingers
that the shoemaker could not avert his eyes for astonishment. They did not stop until all was done, and stood finished on the table, and they ran quickly away. Next morning the woman
said, the little men have made us rich, and we really must show that we are grateful for it. They run about so, and have
nothing on, and must be cold. I'll tell you what I'll do,
I will make them little shirts, and coats, and vests, and trousers, and knit both of them a pair of stockings, and you make
them two little pairs of shoes. The man said, I shall
be very glad to do it.
And one night, when everything was ready, they laid their presents all together on the table instead of the cut-out work, and then concealed themselves to see
how the little men would behave. At midnight they came bounding in, and wanted to get to work at once, but as they
did not find any leather cut out, but only the pretty little
articles of clothing, they were at first astonished, and then
they showed intense delight.
They dressed themselves with the greatest rapidity,
put on the beautiful clothes, and sang, now we are boys so
fine to see, why should we longer cobblers be.
Then they danced and skipped and leapt over chairs and
benches. At last they danced out of doors.
From that time forth they came no more, but as long
as the shoemaker lived all went well with him, and all
his efforts prospered.
by The Brothers Grimm