Stories for children ; Short stories for kids ; Short stories in English
The Elves and the Shoemaker
Once upon a time, there was a kind old shoemaker who lived with his wife above his shop. He had so many bills to pay that he had to work from dawn to dusk, and he never grew any richer.
The day came when he had only a few pennies left-just enough to buy leather for one final pair of shoes.
That evening, by candle-light, the shoemaker cut out the leather. Then, leaving it on his workbench, he picked up his candle and wearily climbed the stairs to his bad.
The next morning, when he came down to his shop, the shoemaker could not believe his eyes. There on his workbench, where the leather had been, was the finest pair if shoes he had ever seen.
The shoemaker went to the stairs and called to his wife to come and see what he had found. ''Did you make these shoes?'' he asked her.
''Of course not,'' she replied. The shoemaker was very puzzled and scratched his head in bewilderment. ''Then who could it have been?'' he wondered.
The shoemaker put the shoes in his shop window. That afternoon, a find gentleman came to try them on. He liked the shoes very much, and gave the shoemaker a good price for them.
With the money, the shoemaker was able to buy food for dinner, and had enough left over to buy leather to make two new pairs of shoes.
Later that night, the shoemaker cut out the leather and left it lying on his workbench.
''I'll finish the shoes in the morning,'' he yawned, locking up the shop. He picked up the candle and went up the stairs to bed.
The next morning, when he cane downstairs, the shoemaker was truly amazed. There, sitting neatly on his workbench, were two fine pairs of beautiful new shoes! They were soft and delicate. He thought they were the best shoes he gad ever seen.
Once again, the shoe-maker called his wife and asked if she had made them,. ''Of course I didn't,'' she replied, ''I can't imagine who did!''
The shoemaker was confused, but once again he put them in his shop window, where everyone could see them. In no time at all, he had sold both pairs for a very good price.
That evening, the shoemaker and his wife had a scrumptious dinner. There was also enough money left to buy leather to make four new pairs of shoes!
Once more, the shoemaker cut out the leather and left it neatly on his workbench. And in the morning, there were more mew shoes waiting for him when he came downstairs.
So it went on for weeks. Every night the shoemaker cut out the leather and left it on his workbench, and every morning there were splendid shoes waiting to be sold.
Soon the shoemaker and his wife were quite wealthy. But they still did not know who was making the elegant shoes that appeared in the shop as if by magic.
One cold, wintry night, just before Christmas, the shoemaker and his wife decided that they had to solve the mystery once and for all. So after the shoemaker left the leather on his workbench, he closed the shop and hid in a big cupboard with his wife. They left the door open just a bit so they could peek out, and they waited... and waited... and waited.
When the clock struck midnight, there was a tiny noise from the dark chimney. It grew louder. Suddenly, two tiny elves appeared in a magical shower of stars. They ran straight to the workbench and began to stitch and saw, until they had made five beautiful pairs of shoes.
They sang as they worked: ''There isn't any time to lose, We must make these fine new shoes!''
As soon as the shoes were finished, they hopped off the workbench and disappeared up the chimney. The shoe-maker and his wife were amazed.
The shoemaker and his wife wanted to do something to repay the little elves' kindness. What could they do?
''They must be frozen in those thin, tattered clothes,'' said the shoemaker.
''Yes,'' said his wife. ''And their feet are bare, although they make shoes!''
So the shoemaker's wife made two little jackets and two pairs of trousers. She knitted four little woolly socks to keep their feet warm, and two tiny hats for their heads. The shoemaker made two pairs of small boots, fastened with shiny silver buckles.
That evening, they wrapped the little clothes in fine paper and left them on the workbench. Then they hid in the cupboard and waited.
At the stroke of midnight, the elves appeared. They were puzzled when they saw presents instead of leather. But when they opened the packages, they were overjoyed. They put on their new clothes and danced around the shop, singing,
''See what handsome boys we are!
We will work on shoes no more,
They danced happily across the room, flew up the chimney, and were gone in a flash!
The elves did not return, and the man and his wife never forgot the two tiny men and all their hard work.
The shoemaker continued to make shoes that were fine and beautiful, and he became rich and famous across the land. But none compared to the light and delicate shoes that the little elves had made.