Once upon a time there was an honest and kind shoemaker who lived with his wife in a tiny shop. Silver haired and bespectacled, he would sit on a worn-out stool at his workbench mending and making shoes. He worked very hard but alas was poor.
One night, the shoemaker saw he had one last piece of leather left. It was only enough to make one pair of shoes. The shoemaker was dismayed! He would have to close his shop.
Worried, the shoemaker cut out the last piece of leather and left it on the workbench ready to stitch the next day. He went to bed with prayers for help on his lips.
The next morning the shoemaker went to his bench to start work – and low and behold – to his amazement he saw a beautiful pair of shoes already made. They were stitched perfectly! Not a thread out of place; the buckle gleamed in the morning light. Later that day, a gentleman glimpsed the shoes through the window and stepped in to try them on. Impressed with the comfortable shoes, he paid twice the price.
Surprised and overjoyed, the shoemaker was able to buy leather for two pairs of shoes. He cut out the shapes and went to bed with new hope kindled by the unusual miracle.
He woke up early the next day eager to work. But again he was astonished to see two pairs of marvellous shoes sitting smartly on the bench. The old man called excitedly for his wife. They danced around the shoes in wonder.
“Who was doing us such kindness?” they said.
That day they received twice the asking price for each pair of shoes. The shop bell jingled merrily as the customers jostled out of the door delighted with their purchases. The shoemaker and his wife couldn’t believe their sudden change of fortune. They visited the market and were able to buy a good length of leather and also food and other much needed items.
Evening came and the shoemaker cut the new leather absentmindedly. The mystery of the new shoes confounded him. Suddenly he got an idea! He called his wife and jabbered excitedly.
That night the couple slipped behind the curtains and peered through the gaps, watching the workbench. They had left out a lighted candlestick. Its yellow glow spread over the leather that was cut and ready for shoemaking.
At midnight, they saw an amazing sight! Two little elves came dancing and skipping to the bench. Carrying long needles and tiny scissors, the little people got to work immediately. Tapping, sewing and rapping with ingenious speed, they bustled about in the candlelight. Soon enough, four pairs of enchanting shoes stood meticulously stitched and finished. They elves giggled as they scuttled off into the darkness.
The shoemaker and his wife looked at each in disbelief.
“Did you see that? How amazing and kind of the little elves,” said the shoemaker.
“But the poor fellows were not dressed properly, bless them?” replied his wife. “It’s so cold but they didn’t even have shirts on.”
This inspired the shoemaker’s wife with a brilliant idea. “Should we not show our appreciation by making the little elves some clothes? This time we can surprise them!”
The shoemaker loved the idea and the couple spent the day stitching two sets of shirts, coats, waistcoats, pantaloons and two tiny pairs of shoes. At dusk, they laid out the presents on the workbench and hid behind the curtain for a second time. Soon enough the elves came. They chuckled and capered with delight when they saw the beautiful outfits. Dressing themselves, they danced merrily out of the shop and were never seen again.