The Complete Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales |
This collection of "classics" certainly is a departure from the Disney versions. The tales are mostly very dark and pessimistic, as originally recorded by the Brothers. For the more "colourful" children's stories it is better to buy the specific tales from the bookstore instead of a collective book.
This story is available in the following languages
by the Bothers Grimm
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
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
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
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.
There was once
a poor servant-girl who was industrious and cleanly and swept
the house every day, and emptied her sweepings on the great
heap in front of the door.
One morning when she was just going back to her work, she
found a letter on this heap, and as she could not read, she
put her broom in the corner, and took the letter to her
employers, and behold it was an invitation from the elves, who
asked the girl to hold a child for them at its christening.
The girl did not know what to do, but, at length, after much
persuasion, and as they told her that it was not right to
refuse an invitation of this kind, she consented.
Then three elves came and conducted her to a hollow
mountain, where the little folks lived. Everything there was
small, but more elegant and beautiful than can be described.
The baby's mother lay in a bed of black ebony ornamented with
pearls, the covers were embroidered with gold, the cradle was
of ivory, the bath-tub of gold. The girl stood as godmother,
and then wanted to go home again, but the little elves
urgently entreated her to stay three days with them. So she
stayed, and passed the time in pleasure and gaiety, and the
little folks did all they could to make her happy.
At last she set out on her way home. But first they
filled her pockets quite full of money, and then they led her
out of the mountain again. When she got home, she wanted to
to begin her work, and took the broom, which was still
standing in the corner, in her hand and began to sweep. Then
some strangers came out of the house, who asked her who she
was, and what business she had there. And she had not, as she
thought, been three days with the little men in the mountains,
but seven years, and in the meantime her former masters had
mother had her child taken out of its cradle by the elves, and
a changeling with a large head and staring eyes, which would
do nothing but eat and drink, lay in its place.
In her trouble she went to her neighbor, and asked her
advice. The neighbour said that she was to carry the
changeling into the kitchen, set it down on the hearth, light
a fire, and boil some water in two egg-shells, which would
make the changeling laugh, and if he laughed, all would be
over with him.
The woman did everything that her neighbor bade her.
When she put the egg-shells with water on the fire,
Goggle-eyes said, "I am as old now as the Wester Forest, but
never yet have I seen anyone boil anything in an egg-shell."
And he began to laugh at it. Whilst he was laughing,
suddenly came a host of little elves, who brought the right
child, set it down on the hearth, and took the changeling away