The Elves And The Shoemaker


Carl was famous for making splendid shoes and boots. He cut fine leather and sewed sturdy soles. People said Carl made the best shoes in the whole town!

But Carl grew old. It got hard for him to crouch down to measure feet. Carl’s hands shook using needles and thread. Soon he had no money for leather or tools. Business slowed until no one came to Carl’s little shop. Shelves once filled with handsome shoes now gather dust.

One sad wintry night, Carl locked his shop door and went home to his small attic room upstairs with only bread and tea for his supper again. The aging shoemaker sighed as he fell into bed, exhausted and discouraged.

The next sunny morning, Carl shuffled downstairs to the shop again with his empty belly rumbling. Lo and behold, on the counter, a brand new pair of splendid shoes sat gleaming as if by magic!

“What handsome work, but how…” Carl wondered aloud in shock. Had some merry angel or ghost taken pity on the struggling shop? Gratefully, Carl sold those lovely shoes to the very first lady who tried them on. With shiny gold coins jangling in his apron pocket again, Carl dashed to the market to buy bread, fruits, and nuts for his larder.

That night, snug by the fire, Carl turned over and over in his head the curious case of the mysterious shoes. He decided to hide himself in the noisy shop downstairs after putting out the candles. “I shall discover who or what is making shoes while I sleep!” declared Carl firmly.

So once midnight came, Sly Carl pretended to go to bed as always. But instead, he crept down the stairs, slick as butter. The old shoemaker hid himself beneath piles of capes and bonnets in the shadowy closet and waited, peering out.

Soon, from the dark corners of the room, two tiny elves dressed in green caps and stockings appeared as if by magic! By the struggling moonbeams, Carl watched wide-eyed as the lively little pair set right to work.

The elf with a feather quill took notes on sizes and styles. The elf in a fine leather apron gathered up pieces, then sat to snipp and sew swiftly but with care. Quiet as a dormouse hidden in the closet, Carl was amazed that the shop was filled with twice as many new shoes by sunrise!

As morning songbirds called out happily into the fresh sunshine, the mischievous little shoemakers suddenly were gone! Wiggling stiff from cramped toes to ears all night in musty cloaks, astonished Carl burst forth. He twirled about in glee to find three fine pairs of shoes completed from start to finish.

When word spread through town of the skillful elf work at Carl’s shop, crowds of people bought up the pairs right away, even at premium prices! Now with more money to spend, Carl bought the finest spools of thread, the softest kidskin leather, and little hammers painted gaily.

Every night, while the trusting shoemaker pretended to snore in bed, down the wooden stairs pattered those merry elves! Like magic, the tiny whippersnappers crafted marvelous boots and slippers from the quality materials left out for them.

One particularly cold, snowy night, Carl decided to make the cheerful visitors something special as a thank you for their help through the seasons. After placing choice meats, sweet fruits, warm mufflers, and new felt caps on the worktable, Sly Carl again ducked into hiding to observe through the closet keyhole.

At the chime of midnight, in danced the wiry elves once more. Seeing the gifts left behind with their names sewn in the fine cloaks, they laughed and cheered heartily! The elves feasted on roast goose and pie, then donned their splendid caps with long tassels and thick green mittens.

Warmed by the fire with full bellies, the little shoemakers sang cheerful songs as they happily stitched beautiful boots late into the night. Watching the merriment from his hiding hole, old gentle Carl laughed and cried quiet happy tears to have such wonder and joy filling up his once quiet shop!

In the morning, as always, the elf-made shoes had vanished from sight like magic, right along with the funny little men. But now kindly Carl knew who to thank for his run-down shop transformed into the most successful shoe store in the region!

The elf brothers Crispin and Casper continued merrily making magnificent shoes twice as fast as old Carl ever had, even in his youthful prime. For years, their similar teamwork made the old shoemaker’s fortunes thrive all through the seasons.

Then one golden autumn, when the shoemaker had grown quite rich again thanks to the magical nightly help, Crispin and Casper announced they must soon take their leave back to the forest dells before winter set in once more.

That final night together, over mugs of hot cider, gentle Carl begged his merry elf friends to stay on. “This shop thrives thanks to your skills. Without you, sales will surely fall! Please say you will both stay here, always making wonderful shoes with me!”

But the fitful elves longed for freedom under starry skies and sleeping under toadstools again. Seeing loyal old Carl’s worried frown, they kindly offered one last gift to thank him for his generous friendship over so many years.

In the morning, just as dawn’s rosy fingers stretched over the cozy lanes, Elvin shoemakers left two exquisite pairs of rich velvet boots upon the well-worn wooden workbench. Beside sturdy traveling shoes for each stood a little leather sack filled with several unknown tiny objects, then…poof! The mischief-loving souls were gone!

Heart heavy watching the shop door close one last time after his friends, gentle Carl wiped a misty tear sitting down to examine their mysterious parting presents. In fascination and awe, he slowly withdrew wooden creature carvings from the small bags.

Turning them in gnarled fingers, puzzled Carl realized they were elf dolls! Tiny hands, bright eyes, green caps, and curly toes whittled just like his friends. Then suddenly, knowing struck Carl like a lightning bolt.

“Ho! The elves have left me their very images, so their magic continues to live on!” the wise old shoemaker whispered. Carefully lining the carved figurines like guardians atop his sales shelves, fascinated Carl soon noticed that shoes placed near the elf dolls drew customers like honey draws sweet bees!

Even polished shoes sitting long, unsold months on back shelves seemed to sell the same week when placed up front beside the smirking little elf statues! It was astonishing, unexplainable good luck. And so cheerfully, Carl came to fully understand that this was his dear friends Crispin and Casper’s parting gift—their legendary elf luck now lived on inside the tiny wooden totems protecting the prosperous shop.

Soon Carl took on young apprentices learning the cobbler trade, who kept the cozy shop brimming with fine shoes for years to come. But new trainees were always told to handle the elf dolls gently, with gratitude and respect. For it was the two little figures that brought the blessings of fortune and fame to the shop, thanks to magic!

And old Carl always raised a toast of gratitude at holiday feasts for the impish elves named Crispin and Casper, who once made his money worries vanish into thin air just as they had appeared—by magic!

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