The Shoemaker’s glass slippers and soft leather boots were coveted by celebrities and the very rich. Other shoemakers wanted to know the secret techniques and materials he used to craft them, but his big secret was he didn’t make the shoes; they were the work of elves.
He had found the elves working in his shop late one night, stitching fabric. They were no bigger than dolls and wore tatty, green tunics over woollen tights. He thought he should pay them in some way and presented them with new clothing; they were like excited children on Christmas morning.
Over the next few months the elves produced more and more new designs while The Shoemaker took the credit for their craftsmanship, gaining considerable wealth and status. He continued to pay his workers in tiny shirts, trousers, underwear and socks, but then one night the elves turned the tables. They took something belonging to him before they made the shoes: the book he was reading. He bought another copy and thought no more of it.
But the following evening, the same thing happened. This time they chose a framed picture of his baby daughter and paid him five pairs of sandals. The day after, they took a curl of her blonde hair.
The Shoemaker held his child tight to his chest and said to his wife, ‘I’ll put a stop to it.’
The next night he waited up for the elves. They appeared on the stroke of midnight.
‘I don’t need your services any more,’ he said firmly. ‘Please go.’
They smiled smugly, bowed and left the shop. He hoped this was the end of it all, but in the morning he discovered a pair of sparkly silver shoes taking pride of place in the shop’s display window. His daughter’s beloved teddy bear had disappeared.
He tried moving his family to a nearby coaching inn, but that night they took the child’s little toe. The Shoemaker wept, not knowing what to do. The elves would take her bit by bit; he was sure of it.
The bell tinkled as the shop door swung open and a young man walked in.
‘I’m enquiring to see if you have any jobs?’ he said. ‘I want to be as good a shoemaker as you.’
‘Do you have a wife, children?’ asked The Shoemaker.
‘No, it’s just me,’ he replied.
The Shoemaker sighed with relief and smiled. ‘You can have my business for free,’ he said.
He handed the bewildered man the keys to the shop and left immediately with his wife and child. They were never seen again.
The new shoemaker was the talk of town. His glass slippers were exquisite.
Story by Kim Donovan. Image Pixabay. All rights reserved.