We are delighted to share these stories from The Complete First Edition of The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm with our readers. This series will run for 12 days and each story is accompanied by original art from Andrea Dezsö.
About the Shoemaker for Whom They Did the Work
A shoemaker had become so poor that he didn’t have enough leather left for a single pair of shoes. In the evening he cut out the shoes that he planned to work on the next morning. However, when he got up the next day and was about to sit down to do his work, he saw the two shoes already finished and beautifully made, standing on the table. Soon a customer paid so well that the shoemaker could purchase enough leather for two pairs of shoes, which he cut out that evening. The next morning when he once again wanted to sit down and work, they were already finished, just as the pair had been the other day. Now he was able to purchase enough leather for four pairs of shoes from the money he received from the two pairs. And so it went. Whatever he cut out in the evening was finished by morning, and soon he was a well-to-do man again.
Now one evening right before Christmas after he had cut out many shoes and wanted to go to bed, he said to his wife: “We should stay up one time and see who does our work in the night.”
So they lit a candle, hid themselves in the corner of the room behind the clothes that had been hung up there, and watched closely. At midnight two cute little naked men came and sat down at the workbench, took all the cutout pieces of the shoes, and worked so swiftly and nimbly that the shoemaker could not take his eyes off them. Indeed, they were incredibly fast, and he was amazed. They didn’t stop until they had finished the work on all the shoes. Then they scampered away, and it wasn’t even day yet.
Now the shoemaker’s wife said to him: “The little men have made us rich. So we ought to show that we’re grateful. I feel sorry for them running around without any clothes and freezing. I want to sew shirts, coats, jackets, and trousers for them, and you should make a pair of shoes for each one of them.”
The shoemaker agreed, and when everything was finished, they set all the things out in the evening. They wanted to see what the little men would do and hid themselves again. Then the little ones appeared as usual at midnight. When they saw the clothes lying there, they seemed to be quite pleased. They put the clothes on extremely quickly, and when they were finished, they began to hop, jump, and dance. Finally, they danced right out the door and never returned.
About a Servant Girl Who Acted as Godmother
A poor maiden was industrious and neat and swept the dirt from the door of a large house every day. One morning she found a letter lying in front of the door, and since she couldn’t read, she brought it to her employers. The letter was an invitation to the maiden from the elves, who asked her to be godmother to one of their children. The maiden thought about this for a while, but after her employers convinced her that she shouldn’t refuse the invitation, she said yes.
Soon after, three elves came and led her to a hollow mountain. Everything was small there and also incredibly dainty and splendid. The mother was lying on a black ebony bed with pearl knobs. The covers were embroidered with gold. The cradle was ivory. The bathtub was made of gold. The maiden performed her duties as godmother and then wanted to depart right after doing this. But the elves asked her to remain with them for another three days. She spent those days with great joy, and when they were over and she wanted to return home, they filled her pockets full of gold and led her back out of the mountain. And when she came to her home, she realized that it wasn’t three days she had been gone but one whole year.
About a Woman Whose Child They Had Exchanged
The elves had taken a mother’s child from the cradle and replaced the baby with a changeling who had a fat head and glaring eyes and who would do nothing but eat and drink. In her distress the mother went to her neighbor and asked her for advice. The neighbor told her to carry the changeling into the kitchen, put him down on the hearth, light the fire, and boil water in two egg shells. That would cause the changeling to laugh, and when he laughed, he would lose his power. The woman did everything the neighbor said, and when she put the eggshells filled with water on the fire, the blockheaded changeling said:
“Now I’m as old
as the Wester Wood,
and in all my life I’ve never seen
eggshells cooked as these have been.”
And the changeling had to laugh about this, and as soon as he laughed, a crowd of elves came all at once. They brought the right child with them, placed him down on the hearth, and carried off the changeling.
|The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm:
The Complete First Edition
Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm, Translated and edited by Jack Zipes
Illustrated by Andrea Dezsö
Art credit: Andrea Dezsö