The engineer and the dwarfs
"Do not speak disrespectfully of moles," said a dwarf who had overheard the last part of this remark. "They belong to the most intelligent of all creatures; who can build a fortress like the mole?"
"Norah," said the dwarfs, "Norah, when are you coming again?"
"Very soon," she said, "I'll bring some metal polish with me, and make your vases shine!"
"Norah," thought Karl, "so that is her name. I wonder where she lives?"
Norah led the way back through intricate passages until they came to the open space where there was the staircase leading up to the outside world. "Good morning," she said to the dwarfs.
Karl pulled out his watch—yes—the night was already past, it was four o'clock.
"I'll drop in again soon, and see about your little commissions," he said to the dwarfs. "Electric light you want, telephone and lift, it will be rather a big job."
"And what about the airship?" asked Mr Query.
"O I can't rig that up for you; you must go to Frankfurt and see that for yourselves. Good morning," and he turned to follow Norah, who was already some way up the stone staircase. From a distance she really looked like a fairy. The light of dawn shone on her wonderful hair; she had taken off her apron, and had on a white dress trimmed with gold, that fluttered as she mounted the steps. At the top she waited to take breath, and Karl easily caught her up. They gazed down into the depths beneath them, but no trace of dwarfland could they see. Even the glow-worms had vanished, and the rough steps looked like natural niches in the rock. They were on the top of the mountain. Near by stood a grove of firs, the trees were so gnarled and stunted from their exposed position that they looked like a dwarf forest, and seemed appropriate growing there.
"Your name is 'Norah'," said Karl boldly, "but that is all I know about you!"
"I am no fairy princess, alas," said Norah, "but only a poor landlord's daughter. My father and I have the new hotel in Elm!"
"O you must be the pretty innkeeper's daughter then of whom I have heard so much," said Karl.