The engineer and the dwarfs
"I expect no lady would care to live down here with you in this dark hole," said Karl, thoughtfully. "But to whom does the looking-glass belong?"
"A fairy comes to visit us occasionally; she makes herself useful and tidies up the place a bit for us," said the dwarf. "She's here now—would you like to see her?"
"Of course I should," said Karl, his heart beating fast at the thought of meeting a real fairy—perhaps she was a princess in disguise, and he might be chosen to win her.
The dwarf drew back the curtain that hung before a beautifully furnished cave, and there Karl saw a young girl who was busy dusting and arranging handsome gold vases on a carved bracket. Even by the pale light of the glow-worms and the lantern which he had not yet extinguished, he could see that she was very beautiful. She had a mass of red-brown hair, that waved in tiny curls about her forehead, and hazel eyes with dark eyelashes. As to her figure, she was small and slight, so that she did not look quite so monstrous in that little world as Karl did. She had a big holland apron on, with a gaily embroidered border. When she saw Karl, she laughed. "To think of meeting a young man in this old hole—how funny," she exclaimed.
"Are you a fairy?" said Karl, bewildered by her beauty.
"Do I look like one?" she answered with a toss of her bronze curls.
"Not exactly," said Karl, "but then I have never seen a fairy; you are pretty enough for one!"
She made a little curtsy in acknowledgment of the compliment. "I'll have finished my work soon," she said, "and then we will go home together."
"That will be delightful," said Karl.
The dwarfs were looking on.
"You may go," said Mr Query. "You have worked enough for to-day." He handed her several pieces of gold. Her eyes sparkled with glee as she pocketed the coins; she was proud of having earned some money.
"Follow me," she said to Karl, "and I will show you the way home. You would never be able to find it alone."
"The dwarfs have burrowed here like moles," said Karl aside to the girl, "and I believe they are almost as blind and ignorant.