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Main > Scandinavian folktales > Fairy tale "The little glass shoe"

The little glass shoe

A peasant, named John Wilde, who lived in Rodenkirchen, found, one time, a little glass shoe on one of the hills, where the little people used to dance. He clapped it instantly in his pocket, and ran away with it, keeping his hand as close on his pocket as if he had a dove in it, for he knew he had found a treasure which the underground people must redeem at any price.

Others say that John Wilde lay in ambush one night for the underground people, and snatched an opportunity to pull off one of their shoes by stretching himself there with a brandy bottle beside him, and acting like one that was dead drunk, for he was a very cunning man, not over scrupulous in his morals, and had taken in many a one by his craftiness, and, on this account, his name was in no good repute among his neighbours, who, to say the truth, were willing to have as little to do with him as possible. Many hold, too, that he was acquainted with forbidden acts, and used to carry on an intercourse with the fiends and old women that raised storms, and such like.

However, be this as it may, when John had got the shoe he lost no time in letting the folk that dwell under the ground know that he had it. At midnight he went to the Nine-hills, and cried with all his might—

"John Wilde of Rodenkirchen has got a beautiful glass shoe. Who will buy it? who will buy it?" for he knew that the little one who had lost the shoe must go barefoot till he got it again; and that is no trifle, for the little people have generally to walk upon very hard and stony ground.

John's advertisement was speedily attended to. The little fellow who had lost the shoe made no delay in setting about redeeming it. The first free day he got that he might come out in the daylight, he came as a respectable merchant, knocked at John Wilde's door, and asked if John had not got a glass shoe to sell:

"For," says he, "they are an article now in great demand, and are sought for in every market."

John replied that it was true that he had a very pretty little glass shoe; but it was so small that even a dwarf's foot would be squeezed in it, and that a person must be made on purpose to suit it before it could be of use.

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