Stir until Done
Peas -n- Carrots
More Classic Short Stories
More Short Stories
The Ten Fairies
Once upon a time there, was a dear little girl whose name was Elsa. Elsa's
father and mother worked very hard and became rich. But they loved Elsa so
much that they did not like to have her do any work. Very foolishly,
they let her play all the time. So when Elsa grew up, she did not know how
to do anything; she could not make bread, she could not sweep a room, she
could not sew a seam; she could only laugh and sing. But she was so sweet
and merry that everybody loved her. And , as time went on, she married one
of the people who loved her, and had a house of her own to take care of.
Then came hard times for Elsa! There were so many things to be done in the
house, and she did not know how to do any of them! And because she had never
worked at all it made her very tired even to try; she was tired before the
morning was over, every day. The maid would come and say, "How shall I do
this?'' or "How shall I do that?'' And Elsa would have to say, "I don't
know.'' Then the maid would pretend that she did not know, either, and when
she saw her mistress sitting about doing nothing, she, too, sat about, idle.
Elsa's husband had a hard time of it. He did not have good things to
eat, and they were not ready at the right time, and the house looked all in
a clutter. It made him sad, and that made Elsa sad, for she wanted to do
everything just right.
At last, one day, Elsa's husband went away quite mad. He said to her,
as he went out the door, "It is no wonder that the house looks so, when you
sit all day with your hands in your lap!''
Little Elsa cried bitterly when he was gone, for she did not want to make
her husband unhappy and cross, and she wanted the house to look nice. "Oh,
dear,'' she sobbed, "I wish I could do things right! I wish I could work! I
wish -- I wish I had ten good fairies to work for me! Then I could keep the
As she said the words, a great old man stood before her. He was
wrapped in a strange gray cloak that covered him from head to foot, and he
smiled at Elsa. "What is the matter, dear?'' he said. "Why do you cry?''
"Oh, I am crying because I do not know how to keep the house,'' said Elsa.
"I cannot make bread, I cannot sweep, I cannot sew a seam. When I was
a little girl I never learned to work, and now I cannot do anything right. I
wish I had ten good fairies to help me!''
"You shall have them, dear,'' said the old man, and he shook his strange
gray cloak. Pouf! Out hopped ten tiny fairies, no bigger than that!
"These shall be your servants, Elsa,'' said the old man. "They are
faithful and clever, and they will do everything you want them to, just
right. But the neighbors might stare and ask questions if they saw these
little darlings running about your house, so I will hide them away for you.
Give me your little useless hands.''
Wondering, Elsa stretched out her pretty, little, useless hands.
Now stretch out your little useless fingers, dear!''
Elsa stretched out her pretty pink fingers.
The old man touched each one of the ten little fingers, and as he touched
them he said their names: "Little Thumb, Fore-finger, Thimble-finger,
Ring-finger, Little Finger, Little Thumb, Forefinger, Thimble-finger,
Ring-finger, Little Finger!'' And as he named the fingers, one after
another, the tiny fairies bowed their tiny heads, there was a fairy for
"Hop! hide yourselves away!'' said the old man.
Hop, hop! The fairies sprang to Elsa's knee, then to the palms of her hands,
and then-whisk! they were all hidden away in her little pink fingers, a
fairy in every finger! And the old man was gone.
Elsa sat and looked with wonder at her little useless hands and the ten
useless fingers. But suddenly the little fingers began to stir. The tiny
fairies who were hidden away there were not used to staying still, and they
were getting restless. They stirred so that Elsa jumped up and ran to the
cooking table, and took hold of the bread board. No sooner had she touched
the bread board than the little fairies began to work: they measured the
flour, mixed the bread, kneaded the loaves, and set them to rise, quicker
than you could wink. And when the bread was done, it was the nicest
you could wish. Then the little fairy-fingers seized the broom, and in a
twinkling they were making the house clean. And so it went, all day. Elsa
flew about from one thing to another, and the ten fairies did it all, just
When the maid saw her mistress working, she began to work, too. When
she saw how beautifully everything was done, she was ashamed to do anything
badly herself. In a little while the housework was going smoothly, and Elsa
could laugh and sing again.
There was no more crossness in that house. Elsa's husband grew so proud of
her that he went about saying to everybody, "My grandmother was a fine
housekeeper, and my mother was a fine housekeeper, but neither of them could
hold a candle to my wife. She has only one maid, but, to see the work done,
you would think she had as many servants as she has fingers on her hands!''
When Elsa heard that, she used to laugh, but she never, never told.
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