There was once a poor servant-girl who was industrious and cleanly
and swept the house every day, and emptied her sweepings on the great heap in front of the
door. One morning when she was just going back to her work, she found a letter on this
heap, and as she could not read, she put her broom in the corner, and took the letter to
her employers, and behold it was an invitation from the elves, who asked the girl to hold
a child for them at its christening. The girl did not know what to do, but, at length,
after much persuasion, and as they told her that it was not right to refuse an invitation
of this kind, she consented.
Then three elves came and conducted her to a hollow mountain, where
the little folks lived. Everything there was small, but more elegant and beautiful than
can be described. The baby's mother lay in a bed of black ebony ornamented with pearls,
the covers were embroidered with gold, the cradle was of ivory, the bath-tub of gold. The
girl stood as godmother, and then wanted to go home again, but the little elves urgently
entreated her to stay three days with them. So she stayed, and passed the time in pleasure
and gaiety, and the little folks did all they could to make her happy. At last she set out
on her way home. But first they filled her pockets quite full of money, and then they led
her out of the mountain again. When she got home, she wanted to to begin her work, and
took the broom, which was still standing in the corner, in her hand and began to sweep.
Then some strangers came out of the house, who asked her who she was, and what business
she had there. And she had not, as she thought, been three days with the little men in the
mountains, but seven years, and in the meantime her former masters had died.
A certain mother had her child taken out of its cradle by the elves,
and a changeling with a large head and staring eyes, which would do nothing but eat and
drink, lay in its place. In her trouble she went to her neighbor, and asked her advice.
The neighbour said that she was to carry the changeling into the kitchen, set it down on
the hearth, light a fire, and boil some water in two egg-shells, which would make the
changeling laugh, and if he laughed, all would be over with him. The woman did everything
that her neighbor bade her. When she put the egg-shells with water on the fire,
goggle-eyes said, I am as old now as the wester forest, but never yet have I seen anyone
boil anything in an egg-shell. And he began to laugh at it.
Whilst he was laughing, suddenly came a host of little elves, who
brought the right child, set it down on the hearth, and took the changeling away with