Grandmother Charlotte had been young once, although it was difficult to believe it when one looked at her silvery locks and hooked nose, almost reaching her pointed chin, but those of her own age said that in her youth, no young girl jad a more charming countenance, or a greater love for fun and gayety.
Unfortunately, Charlotte was left alone with her father at the head of a large farm more burdened with debts than profits, so that labor succeeded labor. The poor girl was not fitted for such a place, and often fell into despair, and while vainly seeking some means to accomplish everything, ended by doing nothing.
One day, as she was sitting on the doorstep, her hands under her apron, and her head bent forward with a weary air, she began to say to herself in a low voice, "My cares are too great for so young a girl to bear. Even though I was as prompt as the sun, as untiring as the waves, I could not accomplish all my work. Oh, why is the good fairy Bountiful no longer in the world—if she could only hear me and aid me!"
"Be satisfied, then, for here I am," interrupted a voice, and Charlotte saw before her the fairy Bountiful, looking at her attentively, as she leaned upon her little crutch.
At first, the girl felt afraid, because the fairy was very old, wrinkled and ugly, and wore a costume seldom seen in this country. Nevertheless, Charlotte recollected herself, and asked the fairy in a trembling voice, in what manner she could be of service to her.
"It is I who come to help you," replied the old woman. "I have heard you complain, and bring you that which will relieve you in all your sorrow."
"Oh! are you in earnest, good mother?" eagerly cried Charlotte, having quite forgotten her embarrassment. "Do you come to give me a piece of your wand with which I can render all my labor easy?"
"Better than that," replied the fairy; "I bring you ten little workmen, who will obey all your commands."
"Who are they?" said the little girl.
"You can see them directly," was the answer.
The old woman opened her basket, and the dwarfs of different sizes hopped out. The first two were very short, but strong and robust. "These," said the fairy, "are the most vigorous; they will aid you in all your work, and supply in strength what they lack in dexterity. The two you see following them, are tall and more skilled; they know how to thread needles, and apply themselves to all the work of the house. Their two brothers next to them, are remarkable for their great height, and while they are both useful in many ways, one is particularly skilled in pushing the needle, for which reason I have crowned him with a little silver crown (thimble). The nest two, one of whom you perceive has a ring for a girdle, are less active, but still valuable for the aid they give the others. As for the last two, their small size and lack of strength render them of little use; but they are entitled to esteem, on account of the good will and sympathy they manifest."
The old woman made a sign, and the ten dwarfs glided away to perform their duties.
Charlotte saw them do all kinds of work. They hesitated at nothing. They could do everything.
"Oh, good mother, lend me these ten workmen and I shall have nothing more to wish for."
"I will give them to yon," replied the fairy, "only as you will find it troublesome to take them everywhere with you, I shall order each one to hide in one of your fingers." "You know not what a treasure you possess," said the fairy, when this was accomplished. "It will depend now on the use you make of your knowledge. If you do not govern your little servants, you will receive no benefit from them, but if you employ them, they will do all your work for you."
Charlotte and the Ten Dwarfs
A Fictional Short Story by
Agnes Taylor Ketchum & Ida M. Jorgensen