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The Dwarf Nosey
by [?]

Sire! They are wrong who believe that fairies and magicians existed only at the time of Haroun-al-Raschid, or who assert that the reports of the doings of the genii and their princes, which one hears on the market-place, are untrue. There are fairies to-day, and it is not so long ago that I myself was the witness of an occurrence in which genii were concerned.

In an important city of my dear fatherland, Germany, there lived, some years ago, a poor but honest shoemaker and his wife. In the day time he sat at the corner of the street, repairing shoes and slippers, and even made new ones when he could find a customer, although he had to first purchase the leather, as he was too poor to keep any stock on hand. His wife sold vegetables and fruits, raised by her on a small plat before their door, and many people chose to buy of her because she was clean and neatly dressed, and knew how to make the best display of her vegetables.

These worthy people had a pleasant-faced, handsome boy, well-shaped and quite large for a child of eight years. He was accustomed to sit by his mother’s side on the market-place, and to carry home a part of the fruit for the women or cooks who bought largely of his mother; and he rarely returned from these errands without a beautiful flower, or a piece of money, or cakes;–as the masters of these cooks were always pleased to see the little fellow at their houses, and never failed to reward him generously.

One day the shoemaker’s wife sat, as usual, in the market-place; while ranged around her were baskets of cabbages and other vegetables, all kinds of herbs and seeds, and also, in a small basket, early pears, apples, and apricots. Little Jacob–this was the boy’s name–sat near her and cried her wares in a manly voice: “This way, gentlemen! see what beautiful cabbages! how sweet-smelling are these herbs! early pears, ladies! early apples and apricots! Who buys? My mother offers them cheap.” An old woman came to the market, torn and ragged, with a small sharp-featured face, wrinkled with age, and a crooked pointed nose that nearly reached the chin. She leaned on a long crutch; and it was not easy to see how she got over the ground, as she limped and slid and staggered along–as if she had wheels on her feet, and was in momentary danger of being tilted over and striking her pointed nose on the pavement.

The shoemaker’s wife looked attentively at this old woman. For sixteen years she had been in daily attendance at the market, but had never before seen this singular creature. But she involuntarily shrank back, as the old woman tottered towards her and stopped before her baskets.

“Are you Hannah, the vegetable dealer?” asked the old woman, in a harsh cracked voice, her head shaking from side to side.

“Yes, I am she,” replied the shoemaker’s wife. “Can I do any thing for you?”

“We’ll see, we’ll see! Look at the herbs, look at the herbs, and see whether you have any thing I want,” answered the old woman as she bent down over the baskets, and, pushing her dark skinny hands down among the herbs, seized the bundles that were so tastefully spread out, and raised them one after another to her long nose, snuffing at every part of them. It pressed heavily on the heart of the shoemaker’s wife to see her rare herbs handled in such a way, but she did not dare to offer any objections, as purchasers were privileged to examine her goods; and, besides this, she experienced a singular fear of the old woman. When she had rummaged through the basket, the old woman muttered: “Miserable stuff! poor herbs! nothing there that I want; much better fifty years ago; bad stuff–bad stuff!”