Title : The Wise Old Dwarf Author : Anne Frank Date : April 18, 1944 English Translation by: Michel Mok --------------------------------- The Wise Old Dwarf There once was a little elf called Dora. She was pretty and rich, and her parents spoiled her terribly. She was always laughing. She laughed from early morning until late at night; she was happy about everything and never gave sadness or sorrow a thought. In the same forest where Dora made her home, there lived a dwarf by the name of Peldron. He was, in every- thing, the exact opposite of Dora. While Dora was forever smiling at all the beauty and goodness about her, Peldron worried because there was so much misery in the world, and especially in the world of elves and dwarves. One day Dora had to do an errand at the shoemaker's in elves' village. And what do you think happened? She met that boring and long-faced Peldron. Dora was sweet but, because everyone liked her, she was a bit conceited, too. Boldly, she ran toward Peldron, grabbed his pretty dwarf's hat and, from a distance, laughed with the hat in her hands. Peldron was really cross; he stamped on the ground and called, "Give me back my hat, give it back immediately!" But Dora did no such thing, ran farther away, and finally hid the hat in a hollow tree. Then she quickly continued on her way to the shoemaker. After looking for it a long time, Peldron did find his hat. He couldn't take a joke, and especially not from Dora, whom he didn't like at all. Listlessly, he went on his way. Suddenly, a deep voice roused him from his brooding: "Peldron, I am the oldest dwarf in the world, and also the poorest. Please, give me something, so that I may buy some food." Peldron shook his head, no. "I won't give you anything," he said. "You had better die, so you needn't endure the misery of this world." And he hurried on without looking back. Meanwhile, Dora, on her way back from the shoemaker, also met the old dwarf, and she, too, was asked for alms. Like Peldron, she refused, but for a different reason. "I won't give you any money," she said. "If you are poor, it's your own fault. The world is so wonderful that I can't be bothered with poor people." And she skipped along. With a sigh, the old dwarf sat down on a mossy spot, wondering what he should do with those two children. One was too sad, the other too gay, and both wouldn't get very far in life that way. Now, this ancient dwarf was no ordinary, everyday dwarf; he was a sorcerer, but not an evil one. On the contrary, he wanted people and elves and dwarves to improve and the world to progress. He sat there, thinking, for an hour. Then he rose and slowly walked to the house of Dora's parents. The day after their meeting in the forest, Dora and Peldron found themselves locked up together in a small cabin. The old dwarf had taken them away to give them a proper training. The great sorcerer's wish was the same as a command, and even parents dared not disobey it. What were those two to do in that hut? They weren't allowed to go out, nor were they permitted to quarrel. They had to work the whole day long! Those had been the old dwarf's orders. And so Dora worked, made jokes and laughed; and Peldron worked, looked gloomy and felt sad. Every evening at seven, the old dwarf came to check on their work and then left again. They wondered how they could possibly get free. There was only one way, and that was to obey the old dwarf in everything. You can't imagine how difficult it was for Dora to have to look at that long-jawed Peldron all day long; Peldron, Peldron, early and late, and never anybody else. But she hadn't much time to talk to him, anyway, even if she had wanted to, because she had to cook (she had learned that from her mother), keep the house clean and in order, and in her "spare time," if you please, get some spinning done. Peldron, for his part, must chop wood in the enclosed garden, cultivate the grounds, and cobble shoes in the bargain. At seven in the evening, Dora called him to supper, and by that time they were both so tired that they could hardly talk to the old dwarf. Then he arrived on his nightly visit. They kept this up for a week. Dora still laughed often, and yet she began to understand that there was a serious side to life. She realized that there were people who had a difficult time and that it was not asking too much to help such folk when they were in distres s, instead of sending them away with some rude words. And Peldron lost a little of his gloom; it even happened, from time to time, that he whistled softly at his work, or grinned when he saw Dora laughing. On Sunday they were both allowed to come with the old dwarf to chapel in elves' village. They paid more attention to the words of the dwarf-preacher than they had before, and they felt quite content as they walked back through the shady woods. "Because you have been so good," said the old dwarf, "you may spend the day in the open, just as you used to do. But, mind you, tomorrow you go back to work. You can't go home, and you can't visit your friends." Neither thought of running away; they were very glad to be permitted the freedom of the forest, even for one day. All that Sunday they played and had fun, watched the birds, the flowers and the blue sky, and enjoyed the warm sunshine. Happily, they returned to their cabin in the evening, slept until morning, and then went back to work. The old dwarf made them lead this kind of life for four long months. Every Sunday morning they went to church, spent the rest of the day in the open, and worked hard the remainder of the week. When the four months were up, the old dwarf one evening took both of them by the hand and walked into the woods with them. "Look here, children," he said, "I am sure that you often have been angry with me. I also think that you both must be longing to go home." "Yes," said Dora. And "Yes," echoed Peldron. "But do you understand that this has been good for you?" No, sir, they didn't understand that so well. "Well, I will explain it," said the old dwarf. "I took you here and left you together to teach you that there are other things in this world beside YOUR fun and YOUR gloom. You both will get along in life much better than before you came here. Little Dora has become somewhat more serious, and Peldron has cheered up a bit, because you were obliged to make the best of having to live together. I also believe that you like each other better than before. Don't you agree, Peldron?" "Yes," said Peldron, "I like Dora much better now." "Well," said the old dwarf, "you may go back to your parents. But think often about your stay in the little cabin. Enjoy all the fine things life will bring you, but don't forget the sorrows of others and try to comfort them. All people, children, dwarves and elves can help one another. "So, on your way, and don't be cross with me anymore. I have done for you what I could, and it was for your own good. Good day, children, till we meet again!" "Bye-bye," said Dora and Peldron, and off they went to their homes. Once more the old dwarf sat down in a shady spot. He had but one wish -- that he might guide all the children of men into the right path, as he had guided those two. And, truly, Dora and Peldron lived happily ever after! Once and for all they had learned the great lesson that people must laugh and weep, each at the right time. Later, much later, when they were grown up, they went to live together in a small house of their own free will, and Dora did the work inside and Peldron outside, just as they had when they were very young.
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