Dwarves can be helpful or dangerous, and different folktales will show their various natures. This tale from Schonwerth's collection, "Little Rose and the Dwarves," shows the helpful sort.
Once there were two lovers, only the boy's father urged him repeatedly to marry a rich girl, and his sweetheart Little Rose was a poor maiden. One day Little Rose was working and heard a sigh. She saw a Dwarf who was trying to lift his pitcher out of a fountain and couldn't; she laughed at him although she felt pity for him. Rose lifted out the dwarf's pitcher and handed it to him.
The Dwarf asked her what she wanted in return for her service, and she replied, "Nobody can help me but God alone." The Dwarf promised he would meet her later, for he had to bring the water to his thirsty wife, and agreed to meet her at 11:00 in her kitchen.
Little Rose didn't show up until almost midnight, and the Dwarf scolded her for being late. But he had her remove the lid on top of the stove, and there was a tunnel that led to a chamber. The Dwarf told Rose that her father actually had been rich, but selfishly buried all his money and took his secret with him to the grave. The Dwarf pulled out the key to the chamber, and now Rose was more wealthy than the woman her beloved's father intended him to marry.
The Dwarf stayed with the young wife, and he and his companions did chores for her, and her work prospered. They attended to Rose in her childbirth and helped watch her children, and asked in return for warm milk three times a day. She even taught the Dwarves and their families to read, and also visited the Dwarf families when they had children. If she wanted the Dwarves to come visit, she just had to call out, "Little men, come to me, the men are gone!" and they would come out from between the floorboards.
I like how the heroine in this story isn't perfect-she initially laughs at the sight of the Dwarf struggling with his water pitcher, and was late for their meeting. But these things are forgiven and we see an unusual but appealing picture of two species working and living together. It's interesting that the Dwarves will appear to women and children but seem to avoid men.
Illustrations by John Bauer