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This story is suitable for children age 6 to 8 approx.
Start of Story
There was once a little girl who was very pretty and delicate, but in
summer she was forced to run about with bare feet, she was so poor, and
in winter wear very large wooden shoes, which made her little insteps
quite red, and that looked so dangerous!
In the middle of the village lived old Dame Shoemaker; she sat and sewed
together, as well as she could, a little pair of shoes out of old red
strips of cloth; they were very clumsy, but it was a kind thought. They
were meant for the little girl. The little girl was called Karen.
On the very day her mother was buried, Karen received the red shoes,
and wore them for the first time. They were certainly not intended for
mourning, but she had no others, and with stockingless feet she followed
the poor straw coffin in them.
Suddenly a large old carriage drove up, and a large old lady sat in it:
she looked at the little girl, felt compassion for her, and then said to the clergyman:
"Here, give me the little girl. I will adopt her!"
And Karen believed all this happened on account of the red shoes, but
the old lady thought they were horrible, and they were burnt. But Karen
herself was cleanly and nicely dressed; she must learn to read and sew;
and people said she was a nice little thing, but the looking-glass said:
"Thou art more than nice, thou art beautiful!"
Now the queen once travelled through the land, and she had her little
daughter with her. And this little daughter was a princess, and people
streamed to the castle, and Karen was there also, and the little
princess stood in her fine white dress, in a window, and let herself be
stared at; she had neither a train nor a golden crown, but splendid
red morocco shoes.
They were certainly far handsomer than those Dame
Shoemaker had made for little Karen. Nothing in the world can be
compared with red shoes.
Now Karen was old enough to be confirmed; she had new clothes and was to
have new shoes also. The rich shoemaker in the city took the measure of
her little foot. This took place at his house, in his room; where stood
large glass-cases, filled with elegant shoes and brilliant boots. All
this looked charming, but the old lady could not see well, and so had
no pleasure in them. In the midst of the shoes stood a pair of red ones,
just like those the princess had worn. How beautiful they were! The
shoemaker said also they had been made for the child of a count, but had
"That must be patent leather!" said the old lady. "They shine so!"
"Yes, they shine!" said Karen, and they fitted, and were bought, but the
old lady knew nothing about their being red, else she would never have
allowed Karen to have gone in red shoes to be confirmed. Yet such was
Everybody looked at her feet; and when she stepped through the chancel
door on the church pavement, it seemed to her as if the old figures on
the tombs, those portraits of old preachers and preachers' wives, with
stiff ruffs, and long black dresses, fixed their eyes on her red shoes.
And she thought only of them as the clergyman laid his hand upon her
head, and spoke of the holy baptism, of the covenant with God, and how
she should be now a matured Christian; and the organ pealed so solemnly;
the sweet children's voices sang, and the old music-directors sang, but
Karen only thought of her red shoes.