324 THE RED SHOES
feet; this was done in his own house, in his little room, and there stood great glass cases with neat shoes and shining boots. It had quite a charming appearance, but the old lady could not see well, and therefore took no pleasure in it. Among the shoes stood a red pair, just like those which the Princess had worn. How beautiful they were ! The shoemaker also said they had been made for a Count's child, but they had not fitted.
1 That must be patent leather,' observed the old lady, ' the shoes shine so !'
' Yes, they shine !' replied Karen ; and they fitted her, and were bought. But the old lady did not know that they were red; for she would never have allowed Karen to go to her confirmation in red shoes; but that is what Karen did.
Every one was looking at her shoes. And when she went up the floor of the church, towards the door of the choir, is seemed to her as if the old figures on the tombstones, the portraits of clergymen and clergymen's wives, in their stiff collars and long black garments, fixed their eyes upon her red shoes. And she thought of her shoes only, when the priest laid his hand upon her head and spoke holy words. And the organ pealed solemnly, the children sang with their fresh sweet voices, and the old precentor sang too ; but Karen thought only of her red shoes.
In the afternoon the old lady was informed by every one that the shoes were red ; and she said it was naughty and unsuitable, and that when Karen went to church in future, she should always go in black shoes, even if they were old.
Next Sunday was Sacrament Sunday. And Karen looked at the black shoes, and looked at the red ones— looked at them again—and put on the red ones.
The sun shone gloriously ; Karen and the old lady went along the footpath through the fields, and it was rather dusty.
By the church door stood an old invalid soldier with a crutch and a long beard ; the beard was rather red than white, for it was red altogether ; and he bowed down almost to the ground, and asked the old lady if he might dust her shoes. And Karen also stretched out her little foot.