THE RED SHOES 325
1 Look, what pretty dancing-shoes ! * said the old soldier. 1 Fit so tightly when you dance ! ' •>*
And he tapped the soles with his hand. And the old lady gave the soldier an alms, and went into the church with Karen.
And every one in the church looked at Karen's red shoes, and all the pictures looked at them. And while Karen knelt in the church she only thought of her red shoes; and she forgot to sing her psalm, and forgot to say her prayer.
Now all the people went out of church, and the old lady stepped into her carriage. Karen lifted up her foot to step in too ; then the old soldier said,
1 Look, what beautiful dancing-shoes !'
And Karen could not resist : she was obliged to dance a few steps ; and when she once began, her legs went on dancing. It was just as though the shoes had obtained power over her. She danced round the corner of the church —she could not help it; the coachman was obliged to run behind her and seize her : he lifted her into the carriage, but her feet went on dancing, so that she kicked the good old lady violently. At last they took off her shoes, and her legs became quiet.
At home the shoes were put away in a cupboard; but Karen could not resist looking at them.
Now the old lady became very ill, and it was said she would not recover. She had to be nursed and waited on; and this was no one's duty so much as Karen's. But there was to be a great ball in the town, and Karen was invited. She looked at the old lady who could not recover ; she looked at the red shoes, and thought there would be no harm in it. She put on the shoes, and that she might very well do ; but then she went to the ball and began to dance.
But when she wished to go to the right hand, the shoes danced to the left, and when she wanted to go upstairs the shoes danced downwards, down into the street and out at the town gate. She danced, and was obliged to dance, straight out into the dark wood.
There was something glistening up among the trees, and she thought it was the moon, for she saw a face. But it