Who cares what “good Christian people” say? We know what we mean to Karen. Did you know that in the beginning, the poor girl had no shoes at all? That’s right. She went barefoot or wore old wooden clumpers that chafed her instep until her feet nearly bled.
The old shoemaker’s wife noticed the poor girl’s feet and she made her a pair of clumsy shoes with some red cloth she had sitting around. Karen wore them for the first time when she went to her mother’s funeral. If people looked down on her and muttered that her shoes were unsuitable, they weren’t seeing anything but their own hard judgments.
Poor little Karen. Is it any wonder that she loved red shoes? We were proud to be worn on her dainty feet, and if we nearly danced her to her grave, it wasn’t our fault! It was the fault of that old wounded soldier. He put a spell on us, and Karen suffered horribly. She will never step foot in a church again, but she doesn’t need to. The church will come to her, and we will dance for our beloved girl all the way to the world’s end!
Red Shoes in The Red Shoes, Hans Christian Andersen. Illustration by Jennie Harbour.