The Red Shoes

The Red Shoes - A girl dances over mountains and valleys

Once upon a time there was a little girl called Karen. When Karen's mother died, an old lady took the girl in. Soon Karen was due to be blessed in church. At the shoemaker she discovered a pair of red shoes on a shelf, and she liked them. She tried the shoes on. They fitted and were bought, even though they were red. But the old lady didn't see this because her eyesight was bad.

 When a neighbour told the old lady that Karen had worn red shoes in the church, she ordered the girl only to wear black shoes from now on. In spite of that Karen put the red shoes on for communion. An old soldier stood in front of the church door. "What pretty dancing shoes!" he said. "Stay on firmly when you dance!" and he hit the soles with his hand. Karen made a few dance steps – and her legs simply danced on. Only when she took the shoes off could she rest.

One day the old lady became very ill and needed to be looked after. But Karen had been invited to a ball in the town and preferred to go dancing. Yet when she began dancing, the red shoes danced anticlockwise. Instead of dancing in the ballroom, the shoes took her down the stairs and across the courtyard into the forest. When Karen danced past the church she saw an angel in white clothes with wings that reached down to the ground. "You should dance for ever", the angel told her. And Karen had to dance as if the shoes had grown onto her feet. She danced in the forest, over mountains and valleys, through rain and sunshine.

Soon she was completely exhausted and called out "Have pity on me! I've made a mistake!" The angel appeared before her and said "It has been forgiven." The shoes stopped dancing and Karen could take them off at last. Quick as she could, she ran home to the old lady. But the red shoes are still dancing today.