The Red and Gold Shoe part 3/7

The Red and Gold Shoe

The Red and Gold Shoe part 3/7

Leaning back, Joseph looked high  into the sky where flights of snowy white egrets winged their way  toward the lakes  set in the  rolling hills of a national park. Or he watched giant  jet planes  zoom  over.

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"When I grow up, I shall fly," he always  said,  repeating it every day  to make sure it would happen. Joseph planned  to do everything  that needed no legs. So he would  fly like a jet plane, or an egret. Or he would drive a train. Engine drivers don't need  legs, not with all those many wheels whirling so fast to carry them along.

Whenever a long-distance  train  thundered  down  the track, they watched it go, their hearts beating  fast with excitement and a little  fear.  It made the ground heave and shake, and unable  to contain  themselves, Lata and Joseph yelled and shouted, waving madly at  the startled  laces of the passengers in the windows. As the train  flew past,  the invisible rush of its wings blew against  their  faces and lifted their hair.  It was a thrilling moment  but it never  lasted  long enough.

"When I grow up I  shall be an engine driver,"  vowed

Joseph breathlessly,  not  looking at his  legs  lying  side by side like the limp broken wings of a bird.

"OF course you will !" cried Lata, still feeling her heart thudding.  "And will you wave  to me as you go past?"

"I'll blow  the whistle all  the way  through here and make Momin Sheikh's pigeons on the  factory  roof go straight up into the air with fright, and scatter the people  in all directions, and shake old Amma's house so that she will shout: 'It's that devil Joseph again  I Nobody else  takes a train through here  like that! He would bring the roof down on a tired old woman's head, would he?' "

Joseph was not really a boaster. He needed  to talk big sometimes  because he felt so small and unimportant  the  rest of  the  time.

Lata  laughed as she hopped first on one foot and  then on the other.  It wasn't only because of the train  that she was feeling like  this. There was something  else: she had a secret, and now  that she had enjoyed it for long enough, she was going to tell  it to Joseph.

Standing before him on  the slope,  she said: "I  have  ten coppers  !"

"From where?" he cried in pleased surprise as she held up the coin.

"Amma gave it to me before  she  left for work."

Here was wealth  indeed  ! One whole  ten-copper  coin  ! And now came the sweet agony of trying to decide how to spend it in such a way  that  they wouldn't be sorry afterwards.  It was  terrible  to have  to say: "Those peanuts were not so good,  were  they? We should have bought  the cotton  candy  --one ball for you and one  for me." But  then how  to be absolutely sure? Cotton candy went much too fast, and it left only a little  taste of sweetness behind. Puffed  rice went further, And a twist of toffee pulled off the vendor's pole and shaped  into a butterfly or a bird stuck to the  teeth and went even  further. While a lemon drop could  last for days  if you sucked  it only now and  then and kept  it wrapped in a piece of paper  in your pocket.

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