The Red and Gold Shoe part 4/7

The Red and Gold Shoe

The Red and Gold Shoe part 4/7

"What will you buy?" asked Joseph seriously,  for he knew this problem  called  for much thought.

Lata was quite  sure what  she would do. "We'll have a doll marriage too, and we'll have a feast." So what  if they'd not been invited? A marriage and a feast of their own would make  things equal. Well, almost equal-for it couldn't be much of a marriage when one had no dolls. The groom was the wooden  handle of a chisel with  the blade snapped  off from Joseph's house, and the bride was  the short stout stick with which Lata's grandmother beat the clothes at  the pond. Both stood stiffly side by side against  the fence, with eyes,a nose, and a mouth  put on with a charred  stick. For  ten coppers  the feast had  to be modest indeed, with  roasted peas served  in silver cups made from paper out of empty  cigarette boxes  they  found along  the tracks.

They ate  the peas slowly and very solemnly'  It would not do to gobble  them  too  fast, for once they were gone  the feast would be over. Too soon would  their pleasure  become a thing of the past. The peas had  to be chewed and tasted to the fullest so that  they could be  remembered  to the  fullest.

"We won't  tell anybody-not anybody,"  said Lata, munching.
The story for children

"No, we won't  tell anybody," Joseph repeated, nodding his head,  for there is always a certain pride in the possession of a secret of one's very own. However, the real  truth was that it hadn't  been much of a marriage. The others would  laugh out  loud, and that  they could not have borne.

What with all the preparation-hunting  for tinfoil, running  to the station to buy  the peas from  the old man at the grade crossing there, and setting up the bride and bride- groom, the children were unaware  of frow  the time hadpassed until Lata heard her grandmother  calling  from  the lane on  the other side of the  fence.

But where was the goat? "Rakhi  ! Rakhi !" she cried,  jumping to her  feet.

"She was down  that way." Joseph said, pointing along  the tracks as Lata set off.

If luck were something one could be sure of,  there wouldn't be any  fun to it. "If Rakhi hadn't strayed so far  that day, we would  never have  found the shoe," Lata always said  later, convinced it was all because of their good  luck.

She was running along the tracks, not even  looking  down, when  the gleam caught her eye. All crimson and gold, it flashed  in the afternoon sun. And when  she went over and picked it up, her eyes opened wide in astonishment and delight. A child's shoe-and what a shoe ! Of soft  red velvet it was, with a leather  sole and worked all over from end to end with gold  thread. The toe tapered to a fine golden  point and  then curved back  on itself. What was more,  it was brand- new. Perhaps  its mate  lies somewhere  close by, thought Lata, as she searched  along the  tracks  and among the bushes. But she didn't find it. There was only one shoe. Nevertheless, when  you have never owned  a pair of shoes  in your  life, even one is better  than none.

There was nothing magical about  the shoe. What magic can  there be  in a thing thrown  out of the window of a passing train by a willful spoiled child who should have known better? But  then again, what  is magic  if it isn't marvel and change and all the difference between  the ordinary and  the extraordinary?

Continue The Red and Gold Shoe part 5/7

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