The Red and Gold Shoe part 6/7

The Red and Gold Shoe

The Red and Gold Shoe part 6/7

That evening Lata sat with one leg neatly folded under her, while the other hung down wearing the red and gold shoe. She swung her leg back and forth so that from the corner of an eye she could see  it flash out. And sometimes she held her leg stiffly out before her as she'd forgotten  to swing it back. As she had hoped,  she soon had a small knot of children gaping at her where  she sat,  though  she pretended not  to notice  them.

"Where did you get such  a grand pair of shoes?"  asked  one of the children in astonishment.
Virtue stories for children

Lata didn't answer or even  turn her head  from watching the game of tipcat; but she was aware  that more children were  running  across  to join the crowd,  until  the sweetseller's daughter, who was  then  the rajah, was left perched  alone on Janak Seth's  feet and  feeling very annoyed  about  it. Finally, she climbed down and pushed her way  through  the others to stand before  Lata and Joseph.

Where did you get them? Is  it real gold-all  that thread?

Who gave them  to you? For a while Lata enjoyed  the sensation and  then she and 
Joseph  looked at each other and smiled all over  their  faces,  the way we do when we're very pleased about  something  and don't care who knows  it.

"My grandmother bought  them for me,,, Lata said  serenely, pulling her shabby skirt straight  to make sure  that the other foot was well hidden from view.

"My father could buy a dozen  such shoes," sniffed the sweetseller's  girl.

"Perhaps,"  responded  Lata, “but  he hasn't done  so yet, has he?"

She held out her foot, turning the ankle a bit  to let  them all get a good look. The shoe wasn’t a good fit. In fact it hurt a bit-but for  the sensation  it was causing  it was well worth a pinched  toe or  two.

"It's beautiful pair of shoes," someone  breathed.

“But there's only one !" burst out  the simple-hearted Joseph before Lata could stop him. Only one? How silly! Only one shoe! Shoes always come in pairs, don't they?

“Yes, but this  isn't  for walking  in. It’s a shoe  for show,” chattered  Joseph,  for all this sudden  success  had quite gone to his  little head.

"Hear  that!" sneered the sweetseller's daughter. "Only one shoe and that only for show! You should know all about that, O Legless One  !"

Poor Joseph's  face fell,  for he always felt sensitive about his sorry legs.

"It  is too!" cried Lata stoutly.  "It's not for walking. See?"

Slipping  it off she turned  it over to show them the underside still smooth and unsoiled. And inside there was a soft sole of gray felt. "It's a shoe only for show."

It certainly  was, and she was not going  to waste her time arguing with anyone who refused  to believe  the evidence of his eyes  "Have you ever seen anyone walking  in such shoes?" Along  the dusty  lanes of their  shantytown?  Through the slush by the water tap, and  the coal dust, and the litter, and the cattle droppings? Of course  they hadn't!

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