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|The Princess and the Goblin||George MacDonald|
|Page 2 of 5||
'Well, you see, it's not the fashion. The king never wears shoes.'
'The queen does.'
'Yes; but that's for distinction. The first queen, you see - I mean the king's first wife - wore shoes, of course, because she came from upstairs; and so, when she died, the next queen would not be inferior to her as she called it, and would wear shoes too. It was all pride. She is the hardest in forbidding them to the rest of the women.'
'I'm sure I wouldn't wear them - no, not for - that I wouldn't!' said the first voice, which was evidently that of the mother of the family. 'I can't think why either of them should.'
'Didn't I tell you the first was from upstairs?' said the other. 'That was the only silly thing I ever knew His Majesty guilty of. Why should he marry an outlandish woman like that-one of our natural enemies too?'
'I suppose he fell in love with her.' 'Pooh! pooh! He's just as happy now with one of his own people.'
'Did she die very soon? They didn't tease her to death, did they?'
'Oh, dear, no! The king worshipped her very footmarks.'
'What made her die, then? Didn't the air agree with her?'
'She died when the young prince was born.'
'How silly of her! We never do that. It must have been because she wore shoes.'
'I don't know that.'
'Why do they wear shoes up there?'
'Ah, now that's a sensible question, and I will answer it. But in order to do so, I must first tell you a secret. I once saw the queen's feet.'
'Without her shoes?'
'Yes - without her shoes.'
'No! Did you? How was it?'
'Never you mind how it was. She didn't know I saw them. And what do you think! - they had toes!'
'Toes! What's that?'
'You may well ask! I should never have known if I had not seen the queen's feet. just imagine! the ends of her feet were split up into five or six thin pieces!'
'Oh, horrid! How could the king have fallen in love with her?'
'You forget that she wore shoes. That is just why she wore them. That is why all the men, and women too, upstairs wear shoes. They can't bear the sight of their own feet without them.'
'Ah! now I understand. If ever you wish for shoes again, Helfer, I'll hit your feet - I will.'
'No, no, mother; pray don't.'
'Then don't you.'
'But with such a big box on my head -'
A horrid scream followed, which Curdie interpreted as in reply to a blow from his mother upon the feet of her eldest goblin.
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