Andersen's Fairy Tales HTML version

The Shoes Of Fortune
I. A Beginning
Every author has some peculiarity in his descriptions or in his style of writing. Those who
do not like him, magnify it, shrug up their shoulders, and exclaim--there he is again! I, for
my part, know very well how I can bring about this movement and this exclamation. It
would happen immediately if I were to begin here, as I intended to do, with: "Rome has its
Corso, Naples its Toledo"--"Ah! that Andersen; there he is again!" they would cry; yet I
must, to please my fancy, continue quite quietly, and add: "But Copenhagen has its East
Here, then, we will stay for the present. In one of the houses not far from the new market a
party was invited--a very large party, in order, as is often the case, to get a return invitation
from the others. One half of the company was already seated at the card-table, the other
half awaited the result of the stereotype preliminary observation of the lady of the house:
"Now let us see what we can do to amuse ourselves."
They had got just so far, and the conversation began to crystallise, as it could but do with
the scanty stream which the commonplace world supplied. Amongst other things they
spoke of the middle ages: some praised that period as far more interesting, far more
poetical than our own too sober present; indeed Councillor Knap defended this opinion so
warmly, that the hostess declared immediately on his side, and both exerted themselves
with unwearied eloquence. The Councillor boldly declared the time of King Hans to be the
noblest and the most happy period.*
* A.D. 1482-1513
While the conversation turned on this subject, and was only for a moment interrupted by
the arrival of a journal that contained nothing worth reading, we will just step out into the
antechamber, where cloaks, mackintoshes, sticks, umbrellas, and shoes, were deposited.
Here sat two female figures, a young and an old one. One might have thought at first they
were servants come to accompany their mistresses home; but on looking nearer, one soon
saw they could scarcely be mere servants; their forms were too noble for that, their skin too
fine, the cut of their dress too striking. Two fairies were they; the younger, it is true, was
not Dame Fortune herself, but one of the waiting-maids of her handmaidens who carry
about the lesser good things that she distributes; the other looked extremely gloomy--it was
Care. She always attends to her own serious business herself, as then she is sure of having
it done properly.
They were telling each other, with a confidential interchange of ideas, where they had been
during the day. The messenger of Fortune had only executed a few unimportant
commissions, such as saving a new bonnet from a shower of rain, etc.; but what she had yet
to perform was something quite unusual.