Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The Artist's Shoes

She bought them when her old shoes wore out. They were flat heeled but in keeping with her personality they were red and comfortable. Being on her feet every day, she needed them to be comfortable. But there was something she did not know about them, something she only found out when she went to see her grandmother.

She got in her old red car and drove out of the town through the Outwoods and past Swithland Woods, by the reservoir. It was by Granby Forest that the red car broke down and then refused to start. Now as an artist, she was given to being much in touch with her emotions and this time she gave full vent to them. Very, very full vent to them. Had the sky not been naturally blue, it would have been when she had finished giving vent. At which point she grumbled and muttered and thanked her lucky stars for having comfortable shoes. She pulled on her long black overcoat for it looked as if it might rain and what with the car, she was sure rain was next. Then she dragged her basket of goodies for her grandmother from the back seat.

"You had better start when I get back," she told the car pointedly and with some menace.

That done, she trudged through the forest towards her grandmother's house in the village on the other side of the forest. She was in somewhat of a temper or I am sure she would have noticed the crumpled thing looking like a bundle of sticks fall from her car and tumble after her. It was a pixie called Wormwood and he was rife with mischief and loved a human in a temper more than most. Mainly because they were unlikely to see him. He followed the artist through the tall trees with slim trunks and their soft, whispering greenery with a grin. Pixies are notorious for misleading travellers and Wormwood was very good at it. For the moment however he was content to listen to her grumbles and mutterings. Being an artist she was inventive with her invective and Wormwood admired that. It made a change to the usual and against his own judgement he began to take a liking to her. But when he saw the faerie, he tumbled away quickly. It is not wise, even for a pixie, to make trouble around the faerie. They are considerably better at trouble than most.

Our artist did not see a faerie, for she was not looking for one. All she saw was a tall graceful and elegant young woman with auburn hair like burnished bronze and very green eyes. The young woman wore a delightful green dress and very beautiful red shoes.

"Good morrow mistress," the young woman said politely.

The artist liked politeness and though the greeting was a little odd to her ears, she thanked the woman and returned it with equal politeness.

"I would have a favour from you and will give you a favour in return," the young woman said.

The artist pondered this and asked what the favour might be.

"Your red shoes mistress. I like them greatly and would have them. In return I will give you a choice of three favours," the woman answered.

"What these tatty old things?" the artist said, "But tatty or not, I haven't spare shoes with me and I have a long journey ahead of me," she added.

"I will clear the path and keep you warm so that you feel no pain or discomfort, so you give me your shoes," the woman replied.

Now the artist took in the auburn hair and green eyes and understood that it was a faerie she had to deal with. She asked what three favours the lady would offer her.

"You are an artist mistress. I will offer you constant inspiration, instant recognition, potent wealth. Your work will be of the highest quality and the most beautiful whichever you choose. Only I would have your fine red shoes," the faerie told her.

The artist was no fool. She knew that what a faerie offers will have a catch to it unless that catch can be spotted early.

"Let me and those I love not suffer from whatever I choose, let me remember you and your offers with kindness and I will give you my shoes," she said.

The faerie agreed and the artist chose constant inspiration, for that is most important to an artist. The faerie granted her that favour and took her red shoes. The artist bowed and walked on, her bare feet unharmed and the earth comfortably warm where she trod. In this way she reached her grandmother's house in silence, reflecting on the beauty of the faerie woman. As she did so, inspiration came to her and she decided that the first piece she created with her new gift she would leave in Granby Forest for the faerie in gratitude.

She reached the small village where her grandmother lived and trudged up the path with the basket of goodies. She sat for a while and talked with her grandmother before trudging back in her bare feet to where she had left the car. But her inspiration flooded her and she paused in the fading daylight and took leaves and twigs and made a beautiful statuette, which she placed within a small close growing grove of trees.

"I give this work in gratitude mistress for your gift to me," she said quietly, sure that the faerie would hear her.

The faerie did hear her, for when the artist returned to her car, she found beside it the shoes she had given up. With them was a small note that read,

Your gave to me with good grace your shoes
And did not my wish at all abuse
So I return your shoes mistress
With all my favours without distress.

The artist smiled, turned back to the forest and gave the faerie grace and thanks. She got into her car and drove home again. From that day on, she had constant inspiration, instant recognition and very potent wealth, which I am glad to say she used with responsibility and kindness. With all that, she was much loved and never forgot every year to take a work of hers to the forest that she gave with gratitude to the faerie. Usually, she took a pair of red silk shoes.


madameshawshank said...

perhaps the images are related..the blog shoes 'n these:


Red silk shoes..what's not to love :-)

Griffin said...

They definitely look like cousins Madame. These are still being worn by the artist too!

I'm definitely with you on the red silk shoes. I love red shoes, but red silk is a whole other level up. I would be sorry to lose my red satin stilettos, they are too fabulous!

Rosemary in Utah said...

Oh these shoes, "Maryjanes", nothing could be sweeter, the whole point of having little girls, or being a little girl.
I once bought some vaguely velveteen vaguely Japanese or Chinese looking (?) round-toed flats-with-strap-across-the-top. Dark red. Smelled like mothballs when I bought them, smelled like mothballs 2 years later!

Griffin said...

Yes, but I bet they looked fabulous. More so than mothballs!!