Nearly a month ago, when I posted my last set of random weirdnesses from the bookshelf, I included a picture from a story called “The Fairy Shoe Dance.”
But I’ve been thinking since then that I really should include the entire, not terribly long story on the blog, because it’s the strangest thing I think I’ve ever read.
I apologise for any nightmares that the pictures induce, but I assure you that this is exactly how the story appears in the annual Our Darlings, circa 1932.
The Fairy Shoe Dance
It had been a wet Summer. The Fairy King said it was the worst Summer that he ever remembered. The Fairy Queen said she thought they had better leave this dismal old place and find a nice dry and sunshiny Park. “In this Park,” said the Queen, “there are six small rivers and twelve bogs. How can we sit under the trees without umbrellas, or have any fun?”
“Cheer up,” said the King, and his face was as cheerful as the face of the Sun, which had cruelly deserted their Park, and all other Parks, all the Summertime, “I have a plan!”
The Fairy Queen began to feel much more cheerful. She put her arm through the King’s arm, and said, “Be quick, my dear, and tell me what your plan is. I am sure it is a good one—you always know what can be done!” The King became more like a shining Sun than before. It was so nice to be praised.
His plan was to take a Hall in the village near, and to hold a Fancy-Dress Dance. “If it is successful—and it will be—” he said, “and if the wet weather continues, we will have another, and as often as we like. I will arrange the first, and you, my dear, the second, and our subjects will arrange the third. Oh, yes, we shall have some fun!” The King and three of his Dukes went to the Village to look for a Hall for the Fairy Dance. They peeped into every building. There was one big house. It held the biggest family in the Village, and the people said it was the untidiest house anywhere about. It was true, as the King soon found out.
The hall in this house was large and square, and opposite the front door was a fine drawing-room. On the right was the dining-room and round a corner was the staircase, and a passage with some good cupboards, and a kitchen. The King and all his Dukes decided it was a fine place for their Party. But, oh, oh, oh, by the side of the drawing-room door was a long rail of pegs smothered up with coats, jackets and hats. Underneath these garments were rows of shoes of every kind piled on one another.
“If I lived in this house,” said the King, “I would clear these shoes and coats and hats into all the cupboards in the passage, and anyway they must disappear!”
Then he picked up a shoe. “Why not have Shoes for our Fancy Dress? There are many shoes here, and in the Cottages there are plenty more. What fun it will be!” The King chose a Shoe. He began to whisper, “I get a little smaller every minute.” When he had repeated this three times, he was in the Shoe, and his laughing face looked out at his Dukes. In a minute they were both inside Shoes. Then they got out again, and whispered the other Spell. “I am getting bigger every minute.”
As the Family were sweetly sleeping in bed, the Fairies had plenty of time to make their plans to hold the Shoe Dance on the following Thursday. Now it happened that on the following Friday, the eldest of the many daughters and sons was going to be married. On Thursday big bunches of flowers kept coming to the house, and were in every available corner—except the corner where the Family’s shoes, jackets, and jackets still remained.
The Family were used to untidiness. They did not even dream of clearing away the shoals of shoes.
Only three people noticed those shoes. They were the Bride and Bridegroom and Aunt May, who had come to help them with the wedding. The three stood and looked. Aunt May whispered softly, “All right, I am a Fairy.”
Thursday night came. Many Fairies helped the Dukes to get everything ready for the Dance. They carried all the coats and hats away, and hung them neatly on the pegs in the passage cupboards. The shoes only remained in the hall. They awaited the coming of the Dancers. The hall looked as it ought to look, with banks of flowers and nothing untidy.
What a gay time the Fairies had that night! They sang and danced and laughed for hours. The Fairy Queen and her Ladies served a gorgeous Supper from the tables that were to hold the Wedding Breakfast on the morrow.
The Dawn was breaking in the East when the Fairies went home to the Palace in the Park. Not a shoe did they leave in the hall. The shoes were packed row on row in the cupboards.
When the Family came down in the morning they saw the empty corner. “Hullo!” said Papa. Mamma said, “I won’t have those shoes back again here. I don’t know why I let them stay all these years.” Papa looked at Aunt May, his favourite sister. “Who put them away?” he asked. “The Fairies did it,” said Aunt May, “I heard them singing and dancing down here all night.”
The Sun shone all that Wedding Day. He was so pleased with himself that he shone all day for a month, till the bogs went away and there were no more damp lawns and no grumbling.
The happy couple built a bungalow by the big house. It had a big hall, called the Lounge. The Fairy Queen said she must hold her lovely party there. It was just to her taste.