The Shoe Tree

There was once a little girl who buried a pair of old, rotten red shoes in the garden to see if they would grow into a tree. Her family did not have very much money. In fact, this was the very last pair of shoes she could ever hope to have. And her feet were very cold.

    Every day the girl went out and watered the old shoes, looking carefully to see if there were any sprouts. But, day after day, there was no sign that the shoes were growing.

    When it had been a very long time of looking for shoe-like sprouts, the little girl made her way into the forest to ask the witch that lived there why her old shoes wouldn't grow.

    'Have you watered them with a raven's teardrop?' the witch asked the girl.

    The little girl shook her head.

    'How would I get a raven's teardrop?' she asked.

    The witch told her that the best way was to go down to the river on the night of a full moon with a thimble in hand. Then she was to wait until a raven came and perched on her arm.

    'But how do I get a raven to land on my arm? And how does one get a raven to cry?' asked the girl, for it all seemed rather complicated.

    But the witch would not answer.

    The girl did what the witch suggested all the same. And when she was carefully settled by the river waiting, she saw a raven fly by her head.

    'Come and land on my arm, raven,' the girl said.

    'I think not,' said the raven.

    'Oh, please do,' said the little girl. 'I need one of your tears to fall into my thimble so that I can water my shoes and have them grow into a tree.'

    The raven looked at the little girl, and then burst into a peal of laughter.

    'That is such a funny thing, I think I will perch on your arm. But I am laughing so hard, I don't know how I can possibly cry.'

    The little girl's face had fallen.

    'I suppose it was too good to be true,' the little girl said. 

    'What was?' the raven asked.

    The little girl told the raven the story of her shoes and her dashed hopes at having new ones. And as the raven sat on her thumb listening to her story, a tear trickled down into the thimble. But the little girl didn't notice.

    'Thank you for listening, raven,' said the girl. Then she made her way home.

    The raven was so moved by the little girl's story and the fact that she did not demand the raven's tears when it could not cry, that it flew to the place where the girl had buried her shoes. Then the raven cried and cried all over the ground, drenching it in tears.

    The next morning the little girl woke up, and decided not to check on her shoes. After all, she had not collected any raven tears.

    But, as she was climbing out of her bed, something red and shiny appeared out of the corner of her window

    She turned her head.

    There was a whole tree of shiny red shoes in the garden!

    The little girl marveled at the sight, then ran down and plucked a pair of shoes for her feet.

    And since she had so many, she gave them to whoever needed them—because she remembered what it was like not to have any shoes to wear.

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