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Simon's Shoes

Children's Story
For his tenth birthday, Simon's uncle George gave him a pair of shoes. Simon was quite excited. He'd been wanting a pair of proper football boots for ages, and he felt sure uncle George would come up with the goods. Even if it wasn't football boots, Simon was happy to settle for a pair of designer trainers.

He tore the wrapping paper off the box in a frenzy. Then he lifted the lid and looked inside, and his face fell. The expression of anticipation and excitement changed instantly to one of amazed disgust. He could hardly bring himself to lift out the shoes from the box, but his mother was saying, "Come on, Simon, try them on. Let's see whether they fit."

And since his uncle was standing there with a benign grin on his face, Simon felt he had no option but to try on the offending shoes. Unfortunately, they fitted perfectly. Simon groaned inwardly and wondered what excuse he could find for refusing to wear the dreadful shoes.

"I thought you wanted shoes," his mother remarked, after Uncle George had gone home.

"Yes, but not these!" cried Simon. "I can't wear these! I'll be laughed out of school. Just look at them. They're not trainers, they look more like dancing shoes."

"I understand they're all the rage in America, that's why uncle George brought them over with him. He thought you'd be thrilled."

Simon just said, "Huh!" and threw the shoes into the bottom of his wardrobe.

He managed to forget the shoes after that, until the holidays when he was due to go to camp. Then to his horror, when he arrived in the tent and began to unpack his kit, he discovered his mother had packed the thin, rubber-soled shoes.

Simon tried to hide them by pushing them out of sight, but he was too late. The other three boys in the tent had already spotted them, and pounced with cries of glee. Simon felt himself blushing. He rather wished the ground would open up and swallow him.

One day, the camp leader took all the boys on a long hike. It was while they were tramping through a marshy field that Simon fell into a dyke filled with water. His friends dragged him out, but he was soaking wet. When they got back to camp, the leader ordered Simon to change all his clothes and his shoes. Simon had no choice. He was forced to wear uncle George's awful shoes. Fortunately, the other boys were so concerned about his fall into the brook that they didn't make too many rude comments.

The shoes were really comfortable. They fitted so well, Simon almost forgot he was wearing them. He had to continue wearing them next day since his trainers were still wringing wet, so they were on his feet when the leader took all the boys up a mountain.

It was easy going at first on the lower slopes when there was plenty of grass and a clear path, but as they climbed higher and higher, so the climbing became more difficult. As they neared the summit of the mountain, loose scree underfoot made the going really tricky. Everyone was sliding about, unable to get a grip on the rocky surface. Everyone except Simon, that is.

To his amazement he discovered that the dreaded shoes gripped the surface brilliantly. And they were so light, and fitted him so perfectly, that he was as nimble as a mountain goat. When one of his friends slipped 50 ft down the mountain side, Simon didn't hesitate.

"I'll go," he shouted, and was already halfway down after his friend before anyone could say a word. His friend had badly twisted an ankle in the fall, but Simon was able to bring him safely to the top of the mountain.

"You're a hero, Simon," said the leader admiringly.

But Simon thought of his uncle George, and how he would write and tell him what a fantastic present the shoes had been.

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