[Editorial] “The Shoes,” by J. A. (from Youth’s Companion, September 23, 1847; p. 84)
“If I were that girl,” said Annette, to her mother, as they passed a little girl who carried her shoes in her hand, instead of wearing them, “if I were that girl, I would not be so much afraid of spoiling my shoes.”
“It’s a new fashion to have shoes and go barefoot,” said Robert.
“Hush, my children,” said Mrs. Dalton, “the poor girl overheard you; see how red her face is.”
“Was there any harm in what I said, mother?” said Annette.
“Yes, daughter, you hurt the feelings of the poor girl.”
“I am sorry, but don’t you think it is rather silly in her to go barefoot, when she has shoes—though perhaps they hurt her feet.”
“I do not think the reason you suggest for her not wearing her shoes is the true one; I presume, indeed I know, she is afraid of wearing out her shoes.”
“And so prefers to wear out her feet; that is great,” said Robert.
“If you understood the motive which influences her, you would not speak in that tone. Her story, or rather that of her mother, is a very sad one.”
“Won’t you please to tell us about it?” said Annette.
“When did you know her mother?” said Robert, with not as much propriety of manner as was desirable.
“We were schoolgirls together, and intimate friends.”
“Are you not friends now?” said Annette.
“You never go there, do you?” said Robert.
“Robert,” said Annette in a whisper, “can’t you be more respectful to mother?”
“I do not visit her because her wretched husband has forbidden her to receive my visits.”
“He has’nt any right to forbid you from going to see her, has he?” said Robert.
“He has not, but my going there would cause him to make her condition far more unhappy than it now is. We were schoolgirls together, as I said; she was universally beloved. Soon after she left school, she was married to her present husband, who was then one of the most exemplary young men in the village.”
“And he is so bad now,” said Annette[.]
“Yes, he had not received a religious education, and inoffensive and correct as was his deportment, it was not based on religious principle, and when temptation assailed him, he fell. His course downward was at first slow, and his wife long strove to conceal his faults. I shall never forget the day when concealment being no longer possible, she came to me, and opened to my view, her bleeding heart. It was the first time she had ever spoken of his faults to any one. He suspected her, and charged her with the fact of having told me her troubles. She would not falsify; and from that day to this, he has felt towards me the most bitter hatred. What his poor wife suffers, you can never know. She does not appear to care for her own suffering; she seems to think only of her children. She labors night and day for their sakes. She purchased those shoes by sewing at night, when her wretched husband was asleep. Her daughter pleaded with her mother that she would expend the money in making herself comfortable, but she insisted that her own comfort was best consulted in the comfort of her child. The daughter then accepted the shoes, but is very careful not to soil or injure them, that it may be long before her mother will be obliged to purchase her another pair.”
“I am sorry she heard my remark—I am very sorry I made it,” said Annette.
“You see how important it is to avoid every thing calculated to hurt the feelings of any one. We may often though[t]lessly add to a load of sorrow already too heavy.”
“Won’t you let me give her some of my things, mother?”
“I have no objection; I shall be pleased if you can give her something that will be useful to her, and at the expense of some inconvenience to yourself.”
“I would give her anything I have. I will be very careful what I say in future.”
Will the reader form the same resolution?