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Thin Shoes
by [?]

“Why, Lizzy, dear!” exclaimed Uncle Thomas, to his pretty niece, Miss Walton, as she stepped upon the pavement from her mother’s dwelling, one morning in midwinter–“You are not going in this trim?”

“In what trim?” said Lizzy, glancing first at her gloves, then upon her dress, and then placing her hand upon her neck and bosom to feel if all was right there. “Is any thing wrong with my dress, uncle?”

“Just look at your feet.”

“At my feet!” And Lizzy’s eyes fell to the ground. “I don’t see any thing the matter with them.”

“Why, child, you have nothing on your feet but paper-soled French lasting boots.”

“They have thick soles, uncle.”

“Thick! If you call them thick, you will have to find a new term for thinness. Go right back, and put on your leather boots.”

“Leather boots!” Lizzy’s voice and countenance showed an undisguised amazement.

“Yes, leather boots. You certainly wouldn’t think of going out on a day like this without having your feet well protected with leather boots.”

“Leather boots! Why, Uncle Thomas!”–and the musical laugh of Miss Walton echoed on the air–“who ever heard of such a thing?”

Uncle Thomas glanced involuntarily down at his own thick, double-soled, calfskin understandings.

“Boots like them!” exclaimed the merry girl, laughing again.

“But come along, my good uncle,” she added more seriously, drawing her arm within his, and attempting to move away. “We’ll have all the neighbourhood staring at us. You can’t be in earnest, I’m sure, about my wearing clumsy leather boots. Nancy, the Irish cook, has a pair; but I”—-

“And pray, Lizzy,” returned the old gentleman, as he yielded to the impulse given him by his niece, and moved down the street beside her–“are you so much heartier than Nancy, so much stouter and stronger, that you can bear exposure to damp and even wet pavements, in thin shoes, while she will not venture out unless with feet well protected by leather boots?”

“My shoes are not thin, uncle,” persisted Lizzy. “They have thick soles.”

“Not thin! Thick soles! Look at mine.”

Lizzy laughed aloud, as she glanced down at her uncle’s heavy boots, at the thought of having her delicate feet encased in leather.

“Look at mine!” repeated Uncle Thomas. “And am I so much more delicate than you are?”

But Miss Walton replied to all this serious remonstrance of her uncle (who was on a visit from a neighbouring town) with laughing evasion.

A week of very severe weather had filled the gutters and blocked the crossings with ice. To this had succeeded rain, but not of long enough continuance to free the streets from their icy encumbrance. A clear, warm day for the season followed; and it was on this day that Miss Walton and her uncle went out for the purpose of calling on a friend or two, and then visiting the Art-Union Gallery.

Uncle Thomas Walton was the brother of Lizzy’s father. The latter died some few years before, of pulmonary consumption. Lizzy, both in appearance and bodily constitution, resembled her father. She was now in her nineteenth year, her veins full of young life, and her spirits as buoyant as the opening spring. It was just four years since the last visit of Uncle Thomas to the city–four years since he had looked upon the fair face of his beautiful niece. Greatly had she changed in that time. When last he kissed her blushing cheek, she was a half-grown school-girl–now she burst upon him a lovely and accomplished young woman.

But Uncle Thomas did not fail to observe in his niece certain signs, that he understood too well as indications of a frail and susceptible constitution. Two lovely sisters, who had grown up by his side, their charms expanding like summer’s sweetest flowers, had, all at once, drooped, faded, withered, and died. Long years had they been at rest; but their memory was still green in his heart. When he looked upon the pure face of his niece, it seemed to Uncle Thomas as if a long-lost sister were restored to him in the freshness and beauty of her young and happy life ere the breath of the destroyer was upon her. No wonder that he felt concern when he thought of the past. No wonder that he made remonstrance against her exposure, in thin shoes, to cold and damp pavements. But Lizzy had no fear. She understood not how fatal a predisposition lurked in her bosom.