In spite of the disappointment at the fairy’s present the festivities went merrily on and, when the party was over and the fairy bade her god-daughter good-bye, she said: “My little present is not quite as shabby as it looks. Those shoes will never wear out and, besides, the little feet that have them on can never go wrong. When your baby has grown large enough to wear those shoes, if you send him on an errand, and tell him to come back quickly, and he forgets and stops to play, those little shoes will help him to remember by pinching his feet and pulling and twitching at his ankles until he will be glad to go on again. They will remind him to go straight to school and to come straight home again as you have bidden him. Indeed, wherever he is sent he will be quite sure to go, and he will come back again at just the right moment and, by the time his feet have grown too large to wear the little shoes, he will no longer need their help.”
Days passed by, months passed by. The boy was no longer a baby, but had grown large enough to wear the fairy’s shoes and, just as she had said, they always helped him to go the right way.
Months sped and years sped and another baby boy came to stay in the little brown house, and then another and another and another, until the mother had nine boys. Each one in turn wore the little shoes and, just as the fairy had said, they never wore out. At last they descended to the ninth and youngest boy and became Timothy’s shoes.
Now the eighth little boy had rather small feet and had worn the shoes longer than the others, besides Timothy was the baby and, for one reason and another like these, his mother hated to put the rough little shoes upon him. For a long time Timothy had gone his own way, which was rarely the right way. At last he played truant from school so often and was late to dinner so many times, that his mother said she could bear it no longer, he must wear the fairy shoes. So she had them freshly blackened and the copper tips newly polished and, one morning, she brought them out and told Timothy to put them on.
“Now, Tim dear,” she said, “go straight to school this morning. If you don’t these little shoes will pinch your feet terribly.”
But Timothy did not mind. It was a bright, sunny morning in May and, if he had loitered on the way when the cold March winds blew up his jacket sleeves and made him shiver, and when the snow lay in great drifts by the roadside, how could he help wishing to linger now when every bush held a bird and every bank a flower?
Once or twice Timothy stopped to pick spring flowers, but the shoes pinched his feet and he ran on again. At last he reached the bank overlooking the swamp and, gazing down, he saw great clumps of cowslips, with their dark green leaves and crowns of beautiful yellow flowers.
Then Timothy forgot all about school, forgot what his mother had said, forgot the shoes and their pinches and thought only of the cowslips. Oh, he must have some!