“I’ll try them on,” Mr. Crow said.
Jimmy Rabbit held out the shoes, hoping that Mr. Crow would take them. But Mr. Crow had no such notion in his head.
“I mean, you may try them on me” he added.
“You didn’t say that,” Jimmy Rabbit reminded him.
“No further remarks are necessary,” Mr. Crow screamed in a shrill voice.
And at that Jimmy Rabbit knelt before him once more and began to crowd one of Mr. Crow’s feet into one of the shoes.
Jimmy struggled for a long time without saying a word. But Mr. Crow said several words under his breath, for Jimmy was hurting him dreadfully.
There were two reasons for that. In the first place, the shoe was much too small for Mr. Crow. And in the second, Jimmy Rabbit was putting the left shoe on Mr. Crow’s right foot.
But neither of them knew that second reason.
OLD SHOES FOR NEW
Old Mr. Crow was too proud to admit that the shoe Jimmy Rabbit was pulling upon his right foot was too small for him. But he would have objected, to be sure, had he known that it was the left shoe. He would have objected likewise when Jimmy crammed his left foot into the right shoe a few minutes later. But Mr. Crow only knew that his feet already ached.
“Now just stand on them!” Jimmy Rabbit said at last.
And Mr. Crow stood up.
“Now walk a bit,” the shoe merchant continued.
But Mr. Crow could not walk. He hobbled a short distance. And then he sank down with a groan.
“They don’t hurt you, do they?” Jimmy Rabbit asked him.
And Mr. Crow shook his head. He thought he could do that truthfully. What he felt was far worse than a mere hurt. It was torture—that was certainly what it was.
Of course Jimmy Rabbit knew what the trouble was—or part of it, at least. He knew that Mr. Crow’s toes were doubled up inside the shoes. And it was on the tip of his tongue to suggest to Mr. Crow that he have his toes cut off. But a better way soon occurred to Jimmy Rabbit.
“I know you’ll find these shoes very comfortable—after they’re finished,” he told Mr. Crow.
“Finished!” Mr. Crow exclaimed. “Do you mean to say they’re only partly made?”
“There’s just one more thing to do to them,” Jimmy Rabbit explained. “The holes haven’t been cut in them yet.”
“Holes!” said Mr. Crow. “What holes?”
“Why, the holes for your toes, of course!” Jimmy Rabbit answered. “Maybe you didn’t know that shoes are to be worn like that this summer. It makes them much cooler in hot weather.”
Well, Mr. Crow liked the idea. He said so, too. He certainly couldn’t wear the shoes as they were. And if everybody else was going to wear shoes with toe-holes, he didn’t want to be behind the times. But he hadn’t seen anybody with shoes made after that fashion. And he told Jimmy Rabbit as much.