A Pair of Clogs, and other stories, by Amy Walton.
In the first of the stories a young girl-child is stolen
by the gypsies.
Yet they decide to give the child up, and they leave it in an out-house
owned by a young clergyman. The latter isn't very pleased at this, but
his wife certainly is, and they bring the child up.
After a few years, and in a particularly tense moment, the true mother
is found. An agreement
is reached, whereby
the child is shared.
As with Amy Walton short stories, there is not only a well-told tale but
also a moral.
A PAIR OF CLOGS, AND OTHER STORIES, BY AMY WALTON.
STORY ONE, CHAPTER 1.
HER FIRST HOME.
"My! What a pretty pair of clogs baby's gotten!"
The street was narrow and very steep, and paved with round stones; on
each side of it were slate-coloured houses, some high, some low; and in
the middle of it stood baby, her curly yellow head bare, and her blue
cotton frock lifted high with both fat hands. She could not speak, but
she wanted to show that on her feet were tiny new clogs with bright
She stopped in front of all her acquaintances, men, women, children, and
even dogs. Each of them, except the last, made much the same remark,
and she then toddled cheerfully
on, until nearly everyone
in the village
of Haworth knew of this wonderful new thing.
The baby's mother lived in Haworth, but all day long she had to work in
the town of Keighley down below in the valley, for she was a
factory-girl. From the hillside
you could see the thick veil of smoke,
never lifted, which hung over the tall chimneys and grey houses; the
people there very seldom saw the sky clear and blue, but up at Haworth
the wind blew freshly
off the wide moor just above, and there was
nothing to keep away the sunshine. This was the reason that Maggie
Menzies still lived there, after she had taken to working
factory; it was a long walk to and from Keighley, but it was healthier
for the "li'le lass" to sleep in the fresh air. Everything in Maggie's
life turned upon that one small object; the "li'le lass" was her one
treasure, her one golden bit of happiness, the reason why she cared to
see the sun shine, or to eat, or drink, or rest, or to be alive at all.
Except for the child she was alone in the world, for her husband had
been killed in an accident two years ago, when the baby was only a month
old. Since then she had been Maggie's one thought and care; no one who
has not at some time in their lives spent all their affection
single thing or person can at all understand what she felt, or how
strong her love was. It made all her troubles and hardships easy merely
to think of the child; just to call to mind the dimples, and yellow
hair, and fat hands, was enough to make her deaf to the whirr and rattle
of the restless
machinery, and the harsh tones of the overseer. When
she began her work in the morning she said to herself, "I shall see her
in the evening;" and when it was unusuallytiresome
during the day, and
things went very wrong, she could be patient and even cheerful
remembered "it's fur _her_." The factory-girls with boisterous
good-nature had tried to make her sociable when she first came; they
invited her to stroll
with them by the river in the summer evenings, to
stand and gossip
with them at the street corners, to join in their
parties of pleasure on Sundays. But they soon found it was of no use;
Maggie's one idea, when work was over, was to throw her little checked
shawl over her head, and turn her steps quickly towards a certain house
in a narrow alley near the factory, for there, under the care of a
neighbour, she left her child during the day.
It would have been much better, everyone
told her, to leave her up at
Haworth instead of bringing her into the smoky town; Maggie knew it, but
her answer was always the same to this advice:
"I couldn't bring myself to it," she said. "I niver could git through
the work if I didn't know she was near me."
So winter and summer, through the damp cold or the burning heat, she
might be seen coming quickly down the steep hill from Haworth every
morning clack, clack, in her wooden
shoes, with her child in her arms.
In the evening her pace was slower, for she was tired, and the road was
hard to climb, and the child, generally asleep, weighed heavily. For
the baby was getting beyond a baby now; she was nearly two years old.
How pretty she was, how clever, what dear little knowing
ways she had,
what tiny feet and hands! How yellow her hair was, how white her skin!
She was unlike
any child in Haworth; she was matchless!
And indeed, quite apart from her mother's fond admiration, the baby was
a beautiful child, delicately
formed, and very different from the
blunt-featured children of those parts; she was petted by everyone
the village, and had in consequence
such proud, imperious
that she was a sort of small queen there; the biggest and roughest man
among them was her humble
subject, and ready to do her bidding when she
wished to be tossed in the air or to ride pickaback. She could say very
few words yet, but nothing could exceed
intelligence--a wonderful baby indeed!
She had been christened Betty; but the name was almost forgotten in all
sorts of loving
nicknames, and lately
the people of Haworth had given
her a new one, which she got in the following manner:--
Nearly at the bottom of the steep village street there was a cobbler's
stall which Maggie passed every day in her journeys to and from
Keighley. It was open to the road, and in it hung rows and rows of
clogs of all sizes--some of them big enough to fit a man, and some for
children, quite tiny. They all had wooden
soles, and toes slightly
turned-up tipped with gleaming brass, and a brass buckle
on the instep;
nearly all the people in Haworth and all the factory-girls in Keighley
wore such shoes, but they were always called "clogs." Inside the stall
sat an old man with twinkling blue eyes, and a stumpy turned-up nose: he
sat and cobbled and mended, and made new clogs out of the old ones which
lay in great heaps all round him. Over his stall was the name "T Monk,"
but in the village he was always known as Tommie; and though he was a
silent and somewhat surly character, Tommie's opinion and advice were
often asked, and much valued when given. Maggie regarded him with
admiration and respect. When she passed with her child in her arms he
always looked up and nodded, though he seldom gave any other answer to
her "Good-day, Master Monk." Tommie never wasted his words: "Little
words mak' bonnie do's," he was accustomed to say.
But one evening the sun happened to shine on the row of brass-tipped
clogs, and made them glistenbrightly
just as Maggie went by. It caught
the baby's attention, and she held out her arms to them and gave a
little coo of pleasure.
"T'little lass is wantin' clogs, I reckon," said Tommie with a grim
Maggie held out the baby's tiny foot with a laugh of pride.
"Here's a foot for a pair of clogs, Master Monk," she said; "t'wouldn't
waste much leather to fashion 'em."
Tommie said nothing more, but a week afterwards he beckoned to Maggie
with an important air as she went by.
"You come here," he said briefly.
Maggie went into the stall, and he reached down from a nail a pair of
tiny, neatly finished clogs. They had jaunty brass-bound toes, and a
row of brass nails all round where the leather joined the wooden
and on the instep there gleamed a pair of smart brass clasps with a
pattern chased on them.
"Fur her," said Tommie as he gave them to Maggie. As he did so the baby
stretched out her hands to the bright clasps.
"See!" exclaimed the delighted
Maggie; "she likes 'em ever so. Oh,
Master Monk, how good of yo'!"
"Them clasps _is_ oncommon," said Tommie, regarding
thoughtfully, his blue eyes twinkling with satisfaction, "I cam' at 'em
by chance like."
Maggie had now taken off her baby's shoe, and fitted the clog on to the
soft little foot.
"Ain't they bonnie?" she said.
The baby leaned forward and, seizing one toe in each hand, rocked
to and fro.
Tommie looked on approvingly.
"Yo'll find 'em wear well," he said; "they're the best o' leather and
the best o' workmanship."
After six months more were gone the baby began to walk, and you might
hear a sharp little clatter
on the pavement, like the sound of some
small iron-shod animal. Tommie heard it one morning just as it was
Maggie's usual time to pass, and looked out of his stall. There was
Maggie coming down the road with a proud smile on her face, and the baby
was there too. But not in her mother's arms. No, she was erect on her
own small feet, tottering along in the new wooden
"My word!" exclaimed Tommie, his nose wrinkling with gratification;
"we'll have to call her Little Clogs noo."
It was in this way that Maggie's child became known in the village as
"Little Clogs." Not that it was any distinction
to wear clogs in
had them; but the baby's feet were so tiny, and she
was so eager to show her new possession, that the clogs were as much
noticed as though never before seen. When she stopped in front of some
acquaintance, lifted her frock with both hands, and gazed seriously
first at her own feet and then up in her friend's face, it was only
possible to exclaim in surprise and admiration:
"Eh! To be sure. What pretty, pretty clogs baby's gotten!"
It was the middle of summer. Baby was just two years old and a month,
and the clogs were still glossy
and new, when one morning Maggie took
the child with her down to Keighley as usual. It was stiflingly hot
there, after the cool breeze
which blew off the moor on the hillside;
the air was thick with smoke and dust, and, as Maggie turned into the
alley where she was to leave her child, she felt how close and stuffy
"'Tain't good for her here," she thought, with a sigh. "I reckon
mak' up my mind to leave her up yonder this hot weather."
But the baby did not seem to mind it. Maggie left her settled in the
to one of her little clogs which she had
pulled off. This she filled with sand and emptied, over and over again,
chuckling with satisfaction
as a stray sunbeam
touched the brass clasps
and turned them into gold. In the distance she could hear the noise of
the town, and presentlyamongst
them there came a new sound--the beating
of a drum. Baby liked music. She threw down the clog, lifted one
finger, and said "Pitty!" turning her head to look into the room. But
no one was there, for the woman of the house had gone into the back
kitchen. The noise continued, and seemed to draw baby towards it: she
got up on her feet, and staggered a little way down the alley, tottering
a good deal, for one foot had the stout little clog on it, and the other
nothing but a crumpled red sock. By degrees, however, after more than
one tumble, she got down to the end of the alley, and stood facing the
It was such a big, noisy world, with such a lot of people and horses and
carts in it, that she was frightened now, put out her arms, and screwed
up her face piteously, and cried, "Mammy, mammy!"
Just then a woman passed with a tambourine in her hand and a bright
over her head. She shook the tambourine and
smiled kindly at baby, showing very white teeth.
"Mammy, mammy!" said baby again, and began to sob.
"Don't cry, then, deary, and I'll take you to mammy," said the woman.
She looked quickly up the alley, no one in sight. No one in the crowded
street noticed her. She stooped, raised the child in her arms, wrapped
a shawl round her, and walked swiftly
away. And that evening, when
Maggie came to fetch her little lass, she was not there; the only trace
of her was one small clog, half full of sand, on the door-step!
The woman with the tambourine hurried
along, keeping the child's head
covered with her shawl, at her heels a dirty-white poodle followed
closely. The street was bustling and crowded, for it was past twelve
o'clock, and the workpeople were streaming out of the factories to go to
their dinners. If Maggie had passed the woman, she would surely have
felt that the bundle
in her arms was her own little lass, even if she
had not seen one small clogged foot escaping from under the shawl. Baby
was quiet now, except for a short gasping sob now and then, for she
thought she was being taken to mammy.
On and on went the woman through the town, past the railway-station, and
at last reached a lonely
country road; by that time, lulled by the
rapid, even movement
and the darkness, baby had forgotten her troubles,
and was fast asleep. She slept almost without stirring
for a whole
hour, and then, feeling the light on her eyes, she blinked her long
lashes, rubbed them with her fists, and stretched out her fat legs.
Next she looked up into mammy's face, as she thought, expecting the
smile which always waited for her there; but it was not mammy's face, or
anything like it. They were sharp black eyes which were looking down at
her, and instead of the familiar checked shawl, there was a bright
over the woman's head, and dangling ornaments in her
ears. Baby turned up her lip in disgust, and looked round for someone
she knew, but everything was strange to her. The woman, in whose lap
she was lying, sat in a small donkey-cart, with two brown children and
some bundles tightly
packed in round her; a dark man walked by the side
of it, and a dirty-white poodle ran at his heels. Discovering this
state of things baby lost no time, but burst at once into loud wailing
sobs and cries of "Mammy, mammy; me want mammy."
She cried so long and so bitterly
that the woman, who had tried at first
her by coaxing and petting, lost patience, and shook her
"Be still, little torment," she said, "or I'll throw you into the pond."
They were the first angry words baby had ever heard, and the experience
was so new and surprising
that she checked her sobs, staring up at the
woman with frightened tear-filled eyes. She soon began to cry again,
but it was with much less violence, only a little distressed whimper
which no one noticed. This went on all day, and by the evening, having
refused to touch food, she fell into an exhausted slumber, broken by
plaintive moans. It was now dark, and being some miles from Keighley,
the tramps thought it safe to stop for the night; they turned off the
main road, therefore, tethered the donkey
in a grassy
lane, and crept
into an old disused barn for shelter. The two children, boys of eight
or nine years old, curled themselves up in a corner, with Mossoo, the
poodle, tucked in between them, and all three covered with an old
horse-cloth. The gypsy and his wife sat talking in the entrance over a
small fire of dry wood they had lighted.
"You've bin a fool, Seraminta," said the man, looking down at the baby
as she lay flushed with sleep on the woman's lap, her cheeks still wet
with tears. "The child'll git us into trouble. That's no common child.
Anyone 'ud know it agen, and then where are we? In quod, sure as my
"You're the fool," replied the woman, looking at the man scornfully.
"Think I'm goin' to take her about with a lily-white skin like that? A
little walnut-juice'll make her as brown as Bennie yonder, so as her own
mother wouldn't know her."
"Well, what good is she to us anyhow?" continued the man sulkily. "Only
another mouth ter feed. 'Tain't wuth the risk."
"You hav'n't the sperrit of a chicken," replied the woman. "One 'ud
think you was born yesterday, not to know that anyone'll give a copper
to a pretty little kid like her. Once we git away down south, an' she