3. Annie Grove's Shoe
One warm summer day, when little Annie Grove was coming home from school, some of her school-fellows said, "Let us go into the fields and get some flowers to take home." So they got over the stile into the field by the side of the road. Annie could not get over the stile at first, for it was a high one; but her brother John and Jane Gray told her to put her foot upon the step, and then they lifted her over into the field. Her brother was older than the rest, so he was tall and strong. It is right that the older boys and girls should be kind to the little ones, but they should not help them to do wrong; and John knew that they were both doing wrong when he helped to lift Annie over into the field.
They all ran about the fields a long time, for it was a fine sun-shiny day. When they grew hot and tired, they sat down under some trees beside a narrow brook. After a while, Jane Gray said, "How nice it would be to wade over the brook this warm day!" And one said, "I will do it," and some one else said, "I will do it," and so they all jumped up and got ready to wade over the brook. Little Annie Grove jumped up too, and took off her shoes and her little white socks, and she held up her frock round her, and put the shoes and socks into her frock to keep them safe. Then she put her little bare feet into the water to wade across the brook. She would not have done it if any grown-up person had been by, for she knew that it was wrong.
There were some sharp stones lying at the bottom of the brook, and when Annie was about half-way over, she trod upon one of them, and hurt her foot. Poor Annie stood still, and began to cry, for she was afraid to go on, and afraid to turn back, and the sharp stone had hurt her foot very much. She held up her frock with one hand, and a school-fellow who was close by took pity on her, and led her by the other hand back again to the grassy bank under the trees.
Then Jane Gray wiped Annie's foot dry with some of the long grass, and then they began to put on her socks and shoes. But only one shoe could be found. They looked among the grass, and they looked on the bank, but there was only one shoe to be seen. She had let the other slip away when she hurt her foot, and all the time since it had been going down the brook; and the brook was deeper and wider at the other end of the field, so there was little hope that poor Annie's shoe would ever be seen again.
What Annie was to do not even Jane Gray could tell. How was she to walk home with only one shoe? It was now very late, and there was not much time to talk about it, for every one of the girls ought to have been at home at least an hour before. So she had to go along with them as well as she could, the little white sock coming to the ground at every other step, so that people turned to look after her, and smiled, as she walked down the street. Poor Annie will not soon forget that day of sorrow and shame.
Her mother was angry when she got home, for though Annie was a little girl, she was quite old enough to have known better; and if other people do wrong that is no good reason why we should do the same.