The Wonder Shoes by Carolyn Sherwin Balley

Story type: Literature

They looked like any other pair of boy’s shoes, the same stout soles, strong lacings, shiny tips and uppers. But when the old shoemaker put them on Gustave, and laced them up, and saw that they exactly fitted, he said to Gustave:

“Wonder shoes, little man. They will be wonder shoes!”

The old shoemaker had lived a great many years. He had made shoes for Gustave’s father, and when he said anything about heels or toes or leather it was quite sure to be true. But here was something very strange. Gustave’s blue eyes looked and looked in surprise at his new shoes. They seemed not in the least different from those that he had just worn out, or those that he kept for Sunday. He glanced up at his mother, who was giving the shoemaker a shining silver dollar and a shining silver half dollar to pay for them. She did not say anything. She only smiled back into his eyes. Then Gustave spoke to the old shoemaker.

“Why are they wonder shoes?” he asked.

“Oh you will find out!” chuckled the old shoemaker as he patted Gustave’s head. So Gustave and his mother went out of the old shoemaker’s shop and up the street.

It was a windy, blustering day. The dry leaves were flying, and the weather cocks turned, creaking, around, and Gustave had to hold his head low for he was only a little boy and the wind nearly pushed him down. A bent old gentleman, walking with a cane, passed them. Puff, whisk, the wind took the old gentleman’s hat and sent it racing ahead of him along the street.

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But the wonder shoes were quicker than the wind. They carried Gustave like a flying breeze after the old gentleman’s hat. He caught it, and picked it up and gave it back to the old gentleman, who was very grateful indeed, and gave Gustave a bright penny.

“A swift little boy!” exclaimed the old gentleman, but Gustave did not tell him about the wonder shoes. He had decided to keep that for a secret.

When Gustave and his mother reached home, his mother decided to make a loaf of white cake. But, alas; when she went to the pantry, she discovered that she had no butter.

“Run to the grocery shop, Gustave,” she said, “and bring me back a pat of butter by the time that the fire is burning brightly for baking the cake.”

Gustave started for the grocery store, but he had not gone very far on the way when he met his friend Max, who had a new velocipede, painted red. Max called to Gustave:

“You may ride my velocipede as much as you like,” he said. “We will take turns.”

Gustave stopped. He had no velocipede of his own. He could imagine himself riding on Max’s velocipede, the wheels spinning around so fast as he played that he was a fire engine chief, or an automobile racer, or a chariot driver in a circus. But it was only a second that Gustave stopped. His new shoes would not let him stay any longer. On they raced toward the grocery store, carrying Gustave almost as fast as Max’s velocipede could go. He called back to Max:

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“I can’t stop, now. I must fetch my mother a pat of butter by the time that the fire is ready for the cake.”

That was all Gustave said. He did not tell him about the wonder shoes for that was a secret.

When he came back that way with the butter, Max was still out at play.

“I will race with you as far as my gate,” Gustave said to Max.

“But I shall beat you because I am riding my velocipede and can race on wheels while you will have to race on foot,” said Max.

But Gustave was off like an arrow and although Max worked the pedals of his new velocipede as fast as he could, he was not able to win the race. Gustave reached his gate before Max on his velocipede did.

“How did you go so fast?” asked Max.

“I have new shoes,” said Gustave, but still he did not tell the secret of their wonder.

“I should like to have a pair just like them,” said Max, who was often late for school and seldom able to do an errand for his mother promptly.

“I will ask the old shoemaker if he has any more shoes like mine, Max,” Gustave said. So, after he had given his mother the pat of butter, which was exactly in time, he went back to the shop of the old shoemaker.

“My friend, Max, wants a pair of wonder shoes like mine,” Gustave said. “Have you any more?” he asked.

The old shoemaker smiled, and chuckled, and laughed, until his spectacles nearly dropped off.

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“More wonder shoes?” he said. “Why any little boy may have a pair if he wants them. It all depends upon the boy himself whether or not he has wonder shoes.”

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