A TYPICAL EXPERIENCE.
I AM one of your devoted readers, enjoy nearly all your articles, swallow nearly all of your latest theories, and try experiments suggested by the valuable chapters upon "Chemistry of Cookery."
Yesterday being the first pause in the deluge which we have endured for three weeks, I took advantage of the fair weather to make some calls, donned my better gown, and, alas! my best shoes, and paid twelve debts to society.
Returning at night, foot-sore and weary, I subsided into a wrapper, a pair of slippers, and an easy-chair, to enjoy a pleasant hour with the newly-arrived "Popular Science" for March, 1884.
In turning over the leaves, which happily are always cut, my aching feet caused me to read with eagerness the chapter on "Fashion and Deformity in the Feet," hoping to find some practical help for a life-long distress, the only consolation for which has heretofore been that I have not four feet to shoe, and the only hope for the future that I may one day become, with the addition of hands, like a cherub on a tombstone, a head and two wings.
I think no Chinese woman ever suffered much more from her poor little cramped toes than has your correspondent; so naturally I enjoyed Lord Palmerston's suggestion as to the treatment of shoemakers, shivered over all the interesting plates showing different fine specimens of deformed feet, rejoicing that my own pedal extremities were not so distorted, and read on with increasing hope that the person who understood the trouble so well would give a remedy.
Imagine my disappointment and chagrin after following the writer through all these charming and harrowing details to find this, and this only, at the end of the chapter: "We may hope for some not far-distant time when our demand will be for a normal, healthy foot, in a natural and comfortable covering, and not for a crippled and distorted, withered, ugly 'club,' bound in an instrument of torture"!
Now, this is exactly what I have hoped and striven for all my life, but how is a nineteenth-century woman to obtain the boon?
I have tried one shoemaker after another with like result. Each new one daintily lifts my old boot, pours contempt upon the shoemaker who made it, points out all its defects, and tells how much better he will do for me. I, with renewed hope, also denounce the old boot and the last shoemaker, and tell the new disciple of Crispin how much better work I expect from him. Measurements are taken; the new boots come home; I put them on and hobble round in agony. The shoemaker looks puzzled; alters the buttons; adds a lift to the outside of the heel; pockets my money, and after that answers my appeals with "They will be all right after you have 'broken them in.'"
I suppose it is all the fault of my feet that the shoes never do get broken in. The shoemaker is all right, the boots all that ought to be desired; but, in the first place, my feet are not rights and lefts, though they look like ordinary feet, and all my shoes must be "broken in" by wearing the left one on the right foot, and vice versa. Then, too, the skin is sensitive, and blisters easily; so I am doomed to hear fine concerts with two thoughts on my toes, trying to curl them into a more tolerable comer of my last "easy" shoes. The most eloquent sermon is heard with my toes twingeing quite as often as my conscience, while the supreme consciousness of being well dressed in company is undermined by the stronger consciousness of being altogether too well shod, and the most rapturous enjoyment of art or nature hindered by a very intrusive demand of the lower nature.
And now, in addition to the woes I know, comes the horrible fear of those I have just learned are possible. If, in addition to two little toes now not altogether like those of the Venus de Medici, two or three corns and numerous blisters, my agonies are likely to culminate in such fearful extremities as are depicted from Figs. 5 to 10 in your late paper, and my poor feet are liable to be pictorially presented to the happier mortals of the future in some twentieth-century "Popular Science Monthly," to illustrate the barbarous customs of our own age, what shall I do?
It is so easy to say a woman should be independent of fashion, and consult health and comfort alone! How can one be independent of the shoemaker, unless she uses Indian moccasins, makes her own shoes, or goes barefooted?
Now, in common hu(wo)manity, after conjuring up these dreadful warnings and haunting pictures to terrify my already inflamed imagination, do tell us where and how to get comfortable coverings for our feet, and secure the everlasting gratitude of
A Suffering Woman.
Providence, R.I., February 23, 1884.