Six-year-old Charlotte Clark left Nauvoo, Illinois, with her family during the winter of 1846. They spent the following winter at Winter Quarters and continued west in the spring of 1847.
The ground over which they walked was very rough. Charlotte was an active girl who never seemed to tire of exploring, and she soon wore out her only pair of shoes. After that, the rocks, brambles, and burning sand made her tender feet even more tender. Her mother did all she could to treat her daughter’s injured feet, but it didn’t help much.
Charlotte’s solution was to kneel every night by her blankets and ask Heavenly Father for a pair of shoes. The fact that there was no place to get shoes in the wilderness never occurred to her. She knew only that she needed shoes and that Heavenly Father answered prayers.
One day while walking beside the wagon, Charlotte and her sister, Mary Ann, saw some berry bushes growing along the creek some distance from the trail. They asked their mother if they could go over and pick some berries. It was unusual for their mother to consent, due to the dangers of the trail, but the girls’ eagerness and the thought of fresh fruit for supper persuaded her to say yes. She told them to fill their pail as quickly as possible and to hurry back to the wagon.
The two little girls were eagerly picking berries and laughing over their good fortune, when suddenly Charlotte cried out, “Oh, He sent them! I knew He would if I only asked Him! Come and look!” When Mary Ann came running, she found Charlotte kneeling on the ground, clutching a pair of sturdy shoes.
In between laughing and crying, Charlotte sat on the ground and pulled on one of the shoes. She turned to her sister and said, “Look, Mary Ann, Heavenly Father knows my size.” She pulled the other shoe on and jumped to her feet. Then she grabbed the nearly-empty pail in one hand and her sister’s arm in the other. “Come on. Let’s go show Mother and Father!”
When Charlotte’s mother saw her girls running toward the wagons at breakneck speed, she feared something terrible had happened. She ran to meet them.
Charlotte’s first words were, “Mother, He sent them to me, and they fit perfectly!”
Her mother was puzzled. “Who sent you what, dear? How did you get your berries so soon?”
“No, Mother, not berries—my shoes. See, Heavenly Father sent me the shoes I asked for!”
By this time her father had arrived. Charlotte ran to him. “See, Father, my shoes! Heavenly Father put them over there by that bush for me, and they’re just my size! Oh, isn’t He just wonderful to us!”
Charlotte’s father was as perplexed as her mother. He looked at the shoes, then at his happy daughter, then at his wife. Picking Charlotte up, he walked along beside the wagon with her. “Now,” he said, “tell me what this is all about.”
“Well, Father, I asked Heavenly Father to send me a pair of shoes. You said that He always sends us things we really need, and I really need a pair of shoes, so I asked Him to send them to me. Here they are, and they fit!”
“Where did you find the shoes, dear?”
“Back by those bushes. Mother said that Mary Ann and I could pick some berries, and these shoes were under a bush. I know they’re mine because they just fit!”
Tears came to her father’s eyes. “Heavenly Father wants you to have a pair of shoes, dear, and so do I, more than you know. But these shoes belong to someone. Someone put them by that bush, and when she goes back for them, they won’t be there. We couldn’t take someone else’s shoes, now, could we, dear? That would be stealing.”
No one was more opposed to stealing than Charlotte, but she was undismayed. “It wouldn’t be stealing if Heavenly Father put them there for me, and I know that He did.”
Finally a solution came to her father. “If those shoes belonged to someone in a wagon train that has already gone by, you may have them. But if they belong to someone in our wagon train, we must return them. I’ll tell you what—we’ll tie them here on the end of our wagon. Tonight when we camp, they’ll be on the inside of the circle where everyone can see them. We’ll leave them there a week, and if nobody claims them, you may have them.”
Charlotte reluctantly took off the shoes, and her father tied them to the wagon. The week passed slowly, and she hardly took her eyes from them. Every night in her prayers, she asked Heavenly Father to watch over them.
At the end of the week, no one had claimed them. Father untied the shoes and gave them to her. She wore them not only on the journey to the Salt Lake Valley, but for many months after they had established their new home.