Gideon Smeed was born and christened around the same time as his loud, red haired foundling sister, Hetty Feather. They were both taken from the Foundling Hospital in a matter of days and given into the care of Peg and John Cotton. They were country folk, who already had six children of their own, but adopted children from the Hospital to raise until they were old enough to be given back.
They had two foundlings already at the time, Saul. who had a bag leg,and Martha, who was partially blind.
Hetty and Gideon grew up with the Cottons and their foundling siblings in the quiet village, constantly tormented by Saul and his crutch. Gideon was a very shy and quiet child, and was scared easily by Hetty's vivid "picturing" and stories.