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0100_005E Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

A Tragedy Of Gowns

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"Never mind, Mr. Husband, I'll show yez!" I resolved as the elevator left us at the floor where waxen ladies in shining glass cases smiled amiably all the day.

There must be no violent pinks or blues. Brown was too old. She was not young enough for black. Violet was too trying. And so the gowns began to strew tables and chairs and racks, and still I shook my head, and Frau Nirlanger looked despairing, and the be-puffed and real Irish-crocheted saleswoman began to develop a baleful gleam about the eyes.

And then we found it! It was a case of love at first sight. The unimaginative would have called it gray. The thoughtless would have pronounced it pink. It was neither, and both; a soft, rosily-gray mixture of the two, like the sky that one sometimes sees at winter twilight, the pink of the sunset veiled by the gray of the snow clouds. It was of a supple, shining cloth, simple in cut, graceful in lines.

"There! We've found it. Let's pray that it will not require too much altering."

But when it had been slipped over her head we groaned at the inadequacy of her old-fashioned stays. There followed a flying visit to the department where hips were whisked out of sight in a jiffy, and where lines miraculously took the place of curves. Then came the gown once more, over the new stays this time. The effect was magical. The Irish-crocheted saleswoman and I clasped hands and fell back in attitudes of admiration. Frau Nirlanger turned this way and that before the long mirror and chattered like a pleased child. Her adjectives grew into words of six syllables. She cooed over the soft-shining stuff in little broken exclamations in French and German.

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Then came a straight and simple street suit of blue cloth, a lingerie gown of white, hats, shoes and even a couple of limp satin petticoats. The day was gone before we could finish.

I bullied them into promising the pinky-gray gown for the next afternoon.

"Sooch funs!" giggled Frau Nirlanger, "and how it makes one tired. So kind you were, to take this trouble for me. Me, I could never have warred with that Fraulein who served us--so haughty she was, nicht? But it is good again pretty clothes to have. Pretty gowns I lofe--you also, not?"

"Indeed I do lofe 'em. But my money comes to me in a yellow pay envelope, and it is spent before it reaches me, as a rule. It doesn't leave much of a margin for general recklessness."

A tiny sigh came from Frau Nirlanger. "There will be little to give to Konrad this time. So much money they cost, those clothes! But Konrad, he will not care when he sees the so beautiful dresses, is it not so?"

"Care!" I cried with a great deal of bravado, although a tiny inner voice spake in doubt. "Certainly not. How could he?"

Next day the boxes came, and we smuggled them into my room. The unwrapping of the tissue paper folds was a ceremony. We reveled in the very crackle of it. I had scuttled home from the office as early as decency would permit, in order to have plenty of time for the dressing. It must be quite finished before Herr Nirlanger should arrive. Frau Nirlanger had purchased three tickets for the German theater, also as a surprise, and I was to accompany the happily surprised husband and the proud little wife of the new Amerikanische clothes.

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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