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The Purple Dress
by [?]

We are to consider the shade known as purple. It is a color justly in repute among the sons and daughters of man. Emperors claim it for their especial dye. Good fellows everywhere seek to bring their noses to the genial hue that follows the commingling of the red and blue. We say of princes that they are born to the purple; and no doubt they are, for the colic tinges their faces with the royal tint equally with the snub-nosed countenance of a woodchopper’s brat. All women love it–when it is the fashion.

And now purple is being worn. You notice it on the streets. Of course other colors are quite stylish as well–in fact, I saw a lovely thing the other day in olive green albatross, with a triple- lapped flounce skirt trimmed with insert squares of silk, and a draped fichu of lace opening over a shirred vest and double puff sleeves with a lace band holding two gathered frills–but you see lots of purple too. Oh, yes, you do; just take a walk down Twenty- third street any afternoon.

Therefore Maida–the girl with the big brown eyes and cinnamon- colored hair in the Bee-Hive Store–said to Grace–the girl with the rhinestone brooch and peppermint-pepsin flavor to her speech–“I’m going to have a purple dress–a tailor-made purple dress-for Thanksgiving.”

“Oh, are you,” said Grace, putting away some 7-1/2 gloves into the 6-3/4 box. “Well, it’s me for red. You see more red on Fifth avenue. And the men all seem to like it.”

“I like purple best,” said Maida. “And old Schlegel has promised to make it for $8. It’s going to be lovely. I’m going to have a plaited skirt and a blouse coat trimmed with a band of galloon under a white cloth collar with two rows of–“

“Sly boots!” said Grace with an educated wink.

“–soutache braid over a surpliced white vest; and a plaited basque and–“

“Sly boots–sly boots!” repeated Grace.

“–plaited gigot sleeves with a drawn velvet ribbon over an inside cuff. What do you mean by saying that?”

“You think Mr. Ramsay likes purple. I heard him say yesterday he thought some of the dark shades of red were stunning.”

“I don’t care,” said Maida. “I prefer purple, and them that don’t like it can just take the other side of the street.”

Which suggests the thought that after all, the followers of purple may be subject to slight delusions. Danger is near when a maiden thinks she can wear purple regardless of complexions and opinions; and when Emperors think their purple robes will wear forever.

Maida had saved $18 after eight months of economy; and this had bought the goods for the purple dress and paid Schlegel $4 on the making of it. On the day before Thanksgiving she would have just enough to pay the remaining $4. And then for a holiday in a new dress–can earth offer anything more enchanting?

Old Bachman, the proprietor of the Bee-Hive Store, always gave a Thanksgiving dinner to his employees. On every one of the subsequent 364 days, excusing Sundays, he would remind them of the joys of the past banquet and the hopes of the coming ones, thus inciting them to increased enthusiasm in work. The dinner was given in the store on one of the long tables in the middle of the room. They tacked wrapping paper over the front windows; and the turkeys and other good things were brought in the back way from the restaurant on the corner. You will perceive that the Bee-Hive was not a fashionable department store, with escalators and pompadours. It was almost small enough to be called an emporium; and you could actually go in there and get waited on and walk out again. And always at the Thanksgiving dinners Mr. Ramsay–

Oh, bother! I should have mentioned Mr. Ramsay first of all. He is more important than purple or green, or even the red cranberry sauce.

Mr. Ramsay was the head clerk; and as far as I am concerned I am for him. He never pinched the girls’ arms when he passed them in dark corners of the store; and when he told them stories when business was dull and the girls giggled and said: “Oh, pshaw!” it wasn’t G. Bernard they meant at all. Besides being a gentleman, Mr. Ramsay was queer and original in other ways. He was a health crank, and believed that people should never eat anything that was good for them. He was violently opposed to anybody being comfortable, and coming in out of snow storms, or wearing overshoes, or taking medicine, or coddling themselves in any way. Every one of the ten girls in the store had little pork-chop-and-fried-onion dreams every night of becoming Mrs. Ramsay. For, next year old Bachman was going to take him in for a partner. And each one of them knew that if she should catch him she would knock those cranky health notions of his sky high before the wedding cake indigestion was over.