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Dressed for a Party-by T S Arthur-Novel and Ebooks

Novel Name:Dressed For a Party

Written by:T S Arthur

Category:Classics, Fiction, Authors

Page 1:

A lady sat reading. She was so absorbed in her book as to be nearly motionless. Her face, in repose, was serious, almost sad; for twice a score of years had not passed without leaving the shadow of a cloud or the mark of a tempest. The door opened, and, as she looked up, pleasant smile lay softly on her lips. A beautiful girl, elegantly attired for an evening party, came in.

“All ready?” said the lady, closing her volume, and looking at the maiden with a lively interest, that blended thoughtfulness with affection.

“All ready,” aunt Helen. “And now what do you think of me? What is the effect?” Tone, expression, and manner, all gave plainly enough speaker’s own answer to her questions. She thought the make up splendid–the effect striking.

“Shall I say just what I think, Alice?”

A thin veil of shadows fell over the bright young countenance.

“Love will speak tenderly. But even tenderly-spoken things, not moving with the current of our feelings, are not pleasant to hear.”

“Say on, aunt Helen. I can listen to anything from you. You think me overdressed. I see it in your eyes.”

“You have read my thought correctly, dear.”

“In what particular am I overdressed? Nothing could be simpler than a white illusion.”

“Without an abundance of pink trimming, it would be simple and becoming enough. Your dressmaker has overloaded it with ribbon; at least, so it appears to me. But, passing that let me suggest a thought touching those two heavy bracelets. One, on the exposed arm, is sufficiently attractive. Two will create the impression that you are weakly fond of ornament; and in the eyes of every one who feels this, the effect of your dress will be marred. Men and women see down into our states of feeling with wonderful quick intuitions, and read us while we are yet ignorant in regard to ourselves.”

Alice unclasped, with a faint sigh, one of the bracelets, and laid it on her aunt’s bureau.

“Is that better?” she asked.

“I think so.”

“But the arm is so naked, aunt. It wants something, just for relief.”

“To me the effect would be improved if arms and neck were covered. But, as it is, if you think something required to draw attention from the bare skin, let one ornament be the most simple in your jewel box. You have a bracelet of hair, with neat mountings. Take that.”

Alice stood for a while pondering her aunt’s suggestion. Then, with half-forced cheerfulness of tone, she answered,–

“May be you’re right, I’ll take the hair bracelets instead. And now, what else?”

“The critic’s task is never for me a pleasant one, Alice. Least pleasant when it touches one I love. If you had not asked what I thought of your appearance, I would have intruded no exceptions. I have been much in society since I was very young, and have always been an observer. Two classes of women, I notice, usually make up the staple of our social assemblages: those who consult taste in dress, and those who study effect; those who think and appreciate, and those who court admiration. By sensible people,–and we need not pay much regard to the opinion of others,–these two classes are well understood, and estimated at their real value.”

“It is quite plain, aunt Helen,” said Alice, her color much heightened, “that you have set me over to the side of those who study effect and court admiration.”

“I think you are in danger of going over to that side, my dear,” was gently answered, “and I love you too well not to desire something better for my niece. Turn your thought inward and get down, if possible, to your actual state of mind. Why have you chosen this very effective style of dress? It is not in good taste–even you, I think, will agree with me so far.”

“Not in good taste, aunt Helen!”

“A prima donna, or a ballet–“

“How, aunt!” Alice made a quick interruption.

“You see, my child, how I am affected. Let me say it out in plain words–your appearance, when, you came in a few minutes ago actually shocked me.”

“Indeed, indeed, aunt Helen, you are too severe in your tastes! We are not Friends.”

“You are not going in the character of a May queen, Alice, that you should almost hide your beautiful hair in ribbons and flowers. A stiff bouquet in a silver holder is simply an impediment, and does not give a particle of true womanly grace. That necklace of pearls, if half hidden among soft laces, would be charming; but banding the uncovered neck and half-exposed chest, it looks bald, inharmonious, and out of place. White, with a superfluity of pink trimming, jewelry and flowers, I call on the outside of good taste; and if you go as you are, you will certainly attract all eyes, but I am sure you will not win admiration for these things from a single heart whose regard is worth having. Don’t be hurt with me, Alice. I am speaking with all love and sincerity, and from a wider experience and observation than it is possible for you to have reached. Don’t go as you are, if you can possibly make important changes. What time is left?”

Alice stood silent, with a clouded face. Her aunt looked at her watch.

“There is a full half hour. You may do much in that time. But you had best refer to your mother. Her taste and mine may not entirely accord.”

“O, as to that, mother is on your side. But she is always so plain in her notions,” said Alice, with a slight betrayal of impatience.

“A young lady will always be safest in society, Alice–always more certain to make a good impression, if she subordinate her love of dress and ornament as much as possible to her mother’s taste. In breaking away from this, my dear, you have gone over to an extreme that, if persisted in, will class you with vain lovers of admiration; with mere show girls, who, conscious of no superior moral and mental attractions, seek to win by outward charms. Be not of them, dear Alice, but of the higher class, whose minds are clothed in beautiful garments whose loveliest and most precious things are, like jewels, shut within a casket.”

Alice withdrew, silent, almost hurt, though not offended, and more than half resolved to give up the party. But certainly recollections checked this forming resolve before it reached a state of full decision.

Filed in: Authors, Classics, Fiction

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