Her color came up perceptibly as she answered. “Why—I want the piece to succeed, of course. I was awfully miserable when I saw the sort of things she was picking out and I spent half an hour trying to think what I could do about it. And then I saw that the best thing I could do, was nothing.”
“You didn’t do nothing though,” he said. “That thing you’ve got on is a start.”
Rose turned rather suddenly to the saleswoman. “I wish you’d get that little Empire frock in maize and corn-flower,” she said. “I’d like Mr. Galbraith to see that, too.” And the saleswoman, now placated, bustled away.
“This thing that I’ve got on,” said Rose swiftly, “costs a hundred and fifty dollars, but I know I can copy it for twenty. I can’t get the materials exactly of course, but I can come near enough.”
“Will you try this one on, miss?” asked the saleswoman, coming on the scene again with the frock she had been sent for.
“No,” said Rose. “Just hold it up.”
Galbraith admitted it was beautiful, but wasn’t overwhelmed at all as he had been by the other.
“It’s not quite so much your style, is it? Not drive enough?”
“It isn’t for me,” said Rose. “It’s for Olga Larson to wear in that All Alone number for the sextette.”
“Why Larson especially?” he asked. “Except that she’s a friend of yours.”
“She isn’t,” said Rose, “particularly. And anyway, that wouldn’t be a reason. But—did you ever really look at her? She’s the one really beautiful woman in the company.”
“Larson?” said John Galbraith incredulously.
And Rose, with a flush and a smile partly deprecatory over her presumption in venturing to say such things to a formidable authority like the director, and partly the result of an exciting conviction that she was right, told him her mind on the subject, while Galbraith, half fascinated, half amused, listened.
“I don’t happen to remember the portrait of the Honorable Mrs. Graham that you speak about,” he said, “but I won’t deny that you may be right about it.”
It was well after closing time by now—a fact that the manager, coming to reinforce the saleswoman, contrived, without saying so, to indicate.
“Put on your street things,” said Galbraith bruskly. “I’ll wait.”
A BUSINESS PROPOSITION
“Why, this was what I wanted to say,” said Rose, taking up the broken conversation as he pulled the shop door to behind him. She didn’t go out on to the sidewalk, but lingered in the recessed doorway. “I thought if you’d let me fake that evening frock for twenty dollars, and then buy the little Empire one for Olga Larson—it’s only eighty—that the two would average just about what Mrs. Goldsmith was paying for the others.”
“Why not fake the other one too?” he asked.
“It couldn’t be done,” said Rose decisively. “There’s no idea in it, you see, that just jumps out and catches you. It gets its style from being so—reserved and so just exactly right. And of course that’s true of the girl herself. She’s perfect, just about. But it’s a perfection that it’s awfully easy to kill. She kills it herself by the way she does her hair.”