Dressed for A party.
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?”