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The Young Dressmaker

In a little town long ago, a young girl named Melinda worked hard as a dressmaker to support herself. Her mother had been a dressmaker before her. But now Melinda was an orphan, and she barely earned enough to buy food and sewing supplies. Many of her mother's old customers thought she was too young and inexperienced. Often she would go for days without a customer.

One day an old woman knocked on her door. "I need a christening dress for my little granddaughter. Do you have any cloth that is suitable?"

The little dressmaker had only one bolt of cloth left and no money to buy more. It was white satin which she had been saving for her own wedding dress someday. "A christening dress shouldn't take much," Melinda thought to herself. "I'd still have enough for a gown." So she stayed up all that night making the tiny dress.

The next day the old woman returned. "That's a beautiful dress!" she exclaimed in delight. "I do not have any money to pay for it. But I brought you a pitcher of herb tea."

Melinda was disappointed, but she felt sorry for the old woman and agreed to accept the herb tea in exchange. As the old woman was handing her the pitcher, it suddenly spilled -- all over the rest of the bolt of satin. The gleaming white was stained a muddy brown.

"I'm sorry," the old woman exclaimed. Before the young dressmaker could say anything, the woman snatched up the dress and hobbled out the door.

Melinda began to cry. Her tears streamed down onto the ruined bolt of cloth. Just then there was a knock at the door. It was one of her mother's old customers. "Can you make me a dress?" she asked.

"I'm sorry," said Melinda, "I had only one bolt of cloth, and now it is ruined."

As the woman turned to leave, she noticed a strange glow on the table. "What's that?" she asked, pointing.

The bolt of cloth was no longer a muddy brown. It was a shimmering rainbow of colors.

"Make me a dress out of that!" the woman exclaimed. "It looks beautiful."

Melinda did not understand what had happened. But she quickly took the woman's measurements and promised to have the dress for her the next day.

Melinda had expected the dress to take nearly all the cloth that was left. But when she finished cutting out the pattern, she was surprised to find that there seemed to be even more left than when she started.

She pinned the pieces together. When she threaded her needle and was about to begin sewing the seam, she dropped the needle in surprise. It was already done!

The next day the woman came in to try on the dress. It fit perfectly. And when she looked at herself in the mirror, she gasped in surprise. The color of the dress had changed to a rich blue, which exactly matched the color of her eyes.

Within hours, word of what had happened spread through the town. One woman after another knocked at Melinda's door to order a new dress. Each time Melinda cut out a pattern from the mysterious bolt of cloth, the dress miraculously made itself. And each time, it was exactly the color the buyer most wanted. And even after the hundredth dress, there was still plenty of cloth left on the bolt.

For the first time since her mother had died, Melinda had enough money to buy all the food she needed and enough coals to stock the little stove that kept her room warm.

Soon her fame spread throughout the kingdom. Princess Annette decided that she must have a ball gown made of the marvelous cloth. She asked her brother, Prince Hal, to take her to see the young dressmaker.

When Melinda saw Prince Hal, she could hardly keep her mind on the fitting of the princess. He was so handsome!

The next day Princess Annette returned with her brother. The dress was even more beautiful than she had expected. But when she tried it on, she discovered that it did not quite fit.

"I don't understand," said Melinda. "I've never had this trouble before. But it just needs a little taking in at the waist. Could you come back tomorrow?"

The next day the dress was even more beautiful than before. But it still did bring his sister back again the next day.

After the prince and princess left, the dress quickly adjusted itself to just the right size. The next morning, Melinda pulled out a length of cloth from the bolt and held it up against herself in front of the mirror. Suddenly the cloth draped itself around her. Before she knew what had happened, she was clothed in the most beautiful dress she had ever seen. But she grew pale when she realized that the magic bolt of cloth was all used up!

Just then there was a knock at the door. It was Prince Hal. His sister was ill that morning. So he had come alone to take her new dress back with him. When Melinda opened the door, Prince Hal gazed at her.

There was something different about her -- something exciting. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He asked her to come to the palace with him.

In the days that followed, Prince Hal and the young dressmaker fell in love. In the spring they were married.








©1973, 2013 The Silversteins