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The Blue-Sprigged Dimity Dress


Lisbeth Collins stopped at the door and watched her older sister glide toward the wagon. When Ada Belle passed the group of young men who always congregated near the wagons after church, she appeared not to notice that their conversation ceased, their attention captured by the tall, willowy girl.

She’s puttin’ on. She don’t never walk like that at home.

When she neared the wagons, Ada Belle lifted her skirt with hands that drooped gracefully from the long sleeves that reached her wrists, and with a graceful flourish, she kept the hem from touching the bare red earth she crossed.

Lisbeth’s eyes dropped to her own cream-colored dress with the faded remains of printed pink flowers scattered across the fabric. A worn line above the hem attested to the latest lengthening of the skirt. The dress was ugly. Had always been ugly. Hadn’t been pretty even when Ada Belle had worn it. But now, after countless washings…well…

She raised her eyes and stared at her sister again. At seventeen, Ada Belle was tall and beautiful, with a grace uncommon in one so young.

Why couldn’t I have been the oldest? Why couldn’t I have been tall and pretty like her instead of being so short?

“Lisbeth! Janie! Go get your brothers, and you young’uns get in the wagon,” Ma called. “Time we was on our way home.”

All the members of the Collins family climbed onto the wagon unassisted. Except for three-year-old John. George swung him onto the back of the wagon and took a seat beside him. And Ada Belle accepted an offer of help from two young men who seemed anxious to lend a hand.

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