A few weeks ago, I wrote about tracking down an unforgettable story, “Ordeal in the Desert,” that I read as a child.
I noted that I had located and ordered the Reader’s Digest Treasury for Young Readers in which I remembered initially reading the story.
I also recalled that I was pretty sure the treasury contained another memorable story from childhood called “The Wedding Dress.”
I recently received the treasure and affirmed that “The Wedding Dress,” by I. A. R. Wylie is in it. The story is much as I remembered it. Proud and beautiful Italian woman dates beloved and successful town tailor but find him not quite attentive enough, and instead becomes engaged to a more dashing young man. Tailor insists on making her wedding dress as a wedding gift. She and her dashing new husband move to America. Eventually husband dies, leaving her and their daughter destitute. Years later, she wonders how to afford a first communion dress for her daughter and decides to cut down the wedding dress for the purpose. While doing so, she finds a note sewn into the hem. “I shall always love you,” the tailor has written. Against all odds, she mounts a (very pre-Internet) search for him. One day, the tailor appears on her doorstep. They live happily ever after.
Again, it’s interesting to contemplate what made me remember this story decades after I read it. It was romantic, of course. And its structure, building to the surprise climax of the note sewn in the hem, makes a strong impression.
Now, guess what story is NOT in this Reader’s Digest Treasury for Young Readers? The original one that started this quest, “Ordeal in the Desert.” I am flummoxed as to where I could have read it as a child. Unless I later got my hands on an old copy, I would have been too young to read the Nov. 1959 issue of Reader’s Digest in which in appeared. An earlier edition of the Reader’s Digest Treasury for Young Readers was published, but I don’t think we owned it.
I suppose the source of it isn’t that important since I now have access to the story. Both stories, in fact.