The Magic Egg and Other Stories
A Piece Of Red Calico
Before beginning the relation of the following incidents, I wish to state that I am a young
married man, doing business in a large city, in the suburbs of which I live.
I was going into town the other morning, when my wife handed me a little piece of red
calico, and asked me if I would have time, during the day, to buy her two yards and a half
of calico like it. I assured her that it would be no trouble at all, and putting the piece of
calico in my pocket, I took the train for the city.
At lunch-time I stopped in at a large dry-goods store to attend to my wife's commission. I
saw a well-dressed man walking the floor between the counters, where long lines of girls
were waiting on much longer lines of customers, and asked him where I could see some
"This way, sir," and he led me up the store. "Miss Stone," said he to a young lady, "show
this gentleman some red calico."
"What shade do you want!" asked Miss Stone.
I showed her the little piece of calico that my wife had given me. She looked at it and
handed it back to me. Then she took down a great roll of red calico and spread it out on
"Why, that isn't the shade!" said I.
"No, not exactly," said she. "But it is prettier than your sample."
"That may be," said I. "But, you see, I want to match this piece. There is something
already in my house, made of this kind of calico, which needs to be made larger, or
mended, or something. I want some calico of the same shade."
The girl made no answer, but took down another roll.
"That's the shade," said she.
"Yes," I replied, "but it's striped."
"Stripes are more worn than anything else in calicoes," said she.
"Yes. But this isn't to be worn. It's for furniture, I think. At any rate, I want perfectly
plain stuff, to match something already in use."
"Well, I don't think you can find it perfectly plain, unless you get Turkey red."