Larcenous Ladies

Damon Runyon

DEAR SIR the other night my wife Ethel and I were walking along Fifth Avenue over in New York looking in the windows and finally we came to a big store that had a lot of dames dresses on dummies and Ethel ses wait a minute Joe. Thats the cutest dress I ever saw in my life.

I ses do you mean the one on the dummy that looks like that dame Katharine Hepburn thats in the pictures? Ethel ses O they all look like Katharine Hepburn. Its the expression Joe. I mean the one over there in the corner. Its really a dream. Have you a paper and pencil Joe? I ses here you are beautiful. I ses are you going to take down the address of this joint and come back and get that dress tomorrow? Ethel ses don’t be foolish. I could never afford to spend what they charge in this place for a dress. Thats an exclusive model and it must cost a fortune. I am going to make a little sketch of it and buy the material and make one like it myself for almost nothing. I will get Kitty Corbett to help me.

So she started drawing on the back of an envelope I gave her and I ses now wait a minute Ethel. I ses when you tell me thats an exclusive model you mean no other store has one like it don’t you?

She ses certainly Joe. Their own designer made it just for this place. I ses thats what I thought. I ses well they pay that designer good money don’t they? Ethel ses O sure Joe a designer for a store like this makes a fine salary.

I ses look Ethel. I ses maybe that designer was quite a while figuring out that dress and all the time he was doing it this store was paying his salary. Ethel ses the designer here is a lady Joe and not a fellow. She is very famous. I ses all right she is a lady. I ses on top of her salary they probably had to spend some dough for the goods thats in that dress and they put it in the window here thinking its something all their own and that nobody else has.

Ethel ses what on earth are you getting at Joe? I ses Ethel what I am getting at is that you have no right to make a sketch of that dress and then go and fix one like it for yourself. I ses thats just the same as stealing because you are glomming somebodys idea without their permission. I ses if one of the owners of this store saw you making that sketch he would have a right to call a cop and have you arrested or maybe sue you because you are stealing an idea that cost him money.

Ethel ses O thats the craziest talk I ever heard in my life Joe. I am going to copy that dress because I could not afford to pay what they would want for it here and thats not stealing Joe. Thats just being economical. I ses yes Ethel but when you copy that dress maybe Kitty Corbett will copy it from you and some other dame may copy it from her and pretty soon it is not an exclusive model anymore and you knock the poor guys who own this store out of their price for an idea that may have cost them plenty.

There was a guy standing next to us at the window with a pretty good looking dame and he ses brother you are a hundred per cent right. Thats what I tell my wife here when she copies a hat she sees in one of these high class stores. Shes a nut on hats. You see the one she has got on? She copied that yesterday for about four fish from one she saw in a window up the Avenue that was priced at fifty bucks. I tell her she ought to get herself a burglars outfit and go into business right. I guess all broads are full of larceny brother.

I ses well they don’t seem to mind stealing somebodys ideas and that is really not honest and the guy ses ideas hay? brother they would steal hot stoves. Then the dame with him ses to Ethel don’t mind them honey. All fellows just talk to hear themselves talk. Ethel ses O I don’t mind them. They would talk a lot more if they had to pay the money we save them by copying things and the dame ses thats right. I hope you don’t mind me making a little sketch of your hat while you were sketching that dress. I think its lovely and I am going to have one made just like it tomorrow.

Ethel ses come on Joe and when we were on our way home she ses I never heard of such nerve in my life. I designed this hat myself and there was not another like it in town and now everybody will probably have one. I just hate that woman. I ses what about the dress Ethel? She ses thats different Joe.

Yours truly