The Hundred Dresses – I, II is a story based on the true experiences of the author about a girl who is teased by her classmates because she is different. Wanda Petronski, a girl who comes from the poor part of the town, is the only student in her class with a ‘funny’ Polish name. The story is told from the perspective of one of Wanda’s classmates, Maddie, who is the best friend of the main player in the daily taunting and teasing.
The Hundred Dresses Part 1
Wanda Petronski was a poor Polish girl. She lived on Boggins Heights. She joined an American school. She was different from other girls in many ways — her name was uncommon, she was a quiet girl and had no friends. She wore the same pale blue dress every day.
Wanda used to sit in the corner on the last but one seat of the classroom where noisy and rough boys, who got low marks, sat. There was a lot of dirt, mud and scuffing of feet in that area.
Peggy and Maddie were close friends. Peggy was pretty, had curly hair and wore beautiful dresses. She was the most liked girl of Wanda’s class. She often made fun of Wanda by asking her questions about her hundred dresses in a mocking, polite voice. Maddie wanted Peggy to stop teasing Wanda but she could never muster (gather) courage to tell her that. She used to feel uncomfortable of that. Perhaps it reminded her of her own poverty.
Wanda, though a quiet girl, spoke a lot about her hundred dresses. She told the girls that her dresses were made of velvet or silk. All had different colours and designs. She specially mentioned her two dresses one pale blue with coloured trimmings and the other bright, green with red sash.
Wanda’s absence from school was not noticed for two days but on the third day Peggy and Maddie who missed the fun of laughing at her, waited for her at the corner of Oliver street where they used to meet her on their way to school. But Wanda did not turn up and they got late for school.
Next day, it was drizzling. Peggy and Maddie did not wait for Wanda. They never wanted to be late for the school because they were anxious to know the result of the competition. It was to be announced that day.
As they entered their classroom, they stopped and gasped. Hundred drawings of bright and beautiful and differently designed dresses were displayed all over the room. Everyone, who entered the room, murmured with admiration.
Miss Mason announced the result. Among the boys, Jack Boggles had won and among the girls Wanda Petronski. She asked the students to give her a special applause (though she was not present to enjoy it). She had submitted hundred sketches and every sketch was worth winning the best price.
Hundred Dresses Part 2
While the class was going on, there came a note from the Principal’s office for Miss Mason. She was troubled to read it. Then she asked the class to pay attention. She was looking tense. She read a letter from Wanda’s father. It gave the information about Wanda’s leaving the school since they had shifted to a big city.
The note also had an indirect complaint. It said no one would make fun of her name and call her Pollack because there would be many funny names and foreigners like her, in a big city.
The whole class was troubled at Wanda’s leaving the school. But Maddie could not focus herself in studies. She felt that it was as bad as what Peggy had done. It was worse, she was thinking if something could be done. She wanted to tell Wanda that she had never meant to hurt her feelings. She looked at Peggy’ but she did not look up. She decided that she must do something and find Wanda Petronski. She might be still there at her old house. She thought that Peggy would go with her and they would tell Wanda,. that she had won the contest. They would say that she was smart and the hundred dresses she designed were beautiful.
School was over in the afternoon. Both Peggy and Maddie hurried up towards the Boggins Heights. On the way, Peggy told that she never had called her a foreigner or made fun of her name. Maddie spoke nothing on the way. All she hoped was that they would find Wanda. She would tell her that they were been sorry. They would request her not to move away and they would fight anybody who was not nice. Both were proceeding rapidly. On seeing a little white house, they thought it to be the Petronski house but there was no sign of life. They knocked at the door but there was no answer. They thought that Petronski had gone. They to go back down the hill. Peggy told that they had gone and nothing could be done. But Maddie wondered if anything could be done.
That night Maddie could not sleep. She thought about Wanda and the little house she lived in. She also thought of her hundred pictures, made and all lined up in the classroom. As she was unable to sleep, she sat up in the bed and started thinking. After long, she took an important decision. She was never going to stand up and say anything to anyone again. If she heard anyone treated unkindly because of her strange name, she would speak up. She would not worry if it meant being losing Peggy’s friendship. She would never make anybody unhappy again.
On Saturday, both Maddie and Peggy wrote a friendly letter to Wanda telling her about the contest and that she had won. They mailed it. They praised her drawings and asked how she liked the new place. In a way, they were feeling sorry. They mailed it to Boggins Heights. Days and weeks passed but there was no reply. Peggy started forgetting Wanda. But Maddie went on thinking about Wanda. The Christmas time arrived. The classroom was decorated with a Christmas tree. The teacher showed the letter of Wanda Petronski to the class. It stated her feelings for Room no. 13. She wrote that girls could keep all those hundred dresses because in her new house she had a hundred new ones. She wished Merry Christmas to all. On the way, both the girls held their drawings carefully. The whole atmosphere smiled like Christmas. Maddie reached home but she felt that she would never see Wanda again.
After arriving home’ Maddie pinned her drawings at the torn places in the pink flowered wall paper in the bedroom. The room became full of life and colours. Maddie looked at the drawings and thought that Wanda had been nice to her.
She went on looking at the pictures with tears in her eyes. She noticed the head and the face of the drawings. It was exactly Maddie. She thought that Wanda had drawn for her and she ran to Peggy to show her picture. They went where Wanda’s drawing was lying. Maddie raised it and said ‘look’, she drew you. Peggy said, “She must have liked us.” Hearing these words, tears come for Maddie. Thus, both the girls realized that, Wanda liked them very much even though they had teased her. We should never hurt the feelings of others. Nobody can say what may happen.