Vittoria’s dress was specially made by a seamstress in Napoli. Its material came from France, a perfect white chiffon. Her veil was crowned with flowers and rhinestones that sparkled in the sunlight. At her villa long tables were covered with all sorts of good things to eat. And naturally a huge cake, on which was written in pink frosting:
“La Picolla Principessa Per La Sua Communiona.”
On that day the little princess looked radiant, beautiful. Like an angel! She loved her white dress, white shoes. In a matching white purse was her prayer book. Also a fountain pen and paper, because she always liked to scribble. Yes! James is not the only one who writes things down.
As Vittoria and her family were walking to the church, she stopped. Oh, NO! What did she see? It was her schoolmate, Mila. It was hard to believe, but Mila was wearing a dress that was almost exactly like hers.
So typical of sneaky Mila—always copying Vittoria. Mila would make sure she got the same kind of sandals, or toys, whatever. She did it out of spite, because she knew how much it annoyed Vittoria. And there Mila was, at the church, wearing a similar dress. And a smug smile of triumph.
The little angel would have her revenge. In the church Vittoria took her pen from her purse, careful not to let the ink get on her hand, and she kneeled next to Mila. She whispered to Mila how nice she looked, which made Mila smile. Before the Bishop came to give communion, Vittoria slowly reached behind Mila and squeezed black ink on the white fabric.
“You were such a BAD girl,” I told her.
“Yes, I was.” she said. “I took the communion wafer and I had a big smile on my face. The Bishop knew something was up. Because, you see, he knew that smile of mine!”
Very soon what was to have been a joyous celebration turned into an uproar.
“Oh, my God. Look!” Mila’s friend cried. “You have an ugly black spot on your dress!”
Mila turned around and saw the stain, and said, “Oh! Oh!”
Then she wept and wailed.
Mila’s mom rushed over and saw the stain.
“Oh, my God!” she said.
Of course she knew exactly who was responsible for this horrible thing, it just had to be Vittoria, because Vittoria hated Mila. Mila’s mom seized Vittoria by her hair. “You hateful little devil!” Mila’s mother shouted.
Restituta, Vittoria’s mother, heard the commotion. “What is this? Why are you pulling my daughter’s hair?”
“Because your daughter is EVIL! Look what she has done!”
Vittoria’s father appeared. “What now?” Giovanni said.
Accusations were shouted, denied.
“Vittoria did it!”
“No, she didn’t! How could she?”
Everyone was caught up in the shouting, the arm waving.
“She’s ruined the dress!” Mila’s mom shouted again.
“Well, maybe if your daughter would not copy everything Vittoria does, this might not have happened.”
But Restituta nevertheless gave her daughter a look that said, “When will the trouble ever end?”
“It WAS her,” crazy old Antionetta said, pointing her ugly clawed finger at Vittoria. “I saw her put the ink on Mila’s dress.”
“Snake!” someone shouted. “Go up the mountain and crawl back into your hole!”
“Is that so?” Giovanni said, turning to Vittoria.
“You must tell the truth,” Restituta said. “Otherwise you will go to hell, especially because you have done this on your first communion day.”
All eyes were on the little angel suspected of being the devil.
“Yes,” Vittoria said. “I did it.”
Restituta and Giovanni had no choice but to apologize to Mila and her mother. But what was to be done about the poor child’s dress? It could not be cleaned, it was ruined forever, anyone could clearly see that.
After much discussion, Restituta finally agreed that Vittoria would have to give her beautiful new dress to Mila. Vittoria therefore was sent home to change. She was to bring the dress back so Mila could wear it to the big party. Yes, that was the right thing to do. Everyone agreed it was a most satisfactory resolution. But oh, the look that appeared on Mila’s face. Always that smug, superior smile!
All Vittoria’s friends told her Mila had deserved to get her dress stained because she was such a copycat. But this did not console Vittoria because now she had to give away her lovely, expensive dress. Little Gennarino held Vittoria’s hand, did his best to console her. “Don’t worry,” he said. “You can get revenge on Monday when we go back to school”
But Vittoria wept. “I will never smile again,” she said. “Never.”
Gennarino walked with her to the villa and waited for her outside while she changed into shorts, sandals and a cute pink tank top. She kept her veil on, however, and the two returned to the party.
“Ah, here is my little princess,” Giovanni said. The band had already arrived, and the lively music filled the hall. Her father extended his arms. As they moved across the dance floor Giovanni asked her, “Do you think what you did was right?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Vittoria, Vittoria! When are you going to learn?”
“But it wasn’t my fault. Why does she always copy me?”
Giovanni looked down at his daughter.
“I know I’m going to have my hands full with you,” he said.