19th Century

A historical account of the perils of dyeing

This story comes to you courtesy of the Grey River Argus, 13 June 1883.

A lieutenant in the Russian Army, and a Count pardessus le marche, having paid marked attention to the prettiest girl in Moscow, her father, by profession a dyer, asked him if his intentions were honorable or otherwise.

As the young nobleman’s reply was evasive (says an exchange), the worthy dyer naturally concluded that they were otherwise, and requested that he bestow his attentions elsewhere.

The young gallant kept out of the way for some time, but at last passion got the better of prudence, and he re-commenced his flirtation with the dyer’s pretty daughter during the absence of her  worthy sire.

The inevitable occurred.  Papa surprised the lovers, and without much ado collared the young warrior, doused him in the first handy vat of dye, and then reasoned with him a posteriori.

When the Count got home he discovered that neither cold water nor hot, neither spirits of wine nor benzine, neither soap nor silver sand, would remove his new complexion – a heavenly azure.

The Governor-General of Moscow was informed of the tragedy, summoned the dyer to his presence, and ordered him to remove the stain at once, but the delinquent proudly answered that the azure was his own invention, and a fast colour, which neither he nor anybody else could wash out.  He admitted, however, that it could be changed to black, and he would do it gratis.  The young Count nearly lost his senses.

Every chemist in Moscow tried his skill, but without avail.

At last the heroine of the story wormed out the secret from her father.  The Count’s complexion is restored to its pristine pink, and she is a Countess.

I’m sure it’s complete bunkum from start to finish (no dye will ever stain your skin permanently), but it’s certainly amusing!  Also, a posteriori is my new favourite saying.


  1. Once, I attempted to dye fabric at a very poorly thought-out time. I did so only hours before I had to go to work as a waitress. Finished the dying and looked at my now gray hands and promptly flipped out, thinking of what my boss would say when she saw my gnarly-looking hands. I’m pretty sure I scrubbed a layer of my SKIN off before my hands looked mostly clean. XD It still clung around the cuticles, but she never said anything.
    Decided I would use gloves next time.

  2. Lynne says

    How come you got your hands well covered but completely missed the nice tee shirt? There should be blue splotches on the front!

    Love the story.

    • I am very naughty about picking up hot, wet dyed fabric with my bare hands, but amazingly good about not splashing said hot, wet, dyed fabric! The yellow shirt is my stainable dyeing shirt.

  3. Why let truth get in the way of a good story? And that’s a great one. Love it. 🙂

    Your hands crack me up.. Reminds me of when we were batiking fabrics a few summers ago… I had to turn up to classes with blue hands, which I tried to pass off by pretending everything was normal. Wouldn’t you know, it *almost* worked.

  4. Bwah ha ha! This reminds me of when I dyed yarn last year. Crazy fun times! It’s like you’re an partial Smurf!

  5. That’s a fabulous story (especially because his skin could be turned to black!).

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