By Irvin S. Cobb
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On the contrary she is generally brunette, frequently middle−aged, in appearance often fair−to−middling homely, and in manner nearly always abounding with a stiffness and hauteur that would do credit to a belted earl, if the belting had just taken place and the earl was still groggy from the effects of it. Also, she has the notion of personal adornment that is common in more than one social stratum of women in England. If she has a large, firm, solid mound of false hair overhanging her brow like an impending landslide, and at least three jingly bracelets on each wrist, she considers herself well dressed, no matter what else she may or may not be wearing.
Good domestic wine costs as much in Europe as good domestic wine costs in America−−possibly more than as much. The souffle potatoes of old Marie were not bad to look on, but I did not test them otherwise. Even in my own country I do not care to partake of souffle potatoes unless I know personally the person who blew them up. So at the conclusion of the repast we nibbled tentatively at the dessert, which was a pancake with jelly, done in the image of a medicated bandage but not so tasty as one. And then I paid the check, which was of august proportions, and we came sadly away, realizing that another happy dream of youth had been shattered to bits.
Those first impressions of the life on the boulevards are going to stay in my memory a long, long time−−the people, paired off at the tables of the sidewalk cafes, drinking drinks of all colors; a little shopgirl wearing her new, cheap, fetching hat in such a way as to center public attention on her head and divert it from her feet, which were shabby; two small errand boys in white aprons, standing right in the middle of the whirling, swirling traffic, in imminent peril of their lives, while one lighted his cigarette butt from the cigarette butt of his friend; a handful of roistering soldiers, singing as they swept six abreast along the wide, rutty sidewalk; the kiosks for advertising, all thickly plastered over with posters, half of which should have been in an art gallery and the other half in a garbage barrel; a well−dressed pair, kissing in the full glare of a street light; an imitation art student, got up to look like an Apache, and−−no doubt−−plenty of real Apaches got up to look like human beings; a silk−hatted gentleman, stopping with perfect courtesy to help a bloused workman lift a baby−laden baby carriage over an awkward spot in the curbing, and the workingman returning thanks with the same perfect courtesy; our own driver, careening along in a manner suggestive of what certain East Side friends of mine would call the Chariot Race from Ben Hirsch; and a stout lady of the middle class sitting under a cafe awning caressing her pet mole.
Europe Revised by Irvin S. Cobb