The Angel and the Author
[Europe and the bright American Girl.]
"How does she do it?"
That is what the European girl wants to know. The American girl! She comes over here,
and, as a British matron, reduced to slang by force of indignation, once exclaimed to me:
"You'd think the whole blessed show belonged to her." The European girl is hampered by
her relatives. She has to account for her father: to explain away, if possible, her
grandfather. The American girl sweeps them aside:
"Don't you worry about them," she says to the Lord Chamberlain. "It's awfully good of
you, but don't you fuss yourself. I'm looking after my old people. That's my department.
What I want you to do is just to listen to what I am saying and then hustle around. I can
fill up your time all right by myself."
Her father may be a soap-boiler, her grandmother may have gone out charing.
"That's all right," she says to her Ambassador: "They're not coming. You just take my
card and tell the King that when he's got a few minutes to spare I'll be pleased to see
And the extraordinary thing is that, a day or two afterwards, the invitation arrives.
A modern writer has said that "I'm Murrican" is the Civis Romanus sum of the present-
day woman's world. The late King of Saxony, did, I believe, on one occasion make a
feeble protest at being asked to receive the daughter of a retail bootmaker. The young
lady, nonplussed for the moment, telegraphed to her father in Detroit. The answer came
back next morning: "Can't call it selling--practically giving them away. See
Advertisement." The lady was presented as the daughter of an eminent philanthropist.
It is due to her to admit that, taking her as a class, the American girl is a distinct gain to
European Society. Her influence is against convention and in favour of simplicity. One of
her greatest charms, in the eyes of the European man, is that she listens to him. I cannot
say whether it does her any good. Maybe she does not remember it all, but while you are
talking she does give you her attention. The English woman does not always. She greets
you pleasantly enough:
"I've so often wanted to meet you," she says, "must you really go?"
It strikes you as sudden: you had no intention of going for hours. But the hint is too plain
to be ignored. You are preparing to agree that you really must when, looking round, you
gather that the last remark was not addressed to you, but to another gentleman who is
shaking hands with her: