“YOU ARE AN AMERICAN”
“Lavender, sweet lavender,
Who will buy my sweet blooming lavender?
Buy it once, you’ll buy it twice,
And make your clothes sweet and nice!”
She was a wretched-looking creature, with a great basket; and it was so she sang through the street. By this you know where we are, for this is one of the old cries of London town.
For the sake of my clothes, and for the noble pleasure of associating for an instant with the original of a coloured print of old London types, I bought a sprig of lavender. “Thank you, sir,” she said.
I saw it coming; ah! yes, by now I knew she would. “You are an American, sir,” she added, eyeing me with interest.
You would think that since the “American invasion” first began ever so long ago, some time after Dicky Davis “discovered” London, they, the British, would have seen enough of us to have become accustomed to us by now. But, as you have found, it is not so—we are a strange race from over the sea.
“You are an American, sir,” said the barmaid. She was a huge young woman who could have punched my head in. I am not so delicate, either. And she had a pug nose.
“I do not so much care for American ladies,” she said. “I think they are a bit hard, don’t you?” Then, perhaps feeling that she may have offended me, she quickly added: “Not of course that I doubt that there are maidenlike ladies in America.”
They are a curious people, these English, with their nice ideas, even among barmaids, of the graces of a mellow society. For some time I could not understand why she was so beautiful. Then I perceived that it was because of her nose. She looked just like the goddesses of the Elgin marbles, whose noses are broken, you know. Still I doubt whether it would be a good idea for a man to break his wife’s nose in order to make her more beautiful.
I will grave her name here on the tablet of fame, so that when you go again to London you may be able to see her. It is Elizabeth.
He was a cats’ meat man. And on his arm he carried a basket in which was a heap of bits of horse flesh (such I have been told it is), each on a sliver of stick. There was a little dog playing about near by. “Would you care to treat that dog to a ha’penny’s worth of meat, sir?” asked the man.
I had never before treated a dog to anything, though treating is an American habit. So I “set up” the dog to a ha’penny’s worth of meat. “Thank you, sir,” said the cats’ meat man. I saw by the light come into his eye that he had recognised me. “You are------” he began. “I know it,” I said; “I am.”
I looked at the wretched dog. Would he too accuse me? But he ate his meat and said never a word. Perhaps he was not an Englishman. No, I think he was a tourist, too, like myself. I was glad I had befriended him in an alien land.