When I meet a pretty girl and beg her: "Be so good as to come with me,"
and she walks past without a word, this is what she means to say:
"You are no Duke with a famous name, no broad American with a Red
Indian figure, level, brooding eyes and a skin tempered by the air of
the prairies and the rivers that flow through them, you have never
journeyed to the seven seas and voyaged on them, wherever they may be,
I don't know where. So why, pray, should a pretty girl like myself go
"You forget that no automobile swings you through the street in long
thrusts; I see no gentlemen escorting you in a close half-circle,
pressing on your skirts from behind and murmuring blessings on your head;
your breasts are well laced into your bodice, but your thighs and hips
make up for that restraint; you are wearing a taffeta dress with a pleated
skirt such as delighted all of us last autumn, and yet you smile--inviting
mortal danger--from time to time."
"Yes, we're both in the right, and to keep us from being irrevocably aware
of it, hadn't we better just go our separate ways home?"
Translated by Willa and Edwin Muir