“Yes,” he sighed, “you are an American.”She laughed at him shaking her head, her gift to him the sudden vision of his comic self:the weary tone, the woebegone expression, and the thought flashed through his mind:
she is young, she does not think of the future, she is right, for the moment I must abandon this line of thought.
His brow softened, and he seized her hand and kissed it, held it aloft. To thecobblestoned street he proclaimed, “
Du lachst, und das is ein Wunder!
” You laugh, and that is awonder! “You must not be so serious, you have to keep me laughing,” he ordered, still holdingher hand in his own; then squeezing it fiercely: “My God, you make me so happy.”She smiled, detached her hand, telling him invisibly, we are here, and indeed, their theystood, in front of the café. The letters of its name formed a sparkling golden bow on largeplateglass windows which took the full brunt of the midday sun and threw it back like a mirror.Most of the white metal tables in front were still empty; he moved to one, and pulled out herchair.Few girls in Athens appealed to Theo. They were all so stupid; they threw themselvesshamelessly at the feet of any man who had money. It was the state of education, he scowled,the state of the economy. It was the culture, so backward. He tipped his chair back, nudged atthe pile of books on the floor with the toe of his sandal. And the smart ones—many of them with jobs better paying than his as a teacher—either simpered to camouflage their intelligence orflaunted their independence like cumbersome armor, refusing to retreat, brazening it out.Whenever he saw such women—women who were alert, held their heads up, perhaps carried abook or dressed a little differently—and approached one, it was always the same. She’d bristlewith anxiety and resentment as he circled in, her presence shrilling mutely: “Ha! I know I’llnever be married! I dare you, I
you to court me!”Why was it so difficult to get along with people—with women—at home? He didn’t