Taken in by America
An outsider's look at America and the American
Chapter 3, 'The Staircase Group'
Chapter 4, 'The Show Business'
Chapter 7, 'The Private Eye'
Chapter 21, 'Two Tricks'
Chapter 24, 'Real Copy'
Chapter 26, 'Ole Miss'
Chapter 27, 'Mercurius at Monticello'
Chapter 28, 'Transformation and Redemption'
Chapter 29, 'Mad Men'
Chapter 3, 'The Staircase Group'

... a neighbour had rigged up what to all intents and purposes was a searchlight and Leo walked over to ask that it be toned down. It seemed to me to be a reasonable request but as far as the neighbour was concerned Leo had stepped over the line; which is to say, he’d set foot on the neighbour’s property.

Leo, a bear of a man, smiled down benignly on the master of the adjoining patch of land, the fellow who figured our man had done him wrong. But the more Leo tried to explain the innocent nature of his trespass the more agitated the neighbour became, his good lady getting in on the act with a suggestion that the heinous intrusion in question had carried with it an implicit threat to ravage their daughter.

Betty, judging the neighbour to be possessed of a frontier fuse—and probably a gun to boot—took the situation in hand, cutting Leo down with a crisp rebuke in order to buy off the madman and his deranged spouse. Brilliantly done, Betty! The Wild West woman could call her man a brave hero whose adversary had been forced to back down while Leo, safely out of the way, now, in the living room of the demountable, recalled the debt civilisation owes to the blue stocking.

One might imagine that, given the paranoid behaviour exhibited by the searchlight neighbour, the American barricades himself behind high security fences. But he doesn’t, by and large. The residents of New Haven left their windows open wide all summer and Leo and members of Leo and Betty’s shore cottage community roamed far and wide up and down the coast with nothing but a flywire screen to keep out the would-be intruder from their respective demountables.

Chapter 4, 'The Show Business'

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