Page:Face to Face With the Mexicans.djvu/294

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FACE TO FACE WITH THE MEXICANS.

of them promenading arm and arm and talking in a low, confidential manner.

The prevailing style of dressing the hair is the plaited coil low upon the neck and the crimped bang across the forehead. But fashionable society belles have long since adopted the more modern high coif. The men universally appreciate the value of exposing the entire brow, consequently their hair is invariably arranged à la pompadour.

Mexican gentlemen manifest their appreciation of feminine beauty by gazing intently at ladies whether in the Alameda or at the theater. This custom, which would be generally resented as impertinent by our fair ones, is there well understood and accepted, as it is meant—a flattering tribute to their charms. Between acts at the theater or opera the men rise to their feet and with leveled glasses pay admiring homage to the señoritas whose dark-eyed beauty has attracted their attention. The pretty language of the fan then comes into admirable play, and the maidens nod gently to each other in appreciation of the gallantries of these knights, and with blissful memories to carry away, the evening ends happily for all.

It has been said that the gallantry of these caballeros is rather wearisome and tedious, but I scarcely imagine that any lady of refinement could feel herself otherwise than honored at being the recipient of their courtly attentions. They are punctilious to the last degree in observing the most insignificant courtesies of daily life. If ascending a stairway accompanied by a lady, she always takes his arm, and in descending he precedes her a step or two, holding firmly her hand so as to avoid a misstep. This attention is even offered to strangers with as much naturalness and with far more regularity and promptitude than our own countrymen relinquish to us a seat in the streetcar.

In saluting ladies, gentlemen still observe the Spanish form, "A los pies de usted" ("at your feet"), the response to which is "Beso á usted la mano" ("I kiss the hand to you "). And in closing a letter they always add "B. S. M."—"Beso sus manos" ("I kiss your hands").

A few current complimentary phrases in society are: "Tan hermosa