At the junction we waited for the branch-line train to Fredericton. I stood, for lack of other interest, examining some day-old chicks that were being shipped by express in cardboard boxes. Through the air holes I could see the fluffy, yellow creatures, and they set up a clamorous chirp.
"Pretty, aren't they?"
I turned to see a lady with a round, shiny, and freckled face, large and placid as the harvest moon. She smiled at me kindly, as if I were a small boy who was fascinated by his first sight of chickens. "Pretty," she repeated, and hauled some eyeglasses out by a gold chain and perched them on her flat nose, so that she could see the chicks better.
"So few things are pretty now-a-days," she said. To humor her, I agreed. And all the way into Fredericton she sat beside me on the dingy little train and talked about beauty. She spoke without emotion or expression in a steady, monotonous flow. I saw the other people in the car watching her.
"Something," she said, "has happened to the world. Not something temporary, like you read of in the newspapers, but something very deep. It is ugliness. People have the notion that America is ugly because its inhabitants can't be bothered to make it beautiful. That's entirely wrong, of course, entirely wrong. If it were only that! No, America is ugly, the towns and cities are ugly, because we want them to be that way. It is a positive thing. It is a passion for ugliness. It's an appetite! That's why we haven't one truly beautiful city in America and hardly a beautiful town. Fredericton is beautiful, but how many Frederictons are there in Canada? No, we have not only