Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/389

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315
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF CHINA

Burmese woman that he makes a better sort of husband than her charming but indolent countryman.

To turn to smaller matters. I am sure I had once known, but I had certainly quite forgotten, that the Chinese, like ourselves and unlike other people of the East, sit on chairs in preference to sitting on their heels. For it gave me a little comfortable shock of surprise when I saw my coolies at dinner sitting on benches around the table, "just like folks," instead of squatting on the ground after the fashion of my Indian servants. It is a small thing, but it marks the Chinese off from all other Asiatics, and brings him a little nearer the West; and I do not wonder at the touch of pride in the answer of the Chinese student at a New England college when some one remarked on seeing her sitting on the ground, college-girl fashion, with a number of her classmates, that it probably came easier to her to do that, as she was used to it, "Oh, no; I think you must be confusing us with the Japanese. We Chinese learned to sit on chairs two thousand years ago."

But not only do the Chinese sit on chairs like ourselves, but they "dine," just as the West does. Not merely are they ready to spend freely on the pleasures of the table, but they make of dinner a social function, longer and more elaborate, and sometimes even more deadly dull than grand dinners at home. The un-Europeanized Indian, rich or poor, is abstemious;