Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/390

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316
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

he eats simply to satisfy hunger, and dining is with him no more a social occasion than taking a bath at home,—much less, indeed, than his own bathing, which seems to be often both a religious and a social act. He would not think of entertaining his friends at a dinner party. But my coolies at the wayside inns spent jovial hours over their meals, and the gay Manchu or Chinese diners that I watched at the Peking hotel might have been Americans at the Waldorf-Astoria, barring a few details. And it seemed very Western, only it was quite Chinese, for the chief of the Kalgan Foreign Office to express his regrets that my stay was too short for him to arrange a dinner party for me.

So much has been said of the differences that exist in China, of the wide separation between North and South and West, that I had expected to find repeated there the conditions of India. But externally nothing of the sort was observable. To begin with, almost all Chinese have black hair, almost all wear blue clothes, and almost all eat rice. And the obvious differences between the natives of Chihli and the natives of Kwangtung, for example, are no greater than you would note in passing from Maine to Mississippi; while in Yunnan and Szechuan, just as in the Western States of America, you seem to be among people from "back East," only slightly modified by different conditions of climate and life.