Page:Inside Canton.djvu/100

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99
INSIDE CANTON.

Notwithstanding these precedents, the Cantonal authorities gave our ambassador the assurance, that, if Madame de Lagrené desired to visit the quarter near the hongs, she would be protected from every expression of popular ill-will. This was enough for Madame de Lagrené, whose courage is by no means masculine, and triumphed over the hesitation of the ambassador; so it was decided that the next day we should visit the shops of Physic Street.

The party who conducted the ambassadress disembarked in the quarter of the hongs. On stepping out of her boat, the lady entered a chair, well closed with sliding shutters, and we set off. Issuing from the walls of the American hong, we traversed the place situated between this sort of rampart and the passage of Old China Street, a place of meeting, as I have already said, for loungers, for thieves, and for charlatans. The larger part of the ambassadorial party followed at a distance, that, in case of any accident, which happily did not happen, we might have assistance within reach. On that day, certainly the whole secret police of Canton was on foot. To give Madame de Lagrené time to contemplate through the shutters of her prison the strange scene, like a fair in a field, she was passing through, the coolies had been directed to advance very slowly, and to make, without attracting attention, as little way as possible.