Page:Inside Canton.djvu/111

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least, and is thin and small; his face, stained over with dingy tints, is something like an old kid glove; he has little wrinkled eyes, which his spectacles do not hide; and his queue is too small, too white, and too worn to be false. In winter he is enveloped in a handsome furred robe, respected by the mites, and against which time has as yet waged no war; in summer he wears nankeen pantaloons and a long blue tunic. The language which he speaks with the barbarians is the Anglo-Chino-Portuguese patois, the Frank tongue of the extreme East, which these brave children of the Celestial Empire have made as soft as the Creole patois of Bourbon.

The physiognomy and the manners of the venerable old man are benevolent, almost timid; he plunders you so delicately of all your money, that when one leaves him completely cleaned out, one feels still under an obligation to him. Talkee-True is at the same time a merchant and an artist, and his antiquarian taste is continually struggling with his commercial avidity. When he sells anything, he contends with the buyer and with himself; up to the last moment, he hesitates between the dollars and the gem of art he is about to part with. He lives only in the past. A bronze figure three hundred years old is to him a modern object; his mind is perpetually ascending the stream of time; he hardly inquires about the present, which he considers bad, and cares little about the