Page:Inside Canton.djvu/127

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leagues from here, and ask him for a cup like the one I have just sacrificed. This worthy potentate breakfasts every morning on the brain of rhinoceros for such is his good pleasure."

"Ah, then, this is a cup made from a rhinoceros' tusk?" cried I.

"Certainly; and if a poisonous liquid be poured into it, were it as limpid as the water which flows from the glaciers of the Alps, it would instantly be troubled; at least this is what was told me by a negro monarch, who received me hospitably in his royal baoba. He had the cup I offer you placed before me to express that I might eat and drink in his house without apprehension."

"My dear friend," I replied, "I know that old story, and Talkee-True of Canton, who is neither king, nor emperor, nor even minister, related it to me with the habitual prolixity of an old broker. But in China the subject of such tales is ornamented sculpture, carefully executed, in order to induce incredulous purchasers to pay dearly for the treasure. On the shores of the White Nile, I see that the story is served up to travellers denuded of all artifice. This does credit to the simplicity of the inhabitants."

"Your Chinese are horrible sceptics," cried Arnaud; "they gild the idol in which they no longer believe, in order to insure admirers for want of worshippers. If you share their incredulity, at