Page:Inside Canton.djvu/138

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137
INSIDE CANTON.

up their abode in moveable habitations which were constantly in a state of agitation; but a circumstance soon proved to us that the Cantonese who chose their domiciles on the river among were the most prudent and artistically inclined of all the inhabitants of the Empire of Flowers. One day I was proceeding with Callery and a Chinese physician named Kou-Mao to the most distant quarter of the city of boats. We had reached a narrow passage, with floating residences of good appearance on either side, when our native companion asked us if we should like to visit one of his friends. On our replying in the affirmative, he ordered our boatmen to continue along the passage up which we had been proceeding; but gradually, as we advanced, Kou-Mao gave viable signs of astonishment, and at last, meeting some one he was acquainted with, he inquired where the house of his said friend was moored.

The reply was as follows:—

"You have long passed the place that it generally occupies, but you need not take the trouble to look for it. I met it yesterday going down the canal, and I don't think it has come back yet."

At Paris, when a concierge tells us that our most intimate friend is not at home, we have often a thousand reasons for believing that he is telling a falsehood, and we go away with regret; but on the Tchou-kiang, the absence of the house itself leaves no doubt of that of the proprietor. We steered round,

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