Page:Inside Canton.djvu/142

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141
INSIDE CANTON.

The abode of our new acquaintance remained several days at anchor before Thè-ki-Han. As it was painted in green and gold lines, some of our companions took it for one of those boats of doubtful morality which are called in Chinese "Tuen-poo," and in Portuguese "Cama de desence." From the room we occupied we could see right into the habitation of our amphibious neighbour. As soon as evening arrived, the master of the house sat down before his door with a fan in his hand, while his two companions were seated—the threshold of the inner door opposite one another, and "Ten-thousand-pieces-of-gold" played at their feet. First of all they talked, then the young woman took some stringed instrument, and accompanied herself with it as she sang one of those strange songs which are never without their charm on the banks of the Tchou-kiang. This tranquil scene was only illuminated by the transparent light which came from the sky, and by the pale flames of the wax tapers which were burning before the altar of the household god.

The reader doubtless expects that I should give him some particulars of those celebrated flower-boats, which are almost as famous as certain public balls in Paris; I will satisfy him. Besides, a visit to the flower-boats, at this hour of the day, by the light of the sun, is in nowise compromising. It is exactly the same as among ourselves, where a person may, without