Page:Inside Canton.djvu/154

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Some barbarous songs are sung, and the marriage is consecrated!"

"Come, come!" I exclaimed, turning towards Rondot, "just make a little sure, as you speak English-Chinese perfectly, whether the old mystifier is not laughing at us, with his poetic marriages."

My friend questioned the beautiful A-Moun, who replied mournfully:—

"When any one contracts a marriage, it is necessary to make certain conditions. The sheaf of rice signifies that the young man undertakes to toil laboriously to maintain her he loves. The girl replies, by the bunch of flowers, that she will give him happiness in exchange!"

"Oh! A-Moun!" I exclaimed, on hearing this explanation; "if I had two oars and a little skiff, I would go and gather a sheaf of rice, and come and row round your boat!"

My exclamation did not compromise me in the opinion of old A-Tchoun, for I had uttered it in French. A-Moun did not understand it any more than he did, and the declaration, that meant nothing, was lost in the noise of the oars which beat the Tchou-kiang.

I continued, however, sadly:—

"How monotonous you must find this life upon the river, my poor girl! With your education and