Page:Inside Canton.djvu/167

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dying light, which communicates to the quaint, Babylonish clangours of the scene an inexpressible charm, which passionate admirers of artistic music cannot bring themselves to believe.

We passed and repassed several times in front of the enchanted palaces of Han-Leou-Han, and we were enabled to snatch glimpses of certain unguarded details in the dissolute life of the pleasure-loving children of the Celestial Empire. Upon the terrace of Han-Leu we saw a mandarin of the blue button seated at a table, loaded with preserved fruits pyramidally piled upon little salvers made of porcelain. Opposite this individual was seated a young girl, who kept on singing while the voluptuous liver in question was nonchalantly tasting here and there of the delicacies spread before him. This functionary had not thought it necessary to doff any of the insignia of his office; his hat still bore its brilliant ornament of the peacock's feather, and his long robe indicated his rank. The fair young singer had her head dressed with flowers, her netted hair was gathered above the ear, and then stretched out behind her head, like the plumage of a raven. She wore a rose-coloured cham, trimmed with black, which did not come below her knees, and under which was a blue petticoat plaited in narrow folds. The listener seemed delighted, either with her voice, or with the words chosen by his musical plaything, for he manifested his approbation every