Page:Inside Canton.djvu/168

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167
INSIDE CANTON.

minute by bobbing his bead lake a child's toy rabbit.

At another moment we came suddenly upon a more developed spectacle, seen through the parted blinds of a very handsome cabin. Two players, seated opposite each other, were engaged in a lively contest over a chess-board, and two charming-looking women were the spectators, apparently full of the liveliest interest in the game. Upon a couch, or rather a divan, placed farther back, lay a Chinese getting ready to smoke his opium. He had thrown off his long robe and his slippers, and his cham and pantaloons were beautifully white. There he reclined patiently enough, stretched at full length, whilst a young girl prepared his pipe for him. It will be seen that it is well-behaved, almost tasteful, vice which resorts to the flower-boats; and, in fact, men of letters, government officials, rich merchants, and grave seniors, frequent these abodes of joy without in the least suffering in their good repute. Precisely as with us, the best-conducted and most strait-laced people do not feel bound to withdraw their confidence, sympathy, and esteem from many of our leading littérateurs, artists, financiers, administrators, physicians, and others, because they may be found occasionally in our gardens with—or without—flowers!

On our leaving this quarter, Pan-se-Chen asked us what impression our nocturnal excursion had