Page:Inside Canton.djvu/171

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a building where you must mix with the crowd, and are liable to be jostled by everybody? For my part, when I want to witness a theatrical performance, I make the actors come to my house, and invite my friends. … And then, what pleasure can you find in your gardens where the dancing goes on? Respectable people can take no part in such a diversion; dancing-girls are a great deal more like boys than women. We have some here, and we now and then ask them to dinner, to make them jump afterwards, but no one would admit them into the women's apartments. What attraction for a great lord can there be in a woman who walks like a boy, straddles about, and could even run, if we wanted her to do it? Ah, no! the only lovely woman is she whose feet are so small that she totters like a baby, and can scarcely stir from place to place. Why, what can equal the graceful movements she is forced to make in order to hold herself up? Well, well, one of these days I will make one of these splay-footed girls dance in your presence, and you shall tell me what you really do think of her!"

Pan-se-Chen ceased. Some days after, he gave a fête to the Ambassador, in which a young danseusse from Pekin was one of the performers. Between the acts, our mandarin had me conducted behind the scenes into the presence of the actress. She was a child of fourteen, who had none of the timidity of Chinese girls in general; I took her