Page:Inside Canton.djvu/176

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175
INSIDE CANTON.

which led Callery to assure me, confidently, that the girls were laughing at our dresses only, and not at our figures. But, for my part, I was enraptured to have before my eyes, within the touch of my hand, the living reality of the figures I had been so long studying on the walls of the apartments. I came to the conclusion, either that the Chinese artists had been thoroughly inspired by their models, or that the ladies of the Flowery Empire managed to model their own persons, with great success, after the conceptions of their popular painters. Mademoiselle Vo-Lon was very little like these graceful young women; these were the most charming types of Chinese beauty, while the other was an ugly specimen of the race. Then, the daughter of Vicente was a poor child of humble birth,—serious, shy, and hard-working,—whilst our visitors on this occasion had no trade but that of pleasing: to be pretty and seductive was their one pursuit in life; and, moreover, they were perfectly at home in all the engaging little ways and infantine coquetries which make the chief charm of the daughters of Han.

These young creatures sang rather than spoke, and their least movements were stamped with that affectation, which is the height of "manners" in China. They were admirably got up. Their chams, of red or blue, were embroidered round the edges; their pantaloons were held up by a girdle, whose