Page:Inside Canton.djvu/177

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fringe fell almost to the feet; their little feet were cased in charming shoes wrought in gold, and the peak of the toe had a diminutive bell, which tinkled gaily when they walked, or rather toddled, on the handsome floor. This bell was to our eyes an emblem: it signified that these etiolated beings held no higher place in the affections of a Chinese, than a spaniel aforetime held in those of our great-great-grandmothers. Some little girls waited on us. These domestics were simply enough clad, in a blue cham with large trousers; their feet, which were as nature made them, were enclosed in shoes, of which the sole was very high, and made in the shape of a truncated and inverted cone—that is, the narrowest part touched the ground, so that they seemed to be walking on stilts.

A very charming and winsome object is a Chinese woman eating. Our pretty messmates helped themselves, with the ends of their chopsticks, from the dishes spread upon the table, to a Nankin jujube, a bit of ginger, or of water-lily confection, and carried it to their lips with a mincing delicacy of movement, which made them look like pet birds being fed, a beak-full at a time.

When, grace being said, we had taken a cup of tea, the following dialogue was carried on, in a half whisper, between our interpreter and the rich mandarin:

"You have told us that these ladies are women