Page:Inside Canton.djvu/178

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from the flower-boats; that is the case, is it not?"

"Just so; and, what is more, these three are the loveliest to be found just now in all the estabblishments of Han-Leou-Han."

"The lot of these women must be a very pitiable one?"

"Pitiable! why? They are the happiest women in Canton! They are fondly sought after by the wealthy inhabitants, and have always suitors at their feet. Have you not observed how their fingers are loaded with jewels, and their wrists and ancles with bracelets? These are gifts offered up to their beauty; you may imagine that they are living in clover."

"While their youth lasts, I can understand that they may not have much reason to complain of their condition; but, later in life, what befalls them?"

"Precisely what befalls other women: they tend their children, living quietly enough with their husbands in the home into which they have been adopted."

"Their husbands! Do you mean to tell me that those women marry?"

"Nearly all of them; but even those who don't marry, are very much sought after to take the second place in large houses."

"You are bantering me! It is absurd to speak of introducing into a respectable home a woman of such antecedents!"