Rondot and Callery drew near; but the latter, like a skilful connoisseur, observed:—
"You are mistaken—this portrait is very handsome! Such is our conception of true manly beauty. Pray notice those ears, how they taper off like a flattened cockade on a cap; it is only elephants and Turkish dogs that have such ears! Consider the eyes! Where are they? You can hardly see them—they are so recessed in their fortress of bone. This forehead, too, how majestically bald! It is like a flight of stairs to a temple of the gods!"
"Who is this individual?" said I to Pan-se-chen, pointing with my fingers and eyes.
"It is Tao-Konan," (the Emperor) said he, in an awe-struck whisper.
"He's very ugly," I observed.
The mandarin took the disgust expressed upon my countenance at this imperial deformity for burning admiration, and said to Gallery:—
"Ah! the Doctor is amazed to see a portrait so perfectly beautiful … It is the effect produced on all who behold it!"
"And that," said I, "is really like him, is it?"
"A fac-simile, within two-tenths," replied the mandarin.
"What!" I exclaimed, "do you mean to say we have only eight-tenths of his ugliness there? The man is a monster!"