Page:Inside Canton.djvu/202

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INSIDE CANTON.

CHAPTER XI.

THE MANDARIN'S WIFE AND HER SATELLITES—THE CHILDREN—MYSTERIES OF A CHINESE LADY'S TOILET—FEMALE DEMORALISATION—THE MANDARIN'S MOTHER—COURTEZANS AND CONCUBINES.

Madame Li, the legitimate wife of Pan-se-Chen, daughter of a powerful minister at the Court of Pekin, was one of the most aristocratic beauties of the Flowery Land. This frail and delicate little creature resembled a sprig of jessamine swayed by the wind; her loveable and tenderly chiselled features wore an expression in which smiling and sadness were blended; one might have fancied her thoughts were rosy white as the hue which art had lent to her cheeks. Her eyes, like two black pearls, sent from behind the shelter of her silken lashes soft languorous glances, or sparkling rays of innocent womanly malice. Notwithstanding a little want of grace in its curve, her nose would not have disfigured an European countenance. Madame Li was ladylike after the manner of a charming young girl; her dignity was infantine in its grace. And as on one of the great sofas of black wood she sat see-sawing her legs backwards and forwards, showing her feet encased in slippers broidered with gold, and her ancles hung with bracelets, picking