Page:Inside Canton.djvu/203

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the leaves off an eyulan flower with her pretty little fingers, murmuring musically rather than talking—you could hardly help feeling as if you could eat her up like an orange-flower. It was impossible to confound Madame Li with her twelve satellites when she was in the midst of them. It was not that she had in perfection that air of imposing simplicity which bespeaks a woman of gentle blood, or that she was more elegantly dressed; but that she had the habit of command—a certain conscious superiority of carriage, sometimes breaking out into caprice, perhaps sometimes into anger, but which made you exclaim, "This is the mistress here." Madame Li wore mourning weeds all the time she was under my notice, and as therefore very simply attired: she appeared in a cham of a very clear shade of blue, and had an ornament in the shape of a comb in her long, black, low-falling tresses, but had she been got up like a picture on rice paper, she could not have been more charming.

The twelve tsié represented all ages, all heights, and all degrees of plumpness; they were there, apparently, to testify to the capricious longings of Pan-se-Chen, and to give us the approximate date of the first year of his amours! A date, alas! which was written only too plainly on more than one of these faces; though it should be added that a certain air of real distinction effaced from these charming countenances the furrows which time had wrought. You might have fancied, even, from the subdued,