Page:Inside Canton.djvu/204

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203
INSIDE CANTON.

reticent manners of those who aspired simply to the title of friend, that our mandarin had not chosen them himself, but that the affectionate hand of a mother or a sister had guided his then inexperienced adolescent taste. We had pointed out to us the two girls from the flower-boats, of whom our friend had spoken to us: they were among the youngest there. These were two spirited and frolicsome little beings, less, much less pretty than Madame Li, and less distinguished in their manners than their companions. They served, among those soberer beauties, the purpose of condiments at a well-furnished feast they had a way of swinging their arms, of walking, of arranging their head-dress, of wearing their clothes, which made them very attractive women, and very different from their friends. Another trait of resemblance between Chinese civilisation and our own! Have not we, also, women amongst us of restless, rather stormy habits, whose carriage and demeanour have a spice of recklessness, which women of the world sometimes imitate, when perhaps they wish to convey the impression that they are out of their places?

When we penetrated into the interior apartments, the whole swarm of women buzzed about us, measured us off with keen, inquisitive eyes, not without little short, ringing, satirical laughs, and overwhelmed Callery with questions. One day when we entered into the court of the women's quarter, we heard a

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