Page:Inside Canton.djvu/206

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205
INSIDE CANTON.

and the nurses of the children, babies in hand, came in and went out, studying us with curious glances. It is impossible to describe the affecting solicitude of which the dear little ones were the incessant objects. Looking at all these women, eagerly crowding around them and smothering them with fond caresses, it was out of the question to guess which were the mothers of particular children. We had many opportunities of observing that the affectionate cares lavished upon these little Chinese are really intelligent and well-directed: if the temperature sank upon a sudden ever so little, the tender creatures were sure to be wrapped up gingerly in long robes of silken cloth, lined with that fine cotton which resembles down.

Pan-se-Chen will leave a numerous seed behind him, if Heaven spares his life; he had at this period four babies in swaddling-bands all at once! All four were dressed with exaggerated splendour: they wore gold-broidered hoods, and had several ornamental playthings about them—in fact, all those trappings with which children used to be harnessed in France fifty years ago. Madame Li had not had the good fortune to be a mother; yet, notwithstanding Chinese ideas upon this subject, she did not seem to fret because that happy privilege had been denied to her. It is true that she was handsomely indemnified for the privation by the fecundity of her com-