Page:Inside Canton.djvu/207

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panions for they made her a mother several times in the coarse of every year. I use the word "mother" advisedly in this place. By the Chinese law, the regular wife is the sole legal mother of a man's offspring; and she alone is called mother by the children. Beckoning thus, Madame Li was mother to sons not ten years younger than herself. This is the Celestial travesty of the celebrated maxim of Roman jurisprudence—Ea mater est quam nuptiæ demonstrant.

In marrying Madame Li, Pan-se-Chen had followed the famous Chinese proverb which says, "In a union, the doors must correspond;" which we have, in our own style, rendered in the song—

"II faut des èpoux assortis,
   Dans les liens du mariage."

Here the husband and the wife were of the same station in society, of corresponding birth and education. The young mistress exercised an absolute sway in her domestic realms—tolerating the tsié, but upon condition that they acknowledged their subordination, and minded her. One day Callery spoke to Madame Li of some little ornamental chefs-d'œuvre in needlework executed by French ladies. The great lady of the Celestial Empire seemed desirous to prove to us that she, too, was not idle, and knew how, with her fairy fingers, to produce pretty little wonders of the same order; so she ordered one of the satellites to go and fetch her a piece of unfinished work from a neighbouring apartment. The poor little club-footed