Page:Inside Canton.djvu/212

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211
INSIDE CANTON.

Pan-se-Chen, in the course of these communications, informed us of many things relating to the mysteries of the women's quarter. A thorough demoralisation is the rule there. The semi-sequestration of which women are the subjects is not a guarantee against all conjugal accidents. And the mandarin told us, with a groan, that a multiplicity of wives involved the certainty that the husband would be deceived frequently, and with impunity; these ladies draw up the ladder of their own love secrets after them! He confessed quite frankly that there was not one of his wives whom he trusted; and, as a last characteristic trait of the demoralisation which infects this unfortunate country, he related to us several stories of real life, in order to prove that disorder and vice find their way into Chinese homes by means of the relatives of the tsié, the servants, and, above all, by the children!

"They marry young, very young," added he, "and very speedily a man has children, who become his rivals with the tsié of his own establishment!"

"Well, then, the remedy is at hand," said Callery; "follow the rules of sound, orthodox morality, and do not have any tsié unless you are without male issue, as the sages lay it down."

"Good! You are right!" cried Pan-se-Chen; "but there are inveterate evils which one really cannot remedy."