Page:Inside Canton.djvu/213

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The conversation had now taken such a turn that we resolved to seize the opportunity of sounding our mandarin thoroughly; we endeavoured to ascertain the strength of his affection for his wives.

"Polygamy," resumed Callery, "must lead to many embarrassments, vexations, and troubles. Women are not exempt from sickness any more than other created beings, and when they die it is a source of sorrow and mental suffering."

"When they die," replied Pan-se-Chen, "we buy them a coffin: that is expensive, but it is a cheap suit, after all, for one has not to renew it by-and-bye."

This utterly heartless answer did not startle me in the least. I had already been enabled to understand the feelings with which the Chinese regard their women. When at Macao, I went one day to call upon my friend Dr. Pitter, and found in the vestibule of his house one of his porters, weeping silently in a corner, almost concealed from observation, whilst his companion appeared to be chiding him for his grief. Now, a Chinese weeping with common decency, like a man in real affliction of soul, is a phenomenon. The children of the Flowery Land laugh and smile incessantly; but when they weep, they launch out into obstreperous howlings. I called the attention of Pitter to what I had observed. My friend said:—"I will go and see what