Page:Inside Canton.djvu/215

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respectful, attentive, and obedient. Yet, the old lady was the legitimate wife of the old Poun-tin-Quoua; she was only the legal mother of our mandarin, who was, in truth, the son of a concubine.

This circumstance prepares the way for a very singular fact—it is, that the mourning for a natural mother is not worn, probably, in the same manner as for a legal mother. In China a white robe is the sign of grief; the individual supposed to be wounded in his affections wears no loud colours; he abstains from all kind of ornament, and disuses for the time even the insignia of his office, if he be a public man. Now, while we were at Canton, Pan-se-Chen happened to lose his real mother; his visiting cards indicated the nature of his affliction; yet nevertheless he went about dressed like other people, and nothing in his external appearance denoted any internal sorrow, except that he sometimes put on his long cham of deep blue trimmed with glass buttons, which he had informed us was a mourning garment.

Our friend introduced us to Madame Poun-tin-Quoua. The old lady had reached a time of life at which her sex cease to employ any artificial means to dissimulate their age, so we saw her as she really was. Her white hair was not plaited, it was simply gathered above the forehead in the style of women in humble life, and supported by long pins. Her dress was very simple: the robe, the trousers, and the cham, were of green edged with black velvet.