Page:Inside Canton.djvu/217

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children's business; they are taught to love and honour Madame Li. But, as for me, my mother is the object of all my affection, my reverence, and my tenderness. I undertake nothing without first consulting her, and, I must say, she has a sagacity which always astonishes me! A mother!" cried the mandarin, with an enthusiasm not at all usual with him; "a mother is gifted with faculties superior to those of all other beings!"

This respect, affection, almost worship, for mothers, is in flagrant opposition to that insensibility towards women in general, which is affected by the Chinese; but it is not only in the Flowery Empire that these inexplicable contradictions may be found.

The elder sons of Pan-se-Chen were in constant communication with the women of his establishment: one was a great boy of seventeen, with a not very intelligent physiognomy; and the other a little fellow of eight years old. This last had a frank, affectionate, winsome, playful address. When he saw the daughters of Madame de Lagrené, he took a fancy to them. In particular he testified a lively preference for Mademoiselle Olga; and when he discovered that she had not had her feet compressed like his sisters, and that she could leap and run, he displayed his satisfaction by clapping his hands and jumping about. Then he took the arm of his new acquaintance, and led her away to show her over every part of the fine house of Che-pa-Pou.