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a conclusive settlement of all disputed questions ; when any one shall be asked his reason, he will answer Poo-Poo ; if he be asked his authority, he will answer Poo-Poo; when criticism will be condensed in those two syllables Poo-Poo ; and when those same two syllables Poo-Poo will suffice to upset criticism ; in short, when he that speaks Poo-Poo the loudest will be the best logician, and when all discussion will be but a matter of Poo-Poo.
That day Ho-Fi dined with Poo-Poo on the hind quarter of the prize polecat.
The morsel was small, but it was choice. Having so soon and so easily insinuated himself into the good graces of the father, he next sought an opportunity of winning his way into those of the daughter. He boldly expressed his desire to Poo-Poo, and a day was settled upon which he should be formally introduced to her, a ceremony not to be conducted with too great precipitation. In the interval he was careful to collect all information regarding the whims and prejudices of the lovely So-Sli.
he he conquered ; or we should rather write, he came, she saw, he conquered. His attire was studiously elegant, and he had selected such colours as he had found, from the report of some of her acquaintance, were most agreeable to her ; his beautifully embroidered petticoat of crimson silk « was such as well might suit a lady's taste ; " his shawl might have won the heart even of an English lady; his cap he had procured from one of the most eminent modistes of Pekin ; and the tippet, which formed part of his out-door dress, was of the most costly fur. His long black hair was carefully plaited, and hung far down his back ; he wore a necklace of pearls much coveted by his young competitors in fashion ; his scent-bottle was full of the choicest essence; and he carried a valuable fan, which he fluttered with peculiar grace.
This attention to externals produced at once a favourable impression upon So-Sli, who was herself particular in her attire. She usually wore a long frock-coat of blue or green
cloth over a pink waistcoat, and her trowsers were always of the neatest cut, She went to a considerable expense to procure the most elegant pipes, and piqued herself upon her nice judgment in her choice of tobacco.
The town, like some other Chinese towns, was upon the point of surrendering to the formidable « demonstration » made by the enemy ; but when he opened upon it simultaneously, the light artillery of flattery and the heavy artillery of gists, (the latter consisting of two great guns, the one a gold snuffbox and the other a Chinese poodle), the gates flew open, and he marched in triumph into the citadel, his lady's heart. The vanquished So-Sli kept the snuff-box, ate the poodle, and accepted the heart and the hand of Ho-Fi.
They were married, and a fortnight flew by in two days ; or perhaps the young pair made some miscalculation, as the almanacks had not predicted this.
The cranium, we should observe, is the dwelling-house of the soul ; the organ of time is its time-piece ; but when the soul sits all day in its back-rooms, it sometimes forgets to wind up its clock.
Each was constantly devising means to gratify the other ; and the only occasions of strife that arose between them were when each endeavoured to force upon the other the choicest morsels of fox, or ferret, or frog, or whatever constituted their delicate little meal for the day.
One morning Ho-Fi for a while absented himself from his beloved So-Sli, and went into the city. When he returned, he took from his pouch, or reticule, a small packet of tea.
« My dearest So-Sli, » he said, I have a friend who is particular in the cultivation of plants. With so much skill and care are his experiments conducted, that he has succeeded in obtaining bananas from his orange-trees, and in converting a pine-apple into a gooseberry. He has lately directed his attention to the improvement of a young tea-tree. He planted it with a silver spade, manured it with silk-worms and doves' marrow, and he waters the ground around it daily with roe's-lears and cinnamon juice. He has hitherto gathered but two ounces of the leaves, one of which has been presented to the Emperor, and the other he has transmitted to me, as being the oldest of his friends. I have brought it here for my darling So-Sli. As you love me, make an infusion of its leaves, and drink. n
Nay,” said So-Sli, «if it be so choice, you shall drink it, not I. What exceedingly curious leaves ! and what is most remarkable is, that they are exactly like others. But what is this dust upon them ?
That, answered Ho-Fi, « is a substance derived from the silk-worms, and is what, had they not been buried, would have formed the down on the wings when they became moths. But you must drink this dainty infusion ; I have prepared it on purpose
you ; and to refuse it would be to show how little you loved your tender Ho-Fi.
Whilst speaking, Ho-Fi had poured hot water on the leaves, and he offered the cup containing the fragrant infusion to his beloved. She insisted that he should drink it ; and an affectionate contest took place, each wishing to give up to the other all the enjoyment of so exquisite a draught. So-Sli at first positively refused to taste a drop ; then she would consent that he should leave one sip for her ; and then, that if he would take half, she would drink the remainder. Ho-Fi was obstinately determined that she should have all, or at least should take the first draught. At last their affectionate intreaties began to change to tones of anger and impatience ; but to settle the matter at once, So-Sli took the cup, and proceeding to the open window, emptied it before him, declaring that, as it had become a cause of quarrel, neither should drink it.
Their anger blew over, and several times since they had taken tea together in perfect amity. One evening they were seated at that important occupation, and Ho-Fi had just finished his first cup, when So Sli observed she did not think the tea so good as usual. Ho-Fi agreed with her in opinion, and using a common Chinese imprecation, wished a rotten root to the tree that bore it.
What!» said So-Sli, bursting into a fit of uncontrollable laughter, after all the pains your poor friend has taken to nourish it with silk-worms and spice? That is too cruel a desire ! » Ho-Fi stared, and turned somewhat pale.
Why do you revert to that subject ? » he said. « Methinks it were better to let such a matter rest. »
. Nay, - said So-Sli, still laughing violently, I said you should drink the tea ; and when I pretended to pour it from the window, I poured it only into an earthen pan which lay outside. I have had it warmed for you now,
but am sorry you like it so little. »
Ho-Fi turned very pale indeed, and his head, which was carefully balanced on his shoulders, assumed a remarkable resemblance to a globular stew-pan with a lid ; his pig-lail, « with the effect of fear, » stood out horizontally and stiflly behind as its handle, and the dropped and protruding lip of his suddenly-opened mouth seemed like a spout ; but there is this to be particularly noted, that the stew would have been in the pan, whereas he and his pan were both in a stew,
For a few moments, he was struck motionless, but anon he started up, and called loudly for warm water. « Perfidious woman, . he shrieked, «hast thou poisoned thy husband ?
« Poisoned !. said So-Sli. «Was the tea then poisoned ? I remember that white dust - but can moth's featheis be poison ?,
It burns! it burns ! » cried Ho-Fi in a frantic manner. For Fo's sake bring me an emetic, a stomach-pump - no, no, that is not yet invented—but blisters — cataplasms — any. ibing !,
He was put to bed ; physicians were sent for; he raved till he was exhausted, and then lay asleep or insensible for some hours. When his senses returned, he became aware of the expressions he had used, and, being calmer, he endeavoured to explain them away.
He said that the tea as of such wonderful potency as to have deprived him of reason more rapidly than the strong spirit distilled from rice could have done. He bad fancied in his delirium that he had been poisoned, but now fully appreciated the absurdity of such a fear. He should write to his friend who had sent the leaves, to give him warning that if the Emperor should drink an infusion of the ounce sent to him, he, the unfortunate cultivator of this ardent tea, would undoubtedly be put to death by slow torture.