Books > Old Books > East Wind: West Wind (1939)


Page 33

PART I - CHAPTER II

peonies bloom in their terraces; the family rooms, where the children tumbled on the tiled floor, and the candles flared before the house-gods; my mother's room, where I see her stern, delicate profile bent over a book, the huge canopied bed in the background.
Most dear of all is the stately guest-hall, with its ponderous black teak couches and chairs, the long, carved table, and the scarlet satin curtains in the doorways. Above the table hangs a painting of the first Ming emperor-an indomitable face with a chin like a stone cliff-and on each side of this painting hang the narrow scrolls of gold. The whole south side of the hall is in carved windowframes, latticed with rice-paper. This paper sheds a soft moonstone light over the dark dignity of the room, reaching even to the heavy beams of the ceiling and lighting up the vermilion and the gold of their painted edges. To sit quietly in this hall of my ancestors and watch the twilight fall upon it in dusky silence has ever been to me like music.
On the second day of the New Year, which is the day for great ladies to call upon one another, the hall is delicately gay. Into its dim age comes a host of brilliantly dressed ladies ; there is light and laughter and bits of formal talk, and the slaves

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