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Page 134

PART II - CHAPTER X

adopt the modern, independent, free method of marriage.
The letter closed with many formal and filial expressions of respectful affection and obedience. But none the less the determination in my brother's heart was written plainly forth. He had asked his friend to write for him only because he wished to spare his parents and himself the embarrassment of direct defiance. My heart burned against him as I read the letter. When I had finislied it I folded it and handed it back to my mother without speech.
" He is seized with a madness," said my mother. "I have sent him the electric letter to command his instant return."
Then I knew how great was her agitation. For my mother is altogether of the old China. When in the streets of our ancient and beautiful city tall poles were reared which carried wires as the branches of a tree may carry spider's webs, she had cried out against the desecration.
" Our ancients used the brush and the ink block, and what have we, their unworthy descendants, to say of greater importance than their august words that we need such speed?" she said in indignation. And when she heard that words could travel even tinder the sea itself, she said:

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