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Page 136

PART II - CHAPTER X

blind for a space to anything else." She paused to rest, and then went on, her words coming at last like sighs. "Your father-is he not accounted an honourable man? Yet have I long resigned myself to this thing; when a woman's beauty seizes him and catches his desire he is mad for a time and understands nothing reasonable. And he has known a score of singing girls, beside these idle mouths he brings home as concubines-three of them we have had, and the only reason we have not another is because his lust failed for the Peking girl before the negotiations were finished. How then can the son show greater wisdom than the father?
" Men!" She roused herself suddenly. She curled her lips until her mouth seemed a thing alive of its own scorn. "Their inner thoughts are always coiled like snakes about the living body of some woman !"
I sat in horror at her words. Never had she spoken before of my father and the concubines. I saw suddenly into the inner halls of her heart. The bitterness and suffering there were bowels of fire within her. I had no words wherewith to comfort her-I, the beloved of my husband: I tried to imagine his taking a Second Lady. I could not. I could only remember the hours of

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