A PICTURE-BOOK WITHOUT PICTURES 1135
wax lights in the temple ? Or did he wish to sit at the rich feast, wiping his mouth with silver paper between each course ? Or was his sin so great that, if he dared utter it, the Celestial Empire would punish it with death ? Had his thoughts ventured to fly with the ships of the barbarians, to their homes in far distant England ? No, his thoughts did not fly so far, and yet they were sinful, sinful as thoughts born of young hearts, sinful here in the temple, in the presence of Fu and other holy gods.
' I know whither his thoughts had strayed. At the farther end of the city, on the flat roof paved with porcelain, on which stood the handsome vases covered with painted flowers, sat the beauteous Pe, of the little roguish eyes, of the full lips, and of the tiny feet. The tight shoe pained her, but her heart pained her still more. She lifted her graceful round arm, and her satin dress rustled. Before her stood a glass bowl containing four gold-fish. She stirred the bowl carefully with a slender lacquered stick, very slowly, for she, too, was lost in thought. Was she thinking, perchance, how the fishes were richly clothed in gold, how they lived calmly and peacefully in their crystal world, how they were regularly fed, and yet how much happier they might be if they were free ? Yes, that she could well understand, the beautiful Pe. Her thoughts wandered away from her home, wandered to the temple, but not for the sake of holy things. Poor Pe ! Poor Soui-hong !
1 Their earthly thoughts met, but my cold beam lay between the two, like the sword of the cherub.'
1 The air was calm,' said the Moon ; ' the water was as transparent as the pure ether through which I was gliding, and deep below the surface I could see the strange plants that stretched up their long arms towards me like the gigantic trees of the forest. The fishes swam to and fro above their tops. High in the air a flight of wild swans were winging their way, one of which sank lower and lower, with wearied pinions, his eyes following the airy caravan, that melted farther and farther into the distance. With