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inviolate, and a dinner at M'Quigg's was a thing to be treated with respect, regardless of all political crises. His epicurean soul was sorely vexed, not so much by the Senator's opinions, as by his inability to subordinate them to grateful appreciation of a menu which Kuan had certainly surpassed himself. At his own table, Cantegril insisted on the Lucullan principle that, in the earlier stages at least of a good dinner, conversation should be general and cheerful-a lively thing of gossip, quips and Rabelaisian persiflage,-avoiding politics, religion, and everything that might tend to secrete bile and thus disturb the delectable process of digestion. And this dinner of M'Quigg's, both in its mise-en-scène and ingredients, was of a kind to deserve the undivided attention of a connoisseur. room itself was a rich symphony in carved redwood, sang-debœuf, and curtains of old gold brocade, softly lighted with lanterns of red lacquer. Kuan and his "No. 2," in long robes of plum-coloured silk with silver girdles and tasselled official hats, moved softly and with dignified precision; and the dinner was a triumph of the majordomo's inventive faculty of nice selection. I am sure that a recherché meal, served à point, afforded just as much satisfaction to him as it did to those who ate it, and to épater le bourgeois the old fellow would take as much trouble as Cantegril himself. For the edification of that


barbarian mandarin, the Senator (Cantegril and I being of the elect), he had composed a menu calculated to convince any intelligent stranger of the superior civilisation of China, and the magnificence of M'Quigg. Rare and delicate were his dishes-caviare and sturgeon from the Sungari, a riz de veau aux cèpes, sandgrouse from Mongolia, and a sweetmeat of his own invention, made of honied dates, walnuts, and cream, together with Berncastler chilled, and Clos Vougeot warmed, to perfection. But it was chiefly in the little details that one perceived the hand and mind of one who knew that for wise men a dinner means something more than food and drink. On the table, glorious chrysanthemums of tawny gold in a silver bowl; on the sideboard a pyramid of quinces and Buddha's fingers, filling the room with the subtle fragrance beloved of Chinese scholars and poets; at dessert, in each filagree finger-bowl, a tiny waterlily, and goldfish with filmy tails that waved like pale flames. All of which Orient display was of Kuan's own devising, for the greater glory of M'Quigg and the preservation of his own face.

But as far as the Senator was concerned, it was all love's labour lost; Kuan might just as well have given us pork and beans on tin plates. From soup to cigar he took everything just as it came, entirely unimpressed, and wholly absorbed in expounding his views

Once roused, Cantegril was out for blood. With Gallic élan, he carried the war straightway into the enemy's camp, giving it as his deliberate opinion that, as regards public and private morality and intellectual culture, China's civilisation had produced a type of human being, and a state of society, infinitely preferable to anything that America could ever hope to produce. He denounced American civilisation as the result of a system of democracy which despises, when it does not ignore, philosophy.

on the political and moral of the Senator's premises and regeneration of China, to be to deny all his conclusions. achieved by the infusion of At this point I perceived American ideas. For a while the dawn of a twinkle in we endeavoured to divert the M'Quigg's eye. Until now he conversation to lighter topics; had paid his eloquent guest the but Penting, accustomed to courteous tribute of an appahold the floor by stonewall rently rapt attention. persistence, stuck to his theme like a poultice; and eventually Cantegril, inwardly fuming, was stirred to contentious argument. An astute exponent of international finance, with wide ex-. perience of Chinese affairs, his political opinions were always of a shrewdly practical order. A typical méridional was Cantegril, addicted in his hours of ease to genial gasconade and Gargantuan laughter, a bonvivant with a keen palate for good wine and a quick eye for a pretty woman; but in his serious moments hard-headed, rigidly logical, and keenly alive to the main chance. His interest in the fortunes of the Manchu dynasty and the Chinese people was based not on sentiment, but on the facts of the situation, fairly faced: and transcending all these facts were the interests of the Alsatian Bank and those of its worthy representative. At any other time and place, the Senator's preposterous schemes for creating a new heaven and a new earth in the East would have been dismissed with a laugh and a shrug. But as that turgid tide of eloquence flowed on, the feeling that there was no escape finally produced in him a secretion of wrathmatter which, as I have said, prompted him to dispute many

The Senator had suspended his sonorous periods, and was roughly dismembering his sandgrouse, when Cantegril's whirlwind onslaught came upon him out of the silent void. It caught him one, so to say, in the solar plexus, and left him silent while men might count a score. He gave Cantegril a look of pained surprise, such as one sees upon the face of a wayfarer whose unsuspecting foot has met a fragment of banana peel. Then he looked at M'Quigg, but found no guidance in his unspeculative eye. So he turned to the foe.

"I'm afraid I don't quite get you," he said. "Do you mean to say that you, a bank manager, really believe we ought not to try and bring

these people into line with Mr M'Quigg," he said,
Western civilisation, and give
them the benefits of our scien-
tific knowledge and progressive

"What I believe as a bank
manager," replied
replied Cantegril,
"has nothing to do with moral
philosophy nor with my private
opinion as to China's best
means of seeking the ultimate
happiness of her people. As
a banker I happen to be identi-
fied with a phase of Western
progress which consists in sell-
ing Chinese bonds to the foreign
investor, but I do not pretend
that in the long-run these
transactions are likely to prove
either profitable or beneficial
to China. I console my philo-
sophic soul with the reflection
that, like missionaries and
machine-guns and other ad-
juncts of your "Open Door,"
they are inevitable. But I do
not attempt to delude myself
or others with the absurd be-
lief that these things mean

The Senator's expression suggested the feelings of one who, jauntily moving through pleasant pastures, suddenly finds himself floundering in a treacherous morass. His mental equipment obviously contained nothing calculated to serve him in debate with an adversary armed at all points with arguments based on local knowledge. Avoiding the encounter, he professed to cover his retreat by a dignified flank movement in a direction where he might hope to find support.


it would be a good thing for this great country to scrap all its old Manchu junk and get into line with the spirit of democracy? And don't you think we ought to help them to do it?

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"It's a big problem," replied M'Quigg, with several sides to it, and none of them easy to deal with on textbook lines. It would be best, I think, if the Chinese could work out their own salvation in their own way, without interference. Now that the old Empress is gone, I admit that it looks like trouble ahead; but, after all, a good many dynasties have disappeared without disturbing China's social system.”

But Cantegril, not to be diverted from his prey, returned to the attack.

"Yes, Monsieur le Sénateur," he exclaimed, "it is a big problem; but permit me to observe that the welfare of the Chinese people is not a question of monarchy or republic, but simply a matter of economics and justice. Give them a strong government which can keep order and administer the law, and they will be satisfied, no matter where it comes from, or by what name you call it. I am speaking, bien entendu, of the Chinese nation, not of the handful of bois-brulés, the intellectual nondescripts whose stock-in-trade is a potpourri of foreign ideas and catchwords. I, like yourself, monsieur, am the citizen of a republic; but

"Don't you agree with me, surely you have only to look


A 2

across your borders to Mexico nothing to do with this story, Sun Yat-sen was Cantegril's bête noire; his very name was enough to provoke the whips and scorpions of the banker's wrath. So, feeling it in my bones that he would seize upon the Senator's reference to that grandiloquent gas-bag as ground for another fierce assault upon the base uses of sham democracy, I thought it best to inter

and South America to perceive that many republics would smell as sweet by any other name. I agree with M'Quigg that China is in for trouble, but it seems to me that the blame for most of it must lie with the Western nations, who have dislocated the country's finances and filled the heads of the rising generation with a lot of poisonous nonsense. Franchement, all this talk about the magic virtue of democracy and the spirit of progress, what is it but a smoke-screen of words to cover our several policies of encroachment and exploitation?"

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What with the disturbance of his gastronomic sense of fitness and his Gascon impetuosity in argument, our friend was evidently near to forgetting his manners, and M'Quigg began to look uncomfortable. Fortunately the Senator, despite his Middle Western rush of righteousness to the head, possessed certain saving graces of good temper and dry humour.

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Who knows? I said; "the Regency may turn out better than we think. After all, it isn't so much Peking and the Court that matter nowadays as the quality of the mandarins they put into the chief Viceroy jobs-Tientsin, Hankow, and Canton. If Li Hung-chang and Liu K'un-yi were alive, China might have an easier time of it. Unfortunately, of all the old great men there's only Chang Chih-tung left, and there don't seem to be any big new ones coming on. If the Emperor had not

died. . .

"Things wouldn't have been Wal," he observed to the any better," said M'Quigg. table in general, "assuming "Ten years ago it was difthat all they need is a govern- ferent; he had a soul of his ment that'll handle things as own then, some honestly pathey've been handled since the triotic ideas of reform, and a days of Noah, and give them fair amount of courage. If the the sort of justice they're used coup had succeeded which he to, what are their chances of planned, and which Yuan begetting from these old Manchus trayed, in the autumn of '98, anything that will hold together I believe that China might now that the old Empress is have got a fairly decent Govgone? I gather they're a ernment under the constitupretty poor bunch, and if that's tional system he had devised. so, why not let Sun and his But the ten years which he friends take a hand? lived at the Old Buddha's Now, for reasons that have mercy, a prisoner

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"Ocean Terrace pavilion, plots and counter-plots in the took all the heart out of him, and reduced him to a miserable nervous wreck, afraid of his own shadow."

He paused for a moment, with a deprecating eye on Cantegril, who was lighting a cigarette.

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palace, vaguely heavy under the shadow of coming events. Also, from the social point of view, there were special attractions that afternoon, very welcome in our little world, where new faces and new ideas are rare a party of ladies, guests of the American Legation, and a full-blown British Admiral

And that reminds me, Senator," he went on, of a rather interesting incident connected of the jolly old sea-dog type,

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"So far as I was concerned, the story began at one of Hart's Wednesday garden - parties at the end of August '98. I had come up from Tientsin on business, and was stopping at Chamot's Hotel. I remember that garden-party as distinctly as if it were yesterday. It was a broiling hot day, but in spite of the weather the number of guests gathered about the teatable on the dusty lawn, or strolling round the grounds, was larger than usual in the dog-days. It was a moment when such society as remained in the Legations was glad of any and every opportunity to hear and discuss the latest news. Since June the air had been filled with rumours of

globe-trotting in order to acquire first-hand knowledge of the Far Eastern problem.

"I was there that afternoon," said Cantegril. "I remember the band played 'Pinafore

and the Death of Nelson' in honour of the Admiral."

"Quite so," said M'Quigg, "and I remember talking to several more or less eminent diplomats and thinking to myself that some of us in Tientsin (old Gustav, for instance) were in closer touch with the realities of the situation than the beauty and fashion of Peking-the 'I. G.' always excepted, and he kept his ideas to himself. It was just the same, you know, before the Boxer trouble began: the Chanceries talked airily of domestic squabbles in the palace, and scoffed at the idea of any trouble likely to affect foreigners. However, to return to the Admiral. I was introduced to him by the private secretary, and he began chatting at once, in his breezy way, about the Emperor's progressive ideas, and especially about the great review of troops to be held at Tientsin in October, when, for the first time in history, the Court was to leave

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