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IN  A CHINESE  THEATRE                     223
dress, with his delicate features and shining black wig, to believe him to be a man. He handled his fan with enough grace to excite the envy of a Spanish senorita. He spoke to me as to a fellow-artist ; and was exceedingly courteous and kind. When he bade me adieu, his hand felt like a bundle of finger-nails. We witnessed the play from the stage (they have no wings or curtain), in full sight of the audience. We saw but little of it, though we remained a long time, for the Chinese often take a year to act a single play. But we had the good-fortune to see several of the artists come from behind a door at the back of the stage, go through a scene in which one of them was killed, and the corpse, after lying rigid for a moment, spring up suddenly, bow, smile, and make his exit through the same door, all to the melancholy scraping of a one-stringed instrument and the dismal howl of a human voice. From where we stood we had an opportunity of observing how the rows of Chinese faces in the audience resembled a huge collection of old ivory curios. Though we were accompanied by several officers of the law, the sight of those uncanny people, so far from the free air and our own kind, was anything but reassuring.