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Venerated Sire (whose large right hand is continuously floating in spirit over the image of this person's dutiful submission), 

Doubtless to your all-consuming prescience, it will at once become plain that I have abandoned the place of residence from which I directed my former badly-written and offensively-constructed letter, the house of the sympathetic and resourceful Maidens Blank, where in return for an utterly inadequate sum of money, produced at stated intervals, this very much inferior person was allowed to partake of a delicately-balanced and somewhat unvarying fare in the company of the engaging of both sexes, and afterwards to associate on terms of honourable equality with them in the chief apartment. The reason and manner of this one's departure are in no degree formidable to his refined manner of conducting any enterprise, but arose partly from an insufficient grasp of the more elaborate outlines of a confessedly involved language, and still more from a too excessive impetuousness in carrying out what at the time he believed to be the ambition of one who had come to exercise a melodious influence over his most internal emotions. Well remarked the Sage, "A piece of gold may be tried between the teeth; a written promise to pay may be disposed of at a sacrifice to one more credulous; but what shall be said of the wind, the Hoang Ho, and the way of a woman?"

To contrive a pitfall for this short-sighted person's immature feet, certain malicious spirits had so willed it that the chief and more autumnal of the Maidens Blank (who, nevertheless, wore an excessively flower-like name), had long lavished herself upon the possession of an obtuse and self-assertive hound, which was in the habit of gratifying this inconsiderable person and those who sat around by continually depositing upon their unworthy garments details of its outer surface, and when the weather was more than usually cold, by stretching its graceful and refined body before the fire in such a way as to ensure that no one should suffer from a too acute exposure to the heat. From these causes, and because it was by nature a hound which even on the darkest night could be detected at a more than reasonable distance away, while at all times it did not hesitate to shake itself freely into the various prepared viands, this person (and doubtless others also) regarded it with an emotion very unfavourable towards its prolonged existence; but observing from the first that those who permitted themselves to be deposited upon, and their hands and even their faces to be hound-tongue-defiled with the most externally cheerful spirit of word suppression, invariably received the most desirable of the allotted portions of food, he judged it prudent and conducive to a settled digestion to greet it with favourable terms and actions, and to refer frequently to its well-displayed proportions, and to the agile dexterity which it certainly maintained in breathing into the contents of every dish. Thus the matter may be regarded as being positioned for a space of time.

One evening I returned at the appointed gong-stroke of dinner, and was beginning, according to my custom, to greet the hound with ingratiating politeness, when the one of chief authority held up a reproving hand, at the same time exclaiming:

"No, Mr. Kong, you must not encourage Hercules with your amiable condescension, for just now he is in very bad odour with us all."

"Undoubtedly," replied this person, somewhat puzzled, nevertheless, that the imperfection should thus be referred to openly by one who hitherto had not hesitated to caress the hound with most intimate details, "undoubtedly the surrounding has a highly concentrated acuteness to-night, but the ever-present characteristic of the hound Hercules is by no means new, for whenever he is in the room "

At this point it is necessary to explain that the ceremonial etiquette of these barbarian outcasts is both conflicting and involved. Upon most of the ordinary occasions of life to obtrude oneself within the conversation of another is a thing not to be done, yet repeatedly when this unpretentious person has been relating his experience or inquiring into the nature and meaning of certain matters which he has witnessed, he has become aware that his words have been obliterated, as it were, and his remarks diverted from their original intention by the sudden and unanticipated desire of those present to express themselves loudly on some topic of not really engrossing interest. Not infrequently on such occasions every one present has spoken at once with concentrated anxiety upon the condition of the weather, the atmosphere of the room, the hour of the day, or some like detail of contemptible inferiority. At other times maidens of unquestionable politeness have sounded instruments of brass or stringed woods with unceasing vigour, have cast down ornaments of china, or even stood upon each other's or this person's feet with assumed inelegance. When, therefore, in the midst of my agreeable remark on the asserted no fragrance of the hound Hercules, a gentleman of habitual refinement struck me somewhat heavily on the back of the head with a reclining seat which he was conveying across the room for the acceptance of a lady, and immediately overwhelmed me with apologies of almost unnecessary profusion, my mind at once leapt to an inspired conclusion, and smiling acquiescently I bowed several times to each person to convey to them an admission of the undoubted fact that to the wise a timely omen before the storm is as effective as a thunderbolt afterwards.

It chanced that there was present the exceptionally prepossessing maiden to whom this person has already referred. So varied and ornate were her attractions that it would be incompetent in one of my less than average ability to attempt an adequate portrayal. She had a light-coloured name with the letters so harmoniously convoluted as to be quite beyond my inferior power of pronunciation, so that if I wished to refer to her in her absence I had to indicate the one I meant by likening her to a full-blown chrysanthemum, a piece of rare jade, an ivory pagoda of unapproachable antiquity, or some other object of admitted grace. Even this description may scarcely convey to you the real extent of her elegant personality; but in her presence my internal organs never failed to vibrate with a most entrancing uncertainty, and even now, at the recollection of her virtuous demeanour, I am by no means settled within myself.

"Well," exclaimed this melodious vision, with sympathetic tact, "if every one is going to disown poor Hercules because he has eaten all our dinners, I shall be quite willing to have him, for he is a dzear ole loveykins, wasn't ums?" (This, O my immaculate and dignified sire, which I transcribe with faithful undeviation, appears to be the dialect of a remote province, spoken only by maidens both young and of autumnal solitude under occasional mental stress; as of a native of Shan-si relapsing without consciousness into his uncouth tongue after passing a lifetime in the Capital.) "Don't you think so too, Mr. Kong?"

"When the sun shines the shadow falls, for truly it is said, 'To the faithful one even the voice of the corncrake at evening speaks of his absent love,'" replied this person, so engagingly disconcerted at being thus openly addressed by the maiden that he retained no delicate impression of what she said, or even of what he was replying, beyond an unassuming hope that the nature of his feelings might perchance be inoffensively revealed to her in the semblance of a discreet allegory.

"Perhaps," interposed a person of neglected refinement, turning towards the maiden, "you would like to have a corncrake also, to remind you of Mr. Kong?"

"I do not know what a corncrake is like," replied the maiden with commendable dignity. "I do not think so, however, for I once had a pair of canaries, and I found them very unsatisfying, insipid creatures. But I should love to have a little dog I am sure, only Miss Blank won't hear of it."

"Kong Ho," thought this person inwardly, "not in vain have you burnt joss sticks unceasingly, for the enchanting one has said into your eyes that she would love to partake of a little dog. Assuredly we have recently consumed the cold portion of sheep on more occasions than a strict honourableness could require of those who pay a stated sum at regular intervals, and the change would be a welcome one. As she truly says, the flavour even of canaries is trivial and insignificant by comparison." During the period of dinner which consisted of eggs and green herbs of the field this person allowed the contemplation to grow within him, and inspired by a most pleasant and disinterested ambition to carry out the expressed wishes of the one who had spoken, he determined that the matter should be unobtrusively arranged despite the mercenary opposition of the Maidens Blank.

This person had already learned by experience that dogs are rarely if ever exposed for sale in the stalls of the meat venders, the reason doubtless being that they are articles of excessive luxury and reserved by law for the rich and powerful. Those kept by private persons are generally closely guarded when they approach a desirable condition of body, and the hound Hercules would not prove an attractive dish to those who had known him in life. Nevertheless, it is well said, "The Great Wall is unsurmountable, but there are many gaps through," and that same evening I was able to carry the first part of my well-intentioned surprise into effect.

The matter now involves one named Herbert, who having exchanged gifts of betrothal with a maiden staying at the house, was in the habit of presenting himself openly, when he was permitted to see her, after the manner of these barbarians. (Yet even of them the more discriminating acknowledge that our customs are immeasurably superior; for when I explained to the aged father of the Maidens Blank that among us the marriage rites are irrevocably performed before the bride is seen unveiled by man, he sighed heavily and exclaimed that the parents of this country had much to learn.)

The genial-minded Herbert had already acquired for himself the reputation of being one who ceaselessly removes the gravity of others, both by word and action, and from the first he selected this obscure person for his charitable purpose to a most flattering extent. Not only did he on the pretext that his memory was rebellious invariably greet me as "Mr. Hong Kong," but on more than one occasion he insisted, with mirth-provoking reference to certain details of my unbecoming garments, that I must surely have become confused and sent a Mrs. Hong Kong instead of myself, and frequently he undermined the gravity of all most successfully by pulling me backwards suddenly by the pigtail, with the plea that he imagined he was picking up his riding-whip. This attractive person was always accompanied by a formidable dog of convex limbs, shrunken lip, and suspicious demeanour which he called Influenza, to the excessive amusement of those to whom he related its characteristics. For some inexplicable reason from the first it regarded my lower apparel as being unsuitable for the ordinary occasions of life, and in spite of the low hissing call by which its master endeavoured to attract its attention to himself, it devoted its energies unceasingly to the self-imposed task of removing them fragment by fragment. Nevertheless it was a dog of favourable size and condition, and it need not therefore be a matter for surprise that when the intellectual person Herbert took his departure on the day in question it had to be assumed that it had already preceded him. Having accomplished so much, this person found little difficulty in preparing it tastefully in his own apartment, and making the substitution on the following day.

Although his mind was confessedly enlarged at the success of his venture, and his hopes most ornamentally coloured at the thought of the adorable one's gratified esteem when she discovered how expertly her wishes had been carried out, this person could not fail to notice that the Maiden Blank was also materially agitated when she distributed the contents of the dish before her.

"Will you, of your enlightened courtesy, accept, and overlook the deficiencies of, a portion of rabbit-pie, O high-souled Mr. Kong?" she inquired gracefully when this insignificant person was reached, and, concealing my many-hued emotion beneath an impassive face, I bowed agreeably as I replied, "To the beggar, black bread is a royal course."

"WHAT pie did you say, dear?" whispered another autumnal maiden, when all had partaken somewhat, and at her words a most consistently acute silence involved the table.

"I I don't quite know," replied the one of the upper end, becoming excessively devoid of complexion; and restraining her voice she forthwith sent down an attending slave to inquire closely.

At this point a person of degraded ancestry endeavoured to remove the undoubted cloud of depression by feigning the nocturnal cry of the domestic cat; but in this he was not successful, and a maiden opposite, after fixedly regarding a bone on her plate, withdrew suddenly, embracing herself as she went. A moment later the slave returned, proclaiming aloud that the dish which had been prepared for the occasion had now been accidentally discovered by the round-bodied cook beneath the cushions of an arm-chair (a spot by no means satisfactory to this person's imagination had the opportunities at his disposal been more diffuse).

"What, then, is this of which we have freely partaken?" cried they around, and, in the really impressive silence which followed, an inopportune person discovered a small silver tablet among the fragments upon his plate, and, taking it up, read aloud the single word, "Influenza."

During the day, and even far into the uncounted gong-strokes of the time of darkness, this person had frequently remained in a fascinated contemplation of the moment when he should reveal himself and stand up to receive the benevolently-expressed congratulations of all who paid an agreed sum at fixed intervals, and, particularly, the dazzling though confessedly unsettling glance-thanks of the celestially-formed maiden who had explicitly stated that she was desirous of having a little dog. Now, however, when this part of the enterprise ought to have taken place, I found myself unable to evade the conclusion that some important detail of the entire scheme had failed to agree harmoniously with the rest, and, had it been possible, I would have retired with unobtrusive tact and permitted another to wear my honourable acquirements. But, for some reason, as I looked around I perceived that every eye was fixed upon me with what at another time would have been a most engaging unanimity, and, although I bowed with undeterred profusion, and endeavoured to walk out behind an expression of all-comprehensive urbanity that had never hitherto failed me, a person of unsympathetic outline placed himself before the door, and two others, standing one on each side of me, gave me to understand that a recital of the full happening was required before I left the room.

It is hopeless to expect a display of refined intelligence at the hands of a people sunk in barbarism and unacquainted with the requirements of true dignity and the essentials of food preparation. On the manner of behaving of the male portion of those present this person has no inducement whatever to linger. Even the maiden for whom he had accomplished so much, after the nature of the misunderstanding had been made plain to her, uttered only a single word of approval, which, on subsequently consulting a book of interpretations, this person found to indicate: "A person of weak intellect; one without an adequate sense of the proportion and fitness of things; a buffoon; a jester; a compound of gooseberries scalded and crushed with cream"; but although each of these definitions may in a way be regarded as applicable, he is still unable to decide which was the precise one intended.

With salutations of filial regard, and in a spirit seven times refined by affliction and purified by vain regrets.

KONG HO. (Upon whose tablet posterity will perchance inscribe the titles, "Ill-destined but Misjudged.")