Even the accomplished Provider's one attainment that of striking together both the hands and the feet thrice simultaneously, while leaping into the air, and at the same time producing a sound not unlike that emitted by a large and vigorous bee when held captive in the fold of a robe, an action which never failed to throw the illustrious Emperor into a most uncontrollable state of amusement when performed within the Imperial Palace now only drew from him the unsympathetic, if not actually offensive, remark that the attitude and the noise bore a marked resemblance to those produced by a person when being bowstrung, adding, with unprepossessing significance, that of the two entertainments he had an unevadable conviction that the bowstringing would be the more acceptable and gravity-removing.

"'Why, O Ming-hi, he said, 'do you permit your gravity to be removed to such an exaggerated degree at the sight of this in no way striking or exceptional person? and why, indeed, do you stand in so unbecoming an attitude in the presence of one who, in spite of his depraved inferiority, is unquestionably your official superior, and could, without any hesitation, condemn you to the tortures or even to bowstringing on the spot?

He did not imitate his Mussulman prototypes to the extent of bowstringing or decapitating the condemned, nor did he cut any thief's hands off, nor yet nail his ears to a doorpost, but he introduced a modification of the bastinado that made those who were punished by it even wish they were dead.

He knew they were not empty, for the birds were fluttering about them; and he thought how, as like as not, just such another vagabond as himself was hanged on one of them; and he muttered: 'If it were hanging or bowstringing, or stoning or beheading, it would be bad enough. But to have the birds pecking your eyes and the wolves eating your feet!

He did not imitate his Mussulman prototypes to the extent of bowstringing or decapitating the condemned, nor did he cut any thief's hands off, nor yet nail his ears to a doorpost, but he introduced a modification of the bastinado that made those who were punished by it even wish they were dead.