When the night was advanced and Hia and Ning, after partaking of a many-coursed feast, were reclining on an ebony couch, the Being freely expressed the delight that he discovered in her amiable society, incautiously adding: "Demand any recompense that is within the power of this one to grant, O most delectable of water-nymphs, and its accomplishment will be written by a flash of lightning."

"It is admittedly said, 'Every road leads in two directions, and the alternative you suggest, O virtue-loving Tsin Lung, is both reputable and just," replied Hien pleasantly. In this amiable spirit they extricated Thang-li and bore him to the ground. At an appointed hour he received them with becoming ceremony and after a many-coursed repast rose to fulfil the specific terms of his pledge.

"Not only scores, but even hundreds of copies may be required in the process of time, for a crust of rice-bread and handful of dried figs eaten from such a plate would be more satisfying than a repast of many-coursed richness elsewhere."

Largeness, the inspiring breadth of the immensities, was what he craved most; and when he had cut the many-coursed dinner short, he hurried back to his Pullman window, hoping that he might have the smoking-compartment to himself again. The unspoken wish was granted.

It is true that the occasions of his wearing the robe were elaborate and many-coursed feasts, when he and his guests had partaken lavishly of birds' nests, sharks' fins, sea snails and other viands of a rich and glutinous nature.