My Dear One,
All thy women-folk have been shopping! A most unheard of event for us. We have Li-ti to thank for this great pleasure, because, but for her, the merchants would have brought their goods to the courtyard for us to make our choice.
We were a long procession. First thine Honourable Mother with her 4-bearer chair; then your most humble wife, who has only 2 bearers – as yet; then Li-ti, followed by the chairs of the servants who came to carry back our purchases. It was most exciting, as we go rarely within the city gate. It was market day and the streets were made more narrow by the baskets of fish and vegetables which lined the way. They all stepped to one side at the sound of the A y-yo of our leader, except a band of coolies carrying the monstrous trunk of a pine tree, chanting as they swung the mast between them, and keeping step with the chant. It seemed a solemn dirge, as if some great giant were being carried to the resting-place of the dead.
But sadness could not come to us when shopping, and our eager eyes looked long at the signs above the open shopways. From the fan-shop hung delicate, gilded fans; and framing the silk-shop windows gaily coloured silk was draped in rich festoons that nearly swept the pathway.
That crowded, bustling, threatening city seems another world from this, our quiet, walled-in dwelling. I feel that here we are protected, cared for, guarded, and life’s hurry and distress will only pass us by, not touch us. Yet we like to see it all, and know that we are part of that great wonderthing, the world.