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the heather... And to remember them was run, and a hare or a greyhound now in New York, to see him. . . could beat him at that; but Shawn
Fifteen years had changed him but Spadah, a great jumper him, as well as little: a little more tremor and slow- a runner; in fine, a horse. . . And did I ness in the walk, a bow to the great know that Red Simon McEwer of shoulders, an eye that flashed like a Cushundall had gone around Portrush knife.
in eighteen consecutive fours? .. A “And what do you think of New Rathlin Islander had tried the swim York, Malachi?”
across to Scotland, but did n't make it, "I was here before, your honor will and there was great arguing as to remember. I fought at the Wilder- whether it was because of the currents ness.”
or of lack of strength. . . There were I forbore asking him what change he rumblings in the Giants' Causeway... had found. I saw his
uivering very strange... A woman in Oran had nostrils.
the second sight, the most powerful In a few days he would proceed gift of second sight in generations. . . south, when he had oriented himself There was a new piper in Islay, and it after the days of shipboard.
was said he was a second McCrimThat night it seemed every one mon. . . And a new poet had arisen in chose to come in and cluster around Uist, and all over the Highlands they the fire. Randall, the poet; and the were reciting his songs and his "Latwo blond Danish girls, with their hair ment for the Bruce.” . . Was I still as like flax; Fraser, the golfer, just over keen for, did I still remember the poems, from Prestwick; and a young writer, and the great stories? .. with his spurs yet to win; and this one “Behold, the night is of great and that one.
length,'” I quoted, “'unbearable. Tell They all kept silence as old Malachi us, therefore, of those wondrous spoke, sportsmen, artists, men and deeds." women of the world; a hush came on "If you ’ve remembered your Gaidthem, and their eyes showed they were hlig as you've remembered your not before the crackling fire in the Greek! . . long room, but amazed in the Antrim "It 's a long time since you 've had
a story of me, twelve long years, and Yes, old Malachi said, things were it's a long time before you 'll have anchanged over there, and a greater other, and I going away to-morrow. change was liable... People whispered Old Sergeant Death has his warrant that in the Valley of the Black Pig the out for me this many a day, and it 's Boar without Bristles had been seen only the wisdom of an old dog fox that at the close of the day, and in Temple eludes him; but he 'll lay me by the more there was a bleeding image, and heels one of these days, . . then there 'll these were ominous portents. . . Some be an end to the grand stories. . . So folks believed and some did n't... And after this, if you 're wanting a story, the great Irish hunter that had won you must be writing it yourself. . . the Grand National, the greatest horse “But before I die, I 'll leave you the in the world. . . But our Man of War, story of Marco Polo. There's been a Malachi? .. Oh, sure, all he could do power of books written about Marco
Polo. The scholars have pushed up .
came up from the Greek islands, and their spectacles and brushed the cob- now surged and fluttered, the way webs from their ears, and they ’ve you 'd think a harper might be playsaid, 'There's all there is about Marco
ing. You'd hear no sound, Polo.'
but the melody was there. “But the scholars are a queer and
It was the rhythm of blind people, Brian Oge. I've heard
spring, that the old people tell there's a doctor in Spain can weigh
recognize. the earth. But he can't plow a furrow
But the young people that is needful for planting corn. The would know it was spring, too, by token scholars can tell how many are the of the gaiety that was in the air. For feathers in a bird's wing, but it takes nothing brings joy to the heart like the me to inform the doctors why the coming of spring. The folk who do be call comes to them, and they fly over blind all the rest of the year, their eyes oceans without compass or sextant or do open then, and a sunset takes them, sight of land.
and the wee virgin flowers coming up "Did you ever see a scholar stand- between the stones, or the twitter of a
, ing in front of a slip of a girl? In all his bird upon the bough. . . And young learning he can find nothing to say to women do be preening themselves, her. And every penny poet in the and young men do be singing, even country knows.
them that have the voices of rooks. "Let you be listening, man, Brian There is something stirring in them Oge, and let also the scholars be listen- that is stirring in the ground, with the ing. But whether the scholars do or bursting of the seeds. . . not, I 'm not caring. A pope once lis- And young Marco Polo threw down tened to me with great respect, and a the quill in the counting house where marshal of France and poets without he was learning his trade. The night number. But the scholars do be turn- was coming on. He was only a strip of ing up their noses. And, mind you, a lad, and to lads the night is not rest I 've got as much scholarship as the from work, and the quietness of sleepnext man, as you 'll see from my story. ing, but gaming and drinking, and
"Barring myself, is there no one in courting young women. Now, there this house that takes snuff? No! Ah, were two women he might have gone well, times do be changing."
to, and one was a great Venetian lady,
with hair the red of a queen's cloak, I
and a great noble shape to her and Now it's nearing night on the first great dignity. But with her he would day of spring, and you could see how only be reciting verses or making loath day was to be going for even the grand, stilted compliments, the like of short time until the rising of the sun those you would hear in a play. And again. And though there was a chill while that seemed to fit in with winter on the canals, yet there was great color and candle-light, it was poor sport for to the sunset, the red of it on the water spring. The other one was a black, ebbing into orange, and then to purple, plump little gown-maker, a pleasant, and losing itself in the olive pools near singing little woman, very affectionthe mooring-ties. And a little wind ate, and very proud to have one of the
great Polos loving her. She was eager He wandered out with the disconfor kissing, and always asking the lad tent of the season on him. The sun to be careful of himself, to be putting had dropped at last, and everywhere his cloak on, or to be sure and drink you 'd see torches, and the image of something warm when he got home, torches in the water. On the canals of for the air from the canals was chill. the town great barges moved. EveryThe great lady was too much of the where were fine, noble shadows and mind, and the little gown-maker was the splashing of oars. of the body, to be pleasing young There was a great adMarco on the first night of spring. miral's galley, ready to
Now, it is a queer thing will be pleas- put to sea against Genoa. ing a young man on the first night of There a big merchantman spring. The wandering foot itches, back from Africa. And
, and the mind and body are keen to along the canals went all the people in follow. There is that inside a young the world, you 'd think. Now it was a man that makes the hunting dog rise Frenchman, all silks and satins and from the hearth on a moonlit night: “la-di-da, monsieur!" Or a Spaniard "Begor! it 's myself 'll take a turn with a pointed beard and long, lean through the fields on the chance of a legs and a long, lean sword. And now bit of coursing. A wea
it was a Greek courtezan, white as milk, sel, maybe, or an otter,
sitting in her gondola as on a throne. would be out the night.
Here was a Muscovite, hairy, dirty, Or a hare itself. Ay,
with fine fur and fine jewels and teeth there would be sport for
sharp as a dog's. And now an effemiyou! The hare running
nate Greek nobleman, languid as a hell-for-leather, and me
bride. And here were Moorish capafter him over brake and
tains, Othello's men, great giants of dell. Ay! Ay! Ay! a
black marble, and swarthy, hookgood hunt 's a jewel! I 'll take a nosed merchants of Palestine; and the stretch along the road.”
squires of Crusaders, pretty, ringleted Or there is in him what does be boys, swearing like demons. And here troubling the birds, and they or tropic and there were Scots and Irish merislands. “Tweet-tweet,” they grum- cenaries, kilted, sensitive folk, one ble. "A grand place this surely, and moment smiling at you and the next very comfortable for the winter. The a knife in your gizzard. palm-trees are green, but I'd rather And as he went through the courts have the green of young grass. And there were whispers and laughter, and the sea, you ken, it becomes monoto- occasionally a soft voice invited him to nous. Do you remember the peaches enter; but he smiled and shook his head. of Champagne, wife, and the cherry- Near the Canal de Mestre, which is trees of Antrim? Do you remember close by the Ghetto, he stopped by the the farmer who was such a bad shot, wine-shop called The Prince of Bul
, and his wife with the red petticoat? garia, and he could hear great disputaI 'm feeling fine and strong in the tion. And some were speaking of Baldwings, avourneen. What do you say? win II, and how he had no guts to have Let 's bundle and go!"
let Palæologus take Constantinople
from him. And others were murmur- they came. Consider the probity of ing about Genoa. “Mark us, they Venetian men. They once held as mean trouble, those dogs. Better pledge the Crown of Thorns itself. wipe them off the face of the earth King Louis IX of France redeemed it. now.” And a group were discussing The processions of the tradespeople the chances of raiding the Jewish King- were like a king's retinue, and they dom of the Yemen. “They've got tem- marching in state on the election of a ples there roofed with gold.” . . And doge. Each in their separate order an Irish piper was playing on a little they 'd come, the master smiths first, silver set of pipes, and an Indian magi- as is right, every one garlanded like a cian was doing great sleight of hand... conqueror, with their banner and their
“I 'll go in and talk to the strange buglers. The furriers next in ermine foreign people,” said Marco Polo. and taffeta; the tanners, with silver
cups filled with wine; the tailors in II
white, with vermilion stars; the woolNow, you might be thinking that workers, with olive branches; the the picture I 'm drawing is out of my quilt-makers in cloaks trimmed with
own head. Let you not fleur-de-lis; the cloth-of-gold weavers, be thinking of it as it is with golden crowns set with pearls; now, a city of shadows the shoemakers in fine silk, while the and ghosts, with a few silk-workers were in fustian; the cheesescant visitors mooring in dealers and pork-butchers in scarlet the canals. The Pride of and purple; the fishmongers and poulthe West she was, the terers,
terers, armed like men-of-war; the Jewel of the East. Con- glass-makers, with elegant specimens of stantinople was her their art; the comb-makers, with little courtyard. Greece, birds in cages; the barber-surgeons on Egypt, Abyssinia, Bul- horseback, very dignified, very learned, garia, and Muscovy, her and with that you'd think there 'd
ten-acre fields. The be an end to them, but cast your eye Crusaders on their way to fight back on that procession and you'd the Saracen stopped to plead for her find guilds as far as your sight would help and generosity. There were no reach. . soldiers more chivalrous, not even the Let you be going down the markets, French. There were no better fighters, and what would you see for sale? Boots, not even the Highland clans. Sailors? clothes, bread? No, they were out of You'd think those fellows had in- ' sight; but scattered on the booths, the vented the sea. And as for riches and like of farls of bread on a fair-day, treasures, oh! the wonder of the world you 'd find cloves and nutmegs, mace she was! Tribute she had from every- and ebony from Moluccas, that had where; the four great horses of Saint come by way of Alexandria and the Mark they came from Constantinople. Syrian ports; sandalwood from Timor, The two great marble columns facing in Asia; camphor from Borneo. Sumathe Piazetta, sure, they came from tra and Java sent benzoin to her Acre. When foreign powers wanted markets. Cochin China sent bitter the loan of money, it was to Venice aloes-wood. From China and Japan
and from Siam came gum, spices, silks, Time is the greatest rogue of all. chessmen, and curiosities for the par- Not all the arrows of Attila can do the lor. Rubies from Peru, fine cloths from damage of a trickle of sand in an hourCoromandel, and finer still from Ben- glass! Tyre and Sidon, Carthage, angal. They got spikenard from Nepaul cient Babylon, and Venice, queen of and Bhutan. Their dia
them all. monds were from Galconda.
I am describing Venice to you for From Nirmul they pur
You might now stand chased Damascus steel for
where Troy's walls once were and say their swords. Nor is that
to yourself: "Was this where Helen all you 'd see, and you 'd
walked with her little son? Was this be going down by the mar
where the loveliest face of ages wept?” kets on a sunny morning, and a fine. And a chill doubt would come on you,
a thinking, low-voiced woman on your and you would think, “I've been wastarm. You 'd see pearls and sapphires, ing my sorrow and wasting my love, topaz and cinnamon from Ceylon; lac for it was all nothing but an old tale and agates, brocades and coral from made up in a minstrel's head.” Cambay; hammered vessels and in- And sometime in Venice, after your laid weapons and embroidered shawls dinner in a hotel, you 'd go out for from Cashmere. As for spices, never a while in a barca, that would have would your nostrils meet such an odor: no more romance to it nor the bark a bdellium of Scinde, musk from Tibet, gillie would row, and you salmon-fishgalbanum from Khorasan; from Af- ing on a cold, blustery day, and you ghanistan, asafetida; from Persia, would feel disappointed, you having
, sagapenum; ambergris and civet from come so far, and you 'd say: "It was a Zanzibar, and from Zanzibar came grand story surely, and bravely did it ivory, too. And from Zeila, Berbera, pass the winter evening; but was n't and Shehri came balsam and frankin- old Malachi of the Long Glen the liar cense.
of the world!" And that was Venice, and Marco I would n't have you saying that, Polo a young man. And now it's only and I dead. In all I 'm telling you, a town like any other town but for its I'd have you to know there 's not a churches and canals. There's many a ha'porth of lie. town has ghosts, but none the ghosts that Venice has; not Rome itself, or
III Tara of the kings.
And so Marco Polo went into the
wine-shop to see and hear the strange “Once did she hold,” Randall quoted, foreign people. "the gorgeous East in fee;
It was a dark, long room, very high, And was the safeguard of the West; full of shadows between the flaming the worth
torches on the wall. At one side of it Of Venice did not fall below her birth, Venice, the eldest Child of Liberty.
was a great fire burning, for all it was She was a maiden city, bright and free;
the first night of spring. At one end No guile seduced, no force could violate; of it were the great barrels of liquor And, when she took unto herself a mate,
for the thirsty customers: black beer She must espouse the everlasting Sea!" for the English and Irish, grand, hairy