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The chieftain snicks the knite trom his arm-pit
, and sticks him in the jugular as neat as be damned C
stuff with great foam to it, and brown with the bowl half-ways up it. The beer for the Germans; and there was pipe was silver and all stem, and the white wine there for the French peo- bowl no bigger than a ten-cent piece. ple, and red wine for the Italians, His shoulders were very powerful, so
usquebaugh for the Scots, you 'd know he was a man you should and rum from the sugar- be polite to, and out of that chest of cane for such as had cold his a great shout could come. He in their bones. There was might have been a working-man, only, all kind of drink there in when he fingered his pipe, you 'd see
d the brass-bound barrels his hands were as well kept as a lord's
drink would make you lady's, fine as silk and polished to a mad and drink would make you merry, degree. And you 'd think maybe a drink would put heart in a timid man pleasant poet, which is a scarce thing, and drink would make fighting men until you looked at the brown face of peaceful as pigeons; and drink that him and big gold ear-rings. And then
. would make you forget trouble_all you 'd know what he was: he was a in the brass-bound barrels at the end great sea-captain. of the room. And pleasant, fat little But where did he come from? You men were roaming around serving the might know from the high cheek bones varied liquor in little silver cups, and and the eyes that were on a slant, as it fine Venetian glasses for the wine, and were, that it was an Eastern man was in broad-bellied drinking-pots that in it. It might be Java and it might be would hold more than a quart.
Borneo or it might be the strange And there was such a babel of country of Japan. language as was never heard but in And there were a couple of strange one place before.
occurrences in the wine-shop. The Some of the drinkers were dicing
Indian juggler was being and shouting as they won, and grum
baited by the fighting men, bling and cursing when they lost. And
as people will be after some were singing. And some were
poking coarse fun at a fordancing to the Irish pipes. And there
eigner. The slim Hindu was a knot around the Indian con
fellow was n't taking it at jurer.
all well. He was looking with eyes like But there was one man by himself gimlets at a big bullock of a soldier
a at a table. And him being so silent, that was leading the tormenters. you'd think he was shouting for atten- "Show me something would surtion. He was so restful against the prise me," he was ordering. "Be great commotion, you'd know he was a damned to this old woman's entergreat man. You might turn your back tainment!" says he. “As a magician,"
" on him, and you 'd know he was there, says he, “you 're the worst I ever saw. though he never even whispered nor If you 're a magician,” says he, “I'm put out a finger. A fat, pleasant, close- a rabbit." coupled man he was, in loose, green And there was a roar at that, because clothes, with gold brocade on them. he was known to be a very brave man. And there were two big gold ear-rings "Show me a magic trick," says he. in his lobes. He smoked a wee pipe Says the Hindu:
"Maybe you'd wish you had n't “And what are you?" says the big, seen it."
burly fellow. “Be damned to that!” says the big “A gentleman, I hope,” says the fellow.
ragged chief. "Look at this man well," the Hindu “'T is yourself that says it,” laughs told the room. “Look at him well.” the German trooper. The chieftain He throws a handful of powder in the snicks the knife from his armpit, and fire and chants in his foreign language. sticks him in the jugular as neat as A cloud of white smoke rises from the be damned. fire. He makes a pass before it, and, “You'd might take that out, Kevin lo and behold ye! it's a screen against Beg'-the Irish chief points to the the wall. And there 's great commo
killed man—"and throw it in the canal. tion of shadows on the screen, and Somebody might stumble over it and suddenly you see what it 's all about. bark their shins." It 's a platform, and a man kneeling, Now this, as you can conceive, with his head on the block. You don't roused a powerful commotion in the see who it is, but you get chilled. And
room. They were all on suddenly there's a headsman in a red
their feet, captains and cloak and a red mask, and the ax
mariners and men-atswings and falls. The head pops off,
arms, cheering or grumand the body falls limp. And the head
bling, and arguing the rolls down the platform and stops, and
rights and wrongs of the you see it's the head of the fellow who matter. All but the sea-captain, who wanted to see something, and it 's in saw it all, and he never blinked an eyethe grisly grin of death.
lid, never even missed a draw of the “There 's your latter end for you,” pipe. says the conjurer. “You wanted to see And then Marco Polo knew him to something. I hope you 're content.” be a Chinaman, because, as all the
The big fellow turns white, gulps, world knows, Chinamen are never gives a bellow, and makes a rush; but surprised at anything. the conjurer is n't there, nor his screen
IV nor anything.
Everybody in the room was white So Marco Polo goes over and salutes and shaken-all but the sea-captain. him politely. He just tamps his pipe as if nothing "I wonder if you mind my sitting had happened. He does n't even take down by you for a while,” he says. a drink from his glass.
"I perceive you 're from China.” And a little while later an Irish The sea-captain waves him politely chieftain walks in. He 's poor and to his place. ragged and very thin. You might “I 'm from China." He smiles. know he'd been fighting the heathen "You guessed right.” for the Holy Sepulchre, and so entitled "Is it long since you've been in to respect, no matter what his condi- China?" tion. And behind him are five clans- "Well, that depends upon what men as ragged as he. But a big Ger- you call long,” says the captain. "If man trooper rolls up.
you mean time, it 's one thing. If you
mean voyage, it 's another. For you Dragoian. Dragoian is not a good city. 've got to take into account,” says he, It is filled with sorcerers who have "adverse winds, roundabout turns to tattooed faces. At Lambri I put in avoid currents, possible delays to have for the sago you buy from the hairy the ship scraped free from the parasite men with tails. life that does be attaching itself to the "Son, never stop at the isle of Anstrakes, time spent in barter and trade. daman. The men there have faces like Other matters, too: the attacks of dogs. They are a cruel generation, pirates, cross-grained princes who don't and eat every one they can catch. I want you to be leaving their ports could tell you a story, but I would not with a good cargo in your hold; sick- spoil this fine spring night. Go rather ness; loss of sails and masts; repairs to the island of Ceylon, and see the to the ship. It was n't a short journey King's Ruby, which is the greatest and it was n't a long one."
jewel in the world. I stopped there “It will be a long ways to China, and at Coromandel for the pearls the I 'm thinking."
divers go down in the sea for, and there “I can tell you how long it is from are no clothes on that island, so that China to here, and you can reverse every one goes naked as a fish.
And that, and you will get a fair idea of how there is the shrine of Saint Thomas. I long it is from here to China. I left
was there. Zeitoon with a cargo of porcelain for “Gujarat, Tana, I stopped there. Japan, and traded it for gold-dust, and The Male and Female Islands I put from Japan I went to Chamba to lay in into for ambergris. Svestra, which is a store of chessmen and pen-cases. full of magicians--I was there, too. And from Chamba I sailed to Java, Madagascar and Zanzibar, where they which is the greatest island in the live on camel flesh, I was there. And world. Java is fifteen hundred miles from Zanzibar I came north to Abysfrom Chamba, south and southeast, sinia, because I had to get an ostrich and it took me four months sailing; there for the King of Siam. And there but a sea-captain cannot pass Java by, was a letter and a parcel for the Sultan for it is the chief place for black pep- of Egypt. So I went to Cairo. I had a per, nutmegs, spikenard,
month on my hands, so I thought I'd galingale, cubebs, cloves,
run over and see Venice, because it's and all the spices that grow.
a hobby of mine, you might say, to see “And I stopped at vari
the world. ous small islands from
"Now let me reckon. Four and there, until I came to
three make seven, and four more are Basma, which is the island
eleven, and six are seventeen, and let of the unicorns. And there we trade in us say nine with that, and you have pygmies, which ignorant people think twenty-six. And the month I 'm forare human folk. They are just a wee getting on the rocks of Aden is twentymonkey, with all the hair plucked out seven, and a week here and a week except the hair of the beard. There
There there for bad winds and such like. It is great money in them.
would be safe to put that at three "I stopped at Sumatra for cocoa- months. So it's two years and a half nuts and toddy, and just for water at since I left China.”
"You never,” says young Marco, is the beating of Venice in this day? "met anybody in China by the name What struck Constantinople like a of Polo?"
thunderbolt but the mailed hand of "Poh-lo? Poh-lo? China's a big- Venice? When the Barbary corsairs ger place nor you would imagine, roamed the seven seas, so that it was laddie. There 's half a hundred mil- no more safe for a merchant vessel to lion people there."
be sailing than for a babe to be walk“These were 'foreigners,” Marco ing through a wild jungle, it was Venexplained, “traders. They were at the ice who accepted the court of the great Khan.”
challenge, and made the "Polo? Polo? Well, now, I think great sea as peaceful as I've heard of them. Was one of them the Grand Canal. Who a big red-bearded man with a great humbled proud Genoa? eye for a horse and a great eye for a And hurled the Saracen woman?”
from Saint John of Acre's “That would be my Uncle Matthew." walls? Venice.
“For God's sake! And was the for magnificence, the retinue of our other a cold, dark man, a good judge of doge when he goes to marry the sea a jewel and a grand judge of a sword?" with a ring makes the court of "My father, Nicholas Polo."
Lorenzo seem like a huckster's train." “For God's sake! you're the son “It is a crowning city.” of one and the nephew of the other!” “And as for beauty, sir,” went on "Did you know them?"
Marco Polo, “there is nothing in the “Ah, laddie, how would I be know- world like San Marco's, and it ablaze ing people like that? Sure, they 're in the setting sun, and the great pilgreat folks, high in the esteem of the lars before it rising in tongues of flame. grand Khan, and I'm
And was there ever in all time anyonly a poor sailorman."
thing like the Grand Canal at the dusk “But you heard of
of day, and the torches beginning to them.”
show like fireflies, and the lap of the "I heard of them. They
water, and stringed music, and the were in good health. And I heard great barges going by like swans, now they were on their way home, though a battle-hacked captain of war, now a they would travel overland and not great gracious lady? And the moon risk the great dangers. I suppose, if does be rising. .. they go back to China, you 'll be going "You've sailed all the way from with them?”
China and seen strange and beautiful "I don't know," says Marco Polo. things, but I remember one summer's
“You ought to see China. It 's a day, when I took my little sailing-boat great country, a beautiful country." and went out on the water to compose
“It would have to be very great and a poem for a lady, and the water was very beautiful,” says Marco Polo, “to blue-oh, as blue as the sky's self, and outweigh the greatness and the beauty the sands of the Lido were silver, and that are here. You must n't think the water shuffled gently over them, as I 'm running down your country, mis- gently as a child's little feet. And ter,” says he; “but for greatness, where there was a clump of olive-trees there