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flowers. They ’re like lilies. I don't the King of Siam, with his hundred know where you do be getting these princes on a hundred elephants, what Eastern comparisons,” she says. “But use would she have for me, who 's no I don't like them. Tell me, pretty
Tell me, pretty better nor a peddler with his pack? boy,”—she looks suspicious,—“you But it would be worth walking the have n't been taking any of the strange world barefoot for to see that little Egyptian drugs the dark people do be golden face, to hear the low, sweet selling in the dim shops on the quiet voice they call Golden Bells." canals? Look out, pretty boy! look They came back in due time, his out!"
Uncle Matthew, the red, hairy man, And the little cloak-maker grumbled and his father, the thin, dark man who when he was gone. “I don't know knew precious stones. And he told what 's wrong with him," says she. them he wanted to go with them when “Or maybe it 's something that 's they made their next expedition to wrong with myself, but this delicate China. love is n't all it 's cracked up to be. “We could be using you, after your It's all right in books,” she says, "and training in trade," says the father. it 's a grand sight, and the players But Marco Polo could take no interest doing it; but I like a hug,” she says,
in barter. "Sure, you'd
“ “would put the breath out of you; and
better come along," says his a kiss,” she says, “you could feel in
Uncle Matthew. "There's the soles of your feet.” And she lay
great sport to be had on the awake and grumbled. “Let him be
road, kissing and courting taking his la-di-da courting to those
the foreign women and not as favor it,” says she. “It 's not my
a word of language between kind.” And she grumbled through you, barring a smile and a laugh." the lonely night. "I wonder where "I have no interest in the foreign my husband is now," she said. “And women, Uncle Matthew." was n't I the foolish girl to be sending “Then it 's the horses you 've been him off! Sure, he drank like a fish and hearing about, the fine Arab horses beat me something cruel, but he was faster nor the wind, and the little the rare lover, and the mood on him. Persian ponies they do be playing polo Sure, a woman never knows when on, and the grand Tatar hunters that she's well off," says she.
can jump the height of a man, and And Marco Polo did n't miss them they sure-footed as a goat. Ah, the any more nor you 'd miss an old over- horses, the bonny horses!" coat and the winter past. All his "Ah, sure, Uncle Matthew, 't is little mind was on was the Golden Bells of I know of horses. Sure, I know all China. And he thought long until about boats, racing and trade and his uncle and father came, so that he war-boats, but a horse is not kin to could be off with them to the strange Chinese land.
"Then what the hell 's the use of “But there 's no use to me going your going to China?” there,” says he. “I could n't marry ”
"Ah, sure, that 's the question I 'm her. She would laugh at me,” he asking myself, Uncle Matthew. But says. “She, who refused the son of I have to go. I do so. There is something calling me, Uncle Matthew far off in China, and he had charged -a bell in my ear, father's brother, the uncle and father of Marco with a and there's a ringing bell in my heart." message to the Pope of Rome. Let
the pope be sending some theologians VI
to his court, and they 'd argue the I shall now tell you how it came matter out; and if he was satisfied that about that Marco Polo went to China this new religion was the true religion, with his uncle and father, though he then he 'd turn Christian and tell his had no eye for a bargain, or interest people to turn Christian, too. And in courting the foreign women, or let them be bringing back some of the sense of horses.
Oil of the Lamp which burns in the Now, as you may know, this was a Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem and is a great religious time. The Crusaders, cure for all the ills in the world. feeling shame that the
And when they came to the city of Sepulchre of the Lord
Acre, sure the pope was dead. And Jesus should be in Saracen
they waited a long time, but no new hands, had come with
pope was chosen, so they decided to go horse, foot, and artillery to
back, because they had a good business Palestine to give tribute of arms to there, and they did n't want to lose it. Him who had died for them on the And yet they knew there'd be trouble Bitter Tree. And great feats were with the Grand Khan, if they did n't performed and grand battles won. bring back the news of the true reliAnd kings became saints, like Louisgion and people to argue it. of France, and saints became kings, like "I 've been a long time trading,” Baldwin of Constantinople. Mighty says Nicolo, "and it 's a queer thing,
's wonders were seen and miracles per- but the more trading you do, the less formed, so that people said, "Now religion you have. The arguing of will be the second coming of Christ religion would not come easy to me. and the end of the world.”
And I'd be up against experts. I'm And a great desire came on the not the man for it,” says he. "How Christian people to tell the truth of about you, Matthew?'' Christ to the strange and foreign peo- "Oh, sure, they 'd never listen to ples of the world. So that every day me," Matthew laughs—"me that 's out of Jerusalem you would see friars drank with them, and deludhered their hitting the road, some of them to women, and gambled until I left them confront the wizards of the Land of nothing but the sweat of their brows. Darkness, and some to argue theology I'd be a great one to preach religion to with the old lamas of Tibet, and some them. Why, man, they'd laugh at me. to convert the sunny Southern islands, But I tell you what, Nicolas. There's where the young women do be letting a bishop in Negropont, and I know down their hair and the men do be where he lives, and I know his house forgetting God for them. And all and everything.
And all and everything. What do you say, over the world there was spreading a Nicolas? We'll just throw a bag great rumor that the truth of all over his head and tie him on a horse. things was at last known.
Oh, sure, he'd give grand discourses Even Kublai Khan had heard of it to the Great Khan!"
"Have sense, Matthew; have sense. tle Golden Bells going down the dim You're always too rough; always and lonely alleys of death, and weeping, ready to end an argument with a knife, weeping, weeping or just lift what you want. Have would be shot with panic, and the little sense, man; you can't kidnap a bishop mouth twisted, and the little flowery like you 'd kidnap a woman.”
hands twitching at each other. And "Well, I don't see why not,” says it would be cold there for her who was Matthew. "It would be easier, too, so warm, and it would be dark there because a woman will scratch like a for her who loved light, and the Golden wildcat. But if you 're set against it, Bells of her voice would be lost in the I won't do it," he says. “Well, then, whistling and clanging of the stars as how about young Marco?”
they swung by in their orbits. He to “My sound man Matthew! my bully be in the great delight of paradise, and fellow! Sure you were never a loss she to be in the blue-gray maze beyet! Young Marco it is; sure, 't is the tween the worlds—what tragedy! elegant idea. There's not a man born Kings might bring her presents, a of woman is better for the job."
husband might bring her happiness; Now, all the Christian world had but if he could only bring her salvagone religious, and young Marco was tion! If he could only tell her of the no exception; for 't is not only the old Bitter Tree! are religious. The young are, too; The body, when you came to think but there's a difference. The religion of it, mattered little. All the beauty of old men is reason and translation; in the world could not endure more the religion of the young is just a burn- than its appointed span. Helen was ing cloud. The tragedy of the Bitter dust now, and Deirdre nothing. What Tree is not a symbol to them, but a had become of the beauty of Semirareality, and their tears are not of the mis, Alexander's darling; and Cleospirit, but of the body, too.
patra, who loved the great proconsul; And there are no half-way houses, and Bathsheba, for whom David of no compromises, in a young man's the Psalms fell from grace? And Balcreed. It's swallow all, or
kis, queen of Sheba, with her apes, be damned to you! It's
ivory, and peacocks? Dust and ashes! believe or be lost.
dust and ashes! And Scheherazade was And thinking over the
but a strange, sad sound. Beauty little girl in the Chinese
increased and waned like the moon-a garden, there had come into
little shadow around the eyes, a little Marco's heart a thought
crinkle in the neck, the backs of the past enduring. If little Golden Bells hands stiffening like parchment. Dust did not believe, then little Golden and ashes, dust and ashes! Bells was lost. She might have every- But the little blue shadow would thing in this world in this life, an em- glow like an Easter morning. Or it peror for a father, kings for suitors, a
a would be a poor, lonely, unlit shadow great poet for a minstrel, a wizard for in the cold gloom of the clanging worlds.
a an entertainer; but once the little blue Poor Golden Bells! Poor little weepshadow left her body, she was lost for- ing Golden Bells! If he could only ever. And the sight came to him of lit- tell her about the Bitter Tree!
And then what happens but his have little hopes. He wants to be Uncle Matthew claps him on the back. argued into it, you see. Religion is “How would you like to go to China, not a matter of argument.
It is a Marco Markeen,” says he, “and preach wisdom that surpasses wisdom. It religion to the benighted people?” drifts in men's souls as the foggy dew
"How did you know, Uncle Mat- comes unbidden to the trees. It is thew?"
born before our soul, as the horned "How did I know what?"
moon is born before our eyes. "That I wanted to go to China and “And now, my child, you might preach religion to the the people!" say, 'What is the use of his sending me
“Well, if that does n't beat Bana- to China if he knows I cannot bring gher,” says Matthew Polo, “and Bana- these millions into the fold? My dear gher beats the devil! Tell me, did you son, there is the wisdom surpassing ever hear an old tune called ‘Bundle wisdom. A great and noble thought and Go!'?"
must not die. Things of the spirit we And so the three of them leave upon cannot reckon as a husbandman recktheir journey, but at Layas, where the ons his crops. There is a folk on the King of Armenia had his castle, they marches of Europe, and they are ever heard of the election of a new pope, going into battle, and they always fall. so they came back to Acre to get his Their results are nothing. But their instructions and blessing.
name and their glory will endure for
“My dear son, God has put wisdom The pope said a grand mass for them, in my head and beauty into yours. and at the gospel he enters the pulpit, Wisdom is needed for the governance a burly figure of a man with sad eyes. of this world, but beauty is needed for
“The blessing of the Father and the its existence. In arid deserts there is Son and the Holy Ghost be with you no life. Birds do not sing in the dark and about you, Amen.
of night. Show me a waste country, “It is not to you, Nicolo Polo, that and I'll show you a brutal people. I wish to speak, nor to you, Matthew No faith can live that is not beautiful Polo, for neither of you are my ambassadors to the Great Khan. Merchant "The beauty God has put in your and sportsman, I honor you, and you heart, child, you must always keep have my blessing, but you have no
How much I think of it I 'll hopes of mine. The dirty diversions tell you. I 'm an old man now, an of the world are between your eyes old and broken man, and in a few and glory,” said he. “It 's only my years I 'll stand before my Master.
I self, an old and sorrowful man, and "'What have you seen on my earth,' this child, a young and hopeful one, He'll ask me, 'you who followed can understand; old men having sight Peter!' of visions, and young men dreaming “'Lord! Lord! I'll tell Him, dreams
'I 've seen mighty things. I've seen “Now in the matter of converting the bridegroom leave his bride and the Great Khan and his numerous the king his kingdom, the huckster millions, first let wisdom speak. I leave his booth, and the reaper drop
his hook, that they might rescue your ger. Let not the mists of the world, holy sepulcher from pagan hands.' the gay diversions, the little trifles,
“And anything else?' He 'll ask. draw you from glory. Remember! “And I 've seen a young man go
"Si oblitus fuero tui Jerusalem, out into the desert, and over his head If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,was a star
Oblivioni detur dextera mea,-let my “You may think you have failed, right hand forget her cunning.child, but remember that in the com- Adhaereat lingua mea faucibus meis, ing times your name and fame will si non meminero tui,-if I do not reawaken beauty, and many 's the trav- member thee, let my tongue cleave to eler on the hard road will find his cour- the roof of my mouthage again, and he thinking of Marco Si non proposuero Jersualem, in prinPolo. And many 's the young man cipis laetitiæ meae,-if I prefer not will dream dreams, and many 's the Jerusalem above my chief joy. old man will see visions, and they “I shall now send a prayer to reading the book by the golden candle- Heaven," he said, “to keep you safe light; and many 's the young girl will
in the strange foreign ways, give you love, and you dead for cen
to protect you against wind turies. But for this you must keep
and tempest, against pestiyour dream.
lence and sudden death, "Now you'll think it 's the queer
against the powers of darkpope I am to be telling you things like
ness, and him who goes up this instead of demanding converts. and down the world for the ruin of But the wisdom that surpasses wisdom souls.” comes to you with the Anointing of the And he turned to the high altar Oil. 'I knew a man in Christ above again, and now you 'd hear his voice fourteen years ago,' writes Saint Paul, loud and powerful, and now low and '(whether in the body I cannot tell, secret, and the bell struck, and the
I or whether out of the body I cannot acolyte intoned the responses, and all tell. God knoweth.)
of a sudden he turned and spread “How that he was caught up in- forth his hands.
' to paradise, and heard unspeakable "Ite! Let you be going now. Missa words that is not lawful for a man to est.” utter.'
VIII "Now you see there is a wisdom surpassing wisdom, and it is out of And so they set forth with their this fount of wisdom I am drawing great train of red, snarling camels and when I speak to you these words. little patient donkeys and slender,
“Child, I will not keep you any nervous horses toward the rising sun. longer. Only to say this, and this is Behind them the green hills of Palesthe chiefest thing: never let your tine died out as a rainbow dies out, dream be taken from you. Keep it and now there was sand before them, , unspotted from the world. In dark- and now bleak mountains, and by day ness and in tribulation it will go with the wind was swift and hot and by you as a friend; but in wealth and night it was black and cold. And power hold fast to it, for then is dan
moons were born and died