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