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And now the place of Li Po was usurped, and gone Sanang with his magic glass, and in the jasmine garden by the Lake of Cranes Marco Polo sat and instructed Golden Bells...


And he told of the flight into Egypt when savage Herod reigned, and of the Jewish maid and her child sleeping beneath the shadow of the great Sphinx, while the shades of old Afric gods looked on in reverence, Amenalk and Thoth and the moon-horned Io, Isis, and Osiris. And the painted kings knelt in their pyramids, and out of the sluggish Nile came the strange aquatic population, the torpid crocodiles and monstrous water lizards, and the great hip

Polo. It happened so long ago. It is hard to think of a tragedy in a strange country, and we in this garden on the second moon of spring. And it was so very long ago. Do you hear the bees, Marco Polo-the bees among the almond-blossoms? And see the blue heron by the lotus flowers? And do you see the little tortoise, Marco Polo, and he sunning himself on a leaf? If I throw a pebble, Marco Polo, he will dive, and he is such a clumsy diver, Marco Polo!"

"But you must listen, Golden Bells, and believe me."

"I do believe, Marco Polo; I honestly do. Don't you know I believe you? Anything you say, Marco Polo, I believe. You would n't be coming all the way over the world to be telling me a lie. Of course I believe."

"And does n't it make you happy, Golden Bells?"

"Once I was unhappy, Marco Polo.

popotami lumbered to bow before the I used sit here, and on my lute I used

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"But you are not listening, little Golden Bells-"

"Indeed I am listening, Marco Polo. Yes, indeed I am. I love to I love to hear your voice, Marco Polo. You are so earnest, Marco Polo; there is such a light in your eyes. Listen, Marco Polo. Li Po once wrote a poem, 'White Gleam the Gulls,' and it is the poem by which he is best known, and every time I hear it there is an echo in my heart. But, Marco Polo, I never listened to Li Po's song as eagerly as I am listening to your voice."

play the 'Song of the Willow Branches,' which is the saddest song in the world. Under the moon I used be lonely, and the droning of the bees meant nothing to me, and now it is a sweet, brave song. I cannot play 'Willow Branches' any more, so alien is sadness to me. And the moon smiles. I am very happy, Marco Polo."

"It is the true religion, little Golden Bells, that makes you happy."

"Is it, Marco Polo? Is it? It must be, I suppose. I don't know what it is, but I am very happy."


And he told her of Paul, who had seen a vision and gone preaching

"But you are not taking it in, little through the world, who was persecuted, Golden Bells." who was shipwrecked, who was bitten "It is very hard to take in, Marco by a viper, and who survived every

thing that he might preach the Lord Jesus. He was a fierce, ragged man with burning eyes. . . He told her of Paul's instructions to women.

"You do not look at me when you speak, Marco Polo. Only your voice comes to me, not your eyes. Is it because of Paul?” And Marco Polo felt great trouble on him, because he could not explain. But Golden Bells went on:

"There is little in your faith about women, Marco Polo. Is it a faith only for men, then? Is it against women? Must the young men not look at the young women?"

"No, Golden Bells; the young men must not look too much on the young women.'

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"But that is very foolish, Marco Polo. Is it wrong to see the beauty of the almond-blossoms, wrong to taste the scented wind? Is it wrong to watch the kingfisher seeking his nest? Is it wrong to watch the moon, the stars? All these are very beautiful, Marco Polo, so beautiful as to make me cry. Is it wrong to watch them?”

"It is not wrong, Golden Bells. The glory of God is in the beauty of his handicraft."

"Li Po is old and wise and a great poet, Marco Polo, and Li Po says there is beauty in a running horse and beauty in a running stream; but there is no beauty like the beauty of a young woman, and she letting down her hair. God made the beauty of women, too, Marco Polo, as well as the beauty of the stars. Won't you please explain to me, Marco Polo? Why should Li Po say one thing and Saint Paul another?"

Marco Polo.
Marco Polo. You must n't be think-
ing little of Li Po. He is fat and old
and drunken, but when he sings, Marco
Polo, it is the song of the wandering
stars. But why must not the young
men look at the young women, Marco
Polo? Why must they not look with
their eyes?"

"It will be hard for me to tell you, Golden Bells-"

"Look at me now, Marco Polo. Lift up your eyes and look into my eyes. Is there evil in me, Marco Polo, that your eyes should avoid me as the fox avoids the dog? Or maybe I am not beautiful. Maybe they told me wrong because I was a king's daughter, and they would not have me think little of myself. Maybe I am not beautiful, Marco Polo, maybe I hurt your eyes-"

"Ah, Golden Bells, the little horned moon is not more beautiful."

"Then why must not the young men look at the young women, Marco Polo? You are here to instruct me. Won't you tell me why?"

"Maybe maybe maybe it is for fear of sin, Golden Bells."

"Sin? Sin! Why should there be sin? I know sin, Marco Polo. They have warned me against it since I crept upon the floor. There are two sins. There is meanness, Marco Polo, and there is cruelty; and those are the only sins. I know your heart, Marco Polo; there is no meanness there. You would not have come here were you mean. The mean do not travel afar for other people. And cruelty! Surely you would not be cruel to me, Marco Polo. You would not be cruel to anybody, dear Marco Polo. You "But Golden Bells, Saint Paul is would not be cruel to me?" inspired of God."

"Cruel to you, little Golden Bells!

"But Li Po is inspired of God, too, How could I be cruel to you?"

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"But the sin, Marco Polo?"

horse in all Tartary that your uncle

"I don't know, Golden Bells. I cannot have, nor a woman, either. don't know."


And one dusk the moon rose over the Chinese garden, and Marco Polo finished telling her of what John saw on Patmos and he an old man. "Veni, Domine Jesu.

""Gratia Domini nostri Jesu Christi cum omnibus vobis. Amen!""

And your father can have all the jewels of the treasury, and all the swords, too, even the sword with which my father

conquered China. conquered China. My father will give him that if I ask. Only let you not be leaving this moonlit garden." "Dear Golden Bells, it is n't that; but I came here for converts-"

"Oh, Marco Polo, listen! There is a folk at Kai-fung-fu, and they are an

"It is very difficult, Marco Polo. evil folk and a cowardly folk, and my I don't quite understand."

"I don't quite understand myself, Golden Bells. But that is all I can tell you. But you will understand more," he said. "My mission is finished now, and I will go back. I will stop at the court of Prester John, and he will send a bishop surely or some great cardinal to baptize you and to teach you the rest."

"You will go back?" A great pain stabbed her. "I never thought, some

how, of you as going back."

"I have come on a mission, Golden Bells, and I must go back."

"There is a woman, maybe, in Venice" And -" And she turned her head away from him and from the moon.

"I would not have you thinking that, Golden Bells. There is none in Venice has duty from me. And if the queen of the world were there, and she pledged to me, I could never look at her, and I after knowing you, Golden Bells!"

"Is it money, Marco Polo?" she whispered in the dusk. "It is maybe your uncle and your father are pressing you to return. Let you not worry then, for my father the great khan will settle with them, too. There is not a

father abhors them. I shall ask my father to send captains of war and fighting men to convert them to your faith, Marco Polo, or lop off their heads. And we can send a few hundreds to the pope at Rome, and he will never know how they were converted, and he will be satisfied. Only let you not be going away from me in my moonlit garden. You will only be turning to trade, Marco Polo, and marrying a woman. Let you stay here in the moonlit garden!"

"Ah, little Golden Bells, there is no place in the world like your moonlit garden. There is no place I 'd liefer be than in the moonlit garden. But, little Golden Bells, I set out in life to preach the Lord Jesus crucified. It was for that I came to China."

"Let you not be fooling yourself, young Marco Polo. Marco Polo. Let you not always be ascribing things to God the things that are mine. You did not come to preach to China; you came to see me, and your mind stirred up with the story the sea-captain told of me playing 'Willow Branches' by the Lake of Cranes. O Marco Polo, before you came there were the moon and the sun and the stars, and I was lonely. O Marco Polo," she cried, "you would n't go, you could n't go! What

would you be doing in cold Venice, far from the warm, moonlit garden."

"Sure, I'll be lonely, too, little Golden Bells, a white monk in a monastery, praying for you."

"But I don't want to be prayed for, Marco Polo." She stamped her foot. She stamped her foot. "I want to be loved. And there you have it out of me, and a great shame to you that you made me say it, me that was desired of many, and would have no man until you came. And surely it is the harsh God you have made out of The Kindly Person you spoke of. And 't is not He would have my heart broken, and you turning yourself into a crabbed monk. And how do you know your preaching will convert any? "T is few you converted here. Ah, I'm sorry, dear Marco Polo; I should n't have said it, but there is despair on me, and I afraid of losing you."

“'T is true, though. I have nothing, nobody to show."

"You have me. Am n't I converted? Am n't I a Christian? Marco Polo, let me tell you something. I said to my father I wanted to marry you, and I asked him if he would give you a province to govern, and he said, 'Sure, and welcome.' And I asked him for Yangchan, the pleasantest city in all China. And he said, 'Sure, and welcome, Golden Bells.' And I told him we would be married, and go there and govern his people kindly. And you would n't shame me before my own father, and all the people of China. You could n't do that, Marco Polo. Marco Polo," she came toward him, her eyes shining,-"let you stay!"

"Christ protect me! Christ guide me! Christ before me!"

"Marco Polo!"

"Christ behind me!"

"The moon, Marco Polo, and me, Golden Bells, and the nightingale in the apple-tree!"

"Christ on my right hand! Christ on my left! Christ below me!" Her arms were around his neck, her cheek came close to his.

"Marco Polo! Marco Polo!"
"Christ above me!"
"My Marco Polo!"

"O God! Golden Bells!"

And he put his arms around her, and his cheek to hers, and all the battle

and the disappointment and the fear and the strangeness went out of him. And down by the lake the wee frogs chirruped, and in the apple-tree the nightingale never ceased from singing. And they

stayed there shoulder to shoulder and cheek to cheek. And the moon rose higher. And it seemed only a moment they were there, until they heard the voice of Li Po in the garden.

"Are you there, Golden Bells? Are you there at all, at all? For two hours I've been hunting and could n't get sight or sign of you. I have the new song, Golden Bells. For a long time I was dumb, but a little while ago the power came to me, and I have the new song, Golden Bells, the marrying song.

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"Thus far," said Malachi of the Long Glen, "the story of Marco Polo." "That is a warm story, Malachi of the Glen, a warm and colored story, and great life to it, and Golden Bells is as alive to me as herself there by the fire, and I can see Marco Polo as plain as I can see my cousin Randall, and he playing with the dogs..."

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