• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Half Title
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Preface
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 Concerning Marco, his father, and...
 Young Marco at the court of Kublai...
 Marco discourses of ancient...
 The three kings
 The gems of Badakshan
 The roof of the world
 The sea of sand and its marvel...
 How Jenghiz Khan defeated Prester...
 Manners and customs of a strange...
 Tibet
 Who were Gog and Magog?
 The tricks of Chinese conjurer...
 How the great emperor went...
 The beautiful palace of Kublai...
 The Khan as a mighty hunter
 Kublai's finances and governme...
 The Golden King and Prester...
 In southern China and Laos
 Bayan hundred-eyes
 An excursion to Cipango, or...
 The wonders of India
 A peep into Africa
 Index
 Back Cover
 Spine






Title: The story of Marco Polo
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00086842/00001
 Material Information
Title: The story of Marco Polo
Physical Description: xiv, 247 p., 21 leaves of plates : ill. ; 21 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Polo, Marco, 1254-1323?
Brooks, Noah, 1830-1903 ( Editor , Author of introduction )
John Murray (Firm) ( Publisher )
Hazell, Watson & Viney ( Printer )
Publisher: John Murray
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: Hazell, Watson & Viney Ld.
Publication Date: 1898
 Subjects
Subject: Explorers -- Juvenile literature -- Italy   ( lcsh )
Kings and rulers -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Merchants -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Natural history -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Voyages and travels -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Adventure and adventurers -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Animals -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- Juvenile literature -- Asia   ( lcsh )
Juvenile literature -- 1898   ( rbgenr )
Biographies -- 1898   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1898
Genre: Juvenile literature   ( rbgenr )
Biographies   ( rbgenr )
individual biography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
England -- Aylesbury
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: with illustrations
General Note: Title page engraved.
General Note: Pictorial front cover.
General Note: Includes index.
General Note: Preface by Noah Brooks.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00086842
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002238030
notis - ALH8525
oclc - 03665824

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Front Matter
    Half Title
        Page i
    Frontispiece
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Preface
        Page v
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
    List of Illustrations
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
    Concerning Marco, his father, and his uncle
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 8a
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
    Young Marco at the court of Kublai Khan
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 18a
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
    Marco discourses of ancient Armenia
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
    The three kings
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 42a
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 56a
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
    The gems of Badakshan
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
    The roof of the world
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 70a
        Page 71
        Page 72
    The sea of sand and its marvels
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
    How Jenghiz Khan defeated Prester John
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
    Manners and customs of a strange people
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 90a
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
    Tibet
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 96a
        Page 97
    Who were Gog and Magog?
        Page 98
        Page 98a
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 106a
    The tricks of Chinese conjurers
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 108a
        Page 109
        Page 110
    How the great emperor went to war
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
    The beautiful palace of Kublai Khan
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 126a
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 130a
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
    The Khan as a mighty hunter
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 140a
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 144a
        Page 145
        Page 146
    Kublai's finances and government
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
    The Golden King and Prester John
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
    In southern China and Laos
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
    Bayan hundred-eyes
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 198a
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 202a
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 204a
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 210a
    An excursion to Cipango, or Japan
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 220a
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
    The wonders of India
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
    A peep into Africa
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 234a
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
    Index
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
    Spine
        Spine
Full Text
r






THE STORY OF MARCO POLO


THE KHAN'S FLEET PASSING THROUGH THE INDIAN ARCHIPELAGO.
Frontispiece.


THE STORY
OF
MARCO POLO
WITH l&LUSTRATIONS
LONDON
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET
1898


Printed by Hazell, Watson, & Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury.


PREFACE.
HE story of Marco Polo and his companions is
one of the most romantic and interesting of mediaeval or of modern times. The manner of the return of the Polos long after they had been given up for dead, the subsequent adventures of Marco Polo, the incredulity with which his book of travels was received, the gradual and slow confirmation of the truth of his reports as later explorations penetrated the mysterious Orient, and the fact that he may be justly regarded as the founder of the geography of Asia, have all combined to give to his narrative a certain fascination, with which no other story of travel has been invested. At first read for pure amusement, Marco Polo's book eventually became an authoritative account of regions of the earth, which were almost wholly unknown to Europe up to his time, and some portions of which even now remain unexplored by Western travellers.


vi
PREFACE.
In this little book the author and compiler has endeavoured to give a connected account of the travels of Marco Polo for the entertainment and instruction of young readers, with the hope that maturer minds may find therein a comprehensive and intelligible summary of the most valuable and trustworthy parts of the said book. As far as possible he has allowed the traveller to speak for himself, refraining from that fashion of condensation, which suppresses the original author and gives the reader only a narration, which has been coloured by its passage through the mind of an editor. In his comments on the text of Marco Polo, the author has made use of the erudite notes of Colonel Henry Yule, C.B., whose admirable translation of The Book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian" (John Murray, London, 1871) has been made the basis of this volume. The works of the Abbe Hue, Williams's "The Middle Kingdom," Gilmour's Among the Mongols," and other less-known books have been consulted in quest of light and information for the better understanding of the great Venetian's pages.
NOAH BROOKS.


CONTENTS.
CHAPTER I.
PAGE
CONCERNING MARCO, HIS FATHER, AND HIS UNCLEMISTY NOTIONS OF THE FAR EAST HELD BY MEN OF MEDIAEVAL TIMESHOW THE POLOS WENT TO THE DOMINIONS OF KUBLAI KHAN AND GOT BACK AGAINA MARVELLOUS JOURNEY..........I
CHAPTER II.
YOUNG MARCO AT THE COURT OF KUBLAI KHANTHE GREAT
KHAN'S CONDESCENSION TO THE YOUNG TRAVELLER-
THE MANNER OF THE RETURN OF THE POLOSHOW MESSER MARCO POLO WAS CAPTURED BY THE GENOESE, AND HOW HE WROTE HIS FAMOUS BOOK OF TRAVELS 12
CHAPTER III.
MARCO DISCOURSES OF ANCIENT ARMENIATHE KINGDOM OF GEORGIANIATHE EXPLOITS OF ALEXANDER THE GREATSTORY OF THE MISERLY CALIPH OF BAGDAD AND HIS GOLDA GREAT MARVEL.....26
vii


viii
CONTENTS.
CHAPTER IV.
PAGE
THE THREE KINGSTHE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN STORIES AND ADVENTURES IN PERSIA-ORIGIN OF THE
ASSASSINS.........39
CHAPTER V.
THE GEMS OF BADAKSHANA ROYAL PREROGATIVETHE
CONJURERS OF CASHMERE......60
CHAPTER VI.
THE ROOF OF THE WORLD-HOW THE PAMIR COUNTRY
BORDERS ON THREE GREAT EMPIRESTHE GREAT HORNED SHEEP OF THE STEPPESA MARVELLOUS STORY OF SAMARCAND........66
CHAPTER VII.
THE SEA OF SAND AND ITS MARVELSTHE FABLED SALAMANDER AND ITS TRUE STORYSOMETHING ABOUT ASBESTOS ..........73
CHAPTER VIII.
HOW JENGHIZ KHAN DEFEATED PRESTER JOHNTHE MYTHICAL CHRISTIAN KING AND THE MONGOL CONQUEROR-
DIVINERS AND THEIR TRICKS-TATAR MIGRATIONS 8o
CHAPTER IX.
MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF A STRANGE PEOPLE-CONCERNING
THE TATARS AND THEIR WAYSTHE ORIGIN OF CONDENSED MILK.........86


CONTENTS. ix
CHAPTER X.
PAGE
TIBETTHE "GRUNTING OXEN OF THAT REGIONMUSK-DEER AND OTHER ANIMALS......94
CHAPTER XI.
WHO WERE GOG AND MAGOG ?THE SPLENDOURS OF THE COURT OF KUBLAI KHANCOLERIDGE'S POEM IN XA-
NADU "..........98
CHAPTER XII.
THE TRICKS OF CHINESE CONJURERSFLYING CUPS AND
AIR-CLIMBERS.........I07
CHAPTER XIII.
HOW THE GREAT EMPEROR WENT TO WARKUBLAI KHAN'S VICTORIOUS CAMPAIGN AGAINST A KINSMANHOW THE KHAN REWARDED THE VALOUR OF HIS CAPTAINS .Ill
CHAPTER XIV.
THE BEAUTIFUL PALACE OF KUBLAI KHAN-HOW THE EMPEROR SPENT HIS TIMECONCERNING THE MIGHTY
CITY OF CAMBALUC-THE MANNER OF SERVING DINNER
IN THE GREAT KHAN'S PALACEANCIENT AND MODERN PEKINGCOSTLY ROBES >.....124


X
CONTENTS.
CHAPTER XV.
PAGE
THE KHAN AS A MIGHTY HUNTERHIS FALCONERS, HAWKS, AND HUNTING GEAR-RIDING IN A CHAMBER ON ELEPHANTS' BACKSRIGHT ROYAL SPORT -139
CHAPTER XVI.
KUBLAl'S FINANCES AND GOVERNMENTTHE GREAT KHAN
AS A MONEY-SPINNERPRINTING MONEY TO ORDER-
THE EMPEROR'S VALUABLE MONOPOLIESTHE TWELVE BARONS AND THEIR POWERSPOST-RUNNERS WHO
TRAVEL FAST-BURNING "BLACK STONES FOR FUEL
THE KHAN'S PATRIARCHAL RULE.....147
CHAPTER XVII.
THE GOLDEN KING AND PRESTER JOHNTHE FAMED YELLOW RIVER-SOME OF THE WONDERS OF YUNNANTHE
TRAVELLER MEETS WITH CROCODILES"THE PEOPLE
OF THE GOLD TEETH "CURIOSITIES OF TATTOOING-
A FAMOUS BATTLETHE CITY OF MIEN 163
CHAPTER XVIII.
IN SOUTHERN CHINA AND LAOS-CURIOUS CUSTOMS OF A STRANGE PEOPLELIONS AND LION-HUNTING DOGS
MARVELLOUS PRODUCTS OF SILK-THE REBELLION AND
PUNISHMENT OF LIYTAN.......185
CHAPTER XIX.
BAYAN HUNDRED-EYESTHE POLO BROTHERS INTRODUCE WESTERN SIEGE ARTILLERYTHE YANG-TSE-KIANG AND ITS MONASTERIESKINSAY (THE CITY OF HEAVEN) DESCRIBED.........I96


CONTENTS.
xi
CHAPTER XX.
PAGE
AN EXCURSION TO CIPANGO, OR JAPANINGENIOUS SHIPS BUILT BY THE CHINESETHE KHAN FAILS TO CONQUER
JAPAN-THE RHINOCEROSHISTORY OF SAGAMONI BOR-
CAN, OR BUDDHARELIQUES OF ADAM. .211
CHAPTER XXI.
THE WONDERS OF INDIAPEARL-FISHERS AND THEIR PERILS -A STORY LIKE ONE IN THE ARABIAN NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS "HUNTING DIAMONDS WITH EAGLES 226
CHAPTER XXII.
A PEEP INTO AFRICATHE MYTHICAL ROC AND ITS MIGHTY
EGGSTHE EXPLOITS OF KING CAIDU'S DAUGHTER-
CONCLUSION.........23I




LIST OF FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS.
THE KHAN'S FLEET PASSING THROUGH THE INDIAN ARCHIPELAGO
Frontispiece
THE POLO BROTHERS RECEIVING THE TABLET OF GOLD Facing page 8
MARCO POLO'S GALLEY....... ,, l8
THE THREE KINGS AT THE WELL..... i> n 42
THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN..... 56
THE MIRACULOUS COLUMN...... 70
TATARS ON THE MARCH...... 9O
CHINESE PHEASANT ,, 96
THE GREAT WALL AND THE RAMPART OF GOG AND MAGOG 98
A PAVILION OF THE SUMMER PALACE ,, I06
A CHINESE CONJURER....... ,, I08
THE PALACE OF THE GREAT KHAN.....(11 I26
THE WEST GATE OF PEKING ,, I30
THE EAGLE AND ITS VICTIM......., I40
PART OF THE KHAN's ENCAMPMENT ,, 144
CATAPULTS, MANGONELS, AND OTHER MACHINES ,, ,, I98
AN ISLAND MONASTERY........, 202
GOLDEN ISLAND......... II II 204
SILVER ISLAND........ 11 II 2I
THE THREE ASIATIC RHINOCEROSES: INDIAN (UPPER),
SUMATRAN (LOWER), JAVANESE (MIDDLE) 220
THE ROC......... 11 11 234
xiii


xiv LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT.
THE EMPEROR OF CHINA.......On page 3
THE CASTLE OF THE FIRE-WORSHIPPERS ,, 4O
OVIS POLI......... 69
THE GREAT NACCARAS........, 119
EAST AFRICAN SHEEP.......,, 232


THE
STORY OF MARCO POLO.
CHAPTER I.
CONCERNING MARCO, HIS FATHER, AND HIS UNCLEMISTY NOTIONS OF THE FAR EAST HELD BY MEN OF MEDIAEVAL TIMESHOW THE POLOS WENT TO THE DOMINIONS OF KUBLAI KHAN AND GOT BACK AGAINA MARVELLOUS JOURNEY.
MANY hundred years ago, in the year 1295, let us say, before Columbus discovered America, or the art of printing had been invented, a strange thing happened in Venice. Three men, dressed in outlandish garb, partly European and partly Asiatic, appeared in the streets of that city, making their way to the gates of a lofty and handsome house which was then occupied by members of the ancient family of Polo. The three strangers, whose speech had a foreign accent, claimed admittance to the mansion, saying that they were Maffeo and Nicolo
1


Polo, brothers, and Marco, son of Nicolo, all of whom had been absent in the wild and barbarous countries of the Far East for more than twenty-four years, and had long since been given up as lost.
In those days nobody in Europe knew much about the regions in which the three Polos had travelled, the little that was known being derived from scanty and vague reports. Two friars, Piano Carpini and William Rubruquis, it is true, had reached the borders of Cathay, or Northern China, and had brought back slender accounts of the wonders of that mysterious land, of which they had heard from the subjects of the Great Khan, who reigned over a vast empire. But nobody among the learned and most travelled people of Europe knew exactly what manner of people lived, or what countries lay, beyond the western boundary of Cathay. None knew aught of the inhabitants (or if there were inhabitants) of the regions that we now know as India, Sumatra, Japan, Corea, and the eastern coasts of Asia and Africa. It was supposed that the farthest extreme, or eastern edge, of Cathay ran off into a region of continual darkness, a bog or marsh where all manner of strange beasts, hobgoblins, and monsters roamed and howled. And it was not surprising that, when the three Polos (for these were they) came back from that desperately savage country and claimed their own, they were laughed to scorn. It seemed reasonable to believe


I.] RETURN OF THE WANDERERS. 3
that the three, having been gone so many years, had wandered off into the Sea of Darkness and had perished miserably, or had been destroyed by the wild creatures of that terrible region.
How the three Polos so far convinced their relations, who were in possession of the Polo mansion
in Venice, as to gain admittance, we do not know; but John Baptist Ramusio, who has written an entertaining history of the Polo family, sets forth what was done by the three Polos to prove that they were what they claimed to be, after they had taken possession of their house. They explained that they had been in the service of the Great Khan, or Emperor, of the Mongol Empire, and


that they had amassed wealth while in the region variously known as Cathay, China, Mongolia, and the Far East. Here is what the good John Baptist Ramusio has to tell of the device by which Maffeo, Nicolo, and young Marco Polo finally convinced their neighbours of the truth of their marvellous story:
They invited a number of their kindred to an entertainment, which they took care to have prepared with great state and splendour in that house of theirs ; and when the hour arrived for sitting down to table, they came forth of their chamber, all three clothed in crimson satin, fashioned in long robes reaching to the ground, such as people in those days wore within doors. And when water for the hands had been served, and the guests were set, they took off those robes and put on others of crimson damask, whilst the first suits were by their orders cut up and divided among the servants. Then after partaking of some of the dishes, they went out again and came back in robes of crimson velvet; and when they had again taken their seats, the second suits were divided as before. When dinner was over, they did the like with the robes of velvet, after they had put on dresses of the ordinary fashion worn by the rest of the company. These proceedings caused much wonder and amazement among the guests. But when the cloth had been drawn, and all the servants' had been ordered to retire from the dining-hall, Messer Marco, as the youngest of the three, rose from table, and, going into another chamber, brought forth the three shabby dresses of coarse stuff which they had worn when they first arrived. Straightway they took sharp knives and began to rip up some of the seams and welts, and to take out of them


ALL DOUBTS REMOVED.
s
jewels of the greatest value in vast quantities, such as rubies, sapphires, carbuncles, diamonds, and emeralds, which had all been stitched up in those dresses in so artful a fashion that nobody could have suspected the fact. For when they took leave of the Great Can, they had changed all the wealth that he had bestowed upon them into this mass of rubies, emeralds, and other jewels, being well aware of the impossibility of carrying with them so great an amount of gold over a journey of such extreme length and difficulty. Now this exhibition of such a huge treasure of jewels and precious stones, all tumbled out upon the table, threw the guests into fresh amazement, insomuch that they seemed quite bewildered and dumbfounded. And now they recognised that in spite of all former doubts these were in truth those honoured and worthy gentlemen of the Ca' Polo that they claimed to be; and so all paid them the greatest honour and reverence. And when the story got wind in Venice, straightway the whole city, gentle and simple, flocked to the house to embrace them, and to make much of them, with every conceivable demonstration of affection and respect. On Messer Maffeo, who was the eldest, they conferred the honours of an office that was of great dignity in those days; whilst the young men came daily to visit and converse with the ever polite and gracious Messer Marco, and to ask him questions about Cathay and the Great Can, all of which he answered with such kindly courtesy that every man felt himself in a manner his debtor. And as it happened that in the story, which he was constantly called on to repeat, of the magnificence of the Great Can, he would speak of his revenues as amounting to ten or fifteen millions of gold, and in like manner, when recounting other instances of great wealth in those parts, would always make use of the term
* House of Polo.


millions, so they gave him the nickname of Messer Marco Millioni : a thing which I have noted also in the Public Books of this Republic where mention is made of him. The Court of his House, too, at S. Giovanni Chrisostomo, has always from that time been popularly known as the Court of the Millioni.
It is with the youngest of the three Polos that our story has to do ; for Marco, the son of Nicolo, was the author of the book that bears his name ; and he was the most famous traveller of his time, as we shall presently see. He was seventeen years old when he first started on his adventurous journey into Far Cathay. He was forty-one years old when he returned to his native city of Venice, with his father and his uncle Maffeo ; and it was not until three or four years later, while he was a prisoner of war, that he began to write, or dictate, the tale of his wonderful travels.
The two Polo brothers, Nicolo and Maffeo, began their wanderings in the Far East before Marco was born. After several years of trading and travelling in that region of the world, which was called the Levant, because the sun was seen to rise there (from the French verb lever, to rise), the two Polos were in Constantinople in 1260. From that city they went on a trading venture round the northern shore of the Black Sea to the Crimea and the Sea of Azov, and thence into Western Asia and to Bokhara, where


THE MONGOLS.
7
they remained three years. While there, they heard distinct and trustworthy tales of the Great Khan, as he was calledthe Emperor of the Mongols and they resolved to go and see the splendours of his court.
At that time the Mongolian Empire was one of the largest, if not the largest, in the world. The Mongols, beginning their wandering life in the northern part of Asia, had overrun all the western part of that continent, and as far to the southward as the island of Sumatra, excepting India. To the eastward, the islands of Cipango, or Japan, alone resisted the dominion of the Great Khan ; and in the west, his hordes had even broken over the borders of Europe, had taken possession of the country now known as Russia, had invaded Poland and Hungary, and had established themselves on the mouths of the Danube. During the reign of the great Jenghiz Khan and his immediate successors, it has been said, In Asia and Eastern Europe scarcely a dog might bark without Mongol leave, from the borders of Poland and the coast of Cilicia to the Amur and the Yellow Sea."
When the two Polos arrived at the chief city of the Mongol Empire, Kublai Khan, a grandson of the great Jenghiz, was the reigning Sovereign. The Khan had never seen any Europeans, and he was greatly pleased with the appearance of the Polo


brothers. This is what Marco Polo says of the reception of his father and uncle by Kublai Khan :
When the Two Brothers got to the Great Kaan, he received them with great honour and hospitality, and showed much pleasure at their visit, asking them a great number of questions. First, he asked about the emperors, how they maintained their dignity and administered justice in their dominions, and how they went forth to battle, and so forth. And then he asked the like questions about the kings and princes and other potentates.
And then he inquired about the Pope and the Church, and about all that is done at Rome, and all the customs of the Latins. And the Two Brothers told him the truth in all its particulars, with order and good sense, like sensible men as they were; and this they were able to do, as they knew the Tartar language well.
When that Prince, whose name was Cublav Kaan, Lord of the Tartars all over the earth, and of all the kingdoms and provinces and territories of that vast quarter of the world, had heard all that the Brothers had to tell him about the ways of the Latins, he was greatly pleased, and he took it into his head that he would send them on an Embassy to the Pope. So he urgently desired them to undertake this mission along with one of his Barons; and they replied that they would gladly execute all his commands as those of their Sovereign Lord. Then the Prince sent to summon to his presence one of his Barons whose name was Cogatal, and desired him to get ready, for it was proposed to send him to the Pope along with the Two Brothers. The Baron replied that he would execute the Lord's commands to the best of his ability.
After this the Prince caused letters from himself to the Pope to be indited in the Tartar tongue, and committed them to the Two Brothers and to that Baron of his own,


THE POLO BROTHERS RECEIVING THE TABLET OF GOLD.
[To face p. 8.


I.] THE KHAN'S INSTRUCTIONS. 9
and charged them with what he wished them to say to the Pope. Now the contents of the letter were to this purport: He begged that the Pope would send as many as an hundred persons of our Christian faith; intelligent men, acquainted with the Seven Arts, well qualified to enter into controversy, and able clearly to prove by force of argument to idolaters and other kinds of folk, that the Law of Christ was best, and that all other religions were false and naught; and if they would prove this, he and all under him would become Christians and the Church's liegemen. Finally he charged his Envoys to bring back to him some Oil of the Lamp which burns on the Sepulchre of our Lord at Jerusalem.
When the Prince had charged them with all his commission, he caused to be given them a Tablet of Gold, on which was inscribed that the three Ambassadors should be supplied with everything needful in all countries through which they should passwith horses, with escorts, and, in short, with whatever they should require. And when they had made all needful preparations, the three Ambassadors took their leave of the Emperor and set out.
So great was the reverence in which the Great Khan was held by all who frequented his court that he was called the Lord, or the Lord of the Earth. Ramusio spells the title variously, sometimes Kaan," and sometimes Can." He also calls him Cublay" at times, but most scholars give the name as Kublai. The Seven Arts which the Great Khan wanted to have brought to his court by teachers were: Rhetoric, Logic, Grammar, Arithmetic, Astronomy, Music and Geometry. These


were then regarded as the sum of human knowledge; and if the people of the Great Khan were taught these, they would know all that the Europeans knew.
Everything went well with the travellers, except that the Tatar baron fell sick, and had to be left behind. They reached Acre in 1269, where, finding to their dismay that the Pope was dead, and that his successor had not been chosen, they went, says Marco Polo,
to a certain wise Churchman who was Legate for the whole kingdom of Egypt, and a man of great authority, by name Theobald of Piacenza, and told him of the mission on which they were come. When the Legate heard their story, he was greatly surprised, and deemed the thing to be of great honour and advantage for the whole of Christendom. So his answer to the Two Ambassador Brothers was this: Gentlemen, ye see that the Pope is dead; wherefore ye must needs have patience until a new Pope be made, and then shall ye be able to execute your charge." Seeing well enough that what the Legate said was just, they observed : But while the Pope is a-making, we may as well go to Venice and visit our households." So they departed from Acre and went to Negropont, and from Negropont they continued their voyage to Venice. On their arrival there, Messer Nicolas found that his wife was dead, and that she had left behind her a son of fifteen years of age, whose name was Marco; and 'tis of him this Book tells. The Two Brothers abode at Venice a couple of years, tarrying until a Pope should be made.
When the Two Brothers had tarried as long as I have told you, and saw that never a Pope was made, they said that their return to the Great Kaan must be put off no longer. So they set out from Venice, taking Marco along


i-3
POPE GREGORY X.
11
with them, and went straight back to Acre, where they found the Legate of whom we have spoken. They had a good deal of discourse with him concerning the matter, and asked his permission to go to Jerusalem to get some Oil from the Lamp on the Sepulchre, to carry with them to the Great Kaan, as he had enjoined. The Legate giving them leave, they went from Acre to Jerusalem and got some of the Oil, and then returned to Acre, and went to the Legate and said to him: As we see no sign of a Pope's being made, we desire to return to the Great Kaan; for we have already tarried long, and there has been more than enough delay." To which the Legate replied : "Since 'tis your wish to go back, I am well content." Wherefore he caused letters to be written for delivery to the Great Kaan, bearing testimony that the Two Brothers had come in all good faith to accomplish his charge, but that as there was no Pope they had been unable to do so.
Armed with these, the Polos started on their return; but they had not gone far when they were overjoyed to learn that their good friend, Archdeacon Tebaldo, had been chosen Pope. The news was sent after them, and they went back to Acre, where Tebaldo, afterwards known as Pope Gregory X., received them graciously ; but he could supply them with only two priestly teachers, and these afterwards became so alarmed by the dangers of the way that they drew back. It is related that the Great Khan, in consequence of this failure to supply him with Christian teachers, resorted to Tibet, where he found holy men who brought for his unruly subjects instruction in the religion of Buddha.


CHAPTER II.
YOUNG MARCO AT THE COURT OF KUBLAI KHANTHE GREAT KHAN'S CONDESCENSION TO THE YOUNG TRAVELLERTHE MANNER OF THE RETURN OF THE POLOSHOW MESSER MARCO POLO WAS CAPTURED BY THE GENOESE, AND HOW HE WROTE HIS FAMOUS BOOK OF TRAVELS.
TV /T ARCO and his father and uncle were very -LVJ. cordially received when they reached the court of the Great Khan, which was then established at the imperial summer residence among the hills to the north of Cambaluc, or Peking. The palace was a vast group of buildings, and was known as the City of Peace, or Chandu : its other names were Kemenfu, Kaiminfu, and Kaipingfu. Here is young Marco's own account of the reception which the three Venetians had in the City of Peace:
And what shall I tell you ? When the Two Brothers and Mark had arrived at that great city, they went to the Imperial Palace, and there they found the Sovereign attended by a great company of Barons. So they bent the knee before him, and paid their respects to him with all possible reverence, prostrating themselves on the ground. Then the Lord bade them stand up, and treated them
12


Ch.II.]
MARCO, THE LINGUIST.
13
with great honour, showing great pleasure at their coming, and asked many questions as to their welfare and how they had sped. They replied that they had in verity sped well, seeing they had found the Kaan well and safe. Then they presented the credentials and letters which they had received from the Pope, which pleased him right well; and after that they produced the Oil from the Sepulchre, and at that also he was very glad, for he set great store thereby. And next, spying Mark, who was then a young gallant, he asked who was that in their company ? Sire," said his father, Messer Nicolo, 'tis my son and your liegeman." "Welcome is he too," quoth the Emperor. There was great rejoicing at the Court because of their arrival; and they met with attention and honour from everybody. So they abode at the Court with the other Barons.
Now it came to pass that Marco, the son of Messer Nicolo, sped wondrously in learning the customs of the Tartars as well as their language, their manner of writing, and their practice of war; in fact, he came in brief space to know several languages and four sundry written characters. And he was discreet and prudent in every way, insomuch that the Emperor held him in great esteem. And so when he discerned Mark to have so much sense, and to conduct himself so well and beseemingly, he sent him on an ambassage of his, to a country which was a good six months' journey distant. The young gallant executed his commission well and with discretion. Now he had taken note on several occasions that when the Prince's ambassadors returned from different parts of the world they were able to tell him about nothing except the business on which they had gone, and that the Prince in consequence held them for no better than fools and dolts, and would say, I had far liever hearken about the strange things, and the manners of the different countries you have seen, than merely be told of the business you went upon"; for he took great


delight in hearing of the affairs of strange countries. Mark, therefore, as he went and returned, took great pains to learn about all kinds of different matters in the countries which he visited, in order to be able to tell about them to the Great Kaan.
When Mark returned from his ambassage, he presented himself before the Emperor; and after making his report of the business with which he was charged, and its successful accomplishment, he went on to give an account, in a pleasant and intelligent manner, of all the novelties and strange things that he had seen and heard ; insomuch that the Emperor and all such as heard his story were surprised, and said: If this young man live, he will assuredly come to be a person of great worth and ability." And so from that time forward he was always entitled Messer Marco Polo, and thus we shall style him henceforth in this Book of ours, as is but right.
Thereafter Messer Marco abode in the Kaan's employment some seventeen years, continually going and coming, hither and thither, on the missions that were entrusted to him by the Lord, and sometimes, with the permission and authority of the Great Kaan, on his own private affairs. And as he knew all the Sovereign's ways, like a sensible man he always took much pains to gather knowledge of anything that would be likely to interest him, and then on his return to Court he would relate everything in regular order, and thus the Emperor came to hold him in great love and favour. And for this reason also he would employ him the oftener on the most weighty and most distant of his missions. These Messer Marco ever carried out with discretion and success, God be thanked. So the Emperor became ever more partial to him, and treated him with the greater distinction, and kept him so close to his person that some of the Barons waxed very envious thereat. And thus it came about that Messer Marco Polo had


II.]
MARCO, THE EXPLORER.
15
knowledge of, or had actually visited, a greater number of the different countries of the World than any other man; the more that he was always giving his mind to get knowledge, and to spy out and inquire into everything, in order to have matter to relate to the Lord.
It is pleasant to think of this bright young stranger in the court of Kublai Khan, winning friends for himself by his zeal in acquiring knowledge of the peoples and countries subject to the sway of the Khan. By his intelligence and agreeable manners he was able to command the means to explore countries which, even to this day, are very imperfectly understood by the rest of the world. Within the memory of men now living, European travellers have explored, for the first time since Marco Polo's visits, the Pamir steppes, other portions of Mongolia, Tibet, and some of the south-western provinces of China.
He was the first traveller to trace a route across the whole length of Asia, says one of his biographers, describing kingdom after kingdom that he had seen with his own eyes." He was the first traveller to explore the deserts and the flowering plains of Persia, to reveal China with its mighty rivers, its swarming population, and its huge cities and rich manufactures; the first to visit and bring back accounts of Tibet, Laos, Burmah, Siam, Cochin China, Japan, the Indian Archipelago, Ceylon, Farther India,


and the Andaman Islands ; the first to give any distinct account of the secluded Christian empire of Abyssinia; the first to speak even vaguely of Zanzibar, Madagascar, and other regions in the mysterious South, and of Siberia and the Arctic Ocean in the terrible and much dreaded North. Although centuries have passed since young Marco Polo grew to man's estate while threading his dangerous way among these distant lands, we must still look back to his discoveries for much that we know about those countries; for we have learned nothing new of many of them since his time.
Years passed while the three Polos were gathering riches and knowledge in Cathay; the Great Khan was growing old and infirm, and the father and the uncle of Marco were now well stricken in years. It was time that they took back to Venice their gold, precious stones, and costly stuffs. But the old Emperor growled a refusal whenever they suggested that they would like to leave his court. A lucky chance gave them an opportunity of getting away.
The Khan of Persia, Arghun, who was a great-nephew of Kublai Khan, had lost his favourite wife, and, fulfilling her dying request, he now sent to the Mongol court for a lady of her own kin. The Lady Kukachin, a lovely damsel of seventeen years, was selected to be the bride of the Persian Khan, and three envoys of the widowed ruler were told to take


II.]
A MISSION TO PERSIA.
17
her to him. But the way from Cathay to Persia was very hazardous, owing to the wars which then prevailed ; and it was thought best for the party to take ship from one of the ports of China to Ormus, on the Persian Gulf. The Tatars are not good sailors ; and the Persian envoys, who could not get much help or comfort from their friends in the court of Kublai Khan when they planned their voyage, naturally bethought them of engaging the services of the three hardy and venturous Venetians, who were voyagers, as well as land travellers.
The Great Khan was most unwilling to part with his favourite and useful Venetians; but having consented to let them go, he fitted out a noble fleet of ships; and giving them friendly messages to many of the kings and potentates of Europe, including the king of England, he sped them on their way. They sailed from Zayton, now called Tsinchau, a seaport of Fuhkien, on the south-east coast of China, but were so detained by storms and the illness of some of the suite that it was twenty-six months before they arrived at their destination. Two of the three envoys died on the way; and when the three Venetians and the lady who had been confided to their care reached the court of Persia, they found that the Persian Khan was dead, and another, Kaikhatu, reigned in his stead. In that country and in those days, the wishes of a lady were not much
2


considered in the matter of marriage, and the son of the reigning Khan, Ghazan, married the young lady who had journeyed so far to find a husband. It is recorded that the young lady wept sadly when she parted with the kindly and noble Venetians ; and so they took their way homeward, and arrived in Venice, as we have said, in the year 1295more than six hundred years ago.
At that time Venice and Genoa were rival republics, not merely Italian cities. Each was an independent state, and held rich possessions in the Levant, the Crimea, and around the Mediterranean. They were almost continually at war with each other and with the republic of Pisa. It was expected and required of all rich and noble citizens of these republics, that they should furnish a certain number of fighters and war vessels whenever a war was brought on ; and as most of the fighting was done on the sea, the great crafts, propelled by oars and called galleys, were brought into service. In one of these wars the Polo family took part, for they were rich and noble; and Marco Polo, now a man of mature years, was commander of a great and powerful galley. He had the misfortune to be captured in a battle with the Genoese fleet, off the island of Curzola, on the Dalmatian coast, in September, 1298.
After that great defeat, Marco Polo was carried a prisoner to Genoa, where he was held until some time


MARCO POLO'S GALLEY.
[To face p. 18.


II.]
MARCO'S AMANUENSIS.
19
during the following year, probably in August, when, a treaty of peace between the two warring republics having been signed, he was restored to his own country. If Marco Polo had not been captured at the battle of Curzola, or in some other of the many sea-fights between the two republics, we probably never would have had his famous book to enlighten us concerning the lands he saw and described.
And this is how it happened. We have already seen that it was Marco's sensible custom to tell his adventures to those who came to ask him about his travels in the heart of Asia; and when he found himself shut up in the prison of Genoa, he speedily made the acquaintance of his fellow-prisoner, one Rusticiano of Pisa, who was also a captive of war. Luckily for us, Rusticiano was a writer of some repute ; and hearing from Marco's lips many tales of marvellous adventure, he besought the traveller to set these down in writing. But noblemen, and indeed gentlemen of high degree, in those days did not think well of writing ; it was no disgrace to be unable to write anything more than one's name ; and the high and mighty of the land looked down with contempt upon scriveners and scribes," as writers were called. The world has gotten bravely over that notion.
Howbeit, Marco agreed to dictate his story to Rusticiano, having recourse to his own memory, and


perhaps to the note-books which he must have written when he was in the service of the Great Khan, and which may have been sent to him while he was in the Genoese prison. It is to the book written by Rusticiano, as the words fell from the lips of Marco Polo, that we are indebted for the valuable information and the entertaining knowledge of the East which is now spread over many books. And it is because it was dictated, or recited, and not written by Marco's own hand, that we find that in it Marco is always spoken of in the third person ; he never says I did this and that," but always Messer Marco Polo ; or he uses some such modest terms.
As the art of printing had not then been invented, Rusticiano was obliged to write on parchment the story of Marco Polo ; and for many years afterwards, copies of that book were very precious, for every one of them had to be written out with infinite labour, and some of them were illustrated with drawings and paintings of the wonders described in the book. The oldest and most valuable of these manuscript books in existence is in the Great Paris Library ; and, as it was undoubtedly written during the lifetime of Marco Polo, and may have been revised by him, it is regarded as the most authentic, as it is the oldest, of all the manuscript copies of Marco Polo's book. It may be the original book. There are, all told, more than seventy-five manuscript copies of Marco's book


II.]
A FAMOUS BOOK.
21
in various parts of Europe, and written in various languages. The original work was written in French, then one of the commonest languages of the commercial world. The first printed edition of the book was in German, and was produced in Nuremberg in 1477. There have been several editions printed in English, the most famous and best of which, Travels of Marco Polo," was translated and edited by Colonel Henry Yule, an English officer and scholar of renown. It is from his book that we derive all the information collected for the readers of these chapters.
The strange knowledge of the world which the book of Marco Polo contained, confirmed, among other things, the tales brought from the East by the Friars Piano Carpini and William Rubruquis in 1246 and 1253 respectively. People now learned that the eastern part of Asia did not run off into an impenetrable swamp covered with clouds of perpetual darkness ; for the three Venetians had sailed from the south-eastern coast of Cathay, or China, round to the Persian Gulf. Scholars and travellers were a long time, however, trying to digest the vast amount of geographical knowledge brought back by the Polos. They learned that there was an ocean east of Asia, as well as an ocean west of Spain and England. Why didn't they begin to think of crossing westward from Spain to the Cathay of which such exact accounts had been brought by Marco Polo ?


As written books were all that readers had, and these works were few and costly, the book of Messer Marco Polo did not have a wide circulation. As we have seen, people travelled very slowly in those days, and news and information of all kinds also spread with even greater slowness. When Christopher Columbus, who lived in the very city where Marco Polo had been imprisoned, and in which his book was written, began to pick up information about the world, some two hundred years later, he must have come across some of the tales told by Marco. But there is no certainty that he ever saw a copy of Polo's book. Columbus derived from other sources, or at secondhand from Polo, the facts which confirmed him in his belief that the sea between Europe and Cathay the Ocean Seawas very narrow, and that the round world was not so big as most people supposed.
But when Columbus finally set forth on his voyage into the Sea of Darkness," bound for India and an unknown land, he carried with him letters written to the Great Khan by the sovereigns of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella. When he lighted upon what we now know as the islands of the American Continent, he supposed that he had touched the dominions of the Great Khan ; and he was continually on the look-out for the land of Cipango, spoken of by Marco Polo, where there were such riches of gold and gems and fabulously gorgeous commodities.


II.] MARCO, THE TRUTH-TELLER. 23
In his lifetime, and indeed long after, Marco Polo was regarded as an inventor of idle tales. Even within fifty years, thoughtless and ignorant writers have alluded to him as a great liar ; but time has set him right, and recent explorations and rediscoveries have proved that he told the truth about things and places that he saw. If he sometimes gave currency to fables and traditions, he never adopted them as his own ; he told his readers what he had heard, and then left them to judge whether these things were true or not. And some of the wonders that he described, and which seemed incredible, are now proved to be not so wonderful after all. Now that we understand what a volcano is, we can admit that those, who never saw or heard of one, would be slow to believe a traveller who told of a burning mountain that continually sent forth fire and smoke from its inside. To this day some of the natives of tropical regions refuse to believe that water becomes a solid mass in the winter of the North, so that men and boys can walk on it, and drag heavy weights over it.
Marco Polo was not a great genius inspired with a lofty enthusiasm, as Christopher Columbus was ; but he told the truth, and deserves a very high place among those who have made notable additions to the knowledge of the world. Perhaps he suffered some slight from the people who lived during his


own time, because they found it hard to believe that the world was inhabited by human beings all round it; that there was no sea of perpetual darkness, as they had been taught; and that the people of Asia were really ingenious and skilful traders and workers, and not savages and cannibals, as they had supposed. Perhaps, too, the big, swelling words and bombastic style, with which the worthy Rusticiano set forth Marco's book, caused some people to regard it with contempt and even suspicion. We cannot better conclude this chapter than with Rusticiano's prologue, or preface, to the book of Marco Polo :
Great Princes, Emperors, and Kings, Dukes, and Marquises, Counts, Knights, and Burgesses and People of all degrees who desire to get knowledge of the various races of mankind and of the diversities of the sundry regions of the World, take this Book and cause it to be read to you. For ye shall find therein all kinds of wonderful things, and the divers histories of the great Hermenia, and of Persia, and of the Land of the Tartars, and of India, and of many another country of which our Book doth speak, particularly and in regular succession, according to the description of Messer Marco Polo, a wise and noble citizen of Venice, as he saw them with his own eyes. Some things indeed there be therein which he beheld not; but these he heard from men of credit and veracity. And we shall set down things seen as seen, and things heard as heard only, so that no jot of falsehood may mar the truth of our Book, and that all who shall read it or hear it read may put full faith in the truth of all its contents.
For let me tell you that since our Lord God did mould


II.]
RUSTICIANO'S PROLOGUE.
2S
with his hands our first Father Adam, even until this day, never hath there been Christian, or Pagan, or Tartar, or Indian, or any man of any nation, who in his own person hath had so much knowledge and experience of the divers parts of the World and its Wonders as hatb had this Messer Marco And for that reason he bethought himself that it would be a very great pity did he not cause to be put in writing all the great marvels that he had seen, or on sure information heard of, so that other people who had not these advantages might, by his Book, get such knowledge. And I may tell you that in acquiring this knowledge he spent in those various parts of the World good six-and-twenty years. Now, being thereafter an inmate of the Prison of Genoa, he caused Messer Rusticiano of Pisa, who was in the said Prison likewise, to reduce the whole to writing; and this befell in the year 1298 from the birth of Jesus.


CHAPTER III.
MARCO DISCOURSES OF ANCIENT ARMENIATHE KINGDOM OF GEORGIANIATHE EXPLOITS OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT
STORY OF THE MISERLY CALIPH OF BAGDAD AND HIS GOLD-
A GREAT MARVEL.
T N the former chapter we had the preface to Marco Polo's book as it was composed by Rusticiano. In reading the first chapter of the book itself, we can imagine the prisoner and illustrious traveller pacing up and down in his place of confinement, and dictating to his companion the words that are to be set down. And this is the first chapter of the work as dictated by Marco :
here the book begins; and first it speaks of the lesser hermenia.
There are two Hermenias, the Greater and the Less. The Lesser Hermenia is governed by a certain King, who maintains a just rule in his dominions, but is himself subject to the Tartar. The country contains numerous towns and villages, and has everything in plenty; moreover, it is a great country for sport in the chase of all manner of beasts and birds. It is, however, by no means a healthy
26


Ch. III.]
ARMENIA.
27
region, but grievously the reverse. In days of old the nobles there were valiant men, and did doughty deeds of arms; but nowadays they are poor creatures, and good at naught. Howbeit, they have a city upon the sea, which is called Layas, at which there is a great trade. For you must know that all the spicery, and the cloths of silk and gold, and other valuable wares that come from the interior, are brought to that city. And the merchants of Venice and Genoa, and other countries, come thither to sell their goods, and to buy what they lack. And whatsoever persons would travel to the interior (of the East), merchants or others, they take their way by this city of Layas.
By Hermenia" we are to understand that the traveller is speaking of the country now known as Armenia, a province of Turkey in Asia, lying to the westward, embracing the regions of the valley of the Euphrates and the mountainous Ararat. The subdivisions of the greater and the less Armenia are not known and used nowadays. Here is what Marco has to say about the other division of Armenia:
description of the greater hermenia.
This is a great country. It Degins at a city called Arzinga, at which they weave the best buckrams in the world. It possesses also the best baths from natural springs that are anywhere to be found. The people of the country are Armenians, and are subject to the Tartar.
The country is indeed a passing great one, and in the summer it is frequented by the whole host of the Tartars of the Levant, because it then furnishes them with such


excellent pasture for their cattle. But in winter the cold is past all bounds, so in that season they quit this country and go to a warmer region where they find other good pastures. [At a castle called Paipurth, that you pass in going from Trebizond to Tauris, there is a very good silver mine.]
And you must know that it is in this country of Her-menia that the Ark of Noah exists on the top of a certain great mountain, on the summit of which snow is so constant that no one can ascend; for the snow never melts, and is constantly added to by new falls. Below, however, the snow does melt, and runs down, producing such rich and abundant herbage that in summer cattle are sent to pasture from a long way round about, and it never fails them. The melting snow also causes a great amount of mud on the mountain.
The country is bounded on the south by a kingdom called Mosul, the people of which are Jacobite and Nes-torian Christians, of whom I shall have more to tell you presently. On the north it is bounded by the Land of the Georgians, of whom also I shall speak. On the confines from Georgiania there is a fountain from which oil springs in great abundance, insomuch that a hundred shiploads might be taken from it at one time. This oil is not good to use with food, but 'tis good to burn, and is also used to anoint camels that have the mange. People come from vast distances to fetch it, for in all the countries round about they have no other oil.
Between Trebizond and Erzerum was Paipurth, which must be the Baiburt of our day. Even in Marco Polo's time it appears that something was known about petroleum, or coal-oil; for the fountain of which he speaks is doubtless in the petroleum


III.]
NOAH'S ARK.
29
region on the peninsula of Baku, on the western coasts of the Caspian Sea, from which many shiploads of oil are now annually exported, chiefly to Russia, under whose rule the country is now held. Even later than Marco's day it was believed that Noah's Ark, or fragments of it, rested on the top of Mount Ararat; but as that mountain is nearly 17,000 feet high, and is covered with perpetual snow, nobody had the courage to go up and find the ark, until as late as 1829, when the ascent was made by Professor Parrot, a German traveller.
Every school-boy knows that Bagdad was the seat of Arabic learning in ancient times, and that its name often appears in that most delightful book The Arabian Nights' Entertainments with that of the Caliph, the good Harun-al-Rachid. That famous personage died long before Marco Polo visited Bagdad; but the stories of the Arabian Nights were commonly believed by the people of those parts, as we shall see later on in Marco's book.
The kingdom of Georgiania, of which Marco Polo speaks, is that province of Russia which lies south of the Caucasian range of mountains, between the Black Sea and the Caspian. The Georgian men and women are still famous for their beauty ; they represent the purest type of the Caucasian race now known. From this region, for centuries, Eastern princes and potentates have been wont to


bring the beautiful women of their harems. Other writers besides Marco refer to the fact that all the kings of ancient Georgia bore the name of David, just as each Roman emperor for a time was known as Caesar. Marco sets down the statement about the eagle-mark on the right shoulder of the king, it will be noticed, with some reserve; he says this was true in old times," as if it were a legend in the country in his day.
The reader will find that Marco uses the words Ponent" and Levant" throughout his book to distinguish between the extreme East and the more immediate West. East of the Caspian Sea was, and is, the Levant: westward, on both sides of the Black Sea, was the Ponent. Alexander the Great, whose conquests extended to these parts, occupied Derbend, or Derbent, a port on the west shore of the Caspian Sea, where to this day they will show you the remains of a wall along the the mountains, known as Alexander's Rampart." The story goes that Alexander drove into the country beyond the mountains several unclean tribes, who were cannibals and idolaters, and shut them in by building a huge iron gate, which kept them securely behind the Caucasus.
Concerning the products of the country of which our traveller speaks, it may be said that boxwood, a dense, fine-grained wood, used for engraving


III.] GEORGIANIA AND ITS KINGS. 31
pictures for printing, is still brought from those regions, the Turkish boxwood being the most highly esteemed. The silk of the province of Gil, or Ghelle, is famed for its high quality. In the Middle Ages one of the sports of royalty and nobility in Europe, as well as in Far Cathay, was hunting game with trained hawks, and the goshawks of Georgia were said to be the best in the world for that purpose. Marco's tale of the lake in which a great abundance of fish could be found during Lent, when all good Catholics eat no meat, and which were gone during the rest of the year, is only one of many such traditions of sundry rivers and lakes in different parts of the world. The same is told of many lands and countries; and if Marco believed what he heard of the miraculous fish of St. Leonard's," he really believed one of the commonest travellers' tales of his time.
of georgiania and the kings thereof.
In Georgiania there is a King called David Melic, which is as much as to say David King "; he is subject to the Tartar. In old times all the kings were born with the figure of an eagle upon the right shoulder. The people are very handsome, capital archers, and most valiant soldiers. They are Christians of the Greek Rite, and have a fashion of wearing their hair cropped, like Churchmen.
This is the country beyond which Alexander could not pass when he wished to penetrate to the region of the Ponent, because that the defile was so narrow and perilous,


the sea lying on the one hand, and on the other lofty mountains impassable to horsemen. The strait extends like this for four leagues, and a handful of people might hold it against all the world. Alexander caused a very strong tower to be built there, to prevent the people beyond from passing to attack him, and this got the name of the Iron Gate. This is the place that the Book of Alexander speaks of, when it tells us how he shut up the Tartars between two mountains; not that they were really Tartars, however, for there were no Tartars in those days, but they consisted of a race of people called Comanians and many besides.
In this province all the forests are of boxwood. There are numerous towns and villages, and silk is produced in great abundance. They also weave cloths of gold, and all kinds of very fine silk stuffs. The country produces the best goshawks in the world, which are called Avigi. It has indeed no lack of anything, and the people live by trade and handicrafts. 'Tis a very mountainous region, and full of strait defiles and of fortresses, insomuch that the Tartars have never been able to subdue it out and out.
There is in this country a certain Convent of Nuns called St. Leonard's, about which I have to tell you a very wonderful circumstance. Near the church in question there is a great lake at the foot of a mountain, and in this lake are found no fish, great or small, throughout the year till Lent come. On the first day of Lent they find in it the finest fish in the world, and great store too thereof; and these continue to be found till Easter Eve. After that they are found no more till Lent come round again; and so 'tis every year. 'Tis really a passing great miracle !
That sea whereof I spoke as coming so near the mountains is called the Sea of Ghel or Ghelan, and extends about seven hundred miles. It is twelve days' journey distant from any other sea, and into it flows the great


III.]
BAGDAD.
33
River Euphrates and many others, whilst it is surrounded by mountains. Of late the merchants of Genoa have begun to navigate this sea, carrying ships across and launching them thereon. It is from the country on this sea also that the silk called Ghell'e is brought. The said sea produces quantities of fish, especially sturgeon, at the river-mouths salmon, and other big kinds of fish.
In Marco's day Bagdad was known as Baudas ; and one of the chapters of his book runs thus:
of the great city of baudas, and how it was taken.
Baudas is a great city, which used to be the seat of the Calif of all the Saracens in the world, just as Rome is the seat of the Pope of all the Christians. A very great river flows through the city, and by this you can descend to the Sea of India. There is a great traffic of merchants with their goods this way; they descend some eighteen days from Baudas, and then come to a certain city called Kisi, where they enter the Sea of India. There is also on the river, as you go from Baudas to Kisi, a great city called Bastra, surrounded by woods, in which grow the best dates in the world.
In Baudas they weave many different kinds of silk stuffs and gold brocades, such as nasich, and nac, and cramoisy, and many other beautiful tissues richly wrought with figures of beasts and birds. It is the noblest and greatest city in all those regions.
Now it came to pass on a day in the year of Christ 1255, that the Lord of the Tartars of the Levant, whose name was Alaii, brother to the Great Kaan now reigning, gathered a mighty host and came up against Baudas and took it by storm. It was a great enterprise for in Baudas there were


more than one hundred thousand horse, besides foot soldiers. And when Alaii had taken the place he found therein a tower of the Calif's, which was full of gold and silver and other treasure; in fact, the greatest accumulation of treasure in one spot that was ever known. When he beheld that great heap of treasure he was astonished, and, summoning the Calif to his presence, he said to him : Calif, tell me now why thou hast gathered such a huge treasure ? What didst thou mean to do therewith ? Knewest thou not that I was thine enemy, and that I was coming against thee with so great an host to cast thee forth of thine heritage ? Wherefore didst thou not take of thy gear and employ it in paying knights and soldiers to defend thee and thy city ? "
The Calif wist not what to answer, and said never a word. So the Prince continued: "Now then, Calif, since I see what a love thou hast borne thy treasure, I will e'en give it thee to eat!" So he shut the Calif up in the Treasure Tower, and bade that neither meat nor drink should be given him, saying: Now, Calif, eat of thy treasure as much as thou wilt, since thou art so fond of it; for never shalt thou have aught else to eat!"
So the Calif lingered in the tower four days, and then died like a dog. Truly his treasure would have been of more service to him had he bestowed it upon men who would have defended his kingdom and his people, rather than let himself be taken and deposed and put to death as he was. Howbeit, since that time, there has been never another Calif, either at Baudas or anywhere else.
The Bastra of Marco Polo is the modern Basra, which is situated below the meeting of the Euphrates and the Tigris, and is still famed for the abundance of its delicious dates. The beautiful cloths called


III.]
THE MISERLY CALIPH.
35
by Marco nac, nasich, and cramoisy were woven of silk and gold threads; and when they found their way to the courts of Europe, long afterwards, they were worn by the rich and great. In tales of the time of good Queen Bess we find references to cramoisy.
Many modern writers have made use of the story of the miserly Caliph of Bagdad who perished so miserably in the midst of his gold ; and it is clear that the poet Longfellow had in mind the tale told by Marco Polo when he wrote in his Flower-de-Luce" the poem of Kambalu," the chief part of which runs thus:
I said to the Kalif: Thou art old;
Thou hast no need of so much gold.
Thou shouldst not have heaped and hidden it here
Till the breath of battle was hot and near,
But have sown through the land these useless hoards,
To spring into shining blades of swords,
And keep thine honour sweet and clear.
Then into his dungeon I locked the drone, And left him there to feed all alone In the honey-cells of his golden hive : Never a prayer nor a cry nor a groan Was heard from those massive walls of stone, Nor again was the Kalif seen alive.
This is the story strange and true, That the great Captain Alaii Told to his brother, the Tartar Khan, When he rode that day into Kambalu By the road that leadeth to Ispahan.


Marco Polo now proceeds to tell us of "a great marvel that occurred between Baudas and Mansul":
There was a Calif of Baudas [probably the predecessor of our miserly friend] who bore a great hatred to Christians, and was taken up day and night with the thought how he might bring those that were in his kingdom over to his own. faith, or might procure them all to be slain. And he used daily to take counsel about this with the devotees and priests of his faith, for they all bore the Christians like malice. And, indeed, it is a fact that the whole body of Saracens throughout the world are always most malignantly disposed towards the whole body of Christians.
Now it happened that the Calif, with those shrewd priests of his, got hold of that passage in our Gospel which says, that if a Christian had faith as a grain of mustard seed, and should bid a mountain be removed, it would be removed. And such indeed is the truth. But when they had got hold of this text they were delighted, for it seemed to them the very thing whereby either to force all the Christians to change their faith, or to bring destruction upon them all. The Calif therefore called together all the Christians in his territories, who were extremely numerous, and when they had come before him he showed them the Gospel, and made them read the text which I have mentioned. And when they had read it, he asked them if that was the truth ? The Christians answered that it assuredly was so. Well," said the Calif, since you say that it is the truth, I will give you a choice. Among such a number of you there must needs surely be this small amount of faith, so you must either move that mountain there "and he pointed to a mountain in the neighbourhood" or you shall die an ill death; unless you choose to eschew death by all becoming Saracens and adopting


III.]
THE ONE-EYED COBBLER.
37
our Holy Law. To this end I give you a respite of ten days; if the thing be not done by that time, ye shall die or become Saracens." And when he had said this he dismissed them to consider what was to be done in this strait wherein they were.
All the wisest of the Christians took counsel together, and among them were a number of bishops and priests ; but they had no resource except to turn to Him from whom all good things do come, beseeching Him to protect them from the cruel hands of the Calif.
So they were all gathered together in prayer, both men and women, for eight days and eight nights. And whilst they were thus engaged in prayer it was revealed in a vision by a Holy Angel of Heaven to a certain Bishop who was a very good Christian, that he should desire a certain Cobbler, who had but one eye, to pray to God, and that God in His goodness would grant such prayer because of the Cobbler's holy life.
Now when this vision had visited the Bishop several times, he related the whole matter to the Christians, and they agreed with one consent to call the Cobbler before them. And when he had come, they told him it was their wish that he should pray, and that God had promised to accomplish the matter by his means. On hearing their request, he made many excuses, declaring that he was not at all so good a man as they represented. But they persisted in their request with so much sweetness, that at last he said he would not tarry, but do what they desired.
And when the appointed day was come, all the Christians got up early, men and women, small and greatmore than one hundred thousand personsand went to church, and heard the Holy Mass. And after Mass had been sung, they all went forth together in a great procession to the plain in front of the mountain, carrying the precious Cross before them, loudly singing and greatly weeping as they


went. And when they arrived at the spot, there they found the Calif with all his Saracen host armed to slay them if they would not change their faith ; for the Saracens believed not in the least that God would grant such favour to the Christians. These latter stood, indeed, in great fear and doubt, but nevertheless they rested their hope on their God Jesus Christ.
So the Cobbler received the Bishop's benison, and then threw himself on his knees before the Holy Cross, and stretched out his hands towards Heaven, and made this prayer: "Blessed Lord God Almighty, I pray Thee by Thy goodness that Thou wilt grant this grace unto Thy people, insomuch that they perish not, nor Thy faith be cast down, nor abused, nor flouted. Not that I am in the least worthy to prefer such request unto Thee; but for Thy great power and mercy I beseech Thee to hear this prayer from me Thy servant full of sin."
And when he had ended this his prayer to God the Sovereign Father and Giver of all grace, and whilst the Calif and all the Saracens and other people there were looking on, the mountain rose out of its place, and moved to the spot which the Calif had pointed out. And when the Calif and all his Saracens beheld, they stood amazed at the wonderful miracle that God had wrought for the Christians, insomuch that a great number of the Saracens became Christians. And even the Calif caused himself to be baptised in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen, and became a Christian, but in secret. Howbeit, when he died, they found a little cross hung round his neck; and therefore the Saracens would not bury him with the other Califs, but put him in a place apart. The Christians exulted greatly at this most holy miracle, and returned to their homes full of joy, giving thanks to their Creator for that which He had done.


CHAPTER IV.
THE THREE KINGSTHE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAINSTORIES AND ADVENTURES IN PERSIA-ORIGIN OF THE ASSASSINS.
T~\OUBTLESS all our readers are well acquainted with the story of the visit of the Three Kings, or Magi, to Bethlehem, when the Saviour was born. There is an ancient Christian tradition that the three men set out from Persia, and that their names were Melchior, Balthazar, and Kaspar: these wise men of the East, as they were called, are supposed to have returned to Persia after their visit to Palestine ; and Marco Polo tells this tale as it was told to him :
of the great country of persia \ with some account of the three kings.
Persia is a great country, which was in old times very illustrious and powerful; but now the Tartars have wasted and destroyed it.


THE CASTLE OF THE FIRE-WORSHIPPERS.
asked a great many questions of the people of that city as to those Three Magi, but never one could he find that knew aught of the matter except that these were Three Kings who were buried there in days of old. However, at a place three days' journey distant he heard of what I am going to tell you. He found a village there which goes by the name of Cala Ataperistan, which is as much as to say, "The Castle of the Fire-worshippers." And the name is
In Persia is the city of Saba, from which the Three Magi set out when they went to worship Jesus Christ; and in this city they are buried, in three very large and beautiful monuments side by side. And above them there is a square building, carefully kept. The bodies are still entire with the hair and beard remaining. Messer Marco Polo


IV.]
THE THREE MAGI.
41
rightly applied, for the people there do worship fire, and I will tell you why.
They relate that in old times Three Kings of that country went away to worship a Prophet that was born, and they carried with them three manner of offerings, Gold, and Frankincense, and Myrrh ; in order to ascertain whether that prophet were God, or an earthly king, or a physician. For, say they, if He take the Gold, then He is an earthly king; if He take the Incense, He is God; if he take the Myrrh, he is a physician.
So it came to pass when they had come to the place where the Child was born, the youngest of the Three Kings went in first, and found the Child apparently just of his own age ; so he went forth again, marvelling greatly. The middle one entered next, and like the first he found the Child seemingly of his own age; so he also went forth again, and marvelled greatly. Lastly, the eldest went in, and as it had befallen the other two, so it befell him; and he went forth very pensive. And when the three had rejoined one another, each told what he had seen; and then they all marvelled the more. So they agreed to go in all three together, and on doing so they beheld the Child with the appearance of its actual age, to wit, some thirteen days. Then they adored, and presented their Gold, and Incense, and Myrrh. And the Child took all the three offerings, and then gave them a small closed box; whereupon the Kings departed to return into their own land.
And when they had ridden many days, they said they would see what the Child had given them. So they opened the little box, and inside it they found a stone. On seeing this they began to wonder what this might be that the Child had given them, and what was the import thereof. Now the signification was this : When they presented their offerings, the Child had accepted all three ; and when they


saw that, they had said within themselves that He was the True God, and the True King, and the True Physician. And what the gift of the stone implied was that this Faith which had begun in them should abide firm as a rock. For He well knew what was in their thoughts. Howbeit, they had no understanding at all of this signification of the gift of the stone; so they cast it into a well. Then straightway a fire from Heaven descended into that well wherein the stone had been cast.
And when the Three Kings beheld this marvel they were sore amazed, and it greatly repented them that they had cast away the stone; for well they then perceived that it had a great and holy meaning. So they took of that fire, and carried it into their own country, and placed it in a rich and beautiful church. And there the people keep it continually burning, and worship it as a god, and all the sacrifices they offer are kindled with that fire. And if ever the fire becomes extinct, they go to other cities round about where the same faith is held, and obtain of that fire from them, and carry it to the church. And this is the reason why the people of this country worship fire. They will often go ten days' journey to get of that fire.
Such then was the story told by the people of that Castle to Messer Marco Polo; they declared to him for a truth that such was their history, and that one of the Three Kings was of the city called Saba, and the second of Ava, and the third of that very Castle where they still worship fire, with the people of all the country round about.
The latter part of this account of the Three Kings and their doings undoubtedly refers to the ancient Persian sect of fire-worshippers, known as Parsees. The custom of worshipping fire as the source of life,


THE THREE KINGS AT THE WELL.
[To face p. 42-


IV]
THE PARSEES.
43
light, and warmth is almost as old as the human race. We can readily imagine how profound must have been the reverence and admiration with which the primitive man regarded fire when first that element was brought into his view. The warming, kindling flame, its ruddy and changeful colours and shapes, and the comforting of its warmth, must have inspired him with rapture and adoration. The sect founded by Zoroaster, who flourished about six hundred years before the Christian era, paid reverence to the four elements of fire, air, earth, and water; from these people, it is believed, descended the Persian fire-worshippers, or Parsees. In the course of time, however, Persia adopted the Moslem faith, and the fire-worshippers were expelled from the country. The greater part of them fled to India, where they are found in large numbers at the present time; forty thousand of them are living in Bombay, and there are not less than two hundred thousand Parsees in all India.
The sacred fire which attracted the attention of Marco Polo is still maintained in the temples of the Indian fire-worshippers; and if by accident the fire should die, it is rekindled by coals brought from another temple, as was the custom among the fire-worshippers of whom Marco gives account. The Towers of Silence," near Bombay, are isolated, lonely structures where the Parsees expose their dead to be


devoured by the flocks of vultures that hover around the place.
In Polo's further account of Persia we have the following interesting chapter:
of the eight kingdoms of persia, and how they are named.
Now you must know that Persia is a very great country, and contains eight kingdoms. I will tell you the names of them all.
The first kingdom is that at the beginning of Persia, and it is called Casvin ; the second is further to the south, and is called Curdistan; the third is called Lor; the fourth Suolstan ; the fifth Istanit ; the sixth Serazy ; the seventh Soncara ; the eighth Tunocain, which is at the further extremity of Persia. All these kingdoms lie in a southerly direction except one, to wit, Tunocain ; that lies towards the east, and borders on the country of the Arbre Sol.
In this country of Persia there is a great supply of fine horses, and people take them to India for sale, for they are horses of great price, a single one being worth as much of their money as is equal to 200 livres Tournois; some will be more, some less, according to the quality. Here also are the finest asses in the world, one of them being worth 30 marks of silver, for they are very large and fast, and acquire a capital amble. Dealers carry their horses to Kisi and Curmosa, two cities on the shores of the Sea of India, and there they meet with merchants who take the horses on to India for sale.
In this country there are many cruel and murderous people, so that no day passes but there is some homicide among them. Were it not for the Government, which is that of the Tartars of the Levant, they would do great


IV.]
YASDI AND KERMAN.
45
mischief to merchants; and indeed, maugre the Government, they often succeed in doing such mischief. Unless merchants be well armed they run the risk of being murdered, or at least robbed of everything; and it sometimes happens that a whole party perishes in this way when not on their guard. The people are all Saracens, i.e. followers of the Law of Mahommet.
In the cities there are traders and artisans who live by their labour and crafts, weaving cloths of gold, and silk stuffs of sundry kinds. They have plenty of cotton produced in the country; and abundance of wheat, barley, millet, panick, and wine, with fruit of all kinds.
concerning the great city of yasdi.
Yasdi also is properly in Persia ; it is a good and noble city, and has a great amount of trade. They weave there quantities of a certain silk tissue known as Yasdi, which merchants carry into many quarters to dispose of. The people are worshippers of Mahommet.
When you leave this city to travel further, you ride for seven days over great plains, finding harbour to receive you at three places only. There are many fine woods, producing dates, upon the way, such as one can easily ride through; and in them there is great sport to be had in hunting and hawking, there being partridges and quails and abundance of other game, so that the merchants who pass that way have plenty of diversion. There are also wild asses, handsome creatures. At the end of those seven marches over the plain you come to a fine kingdom which is called Kerman.
concerning the kingdom of kerman.
Kerman is a kingdom which is also properly in Persia, and formerly it had a hereditary prince. Since the Tartars


conquered the country the rule is no longer hereditary, but the Tartar sends to administer whatever lord he pleases. In this kingdom are produced the stones called turquoises in great abundance; they are found in the mountains, where they are extracted from the rocks. There are also plenty of veins of steel and ondanique. The people are very skilful in making harness of war; their saddles, bridles, spurs, swords, bows, quivers, and arms of every kind are very well made indeed, according to the fashion of those parts. The ladies of the country and their daughters also produce exquisite needlework in the embroidery of silk stuffs in different colours, with figures of beasts and birds, trees and flowers, and a variety of other patterns. They work hangings for the use of noblemen so deftly that they are marvels to see, as well as cushions, pillows, quilts, and all sorts of things.
In the mountains of Kerman are found the best falcons in the world. They are inferior in size to the peregrine, red on the breast, under the neck, and between the thighs ; their flight so swift that no bird can escape them.
On quitting the city you ride on for seven days, always finding towns, villages, and handsome dwelling-houses, so that it is very pleasant travelling; and there is excellent sport also to be had by the way in hunting and hawking. When you have ridden those seven days over a plain country, you come to a great mountain; and when you have got to the top of the pass, you find a great descent which occupies some two days to go down. All along you find a variety and abundance of fruits ; and in former days there were plenty of inhabited places on the road, but now there are none ; and you meet with only a few people looking after their cattle at pasture. From the city of Kerman to this descent the cold in winter is so great that you can scarcely abide it, even with a great quantity of clothing.


IV.]
THE ZEBU.
47
of the city of camadi and its ruins j also touching the car aon a robbers.
After you have ridden downhill those two days, you find yourself in a vast plain, and at the beginning thereof there is a city called Camadi, which formerly was a great and noble place, but now is of little consequence, for the Tartars in their incursions have several times ravaged it. The plain whereof I speak is a very hot region; and the province that we now enter is called Reobarles.
The fruits of the country are dates, pistachioes, and apples of Paradise, with others of the like not found in our cold climate. There are vast numbers of turtle-doves, attracted by the abundance of fruits ; but the Saracens never take them, for they hold them in abomination. And on this plain there is a kind of bird called francolin, but different from the francolin of other countries, for their colour is a mixture of black and white, and the feet and beak are vermilion colour.
The beasts also are peculiar; and first I will tell you of their oxen. These are very large, and all over white as snow; the hair is very short and smooth, which is owing to the heat of the country. The horns are short and thick, not sharp in the point; and between the shoulders they have a round hump some two palms high. There are no handsomer creatures in the world. And when they have to be loaded, they kneel like the camel; once the load is adjusted, they rise. Their load is a heavy one, for they are very strong animals. Then there are sheep here as big as asses; and their tails are so large and fat that one tail shall weigh some thirty pounds. They are fine fat beasts, and afford capital mutton.
In this plain there are a number of villages and towns which have lofty walls of mud, made as a defence against the banditti, who are very numerous, and are called


Caraonas. This name is given them because they are the sons of Indian mothers by Tartar fathers. And you must know that when these Caraonas wish to make a plundering incursion, they have certain devilish enchantments whereby they do bring darkness over the face of day, insomuch that you can scarcely discern your comrade riding beside you ; and this darkness they will cause to extend over a space of seven days' journey. They know the country thoroughly, and ride abreast, keeping near one another, sometimes to the number of ten thousand, at other times more or fewer. In this way they extend across the whole plain that they are going to harry, and catch every living thing that is found outside of the towns and villages; man, woman, or beast, nothing can escape them The old men whom they take in this way they butcher; the young men and the women they sell for slaves in other countries ; thus the whole land is ruined, and has become well-nigh a desert.
The king of these scoundrels is called Nogodar. This Nogodar had gone to the Court of Chagatai, who was own brother to the Great Kaan, with some ten thousand horsemen of his, and abode with him; for Chagatai was his uncle. And whilst there this Nogodar devised a most audacious enterprise; and I will tell you what it was. He left his uncle, who was then in Greater Armenia, and fled with a great body of horsemen, cruel, unscrupulous fellows, first through Badashan, and then through another province called Pashai-Dir, and then through another called Ariora-Keshemur. There he lost a great number of his people and of his horses, for the roads were very narrow and perilous. And when he had conquered all those provinces, he entered India at the extremity of a province called Dalivar. He established himself in that city and government, which he took from the King of the country, Asedin Soldan by name, a man of great power


IV.]
PERSIA.
49
and wealth. And there abideth Nogodar with his army, afraid of nobody, and waging war with all the Tartars in his neighbourhood.
Now that I have told you of those scoundrels and their history, I must add the fact that Messer Marco himself was all but caught by their bands in such a darkness as that I have told you of; but, as it pleased God, he got off and threw himself into a village that was hard by, called Conosalmi. Howbeit he lost his whole company except seven persons who escaped along with him. The rest were caught, and some of them sold, some put to death.
Marco sometimes regards a city as a province, or even a kingdom, as he does in this list of the eight kingdoms of Persia." It is now supposed by the most intelligent writers on Persia that Marco refers to the ancient city of Kazwin, which he calls Casvin, the first on his list. But the province in that part of Persia, the northern, is now known as Irak. Curdistan is an old form of spelling Kurdistan. Lor is Luristan, next to the southward, and the people of that province are still noted thieves and bandits. Suolstan, so called by Marco, is probably the modern Shulistan ; the region known by that name was inhabited by the Shuls, or Shauls. Marco's Istanit is now believed to be the famous city of Ispahan ; and Serazy is readily translatable into the modern Shiraz. Soncara is the country of the Shawankars; Tunocain is Kuhistan, the hill country of Persia, of which Tun and Kain are the chief cities.


Persian horses are quite as famous for beauty and speed as they were in the days when our Venetian traveller explored the country in which they were bred. These fine animals are still exported to India, whence a few of them are ultimately carried to England and other parts of Europe. Colonel Yule, in his book about Marco Polo, tells of a horse of this breed that travelled nine hundred miles in eleven days, and of another that accomplished about eleven hundred miles within twelve days, taking two days of that time for rest. The livre tournois, which Marco uses as a standard of coin valuation, was worth 1 sterling in modern English money, allowing for the lower relative value of gold as compared with silver in those far-off days; so that a fine Persian steed would cost about 193, English money, or a little more than $950, American money. The silver mark of that time, thirty of which were paid for a good donkey, would be about equal to forty English shillings ; and that sumthirty marksagain allowing for the lower value of gold as related to silver, would be equal to 88 sterling, or $440, American currency.
The fame of Oriental steel blades has extended all over the world, dating back to the most ancient times; and marvellous stories are told of the flexibility, sharpness, and hardness of edged weapons made by Arabs, Moors, and other warlike tribes of the East.


IV.]
FAT-TAILED SHEEP.
The ondanique of Marco Polo is probably the Indian steel" of which many writers have made mention. It was so manufactured that a blade of this material possessed an edge of surpassing keenness and hardness. It was said that a Kerman sabre would cleave a European metal helmet in twain without turning its own edge. The embroidered and woven silk stuffs and carpets of the Kerman region are still held in high repute on account of their fineness and beauty.
The francolin, referred to in the extract above quoted, is the bird known in England and some parts of America as the black partridge, and is highly esteemed for its delicate quality. Any intelligent youngster will recognise the humped oxen that attracted the attention of Marco Polo and awakened his interest. They are to be found in India and other Eastern countries, and poor is the menagerie that does not have one or two specimens of the zebu, or Indian ox, as it is now called. These beasts are very docile, and are taught to kneel to receive the loads which they carry on their backs. Fat-tailed sheep are also common in various portions of Asia Minor and Africa. The tail is broad and flat, sometimes weighing fifty or sixty pounds, and is considered a great delicacy by the inhabitants of those parts of the world. Some travellers of good repute have said, that they have seen fat-tailed


sheep whose tails were so large, that each animal was provided with a slab of wood, fitted under the tail, with little trucks, or wheels, attached to the end that dragged on the ground.
The notion that fogs and mists can be brought upon the face of the earth by the command of an enchanter is truly Oriental; this is still believed in some parts of India, and Mr. F. Marion Crawford, the novelist, has made use of an enchanted fog in one of his romances. It is certain, however, that a dry fog, which seems to be really a dust-storm, is of common occurrence in Persia and Northern India. The phenomenon is strange and baffling, and it is not surprising that the residents of that country, not understanding why the air should be filled with dry dust while it is yet perfectly still, should charge this to the operations of some enchanter. In such a dust-storm the raids of robbers, who take advantage of the panic and the obscurity prevailing, would be successful, and very disastrous to the unfortunates whose flocks and herds would be captured and driven off. The Caraonas, nowadays known as Hazaras, are bold and daring brigands ; they have sometimes ridden up to the very gates of the city of Ispahan on their wild forays in search of plunder, ravaging the country and leaving behind them nothing that can be carried off or destroyed.
Here may be given a few extracts from Marco's


IV.]
STITCHED SHIPS.
53
interesting account of the city of Hormos and its inhabitants, showing what they eat and drink, how they build their ships, and how they avoid the poison-wind and its terrible effects.
'Tis, he says, a city of immense trade. There are plenty of towns and villages under it, but it is the capital. The King is called Ruomedam Ahomet. It is a very sickly place, and the heat of the sun is tremendous. If any foreign merchant dies there, the King takes all his property.
In this country they make a wine of dates mixed with spices, which is very good. When any one not used to it first drinks this wine, it causes repeated and violent pains ; but afterwards he is all the better for it, and gets fat upon it. The people never eat meat and wheaten bread except when they are ill, and if they take such food when they are in health it makes them ill. Their food when in health consists of dates and salt fish (tunny, to wit) and onions, and this kind of diet they maintain in order to preserve their health
Their ships are wretched affairs, and many of them get lost; for they have no iron fastenings, and are only stitched together with twine made from the husk of the Indian nut. They beat this husk until it becomes like horsehair, and from that they spin twine, and with this stitch the planks of the ships together. It keeps well, and is not corroded by the sea-water, but it will not stand well in a storm. The ships are not pitched, but are rubbed with fish-oil. They have one mast, one sail, and one rudder, and have no deck, but only a cover spread over the cargo when loaded. This cover consists of hides, and on the top of these hides they put the horses which they take to India for sale. They have no iron to make nails of, and for this reason they use only wooden trenails in their shipbuilding,


and then stitch the planks with twine as I have told you. Hence 'tis a perilous business to go a voyage in one of those ships, and many of them are lost, for in that Sea of India the storms are often terrible.
The people are black, and are worshippers of Mahommet. The residents avoid living in the cities, for the heat in summer is so great that it would kill them. Hence they go out (to sleep) at their gardens in the country, where there are streams and plenty of water. For all that they would not escape but for one thing that I will mention. The fact is, you see, that in summer a wind often blows across the sands which encompass the plain, so intolerably hot that it would kill everybody, were it not that, when they perceive that wind coming, they plunge into water up to the neck, and so abide until the wind have ceased.
And to prove the great heat of this wind, Messer Mark related a case that befell when he was there. The Lord of Hormos, not having paid his tribute to the King of Kerman, the latter resolved to claim it at the time when the people of Hormos were residing away from the city. So he caused a force of sixteen hundred horse and five thousand foot to be got ready, and sent them by the route of Reobarles to take the others by surprise. Now it happened one day that through the fault of their guide they were not able to reach the place appointed for their night's halt, and were obliged to bivouac in the wilderness not far from Hormos. In the morning as they were starting on their march they were caught by that wind, and every man of them was suffocated, so that not one survived to carry the tidings to their lord. When the people of Hormos heard of this, they went forth to bury the bodies, lest they should breed a pestilence. But when they laid hold of them by the arms to drag them to the pits, the bodies proved to be so baked, as it were, by that tremendous heat, that the arms parted from the trunks, and in the


IV.] THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN. 55
end the people had to dig graves hard by each where it lay, and so cast them in.
In Marco's account of Persia we find the hero Alaii again mentioned by name. It was Alaii who captured the castle of the miserly Caliph; and he it was who put an end to the crimes of the wicked Old Man of the Mountain. Here is the chapter concerning both of those two personages:
concerning the old man of the mountain.
Mulehet is a country in which the Old Man of the Mountain dwelt in former days; and the name means Place of the Aram." I will tell you his whole history as related by Messer Marco Polo, who heard it from several natives of that region.
The Old Man was called in their language Aloadin. He had caused a certain valley between two mountains to be enclosed, and had turned it into a garden, the largest and most beautiful that ever was seen, filled with every variety of fruit. In it were erected pavilions and palaces, the most elegant that can be imagined, all covered with gilding and exquisite painting. And there were runnels, too, flowing freely with wine and milk and honey and water; and numbers of ladies, the most beautiful in the world, who could play on all manner of instruments, and sang most sweetly, and danced in a manner that it was charming to behold. For the Old Man desired to make his people believe that this was actually Paradise. So he had fashioned it after the description that Mahommet gave of his Paradise, to wit, that it should be a beautiful garden running with conduits of wine and milk and honey and water ;


and sure enough the Saracens of those parts believed that it was Paradise.
Now no man was allowed to enter the Garden save those whom he intended to be his Ashishin. There was a Fortress at the entrance to the Garden, strong enough to resist all the world, and there was no other way to get in. He kept at his Court a number of the youths of the country, from twelve to twenty years of age, such as had a taste for soldiering, and to these he used to tell tales about Paradise, just as Mahommet had been wont to do, and they believed in him just as the Saracens believe in Mahommet. Then he would introduce them into his Garden, some four, or six, or ten at a time, having first made them drink a certain potion which cast them into a deep sleep, and then causing them to be lifted and carried in. So when they awoke they found themselves in the Garden.
Now this Prince whom we call the Old One kept his Court in grand and noble style, and made those simple hill-folks about him believe firmly that he was a great Prophet. And when he wanted one of his Ashishin to send on any mission, he would cause that potion, whereof I spoke, to be given to one of the youths in the Garden, and then had him carried into his Palace. So when the young man awoke, he found himself in the Castle, and no longer in that Paradise; whereat he was not over-well pleased. He was then conducted to the Old Man's presence, and bowed before him with great veneration, as believing himself to be in the presence of a true Prophet. The Prince would then ask whence he came, and he would reply that he came from Paradise! and that it was exactly such as Mahommet had described it in the Law. This of course gave the others who stood by, and who had not been admitted, the greatest desire to enter therein.
So when the Old Man would have any Prince slain, he would say to such a youth : Go thou and slay So-and-So; and


THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN.
[To face p. 56.


IV.]
HIS ASSASSINS.
57
when thou returnest my Angels shall bear thee into Paradise. And shouldst thou die, natheless even so will I send my Angels to carry thee back into Paradise." So he caused them to believe ; and thus there was no order of his that they would not affront any peril to execute, for the great desire they had to get back into that Paradise of his. And in this manner the Old One got his people to murder any one whom he desired to get rid of. Thus, too, the great dread that he inspired all Princes withal made them become his tributaries, in order that he might abide at peace and amity with them.
I should also tell you that the Old Man had certain others under him, who copied his proceedings and acted exactly in the same manner. One of these was sent into the territory of Damascus, and the other into Curdistan.
Now it came to pass in the year 1252, that Alaii, Lord of the Tartars of the Levant, heard tell of these great crimes of the Old Man, and resolved to make an end of him. So he took and sent one of his Barons with a great Army to that Castle, and they besieged it for three years, but they could not take it, so strong was it. And indeed if they had had food within, it never would have been taken. But after being besieged those three years they ran short of victual, and were taken. The Old Man was put to death with all his men, and the Castle with its Garden of Paradise was levelled with the ground. And since that time he has had no successor; and there was an end to all his villainies.
The region in which, according to Marco Polo, the Old Man of the Mountain lived and reigned was the mountainous part of Persia, in the far north. But in the time of the first Crusaders, which was some two hundred years earlier, the chief of a band


of scoundrels and men-slayers, one Hassan-ben-Sabah, had his stronghold in Mount Lebanon, in the southern part of Syria; and he was also known as the Old Man of the Mountain.
It is interesting to know that the story of the Old One was current all over the East, and that we get our word assassin from the vile practices of that wicked man, who really did exist, and whose followers are still to be found in remote corners of the East. The drug which he gave to those whom he desired to enlist in his band was hashish, or Cannabis Indica. This is a learned name for Indian hemp, from which the drug is derived. Men who used the hashish to give them pleasant sleep and beautiful dreams were called hashishiyyin "; and it was easy to make the word assassin out of hashishiyyin.
That this is the true origin of the English word nobody need doubt. As Marco passed by the castle of the Old Man of the Mountain not long after the defeat of the latter by the Prince Alaii, we can believe that he heard a true account of what had happened ; and it is not unlikely that the followers of this chief, the Assassins, as they were called, were a numerous band of fanatics who were spread over a considerable part of the East.
At Taican, three days' journey from Badashan, Marco is much struck (and no wonder) by the mountains of salt:


IV.]
MOUNTAINS OF SALT.
59
Taican is a fine place, and the mountains that you see towards the south are all composed of salt. People from all the countries round, to some thirty days' journey, come to fetch this salt, which is the best in the world, and is so hard that it can only be broken with iron picks. 'Tis in such abundance that it would supply the whole world to the end of time.


CHAPTER V.
the gems of badakshana royal prerogativethe conjurers of cashmere.
T) ADASHAN, of which our traveller wrote an interesting account, is now known as Badak-shan ; it lies to the north of that range of mountains which bears the name of the Hindu Kush, in Central Asia, south of Bokhara and north of Afghanistan. Marco's eyes are now turned eastward, and he writes thus of the country of which the outside world knew nothing then :
of the province of badashan.
Badashan is a Province inhabited by people who worship Mahommet, and have a peculiar language. It forms a very great kingdom, and the royalty is hereditary. All those of the royal blood are descended from King Alexander and the daughter of King Darius, who was Lord of the vast Empire of Persia. And all these kings call themselves in the Saracen tongue Zulcarniain, which is as much as to say Alexander "; and this out of regard for Alexander the Great.
It is in this province that those fine and valuable gems, the Balas Rubies, are found. They are got in certain
60


Ch. V.]
GEMS OF BADAKSHAN.
61
rocks among the mountains, and in the search for them the people dig great caves underground, just as is done by miners for silver. There is but one special mountain that produces them, and it is called Syghinan. The stones are dug on the King's account, and no one else dares dig in that mountain on pain of forfeiture of life as well as goods; nor may any one carry the stones out of the kingdom. But the King amasses them all, and sends them to other kings when he has tribute to render, or when he desires to offer a friendly present; and such only as he pleases he causes to be sold. Thus he acts in order to keep the Balas at a high value; for if he were to allow everybody to dig, they would extract so many that the world would be glutted with them, and they would cease to bear any value. Hence it is that he allows so few to be taken out, and is so strict in the matter.
There is also in the same country another mountain, in which azure is found; 'tis the finest in the world, and is got in a vein like silver. There are also other mountains which contain a great amount of silver ore, so that the country is a very rich one; but it is also (it must be said) a very cold one. It produces numbers of excellent horses, remarkable for their speed. They are not shod at all, although constantly used in mountainous country and on very bad roads. They go at a great pace even down steep descents, where other horses neither would nor could do the like. And Messer Marco was told that not long ago they possessed in that province a breed of horses, descended from Alexander's horse Bucephalus, all of which had from their birth a particular mark on the forehead. This breed was entirely in the hands of an uncle of the King's; and in consequence of his refusing to let the King have any of them, the latter put him to death. The widow then, in despite, destroyed the whole breed, and it is now extinct. In the mountains there are vast numbers of sheep


400, 500, or 600 in a single flock, and all of them wild; and though many of them are taken, they never seem to get aught the scarcer.
Those mountains are so lofty that 'tis a hard day's work, from morning till evening, to get to the top of them. On getting up, you find an extensive plain, with great abundance of grass and trees, and copious springs of pure water running down through rocks and ravines. In those brooks are found trout and many other fish of dainty kinds ; and the air in those regions is so pure, and residence there so healthful, that when the. men who dwell below in the towns, and in the valleys and plains, find themselves attacked by any kind of fever or other ailment that may hap, they lose no time in going to the hills; and after abiding there two or three days, they quite recover their health through the excellence of that air. And Messer Marco said he had proved this by experience; for when in those parts he had been ill for about a year, but as soon as he was advised to visit that mountain he did so and got well at once.
In this kingdom there are many strait and perilous passes, so difficult to force that the people have no fear of invasion. Their towns and villages also are on lofty hills, and in -very strong positions. They are excellent archers, and much given to the chase; indeed, most of them are dependent for clothing on the skins of beasts, for stuffs are very dear among them. The great ladies, however, are arrayed in stuffs, and I will tell you the style of their dress. They all wear trousers made of cotton cloth, and into the making of these some will put 60, 80, or even 100 ells of stuff.
of the province of pashai.
You must know that ten days' journey to the south of Badashan there is a Province called Pashai, the people of


v.]
HORSES OF BADAKSHAN.
63
which have a peculiar language, and are Idolaters, of a brown complexion. They are great adepts in sorceries and the diabolic arts. The men wear earrings and brooches of gold and silver set with stones and pearls. They are a pestilent people and a crafty; and they live upon flesh and rice. Their country is very hot.
Now let us proceed and speak of another country which is seven days' journey from this one towards the south-east, and the name of which is Keshimur.
The Badakshan country is still famed for its rubies, although the quality of the gems is not so high as in earlier times ; and the working of the ruby mines is a monopoly in the hands of the government. By azure" Marco means lapis-lazuli, a semi-precious stone of a beautiful blue colour, greatly esteemed by gem-workers. As for the horses that were claimed to have descended from the famous Bucephalus of Alexander the Great, we may say that many Oriental people are famous braggarts ; and although the horses of Badakshan are still so beautiful and strong that Afghan robbers continually raid the country to steal them, it is unlikely that any progeny of Bucephalus were then to be found in any quarter of the world.
Keshimur, of which our traveller next speaks, is readily understood to be Cashmere, lying just south of the Hindu Kush, and famous for its shawls, attar of roses, and other products. Here is Marco's very brief account of that province:


of the province of keshimur.
Keshimur also is a Province inhabited by a people who are Idolaters and have a language of their own. They have an astonishing acquaintance with the devilries of enchantment ; insomuch that they make their idols to speak. They can also by their sorceries bring on changes of weather and produce darkness, and do a number of things so extraordinary that no one without seeing them would believe them. Indeed, this country is the very original source from which Idolatry has spread abroad.
In this direction you can proceed further till you come to the Sea of India.
The men are brown and lean, but the women, taking them as brunettes, are very beautiful. The food of the people is flesh, and milk, and rice. The clime is finely tempered, being neither very hot nor very cold.
There are in this country Eremites (after the fashion of those parts), who dwell in seclusion and practise great abstinence in eating and drinking. They keep from all sins forbidden in their law, so that they are regarded by their own folk as holy persons. They live to a great age.
There are also a number of idolatrous abbeys and monasteries. The people of the province do not kill animals nor spill blood; so if they want to eat meat they get the Saracens who dwell among them to play the butcher. The coral which is carried from our parts of the world has a better sale there than in any other country.
Now we will quit this country, and not go any further in the same direction; for if we did so we should enter India, and that I do not wish to do at present. For, on our return journey, I mean to tell you about India : all in regular order. Let us go back therefore to Badashan, for we cannot otherwise proceed on our journey.


V.] MERE JUGGLERY. 65
The conjurers of Cashmere seem to have made a great impression on Marco, who had seen them before at the court of Kublai Khan. They had, and still have, a wide reputation for their skill. Like many other so-called magicians, they have the power of deceiving on-lookers to so great an extent that men have soberly reported that they saw iron float in the water, rocks rise in the air without being touched by any one, and clouds come and go and mists fall, all at the bidding of the magician. It is, of course, all mere jugglery.
Marco's statement that Buddhism, or Idolatry," as he styles it, spread from Cashmere, must be taken with some allowance ; for although that faith did spread thence into Tibet and other lands where it holds great power, it first went into Cashmere from India. One of the first of the Ten Obligations, or commandments, of Buddhism is to refrain from taking life ; and the pious Eremites (or hermits) and Buddhists whom Marco saw, while they did not hesitate to eat meat, would not kill with their own hands the animal that was to be eaten. That is still the custom of the country ; the good Buddhist will not cause death if he can possibly avoid it.


CHAPTER VI.
the roof of the worldhow the pamir country borders on three great empiresthe great horned sheep of the steppesa marvellous story of samarcand.
E have heard much, of late years, about the
" Pamir country; and we shall hear more about it as time goes on: for the Pamir steppe, as it is sometimes called, lies in the heart of Central Asia, north-east of Afghanistan, south of Asiatic Russia, and west of Turkestan. Therefore it borders on the empires of Russia, China, and British India; on its lofty plains may be fought more than one battle for supremacy. It is a series of plateaus, 15,000 feet above the level of the sea ; and some of its loftiest mountain peaks are 25,000 feet above sea-level. The first account of this wonderful region was written by Marco Polo, and is as follows :
In leaving Badashan you ride twelve days between east and north-east, ascending a river that runs through land belonging to a brother of the Prince of Badashan, and containing a good many towns and villages and scattered habitations. The people are Mahommetans, and valiant


Ch. VI.] THE ROOF OF THE WORLD.
67
in war. At the end of those twelve days you come to a province of no great size, extending indeed no more than three days' journey in any direction, and this is called Vokhan. The people worship Mahommet, and they have a peculiar language. They are gallant soldiers, and they have a chief whom they call None, which is as much as to say Count, and they are liegemen to the Prince of Badashan.
There are numbers of wild beasts of all sorts in this region. And when you leave this little country, and ride three days north-east, always among mountains, you get to such a height that 'tis said to be the highest place in the world! And when you have got to this height, you find a great lake between two mountains, and out of it a fine river running through a plain clothed with the finest pasture in the world; insomuch that a lean beast there will fatten to your heart's content in ten days. There are great numbers of all kinds of wild beasts; among others, wild sheep of great size, whose horns are a good six palms in length. From these horns the shepherds make great bowls to eat from, and they use the horns also to enclose folds for their cattle at night. Messer Marco was told also that the wolves were numerous, and killed many of those wild sheep. Hence quantities of their horns and bones were found, and these were made into great heaps by the wayside in order to guide travellers when snow was on the ground.
The Plain is called Pamier, and you ride across it for twelve days together, finding nothing but a desert without habitations or any green thing, so that travellers are obliged to carry with them whatever they have need of. The region is so lofty and cold that you do not even see any birds flying. And I must notice also that because of this great cold, fire does not burn so brightly, nor give out so much heat as usual, nor does it cook food so effectually.


Now, if we go on with our journey towards the east-north-east, we travel a good forty days,, continually passing over mountains and hills, or through valleys, and crossing many rivers and tracts of wilderness. And in all this way you find neither habitation of man, nor any green thing, but must carry with you whatever you require. The country is called Bolor. The people dwell high up in the mountains, and are savage Idolaters, living only by the chase, and clothing themselves in the skins of beasts. They are in truth an evil race.
This is an interesting chapter of Marco's book, because it describes a region of which the outside world knew nothing from his time until 1838, when another European traveller, Captain John Wood, passed over it, and verified the account written by Marco Polo, more than six hundred years before. The Tatars call the loftiest part of the Pamir country the Bam-i-Duniah, or Roof of the World ; it is the highest level region to be found anywhere on the globe. It is swept by cold winds, and even in summer the dry snow is driven across its surface.
The great sheep of which Marco speaks are still to be found there, and they have been named the Ovis Poli, in honour of Marco Polo, who first described them. A pair of sheep horns, brought home by Captain Wood, measured three feet from tip to tip, and each horn was four feet and eight inches in length, following the curve of the horn. The animals are hunted by the Kirghiz who inhabit


VI.]
0V1S POLL
69
the lower steppes of that country; and Wood's narrative says: We saw numbers of horns strewed about in every direction, the spoils of the Kirghiz hunter. Some of these were of an astonishingly large size, and belonged to an animal between a goat and a sheep, inhabiting the steppes of Pamir. The ends of the horn projecting above the snow often indicated the direction of the road," which is precisely what Marco has told us. Captain Wood,
who crossed the Pamir in February, says, whenever they came in sight of a large number of these big horns arranged in a semi-circle, they knew that there had been a summer encampment of the Kirghiz hunters.
What Marco says of the difficulty of cooking by a fire at a great height is entirely correct. Water boils at a lower temperature on the top of a high mountain than it does in the plain at its foot. The usual boiling-point is at 212 degrees, as every bright youngster knows ; but on the tops of high mountains
OVIS POLL


water boils at 179 or 180, and men unused to so curious a phenomenon are puzzled to see the water boiling, and the food remaining uncooked. The pressure of the atmosphere is less on the mountain top than it is in the plain, and the heat of the fire causes the boiling of the water more quickly at the greater altitude. Water boils at the top of Mount Blanc at a temperature of 185 degrees.
marco tells a wonderful story.
Samarcand lies in the southern part of Turkestan, just north of Bokhara, and therefore it was behind Marco Polo when he had passed the Pamir steppes : evidently, he did not visit Samarcand, and could not give us any information about the city ; so he tells us this story:
Samarcan is a great and noble city towards the northwest, inhabited by both Christians and Saracens, who are subject to the great Kaan's nephew, Caidou by name; he is, however, at bitter enmity with the Kaan. I will tell you of a great marvel that happened at this city.
It is not a great while ago that Sigatay, own brother to the Great Kaan, who was lord of this country and of many an one besides, became a Christian. The Christians rejoiced greatly at this, and they built a great church in the city, in honour of John the Baptist; and by his name the church was called. And they took a very fine stone which belonged to the Saracens, and placed it as the pedestal of a column in the middle of the church, supporting the roof. It came to pass, however, that Sigatay died. Now the


THE MIRACULOUS COLUMN.
[ To face p. 70


VI.]
A GLORIOUS MIRACLE.
71
Saracens were full of rancour about that stone that had been theirs, and which had been set up in the church of the Christians; and when they saw that the Prince was dead, they said one to another that now was the time to get back their stone, by fair means or by foul. And that they might well do, for they were ten times as many as the Christians. So they gat together and went to the church and said that the stone they must and would have. The Christians acknowledged that it was theirs indeed, but offered to pay a large sum of money and so be quit. Howbeit, the others replied that they never would give up the stone for anything in the world. And words ran so high that the Prince heard thereof, and ordered the Christians either to arrange to satisfy the Saracens, if it might be, with money, or to give up the stone. And he allowed them three days to do either the one thing or the other.
The Saracens would on no account agree to leave the stone where it was, and this out of pure despite to the Christians, for they knew well enough that if the stone were stirred the church would come down by the run. So the Christians were in great trouble and wist not what to do. But they did do the best thing possible; they besought Jesus Christ that He would consider their case, so that the holy church should not come to destruction, nor the name of its Patron Saint, John the Baptist, be tarnished by its ruin. And so when the day fixed by the Prince came round, they went to the church betimes in the morning, and lo, they found the stone removed from under the column; the foot of the column was without support, and yet it bore the load as stoutly as before Between the foot of the column and the ground there was a space of three palms. So the Saracens had away their stone, and mighty little joy withal. It was a glorious miracle, nay, it is so, for the column still so standeth, and will stand as long as God pleaseth.


Marco was not often at a loss for real information concerning the places of which he makes mention. But in this case he was like some of the geographers, of whom the wise Plutarch speaks when he says, that they crowd into the edges of their maps parts of the world about which they know nothing, and add notes in the margin to the effect, that "beyond this lies nothing but sandy deserts full of wild beasts and unapproachable bogs." This remark moved Dean Swift, the author of Gulliver's Travels," to say :
So geographers, in Afric maps, With savage pictures fill their gaps, And o'er unhabitable downs Place elephants for want ot towns.


CHAPTER VII.
the sea of sand and its marvelsthe fabled salamander and its true storysomething about asbestos.
T EAVING Turkestan, and entering China to the
J' eastward of Kashgar and Yarkand, Marco Polo crossed the western end of the Great Sandy Desert of Gobi, or Shamo, otherwise known to the Chinese as the Sea of Sand. This vast extent of desert extends over forty degrees of latitude, and has never been fully explored even in our own day. In Marco's time it was a haunt of mystery, thought to be peopled by the strange creatures of the air. That part traversed by Marco is narrow, and he crossed it in a south-westerly direction. Here is his account of the Desert of Lop, or, as it is sometimes called, Lob :
Lop is a large town at the edge of the Desert, which is called the Desert of Lop, and is situated between east and north-east. It belongs to the Great Kaan, and the people worship Mahommet. Now, such persons as propose to cross the Desert take a week's rest in this town to refresh themselves and their cattle ; and then they make ready for the journey, taking with them a month's supply for man and beast. On quitting this city they enter the Desert.


The length of this Desert is so great that 'tis said it would take a year and more to ride from one end of it to the other. And here, where its breadth is least, it takes a month to cross it. 'Tis all composed of hills and valleys of sand, and not a thing to eat is to be found on it. But after riding for a day and a night you find fresh water enough mayhap for some fifty or a hundred persons with their beasts, but not for more. And all across the Desert you will find water in like manner, that is to say, in some twenty-eight places altogether you will find good water, but in no great quantity; and in four places also you find brackish water.
Beasts there are none; for there is naught for them to eat. But there is a marvellous thing related of this Desert, which is that when travellers are on the move by night, and one of them chances to lag behind, or to fall asleep or the like, when he tries to gain his company again he will hear spirits talking, and will suppose them to be his comrades. Sometimes the spirits will call him by name; and thus shall a traveller ofttimes be led astray, so that he never finds his party. And in this way many have perished. Sometimes the stray travellers will hear as it were the tramp and hum of a great cavalcade of people away from the real line of road, and taking this to be their own company they will follow the sound; and when day breaks they find that a cheat has been put on them, and that they are in an ill plight. Even in the daytime one hears those spirits talking. And sometimes you shall hear the sound of a variety of musical instruments, and still more commonly the sound of drums. Hence in making this journey 'tis customary for travellers to keep close together. All the animals too have bells at their necks, so that they cannot easily get astray. And at sleeping-time a signal is put up to show the direction of the next march.
So thus it is that the Desert is crossed.


VII.]
A HAUNTED DESERT.
75
Probably this tale of the desert, told by Marco Polo, was one of those which gave him a bad name among people who were ignorant of what really goes on in the midst of a vast desert. From the earliest times, men have associated deserts of land or sea with mystery ; and all sorts of evil spirits were believed to inhabit the waste places of the earth. And those who heard Marco's stories, or read them afterwards, thought that they were the idle tales of Oriental romancers.
But Marco's tale is corroborated by the Chinese historian Matwanlin, who writes: You have to cross a plain of sand, extending for more than one hundred leagues. You see nothing in any direction but the sky and the sands, without the slightest trace of a road ; and travellers find nothing to guide them but the bones of men and beasts and the droppings of camels. During the passage of this wilderness you hear sounds, sometimes of singing, sometimes of wailing; and it has often happened that travellers, going aside to see what those sounds might be, have strayed from their course and been entirely lost; for they were voices of spirits and goblins." Another Chinese writer, Hwen Thsang speaks of illusions, such as visions of troops marching and halting with gleaming arms and waving banners, constantly shifting, vanishing, and reappearing. A voice behind him calls, Fear not! fear not!" Troubled by these


fantasies on one occasion, Hwen Thsang prayed to Kwanin (a Buddhist divinity), but could not get rid of them; though as soon as he had pronounced a few words from the Prajna (a holy book) they vanished in the twinkling of an eye.
And it is undoubtedly true that strange sounds are often produced by the shifting of the sands, especially in the night, after a hot day, when the sand cools and the wind blows. It would be easy for a superstitious person to believe that these sounds were the voices of unseen creatures in the air. Sometimes the sounds are like those of a bell, or of a drum; and scientific writers have described the places where they have been heard in various parts of the world.
In the story of The Boy Emigrants," published in 1876, the author tells of a lad who hears, in the midst of the Great American Desert, as it was once called, the nine-o'clock bell ringing in his New England home, far away. This really happened, and the author of the book actually thought he heard the bell ring. So, too, the same party of boy emigrants saw what they thought were trees, water, and lovely hills, floating just above the edge of the desert. That was a mirage; and people have seen on the sea-coast a strange apparition of towers, palaces, and lofty pinnacles, most beautiful to behold. This is a natural phenomenon, and is called the


VII.]
THE SALAMANDER.
77
fata Morgana. So much for this marvellous" story, which no doubt has been called one of Marco Polo's lies."
In what he says about the fabulous salamander we find some more truth; but he uses it to put to ridicule an ancient fable. Here is his account:
Chingintalas is also a province at the verge of the Desert, and lying between north-west and north. It is an extent of sixteen days' journey, and belongs to the Great Kaan, and contains numerous towns and villages. There are three different races of people in itIdolaters, Saracens, and some Nestorian Christians. At the northern extremity of this province there is a mountain in which are excellent veins of steel and ondanique. And you must know that in the same mountain there is a vein of the substance from which Salamander is made. For the real truth is that the Salamander is no beast, as they allege in our part of the world, but is a substance found in the earth; and I will tell you about it.
Everybody must be aware that it can be no animal's nature to live in fire, seeing that every animal is composed of all the four elements. Now I, Marco Polo, had a Turkish acquaintance of the name of Zurficar, and he was a very clever fellow. And this Turk related how he had lived three years in that region on behalf of the Great Kaan, in order to procure those Salamanders for him. He said that the way they got them was by digging in that mountain till they found a certain vein. The substance of this vein was then taken and crushed, and when so treated it divides as it were into fibres of wool, which they set forth to dry. When dry, these fibres were pounded in a great copper mortar, and then washed, so as to remove


all the earth, and to leave only the fibres like fibres of wool. These were then spun, and made into napkins. When first made, these napkins are not very white, but by putting them into the fire for a while they come out as white as snow. And so again whenever they become dirty they are bleached by being put in the fire.
Now this, and naught else, is the truth about the Salamander, and the people of the country all say the same. Any other account of the matter is fabulous nonsense. And I may add that they have at Rome a napkin of this stuff, which the Grand Kaan sent to the Pope.
Modern geographers are uncertain as to the precise location of the province of Chingintalas; but probably it lies somewhere east of Kamul, in Chinese Tatary. The story of the salamander, an animal which could pass unharmed through the fire, is one of the oldest in the world. The ancient Greeks thought it true; and in the Middle Ages it was believed that the salamander's body was covered with a soft white wool which could be made into threads, and spun and woven into cloth. But the general belief was that the creature was like a lizard in shape ; and it was said that if anybody kept a fire burning for one whole year and one day, without it ever once going out, a salamander would appear and play about in the live coals.
So far as we know, Marco Polo was the first to dispose of this fable, and tell the truth about the salamander. The stuff called by the Tatars "sala-


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