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CHAPTER XXIII

And after a while he got up from his knees and set his teeth on his sobbing and threw his head back and squared his shoulders and notched his belt and faced the three ancient men.

"Well," he said, "that's that."

He went over and knelt and kissed the Khan's hand.

"You'll be seeing her soon, sir, you'll be telling her. . . everything. . ."

"Yes, son, I'll tell her."

Then he patted the Sanang on the shoulder, and "Thanks!" said he, simply, and he took Li Po's hand in both his, and they looked at each other for a moment and no words came to either.

"Well," he says at length, "I'll be hitting the road then. I'll not say good-by to any of you. I'll be seeing you all pretty soon again. There's a war on between Venice and the Genoese, and where that's hottest you'll find me, and the quicker my end, the better I'll be pleased. But it would be like my luck," he said bitterly, "not to be killed, but to be taken prisoner and to end my life in some lousy jail. Oh, well, we'll hope for the best." He laughed. "So -- so long!"

And the four of them looked at one another, trying to smile, and great grief on them.

"China will miss you, my son," said old Kubla.

"It's nothing to how I'll be missing China," said Marco Polo. "Venice! It's only a sound to me. I'll be an exile in the city of my birth. But what's the use of complaining? If it's go, it's go. But it'll be funny," said he. "My body will be there, but my heart and mind will be in China. There'll be a gray eye always turning to China, and it will never see China. . .Queer!. . .All the voices and all the instruments in Saint Mark's, and in my ears the little drums of China. . .All the sunlight will be glinting on the Grand Canal, but the little rain of China -- the little rain of China will be falling in my heart. . .

"Ah, well, if it's go, it's go. I'd better be hitting the road. So. . .I'll say good-by for the present. . .and. . .

"Oh, my God Almighty!. . ."



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