OF MISSIONARY FRIARS. 239
His empire is called Cathan or Cathay.' It beginneth at the extremity of the east, and runneth down even unto Ynde the Greater ; and stretcheth in a right line westward as far as one may travel in six months.
In this empire there be two great cities, Cambalec and Cassay. And all that are of the Caan's realm, great and small, be his serfs and slaves. And the folk of the land have so great obedience and fear for their lord the Great Caan of Cathay that they dare not to oppose him in any matter or transgress his commandment. Insomuch that once when one of his great princes had misbehaved in battle so as to deserve death, the Grand Caan when he knew it sent him a message desiring that he would send him his head. And as soon as he had read the letter, straightway there in the midst of his people without the slightest opposition or resistance he bowed his head and patiently let them cut it off. The Caan maintaineth justice right well, and that as well for great as for small.
Once a year, on the first day of the new moon of March, which is the first day of their year, the said emperor shows himself to his people dressed out in purple and gold and silver and precious stones. Then all the folk drop on their knees before him, and adore him, and say, " Lo this is our God upon earth, who giveth us in lieu of scarcity plenty and great riches, who giveth us peace and maintaineth justice !"
Then the emperor refuseth justice to no man, but thanks be to God Almighty, he delivereth the prisoners, and bestoweth his mercies and acts of compassion on all manner of people, who have need thereof, and require a favour at his hand. Only there be three manner of folk to whom he rendereth never mercy : to wit, such an one as hath laid
a vast army; the horses were clad in mail; the swords of countless horsemen flashed in the sun ; every rider had three led horses behind him; like a roaring flood and a raging lion this host devastated the country round Darband." (V. Hammer-Purgstall, Gesch. der Ilchane, pp. 272, 372.)
1 Khitan, and Khitai.