240 LETTERS AND REPORTS
violent and reprobate hands upon his father or his mother ; such as hath forged the king's money, which is of paper ; and such as hath done any one to death by giving him poison to drink. To these three rendereth he never mercy.
On this day also he bestoweth many gifts, and great plenty of gold and silver and precious stones. And the smallest of the gifts that he bestoweth is worth at the least a balismer
of gold, whilst they are often worth 2 balismes. And
one balisme is worth a thousand golden florins.
And the said emperor is pitiful and very compassionate. He provideth always for himself and for his lieges stores of wheat and of rice and of all manner of corn ; and for this he hath barns and garners uncountable ; and so when there is dearth in the land he openeth his garners, and giveth forth of his wheat and his rice for a half what others are selling it at. And thus he maketh great abundance to arise in the time of greatest dearth.3 Likewise he maketh great alms to the poor for the love of God, and when any one is so infirm of body that he cannot win his bread, or so reduced to poverty that he hath not wherewithal to live, nor hath friends to do him good, then the emperor causeth provision to be made for all his needs.4 And thus Both he throughout all his kingdom, nor doth he oppress any man throughout all his realm by extraordinary and strange exactions. And know ye for sure that he hath such riches from his revenues, and from the produce of his taxes and customs,' that his wealth and power are past telling. And he hath treasuries and great houses all full of gold and silver, and gems, and of other kinds of wealth and precious things, and especially in his chief towns.
Also in all his realm from city to city hath he other houses wherein dwell couriers who are sped both on foot and on
See note to Odoric, p. 115. 2 Wanting in the original.
8 On these magazines for public relief, see Marco Polo, i, 29. h See Jordanus, p. 46, and Marco Polo as above. " Gables de truuaiges et de malestouttes."