“But he holds my wife and my daughter hostage against my return!”


1292, Cambulac

“He is leaving this life,” Bayan said, his expression somber, “and he knows it. While he lives, you are safe here in Everything Under the Heavens. When he dies…”

It was nothing Marco had not known before he had requested this audience. Many times over the past several years, ever since the Khan’s health had begun to fail, the Polos had petitioned to leave the court and return home to Venice. Each time they had been refused, partly because the Great Khan feared what the loss of such effective tools would do to his own power and prestige, and partly because he was truly fond of them.

There was that much more urgency for his departure now that the Khan lay dying. The twelve barons of the Shieng were jealous of his influence over their leader. While the Khan lived, their spite would be kept in check. When the Khan died… “If we leave so soon, then I must return home at once,” Marco said at last. “There is much to be done.” His smile was rueful. “Shu Lin will be furious to be given so little time to pack.”

Bayan did not smile back. “Alas…”

Marco stiffened. “There is a problem?”

Bayan placed his cup on the low table with exact precision, and delivered his next statement in a manner that showed that he knew just how unwelcome the words would be. “Our master the Great Khan has said that the beautiful Shu Lin and your equally lovely daughter, Shu Ming, must await your return here in Cambaluc.”

“What!” Marco found himself on his feet without remembering how he got there.

Bayan smoothed the air with both palms. “Gently, my friend, gently. Sit. Sit.”

After a tense moment Marco subsided to his pillows, his mind in turmoil. “But he gave her to me. She was a gift from the Great Khan, to me personally, Marco Polo, his most valued emissary. Or so he said.” He could not quite keep the bitterness from his voice.

“Our master the Great Khan does not go back on his given word,” Bayan said.

“But he holds my wife and my daughter hostage against my return!”

I read The Adventures of Marco Polo and by his own account he loved the ladies. He was all over eastern Asia for twenty years in service to Kublai Khan and he had to have scattered some seed around. I wondered what happened to those kids. Silk and Song is the story of one of his grandchildren, Johanna, who travels the Silk Road west from China to England during the years 1322 to 1327. –Dana

Kindle US

Kindle UK

Chatter Silk and Song

Dana View All →

Author and founder of Storyknife.org.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: