Of our first Entering among the Tartars, and of their Ingratitude.
When we first entered among these Tartars, after having made us wait for them a long time, under the shade of certain black carts, a considerable number of them on horseback surrounded us. Their first question was, whether we had ever before been among them; and being answered in the negative, they began impudently to beg some of our victuals; and we gave them some of the biscuits and wine, which we had brought with us from Constantinople. Having drank one flaggon of our wine they demanded more, saying, that a man does not enter a house with one foot only. But we excused ourselves, as not being well provided. They next inquired, whence we came, and whither we were going? To this I answered, that hearing Sartach was become a Christian, we wished to go to him, that we might present your majestys letters to him. They then asked if we came of our own accord, or were sent upon this errand. To this I said, that no one had compelled me, and that I had come voluntarily, and by the desire of my superiors; being cautious not to say that I was the ambassador from your majesty. They then required to know if our carts contained gold and silver, or precious vestments, as presents for Sartach. To which I answered, that Sartach should see what we carried when we came to his presence, and that they had nothing to do with such questions, but ought to conduct me to their captain; that he, if he thought proper, might direct me to be carried to Sartach, otherwise I should return. There then was in this province one Scacatai, or Zagathai, related to Baatu, to whom the emperor of Constantinople had written requisitorial letters, that I might be permitted to proceed on my journey. On being informed of this, they supplied us with horses and oxen, and appointed two men to conduct us on our journey, and those which we had brought with us from Soldaia returned. Yet they made us wait a long while, continually begging our bread to give to their children; and they admired and coveted every thing they saw about our servants, as their knives, gloves, purses, and points. But when we excused ourselves from their importunity, alleging that we had a long journey before us, and must not give away those things which were necessary for ourselves, they reviled me as a niggard; and though they took nothing by force, they were exceedingly impudent, and importunate in begging, to have every thing they saw. If a man gives them any thing, it may be considered as thrown away, for they have no gratitude; and as they look upon themselves as the lords of the world, they think that nothing should be refused to them by any one; yet, if one gives them nothing, and afterwards stands in need of their assistance, they will not help him. They gave us some of their butter milk, called Apram, which is extremely sour. After this we left them, thinking that