Arrival at the Court of Mangu-khan.
We still travelled in the high countries, trending towards the north; and on St Stephen’s day, 26th December, we came to a great plain, on which not the smallest inequality was to be seen, and the next day we arrived at the court of the great Khan. While at the distance of five days, our host wanted us to have gone so far about as would have taken us fifteen day’s journey, and our guide had much difficulty in being allowed to take the direct road. My opinion of this procedure in our host, was, that we might have gone by Onam and Cherule, the original residence of Zingis. On the way, the secretary told me that Baatu, in his letters to Mangu, said that we wanted the assistance of a Tartar army against the Saracens; by which I was much astonished, as I knew the letters from your majesty required no army, and only advised the khan to be a friend to all Christians, to exalt the cross, and to be an enemy to all the enemies of the cross of Christ. And as all the interpreters were from the Greater Armenia, who greatly hated the Saracens, I feared they might have interpreted falsely to serve their own purposes. I therefore held my peace, fearing to gainsay the words of Baatu.
On our arrival at court, our guide had a large house appointed for him, and only a small cottage was given to us three, which would hardly contain our baggage, our beds, and a small fire. Many came to our guide with drink made of rice, in long necked bottles, which had no difference from the best wine, except that it smelt otherwise. We were called soon after, and examined upon our business. I answered, “That hearing Sartach had become a Christian, the king our master had sent us to him with a letter; that he had sent us to Baatu, who had sent us hither, and that he therefore ought to have assigned the cause of our being here.” They then demanded if we would make peace with them. To this I answered, “That having done them no wrong, they had no cause of going to war with your majesty; that your majesty, as a just king, if you had done any wrong, would make reparation, and desire peace; but if warred against without cause,