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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
The Marvelous Riches of Prester John
By Sir John Mandeville (Fourteenth Century)
From ‘The Adventures

IN the Land of Prester John be many divers Things and many precious Stones, so great and so large, that Men make of them Vessels, as Platters, Dishes, and Cups. And many other Marvels be there, that it were too cumbrous and too long to put in Writing of Books; but of the principal Isles and of his Estate and of his Law, I shall tell you some Part….  1
  And he hath under him 72 Provinces, and in every Province is a King. And these Kings have Kings under them, and all be Tributaries to Prester John. And he hath in his Lordships many great Marvels.  2
  For in his Country is the Sea that Men call the Gravelly Sea, that is all Gravel and Sand, without any Drop of Water, and it ebbeth and floweth in great Waves as other Seas do, and it is never still nor at Peace in any manner of Season. And no Man may pass that Sea by Ship, nor by any manner of Craft, and therefore may no Man know what Land is beyond that Sea. And albeit that it have no Water, yet Men find therein and on the Banks full good Fishes of other manner of Nature and shape than Men find in any other Sea, and they be of right good Taste and delicious for Man’s Meat.  3
  And a 3 Days’ Journey long from that Sea be great Mountains, out of the which goeth out a great River that cometh out of Paradise. And it is full of precious Stones, without any Drop of Water, and it runneth through the Desert on the one Side, so that it maketh the Sea gravelly; and it runneth into that Sea, and there it endeth. And that River runneth, also, 3 Days in the Week and bringeth with him great Stones and the Rocks also therewith, and that great Plenty. And anon, as they be entered into the Gravelly Sea, they be seen no more, but lost for evermore. And in those 3 Days that that River runneth, no Man dare enter into it; but on other Days Men dare enter well enough.  4
  Also beyond that River, more upward to the Deserts, is a great Plain all gravelly, between the Mountains. And in that Plain, every Day at the Sun-rising, begin to grow small Trees, and they grow till Midday, bearing Fruit; but no Man dare take of that Fruit, for it is a Thing of Faerie. And after Midday they decrease and enter again into the Earth, so that at the going down of the Sun they appear no more. And so they do, every Day. And that is a great Marvel.  5
  In that Desert be many Wild Men, that be hideous to look on; for they be horned, and they speak naught, but they grunt, as Pigs. And there is also great Plenty of wild Hounds. And there be many Popinjays [or Parrots] that they call Psittakes in their Language. And they speak of their own Nature, and say ‘Salve!’ [God save you!] to Men that go through the Deserts, and speak to them as freely as though it were a Man that spoke. And they that speak well have a large Tongue, and have 5 Toes upon a Foot. And there be also some of another Manner, that have but 3 Toes upon a Foot; and they speak not, or but little, for they cannot but cry.  6
  This Emperor Prester John when he goeth into Battle against any other Lord, he hath no Banners borne before him; but he hath 3 Crosses of Gold, fine, great, and high, full of precious Stones, and every one of the Crosses be set in a Chariot, full richly arrayed. And to keep every Cross, be ordained 10,000 Men of Arms and more than 100,000 Men on Foot, in manner as when Men would keep a Standard in our Countries, when that we be in a Land of War….  7
  He dwelleth commonly in the City of Susa. And there is his principal Palace, that is so rich and noble that no Man will believe it by Estimation, but he had seen it. And above the chief Tower of the Palace be 2 round Pommels or Balls of Gold, and in each of them be 2 Carbuncles great and large, that shine full bright upon the Night. And the principal gates of his Palace be of precious Stone that Men call Sardonyx, and the Border and the Bars be of Ivory. And the Windows of the Halls and Chambers be of Crystal. And the Tables whereon Men eat, some be of Emeralds, some of Amethyst, and some of Gold, full of precious Stones; and the Pillars that bear up the Tables be of the same precious Stones. And of the Steps to go up to his Throne, where he sitteth at Meat, one is of Onyx, another is of Crystal, and another of green Jasper, another of Amethyst, another of Sardine, another of Cornelian, and the 7th, that he setteth his Feet on, is of Chrysolite. And all these Steps be bordered with fine Gold, with the other precious Stones, set with great orient Pearls. And the Sides of the Seat of his Throne be of Emeralds, and bordered with Gold full nobly, and dubbed with other precious Stones and great Pearls. And all the Pillars in his Chamber be of fine Gold with Precious Stones, and with many Carbuncles, that give Light upon the Night to all People. And albeit that the Carbuncles give Light right enough, nevertheless, at all Times burneth a Vessel of Crystal full of Balm, to give good Smell and Odor to the Emperor, and to void away all wicked Eyes and Corruptions.  8

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