It was a busy evening. Travellers from all directions were setting up shop around the town.The beasts were tied down, the tents were pitched and campfires were lit under the starry sky.Marco and a stranger were conversing over there rather Spartan meal. The stranger said, "I come from the East and have seen the wonders of Fair Cathay. Grand palaces and castles. They have a wondrous drink there that is made from crushing leaves and boiling them in water. Tis said it can cure all ills."Marco asked, "Anything else?" The stranger replied, "They have a most wonderful armor. It is made of the skin of a beast called a Salamander that lives in the depths of the earth where there are fires so great as to be kindled by demons and sorcerers. Only this beast can survive. You do not believe me? I tell you true, I sold some of this Salamander skin in the town I last visited. But what wonders are there in the place where you come from?"Marco said, "I come from a most wondrous and fair city. The people there are valiant and wise,so wise that they do not need a king to rule over themselves. Rather they chose their own lord and his Councilors and make his decrees." "Impossible..." said the stranger. Marco continued, "My people live on islands in the midst of the sea. We live by fishing and by trading our wealth far off and by selling strangers the cunning contrivances of our hands.We have great ships upon the sea some of them carrying cargos of wines, and spices, and silks of Cathay, and incense from the lands of the Saracens. And when we go into battle wego upon great ships that each carry upon them hundreds of warriors. The sea is ours andfew dare challenge us upon it.But the strangest thing is our city. It is built on a multitude of islands. And instead of streets we have water, and when we wish to get about in our city we row boats from place to place."The stranger said, "My lad, you are good; I'll have to tell that one at the next town. Cities with watery streets indeed!"Marco smiled, "You're the one that tried to convince me of a magic drink made of crushed leaves..."
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