by JOHN LUCAROTTI
first broadcast - 22nd February, 1964
(A Snowy Pass in a bleak mountainous range. BARBARA and SUSAN are outside the TARDIS; SUSAN is kneeling down on her hands and knees in the snow, looking at a large footprint.)
SUSAN: Must've been made by a giant!
(IAN emerges from the TARDIS, and kneels next to SUSAN as they examine the footprint.)
SUSAN: What do you make of this?
IAN: Well, it could be a perfectly ordinary footprint, Susan, and the Sun's melted the edges and made it look a bit bigger.
(SUSAN hadn't thought of that.)
(The DOCTOR staggers breathlessly from the ship.)
IAN: You alright, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Yes... Oh, a little bit out of breath. Oh, that's quite understandable. After all, we're several thousand feet above sea level.
SUSAN: Do you know where we are, then, Grandfather?
(The DOCTOR is prepared to take credit, even if he does not know where they are.)
DOCTOR: Well, I directed the ship towards Earth and it looks as though I've been successful!
SUSAN: (Pointing to the footprints) But what about that?
DOCTOR: That? Oh, I can't see anything without my glasses! Anyway, I don't like this place! You'll have to excuse me... I've got a lot of work to do first
(He bustles back into the TARDIS, mumbling to himself.)
IAN: Barbara, I wonder... do you think it could be the Earth? If it were, where do you think we could be? In the Alps?
BARBARA: Or it could be the Andes...
SUSAN: Himalayas - the roof of the world!
IAN: The roof of the world? I wonder... If only... Ha! Well... the Doctor isn't very reliable, you know. Mustn't count on it.
(The DOCTOR emerges once more from the TARDIS, in a panic.)
DOCTOR: Oh, dear, dear, dear, dear! We're always in trouble! Isn't this extraordinary - it follows us everywhere!
IAN: What's the matter?
DOCTOR: All the lights in the ship have gone out! The whole circuit has burned itself to a cinder, and added to that it affected the water - we haven't got any!
IAN: Well, the water's no bother, Doctor. I mean, we've got snow...plenty of it... but how about the heating?
DOCTOR: Oh, the heating as well! Everything's gone to pot!
BARBARA: But that's serious... we could freeze to death!
(The DOCTOR turns angrily to BARBARA)
DOCTOR: Serious!... Are you telling? - there's no need for you to tell me that, really!
IAN: I think I'd better try and find some fuel.
DOCTOR: Fuel? Now where on earth do you expect to find fuel here, hmm?
(IAN is irritated by the DOCTOR's fatalistic response.)
IAN: Well, I must try, mustn't I?
DOCTOR: Oh well, I wish you luck!
BARBARA: I'll come with you, Ian.
IAN: Thank you.
SUSAN: Yes, me too!
IAN: No, Susan, you stay here.
DOCTOR: You stay with me, child. You might be able to help me.
IAN: Oh, come on, Barbara, we haven't much time!
DOCTOR: Now, Susan, go into the ship and fetch me the 2-L-O, will you? You know what it is. Even if I do find the fault, I don't suppose I shall be able to repair it before it gets dark, and then we shall all freeze to death!
(IAN and BARBARA set off into the snow.)
(Further down the mountain, IAN and BARBARA are still struggling through the blizzard. BARBARA is exhausted.)
BARBARA: Ian, wait a minute. I... I must rest!
(IAN isn't prepared to give up yet, and urges BARBARA on.)
IAN: Come on, Barbara! We haven't found anything yet. We must find something!
BARBARA: Alright then, you go on... I'll catch up with you
(IAN moves on into the blizzard, leaving BARBARA to herself for a moment.)
BARBARA: Oh, it's hopeless!
(Suddenly, she sees a dark figure through the snow and cries out.)
Ian! (IAN rushes back.)
IAN: What is it? What's the matter?
BARBARA: I... there was... there was an animal or something! Just standing there staring at me!
(She points in the direction she had seen the figure. IAN looks and, apparently seeing nothing unusual, shrugs his shoulders.)
You don't believe me, do you? Well, look at these footprints!
(She draws his attention to the indentations in the snow. IAN closely examines them.)
IAN: I'd better take you back to the ship.
(They head back the way they came.)
(The DOCTOR and SUSAN are examining a broken piece of equipment from the TARDIS.)
SUSAN: Can you mend it, Grandfather, or have you got to make a new one?
DOCTOR: I'm afraid it's going to need a new one, dear... and it's going to take me days! Oh well... I don't know, really... I always seem to...
(IAN returns, leading a distressed BARBARA.)
DOCTOR: Well, Chesterton?
IAN: Just as you predicted, Doctor, nothing but snow and ice
BARBARA: Have you found the fault?
DOCTOR: Yes, yes, yes, but it's going to take such a long time...and time we don't have! Now the only chance is to try and get down to a lower a-altitude and, er... er... you know... before it gets cold... and we...
BARBARA: Doctor... there are strange things on the mountain. I- I saw one of them!
DOCTOR: What's she talking about now?
IAN: Well, I only saw a print.
DOCTOR: Print? What sort of print - paws, hooves, what?
IAN: To tell you the truth, I thought it was made by a fur boot.
(BARBARA sounds very distressed at IAN's disbelief.)
BARBARA: No, Ian, I-I'm sure it wasn't human!
DOCTOR: And if it were, that means there's shelter nearby!
(Off in the distance, SUSAN sees what appears to be a brightly coloured wagon, quickly travelling away from them.)
(BARBARA sees it also.)
BARBARA: Look, there it is!
IAN: Quick, after it! It's our only chance of shelter!
(SUSAN attempts to help the DOCTOR along as they hurry after the wagon.)
SUSAN: Come on, Grandfather!
DOCTOR: Alright. Yes, yes, yes, yes!
(The travellers quickly reach a pass in the mountains which obscures the view in any direction. The wagon has disappeared from view.)
IAN: Which way'd it go?
(They have very little time to ponder before they suddenly find themselves surrounded by Mongol SOLDIERS.)
SUSAN: Ah! Grandfather!
(IAN tries to help them remain calm.)
IAN: Keep still!
(Sensing they are in great danger, he tries to communicate with the SOLDIERS)
We're travellers, lost on the mountains. Will you give us shelter?
(SUSAN and BARBARA make anxious noises, as the apparent leader of the group, TEGANA, steps forward.)
TEGANA: Hear me, Mongols... in these parts live evil spirits, who take our likeness to deceive us and then lead us to our deaths. Let us therefore destroy these evil spirits before they destroy us!
IAN: We're not evil spirits! We are people like yourselves!
TEGANA: Destroy them!
(The SOLDIERS prepare to kill the four travellers, but are interrupted by a EUROPEAN man, who suddenly arrives on the scene.)
EUROPEAN: Put up your swords!
TEGANA: Would you have us killed? These are evil spirits!
EUROPEAN: I command you in the name of Kublai Khan!
(The SOLDIERS back off at the mention of this name. The EUROPEAN looks at the DOCTOR, then turns to IAN.)
The old man has the mountain sickness?
IAN: Yes, he has.
EUROPEAN: My caravan is further down the pass... Come.
(He beckons to them to follow as he moves off, followed by the SOLDIERS.)
IAN: Come on, Doctor!
DOCTOR: (coughing) Hm...hm...
(They set off after the EUROPEAN.)
SUSAN: Who is he, Barbara?
BARBARA: I was asking myself the same question.
(Some time later, the EUROPEAN leads the travellers into his tent, where a young girl is cooking some food.)
EUROPEAN: We have guests, Ping-Cho. They are cold and hungry.
PING-CHO: Yes, Messr. Marco.
IAN: Sit down, Doctor.
(The DOCTOR does so, and PING-CHO brings him some soup.)
DOCTOR: Thank you, my dear.
(Taking note of the server and host, SUSAN comments to BARBARA.)
SUSAN: Not like her, or any of the others.
BARBARA: No, he's a European, Susan, and he mentioned Kublai Khan...
SUSAN: Kublai Khan?
BARBARA: He was a great Mongol leader, who conquered all of Asia. He had a European in his service... He was a Venetian and his name...
EUROPEAN: (Referring to the soup) I'm afraid the... err... the liquid is not too warm, but the cold here is so intense, it even robs a flame of its heat.
DOCTOR: Oh, it's excellent nourishment, sir.
IAN: (Correcting the EUROPEAN) The cold can't affect the heat of the flame, sir. The liquid boils at a lower temperature, because there's so little air up here.
EUROPEAN: You mean... the air is responsible?
IAN: Well, the lack of it... just as the lack of it is responsible for the Doctor's mountain sickness.
BARBARA: Is your name Marco Polo?
EUROPEAN: It is, my lady, and may I ask who you are?
DOCTOR: Oh we're... we're travellers... yes. Th-that's my grandchild, Susan, and that's Miss Wright, and that's Charlton.
(He laughs to himself)
IAN: (Correcting him) Chesterton. Ian Chesterton
POLO: My companions are the Lady Ping-Cho and the Warlord Tegana. We travel to Shang Tu.
BARBARA: Shang Tu? That's in China, isn't it?
POLO: China? I do not know this place... Shang Tu is in Cathay!
BARBARA: Oh, silly of me. Yes, of course... Cathay
POLO: Well, you must all be very tired. Ping-Cho, you will share your quarters with...?
(He indicates SUSAN)
POLO: Susan. I will sleep here with the others, and Lady...?
(He indicates BARBARA)
BARBARA: Miss Wright.
POLO: Miss Wright, you will have mine.
BARBARA: Thank you.
DOCTOR: Thank you... you saved our lives!
POLO: I am rather curious to know why you were wandering around the mountainside at night, but questions can wait until morning.
DOCTOR: Oh, there-there-there were two, young man, that I would like to ask.
POLO: Well, ask them.
DOCTOR: Er... what year is this and where are we, hmm?
POLO: (surprised) You do not know?
DOCTOR: Oh... that is why I'm asking you!
POLO: How long have you been travelling? It is Twelve Hundred and Eighty Nine and this is the Plain of Pamir, known to those who travel to Cathay as The Roof of the World.
IAN: The Roof of the World?
DOCTOR: Twelve Hundred and Eighty Nine, ah!
(Later that night, SUSAN and PING-CHO lie awake in their tent, restless.)
PING-CHO: Are you asleep, Susan?
PING-CHO: Where are you from?
SUSAN: That's a very difficult question to answer, Ping-Cho.
PING-CHO: You do not know where your home is?
SUSAN: Well, I've had... many homes... in many places. What about you?
PING-CHO: I come from Samarkand. My father is government official there.
SUSAN: But I thought Mr. Polo said that...
PING-CHO: Messr Marco! That's what we call him in Cathay...
SUSAN: Well, I thought Ms...Messr. Marco said that you were going to Shang Tu. Are you on holiday?
PING-CHO: No... Kublai Khan's summer palace is in Shang Tu...I am going there to be married.
SUSAN: What? But how old are you?
PING-CHO: I am in my sixteenth year.
SUSAN: Well, so am I!
PING-CHO: Do you marry at our age in your land? Here it is the custom.
SUSAN: Is your fiance handsome?
PING-CHO: My what?
SUSAN: Your... the man you're going to marry.
PING-CHO: I have never seen him.
PING-CHO: The marriage has been arranged by my family. I know only two things about him.
SUSAN: Well, what are they?
PING-CHO: He is very important man...
SUSAN: That's a good start.
(PING-CHO suddenly sounds very serious.)
PING-CHO: ...and he's seventy-five years old.
(POLO and TEGANA are sitting around a bonfire)
TEGANA: You should have let me kill them!
POLO: Why? Because their clothes are different from ours... because their words are unfamiliar to our ears? No, Tegana, they are travellers.
TEGANA: They are evil spirits... sorcerers... magicians! Tomorrow, if we live until then, you may see that I speak the truth.
POLO: I think the Sun's rays will dispel the shadows from your mind, Tegana.
TEGANA: Is that what you believe! Listen, the carriage they travel in has no wheels! It just stands there like a warlord's tomb on one end! And another thing... it is not large enough to carry four people.
POLO: It must be!
TEGANA: I say it is not... and yet, I saw all four walk from it! Upon my sword, I swear it to you!
(Time passes, and IAN and BARBARA join POLO and TEGANA by the fire. POLO addresses IAN as they arrive,)
POLO: So, this is your caravan?
IAN: Yes, the Doctor calls it the TARDIS.
POLO: Where are the wheels?
IAN: It doesn't have any.
POLO: Then how does it move?
(IAN gestures expansively)
IAN: Through the air!
TEGANA: (To POLO) Did I not say they that they were evil spirits?
POLO: (changing the subject) Are you of the Buddhist faith?
IAN: No, why?
POLO: Well, at the Khan's court in Peking, I have seen Buddhist monks make cups of wine fly through the air unaided and offer themselves to the Great Khan's lips. I do not understand it, but I have seen it!
(He turns to BARBARA and gestures towards the TARDIS.)
There is room for all of you inside here, Miss Wright?
(POLO walks up to the TARDIS and indicates the doors.)
POLO: And one enters here?
BARBARA: It's locked.
POLO: Where is the key?
BARBARA: The Doctor has it, and you wouldn't let him come up here.
POLO: Oh yes, he has the mountain sickness. Have you the power to make it fly?
IAN: No, only the Doctor has that power.
POLO: Why is it here?
SUSAN: It's damaged!
IAN: Um, er... part of it is broken.
POLO: But it could be moved by hand?
IAN: Oh yes, if you had sufficient men.
POLO: Well, we'll make a sledge and take it down the pass... then we shall see!
(Meanwhile, in the tent, PING-CHO is cooking breakfast, when the DOCTOR enters.)
DOCTOR: Ping-Cho, this smells very, very good! What is it?
PING-CHO: Bean-sprout soup, my lord.
DOCTOR: Ah... mmm... allow me!
(He tastes the soup.)
Oh, it's delicious, delicious!
PING-CHO: My lord is kind.
DOCTOR: Hmm... you know... it's rather surprising to find the daughter of a high government official working as a servant in Marco Polo's caravan.
PING-CHO: I wish to serve, my lord, although, among Messr. Marco's retinue, there is a man who calls himself a cook.
DOCTOR: His name wouldn't be Tegana, would it?
PING-CHO: (shocked) Oh no, my lord!...The Warlord Tegana is a special emissary from the camp of the great Mongol Lord Khan Noghai, who has been at war with Kublai Khan.
DOCTOR: Hmm, yeah - Mongol fighting Mongol. (laughs)
PING-CHO: The war is over, my lord. Noghai has sued for peace and Tegana travels to Kublai's court to discuss the armistice plans...
DOCTOR: (laughing) Yes... oh well... yes... well... For an emissary of peace, he has rather bloodthirsty habits, doesn't he?
(MARCO POLO enters with IAN, BARBARA and SUSAN.)
POLO: I find your caravan most unusual, Doctor.
DOCTOR: Yes... uh, Messr. Marco, it is different!
POLO: And in need of repair?
DOCTOR: That is true, hmm.
SUSAN: Messr. Marco has ordered a sledge to be made. He's going to bring the TARDIS down here.
DOCTOR: Oh indeed? That's charming of you... very charming of you! It won't take me very long to repair... a day or two... but I assure you that I shall not hold up your journey any longer than is necessary.
POLO: I'm afraid we can't stay here... one crosses the Plain of Pamir as quickly as possible. However, we will be spending a few days at Lop.
BARBARA: Lop? Where's that?
POLO: It's a town on the edge of the Gobi Desert, beyond Kashgar and Yarkand.
DOCTOR: I see, and you will be taking us along with you, including the TARDIS?
POLO: Doctor, I once transported an entire army and its equipment from... ah, Cathay to India... all without loss.
DOCTOR: Oh good!... good... then I can work as we proceed.
(The DOCTOR laughs. POLO responds plainly.)
POLO: Um... no.
DOCTOR: Why not, hmm?
POLO: The Mongol bearers still half believe that you are evil spirits. They also believe that outside your caravan, you are harmless. However, should any of you attempt to enter, there would be trouble.
DOCTOR: Hmm...I see. You saved our lives, Messr. Marco... and the least we can do is to respect your wishes. No one will enter the TARDIS until we reach Lop.
(The caravan sets out on the journey to Lop, with the TARDIS in tow. The screen shows a map of the route, with POLO's voice providing narration.)
POLO: (oov) Success... my plan has worked! The strangers and their unusual caravan accompany me to Lop. Our route takes us across the Roof of the World, down to the Kashgar Valley and southeast to Tarkand. Here, we join the Old Silk Road, along which the commerce and culture of a thousand years has travelled to and from Cathay. I wonder what the strangers' reaction will be when I tell them what I propose to do?
(POLO's caravan arrives at the way station in the busy town of Lop, where they are greeted by YENG, the proprietor.)
POLO: My caravan is large, Yeng, so I shall need plenty of food and water before venturing out into the Gobi Desert.
(YENG goes off to make the necessary preparations for the caravan's stay.)
(Later, the travellers are relaxing in the comfort of their new lodgings at the way-station.)
POLO: Is the accommodation to your liking, Ping-Cho?
PING-CHO: Thank you, Messr. Marco. It is most comfortable.
SUSAN: Oh, I think it's fab!
PING-CHO: Fab? What is that, Susan?
SUSAN: Well... it's... um... it means wonderful! It's a verb we often use on Earth.
(Sensing that SUSAN is not thinking about what she says, the DOCTOR quickly changes the subject.)
DOCTOR: Oh, Messr Marco... these way-stations... do you have many of these in Cathay?
POLO: Yes, the Khan has them dotted at regular intervals throughout his domain. Those who work in his service and wear the Khan's gold seal have the right to demand anything they may require: provisions, horses, shelter.
(SUSAN is impressed with the seal POLO has produced, and wants to look closer.)
SUSAN: May I have a look, please?
POLO: Of course.
SUSAN: Thank you.
IAN: (Looking outside) Doctor!
IAN: They've set the TARDIS up in the courtyard.
DOCTOR: Oh, excellent, excellent! Yes... well, if you'll pardon me, I have a lot of work to do and...
(He trails off as he heads towards the TARDIS.)
(The DOCTOR makes to enter the TARDIS, but he is stopped by two of the MONGOL SOLDIERS, who prevent him from entering. He returns to confront POLO in irritation at this turn of events.)
(The DOCTOR returns from the Courtyard.)
DOCTOR: What does this mean?
POLO: Please sit down, Doctor.
DOCTOR: I don't wish to sit down... I want you to call your guards off!
POLO: Please, be seated.
POLO: I beg you to hear me out!
DOCTOR: But I have work to do!
(BARBARA tries to calm the DOCTOR down.)
BARBARA: I think, perhaps, we should listen to him... come on.
DOCTOR: (Not convinced) Oh! Very well! Bah!
(He sits down.)
POLO: My home is Venice... I left there with my father and my uncle to come to Cathay in Twelve Seventy-One. The journey to Peking took us three and a half years. When I arrived at the Khan's court, I was twenty-one. I was an alert young man, good at languages, and willing to learn. The Khan liked me.
DOCTOR: Oh, really?
POLO: On my twenty-fifth birthday, I was given an appointment in the Khan's service.
BARBARA: Twelve Seventy-Seven?
POLO: It was, as you say, Twelve Seventy-Seven. Since then, I have travelled to every corner of his domain and beyond it. Two years ago, my father, my uncle and I asked the Khan for permission to go home. He refused. I think we had all served him too well.
DOCTOR: Well, I really don't see what this has to do with my repairing the TARDIS!
POLO: Doctor, I have not seen my home for eighteen years. I want to go back!
DOCTOR: Well, ask the Khan again!
POLO: I intend to! But this time, I shall offer him a gift so magnificent that he will not be able to refuse me.
(IAN suddenly sees what POLO's intentions are.)
IAN: You mean to give the Doctor's caravan to him?
(There is a very long pause. Finally, the DOCTOR speaks.)
DOCTOR: You're mad!
POLO: You can make another.
DOCTOR: (exasperated) What! In Peking, or Shang Tu?
(Still thinking his plan reasonable, POLO attempts to allay the DOCTOR's fears)
POLO: You do me an injustice, Doctor! I will not leave you stranded in Cathay, just as I did not let you die on the mountain. No, you will come with me to Venice and make another one there!
(The DOCTOR is even less convinced and more angry.)
DOCTOR: Oh... you think so... really? Oh no!... Oh no!
(IAN tries to reason with POLO)
IAN: Marco, it's impossible!
POLO: Surely, for a man who possesses a flying caravan, all things are possible?
IAN: No! We need special metals, materials... things that don't exist in Venice! I'm afraid you don't understand all the problems involved.
(The DOCTOR sees it getting more and more ludicrous.)
DOCTOR: And neither do you, young man!
POLO: Well, travel home by ship! We trade with every port in the world. It may take you longer, but you'll get there eventually!
(The DOCTOR gives up hope of reasonable discourse)
DOCTOR: Eventually? He doesn't know what he's talking about. The man's a lunatic! Ho!
POLO: No, Doctor... desperate. There are many men who are jealous of the Polo influence at court, and the Khan suffers from an affliction for which there is no cure.
BARBARA: What's that?
POLO: Old age. If he dies, I may never see Venice again!
(The DOCTOR responds sulkily)
DOCTOR: Well, that is your problem, not mine!
POLO: I have just made it yours, Doctor!
(BARBARA is desperate to reason with POLO.)
BARBARA: But you do see Venice again, Marco, I know you do!
IAN: What makes you so sure that the Doctor's caravan is a suitable present? The Doctor is the only one who can fly it!
POLO: I told you about the Buddhist monks... they will discover its secret!
(The DOCTOR begins to laugh.)
A caravan that flies... do you imagine what this will mean to the Khan? It will make him the most powerful ruler the world has ever known; stronger than Hannibal... mightier than Alexander the Great!
IAN: Marco... you don't understand!
(POLO has had enough of the debate, and defiantly ends it.)
POLO: I refuse to listen to any more. My mind is made up! Your caravan goes with me to Kublai Khan!
(The DOCTOR laughs all the louder, while BARBARA tries to calm him down.)
BARBARA: Doctor, come on. Come and sit down.
DOCTOR: (Between laughs) Oh well... what a mess!
(SUSAN also tries to calm him down)
SUSAN: Grandfather... Grandfather!
DOCTOR: (Still laughing) Yes. Go by sea, he says!!
SUSAN: Why are you laughing? He means it!
BARBARA: Doctor, he's serious!
DOCTOR: I know he is! Yes!
(He continues laughing uncontraollably.)
SUSAN: But what are you going to do?
DOCTOR: (Practically rolling about on the floor) I haven't the faintest idea! Oh, ho, ho, ho...!
(Outside the city walls, a meeting is taking place between a mysterious TARTAR MAN and TEGANA. The MAN gives TEGANA a container of some sort.)
MAN: Be careful, my lord. One drop will poison an army!
TEGANA: I will use it well... on all but the first of Marco Polo's water gourds, for tomorrow, the caravan sets out to cross the Gobi Desert. Now, you will follow us and on the third night, I will walk back to you...then we're gonna ride back here to Lop, wait for two days and then... return to the caravan to collect the thing of magic that will bring the mighty Kublai Khan to his knees!
NEXT EPISODE : THE SINGING SANDS
CAROLE ANN FORD
Title Music by
RON GRAINER and
the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Incidental Music by
PHILIP JAMES FAIRWEATHER