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The fish, as soon as ever it perceives the hand,1 shuts its shell and covers up its treasures, being well aware that it is for them that it is sought; and if it happens to catch the hand,2 it cuts it off with the sharp edge of the shell. And no punishment is there that could be more justly inflicted. There are other penalties added as well, seeing that the greater part of these pearls are only to be found among rocks and crags, while on the other hand, those which lie out in the main sea are generally accompanied by sea-dogs.3 And yet, for all this, the women will not banish these gems from their ears! Some writers say,4 that these animals live in communities, just like swarms of bees, each of them being governed by one remarkable for its size and its venerable old age;5 while at the same time it is possessed of marvellous skill in taking all due pre- cautions against danger; the divers, they say, take especial care to find these, and when once they are taken, the others stray to and fro, and are easily caught in theirnets. We learn also that as soon as they are taken they are placed under a thick layer of salt in earthen-ware vessels; as the flesh is gradually consumed, certain knots,6 which form the pearls, are disengaged7 from their bodies, and fall to the bottom of the vessel.

1 Isidorus of Charax, as quoted by Athenæus, B. iii.; and Ælian, Hist. Anim. B. x. c. 20, make similar statements. Rondelet, in his treatise on Testaceous Fishes, B. i., complains of Pliny using the word "videt," "sees," in the present passage; but, as Hardouin says, he only uses it in a free sense, meaning, "is aware of the approach of," or "has a perception of."

2 Isidorus of Charax, in Athenæus, B. iii., tells a similar story; but modifies it by saying that the fish sometimes cuts off the fingers of the divers, and not the hands.

3 "Canes marini." He calls by this name the same animal that a little further on he describes by the name of "canicula," "dog-fish;" alluding, probably, under that name to various species of the shark. Procopius, in his book, De Bell. Pers. B. i. c. 4, has a wonderful story in relation to this subject. He says, that the sea-dogs are wonderful admirers of the pearl-fish, and follow them out to sea; that when the sea-dogs are pressed by hunger, they go in quest of prey, and then return to the shell-fish and gaze upon it. A certain fisherman, having watched for the moment when the shell-fish was deprived of the protection of its attendant sea-dog, which was seeking its prey, seized the shell-fish, and made for the shore. The sea-dog, however, was soon aware of the theft, and making straight for the fisherman, seized him. Finding himself thus caught, he made a last effort, and threw the pearl-fish on shore, immediately on which he was torn to pieces by its protector.

4 Such, for instance, as Megasthenes, quoted by Arrian in his Indica, and Ælian, Hist. Anim. B. xv. c. 8.

5 Hardouin suggests that a preferable reading to "vetuslate," would be "venustate," by its beauty; and indeed, Ælian, in the corresponding passage, Hist. Anim. B. xv. c. 8, says, that the chief is remarkable "for its size, and the extreme beauty of its colours."

6 "Nucleos." The Greek authors occasionally call them "stones" and "bones." Tertullian calls them "maladies of shell-fish and warts"— "concharum vitia et verrucas."

7 Cuvier says, that the most efficient mode of extracting all the concretions that may happen to be concealed in the body of the animal, is to leave the flesh to dissolve in water, upon which the concretions naturally fall to the bottom.

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