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0370 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 370 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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other folk keep elephants there just as commonly as we keep oxen here.1]

And in that country there is one thing which is really wonderful. For every species of fish that is in the sea visits that country in such vast numbers that at the time of their coming the sea seems to consist of nothing else but fish. And when they get near the beach they leap àshore, and then the folk come and gather them as many as they list. And so these fish continue coming ashore for two or three days together. And then a second species of fishes comes and does the same as the first ; and so with the other species each in turn and in order until the last ; and this they do but once in the year. And when you ask the folk of that country how this comes about, they tell you in reply that the fish come and act in that fashion in order to pay homage to their emperor.2

In that country also I saw a tortoise bigger in compass than the dome of St. Anthony's church in Padua. And many other like things be there, which unless they were seen would be past belief ; wherefore I care not to write them.3

1 PAL.

2 I have not been able to trace the original basis of this mythical story. Indeed very little is to be known from any books accessible to me of the coast of Champa. But perhaps this passage from Duhalde may throw a little light on the matter. Dans la province de Kiangnan on voit surtout de gros poissons venant de la mer, ou du Fleuve Jaune, qui se jettent dans des vastes plaines toutes convertes d'eau ; tout y est disposé de telle sorte que les eaux s'écoulent aussitôt qu'ils y sont entrés. Ces poissons demeurants à sec, on les prend sans peine," etc. (ii, 140).

S O friar ! The smallest of St. Anthony's many domes is about forty feet in diameter. On big tortoises see Tennent's Ceylon, i, 190; 11 Ir. Major in introd. to India in the xvth cent. p. xliii ; and Mr. Badger on Varthema, p..240. But I do not understand the use these gentlemen make of Falconer and Cautley's fossil monsters. They did not flourish in the middle


Vincent le Blanc (who is very bad authority) 'says that many houses in Pegu were gilt and roofed with tortoise-shell, not with a shell. It is possible that Odoric may have seen a temple so roofed, and taken it for a single shell. But I believe the probable rationale of the story is that