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0386 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 386 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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hath a bridge across that river. And at the head of the bridge was a hostel in which I was entertained.l And mine host, wishing to gratify me, said : " If thou wouldst like to see good fishing, come with me." And so he led me upon the bridge, and I looked and saw in some boats of his that were there certain water-fowl tied upon perches. And these he now tied with a cord round the throat that they might not be able to swallow the fish which they caught. Next he proceeded to put three great baskets into a boat, one at each end and the third in the middle, and then he let the waterfowl loose. Straightway they began to dive into the water, catching great numbers of fish, and ever as they caught them putting them of their own accord into the baskets, so that before long all the three baskets were full. And mine host then took the cord off their necks and let them dive again to catch fish for their own food. And when they had thus fed they returned to their perches and were tied up as before. And some of those fish I had for my dinner.

After departing thence and travelling for many days, I witnessed another fashion of fishing. The men this time

1 MIN. RAM. This edition has in this passage an exceedingly curious

variation, difficult to account for. It runs thus : " Mine host   took us
to one side of the bridge where the river was wider, and there we found many boats, and there was one of them employed in fishing by aid of a certain fish called Marigione. The host had another such, and this he took and kept it by a cord attached to a fine collar. And this indeed is a creature that we have seen in our own seas, where many call it the sea-calf. It had the muzzle and neck like a fox's, and the forepaws like a dog's, but the toes longer, and the hind feet like a duck's, and the tail with the rest of the body like a fish's. Mine host made him go in the water, and he began to catch quantities of fish with his mouth, always depositing them in the boat. And I swear that in less than two hours he had filled more than two big baskets," etc.

Apollonius related that he had seen at Ægæ, near Issus, a female phoca, which was kept for fishing purposes. And the authority quoted at the end of the preceding note, says the seal may be taught to assist in fishing. So probably the story was altered by some one aware of these facts about the seal, but indisposed to believe in the cormorants, and the use of the word marigione, apparently for marangone "a diver," appears to be a trace of the unaltered narrative.