Page:Natural History, Mollusca.djvu/255

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243
PEARL SHELLS.

"A signal gun is fired at Arippo about ten o'clock at night, when the whole fleet sets sail with the land-breeze. They reach the banks before daybreak, and at sunrise commence fishing. In this they continue busily occupied till the seabreeze, which arises about noon, warns them to return to the bay. As soon as they appear within sight, another gun is fired, and the colours hoisted, to inform the anxious owners of their return. When the boats come to land, their cargoes are immediately taken out, as it is necessary to have them completely unloaded before night. Whatever may have been the success of their boats, the owners seldom wear the looks of disappointment; for although they may have been unsuccessful one day, they look with assurance of better fortune to the next; as the Brahmins and conjurors, whom they implicitly trust, in defiance of all experience, understand too well the liberality of a man in hopes of good fortune, not to promise them all they can desire.

"Each of the boats carries twenty men, with a tindal, or chief boatman, who acts as pilot. Ten of the men row and assist the divers in re-ascending. The other ten are divers; they go down into the sea by five at a time; when the first five come up, the other five go down, and by this method of alternately diving, they give each other time to recruit themselves for a fresh plunge.

"In order to accelerate the descent of the divers, large stones are employed: five of these are brought in each boat for the purpose; they are of a reddish granite, common in this country, and of a pyramidal shape, round at the top and bottom, with a hole perforated through the smaller end sufficient