The second day, when the cage was lowered I not only fed Dickie but wrote a message on the cuttlefish. The third day, there was a note twisted in the wires of the cage inviting me up to tea. And I went. There were four girls living up there in one attic-room. Two of these girls were Americans, one English and one French. One of the American girls was round and pink and twenty; the other was older.
Might it not rather be atmospheric pressure that stimulates the flow of nourishing fluids and distils them into the Anthrax' cup-shaped mouth, working, in order to create a vacuum, almost like the suckers of the Cuttlefish? All this is possible, but I shall refrain from deciding, preferring to assign a large share to the unknown in this extraordinary method of nutrition.
Lousteau compared the Baron to a heron, and introduced Mme. de Bargeton, to whom he was paying his court, as a cuttlefish bone, a burlesque absurdity which amused readers who knew neither of the personages. A tale of the loves of the Heron, who tried in vain to swallow the Cuttlefish bone, which broke into three pieces when he dropped it, was irresistibly ludicrous.
In consequence of this dream he went to the province of Hizen, and landed on the sea-shore at Hirato, where, in the midst of a blaze of light, the image which he had carved appeared to him twice, riding on the back of a cuttlefish. Thus was the image restored to the world by a miracle.
But there was one serious hindrance to the enjoyment of these comforts: an omnipresent, frightful, heavy, all-penetrating smell, the smell of decomposing fish, used as a fertiliser. Tons and tons of cuttlefish entrails are used upon the fields beyond the Yabigawa, and the never- sleeping sea wind blows the stench into every dwelling.
After bidding farewell to our generous host, we take an uphill stroll to the farther end of the village. We leave the cuttlefish behind; but before us the greater part of the road is covered with matting, upon which indigo is drying in the sun.
An officer of police told me several strange facts about this fishery. On the north-eastern coast of Saigo it is no uncommon thing for one fisherman to capture upwards of two thousand cuttlefish in a single night. Boats have been burst asunder by the weight of a few hauls, and caution has to be observed in loading.
Hideous, man-eating sharks are sure to follow in the ship's wake, watching for some unfortunate victim of a sailor or passenger who may fall overboard, and eagerly devouring any refuse thrown from the cook's galley. At times the many-armed cuttlefish is seen to leap out of the water, while the star-fish, with its five arms of equal length, abounds.
These cuttlefish in the Aquarium were nothing more than the seaside inhabitants of the Mediterranean coast, poor relations of the gigantic octopus that lighten the black gloom of the oceanic night with their bluish gleam of burned-out planets. But in spite of their relative smallness, they are animated by the same destructive iniquity as the others.
The creature which had so powerfully affected the feelings of the Irishman was dead; but dead and harmless though it was, it drew forth from his comrades a shout of intense surprise when they saw it, for it was no less than a cuttlefish of proportions so gigantic that they felt themselves in the presence of one of those terrible monsters of the deep, about which fabulous tales have been told, and exaggerated descriptions given since the beginning of historical time.