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This, from being mixed with the saccharine matter of the grain, soon runs into the acetous fermentation, and the weak acid thus formed by digesting on the fecula renders it white. After setting, the precipitate is washed several times, and put by in square cakes and dried on kilns. These in drying part into flakes, which gives the form to the starch of the shops.

This indefinite meaning of the word fecula has created numerous mistakes in pharmaceutic chemistry; Elaterium, for instance, is said to be fecula, and, in the original sense of the word, it is properly so called, inasmuch as it is procured from a vegetable juice by spontaneous subsidence, but in the limited and modern acceptation of the term it conveys an erroneous idea; for instead of the active principle of the juice residing in fecula, it is a peculiar proximate principle, sui generis, to which I have ventured to bestow the name of Elatin.

"All this matter of eternal dupery," Des Esseintes reflected, "is not conducive to the steadying of my already weakened faith. And how admit that omnipotence which stops at such a trifle as a pinch of fecula or a soupcon of alcohol?" These reflections all the more threw a gloom over the view of his future life and rendered his horizon more menacing and dark. He was lost, utterly lost.

And, according to the incontestable authority of this master, one could not consecrate bread made of flour of oats, buckwheat or barley, and if the matter of using rye be less doubtful, no argument was possible in regard to the fecula which, according to the ecclesiastic expression, was in no way fit for sacramental purposes.

Indigo was formerly planted at Caripe, but the small quantity of fecula yielded by this plant, which requires great heat, caused the culture to be abandoned. We found in the conuco of the community many culinary plants, maize, sugar cane, and five thousand coffee-trees, which promised a fine harvest. The friars were in hopes of tripling the number in a few years.

"Ah! my boy," replied Captain Hull, "little grains of vermicelli, of flour, of fecula powder, do they not make very good porridge? Yes; and nature has willed that it should be so. When a whale floats in the midst of these red waters, its soup is served; it has only to open its immense mouth. Myriads of crustaceans enter it.

Thus the Maypures carry on a trade of barter with the little loaves of puruma, which is a vegetable fecula, dried in the manner of indigo, and yielding a very permanent yellow colour. The chemistry of the savage is reduced to the preparation of pigments, that of poisons, and the dulcification of the amylaceous roots, which the aroides and the euphorbiaceous plants afford.

Besides the use of Wheat for bread and other domestic purposes, large quantities are every season consumed in making starch, which is the pure fecula of the grain obtained by steeping it in water and beating it in coarse hempen bags, by which means the fecula is thus caused to exude and diffuse through the water.

It is in this zone that the date-tree, the plantain, the sugar-cane, the Indian fig, the Arum Colocasia, the root of which furnishes a nutritive fecula, the olive-tree, the fruit trees of Europe, the vine, and corn are cultivated.

The next day the settlers went to collect some, and returned to Granite House with an ample supply of cycas stems. The engineer constructed a press, with which to extract the mucilaginous juice mingled with the fecula, and he obtained a large quantity of flour, which Neb soon transformed into cakes and puddings. This was not quite real wheaten bread, but it was very like it.