"There's some poisonous fish down in the tropics," was the reply, "but I reckon that but for a few of those, a hungry man could eat nigh anythin' that came out o' the water, fish or shellfish or anythin'. An' you know," he added, "some folks, like the Japanese an' South Sea Islanders, prefer 'em raw."
During the passage along the river the vessel was hailed by boatloads of naked natives, who brought on board cocoa nuts, bananas, and dates in great profusion; while others were seen on the banks reposing in the sun, or bathing in the waters of the Ganges, or diving beneath the surface for the shellfish which are found there; while beyond, the country was seen in all the beauty of verdure and delight, as ever and anon the Hindoo cottage and the white pagoda reared themselves amid the trees which grew upon the shoreside.
How does the Sword-fish attack its prey? The pools left by the falling tide have many an interesting thing to show us. There are living creatures in plenty, besides the pretty weeds, shells, and other objects. Shrimps, Prawns and Crabs abound in the rock-pools and shallows, with anemones and shellfish of all kinds.
Aside and in special compartments, strings of supremely beautiful pearls were spread out, the electric light flecking them with little fiery sparks: pink pearls pulled from saltwater fan shells in the Red Sea; green pearls from the rainbow abalone; yellow, blue, and black pearls, the unusual handiwork of various mollusks from every ocean and of certain mussels from rivers up north; in short, several specimens of incalculable worth that had been oozed by the rarest of shellfish.
It's some festive picnickers, engaged in whilin away a few pleasant summer days. All around you may perceive the signs of luxoorious feastin. Here you may see all the different kind o' shellfish that the sea produces. Yonder is a luxoorious camp. But don't mind what I say. Go an call the occoopant, an satisfy yourselves." Captain Corbet walked with the boys over to the tent.
"To be sure, the monkeys I knew in Africa some time ago were very helpful in telling me about bygone days; but they only went back a thousand years or so. No, I am certain that the oldest history in the world is to be had from the shellfish and from them only. You see most of the other animals that were alive in those very ancient times have now become extinct."
"I fear I do not know much about them," he said. "Behind those hills there one sees a few Canoe Indians; I have heard that they are somewhat lower in the social scale than the aborigines of Australia." "Are they?" said Courtenay. He looked Christobal straight in the eyes, and the doctor returned his gaze as steadily. "That is their repute. They live mostly on shellfish.
The native divers who went down to the bottom of the sea to bring up the shellfish which contained the pearls, plunged into the water, and came up wet and shining in the sun, with no fear whatever of any sharks which might be swimming about in search of a dinner, and the people on the vessels opened the oysters and carefully searched for pearls, feeling as safe from harm as if they were picking olives in their native groves.
We found good water easy and the second officer, who was a nice young chap, let us scour around on our own hook for fruit and such, after we'd filled the barrels. "I was all for shellfish them days, and I see some big mussels attached to the rocks, it bein' low water. Some o' them mussels, when ye gut 'em same as ye would deep-sea clams, make the nicest fry you ever tasted.
They have then no resource but to pick up shellfish, which may happen to cling to the rocks, and be cast on the beach, to hunt particular reptiles and small animals, which are scarce, to dig fern root in the swamps or to gather a few berries, destitute of flavour and nutrition, which the woods afford.