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PEARL MERCHANTS OF PEARL TOWN (MARICHCHUKADDI)
altered during the last 2,000 to 3,000 years, according to Mr. A. H. Malpas.
During the Portuguese period, Manaar was the center of the pearl-fishing industry, but it had lost much of its prosperity when the Dutch captured it in 1658 and succeeded to the pearl fisheries.
The Dutch held a number of profitable fisheries before they lost Ceylon to the British in 1796.
THE PEARL OYSTER IS NOT A TRUE OYSTER
The pearl oyster (Margaritifera vulgaris) is not a true oyster, but belongs to the mussel family. It somewhat resembles the scallop in shape, although the two halves of the shell are almost equal in size and they have not the characteristic corrugations of the scallop.
Like the marine mussel, the pearl oyster possesses a byssus, or bundle of tough horny threads, which it has the power of casting off and renewing at will. By means of this byssus it anchors itself to rocks or other suitable objects.
There are two spawning seasons a year, coincident with the periods of the northeast and southwest monsoons, when millions of young oysters are liberated. Thus each year sees two spatfalls, or deposits, of young oysters.
The first few days of the young oyster's life, immediately after it is hatched from the egg, are spent as a free swimming larva in the surface waters of the sea, until such time as the shell is formed, when the oyster sinks to the bottom and attaches itself by means of its byssus either to other oysters or to any existing anchorage. Should the young oyster fall on sand, it does not generally survive a long period. Only those oysters falling on rock reach a fishable age.
The pearl fishery of 1925 lasted for 37 days, but, owing to adverse weather, the catch was small-a total of 16,000,000 oysters.
When one realizes the quantities of oysters, one is ready to exclaim with Joseph Hall, Bishop of Exeter (1574-1656):
"There is many a fine pearl laid up in the bosom of the sea,
That never was seen nor never shall be."
Or one may philosophize with wise Sir
"To enjoy true happiness, we must travel into a very far country, and even out of ourselves, for the Pearl we seek for is to be found not in the Indian, but in the Empyrean Ocean."
BY CHARLES W. BECK, JR.
With Illustrations from Natural Color Photographs by Hans Hildenbrand
taken possession of it and allowed the
safety, he summoned the members of the town council and informed them that they were all to be hanged. But, moved by the pleas of their wives and daughters, the conqueror at length mitigated this sentence and announced that he would hang only four. He gave the council permission to cast lots to see who of their number should die.
HE traveler in Germany who, at Whitsuntide, is within reach of surrendering Swedes to march out in Rothenburg ob-der-Tauber should set aside all other plans and visit this perfect medieval walled town to witness a unique festival, so picturesque and so pleasantly diverting as to have no equal in continental Europe. On this occasion the city does honor to the man who took the biggest drink in all history, bar none! Thereby he saved the lives of Rothenburg's town council and obtained mercy for his fellow citizens.
This is the story:
During the Thirty Years' War Rothenburg felt secure behind her great wall, with her towers well placed for defense; with her wide, and at that time very wet, moat; with her citizenry trained to arms and loving nothing better than a good fight, and with a garrison of professional soldiers, a Swedish force sent to help the Rothenburgers against the enemy. But the city was besieged by no less a general than Tilly himself, who brought up his whole army of 40,000 and swore to capture the town and deal with it as he had already dealt with hapless Magdeburg.
ROTHENBURGERS REFUSE TO SURRENDER
Tilly's cannon battered at the walls, and the light artillery of the city's towers was powerless to silence the heavier guns of the besiegers; but whenever a breach was made and Tilly's soldiers attacked, in hand-to-hand fighting they were beaten off by the intrepid townsmen.
Tilly warned the city that capture was inevitable, and that the only salvation of the citizens lay in surrender; but they would none of it. At last one of the assailants' cannon, by a lucky shot, exploded the Rothenburg powder magazine. Even then the doughty burghers refused to surrender, but with dauntless courage continued the hand-to-hand fighting. It was left to the garrison of mercenaries to hang out the white flag.
Tilly was so enraged at the prolonged resistance of the town that, after he had
Whereupon the undismayed council stood up and refused the marshal's "mercy," saying they would all live or they would all die, but there would be no lot-casting among them at Tilly's bidding.
At this point in the proceedings a diversion was created by the appearance of the town Pokal, the state beaker, a huge three-quart glass, filled with the town's best wine. Tilly and his seven aides drank and drank again. The Pokal went around twice and still it was not empty. After all, three quarts is no mean measure.
Perhaps the wine softened Tilly's heart! At all events, he cast a grimly humorous eye over the council and swore that if there were any man among them who could empty the famous Pokal at one draft the council would be spared and mercy would be shown to the citizenry.
The proposal did not seem to offer much of a chance to the staunch patriots, even though the Rothenburgers were supposed to be as good drinkers as fighters; but at last one brave soul, ex-Burgomaster George Nusch, said he would make a try, and intimated that if he failed he'd just as soon be hanged drunk as sober.
BURGOMASTER NUSCHI SAVES THE CITY WITH A GIGANTIC QUAFF
The keeper of the town cellar refilled the beaker, and George Nusch lifted itand drank and drank-and drank-and drank. Imagine with what anxiety he was watched by his fellow councilors, and with what amazement by Tilly and his men!
Each year at Whitsuntide, when Rothenburg, Bavaria, is decked with the pink and white of blossoming trees and the mauve of lilacs, the townsfolk enact the pageant of the "Meistertrunk" in memory of the famous drink that saved the city from destruction at the hands of Tilly's victorious army in the 17th Century. The way to the medieval city's gallows led through this tower gate and accounts for its name.
A PARTING OF THE WAYS: THE PLÖNLEIN, ROTHENBURG
The road to the left leads through the Siebers Tower to a bastion in the city wall; the road to the right through the Kobollzeller