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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Whale
Bestiaries and Lapidaries
Guillaume le Clerc de Normandie (Thirteenth Century)
 
IN the sea, which is mighty and vast, are many kinds of fish, such as the turbot, the sturgeon, and the porpoise. But there is one monster, very treacherous and dangerous. In Latin its name is Cetus. It is a bad neighbor for sailors. The upper part of its back looks like sand, and when it rises from the sea, the mariners think it is an island. Deceived by its size they sail toward it for refuge, when the storm comes upon them. They cast anchor, disembark upon the back of the whale, cook their food, build a fire, and in order to fasten their boat they drive great stakes into what seems to them to be sand. When the monster feels the heat of the fire which burns upon its back, it plunges down into the depths of the sea, and drags the ship and all the people after it.  1
  When the fish is hungry it opens its mouth very wide, and breathes forth an exceedingly sweet odor. Then all the little fish stream thither, and, allured by the sweet smell, crowd into its throat. Then the whale closes its jaws and swallows them into its stomach, which is as wide as a valley. 1  2
 
Note 1.
  “Who is a whale to virginity and devours up all the fry it finds.”
—‘All’s Well that Ends Well,’ iv. 3.    [back]
 
 
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