Justice is severely administered for crimes; and in some cases, a creditor has a singular manner of compelling payment, by drawing a circle round his debtor, out of which he must not stir till he has satisfied his creditor, or given security for the debt, under the pain of death. I, Marco, once saw the king on horseback thus encircled, by a merchant whom he had long put off with delays; and the king would not come out of the circle, which the merchant had drawn; till he had sent for the means of paying the merchant, all the people who were present highly applauding the kings justice. They are very scrupulous of drinking wine, and those who are addicted to that practice, are held disreputable and unworthy of being admitted as witnesses; which is the case likewise with those who go to sea, as they reckon them desperate persons. They look on letchery as no sin. In the months of June, July, and August, they have no rains, and it is excessively hot, insomuch, that they could not live if it were not for the refreshing winds which blow from the sea. They have many physiognomists and soothsayers, who observe omens from birds and beasts, and other signs. These people consider one hour in every day of the week as unlucky, which they name Choiach, and which is different on all the days, all of which are carefully recorded in their books, and they are curious observers of nativities. At thirteen years of age, their boys are put out to gain their living, who go about buying and selling, by means of a small stock given them to begin with. In the pearl season, these boys will buy a few pearls, and sell them again for a small profit to the merchants, who are unable to endure the sun. What gain they get they bring to their mothers, to lay out for them, as it is not lawful for them to live at their fathers cost. Their daughters are dedicated to the service of the idols, and appointed by the priests to sing and dance in presence of the idols; and they frequently set victuals before the idols for some time, as if they would eat, singing all the while, when they fall to eat themselves, and then return home. The great men have a kind of litters, made of large canes artificially wrought, which are fixed in some high situation, to avoid being bitten by tarantulas, and other vermin, and for the benefit of fresh air.
The sepulchre of St Thomas is in a small city, not much frequented by merchants, but very much by Christians and Saracens, on account of devotion. The Saracens hold him as a great prophet or holy man, and call him Ananias. The Christians take of a red earth which is found in the place where he was slain, which they mix with water, and administer to the sick with great reverence. It happened in the year 1288, that a great prince, who had more rice than he had room to keep it in, chose to make bold with that room in St Thomas’s church in which pilgrims are received, and converted it into a granary: But he was so terrified by a vision of St Thomas in the night following, that he was glad to remove it with great speed. The inhabitants are black, although not born so, but by constantly anointing themselves with the oil of jasmine they become quite black, which they esteem a great beauty, insomuch, that they paint their idols black, and represent the devil as white. The cow worshippers carry with them to battle some of the hairs of an ox, as a preservative against dangers.