There are many different kinds of beasts and birds in this country, as lions, wild boars, harts, hinds, buffaloes, cows, goats, and elephants; but these last are not all bred here, being brought from other places. They have also parrots of sundry colours, as green, purple, and other mixt colours, and they are so numerous that the rice fields have to be watched to drive them away. These birds make a wonderful chattering, and are sold so low as a halfpenny each. There are many other kinds of birds different from ours, which every morning and evening make most sweet music, so that the country is like an earthly paradise, the trees, herbs, and flowers being in a continual spring, and the temperature of the air quite delightful, as never too hot nor too cold. There are also monkeys, which are sold at a low price, and are very hurtful to the husbandmen, as they climb the trees, and rob them of their valuable fruits and nuts, and cast down the vessels that are placed for collecting the sap from which wine is made. There are serpents also of prodigious size, their bodies being as thick as those of swine, with heads like those of boars; these are four footed, and grow to the length of four cubits, and breed in the marshes. The inhabitants say that these have no venom. There are three other kinds of serpents, some of which have such deadly venom, that if they draw ever so little blood death presently follows, as happened several times while I was in the country. Of these some are no larger than asps, and some much bigger, and they are very numerous. It is said that, from some strange superstition, the king of Calicut holds them in such veneration, that he has small houses or cottages made on purpose for them, conceiving that they are of great virtue against an over abundance of rain, and overflowing of the rivers. Hence they are protected by law, and any person killing one would be punished with death, so that they multiply exceedingly. They have a strange notion that serpents come from heaven, and are actuated by heavenly spirits, and they allege that only by touching them instant death insues. These serpents know the idolaters from the Mahometans, or other strangers, and are much more apt to attack the former than the latter. Upon one occasion, I went into a house where eight men lay dead, and greatly swollen, having been killed the day before by these serpents; yet the natives deem it fortunate to meet any of them in their way.
[Footnote 82: From the description these must be crocodiles—E.]
The palace of the king of Calicut contains many mansions, and a prodigious number of apartments, in all of which a prodigious number of lamps are lighted up every evening. In the great hall of the palace there are ten or twelve great and beautiful candlesticks of laton or brass, of cunning workmanship, much like goodly fountains, the height of a man. In each of these are several vessels, and in every vessel are three burning candles of two spans long,