198 IVORY AND THE ELEPHANT
stones, and branches of trees, completely burying her offspring beneath them.*
figure in a legend of St. Thomas, represented to have carried the
Gospel into India. To his activity was believed to be due the name St.
Thomas, given to a province on the Coromandel Coast. At the time the
apostle was in this region an immense tree had fallen across the river
at Meliapur, interrupting river traffic. To remove the obstruction,
the king ordered that ropes should be wound around it and then attached
to three hundred elephants. This was done, and the animals were urged
to exert all their strength, but they were unable to pull off the
enormous tree trunk. The sovereign then promised a large reward to any
one who could suggest a means of removing it. St. Thomas, hearing of
this, came before the king and offered to do the work unaided if the
king would allow the trunk to be cut up and a chapel built of the wood.
The king and the Brahmans, thinking this was merely a vain boast, gave
their consent; but St. Thomas, after attaching to the trunk the, zone,
or girdle, he wore about his loins, was able without effort to draw it
out of the river. Many of the Hindoos present were so much impressed by
this miracle that they became converts to Christianity. The Brahmans,
however, seeing the danger to their religion, hired assassins who put
the apostle to death. The legend goes on to state that the descendants
of these assassins were born with legs resembling those of the
war between Pegu and Siam, in 1568, was caused by the refusal of the
Siamese to sell a sacred white elephant which the Peguans wished to
acquire. They were willing
descriptio regni africani quod tam ab incolis quam ab Lusitani* Congus
appelatur per Philippum Pigafattam; Latin trans, by Reinius,
Francofurti, 1598, p. 20; Lib. I, cap. X (Pigafatta's work, pub. in
Borne in 1581, was from notes of Lopez).
Hugonis Linsehotii, "India Orientalis"; Lat. trans, by Teucrides Annœus
Lonicerus, Francoforti, 1599, p. 41, cap. XVII.