10 THE MAGIC OF JEWELS AND CHARMS
returned to the nest it encountered this obstacle. In vain it struck at
the vessel with claws and beak; after repeated efforts it flew away,
but came back on the second day holding a piece of stone in its beak,
which it let fall upon the vessel, breaking the latter into two halves
without producing any sound. Upon this, Solomon, who knew the language
of beasts and birds, asked the eagle where it had secured the stone.
The bird answered : ' ' Ο Prophet of God, in a mountain in the West
called the Samur Mountain." This was indication enough to the wise king
who, summoning the Jinns to his aid, soon had in Jerusalem a plentiful
supply of these samur, or shamir stones, with which the work of shaping and polishing the blocks for the temple was noiselessly performed.16
Full and precise directions are given by the old authorities as to the proper way to secure possession of the stone called corvia. On
the Calends, or first day of April, eggs are to be taken out of a
crow's nest and boiled until they are quite hard; they are then to be
allowed to cool off and are replaced in the nest. The female bird notes
that the eggs have been tampered with and flies away in search of the
corvia-stone. When she has found it, she bears it to the nest, and as
soon as it touches the eggs they become fresh and fertile again. This
is the auspicious moment for securing the stone, which must be quickly
taken from the nest else it would lose its virtue.17 The lucky owner of the stone is promised increase of wealth and honors, and the power to read the future.
The fabled gem-bearing dragons of India were said to have sometimes fallen victims to the enchanter's art. Cer-
Julius Ruska, " Das Steinbuch aus der Kosmographie des Muhammad ibn
Mahmud al Kazwini," Beilage to the Jahresbericht of the Oberrealschule
" Camilli Leonardi, " Speculum lapidum," Veneti», 1602, fol. xrix.