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Ch.17: The Southern Cross Pearl

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304                                 Pearls.-
mammal. Yet it was soon found that this para­doxical creature was no manufactured monster, but a veritable product of the great island-continent,— a curious union of bird and beast, which in our limited knowledge we might be led to regard as a strange "freak of nature."
In somewhat like manner, the great Southern Cross Pearl might be regarded on a cursory view, as having been manufactured by art, or at least improved artificially. The author was therefore anxious to submit it to severe scrutiny, and was indebted for an opportunity of doing so to the courtesy of Mr. A. F. Thompson, of the West-Australian Court. · On the 29th of July, 1886, the Cross was exhibited, with a collection of choice diamonds and other objects of value, at 18, New Bond Street. A large number of scientific and literary men, with many Colonists and Indians, availed them­selves of the invitations which had been sent to them, to inspect this strange curiosity. In order that the fullest opportunity might be given for a thorough examination, the Pearl was freely handled by the visitors ; and to make the scrutiny more severe, a powerful lime-light was projected on to the Cross, while magnifying glasses of high power were provided to assist in the criticism. Under these circumstances of strong illumination and close
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