One of our nets had hauled up a type of very flat ray that weighed some twenty kilograms and with its tail cut off, it would have formed a perfect disc. It was white underneath and reddish on top, with big round spots of deep blue encircled in black, its hide quite smooth and ending in a double-lobed fin. Laid out on the platform, it kept struggling with convulsive movements, trying to turn over, making such efforts that its final lunge was about to flip it into the sea. But Conseil, being very possessive of his fish, rushed at it, and before I could stop him, he seized it with both hands.
Instantly there he was, thrown on his back, legs in the air, his body half paralysed, and yelling, “Oh, sir, sir! Will you help me?”
For once in his life, the poor lad didn’t address me ‘in the third person’.
The Canadian and I sat him up. We massaged his contracted arms, and when he regained his five senses, that eternal classifier mumbled in a broken voice, “Class of cartilaginous fish, order Chondropterygia with fixed gills, suborder Selacia, family Rajiiforma, genus electric ray.”
“Yes, my friend,” I answered, “it was an electric ray that put you in this deplorable state.”
“Oh, Master can trust me on this,” Conseil shot back. “I’ll be revenged on that animal.”
“I’ll eat it.”
Which he did that same evening, but strictly as retaliation. Because, frankly, it tasted like leather.
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