MARDI: AND A VOYAGE THITHER. BY HERMAN MELVILLE
IN TWO VOLUMES
CONTENTS VOL. II
CHAPTER 1. Maramma 2. They land 3. They pass through the Woods 4. Hivohitee MDCCCXLVII 5. They visit the great Morai 6. They discourse of the Gods of Mardi, and Braid-Beard tells of one Foni 7. They visit the Lake of Yammo 8. They meet the Pilgrims at the Temple of Oro 9. They discourse of Alma 10. Mohi tells of one Ravoo, and they land to visit Hevaneva, a flourishing Artisan 11. A Nursery-tale of Babbalanja's 12. Landing to visit Hivohitee the Pontiff; they encounter an extraordinary old Hermit; with whom Yoomy has a confidential Interview, but learns little 13. Babbalanja endeavors to explain the Mystery 14. Taji receives Tidings and Omens 15. Dreams 16. Media and Babbalanja discourse 17. They regale themselves with their Pipes 18. They visit an extraordinary old Antiquary 19. They go down into the Catacombs 20. Babbalanja quotes from an antique Pagan; and earnestly presses it upon the Company, that what he recites is not his but another's 21. They visit a wealthy old Pauper 22. Yoomy sings some odd Verses, and Babbalanja quotes from the old Authors right and left 23. What manner of Men the Tapparians were 24. Their adventures upon landing at Pimminee 25. A, I, and O 26. A Reception-day at Pimminee 27. Babbalanja falleth upon Pimminee Tooth and Nail 28. Babbalanja regales the Company with some Sandwiches 29. They still remain upon the Rock 30. Behind and Before 31. Babbalanja discourses in the Dark 32. My Lord Media summons Mohi to the Stand 33. Wherein Babbalanja and Yoomy embrace 34. Of the Isle of Diranda 35. They visit the Lords Piko and Hello 36. They attend the Games 37. Taji still hunted and beckoned 38. They embark from Diranda 39. Wherein Babbalanja discourses of himself 40. Of the Sorcerers in the Isle of Minda 41. Chiefly of King Bello 42. Dominora and Vivenza 43. They land at Dominora 44. Through Dominora, they wander after Yillah 45. They behold King Bello's State Canoe 46. Wherein Babbalanja bows thrice 47. Babbalanja philosophizes, and my Lord Media passes round the Calabashes 48. They sail round an Island without landing; and talk round a Subject without getting at it 49. They draw nigh to Porpheero; where they behold a terrific Eruption 50. Wherein King Media celebrates the Glories of Autumn; the Minstrel, the Promise of Spring 51. In which Azzageddi seems to use Babbalanja for a Mouthpiece 52. The charming Yoomy sings 53. They draw nigh unto Land 54. They visit the great central Temple of Vivenza 55. Wherein Babbalanja comments upon the Speech of Alanno 56. A Scene in the Land of Warwicks, or King-makers 57. They hearken unto a Voice from the Gods 58. They visit the extreme South of Vivenza 59. They converse of the Molluscs, Kings, Toad-stools, and other Matters 60. Wherein, that gallant Gentleman and Demi-god, King Media, Scepter in Hand throws himself into the Breach 61. They round the stormy Cape of Capes 62. They encounter Gold-hunters 63. They seek through the Isles of Palms; and pass the Isles of Myrrh 64. Concentric, inward, with Mardi's Reef, they leave their Wake around the World 65. Sailing on 66. A Sight of Nightingales from Yoomy's Mouth 67. They visit one Doxodox 68. King Media dreams 69. After a long Interval, by Night they are becalmed 70. They land at Hooloomooloo 71. A Book from the "Ponderings of old Bardianna" 72. Babbalanja starts to his Feet 73. At last, the last Mention is made of old Bardianna; and His last Will and Testament is recited at Length 74. A Death-cloud sweeps by them as they sail 75. They visit the palmy King Abrazza 76. Same pleasant, shady Talk in the Groves, between my Lords Abrazza and Media, Babbalanja, Mohi, and Yoomy... 77. They sup 78. They embark 79. Babbalanja at the Full of the Moon 80. Morning 81. L'Ultima sera 82. They sail from Night to Day 83. They land 84. Babbalanja relates to them a Vision 85. They depart from Serena 86. They meet the Phantoms 87. They draw nigh to Flozella 88. They land 89. They enter the Bower of Hautia 90. Taji with Hautia 91. Mardi behind: an Ocean before
CHAPTER I Maramma
We were now voyaging straight for Maramma; where lived and reigned, in mystery, the High Pontiff of the adjoining isles: prince, priest, and god, in his own proper person: great lord paramount over many kings in Mardi; his hands full of scepters and crosiers.
Soon, rounding a lofty and insulated shore, the great central peak of the island came in sight; domineering over the neighboring hills; the same aspiring pinnacle, descried in drawing near the archipelago in the Chamois.
"Tall Peak of Ofo!" cried Babbalanja, "how comes it that thy shadow so broods over Mardi; flinging new shades upon spots already shaded by the hill-sides; shade upon shade!"
"Yet, so it is," said Yoomy, sadly, "that where that shadow falls, gay flowers refuse to spring; and men long dwelling therein become shady of face and of soul. 'Hast thou come from out the shadows of Ofo?' inquires the stranger, of one with a clouded brow."
"It was by this same peak," said Mohi, "that the nimble god Roo, a great sinner above, came down from the skies, a very long time ago. Three skips and a jump, and he landed on the plain. But alas, poor Roo! though easy the descent, there was no climbing back."
"No wonder, then," said Babbalanja, "that the peak is inaccessible to man. Though, with a strange infatuation, many still make pilgrimages thereto; and wearily climb and climb, till slipping from the rocks, they fall headlong backward, and oftentimes perish at its base."
"Ay," said Mohi, "in vain, on all sides of the Peak, various paths are tried; in vain new ones are cut through the cliffs and the brambles:— Ofo yet remains inaccessible."
"Nevertheless," said Babbalanja, "by some it is believed, that those, who by dint of hard struggling climb so high as to become invisible from the plain; that these have attained the summit; though others much doubt, whether their be-coming invisible is not because of their having fallen, and perished by the way."
"And wherefore," said Media, "do you mortals undertake the ascent at all? why not be content on the plain? and even if attainable, what would you do upon that lofty, clouded summit? Or how can you hope to breathe that rarefied air, unfitted for your human lungs?"
"True, my lord," said Babbalanja; "and Bardianna asserts that the plain alone was intended for man; who should be content to dwell under the shade of its groves, though the roots thereof descend into the darkness of the earth. But, my lord, you well know, that there are those in Mardi, who secretly regard all stories connected with this peak, as inventions of the people of Maramma. They deny that any thing is to be gained by making a pilgrimage thereto. And for warranty, they appeal to the sayings of the great prophet Alma."
Cried Mohi, "But Alma is also quoted by others, in vindication of the pilgrimages to Ofo. They declare that the prophet himself was the first pilgrim that thitherward journeyed: that from thence he departed to the skies."
Now, excepting this same peak, Maramma is all rolling hill and dale, like the sea after a storm; which then seems not to roll, but to stand still, poising its mountains. Yet the landscape of Maramma has not the merriness of meadows; partly because of the shadow of Ofo, and partly because of the solemn groves in which the Morais and temples are buried.
According to Mohi, not one solitary tree bearing fruit, not one esculent root, grows in all the isle; the population wholly depending upon the large tribute remitted from the neighboring shores.
"It is not that the soil is unproductive," said Mohi, "that these things are so. It is extremely fertile; but the inhabitants say that it would be wrong to make a Bread-fruit orchard of the holy island."
"And hence, my lord," said Babbalanja, "while others are charged with the business of their temporal welfare, these Islanders take no thought of the morrow; and broad Maramma lies one fertile waste in the lagoon."
CHAPTER II They Land
Coming close to the island, the pennons and trappings of our canoes were removed; and Vee-Vee was commanded to descend from the shark's mouth; and for a time to lay aside his conch. In token of reverence, our paddlers also stripped to the waist; an example which even Media followed; though, as a king, the same homage he rendered, was at times rendered himself.
At every place, hitherto visited, joyous crowds stood ready to hail our arrival; but the shores of Maramma were silent, and forlorn.
Said Babbalanja, "It looks not as if the lost one were here."
At length we landed in a little cove nigh a valley, which Mohi called Uma; and here in silence we beached our canoes.
But presently, there came to us an old man, with a beard white as the mane of the pale horse. He was clad in a midnight robe. He fanned himself with a fan of faded leaves. A child led him by the hand, for he was blind, wearing a green plantain leaf over his plaited brow.
Him, Media accosted, making mention who we were, and on what errand we came: to seek out Yillah, and behold the isle.
Whereupon Pani, for such was his name, gave us a courteous reception; and lavishly promised to discover sweet Yillah; declaring that in Maramma, if any where, the long-lost maiden must be found. He assured us, that throughout the whole land he would lead us; leaving no place, desirable to be searched, unexplored.
And so saying, he conducted us to his dwelling, for refreshment and repose.
It was large and lofty. Near by, however, were many miserable hovels, with squalid inmates. But the old man's retreat was exceedingly comfortable; especially abounding in mats for lounging; his rafters were bowed down by calabashes of good cheer.
During the repast which ensued, blind Pani, freely partaking, enlarged upon the merit of abstinence; declaring that a thatch overhead, and a cocoanut tree, comprised all that was necessary for the temporal welfare of a Mardian. More than this, he assured us was sinful.
He now made known, that he officiated as guide in this quarter of the country; and that as he had renounced all other pursuits to devote himself to showing strangers the island; and more particularly the best way to ascend lofty Ofo; he was necessitated to seek remuneration for his toil.
"My lord," then whispered Mohi to Media "the great prophet Alma always declared, that, without charge, this island was free to all."
"What recompense do you desire, old man?" said Media to Path.
"What I seek is but little:—twenty rolls of fine tappa; two score mats of best upland grass; one canoe-load of bread-fruit and yams; ten gourds of wine; and forty strings of teeth;—you are a large company, but my requisitions are small."
"Very small," said Mohi.
"You are extortionate, good Pani," said Media. "And what wants an aged mortal like you with all these things?"
"I thought superfluities were worthless; nay, sinful," said Babbalanja.
"Is not this your habitation already more than abundantly supplied with all desirable furnishings?" asked Yoomy.
"I am but a lowly laborer," said the old man, meekly crossing his arms, "but does not the lowliest laborer ask and receive his reward? and shall I miss mine?—But I beg charity of none. What I ask, I demand; and in the dread name of great Alma, who appointed me a guide." And to and fro he strode, groping as he went.
Marking his blindness, whispered Babbalanja to Media, "My lord, methinks this Pani must be a poor guide. In his journeys inland, his little child leads him; why not, then, take the guide's guide?"
But Pani would not part with the child.
Then said Mohi in a low voice, "My lord Media, though I am no appointed guide; yet, will I undertake to lead you aright over all this island; for I am an old man, and have been here oft by myself; though I can not undertake to conduct you up the peak of Ofo, and to the more secret temples."
Then Pani said: "and what mortal may this be, who pretends to thread the labyrinthine wilds of Maramma? Beware!"
"He is one with eyes that see," made answer Babbalanja.
"Follow him not," said Pani, "for he will lead thee astray; no Yillah will he find; and having no warrant as a guide, the curses of Alma will accompany him."
Now, this was not altogether without effect; for Pani and his fathers before him had always filled the office of guide.
Nevertheless, Media at last decided, that, this time, Mohi should conduct us; which being communicated to Pani, he desired us to remove from his roof. So withdrawing to the skirt of a neighboring grove, we lingered awhile, to refresh ourselves for the journey in prospect.
As we here reclined, there came up from the sea-side a party of pilgrims, but newly arrived.
Apprized of their coming, Path and his child went out to meet them; and standing in the path he cried, "I am the appointed guide; in the name of Alma I conduct all pilgrims to the temples."
"This must be the worthy Path," said one of the strangers, turning upon the rest.
"Let us take him, then, for our guide," cried they; and all drew near.
But upon accosting him; they were told, that he guided none without recompense.
And now, being informed, that the foremost of the pilgrims was one Divino, a wealthy chief of a distant island, Pani demanded of him his requital.
But the other demurred; and by many soft speeches at length abated the recompense to three promissory cocoanuts, which he covenanted to send Pani at some future day.
The next pilgrim accosted, was a sad-eyed maiden, in decent but scanty raiment; who without seeking to diminish Pani's demands promptly placed in his hands a small hoard of the money of Mardi.
"Take it, holy guide," she said, "it is all I have."
But the third pilgrim, one Fanna, a hale matron, in handsome apparel, needed no asking to bestow her goods. Calling upon her attendants to advance with their burdens, she quickly unrolled them; and wound round and round Pani, fold after fold of the costliest tappas; and filled both his hands with teeth; and his mouth with some savory marmalade; and poured oil upon his head; and knelt and besought of him a blessing.
"From the bottom of my heart I bless thee," said Pani; and still holding her hands exclaimed, "Take example from this woman, oh Divino; and do ye likewise, ye pilgrims all."
"Not to-day," said Divino.
"We are not rich, like unto Fauna," said the rest.
Now, the next pilgrim was a very old and miserable man; stone-blind, covered with rags; and supporting his steps with a staff.
"My recompense," said Path.
"Alas! I have naught to give. Behold my poverty."
"I can not see," replied Path; but feeling of his garments, he said, "Thou wouldst deceive me; hast thou not this robe, and this staff?"
"Oh! Merciful Pani, take not my all!" wailed the pilgrim. But his worthless gaberdine was thrust into the dwelling of the guide.
Meanwhile, the matron was still enveloping Path in her interminable tappas.
But the sad-eyed maiden, removing her upper mantle, threw it over the naked form of the beggar.
The fifth pilgrim was a youth of an open, ingenuous aspect; and with an eye, full of eyes; his step was light.
"Who art thou?" cried Pani, as the stripling touched him in passing.
"I go to ascend the Peak," said the boy.
"Then take me for guide."
"No, I am strong and lithesome. Alone must I go."
"But how knowest thou the way?"
"There are many ways: the right one I must seek for myself."
"Ah, poor deluded one," sighed Path; "but thus is it ever with youth; and rejecting the monitions of wisdom, suffer they must. Go on, and perish!"
Turning, the boy exclaimed—"Though I act counter to thy counsels, oh Pani, I but follow the divine instinct in me."
"Poor youth!" murmured Babbalanja. "How earnestly he struggles in his bonds. But though rejecting a guide, still he clings to that legend of the Peak."
The rest of the pilgrims now tarried with the guide, preparing for their journey inland.
CHAPTER III They Pass Through The Woods
Refreshed by our stay in the grove, we rose, and placed ourselves under the guidance of Mohi; who went on in advance.
Winding our way among jungles, we came to a deep hollow, planted with one gigantic palm-shaft, belted round by saplings, springing from its roots. But, Laocoon-like, sire and sons stood locked in the serpent folds of gnarled, distorted banians; and the banian-bark, eating into their vital wood, corrupted their veins of sap, till all those palm- nuts were poisoned chalices.
Near by stood clean-limbed, comely manchineels, with lustrous leaves and golden fruit. You would have deemed them Trees of Life; but underneath their branches grew no blade of grass, no herb, nor moss; the bare earth was scorched by heaven's own dews, filtrated through that fatal foliage.
Farther on, there frowned a grove of blended banian boughs, thick- ranked manchineels, and many a upas; their summits gilded by the sun; but below, deep shadows, darkening night-shade ferns, and mandrakes. Buried in their midst, and dimly seen among large leaves, all halberd- shaped, were piles of stone, supporting falling temples of bamboo. Thereon frogs leaped in dampness, trailing round their slime. Thick hung the rafters with lines of pendant sloths; the upas trees dropped darkness round; so dense the shade, nocturnal birds found there perpetual night; and, throve on poisoned air. Owls hooted from dead boughs; or, one by one, sailed by on silent pinions; cranes stalked abroad, or brooded, in the marshes; adders hissed; bats smote the darkness; ravens croaked; and vampires, fixed on slumbering lizards, fanned the sultry air.
CHAPTER IV Hivohitee MDCCCXLVIII
Now, those doleful woodlands passed, straightway converse was renewed, and much discourse took place, concerning Hivohitee, Pontiff of the isle.
For, during our first friendly conversation with Pani, Media had inquired for Hivohitee, and sought to know in what part of the island he abode.
Whereto Pani had replied, that the Pontiff would be invisible for several days to come; being engaged with particular company.
And upon further inquiry, as to who were the personages monopolizing his hospitalities, Media was dumb when informed, that they were no other than certain incorporeal deities from above, passing the Capricorn Solstice at Maramma.
As on we journeyed, much curiosity being expressed to know more of the Pontiff and his guests, old Mohi, familiar with these things, was commanded to enlighten the company. He complied; and his recital was not a little significant, of the occasional credulity of chroniclers.
According to his statement, the deities entertained by Hivohitee belonged to the third class of immortals. These, however, were far elevated above the corporeal demi-gods of Mardi. Indeed, in Hivohitee's eyes, the greatest demi-gods were as gourds. Little wonder, then, that their superiors were accounted the most genteel characters on his visiting list.
These immortals were wonderfully fastidious and dainty as to the atmosphere they breathed; inhaling no sublunary air, but that of the elevated interior; where the Pontiff had a rural lodge, for the special accommodation of impalpable guests; who were entertained at very small cost; dinners being unnecessary, and dormitories superfluous.
But Hivohitee permitted not the presence of these celestial grandees, to interfere with his own solid comfort. Passing his mornings in highly intensified chat, he thrice reclined at his ease; partaking of a fine plantain-pudding, and pouring out from a calabash of celestial old wine; meanwhile, carrying on the flow of soul with his guests. And truly, the sight of their entertainer thus enjoying himself in the flesh, while they themselves starved on the ether, must have been exceedingly provoking to these aristocratic and aerial strangers.
It was reported, furthermore, that Hivohitee, one of the haughtiest of Pontiffs, purposely treated his angelical guests thus cavalierly; in order to convince them, that though a denizen of earth; a sublunarian; and in respect of heaven, a mere provincial; he (Hivohitee) accounted himself full as good as seraphim from the capital; and that too at the Capricorn Solstice, or any other time of the year. Strongly bent was Hivohitee upon humbling their supercilious pretensions.
Besides, was he not accounted a great god in the land? supreme? having power of life and death? essaying the deposition of kings? and dwelling in moody state, all by himself, in the goodliest island of Mardi? Though here, be it said, that his assumptions of temporal supremacy were but seldom made good by express interference with the secular concerns of the neighboring monarchs; who, by force of arms, were too apt to argue against his claims to authority; however, in theory, they bowed to it. And now, for the genealogy of Hivohitee; for eighteen hundred and forty-seven Hivohitees were alleged to have gone before him. He came in a right line from the divine Hivohitee I.: the original grantee of the empire of men's souls and the first swayer of a crosier. The present Pontiff's descent was unquestionable; his dignity having been transmitted through none but heirs male; the whole procession of High Priests being the fruit of successive marriages between uterine brother and sister. A conjunction deemed incestuous in some lands; but, here, held the only fit channel for the pure transmission of elevated rank.
Added to the hereditary appellation, Hivohitee, which simply denoted the sacerdotal station of the Pontiffs, and was but seldom employed in current discourse, they were individualized by a distinctive name, bestowed upon them at birth. And the degree of consideration in which they were held, may be inferred from the fact, that during the lifetime of a Pontiff, the leading sound in his name was banned to ordinary uses. Whence, at every new accession to the archiepiscopal throne, it came to pass, that multitudes of words and phrases were either essentially modified, or wholly dropped. Wherefore, the language of Maramma was incessantly fluctuating; and had become so full of jargonings, that the birds in the groves were greatly puzzled; not knowing where lay the virtue of sounds, so incoherent.
And, in a good measure, this held true of all tongues spoken throughout the Archipelago; the birds marveling at mankind, and mankind at the birds; wondering how they could continually sing; when, for all man knew to the contrary, it was impossible they could be holding intelligent discourse. And thus, though for thousands of years, men and birds had been dwelling together in Mardi, they remained wholly ignorant of each other's secrets; the Islander regarding the fowl as a senseless songster, forever in the clouds; and the fowl him, as a screeching crane, destitute of pinions and lofty aspirations.
Over and above numerous other miraculous powers imputed to the Pontiffs as spiritual potentates, there was ascribed to them one special privilege of a secular nature: that of healing with a touch the bites of the ravenous sharks, swarming throughout the lagoon. With these they were supposed to be upon the most friendly terms; according to popular accounts, sociably bathing with them in the sea; permitting them to rub their noses against their priestly thighs; playfully mouthing their hands, with all their tiers of teeth.
At the ordination of a Pontiff, the ceremony was not deemed complete, until embarking in his barge, he was saluted High Priest by three sharks drawing near; with teeth turned up, swimming beside his canoe.
These monsters were deified in Maramma; had altars there; it was deemed worse than homicide to kill one. "And what if they destroy human life?" say the Islanders, "are they not sacred?"
Now many more wonderful things were related touching Hivohitee; and though one could not but doubt the validity of many prerogatives ascribed to him, it was nevertheless hard to do otherwise, than entertain for the Pontiff that sort of profound consideration, which all render to those who indisputably possess the power of quenching human life with a wish.
CHAPTER V They Visit The Great Morai
As garrulous guide to the party, Braid-Beard soon brought us nigh the great Morai of Maramma, the burial-place of the Pontiffs, and a rural promenade, for certain idols there inhabiting.
Our way now led through the bed of a shallow water-course; Mohi observing, as we went, that our feet were being washed at every step; whereas, to tread the dusty earth would be to desecrate the holy Morai, by transferring thereto, the base soil of less sacred ground.
Here and there, thatched arbors were thrown over the stream, for the accommodation of devotees; who, in these consecrated waters, issuing from a spring in the Morai, bathed their garments, that long life might ensue. Yet, as Braid-Beard assured us, sometimes it happened, that divers feeble old men zealously donning their raiment immediately after immersion became afflicted with rheumatics; and instances were related of their falling down dead, in this their pursuit of longevity.
Coming to the Morai, we found it inclosed by a wall; and while the rest were surmounting it, Mohi was busily engaged in the apparently childish occupation of collecting pebbles. Of these, however, to our no small surprise, he presently made use, by irreverently throwing them at all objects to which he was desirous of directing attention. In this manner, was pointed out a black boar's head, suspended from a bough. Full twenty of these sentries were on post in the neighboring trees.
Proceeding, we came to a hillock of bone-dry sand, resting upon the otherwise loamy soil. Possessing a secret, preservative virtue, this sand had, ages ago, been brought from a distant land, to furnish a sepulcher for the Pontiffs; who here, side by side, and sire by son, slumbered all peacefully in the fellowship of the grave. Mohi declared, that were the sepulcher to be opened, it would be the resurrection of the whole line of High Priests. "But a resurrection of bones, after all," said Babbalanja, ever osseous in his allusions to the departed.
Passing on, we came to a number of Runic-looking stones, all over hieroglyphical inscriptions, and placed round an elliptical aperture; where welled up the sacred spring of the Morai, clear as crystal, and showing through its waters, two tiers of sharp, tusk-like stones; the mouth of Oro, so called; and it was held, that if any secular hand should be immersed in the spring, straight upon it those stony jaws would close.
We next came to a large image of a dark-hued stone, representing a burly man, with an overgrown head, and abdomen hollowed out, and open for inspection; therein, were relics of bones. Before this image we paused. And whether or no it was Mohi's purpose to make us tourists quake with his recitals, his revelations were far from agreeable. At certain seasons, human beings were offered to the idol, which being an epicure in the matter of sacrifices, would accept of no ordinary fare. To insure his digestion, all indirect routes to the interior were avoided; the sacrifices being packed in the ventricle itself.
Near to this image of Doleema, so called, a solitary forest-tree was pointed out; leafless and dead to the core. But from its boughs hang numerous baskets, brimming over with melons, grapes, and guavas. And daily these baskets were replenished.
As we here stood, there passed a hungry figure, in ragged raiment: hollow cheeks, and hollow eyes. Wistfully he eyed the offerings; but retreated; knowing it was sacrilege to touch them. There, they must decay, in honor of the god Ananna; for so this dead tree was denominated by Mohi.
Now, as we were thus strolling about the Morai, the old chronicler elucidating its mysteries, we suddenly spied Pani and the pilgrims approaching the image of Doleema; his child leading the guide.
"This," began Pani, pointing to the idol of stone, "is the holy god Ananna who lives in the sap of this green and flourishing tree."
"Thou meanest not, surely, this stone image we behold?" said Divino.
"I mean the tree," said the guide. "It is no stone image."
"Strange," muttered the chief; "were it not a guide that spoke, I would deny it. As it is, I hold my peace."
"Mystery of mysteries!" cried the blind old pilgrim; "is it, then, a stone image that Pani calls a tree? Oh, Oro, that I had eyes to see, that I might verily behold it, and then believe it to be what it is not; that so I might prove the largeness of my faith; and so merit the blessing of Alma."
"Thrice sacred Ananna," murmured the sad-eyed maiden, falling upon her knees before Doleema, "receive my adoration. Of thee, I know nothing, but what the guide has spoken. I am but a poor, weak-minded maiden, judging not for myself, but leaning upon others that are wiser. These things are above me. I am afraid to think. In Alma's name, receive my homage."
And she flung flowers before the god.
But Fauna, the hale matron, turning upon Pani, exclaimed, "Receive more gifts, oh guide." And again she showered them upon him.
Upon this, the willful boy who would not have Pani for his guide, entered the Morai; and perceiving the group before the image, walked rapidly to where they were. And beholding the idol, he regarded it attentively, and said:—"This must be the image of Doleema; but I am not sure."
"Nay," cried the blind pilgrim, "it is the holy tree Ananna, thou wayward boy."
"A tree? whatever it may be, it is not that; thou art blind, old man."
"But though blind, I have that which thou lackest."
Then said Pani, turning upon the boy, "Depart from the holy Morai, and corrupt not the hearts of these pilgrims. Depart, I say; and, in the sacred name of Alma, perish in thy endeavors to climb the Peak."
"I may perish there in truth," said the boy, with sadness; "but it shall be in the path revealed to me in my dream. And think not, oh guide, that I perfectly rely upon gaining that lofty summit. I will climb high Ofo with hope, not faith; Oh, mighty Oro, help me!"
"Be not impious," said Pani; "pronounce not Oro's sacred name too lightly."
"Oro is but a sound," said the boy. "They call the supreme god, Ati, in my native isle; it is the soundless thought of him, oh guide, that is in me."
"Hark to his rhapsodies! Hark, how he prates of mysteries, that not even Hivohitee can fathom."
"Nor he, nor thou, nor I, nor any; Oro, to all, is Oro the unknown."
"Why claim to know Oro, then, better than others?"
"I am not so vain; and I have little to substitute for what I can not receive. I but feel Oro in me, yet can not declare the thought."
"Proud boy! thy humility is a pretense; at heart, thou deemest thyself wiser than Mardi."
"Not near so wise. To believe is a haughty thing; my very doubts humiliate me. I weep and doubt; all Mardi may be light; and I too simple to discern."
"He is mad," said the chief Divino; "never before heard I such words."
"They are thoughts," muttered the guide.
"Poor fool!" cried Fauna.
"Lost youth!" sighed the maiden.
"He is but a child," said the beggar. These whims will soon depart; once I was like him; but, praise be to Alma, in the hour of sickness I repented, feeble old man that I am!"
"It is because I am young and in health," said the boy, "that I more nourish the thoughts, that are born of my youth and my health. I am fresh from my Maker, soul and body unwrinkled. On thy sick couch, old man, they took thee at advantage."
"Turn from the blasphemer," cried Pani. "Hence! thou evil one, to the perdition in store."
"I will go my ways," said the boy, "but Oro will shape the end."
And he quitted the Morai.
After conducting the party round the sacred inclosure, assisting his way with his staff, for his child had left him, Pani seated himself on a low, mossy stone, grimly surrounded by idols; and directed the pilgrims to return to his habitation; where, ere long he would rejoin them.
The pilgrims departed, he remained in profound meditation; while, backward and forward, an invisible ploughshare turned up the long furrows on his brow.
Long he was silent; then muttered to himself, "That boy, that wild, wise boy, has stabbed me to the heart. His thoughts are my suspicions. But he is honest. Yet I harm none. Multitudes must have unspoken meditations as well as I. Do we then mutually deceive? Off masks, mankind, that I may know what warranty of fellowship with others, my own thoughts possess. Why, upon this one theme, oh Oro! must all dissemble? Our thoughts are not our own. Whate'er it be, an honest thought must have some germ of truth. But we must set, as flows the general stream; I blindly follow, where I seem to lead; the crowd of pilgrims is so great, they see not there is none to guide.—It hinges upon this: Have we angelic spirits? But in vain, in vain, oh Oro! I essay to live out of this poor, blind body, fit dwelling for my sightless soul. Death, death:—blind, am I dead? for blindness seems a consciousness of death. Will my grave be more dark, than all is now?— From dark to dark!—What is this subtle something that is in me, and eludes me? Will it have no end? When, then, did it begin? All, all is chaos! What is this shining light in heaven, this sun they tell me of? Or, do they lie? Methinks, it might blaze convictions; but I brood and grope in blackness; I am dumb with doubt; yet, 'tis not doubt, but worse: I doubt my doubt. Oh, ye all-wise spirits in the air, how can ye witness all this woe, and give no sign? Would, would that mine were a settled doubt, like that wild boy's, who without faith, seems full of it. The undoubting doubter believes the most. Oh! that I were he. Methinks that daring boy hath Alma in him, struggling to be free. But those pilgrims: that trusting girl.—What, if they saw me as I am? Peace, peace, my soul; on, mask, again."
And he staggered from the Morai.
CHAPTER VI They Discourse Of The Gods Of Mardi, And Braid-Beard Tells Of One Foni
Walking from the sacred inclosure, Mohi discoursed of the plurality of gods in the land, a subject suggested by the multitudinous idols we had just been beholding.
Said Mohi, "These gods of wood and of stone are nothing in number to the gods in the air. You breathe not a breath without inhaling, you touch not a leaf without ruffling a spirit. There are gods of heaven, and gods of earth; gods of sea and of land; gods of peace and of war; gods of rook and of fell; gods of ghosts and of thieves; of singers and dancers; of lean men and of house-thatchers. Gods glance in the eyes of birds, and sparkle in the crests of the waves; gods merrily swing in the boughs of the trees, and merrily sing in the brook. Gods are here, and there, and every where; you are never alone for them."
"If this be so, Braid-Beard," said Babbalanja, "our inmost thoughts are overheard; but not by eaves-droppers. However, my lord, these gods to whom he alludes, merely belong to the semi-intelligibles, the divided unities in unity, thin side of the First Adyta."
"Indeed?" said Media.
"Semi-intelligible, say you, philosopher?" cried Mohi. "Then, prithee, make it appear so; for what you say, seems gibberish to me."
"Babbalanja," said Media, "no more of your abstrusities; what know you mortals of us gods and demi-gods? But tell me, Mohi, how many of your deities of rock and fen think you there are? Have you no statistical table?"
"My lord, at the lowest computation, there must be at least three billion trillion of quintillions."
"A mere unit!" said Babbalanja. "Old man, would you express an infinite number? Then take the sum of the follies of Mardi for your multiplicand; and for your multiplier, the totality of sublunarians, that never have been heard of since they became no more; and the product shall exceed your quintillions, even though all their units were nonillions."
"Have done, Babbalanja!" cried Media; "you are showing the sinister vein in your marble. Have done. Take a warm bath, and make tepid your cold blood. But come, Mohi, tell us of the ways of this Maramma; something of the Morai and its idols, if you please."
And straightway Braid-Beard proceeded with a narration, in substance as follows:—
It seems, there was a particular family upon the island, whose members, for many generations, had been set apart as sacrifices for the deity called Doleema. They were marked by a sad and melancholy aspect, and a certain involuntary shrinking, when passing the Morai. And, though, when it came to the last, some of these unfortunates went joyfully to their doom, declaring that they gloried to die in the service of holy Doleema; still, were there others, who audaciously endeavored to shun their fate; upon the approach of a festival, fleeing to the innermost wilderness of the island. But little availed their flight. For swift on their track sped the hereditary butler of the insulted god, one Xiki, whose duty it was to provide the sacrifices. And when crouching in some covert, the fugitive spied Xiki's approach, so fearful did he become of the vengeance of the deity he sought to evade, that renouncing all hope of escape, he would burst from his lair, exclaiming, "Come on, and kill!" baring his breast for the javelin that slew him.
The chronicles of Maramma were full of horrors.
In the wild heart of the island, was said still to lurk the remnant of a band of warriors, who, in the days of the sire of the present pontiff, had risen in arms to dethrone him, headed by Foni, an upstart prophet, a personage distinguished for the uncommon beauty of his person. With terrible carnage, these warriors had been defeated; and the survivors, fleeing into the interior, for thirty days were pursued by the victors. But though many were overtaken and speared, a number survived; who, at last, wandering forlorn and in despair, like demoniacs, ran wild in the woods. And the islanders, who at times penetrated into the wilderness, for the purpose of procuring rare herbs, often scared from their path some specter, glaring through the foliage. Thrice had these demoniacs been discovered prowling about the inhabited portions of the isle; and at day-break, an attendant of the holy Morai once came upon a frightful figure, doubled with age, helping itself to the offerings in the image of Doleema. The demoniac was slain; and from his ineffaceable tatooing, it was proved that this was no other than Foni, the false prophet; the splendid form he had carried into the rebel fight, now squalid with age and misery.
CHAPTER VII They Visit The Lake Of Yammo
From the Morai, we bent our steps toward an unoccupied arbor; and here, refreshing ourselves with the viands presented by Borabolla, we passed the night. And next morning proceeded to voyage round to the opposite quarter of the island; where, in the sacred lake of Yammo, stood the famous temple of Oro, also the great gallery of the inferior deities.
The lake was but a portion of the smooth lagoon, made separate by an arm of wooded reef, extending from the high western shore of the island, and curving round toward a promontory, leaving a narrow channel to the sea, almost invisible, however, from the land-locked interior.
In this lake were many islets, all green with groves. Its main-shore was a steep acclivity, with jutting points, each crowned with mossy old altars of stone, or ruinous temples, darkly reflected in the green, glassy water; while, from its long line of stately trees, the low reef-side of the lake looked one verdant bluff.
Gliding in upon Yammo, its many islets greeted us like a little Mardi; but ever and anon we started at long lines of phantoms in the water, reflections of the long line of images on the shore.
Toward the islet of Dolzono we first directed our way; and there we beheld the great gallery of the gods; a mighty temple, resting on one hundred tall pillars of palm, each based, below the surface, on the buried body of a man; its nave one vista of idols; names carved on their foreheads: Ogre, Tripoo, Indrimarvoki, Parzillo, Vivivi, Jojijojorora, Jorkraki, and innumerable others.
Crowds of attendants were new-grouping the images.
"My lord, you behold one of their principal occupations," said Mohi.
Said Media: "I have heard much of the famed image of Mujo, the Nursing Mother;—can you point it out, Braid-Beard?"
"My lord, when last here, I saw Mujo at the head of this file; but they must have removed it; I see it not now."
"Do these attendants, then," said Babbalanja, "so continually new- marshal the idols, that visiting the gallery to-day, you are at a loss to-morrow?"
"Even so," said Braid-Beard. "But behold, my lord, this image is Mujo."
We stood before an obelisk-idol, so towering, that gazing at it, we were fain to throw back our heads. According to Mohi, winding stairs led up through its legs; its abdomen a cellar, thick-stored with gourds of old wine; its head, a hollow dome; in rude alto-relievo, its scores of hillock-breasts were carved over with legions of baby deities, frog-like sprawling; while, within, were secreted whole litters of infant idols, there placed, to imbibe divinity from the knots of the wood.
As we stood, a strange subterranean sound was heard, mingled with a gurgling as of wine being poured. Looking up, we beheld, through arrow-slits and port-holes, three masks, cross-legged seated in the abdomen, and holding stout wassail. But instantly upon descrying us, they vanished deeper into the interior; and presently was heard a sepulchral chant, and many groans and grievous tribulations.
Passing on, we came to an image, with a long anaconda-like posterior development, wound round and round its own neck.
"This must be Oloo, the god of Suicides," said Babbalanja.
"Yes," said Mohi, "you perceive, my lord, how he lays violent tail upon himself."
At length, the attendants having, in due order, new-deposed the long lines of sphinxes and griffins, and many limbed images, a band of them, in long flowing robes, began their morning chant.
"Awake Rarni! awake Foloona! Awake unnumbered deities!"
With many similar invocations, to which the images made not the slightest rejoinder. Not discouraged, however, the attendants now separately proceeded to offer up petitions on behalf of various tribes, retaining them for that purpose.
One prayed for abundance of rain, that the yams of Valapee might not wilt in the ground; another for dry sunshine, as most favorable for the present state of the Bread-fruit crop in Mondoldo.
Hearing all this, Babbalanja thus spoke:—"Doubtless, my lord Media, besides these petitions we hear, there are ten thousand contradictory prayers ascending to these idols. But methinks the gods will not jar the eternal progression of things, by any hints from below; even were it possible to satisfy conflicting desires."
Said Yoomy, "But I would pray, nevertheless, Babbalanja; for prayer draws us near to our own souls, and purifies our thoughts. Nor will I grant that our supplications are altogether in vain."
Still wandering among the images, Mohi had much to say, concerning their respective claims to the reverence of the devout.
For though, in one way or other, all Mardians bowed to the supremacy of Oro, they were not so unanimous concerning the inferior deities; those supposed to be intermediately concerned in sublunary things. Some nations sacrificed to one god; some to another; each maintaining, that their own god was the most potential.
Observing that all the images were more or less defaced, Babbalanja sought the reason.
To which, Braid-Beard made answer, that they had been thus defaced by hostile devotees; who quarreling in the great gallery of the gods, and getting beside themselves with rage, often sought to pull down, and demolish each other's favorite idols.
"But behold," cried Babbalanja, "there seems not a single image unmutilated. How is this, old man?"
"It is thus. While one faction defaces the images of its adversaries, its own images are in like manner assailed; whence it comes that no idol escapes."
"No more, no more, Braid-Beard," said Media. "Let us depart, and visit the islet, where the god of all these gods is enshrined."
CHAPTER VIII They Meet The Pilgrims At The Temple Of Oro
Deep, deep, in deep groves, we found the great temple of Oro, Spreader-of-the-Sky, and deity supreme.
While here we silently stood eyeing this Mardi-renowned image, there entered the fane a great multitude of its attendants, holding pearl- shells on their heads, filled with a burning incense. And ranging themselves in a crowd round Oro, they began a long-rolling chant, a sea of sounds; and the thick smoke of their incense went up to the roof.
And now approached Pani and the pilgrims; followed, at a distance, by the willful boy.
"Behold great Oro," said the guide.
"We see naught but a cloud," said the chief Divino.
"My ears are stunned by the chanting," said the blind pilgrim.
"Receive more gifts, oh guide!" cried Fauna the matron. "Oh Oro! invisible Oro! I kneel," slow murmured the sad-eyed maid.
But now, a current of air swept aside the eddying incense; and the willful boy, all eagerness to behold the image, went hither and thither; but the gathering of attendants was great; and at last he exclaimed, "Oh Oro! I can not see thee, for the crowd that stands between thee and me."
"Who is this babbler?" cried they with the censers, one and all turning upon the pilgrims; "let him speak no more; but bow down, and grind the dust where he stands; and declare himself the vilest creature that crawls. So Oro and Alma command."
"I feel nothing in me so utterly vile," said the boy, "and I cringe to none. But I would as lief adore your image, as that in my heart, for both mean the same; but more, how can I? I love great Oro, though I comprehend him not. I marvel at his works, and feel as nothing in his sight; but because he is thus omnipotent, and I a mortal, it follows not that I am vile. Nor so doth he regard me. We do ourselves degrade ourselves, not Oro us. Hath not Oro made me? And therefore am I not worthy to stand erect before him? Oro is almighty, but no despot. I wonder; I hope; I love; I weep; I have in me a feeling nigh to fear, that is not fear; but wholly vile I am not; nor can we love and cringe. But Oro knows my heart, which I can not speak."
"Impious boy," cried they with the censers, "we will offer thee up, before the very image thou contemnest. In the name of Alma, seize him."
And they bore him away unresisting.
"Thus perish the ungodly," said Pani to the shuddering pilgrims.
And they quitted the temple, to journey toward the Peak of Ofo.
"My soul bursts!" cried Yoomy. "My lord, my lord, let us save the boy."
"Speak not," said Media. "His fate is fixed. Let Mardi stand."
"Then let us away from hence, my lord; and join the pilgrims; for, in these inland vales, the lost one may be found, perhaps at the very base of Ofo."
"Not there; not there;" cried Babbalanja, "Yillah may have touched these shores; but long since she must have fled."
CHAPTER IX They Discourse Of Alma
Sailing to and fro in the lake, to view its scenery, much discourse took place concerning the things we had seen; and far removed from the censer-bearers, the sad fate that awaited the boy was now the theme of all.
A good deal was then said of Alma, to whom the guide, the pilgrims, and the censer-bearers had frequently alluded, as to some paramount authority.
Called upon to reveal what his chronicles said on this theme, Braid- Beard complied; at great length narrating, what now follows condensed.
Alma, it seems, was an illustrious prophet, and teacher divine; who, ages ago, at long intervals, and in various islands, had appeared to the Mardians under the different titles of Brami, Manko, and Alma. Many thousands of moons had elasped since his last and most memorable avatar, as Alma on the isle of Maramma. Each of his advents had taken place in a comparatively dark and benighted age. Hence, it was devoutly believed, that he came to redeem the Mardians from their heathenish thrall; to instruct them in the ways of truth, virtue, and happiness; to allure them to good by promises of beatitude hereafter; and to restrain them from evil by denunciations of woe. Separated from the impurities and corruptions, which in a long series of centuries had become attached to every thing originally uttered by the prophet, the maxims, which as Brami he had taught, seemed similar to those inculcated by Manko. But as Alma, adapting his lessons to the improved condition of humanity, the divine prophet had more completely unfolded his scheme; as Alma, he had made his last revelation.
This narration concluded, Babbalanja mildly observed, "Mohi: without seeking to accuse you of uttering falsehoods; since what you relate rests not upon testimony of your own; permit me, to question the fidelity of your account of Alma. The prophet came to dissipate errors, you say; but superadded to many that have survived the past, ten thousand others have originated in various constructions of the principles of Alma himself. The prophet came to do away all gods but one; but since the days of Alma, the idols of Maramma have more than quadrupled. The prophet came to make us Mardians more virtuous and happy; but along with all previous good, the same wars, crimes, and miseries, which existed in Alma's day, under various modifications are yet extant. Nay: take from your chronicles, Mohi, the history of those horrors, one way or other, resulting from the doings of Alma's nominal followers, and your chronicles would not so frequently make mention of blood. The prophet came to guarantee our eternal felicity; but according to what is held in Maramma, that felicity rests on so hard a proviso, that to a thinking mind, but very few of our sinful race may secure it. For one, then, I wholly reject your Alma; not so much, because of all that is hard to be understood in his histories; as because of obvious and undeniable things all round us; which, to me, seem at war with an unreserved faith in his doctrines as promulgated here in Maramma. Besides; every thing in this isle strengthens my incredulity; I never was so thorough a disbeliever as now."
"Let the winds be laid," cried Mohi, "while your rash confession is being made in this sacred lake."
Said Media, "Philosopher; remember the boy, and they that seized him."
"Ah! I do indeed remember him. Poor youth! in his agony, how my heart yearned toward his. But that very prudence which you deny me, my lord, prevented me from saying aught in his behalf. Have you not observed, that until now, when we are completely by ourselves, I have refrained from freely discoursing of what we have seen in this island? Trust me, my lord, there is no man, that bears more in mind the necessity of being either a believer or a hypocrite in Maramma, and the imminent peril of being honest here, than I, Babbalanja. And have I not reason to be wary, when in my boyhood, my own sire was burnt for his temerity; and in this very isle? Just Oro! it was done in the name of Alma,—what wonder then, that, at times, I almost hate that sound. And from those flames, they devoutly swore he went to others,—horrible fable!"
Said Mohi: "Do you deny, then, the everlasting torments?"
"'Tis not worth a denial. Nor by formally denying it, will I run the risk of shaking the faith of, thousands, who in that pious belief find infinite consolation for all they suffer in Mardi."
"How?" said Media; "are there those who soothe themselves with the thought of everlasting flames?"
"One would think so, my lord, since they defend that dogma more resolutely than any other. Sooner will they yield you the isles of Paradise, than it. And in truth, as liege followers of Alma, they would seem but right in clinging to it as they do; for, according to all one hears in Maramma, the great end of the prophet's mission seems to have been the revealing to us Mardians the existence of horrors, most hard to escape. But better we were all annihilated, than that one man should be damned."
Rejoined Media: "But think you not, that possibly, Alma may have been misconceived? Are you certain that doctrine is his?"
"I know nothing more than that such is the belief in this land. And in these matters, I know not where else to go for information. But, my lord, had I been living in those days when certain men are said to have been actually possessed by spirits from hell, I had not let slip the opportunity—as our forefathers did—to cross-question them concerning the place they came from."
"Well, well," said Media, "your Alma's faith concerns not me: I am a king, and a demi-god; and leave vulgar torments to the commonality."
"But it concerns me," muttered Mohi; "yet I know not what to think."
"For me," said Yoomy, "I reject it. Could I, I would not believe it. It is at variance with the dictates of my heart instinctively my heart turns from it, as a thirsty man from gall."
"Hush; say no more," said Mohi; "again we approach the shore."
CHAPTER X Kohl Tells Of One Ravoo, And They Land To Visit Revaneva, A Flourishing Artisan
Having seen all worth viewing in Yammo, we departed, to complete the circumnavigation of the island, by returning to Uma without reversing our prows. As we glided along, we passed many objects of interest, concerning which, Mohi, as usual, was very diffuse.
Among other things pointed out, were certain little altars, like mile- stones, planted here and there upon bright bluffs, running out into the lagoon. Dedicated respectively to the guardian spirits of Maramma, these altars formed a chain of spiritual defenses; and here were presumed to stand post the most vigilant of warders; dread Hivohitee, all by himself, garrisoning the impregnable interior.
But these sentries were only subalterns, subject to the beck of the Pontiff; who frequently sent word to them, concerning the duties of their watch. His mandates were intrusted to one Ravoo, the hereditary pontifical messenger; a long-limbed varlet, so swift of foot, that he was said to travel like a javelin. "Art thou Ravoo, that thou so pliest thy legs?" say these islanders, to one encountered in a hurry.
Hivohitee's postman held no oral communication with the sentries. Dispatched round the island with divers bits of tappa, hieroglyphically stamped, he merely deposited one upon each altar; superadding a stone, to keep the missive in its place; and so went his rounds.
Now, his route lay over hill and over dale, and over many a coral rock; and to preserve his feet from bruises, he was fain to wear a sort of buskin, or boot, fabricated of a durable tappa, made from the thickest and toughest of fibers. As he never wore his buskins except when he carried the mail, Ravoo sorely fretted with his Hessians; though it would have been highly imprudent to travel without them. To make the thing more endurable, therefore, and, at intervals, to cool his heated pedals, he established a series of stopping-places, or stages; at each of which a fresh pair of buskins, hanging from a tree, were taken down and vaulted into by the ingenious traveler. Those relays of boots were exceedingly convenient; next, indeed, to being lifted upon a fresh pair of legs.
"Now, to what purpose that anecdote?" demanded Babbalanja of Mohi, who in substance related it.
"Marry! 'tis but the simple recital of a fact; and I tell it to entertain the company."
"But has it any meaning you know of?"
"Thou art wise, find out," retorted Braid-Beard. "But what comes of it?" persisted Babbalanja.
"Beshrew me, this senseless catechising of thine," replied Mohi; "naught else, it seems, save a grin or two."
"And pray, what may you be driving at, philosopher?" interrupted Media.
"I am intent upon the essence of things; the mystery that lieth beyond; the elements of the tear which much laughter provoketh; that which is beneath the seeming; the precious pearl within the shaggy oyster. I probe the circle's center; I seek to evolve the inscrutable."
"Seek on; and when aught is found, cry out, that we may run to see."
"My lord the king is merry upon me. To him my more subtle cogitations seem foolishness. But believe me, my lord, there is more to be thought of than to be seen. There is a world of wonders insphered within the spontaneous consciousness; or, as old Bardianna hath it, a mystery within the obvious, yet an obviousness within the mystery."
"And did I ever deny that?" said Media.
"As plain as my hand in the dark," said Mohi.
"I dreamed a dream," said Yoomy.
"They banter me; but enough; I am to blame for discoursing upon the deep world wherein I live. I am wrong in seeking to invest sublunary sounds with celestial sense. Much that is in me is incommunicable by this ether we breathe. But I blame ye not." And wrapping round him his mantle, Babbalanja retired into its most private folds.
Ere coming in sight of Uma, we put into a little bay, to pay our respects to Hevaneva, a famous character there dwelling; who, assisted by many journeymen, carried on the lucrative business of making idols for the surrounding isles.
Know ye, that all idols not made in Maramma, and consecrated by Hivohitee; and, what is more, in strings of teeth paid down for to Hevaneva; are of no more account, than logs, stocks, or stones. Yet does not the cunning artificer monopolize the profits of his vocation; for Hevaneva being but the vassal of the Pontiff, the latter lays claim to King Leo's share of the spoils, and secures it.
The place was very prettily lapped in a pleasant dell, nigh to the margin of the water; and here, were several spacious arbors; wherein, prostrate upon their sacred faces, were all manner of idols, in every imaginable stage of statuary development.
With wonderful industry the journeymen were plying their tools;—some chiseling noses; some trenching for mouths; and others, with heated flints, boring for ears: a hole drilled straight through the occiput, representing the auricular organs.
"How easily they are seen through," said Babbalanja, taking a sight through one of the heads.
The last finish is given to their godships, by rubbing them all over with dried slips of consecrated shark-skin, rough as sand paper, tacked over bits of wood.
In one of the farther arbors, Hevaneva pointed out a goodly array of idols, all complete and ready for the market. They were of every variety of pattern; and of every size; from that of a giant, to the little images worn in the ears of the ultra devout.
"Of late," said the artist, "there has been a lively demand for the image of Arbino the god of fishing; the present being the principal season for that business. For Nadams (Nadam presides over love and wine), there has also been urgent call; it being the time of the grape; and the maidens growing frolicsome withal, and devotional."
Seeing that Hevaneva handled his wares with much familiarity, not to say irreverence, Babbalanja was minded to learn from him, what he thought of his trade; whether the images he made were genuine or spurious; in a word, whether he believed in his gods.
His reply was curious. But still more so, the marginal gestures wherewith he helped out the text.
"When I cut down the trees for my idols," said he, "they are nothing but logs; when upon those logs, I chalk out the figures of, my images, they yet remain logs; when the chisel is applied, logs they are still; and when all complete, I at last stand them up in my studio, even then they are logs. Nevertheless, when I handle the pay, they are as prime gods, as ever were turned out in Maramma."
"You must make a very great variety," said Babbalanja.
"All sorts, all sorts."
"And from the same material, I presume."
"Ay, ay, one grove supplies them all. And, on an average, each tree stands us in full fifty idols. Then, we often take second-hand images in part pay for new ones. These we work over again into new patterns; touching up their eyes and ears; resetting their noses; and more especially new-footing their legs, where they always decay first."
Under sanction of the Pontiff, Hevaneva, in addition to his large commerce in idols, also carried on the highly lucrative business of canoe-building; the profits whereof, undivided, he dropped into his private exchequer. But Mohi averred, that the Pontiff often charged him with neglecting his images, for his canoes. Be that as it may, Hevaneva drove a thriving trade at both avocations. And in demonstration of the fact, he directed our attention to three long rows of canoes, upheld by wooden supports. They were in perfect order; at a moment's notice, ready for launching; being furnished with paddles, out-riggers, masts, sails, and a human skull, with a short handle thrust through one of its eyes, the ordinary bailer of Maramma; besides other appurtenances, including on the prow a duodecimo idol to match.
Owing to a superstitious preference bestowed upon the wood and work of the sacred island, Hevaneva's canoes were in as high repute as his idols; and sold equally well.
In truth, in several ways one trade helped the other. The larger images being dug out of the hollow part of the canoes; and all knotty odds and ends reserved for the idol ear-rings.
"But after all," said the artificer, "I find a readier sale for my images, than for my canoes."
"And so it will ever be," said Babbalanja.—"Stick to thy idols, man! a trade, more reliable than the baker's."
CHAPTER XI A Nursery-Tale Of Babbalanja's
Having taken to our canoes once again, we were silently sailing along, when Media observed, "Babbalanja; though I seldom trouble myself with such thoughts, I have just been thinking, how difficult it must be, for the more ignorant sort of people, to decide upon what particular image to worship as a guardian deity, when in Maramma, it seems, there exists such a multitude of idols, and a thousand more are to be heard of."
"Not at all, your highness. The more ignorant the better. The multitude of images distracts them not. But I am in no mood for serious discourse; let me tell you a story."
"A story! hear him: the solemn philosopher is desirous of regaling us with a tale! But pray, begin."
"Once upon a time, then," said Babbalanja, indifferently adjusting his girdle, "nine blind men, with uncommonly long noses, set out on their travels to see the great island on which they were born."
"A precious beginning," muttered Mohi. "Nine blind men setting out to see sights."
Continued Babbalanja, "Staff in hand, they traveled; one in advance of the other; each man with his palm upon the shoulder next him; and he with the longest nose took the lead of the file. Journeying on in this manner, they came to a valley, in which reigned a king called Tammaro. Now, in a certain inclosure toward the head of the valley, there stood an immense wild banian tree; all over moss, and many centuries old, and forming quite a wood in itself: its thousand boughs striking into the earth, and fixing there as many gigantic trunks. With Tammaro, it had long been a question, which of those many trunks was the original and true one; a matter that had puzzled the wisest heads among his subjects; and in vain had a reward been offered for the solution of the perplexity. But the tree was so vast, and its fabric so complex; and its rooted branches so similar in appearance; and so numerous, from the circumstance that every year had added to them, that it was quite impossible to determine the point. Nevertheless, no sooner did the nine blind men hear that there was a reward offered for discovering the trunk of a tree, standing all by itself, than, one and all, they assured Tammaro, that they would quickly settle that little difficulty of his; and loudly inveighed against the stupidity of his sages, who had been so easily posed. So, being conducted into the inclosure, and assured that the tree was somewhere within, they separated their forces, so as at wide intervals to surround it at a distance; when feeling their way, with their staves and their noses, they advanced to the search, crying out—'Pshaw! make room there; let us wise men feel of the mystery.' Presently, striking with his nose one of the rooted branches, the foremost blind man quickly knelt down; and feeling that it struck into the earth, gleefully shouted: Here it is! here it is!' But almost in the same breath, his companions, also, each striking a branch with his staff or his nose, cried out in like manner, 'Here it is! here it is!' Whereupon they were all confounded: but directly, the man who first cried out, thus addressed the rest: Good friends, surely you're mistaken. There is but one tree in the place, and here it is.' 'Very true,' said the others, 'all together; there is only one tree; but here it is.' 'Nay,' said the others, 'it is here!' and so saying, each blind man triumphantly felt of the branch, where it penetrated into the earth. Then again said the first speaker: Good friends, if you will not believe what I say, come hither, and feel for yourselves.' 'Nay, nay,' replied they, why seek further? here it is; and nowhere else can it be.' 'You blind fools, you, you contradict yourselves,' continued the first speaker, waxing wroth; 'how can you each have hold of a separate trunk, when there is but one in the place?' Whereupon, they redoubled their cries, calling each other all manner of opprobrious names, and presently they fell to beating each other with their staves, and charging upon each other with their noses. But soon after, being loudly called upon by Tammaro and his people; who all this while had been looking on; being loudly called upon, I say, to clap their hands on the trunk, they again rushed for their respective branches; and it so happened, that, one and all, they changed places; but still cried out, 'Here it is; here it is!' 'Peace! peace! ye silly blind men,' said Tammaro. 'Will ye without eyes presume to see more sharply than those who have them? The tree is too much for us all. Hence! depart from the valley.'"
"An admirable story," cried Media. "I had no idea that a mere mortal, least of all a philosopher, could acquit him-self so well. By my scepter, but it is well done! Ha, ha! blind men round a banian! Why, Babbalanja, no demi-god could surpass it. Taji, could you?"
"But, Babbalanja, what under the sun, mean you by your blind story!" cried Mohi. "Obverse, or reverse, I can make nothing out of it."
"Others may," said Babbalanja. "It is a polysensuum, old man."
"A pollywog!" said Mohi.
CHAPTER XII Landing To Visit Hivohitee The Pontiff, They Encounter An Extraordinary Old Hermit; With Whom Yoomy Has A Confidential Interview, But Learns Little
Gliding on, suddenly we spied a solitary Islander putting out in his canoe from a neighboring cove.
Drawing near, the stranger informed us, that he was just from the face of the great Pontiff, Hivohitee, who, having dismissed his celestial guests, had retired to his private sanctuary. Upon this, Media resolved to land forthwith, and under the guidance of Mohi, proceed inland, and pay a visit to his Holiness.
Quitting the beach, our path penetrated into the solitudes of the groves. Skirting the way were tall Casaurinas, a species of cypress, standing motionless in the shadows, as files of mutes at a funeral. But here and there, they were overrun with the adventurous vines of the Convolvulus, the Morning-glory of the Tropics, whose tendrils, bruised by the twigs, dropped milk upon the dragon-like scales of the trees.
This vine is of many varieties. Lying perdu, and shunning the garish sun through the day, one species rises at night with the stars; bursting forth in dazzling constellations of blossoms, which close at dawn. Others, slumbering through the darkness, are up and abroad with their petals, by peep of morn; and after inhaling its breath, again drop their lids in repose. While a third species, more capricious, refuse to expand at all, unless in the most brilliant sunshine, and upon the very tops of the loftiest trees. Ambitious flowers! that will not blow, unless in high places, with the bright day looking on and admiring.
Here and there, we passed open glades in the woods, delicious with the incense of violets. Balsamic ferns, stirred by the breeze, fanned all the air with aromas. These glades were delightful.
Journeying on, we at length came to a dark glen so deftly hidden by the surrounding copses, that were it not for the miasma thence wafted, an ignorant wayfarer might pass and repass it, time and again, never dreaming of its vicinity.
Down into the gloom of this glen we descended. Its sides were mantled with noxious shrubs, whose exhalations, half way down, unpleasantly blended with the piny breeze from the uplands. Through its bed ran a brook, whose incrusted margin had a strange metallic luster, from the polluted waters here flowing; their source a sulphur spring, of vile flavor and odor, where many invalid pilgrims resorted.
The woods all round were haunted by the dismal cawings of crows; tap, tap, the black hawk whetted his bill on the boughs; each trunk stalked a ghost; and from those trunks, Hevaneva procured the wood for his idols.
Rapidly crossing this place, Yoomy's hands to his ears, old Mohi's to his nostrils, and Babbalanja vainly trying to walk with closed eyes, we toiled among steep, flinty rocks, along a wild, zigzag pathway; like a mule-track in the Andes, not so much onward as upward; Yoomy above Babbalanja, my lord Media above him, and Braid-Beard, our guide, in the air, above all.
Strown over with cinders, the vitreous marl seemed tumbled together, as if belched from a volcano's throat.
Presently, we came to a tall, slender structure, hidden among the scenic projections of the cliffs, like a monument in the dark, vaulted ways of an abbey. Surrounding it, were five extinct craters. The air was sultry and still, as if full of spent thunderbolts.
Like a Hindoo pagoda, this bamboo edifice rose story above story; its many angles and points decorated with pearl-shells suspended by cords. But the uppermost story, some ten toises in the air, was closely thatched from apex to floor; which summit was gained by a series of ascents.
What eremite dwelleth here, like St. Stylites at the top of his column?—a question which Mohi seemed all eagerness to have answered.
Dropping upon his knees, he gave a peculiar low call: no response. Another: all was silent. Marching up to the pagoda, and again dropping upon his knees, he shook the bamboos till the edifice rocked, and its pearl-shells jingled, as if a troop of Andalusian mules, with bells round their necks, were galloping along the defile.
At length the thatch aloft was thrown open, and a head was thrust forth. It was that of an old, old man; with steel-gray eyes, hair and beard, and a horrible necklace of jaw-bones.
Now, issuing from the pagoda, Mohi turned about to gain a view of the ghost he had raised; and no sooner did he behold it, than with King Media and the rest, he made a marked salutation.
Presently, the eremite pointed to where Yoomy was standing; and waved his hand upward; when Mohi informed the minstrel, that it was St. Stylites' pleasure, that he should pay him a visit.
Wondering what was to come, Yoomy proceeded to mount; and at last arriving toward the top of the pagoda, was met by an opening, from which an encouraging arm assisted him to gain the ultimate landing.
Here, all was murky enough; for the aperture from which the head of the apparition had been thrust, was now closed; and what little twilight there was, came up through the opening in the floor.
In this dismal seclusion, silently the hermit confronted the minstrel; his gray hair, eyes, and beard all gleaming, as if streaked with phosphorus; while his ghastly gorget grinned hideously, with all its jaws.
Mutely Yoomy waited to be addressed; but hearing no sound, and becoming alive to the strangeness of his situation, he meditated whether it would not be well to subside out of sight, even as he had come—through the floor. An intention which the eremite must have anticipated; for of a sudden, something was slid over the opening; and the apparition seating itself thereupon, the twain were in darkness complete.
Shut up thus, with an inscrutable stranger posted at the only aperture of escape, poor Yoomy fell into something like a panic; hardly knowing what step to take next. As for endeavoring to force his way out, it was alarming to think of; for aught he knew, the eremite, availing himself of the gloom, might be bristling all over with javelin points.
At last, the silence was broken.
"What see you, mortal?"
"Chiefly darkness," said Yoomy, wondering at the audacity of the question.
"I dwell in it. But what else see you, mortal?"
"The dim gleaming of thy gorget."
"But that is not me. What else dost thou see?"
"Then thou hast found me out, and seen all! Descend."
And with that, the passage-way opened, and groping through the twilight, Yoomy obeyed the mandate, and retreated; full of vexation at his enigmatical reception.
On his alighting, Mohi inquired whether the hermit was not a wonderful personage.
But thinking some sage waggery lurked in the question; and at present too indignant to enter into details, the minstrel made some impatient reply; and winding through a defile, the party resumed its journey.
Straggling behind, to survey the strange plants and flowers in his path, Yoomy became so absorbed, as almost to forget the scene in the pagoda; yet every moment expected to be nearing the stately abode of the Pontiff.
But suddenly, the scene around grew familiar; the path seemed that which had been followed just after leaving the canoes; and at length, the place of debarkation was in sight.
Surprised that the object of our visit should have been thus abandoned, the minstrel ran forward, and sought an explanation.
Whereupon, Mohi lifted his hands in amazement; exclaiming at the blindness of the eyes, which had beheld the supreme Pontiff of Maramma, without knowing it.
The old hermit was no other than the dread Hivohitee; the pagoda, the inmost oracle of the isle.
CHAPTER XIII Babbalanja Endeavors To Explain The Mystery
This Great Mogul of a personage, then; this woundy Aliasuerus; this man of men; this same Hivohitee, whose name rumbled among the mountains like a peal of thunder, had been seen face to face, and taken for naught, but a bearded old hermit, or at best, some equivocal conjuror.
So great was his wonderment at the time, that Yoomy could not avoid expressing it in words.
Whereupon thus discoursed Babbalanja:
"Gentle Yoomy, be not astounded, that Hivohitee is so far behind your previous conceptions. The shadows of things are greater than themselves; and the more exaggerated the shadow, the more unlike to the substance."
"But knowing now, what manner of person Hivohitee is," said Yoomy, "much do I long to behold him again."
But Mohi assured him it was out of the question; that the Pontiff always acted toward strangers as toward him (Yoomy); and that but one dim blink at the eremite was all that mortal could obtain.
Debarred thus from a second and more satisfactory interview with one, concerning whom his curiosity had been violently aroused, the minstrel again turned to Mohi for enlightenment; especially touching that magnate's Egyptian reception of him in his aerial den.
Whereto, the chronicler made answer, that the Pontiff affected darkness because he liked it: that he was a ruler of few words, but many deeds; and that, had Yoomy been permitted to tarry longer with him in the pagoda, he would have been privy to many strange attestations of the divinity imputed to him. Voices would have been heard in the air, gossiping with Hivohitee; noises inexplicable proceeding from him; in brief, light would have flashed out of his darkness.
"But who has seen these things, Mohi?" said Babbalanja, "have you?"
"Who then?—Media?—Any one you know?"
"Nay: but the whole Archipelago has."
"Thus," exclaimed Babbalanja, "does Mardi, blind though it be in many things, collectively behold the marvels, which one pair of eyes sees not."
CHAPTER XIV Taji Receives Tidings And Omens
Slowly sailing on, we were overtaken by a shallop; whose inmates grappling to the side of Media's, said they came from Borabolla.
Dismal tidings!—My faithful follower's death.
Absent over night, that morning early, he had been discovered lifeless in the woods, three arrows in his heart. And the three pale strangers were nowhere to be found. But a fleet canoe was missing from the beach.
Slain for me! my soul sobbed out. Nor yet appeased Aleema's manes; nor yet seemed sated the avengers' malice; who, doubtless, were on my track.
But I turned; and instantly the three canoes had been reversed; and full soon, Jarl's dead hand in mine, had not Media interposed.
"To death, your presence will not bring life back."
"And we must on," said Babbalanja. "We seek the living, not the dead."
Thus they overruled me; and Borabolla's messengers departed.
Soon evening came, and in its shades, three shadows,—Hautia's heralds.
Their shallop glided near.
A leaf tri-foiled was first presented; then another, arrow-shaped.
Said Yoomy, "Still I swiftly follow, behind revenge."
Then were showered faded, pallid daffodils.
Said Yoomy, "Thy hopes are blighted all."
"Not dead, but living with the life of life. Sirens! I heed ye not."
They would have showered more flowers; but crowding sail we left them.
Much converse followed. Then, beneath the canopy all sought repose. And ere long slouched sleep drew nigh, tending dreams innumerable; silent dotting all the downs a shepherd with his flock.
CHAPTER XV Dreams
Dreams! dreams! golden dreams: endless, and golden, as the flowery prairies, that stretch away from the Rio Sacramento, in whose waters Danae's shower was woven;—prairies like rounded eternities: jonquil leaves beaten out; and my dreams herd like buffaloes, browsing on to the horizon, and browsing on round the world; and among them, I dash with my lance, to spear one, ere they all flee.
Dreams! dreams! passing and repassing, like Oriental empires in history; and scepters wave thick, as Bruce's pikes at Bannockburn; and crowns are plenty as marigolds in June. And far in the background, hazy and blue, their steeps let down from the sky, loom Andes on Andes, rooted on Alps; and all round me, long rushing oceans, roll Amazons and Oronocos; waves, mounted Parthians; and, to and fro, toss the wide woodlands: all the world an elk, and the forests its antlers.
But far to the South, past my Sicily suns and my vineyards, stretches the Antarctic barrier of ice: a China wall, built up from the sea, and nodding its frosted towers in the dun, clouded sky. Do Tartary and Siberia lie beyond? Deathful, desolate dominions those; bleak and wild the ocean, beating at that barrier's base, hovering 'twixt freezing and foaming; and freighted with navies of ice-bergs,—warring worlds crossing orbits; their long icicles, projecting like spears to the charge. Wide away stream the floes of drift ice, frozen cemeteries of skeletons and bones. White bears howl as they drift from their cubs; and the grinding islands crush the skulls of the peering seals.
But beneath me, at the Equator, the earth pulses and beats like a warrior's heart; till I know not, whether it be not myself. And my soul sinks down to the depths, and soars to the skies; and comet-like reels on through such boundless expanses, that methinks all the worlds are my kin, and I invoke them to stay in their course. Yet, like a mighty three-decker, towing argosies by scores, I tremble, gasp, and strain in my flight, and fain would cast off the cables that hamper.
And like a frigate, I am full with a thousand souls; and as on, on, on, I scud before the wind, many mariners rush up from the orlop below, like miners from caves; running shouting across my decks; opposite braces are pulled; and this way and that, the great yards swing round on their axes; and boisterous speaking-trumpets are heard; and contending orders, to save the good ship from the shoals. Shoals, like nebulous vapors, shoreing the white reef of the Milky Way, against which the wrecked worlds are dashed; strewing all the strand, with their Himmaleh keels and ribs.
Ay: many, many souls are in me. In my tropical calms, when my ship lies tranced on Eternity's main, speaking one at a time, then all with one voice: an orchestra of many French bugles and horns, rising, and falling, and swaying, in golden calls and responses.
Sometimes, when these Atlantics and Pacifics thus undulate round me, I lie stretched out in their midst: a land-locked Mediterranean, knowing no ebb, nor flow. Then again, I am dashed in the spray of these sounds: an eagle at the world's end, tossed skyward, on the horns of the tempest.
Yet, again, I descend, and list to the concert.
Like a grand, ground swell, Homer's old organ rolls its vast volumes under the light frothy wave-crests of Anacreon and Hafiz; and high over my ocean, sweet Shakespeare soars, like all the larks of the spring. Throned on my seaside, like Canute, bearded Ossian smites his hoar harp, wreathed with wild-flowers, in which warble my Wallers; blind Milton sings bass to my Petrarchs and Priors, and laureate crown me with bays.
In me, many worthies recline, and converse. I list to St. Paul who argues the doubts of Montaigne; Julian the Apostate cross-questions Augustine; and Thomas-a-Kempis unrolls his old black letters for all to decipher. Zeno murmurs maxims beneath the hoarse shout of Democritus; and though Democritus laugh loud and long, and the sneer of Pyrrho be seen; yet, divine Plato, and Proclus, and, Verulam are of my counsel; and Zoroaster whispered me before I was born. I walk a world that is mine; and enter many nations, as Mingo Park rested in African cots; I am served like Bajazet: Bacchus my butler, Virgil my minstrel, Philip Sidney my page. My memory is a life beyond birth; my memory, my library of the Vatican, its alcoves all endless perspectives, eve-tinted by cross-lights from Middle-Age oriels.
And as the great Mississippi musters his watery nations: Ohio, with all his leagued streams; Missouri, bringing down in torrents the clans from the highlands; Arkansas, his Tartar rivers from the plain;—so, with all the past and present pouring in me, I roll down my billow from afar.
Yet not I, but another: God is my Lord; and though many satellites revolve around me, I and all mine revolve round the great central Truth, sun-like, fixed and luminous forever in the foundationless firmament.
Fire flames on my tongue; and though of old the Bactrian prophets were stoned, yet the stoners in oblivion sleep. But whoso stones me, shall be as Erostratus, who put torch to the temple; though Genghis Khan with Cambyses combine to obliterate him, his name shall be extant in the mouth of the last man that lives. And if so be, down unto death, whence I came, will I go, like Xenophon retreating on Greece, all Persia brandishing her spears in his rear.
My cheek blanches white while I write; I start at the scratch of my pen; my own mad brood of eagles devours me; fain would I unsay this audacity; but an iron-mailed hand clenches mine in a vice, and prints down every letter in my spite. Fain would I hurl off this Dionysius that rides me; my thoughts crush me down till I groan; in far fields I hear the song of the reaper, while I slave and faint in this cell. The fever runs through me like lava; my hot brain burns like a coal; and like many a monarch, I am less to be envied, than the veriest hind in the land.
CHAPTER XVI Media And Babbalanja Discourse
Our visiting the Pontiff at a time previously unforeseen, somewhat altered our plans. All search in Maramma for the lost one proving fruitless, and nothing of note remaining to be seen, we returned not to Uma; but proceeded with the tour of the lagoon.
When day came, reclining beneath the canopy, Babbalanja would fain have seriously discussed those things we had lately been seeing, which, for all the occasional levity he had recently evinced, seemed very near his heart.
But my lord Media forbade; saying that they necessarily included a topic which all gay, sensible Mardians, who desired to live and be merry, invariably banished from social discourse.
"Meditate as much as you will," Babbalanja, "but say little aloud, unless in a merry and mythical way. Lay down the great maxims of things, but let inferences take care of themselves. Never be special; never, a partisan. In safety, afar off, you may batter down a fortress; but at your peril you essay to carry a single turret by escalade. And if doubts distract you, in vain will you seek sympathy from your fellow men. For upon this one theme, not a few of you free- minded mortals, even the otherwise honest and intelligent, are the least frank and friendly. Discourse with them, and it is mostly formulas, or prevarications, or hollow assumption of philosophical indifference, or urbane hypocrisies, or a cool, civil deference to the dominant belief; or still worse, but less common, a brutality of indiscriminate skepticism. Furthermore, Babbalanja, on this head, final, last thoughts you mortals have none; nor can have; and, at bottom, your own fleeting fancies are too often secrets to yourselves; and sooner may you get another's secret, than your own. Thus with the wisest of you all; you are ever unfixed. Do you show a tropical calm without? then, be sure a thousand contrary currents whirl and eddy within. The free, airy robe of your philosophy is but a dream, which seems true while it lasts; but waking again into the orthodox world, straightway you resume the old habit. And though in your dreams you may hie to the uttermost Orient, yet all the while you abide where you are. Babbalanja, you mortals dwell in Mardi, and it is impossible to get elsewhere."
Said Babbalanja, "My lord, you school me. But though I dissent from some of your positions, I am willing to confess, that this is not the first time a philosopher has been instructed by a man."
"A demi-god, sir; and therefore I the more readily discharge my mind of all seriousness, touching the subject, with which you mortals so vex and torment yourselves."
Silence ensued. And seated apart, on both sides of the barge, solemnly swaying, in fixed meditation, to the roll of the waves, Babbalanja, Mohi, and Yoomy, drooped lower and lower, like funeral plumes; and our gloomy canoe seemed a hearse.
CHAPTER XVII They Regale Themselves With Their Pipes
"Ho! mortals! mortals!" cried Media. "Go we to bury our dead? Awake, sons of men! Cheer up, heirs of immortality! Ho, Vee-Vee! bring forth our pipes: we'll smoke off this cloud."
Nothing so beguiling as the fumes of tobacco, whether inhaled through hookah, narghil, chibouque, Dutch porcelain, pure Principe, or Regalia. And a great oversight had it been in King Media, to have omitted pipes among the appliances of this voyage that we went. Tobacco in rouleaus we had none; cigar nor cigarret; which little the company esteemed. Pipes were preferred; and pipes we often smoked; testify, oh! Vee-Vee, to that. But not of the vile clay, of which mankind and Etruscan vases were made, were these jolly fine pipes of ours. But all in good time.
Now, the leaf called tobacco is of divers species and sorts. Not to dwell upon vile Shag, Pig-tail, Plug, Nail-rod, Negro-head, Cavendish, and misnamed Lady's-twist, there are the following varieties:—Gold- leaf, Oronoco, Cimaroza, Smyrna, Bird's-eye, James-river, Sweet- scented, Honey-dew, Kentucky, Cnaster, Scarfalati, and famed Shiraz, or Persian. Of all of which, perhaps the last is the best.
But smoked by itself, to a fastidious wight, even Shiraz is not gentle enough. It needs mitigation. And the cunning craft of so mitigating even the mildest tobacco was well understood in the dominions of Media. There, in plantations ever covered with a brooding, blue haze, they raised its fine leaf in the utmost luxuriance; almost as broad as the broad fans of the broad-bladed banana. The stalks of the leaf withdrawn, the remainder they cut up, and mixed with soft willow-bark, and the aromatic leaves of the Betel.
"Ho! Vee-Vee, bring forth the pipes," cried Media. And forth they came, followed by a quaint, carved cocoa-nut, agate-lidded, containing ammunition sufficient for many stout charges and primings.
Soon we were all smoking so hard, that the canopied howdah, under which we reclined, sent up purple wreaths like a Michigan wigwam. There we sat in a ring, all smoking in council—every pipe a halcyon pipe of peace.
And among those calumets, my lord Media's showed like the turbaned Grand Turk among his Bashaws. It was an extraordinary pipe, be sure; of right royal dimensions. Its mouth-piece an eagle's beak; its long stem, a bright, red-barked cherry-tree branch, partly covered with a close network of purple dyed porcupine quills; and toward the upper end, streaming with pennons, like a Versailles flag-staff of a coronation day. These pennons were managed by halyards; and after lighting his prince's pipe, it was little Vee-Vee's part to run them up toward the mast-head, or mouthpiece, in token that his lord was fairly under weigh.
But Babbalanja's was of a different sort; an immense, black, serpentine stem of ebony, coiling this way and that, in endless convolutions, like an anaconda round a traveler in Brazil. Smoking this hydra, Babbalanja looked as if playing upon the trombone.