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Of Those Scamps The Plujii
The beach gained, we embarked.
In good time our party recovered from the seriousness into which we
had been thrown; and a rather long passage being now before us, we
whiled away the hours as best we might.
Among many entertaining, narrations, old Braid-Beard, crossing his
calves, and peaking his beard, regaled us with some account of
certain invisible spirits, ycleped the Plujii, arrant little knaves
as ever gulped moonshine.
They were spoken of as inhabiting the island of Quelquo, in a remote
corner of the lagoon; the innocent people of which island were sadly
fretted and put out by their diabolical proceedings. Not to be
wondered at; since, dwelling as they did in the air, and completely
inaccessible, these spirits were peculiarly provocative of ire.
Detestable Plujii! With malice aforethought, they brought about high
winds that destroyed the banana plantations, and tumbled over the
heads of its occupants many a bamboo dwelling. They cracked the
calabashes; soured the "poee;" induced the colic; begat the spleen;
and almost rent people in twain with stitches in the side. In short,
from whatever evil, the cause of which the Islanders could not
directly impute to their gods, or in their own opinion was not
referable to themselves,--of that very thing must the invisible
Plujii be guilty. With horrible dreams, and blood-thirsty gnats, they
invaded the most innocent slumbers.
All things they bedeviled. A man with a wry neck ascribed it
to the Plujii; he with a bad memory railed against the Plujii; and
the boy, bruising his finger, also cursed those abominable spirits.
Nor, to some minds, at least, was there wanting strong presumptive
evidence, that at times, with invisible fingers, the above mentioned
Plujii did leave direct and tangible traces of their presence;
pinching and pounding the unfortunate Islanders; pulling their hair;
plucking their ears, and tweaking their beards and their noses. And
thus perpetually vexing, incensing, tormenting, and exasperating
their helpless victims, the atrocious Plujii reveled in their
malicious dominion over the souls and bodies of the people of Quelquo.
What it was, that induced them to enact such a part, Oro only knew;
and never but once, it seems, did old Mohi endeavor to find out.
Once upon a time, visiting Quelquo, he chanced to encounter an old
woman almost doubled together, both hands upon her abdomen; in that
manner running about distracted.
"My good woman," said he, "what under the firmament is the matter?"
"The Plujii! the Plujii!" affectionately caressing the field of their
"But why do they torment you?" he soothingly inquired. "How should I
know? and what good would it do me if I did?"
And on she ran.
At this part of his narration, Mohi was interrupted by Media; who,
much to the surprise of all present, observed, that, unbeknown to him
(Braid-Beard), he happened to have been on that very island, at that
very time, and saw that identical old lady in the very midst of those
"That she was really in great distress," he went on to say, "was
plainly to be seen; but that in that particular instance, your
Plujii had any hand in tormenting her, I had some boisterous doubts.
For, hearing that an hour or two previous she had been partaking of
some twenty unripe bananas, I rather fancied that that circumstance
might have had something to do with her sufferings. But however it
was, all the herb-leeches on the island would not have altered her
own opinions on the subject."
"No," said Braid-Beard; "a post-mortem examination would not have
satisfied her ghost."
"Curious to relate," he continued, "the people of that island never
abuse the Plujii, notwithstanding all they suffer at their hands,
unless under direct provocation; and a settled matter of faith is it,
that at such times all bitter words and hasty objurgations are
entirely overlooked, nay, pardoned on the spot, by the unseen genii
against whom they are directed."
"Magnanimous Plujii!" cried Media. "But, Babbalanja, do you, who run
a tilt at all things, suffer this silly conceit to be uttered with
impunity in your presence? Why so silent?"
"I have been thinking, my lord," said Babbalanja, "that though the
people of that island may at times err, in imputing their calamities
to the Plujii, that, nevertheless, upon the whole, they indulge in a
reasonable belief. For, Plujii or no Plujii, it is undeniable, that
in ten thousand ways, as if by a malicious agency, we mortals are
woefully put out and tormented; and that, too, by things in
themselves so exceedingly trivial, that it would seem almost impiety
to ascribe them to the august gods. No; there must exist some greatly
inferior spirits; so insignificant, comparatively, as to be
overlooked by the supernal powers; and through them it must be, that
we are thus grievously annoyed. At any rate; such a theory would
supply a hiatus in my system of meta-physics."
"Well, peace to the Plujii," said Media; "they trouble not me."
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