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Chapter 13

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?"

"Nay."

"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."

Herman Melville