Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 73

At Last, The Last Mention Is Made Of Old Bardianna; And His Last Will
And Testament Is Recited At Length

The day was waning. And, as after many a tale of ghosts, around their
forest fire, Hungarian gipsies silent sit; watching the ruddy glow
kindling each other's faces;--so, now we solemn sat; the crimson West
our fire; all our faces flushed.

"Testators!" then cried Media, when your last wills are all round
settled, speak, and make it known!"

"Mine, my lord, has long been fixed," said Babbalanja.

"And how runs it?"


"Hark ye, intruding Azzageddi! rejoin thy merry mates below;--go
there, and wag thy saucy tail; or I will nail it to our bow, till ye
roar for liberation. Begone, I say."

"Down, devil! deeper down!" rumbled Babbalanja.

"My lord, I think he's gone. And now, by your good leave, I'll repeat
old Bardianna's Will. It's worth all Mardi's hearing; and I have so
studied it, by rote I know it."

"Proceed then; but I mistrust that Azzageddi is not yet many thousand
fathoms down."

"Attend my lord:---'Anno Mardis 50,000,000, o.s. I, Bardianna, of the
island of Vamba, and village of the same name, having just risen from
my yams, in high health, high spirits, and sound mind, do hereby
cheerfully make and ordain this my last will and testament.


"'All my kith and kin being well to do in Mardi, I wholly leave them
out of this my will.

"'Item. Since, in divers ways, verbally and otherwise, my good friend
Pondo has evinced a strong love for me, Bardianna, as the owner and
proprietor of all that capital messuage with the appurtenances, in
Vamba aforesaid, called 'The Lair,' wherein I now dwell; also for all
my Bread-fruit orchards, Palm-groves, Banana-plantations, Taro-
patches, gardens, lawns, lanes, and hereditaments whatsoever,
adjoining the aforesaid messuage;--I do hereby give and bequeath the
same to Bomblum of the island of Adda; the aforesaid Bomblum having
never expressed any regard for me, as a holder of real estate.

"'Item. My esteemed neighbor Lakreemo having since the last lunar
eclipse called daily to inquire after the state of my health: and
having nightly made tearful inquiries of my herb-doctor, concerning
the state of my viscera;--I do hereby give and bequeath to the
aforesaid Lakreemo all and sundry those vegetable pills, potions,
powders, aperients, purgatives, expellatives, evacuatives, tonics,
emetics, cathartics, clysters, injections, scarifiers, cataplasms,
lenitives, lotions, decoctions, washes, gargles, and phlegmagogues;
together with all the jars, calabashes, gourds, and galipots,
thereunto pertaining; situate, lying, and being, in the west-by-north
corner of my east-southeast crypt, in my aforesaid tenement known as
'The Lair.'

"'Item. The woman Pesti; a native of Vamba, having oftentimes hinted
that I, Bardianna, sorely needed a spouse, and having also intimated
that she bore me a conjugal affection; I do hereby give and bequeath
to the aforesaid Pesti:--my blessing; forasmuch, as by the time of
the opening of this my last will and testament, I shall have been
forever delivered from the aforesaid Pesti's persecutions.

"'Item. Having a high opinion of the probity of my worthy and
excellent friend Bidiri, I do hereby entirely, and wholly, give, will,
grant, bestow, devise, and utterly hand over unto the said Bidiri, all
that tenement where my servant Oram now dwelleth; with all the lawns,
meadows, uplands and lowlands, fields, groves, and gardens, thereunto
belonging:--IN TRUST NEVERTHELESS to have and to hold the same for the
sole use and benefit of Lanbranka Hohinna, spinster, now resident of
the aforesaid island of Vamba.

"'Item. I give and bequeath my large carved drinking gourd to my good
comrade Topo.

"'Item. My fast friend Doldrum having at sundry times, and in sundry
places, uttered the prophecy, that upon my decease his sorrow would be
great; I do hereby give and bequeath to the aforesaid Doldrum, ten
yards of my best soft tappa, to be divided into handkerchiefs for his
sole benefit and behoof.

"'Item. My sensible friend Solo having informed me, that he intended
to remain a bachelor for life; I give and devise to the aforesaid
Solo, the mat for one person, whereon I nightly repose.

"'Item. Concerning my private Arbor and Palm-groves, adjoining, lying,
and being in the isle of Vamba, I give and devise the same, with all
appurtenances whatsoever, to my friend Minta the Cynic, to have and to
hold, in trust for the first through-and-through honest man, issue of
my neighbor Mondi; and in default of such issue, for the first
through-and-through honest man, issue of my neighbor Pendidda; and in
default of such issue, for the first through-and-through honest man,
issue of my neighbor Wynodo: and in default of such issue, to any
through-and-through honest man, issue of any body, to be found through
the length and breadth of Mardi.

"'Item. My friend Minta the Cynic to be sole judge of all claims to
the above-mentioned devise; and to hold the said premises for his own
use, until the aforesaid person be found.

"'Item. Knowing my devoted scribe Marko to be very sensitive touching
the receipt of a favor; I willingly spare him that pain; and hereby
bequeath unto the aforesaid scribe, three milk-teeth, not as a
pecuniary legacy, but as a very slight token of my profound regard.

"'Item. I give to the poor of Vamba the total contents of my red-
labeled bags of bicuspids and canines (which I account three-fourths
of my whole estate); to my body servant Fidi, my staff, all my robes
and togas, and three hundred molars in cash; to that discerning and
sagacious philosopher my disciple Krako, one complete set of
denticles, to buy him a vertebral bone ring; and to that pious and
promising youth Vangi, two fathoms of my best kaiar rope, with the
privilege of any bough in my groves.

"'All the rest of my goods, chattels and household stuff whatsoever;
and all my loose denticles, remaining after my debts and legacies are
paid, and my body is out of sight, I hereby direct to be distributed
among the poor of Vamba.

"'Ultimo. I give and bequeath to all Mardi this my last advice and
counsel:--videlicet: live as long as you can; close your own eyes when
you die.

"'I have no previous wills to revoke; and publish this to be my first
and last.

"'In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my right hand; and hereunto
have caused a true copy of the tattooing on my right temple to be
affixed, during the year first above written.

"'By me, BARDIANNA.'"

"Babbalanja, that's an extraordinary document," said Media.

"Bardianna was an extraordinary man, my lord."

"Were there no codicils?"

"The will is all codicils; all after-thoughts; Ten thoughts for one
act, was Bardianna's motto."

"Left he nothing whatever to his kindred?"

"Not a stump."

"Prom his will, he seems to have lived single."

"Yes: Bardianna never sought to improve upon nature; a bachelor he
was born, and a bachelor he died."

"According to the best accounts, how did he depart, Babbalanja?" asked

"With a firm lip, and his hand on his heart, old man."

"His last words?"

"Calmer, and better!"

"Where think you, he is now?"

"In his Ponderings. And those, my lord, we all inherit; for like the
great chief of Romara, who made a whole empire his legatee; so, great
authors have all Mardi for an heir."

Herman Melville