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Chapter 87

They Draw Nigh To Flozella


As if Mardi were a poem, and every island a canto, the shore now in
sight was called Flozella-a-Nina, or The-Last-Verse-of-the-Song.

According to Mohi, the origin of this term was traceable to the
remotest antiquity.

In the beginning, there were other beings in Mardi besides Mardians;
winged beings, of purer minds, and cast in gentler molds, who would
fain have dwelt forever with mankind. But the hearts of the Mardians
were bitter against them, because of their superior goodness. Yet
those beings returned love for malice, and long entreated to virtue
and charity. But in the end, all Mardi rose up against them, and
hunted them from isle to isle; till, at last, they rose from the
woodlands like a flight of birds, and disappeared in the skies.
Thereafter, abandoned of such sweet influences, the Mardians fell into
all manner of sins and sufferings, becoming the erring things their
descendants were now. Yet they knew not, that their calamities were of
their own bringing down. For deemed a victory, the expulsion of the
winged beings was celebrated in choruses, throughout Mardi. And among
other jubilations, so ran the legend, a pean was composed,
corresponding in the number of its stanzas, to the number of islands.
And a band of youths, gayly appareled, voyaged in gala canoes all
round the lagoon, singing upon each isle, one verse of their song. And
Flozella being the last isle in their circuit, its queen commemorated
the circumstance, by new naming her realm.

That queen had first incited Mardi to wage war against the beings with
wings. She it was, who had been foremost in every assault. And that
queen was ancestor of Hautia, now ruling the isle.

Approaching the dominions of one who so long had haunted me,
conflicting emotions tore up my soul in tornadoes. Yet Hautia had held
out some prospect of crowning my yearnings. But how connected were
Hautia and Yillah? Something I hoped; yet more I feared. Dire
presentiments, like poisoned arrows, shot through me. Had they pierced
me before, straight to Flozella would I have voyaged; not waiting for
Hautia to woo me by that last and victorious temptation. But unchanged
remained my feelings of hatred for Hautia; yet vague those feelings,
as the language of her flowers. Nevertheless, in some mysterious way
seemed Hautia and Yillah connected. But Yillah was all beauty, and
innocence; my crown of felicity; my heaven below;--and Hautia, my
whole heart abhorred. Yillah I sought; Hautia sought me. One, openly
beckoned me here; the other dimly allured me there. Yet now was I
wildly dreaming to find them together. But so distracted my soul, I
knew not what it was, that I thought.

Slowly we neared the land. Flozella-a-Nina!--An omen? Was this isle,
then, to prove the last place of my search, even as it was the Last-
Verse-of-the-Song?

Herman Melville