Mardi: and a Voyage Thither

by Herman Melville

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Chapter LVI

Wending our way from the temple, we were accompanied by a fluent, obstreperous wight, one Znobbi, a runaway native of Porpheero, but now an enthusiastic inhabitant of Vivenza.

"Here comes our great chief!" he cried. "Behold him! It was I that had a hand in making him what he is!"

And so saying, he pointed out a personage, no way distinguished, except by the tattooing on his forehead—stars, thirty in number; and an uncommonly long spear in his hand. Freely he mingled with the crowd.

"Behold, how familiar I am with him!" cried Znobbi, approaching, and pitcher-wise taking him by the handle of his face.

"Friend," said the dignitary, "thy salute is peculiar, but welcome. I reverence the enlightened people of this land."

"Mean-spirited hound!" muttered Media, "were I him, I had impaled that audacious plebeian."

"There's a Head-Chief for you, now, my fine fellow!" cried Znobbi. "Hurrah! Three cheers! Ay, ay! All kings here—all equal. Every thing's in common."

Here, a bystander, feeling something grazing his side, looked down; and perceived Znobbi's hand in clandestine vicinity to the pouch at his girdle-end.

Whereupon the crowd shouted, "A thief! a thief!" And with a loud voice the starred chief cried—"Seize him, people, and tie him to yonder tree."

And they seized, and tied him on the spot.

"Ah," said Media, "this chief has something to say, after all; he pinions a king at a word, though a plebeian takes him by the nose. Beshrew me, I doubt not, that spear of his, though without a tassel, is longer and sharper than mine."

"There's not so much freedom here as these freemen think," said Babbalanja, turning; "I laugh and admire."

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