Mardi ; and, A Voyage Thither, by Herman Melville

Chapter 86

They Meet The Phantoms

That starless midnight, there stole from out the darkness, the Iris flag of Hautia.

Again the sirens came. They bore a large and stately urn-like flower, white as alabaster, and glowing, as if lit up within. From its calyx, flame-like, trembled forked and crimson stamens, burning with intensest odors.

The phantoms nearer came; their flower, as an urn of burning niter. Then it changed, and glowed like Persian dawns; or passive, was shot over by palest lightnings; — so variable its tints.

“The night-blowing Cereus!” said Yoomy, shuddering, “that never blows in sun-light; that blows but once; and blows but for an hour. — For the last time I come; now, in your midnight of despair, and promise you this glory. Take heed! short time hast thou to pause; through me, perhaps, thy Yillah may be found.”

“Away! away! tempt me not by that, enchantress! Hautia! I know thee not; I fear thee not; but instinct makes me hate thee. Away! my eyes are frozen shut; I will not be tempted more.”

“How glorious it burns!” cried Media. I reel with incense:— can such sweets be evil?”

“Look! look!” cried Yoomy, “its petals wane, and creep; one moment more, and the night-flower shuts up forever the last, last hope of Yillah!”

“Yillah! Yillah! Yillah!” bayed three vengeful voices far behind.

“Yillah! Yillah! — dash the urn! I follow, Hautia! though thy lure be death.”

The Cereus closed; and in a mist the siren prow went on before; we, following.

When day dawned, three radiant pilot-fish swam in advance: three ravenous sharks astern.

And, full before us, rose the isle of Hautia.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:58