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A quote from The Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain:

A devout lady who died, left money and contracted for unlimited masses for the repose of her soul, and also stipulated that this lamp should be kept lighted always, day and night. She did all this before she died, you understand [Emphases mine].

Why did not he use the Past Perfect like this:

A devout lady who died, had left money and had contracted for unlimited masses for the repose of her soul, and also had stipulated that this lamp should be kept lighted always, day and night. She did all this before she died, you understand.

Are there particular reasons for this besides otherwise we would have missed the funny remark about she did it before she died?

  • The Innocents Abroad, capitalized, is the right spelling. – Rompey May 4 '16 at 13:06
  • More importantly, your use of the word "don't" in the title is incorrect. "Why do not use Past Perfect here?" You should use either "Why don't we use Past Perfect here?" or "Why not use Past Perfect here?" – Shane May 4 '16 at 17:51
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We use the past perfect (had left/had contracted/had stipulated) to specify that an event in the past happened before another event in the past, and yes, it would be hard to stipulate something after you die, so all these things had to take place, in some sense, before she died!

However, when talking about inheritances and bequests, we often use the simple past, because these things are viewed as taking place when the person dies, not before. For example,

Well, two weeks ago my uncle died and left me $75,000.

...the vestry man William Farnam Smith died and left in his will a bequest...

In 1625 James died, and bequeathed a troubled kingdom to his successor.

We do sometimes say "died and had left", but it's much less common. So Twain is using the more common phrasing, but fortunately for him, it also sets up the joke about doing it before she died. Usually if you say two things in the simple past (like "I bought a newspaper and walked to the park"), it's implied that the first thing you mention happened before the second, and of course wills and bequests are written before someone dies, so we wouldn't normally be confused in this case - but Twain's joke is funny because it implies that the devout lady might have been doing them after she died, so he has to be specific!

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