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Gulliver's Travels by  John Lang


 

 

GULLIVER'S ESCAPE FROM LILLIPUT AND RETURN TO ENGLAND

[44] GULLIVER had three hundred cooks to dress his food, and these men, with their families, lived in small huts which had been built for them near his house.

He had made for himself a chair and a table. On to this table it was his custom to lift twenty waiters, and these men then drew up by ropes and pulleys all his food, and his wine in casks, which one hundred other servants had in readiness on the ground. Gulliver would often eat his meal with many hundreds of people looking on.

One day the King, who had not seen him eat since this table had been built, sent a message that he and the Queen desired to be present that day whilst Gulliver dined. They arrived just before his dinner hour, and [45] he at once lifted the King and Queen and the Princes, with their attendants and guards, on to the table.

Their Majesties sat in their chairs of state all the time, watching with deep interest the roasts of beef and mutton, and whole flocks of geese and turkeys and fowls disappear into Gulliver's mouth. A roast of beef of which he had to make more than two mouthfuls was seldom seen, and he ate them bones and all. A goose or a turkey was but one bite.

Certainly, on this occasion, Gulliver ate more than usual, thinking by so doing to amuse and please the court.

But in this he erred, for it was turned against him. Flimnap, the Lord High Treasurer, who had always been one of his enemies, pointed out to the King the great daily expense of such meals, and told how this huge man had already cost the country over a million and a half of sprugs  (the largest Lilliputian gold coin). Things, indeed, were beginning to go very ill with Gulliver.

[46] Now it happened about this time that one of the King's courtiers, to whom Gulliver had been very kind, came to him by night very privately in a closed chair, and asked to have a talk, without any one else being present.

Gulliver gave to a servant whom he could trust orders that no one else was to be admitted, and having put the courtier and his chair upon the table, so that he might better hear all that was said, he sat down to listen.


[Illustration]

THEIR MAJESTIES WATCHED THE ROASTS OF BEEF AND MUTTON DISAPPEAR INTO GULLIVER'S MOUTH.

Gulliver was told that there had lately been several secret meetings of the King's Privy Council, on his account. The Lord High Admiral (who now hated him because of his success against the Blefuscan Fleet), Flimnap, the High Treasurer, and others of his enemies, had drawn up against him charges of treason and other crimes. The courtier had brought with him a copy of these charges, and Gulliver now read them.

It was made a point against him that, when [47] ordered to do so by the King, he had refused to seize all the other Blefuscan ships. It was also said that he would not join in utterly crushing the Empire of Blefuscu, nor give aid when it was proposed to put to death not only all the Bigendians who had fled for refuge to that country, but all the Blefuscans themselves who were friends of the Bigendians. For this he was said to be a traitor.

He was also accused of being over-friendly with the Blefuscan ambassadors; and it was made a grave charge against him that though his Majesty had not given him written leave to visit Blefuscu, he yet was getting ready to go to that country, in order to give help to the Emperor against Lilliput.

There had been many debates on these charges, said the courtier, and the Lord High Admiral had made violent speeches, strongly advising that the Great Man Mountain should be put to death. In this he was joined by Flimnap, and by others, so that actually the greater part of the council [48] was in favour of instant death by the most painful means that could be used.

The less unfriendly members of the council, however, whilst saying that they had no doubt of Gulliver's guilt, were yet of opinion that, as his services to the Kingdom of Lilliput had been great, the punishment of death was too severe. They thought it would be enough if his eyes were put out. This, they said, would not prevent him from still being made useful.

Then began a most excited argument, the Admiral and those who sided with him insisting that Gulliver should be killed at once.

At last the Secretary rose and said that he had a middle course to suggest. This was, that Gulliver's eyes should be put out, and that thereafter his food should be gradually so reduced in quantity that in the course of two or three months he would die of starvation. By which time, said the Secretary, his body would be wasted to an extent that would make it easy for five or six thousand [49] men, in a few days, to cut off the flesh and take it away in cart loads to be buried at a distance. Thus there would be no danger of a pestilence breaking out from the dead body lying near the city. The skeleton, he said, could then be put in the National Museum.

It was finally decided that this sentence should be carried out, and twenty of the King's surgeons were ordered to be present in three days" time to see the operation of putting out Gulliver's eyes properly done. Sharp pointed arrows were to be shot into the balls of his eyes.

The courtier now left the house, as privately as he had come, and Gulliver was left to decide what he should do.

At first he thought of attacking the city, and destroying it. But by doing this he must have destroyed, with the city, a great many thousands of innocent people, which he could not make up his mind to do.

At last he wrote a letter to the Chief Secretary, saying that as the King had himself [50] told him that he might visit Blefuscu, he had decided to do so that morning.

Without waiting for an answer, he set out for the coast, where he seized a large man-of-war which was at anchor there, tied a cable to her bow, and then putting his clothes and his blanket on board, he drew the ship after him to Blefuscu. There he was well received by the Emperor. But as there happened to be no house big enough for him, he was forced, during his stay, to sleep each night on the ground, wrapped in his blanket.

Three days after his arrival, when walking along the sea-shore, he noticed something in the water which looked not unlike a boat floating bottom up. Gulliver waded and swam out, and found that he was right. It was a boat. By the help of some of the Blefuscan ships, with much difficulty he got it ashore. When the tide had fallen, two thousand of the Emperor's dockyard men helped him to turn it over, and Gulliver found that but little damage had been done.

[51] He now set to work to make oars and mast and sail for the boat, and to fit it out and provision it for a voyage.

Whilst this work was going on, there came from Lilliput a message demanding that Gulliver should be bound hand prisoner, foot and returned to that country as a there to be punished as a traitor. To this message the Emperor replied that it was not possible to bind him; that moreover the Great Man Mountain had found a vessel of size great enough to carry him over the sea, and that it was his purpose to leave the Empire of Blefuscu in the course of a few weeks.

Gulliver did not delay his work, and in less than a month he was ready to sail.

He put on board the boat the carcasses of one hundred oxen and three hundred sheep, with a quantity of bread and wine, and as much meat ready cooked as four hundred cooks could prepare.

He also tools with him a herd of six live black cows acid two bulls, and a flock of [52] sheep, meaning to take them with him to England, if ever he should get there. As food for these animals he took a quantity of hay and corn.

Gulliver would have liked to take with him some of the people, but this the Emperor would not permit.

Everything being ready, he sailed from Blefuscu on 24th September 1701, and the same night anchored on the lee side of an island which seemed to be uninhabited. Leaving this island on the following morning, he sailed to the eastward for two days. On the evening of the second day he sighted a ship, on reaching which, to his great joy, he found that she was an English vessel on her way home from Japan.

Putting his cattle and sheep in his coat pockets, he went on board with all his cargo of provisions. The captain received him very kindly, and asked him from whence he had come, and how he happened to be at sea in an open boat.

Gulliver told his tale in as few words as [53] possible. The captain stared with wonder, and would not believe his story. But Gulliver then took from his pockets the black cattle and the sheep, which of course clearly showed that he had been speaking truth. He also showed gold coins which the Emperor of Blefuscu had given to him, some of which he presented to the captain.

The vessel did not arrive at the port of London till April 1702, but without loss of any of the live stock, excepting that the rats on board carried off and ate one of the sheep. All the others were got safely ashore, and were put to graze on a bowling-green at Greenwich, where they throve very well.


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