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Gulliver's Travels by  John Lang

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GULLIVER IS FREED, AND CAPTURES THE BLEFUSCAN FLEET

[28] BY this time Gulliver's clothes were almost in rags. The three hundred tailors had not yet been able to finish his new suit, and he had no hat at all, for that had been lost as he came ashore from the wreck. So he was greatly pleased one day when an express message came to the King from the coast, saying that some men had found on the shore a great black, strangely-shaped mass, as high as a man; it was not alive, they were certain. It had never moved, though for a time they had watched, before going closer. After making certain that it was not likely to injure them, by mounting on each other's shoulders they had got on the top, which they found was flat and smooth, and, by the [29] sound when stamped upon, they judged that it was hollow. It was thought that the object might possibly be something belonging to the Man Mountain, and they proposed by the help of five horses to bring it to the city.

Gulliver was sure that it must be his hat, and so it turned out. Nor was it very greatly damaged, either by the sea, or by being drawn by the horses over the ground all the way from the coast, except that two holes had been bored in the brim, to which a long cord had been fixed by hooks. Gulliver was much pleased to have it once more.

Two days after this the King took into his head a curious fancy. He ordered a review of troops to be held, and he directed that Gulliver should stand with his legs very wide apart, whilst under him both horse and foot were commanded to march. Over three thousand infantry and one thousand cavalry passed through the great arch made by his legs, colours flying and bands playing. The King and Queen themselves sat in their [30] State Coach at the saluting point, near to his left leg, and all the while Gulliver dared not move a hairsbreadth, lest he should injure some of the soldiers.


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THE TROOPS MARCHED THROUGH THE GREAT ARCH MADE BY HIS LEGS.

Shortly after this, Gulliver was set free. There had been a meeting of the King's Council on the subject, and the Lord High Admiral was the only member in favour of still keeping him chained. This great officer to the end was Gulliver's bitter enemy, and though on this occasion he was out-voted, yet he was allowed to draw up the conditions which Gulliver was to sign before his chains were struck off.

The conditions were:

First, that he was not to quit the country without leave granted under the King's Great Seal.

Second, that he was not to come into the city without orders; at which times the people were to have two hours" notice to keep indoors,

Third, that he should keep to the high roads, and not walk or lie down in a meadow.

[31] Fourth, that he was to take the utmost care not to trample on anybody, or on any horses or carriages, and that he was not to lift any persons in his hand against their will.

Fifth, that if at any time an express had to be sent in great haste, he was to carry the messenger and his horse in his pocket a six days" journey, and to bring them safely back.

Sixth, that he should be the King's ally against the Blefuscans, and that he should try to destroy their fleet, which was said to be preparing to invade Lilliput.

Seventh, that he should help the workmen to move certain great stones which were needed to repair some of the public buildings.

Eighth, that he should in "two moons" time" make an exact survey of the kingdom, by counting how many of his own paces it took him to go all round the coast.

Lastly, on his swearing to the above conditions, it was promised that he should have a daily allowance of meat and drink equal to [32] the amount consumed by seventeen hundred and twenty-four of the Lilliputians, for they estimated that Gulliver's size was about equal to that number of their own people.

Though one or two of the conditions did not please him, especially that about helping the workmen (which he thought was making him too much a servant), yet Gulliver signed the document at once, and swore to observe its conditions.

After having done so, and having had his chains removed, the first thing he asked was to be allowed to see the city (which was called Mildendo). He found that it was surrounded by a great wall of about two and a half feet high, broad enough for one of their coaches-and-four to be driven along, and at every ten feet there were strong flanking towers.

Gulliver took off his coat, lest the tails might do damage to the roofs or chimneys of the houses, and he then stepped over the wall and very carefully walked down the finest of the streets, one quite five feet wide.

[33] Wherever he went, the tops of the houses and the attic windows were packed with wondering spectators, and he reckoned that the town must hold quite half a million of people.

In the centre of the city, where the two chief streets met, stood the King's Palace, a very fine building surrounded by a wall. But he was not able to see the whole palace that day, because the part in which were the royal apartments was shut off by another wall nearly five feet in height, which he could not get over without risk of doing damage.

Some days later he climbed over by the help of two stools which he made from some of the largest trees in the Royal Park, trees nearly seven feet high, which he was allowed to cut down for the purpose. By putting one of the stools at each side of the wall, Gulliver was able to step across. Then, lying down on his side, and putting his face close to the open windows, he looked in and saw the Queen and all the young Princes. The [34] Queen smiled, and held her hand out of one of the windows, that he might kiss it. She was very pleasant and friendly.

One day, about a fortnight after this, there came to call on him, Reldresal, the King's Chief Secretary, a very great man, one who had always been Gulliver's very good friend. This person had a long and serious talk with Gulliver about the state of the country.

He said that though to the outward eye things in Lilliput seemed very settled and prosperous, yet in reality there were troubles, both internal and external, that threatened the safety of the kingdom.

There had been in Lilliput for a very long time two parties at bitter enmity with each other, so bitter that they would neither eat, drink, nor talk together, and what one party did, the other would always try to undo. Each professed to believe that nothing good could come from the other. Any measure proposed by the party in power was by the other always looked upon as foolish or evil. And any new law passed by the Government [35] party was said by the Opposition to be either a wicked attack on the liberties of the people, or something undertaken solely for the purpose of keeping that party in, and the Opposition out, of power. To such a pitch had things now come, said the Chief Secretary, entirely owing to the folly of the Opposition, that the business of the kingdom was almost at a standstill.

Meantime the country was in danger of an invasion by the Blefuscans, who were now fitting out a great fleet, which was almost ready to sail to attack Lilliput. The war with Blefuscu had been raging for some years, and the losses by both nations of ships and of men had been very heavy.

This war had broken out in the following way. It had always been the custom in Lilliput, as far back as history went, for people when breaking an egg at breakfast to do so at the big end. But it had happened, said the Chief Secretary, that the present King's grandfather, when a boy, had once when breaking his egg in the usual way, [36] severely cut his finger. Whereupon his father at once gave strict commands that in future all his subjects should break their eggs at the small end.

This greatly angered the people, who thought that the King had no right to give such an order, and they refused to obey. As a consequence no less than six rebellions had taken place: thousands of the Lilliputians had had their heads cut off, or had been cast into prison, and thousands had fled for refuge to Blefuscu, rather than obey the hated order.

These "Big-endians," as they were called, had been very well received at the Court of Blefuscu, and finally the Emperor of that country had taken upon himself to interfere in the affairs of Lilliput, thus bringing on war.

The Chief Secretary ended the talk by saying that the King, having great faith in Gulliver's strength, and depending on the oath which he had sworn before being released, expected him now to help in defeating the Blefuscan fleet.

[37] Gulliver was very ready to do what he could, and he at once thought of a plan whereby he might destroy the whole fleet at one blow. He told all his ideas on the subject to the King, who gave orders that everything he might need should be supplied without delay. Then Gulliver went to the oldest seamen in the navy, and learned from them the depth of water between Lilliput and Blefuscu. It was, they said, nowhere deeper than seventy glumgluffs  (which is equal to about six feet) at high water, and there was no great extent so deep.

After this he walked to the coast opposite Blefuscu, and lying down there behind a hillock, so that he might not be seen should any of the enemy's ships happen to be cruising near, he looked long through a small pocket telescope across the channel. With the naked eye he could easily see the cliffs of Blefuscu, and soon with his telescope he made out where the fleet lay—fifty great men-of-war, and many transports, waiting for a fair wind.

[38] Coming back to the city, he gave orders for a great length of the strongest cable, and a quantity of bars of iron. The cable was little thicker than ordinary pack-thread, and the bars of iron much about the length and size of knitting-needles. Gulliver twisted three of the iron bars together and bent them to a hook at one end. He trebled the cable for greater strength, and thus made fifty shorter cables, to which he fastened the hooks.

Then, carrying these in his hand, he walked back to the coast and waded into the sea, a little before high water. When he came to mid-channel, he had to swim, but for no great distance.

As soon as they noticed Gulliver coming wading through the water towards their ships, the Blefuscan sailors all jumped over-board and swam ashore in a terrible fright. Never before had any of them seen or dreamt of so monstrous a giant, nor had they heard of his being in Lilliput.

Gulliver then quietly took his cables and [39] fixed one securely in the bows of each of the ships of war, and finally he tied the cables together at his end. But whilst he was doing this the Blefuscan soldiers on the shore plucked up courage and began to shoot arrows at him, many of which stuck in his hands and face. He was very much afraid lest some of these might put out his eyes; but he remembered, luckily, that in his inner pocket were his spectacles, which he put on, and then finished his work without risk to his eyes.

On pulling at the cables, however, not a ship could he move. He had forgotten that their anchors were all down. So he was forced to go in closer and with his knife to cut the vessels free. Whilst doing this he was of course exposed to a furious fire from the enemy, and hundreds of arrows struck him, some almost knocking off his spectacles. But again he hauled, and this time drew the whole fifty vessels after him.

The Blefuscans had thought that it was [40] his intention merely to cast the vessels adrift, so that they might run aground, but when they saw their great fleet being steadily drawn out to sea, their grief was terrible. For a great distance Gulliver could hear their cries of despair.

When he had got well away from the land, he stopped in order to pick the arrows from his face and hands, and to put on some of the ointment that had been rubbed on his wounds when first the Lilliputians fired into him. By this time the tide had fallen a little, and he was able to wade all the way across the channel.

The King and his courtiers stood waiting on the shore. They could see the vessels steadily drawing nearer, but they could not for some time see Gulliver, because only his head was above water. At first some imagined that he had been drowned, and that the fleet was now on its way to attack Lilliput.

There was great joy when Gulliver was seen hauling the vessels; and when he landed, the King was so pleased that on the [41] spot he created him a Nardac, the highest honour that it was in his power to bestow.

His great success over the Blefuscans, however, turned out to be but the beginning of trouble for Gulliver. The King was so puffed up by the victory that he formed plans for capturing in the same way the whole of the enemy's ships of every kind. And it was now his wish to crush Blefuscu utterly, and to make it nothing but a province depending on Lilliput. Thus, he thought, he himself would then be monarch of the whole world.

In this scheme Gulliver refused to take any part, and he very plainly said that he would give no help in making slaves of the Blefuscans. This refusal angered the King very much, and more than once he artfully brought the matter up at a State Council. Now, several of the councillors, though they pretended to be Gulliver's friends so long as he was in favour with the King, were really his secret enemies, and nothing pleased these persons better than to see that the King was no longer pleased with [42] him. So they did all in their power to nurse and increase the King's anger, and to make him believe that Gulliver was a traitor.

About this time there came to Lilliput ambassadors from Blefuscu, suing for peace. When a treaty had been made and signed (very greatly to the advantage of Lilliput), the Blefuscan ambassadors asked to see the Great Man Mountain, of whom they had heard so much, and they paid Gulliver a formal call. After asking him to give them some proofs of his strength, they invited him to visit their emperor, which Gulliver promised to do.

Accordingly, the next time that he met the King, he asked, as he was bound to do by the paper he had signed, for permission to leave the country for a time, in order to visit Blefuscu. The King did not refuse, but his manner was so cold that Gulliver could not help noticing it. Afterwards he learned from a friend that his enemies in the council had told the King lying tales of his meetings with the Blefuscan ambassadors, which had [43] had the effect of still further rousing his anger.

It happened too, most unfortunately, at this time, that Gulliver had offended the Queen by a well-meant, but badly-managed, effort to do her a service, and thus he lost also her friendship. But though he was now out of favour at Court, he was still an object of great interest to every one.


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