Chapter Nine

Lemuel Gulliver is captured by the Lilliputians; what really happened to him while he was tied to the ground, on the shores of Lilliput; his first encounter with Lilliputian dignitaries and his first Lilliputian dinner, foreboding an eventual consummation of all Lilliputian produce.

Redriff, Thursday  the 29th of June, 1702

IT is quite late, but then again, the sun sets late at this time of the year. I sit at Lemuel’s spot by the window, mimicking his writing.

      His uncle Sympson sent me a letter, telling me how he liked Lemuel’s recounting of his voyage to Lilliput, and that he is waiting for Lemuel’s return to prepare it for print. I was alarmed: if Lemuel – God forbid – never comes back, will I have to give back the advance Mr. Sympson gave him? Will Mr. Sympson ever relent to a woman – me – preparing the book for print?

      What will become of us?

      I soon resolved to brush off all these worries and persist in my confidence that Lemuel will be back. I feel that as long as I keep writing the true tale of his voyage to Lilliput, I keep him alive, wherever he is now. I had to laugh betwixt myself, imagining how I will secretly show Lemuel these pages when he DOES be back.

      Here is how it all started:

 

*

IT was three years ago, in the beginning of November 1699, when Lemuel’s ship was wrecked and he was cast to swim as fortune dictated him, pushed forward by wind and tide. When he finally got on shore, he was so tired and spent, he just collapsed and fell into the deepest sleep he has ever had.

      When he woke up, he did not feel at all refreshed. He found that his arms and legs were strongly fastened on each side to the ground. His hair, which was long and thick, was tied down in the same manner. He could only look upwards; the sun began to grow hot and the light offended his eyes. First he thought he was dreaming, but the pain, when he tried to raise his head, convinced him it was all really happening to him.

      Then he heard small voices, and in a little time felt something alive moving up his left leg. This creature or creatures were busy with the front flap of his breeches, as far as he could tell, for suddenly he felt the cool wind on that part of his body, and tingling, gentle squeezing of his tender flesh down there.

 

      The sensation was both pleasant and disturbing, because he felt a growing urge to release his urine. He felt as if his Yard[55] was pushed and shoved at its base, while tiny pressures were applied to his bollocks[56]. All the while he heard shrill voices crying out in unison, something that sounded like ‘Hekina degul’[57]. As much as he felt uncomfortable laying on his back, unable to move, the sensations on his Yard, the nature of which he could not fathom, gave him a growing pleasure, and with this growing pleasure, his Yard was growing too.

      At first there was silence and then he heard again the high-pitched shouts ‘Hekina Degul, Hekina Degul!’ and to his great disappointment, he felt the little creatures quickly roll off his body, and as his Yard was no longer touched in this manner, it gradually got soft again. Upon which moment, he sensed the little creatures rush on his body again, fold over his front flap, and cover him back up.

 

      He was in the utmost astonishment and fright, and roared very loudly. As he roared, he sensed the creatures running away.

 

      All in panic, Lemuel was struggling to get loose, and he managed to break the strings and wrench out the pegs that fastened his left arm to the ground; and at the same time, with a violent pull, which gave him much pain, he loosened a little the strings that tied down his hair on the left side, so that he was just able to turn his head about two inches to the right.

 

      And then he saw those creatures: they looked like ordinary human beings, even dressed like us, only they were littler. Much littler!

 

      If they had not been running so fast, he could have held five or seven of them in his palm and squeezed them to death. But the creatures ran off a second time, before he could seize them. And then there was a great shout in a very shrill accent, and after it ceased, he heard one of the creatures cry aloud, “Tolgo Phonac[58]!” and in an instant he felt more than hundred arrows discharged on his left hand, which hurt him like so many needles.

      He was groaning with frustration and pain, and then, as he was striving again to get loose, they discharged another volley larger than the first, and some of them attempted with spears to stick him in the sides; but, by good luck, he had on him a Buff Jerkin[59], which they could not pierce.

      Lemuel told me that he was then resigned to just lie till night, when he would easily be able to free himself under the cover of darkness and run away. But it did not look like he would be left alone: from the increasing noise, he realised that more and more of those little people were gathering around him.

      About four yards from him, over against his right ear, he heard a knocking for over an hour, like people at work; when turning his head that way, very slowly, and as much as the pegs and strings would permit him, he saw a small stage erected about a foot and a half from the ground, with a ladder to mount it.

 

      Two small creatures, one clad in red and the other in green, one bobbling on rather high heels, the other on flat shoes, were signalling to each other, for quite a long time, to climb the ladder first. Eventually they both relented and squeezed, and shoulder-to-shoulder they mounted the ladder as one. From whence these Hurgos[60], occasionally cutting each other short, gave Lemuel a long speech, of which he understood not one syllable. Though they seemed to address Lemuel, numerous of the small people were gathering at the foot of the stage, eagerly listening to these speeches.

      Lemuel thought though, that he understood very well the meaning of these speeches. As small as these persons were, and standing on that little stage, they were quite near his face and he could hear and see them easily.

 

      One of the speakers, the one dressed in green and wearing low heels, seemed to lace his speech with many threats, while the other little person, dressed in red and masterfully balancing himself on fantastically high heeled shoes, was mostly cajoling and seemed to make many promises, to which the little listeners on the ground were nodding complacently, while the green person was giving every sign of his disaffection.

      When the little Hurgos finished talking, all the little creatures turned towards Lemuel, clearly expecting him to reply.

 

      So Lemuel, in his best, humblest and politest English, spoke shortly.

 

      It seemed as if he was successful in expressing his urgently pressing needs in signs and sounds, for the Hurgos were immediately calling out to the people: ‘Peplom selan! Bosan gue empos!’[61] And Lemuel saw that they were all running frantically away from him in all directions.

 

      With much relief and with his free hand, he opened his front flap and released his Water[62].

      Overcoming his urge to drench them all (fearing another volley of arrows,) he aimed carefully so as not to hit any of those little creatures. With a satisfied sigh he closed his flap and was now ready to eat and drink[63].

      Being almost famished with hunger, having not eaten a morsel for some hours before he left the ship, he found the demands of nature so strong upon him, that he could not forbear showing his impatience (perhaps against the strict rules of decency) by putting his finger frequently on his mouth, to signify that he wanted food.

 

      The Hurgos seemed to understand him very well, but still not to agree with one another. After some lengthy hushed debate, the green one seemed to relent and they both descended from the stage.

 

      Later Lemuel learned that Flimnap, the red-clad high-heeled little person, who was the High Treasurer, was trying to convince the green person on flat heels, Skyresh Bolgolam, who was the High Admiral of the Realm, to kill Lemuel on the spot, as he was laying there, tied to the ground and defenceless.

 

      Flimnap, being responsible for all the Emperor’s possessions and in charge of maintaining and increasing them, feared that Gulliver’s appetite would surely drain the Emperor’s treasury.

 

      Flimnap reasoned that the best way to preserve Lilliputian’s wealth (meaning the Emperor’s, of course) was to get rid of this Man-Mountain, before he lapped Lilliput up.

      Luckily for my Lemuel, Bolgolam reasoned that, as much as he would like to see the Man-Mountain dead, and as much as his fingers itched to shoot the first poisoned arrow himself, the stench of so large a carcass might produce a plague in Lilliput and would probably spread through the whole Kingdom.

 

      Bolgolam was asking, his fist near Flimnap’s nose: “Where can you bury this abominable creature? The earth underneath us is not deep enough! You will be dropping – if you ever tried digging that far – the whole of Lilliput into eternal space! No, we should maintain him. This Man-Mountain might turn out to be useful for us. I mean, for Our Emperor, of course.”

      And thus the command was given to apply several ladders to Lemuel’s sides, on which over a hundred of the inhabitants mounted, and walked towards Lemuel’s mouth, laden with baskets full of meat.

      There were shoulders; legs and loins, shaped like those of mutton, and very well dressed, but smaller than the wings of a lark[64]. Lemuel ate them by two or three at a mouthful, and took three loaves of bread at a time, about the bigness of musket bullets.

 

      The little people supplied him as fast as they could, showing a thousand marks of wonder and astonishment at his bulk and appetite.

 

      Then Lemuel made another sign that he wanted to drink. They found by his eating that a small quantity would not suffice him, and being a most ingenious people, they slung up with great dexterity one of their largest hogsheads, then rolled it toward his hand, and beat out the top; Lemuel drank it off at a draught, which he might well have done, for it hardly held half a pint, and tasted (so he told me, three years later) like a small wine of burgundy - but much more delicious. They brought him a second hogshead, which he drank in the same manner, and then made signs for more, but they had none to give him.

      It is not true to say that in the course of his two-year stay in Lilliput, he was a burden on the Emperor, having eaten and drank as much as he did; for my Lemuel’s excrement was eventually put to very good use: fertilising the Lilliputian lands.

 

      Lemuel told me, proudly, that the crops were growing far taller, faster and in much larger quantities than before his arrival. In fact, Lemuel produced so much waste that he was sure it would still be in use for hundreds of years to come.

 

      He cleverly computed that this would alter the Lilliputians completely, as their future generations would become bigger, too.

 

      Already in the second year, in which Lemuel put his waste to good use, the Lilliputian newborns were five percent bigger than those who were born the year before Lemuel’s metabolism started enriching Lilliput. (Causing their mothers much more agony at birth, I might add.) Lemuel told me that he thinks that by the year 2020 (when the world is anyway bound to end again) the Lilliputians will be slightly smaller than us, hardly to be recognized as Lilliputians at all.

Mary trying to work out where her husband has gone.
Artist: Elizabeth Shippen Green 
(1871-1954) 
Lemuel and five other of the crew managed to lower a boat onto the rough sea. 
Artist: Thomas Morten, 1865​
What they lacked in size they compensated for in quantity. There were so many of them, united in their determination to topple the giant, that they finally succeeded.
A lesson worth learning.
Artist: André Devambez (1867-1944)
(From R to L) Flimnap, the High Treasurer, Skyrris Bolgolam, the High Admiral of the Realm and an anonymous servant. 
Artist: Jean Ignace Isidore Gérard Grandville (pseudonym of J. J. Grandville), 1835​
As food is being gathered, Lemuel attempts to communicate with his captors.
Artist: Unknown PENDING PERMISSION (Penguin reader)
Flimnap and Bolgolam arguing over Lemuel's fate.
Artist: Thomas Morten (1836-1866) ​
One man's barrel is another man's cup.
Artist: Jean Ignace Isidore Gérard Grandville (pseudonym of J. J. Grandville), 1835
Lemuel's manure put to good use in the fields of Lilliput.
Artist: Carl Larson (1853–1919)
Opening scene from "Gulliver's Travels", a 1939 American cel-animated Technicolor feature film. 
Artists: director: Dave Fleischer Artists: Seymour Kneitel, Willard Bowsky, Tom Palmer, Grim Natwick, William Henning, Roland Crandall, Thomas Johnson, Robert Leffingwell, Frank Kelling, Winfield Hoskins, and Orestes Calpini.​
 
 
 
 

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