Chapter Nineteen

The Author’s life as a constant tragedy. Losing her lover and her baby in the span of a few months. To prevent losing her husband as well, she resumes telling his story: Lemuel is living the life of a free man; Lemuel’s daily services to the Emperor of Lilliput, and his nightly contributions to Lilliputian’s domestic bliss. His observations of the Lilliputian Island and its Inhabitants, as he fulfills the Articles of his Release.

Redriff, Tuesday the 1st of  May, 1703
A typical day by the bed of birthing woman.
Artist: Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553)
St Mary's Church, Rotherhithe, the local Church of England parish church in Rotherhithe, where Mary would baptise her children.
Artist: Unknown
Sappho embracing Erinna, 
on the island of Lesbos. Unlike Mary, whose whole manuscript survived 300 years of the Welsh rain, of Sappho's nine books of poetry, the most complete poem that we have is a call to Aphrodite to sort
out Sappho's relations 
with a woman.
Artist: Simeon Solomon 1840–1905
Illustration for a text by Restif de Bretonne: The misfortune of familes: The unworthy husband.
Artist: Unknown
(L to R) Lemuel Gulliver and a waiting line of nightly Lilliputian clients.
Artist: J. J. Grandville
Gulliver engaged in his daily production of fertilisers for the glory of Lilliput. 
Artist: George Morrow (1869-1955)
Lemuel touring Lilliput.
Artist: Philip Mendoza (1898 – 1973)
Gulliver steps carefully in the emptied streets of Mildendo.
Artist: Fabrice Weiss
You can feel his heart swelling with pride and gratitude.
Artist: Morton

IS my life doomed to roll from one tragedy to another?

 

      When I try to count my blessings they do not add up to much. In my thirty-one years, what did I achieve? Only two of my six babies still live – and who knows for how long...

      My last baby, Rosalind, lived long enough to be baptised, which was a great consolation for Stella. I cannot believe we are sisters. With all the secret readings we both did, under the guidance of our dear mother, she did not learn anything about the people who populate our world.

 

      I guess you cannot learn to read between the lines. This gift is probably something you either have, or not.

 

      Stella reads the Bible literally, and whenever it does not make sense, she is asking the priest what should she think.

 

      She speaks a lot with her priest.

      Two months ago, when I laid dying – or so I thought – giving birth to Rosalind, Stella came like the tempest:

 

      “Push!” she urged me, “push!”

 

      As if I did not know how to birth! She is so full of self-righteousness. In between the contractions she was assuring me that my conviction that Lemuel will be back is a dangerous folly.

 

      Even Mrs. Poppins could not make her stop. And the worst was that the godsibb[107] neighbours agreed with her.

      Stella insisted I accept my widowhood and return to our old father’s house in Newgate Street, to live with her, with her Mr. Owen Lavender Jr. and their eleven children.

 

      “Did you get another letter from Mr. Gulliver?” She demanded, “Push! It has been half a year now, and no word from him. Do you not realise what this means?”

      I only knew it meant I was miserably unhappy. And longing for him.

 

      He might be a rascal, and not my sister’s cup of tea, but he is my husband – and my friend. He has his drawbacks, of course. Who has none? But he loved me.

 

      No!

 

      He loves me still, in his way. It is not yet a year since he took to sea on the Adventure and it is not yet time to despair!

 

      It was not yet time to despair two months ago, when I was giving birth to Rosalind, rest her soul, while Stella was urging me to give up all hope for him. I was in so much distress with that lengthy delivery, that I was grateful to Mrs. Poppins for finally sending everybody out. I was not looking forward to another failed delivery with Mrs. Poppins’ invention[108], but I was glad for the peace from Stella’s haranguing. My sister’s fourteen babies seemed to have just popped out of her belly, so naturally she thinks I should be able to do that too. She only lost three children, and not in birth, while I lost four of my six, and none of these four survived a fortnight. [109]

      I was too weak for the churching and I thought Rosalind was also doing poorly, but Stella insisted. After the baptism[110], when I refused to pack and move, Stella stormed out of our home, swearing never to come back again.

 

      I was crying for my Rosalind: the poor infant was shivering and blue. My sweet Johnny tried to cheer me up by reminding me that most of Stella’s visits culminate with her promising never to be back again.

 

      The clever lad.

 

      I did laugh when he said: “And you know what, Mamma, the worst thing is that she never keeps her promises.”

 

      I am so blessed to have him, and Betty. Well, these are my two blessings: my dear children!

      And this morning I could still proclaim to have three of them.

 

      Well, not Children, but Blessings.

      This morning I was still hugging my love Vanessa, and now, she is gone, too. It was too good to last for too long. She stepped back into my life when I needed her most – and was snatched out of my arms when I still need her so.

      She ran away from home, my poor Vanessa, and came searching for me, the day after we buried Rosalind.

 

      I lost Vanessa nearly one year ago, when Lemuel, in a fit of rage and jealousy, tore our family away from Wapping, and me from her[111]. Vanessa told me that she was asking everywhere for us, and finally heard that we had moved to Redriff. She resolved to sell her home and buy another one, near us in Redriff, when her husband, Captain Prichard, whom everyone considered dead at sea, came suddenly back from a ruinous voyage, a ruined man.

 

      He lost his ship and all his fortune to pirates and was lucky to save his skin. Vanessa was hoping that, being such a renowned seaman he would get another position and would leave her again, but that did not transpire. Apparently, ship owners considered him Bad Luck.

 

      Prichard, no longer called Captain, took to heavier drinking.

 

      Soon he spotted that Vanessa's periods seemed to be constant (for she still tried to prevent making love to him by telling him that she was Menstruating[112]) and one night, when overly drunk, he tried to rape her!

 

      Luckily, said Vanessa, being so drunk he could not raise his Tool, so he beat her instead with his fists.

 

      My poor Vanessa, she was pleased to suffer his beating, as long as she did not have to suffer his prick inside of her!

 

      But after some months of this treatment she could not bear it any more, and, under the pretext of going to see a surgeon for her wounds, she took the public coach and came to me.

 

      We had a brief, glorious few weeks before Mr. Prichard discovered where she was, and came to claim her back[113].

 

      What have I got left? My only sister will not speak to me, and my late husband’s five brothers and two sisters always thought I was not good enough for their surgeon brother[114].

      I loved two people, and I lost them twice.[115] My Lemuel is certainly dead at sea and Vanessa… We are probably doomed to be parted until her husband's death...[116] My goodness, what am I thinking? Heavens forbid I should wish for anyone’s death.

      But still. 

 

      I am a woman, and I need to be reminded of it, every so often. I need to be loved, I want to love, I crave making love. Oh, I so much wish my Lemuel would be back soon. Sometimes I fantasise how it will happen.

 

      Yes, every now and then I feel, with all my being, that it will happen. It might take another year before I will hug him again, but it will happen! Like a foolish girl, I believe that as long as I keep his memory alive, writing all his adventures in Lilliput, I will keep him alive, too, wherever he might be now.

 

      Besides, it always lifts my spirits, writing down Lemuel's amazing story. So, back to the year 1701, when My Lemuel gained his freedom in Lilliput.

*

UP until his hasty and narrow escape from Lilliput, Lemuel enjoyed himself each night, satisfying at least three Lilliputian women at a time, as stipulated in the Fourth Article of his Release Contract.

 

      He soon made friends with his Chamberlain, Little Lalcon, a neat young man who did not have much trouble keeping the nightly visits of the Lilliputian women in good order. The women were willing to accept Lalcon’s authority, since he was reasonable and fair. He did not allow any group of women to stay more than 20 minutes with the Man-Mountain and sent them all back home promptly at midnight.

 

      Lemuel was happy with this arrangement. At last he could make love each and every night! Back home, in the months after our wedding and before I was too heavy with my first baby, Johnny, there were days in which we romped morning, noon and night.

      But the Lilliputians, as told me by Lemuel, were so much inclined, by motives of concupiscence, to be physically engaged with each other - as their law dictated, at least four times per week - that they had to find a solution to the problem of having too many children.

 

      For this purpose they created the Town Public Nurseries, where professional people took turns in watching over the babies until they were old enough to produce children themselves[117].

 

      And so, as Lemuel gained his freedom and he could travel all over Lilliput, his quality of life had much improved.

      Every morning, when he needed to relieve himself, he strolled at his leisure out of his Liberty-Temple to his volcano, which he fondly nicknamed ‘Ajax’[118], where he discharged himself for the glory and prosperity of Lilliput, and in accordance with the Seventh Article of his Release Agreement.

 

      A new profession came into being, which was very highly respected and well paid, that of the Imperial Ex-Men, who would pan Lemuel’s excrement as it flowed down the river from the Volcano, and distribute it all over the country.

 

      The Emperor was, of course, the Owner of all Minerals in Lilliput, and as such Lemuel’s product was deemed His sole property. But even the Emperor could not convince Lemuel to join in the ranks of the Imperial Ex-Men.

 

      As much as Lemuel was best endowed to scoop the goods and distribute them about the country in the swiftest and most efficient fashion, he did not feel inclined to do so and finally came up with an excuse that was accepted by the Emperor, namely that relieving himself daily of such quantities of cargo was taxing enough, and therefore he should be allowed to spend the remains of the day in other employments for the Glory of the Emperor and His Great Empire.

      He had two moons’ time, according to the Eighth Article, to compile an exact survey of the circumference of the Lilliputian dominions by his own computation of his paces round the coast.

 

      That was a mission, which Lemuel was eager to fulfil, as he was very curious to study the land on which he was stranded.

 

      And he was hoping to spot some human-sized ship on the horizon.

 

      As he walked around the island, he could ascertain that the tallest trees were about seven feet high and the common size of the natives was somewhat under six inches high, with an exact proportion in all other animals, as well as plants and trees.

      Lilliput being but a small island, it took him one day to ascertain that the island’s circumference was about 12 miles and its area is about 11,500 square miles.

 

      That evening, when Principal Secretary of Private Affairs, General Reldresal arrived for the daily report, Lemuel proudly informed him that the survey of Lilliput was done, and the Emperor could come at any time to hear it.

 

      General Reldresal was surprised and a bit confused to hear that the Eighth Article was already fulfilled, and mumbled that this information must be conveyed with all due Ceremony to His Majesty in private, soon after court convenes at the capital, Mildendo. Reldresal explained that Lemuel should give an official Address to the whole court, followed by a private audience with the Emperor.

 

      His vanity thus catered for, Lemuel was anxious to visit the Capital and was eager for his Court Address. He hoped that the Lilliputian Protocol dictated that the Empress should grace the meeting, if only briefly.

      The next morning, having fulfilled his daily obligations towards the Seventh Article, Lemuel commenced his vigilant walk to Mildendo.

 

      The people had notice, by proclamation, of the Royal Invitation of the Man-Mountain to Address the Court at the Metropolis. Therefore his progress was very slow, because he had to be careful not to trample on any of the numerous living creatures that crowded the footways, eager to see the Man-Mountain on the move. He was also careful not to trample on any of the fauna, fences or buildings on his way.

 

      At long last he reached the walls of Mildendo, which were two feet and a half high, and at least eleven inches broad, so that a coach and horses might be driven very safely round it. It was flanked with strong towers at ten feet distance.

 

      Lemuel stepped over the great western gate, and passed very gently, and sideling, onto one of the two principal avenues. He walked with utmost circumspection, to avoid treading on any stragglers who might remain in the streets, although the orders were very strict that all people should keep in their houses at their own peril. The garret-windows and tops of houses were so crowded with spectators, that he thought in all his travels he had not seen a more populous place.

 

      As he was cheered on by the masses, his heart swelled with pride and gratitude, and he waved to the multitudes magnanimously, in the same fashion he had often seen Charles II, James II, Mary II and William III do in England.

 

      Gulliver had the privilege of viewing the Metropolis from the viewpoint of a bird, which was quite an unsettling experience for him. As he carefully walked the Avenue, his gaze hovering above the city, he estimated that Mildendo was capable of holding five hundred thousand souls. He noticed that the houses were from three to five stories, and the shops and markets seemed well provided.

      The Emperor's Palace was at the centre of the city, where two great Avenues met.

 

      It was enclosed by a wall of two foot high, and twenty foot distant from the buildings.

 

      His Majesty gave Lemuel permission to step over this wall, and the space being so wide between that and the palace; he could easily view it on every side.

      The outward court was a square of forty feet, and included two other courts; in the innermost were the royal apartments, which he was very desirous to see, hoping that the Empress would reveal herself to him.

 

      Unfortunately, it was impossible for him to stride over the gates and adjoining buildings without doing infinite damage to the pile, though the walls were strongly built of hewn stone, and four inches thick.

      Though the Emperor deemed that Gulliver’s address to the Court was of extreme urgency, this could only come to pass three days later.

 

      It took Lemuel three whole days to cut down, with his knife, some of the largest trees in the Royal Park, of which he cleverly made two stools, each about three feet high, and strong enough to bear his weight so he could safely enter the Royal Inner Court.

 
 
 
 
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