Chapter Seven

After a period of marvellous successes showing the Lilliputian herd for many a penny, Gulliver is attacked by a villain who stabs him and beats him up, trying to steal the Menagerie. “Out of the strong came forth sweetness,”[41] and Lemuel decides to change the course of his life and embark on a new career.

Wapping, Thursday the 11th of  May, 1702
Gulliver exhibiting his Lilliputian herd in fairs.
Artist: Otto Ernst Schmidt​ (1862-1926)
Lemuel's Bull making love to White Spot, on the dining table, late at night. This is the first of Mary's drawings that were part of her manuscript.
Artist: Mary Burton-Gulliver
A typical scene of a highway robbery.
Artist: William Powell Frith (1819-1909)
(From L to R) Betty, Mary and Johnny, mourning the demise of the Lilliputian herd.
Artist: Anonymous, nicknamed The Master of the Blue Jeans

MY fears came true. I told Lemuel to keep his peeping business for the safe boroughs nearby our home, but his ambition took the best of him.

      “You see, my Love” he said “with our treasure here, of five little cows, two bulls, four ewes and two rams, we will soon be invited to Court! Our Royal Highness, Queen Anne herself will marvel at my Lilliputian herd! And with White Spot being pregnant, can you imagine what will happen?”

      Our Johnny gave this name, White Spot, to the prettiest cow, which was stark black, with a single white spot on her forehead. Betty, who caressed and cradled her, as if she was her own baby, wanted to call her Anne, because she seemed so regal. But Lemuel, trembling with indignation and rage, would spank her, if she had not come running to hide behind my skirts. Dear Johnny settled the dispute.

      “We will call her White Spot.”

 

      Indeed, White Spot was pretty, and soon were we witnesses to some Lilliputian bullfights on her account. It was Lemuel who figured out that they were fighting with each other in order to conquer White Spot. As soon as Betty would pick her up, to caress and cradle her, the fighting would subside. Lemuel, with his sharp sense of business, devised a plan of charging the public to watch the fights, and even raise bets, but Johnny remarked that the bulls might kill each other in the process, and thus the venture was put to rest.

 

      And suddenly the bulls did not seem to be as excited when White Spot was nearby, and presently we found out why: her growing belly gave her away. Were we ever so excited! At first Lemuel lamented that he did not sell tickets for the coupling (God knows when this coupling transpired!) but he was soon full of plans for a public calving. And in order to attract as much public as possible for the miniature birth-spectacle, and in the hope to even be invited to perform the feat in Court (for Lemuel was certain that Our Queen Anne would not want to miss the event) Lemuel started travelling with his menagerie to further boroughs -- to my chagrin.

      Yes, I was worried. Though I knew that every borough of London was infested by crime of all sorts, and you did not have to travel far to fall victim, I somehow felt safer near home. Well, I am but a woman.

      My Gulliver laughed at my fears and took to the roads, and ten days ago he came back home, beaten, stabbed, nearly dead – but he managed to save his Lilliputian herd.

      I nearly died myself, when I saw him stumbling home. He was smiling triumphantly, and raising high the transport box, perhaps to ease my worries, but I only had eyes for the blood and his miserable limping!

      He could not tell who the villain was. It was in stark daylight, when the stage-couch in which Lemuel was traveling was stopped by a lone highwayman. The other gentlemen were quick to relieve themselves of their purses and goods, except for my Gulliver, who would not give up his box. He nearly died when the bandit stabbed him, and was only saved by the approach of a coach of another person of quality, with a good retinue of servants belonging to it. The wicked outlaw galloped away and disappeared as quickly as he arrived.

      Traveling back home, Lemuel’s companions were nursing his wounds as best they could, while scolding him: “You brainless fool, we were robbed betwixt sun and sun, therefore the county must pay our losses again!” Whereupon my Lemuel let them have a peek, for free, at his Lilliputian herd, and they kept silent in owe for the rest of the trip.

      “I had to fight for my property,” claimed Lemuel as I admonished him too, for being so foolish to risk his life in this manner. “Our herd is priceless,” said Lemuel, “and the County could never pay its loss, even if I was robbed in daylight, on the highway for which the County vouches to be safe!”

      Lemuel recovers well from his wounds and he no longer limps, but his herd suffered lethal blows, when the box was violently shaken between the hands of Lemuel and the villain’s. After White Spot perished while calving prematurely, the rest of the menagerie languished and died, one by one, betwixt sun and sun.

      In tears, Johnny and Betty buried the lot in our backyard. Lemuel was too heart-broken to join in the ceremony. I was crying as I saw the little coffins, which Johnny so cleverly built for each beast, being lowered into the grave. I did insist that one communal grave would suffice, rather than turning our backyard into a graveyard.

      I was crying because I was already envisioning my Lemuel taking back to sea, now that his source of income died. But last week my Lemuel told me, to my delight, that he has had enough of the sea! He decided to stay with us at home, forever, to publish the story of his last, final voyage, and to present the first volume to Our Queen Anne! With tears of happiness I agreed with him that telling about his sea voyages and the creatures he thus met, might prove to be an even more prosperous proposition than actually showing them around. (And definitely a better venture than venturing back to sea!)

 

      Given the recent commercial successes of other Voyage stories, I am confident that my Lemuel’s Voyage is much more wonderful than any Voyage that was ever put to print, including Sir More’s Utopia[42], Sir Bacon’s The New Atlantis[43] and more recently, Captain Archibald Wolfhang’s Travels to the Very East[44]!

 

      I plan to read all these books now, while my Love, my Lemuel, sits at the windowsill to commence his memoirs. What a fine, educated couple we make!

 

      (My Lemuel knows already that I can read and write, for I told him so, after my poor father passed away. We did not want to hurt our father’s feelings, so neither me, nor my sister, ever let him know the extent of our knowledge).

 

      Each evening, after I put our children to bed, I read the pages, over which Lemuel laboured during the day. And then we make love.

      Last night I told Lemuel that he should burn all the pages where he wrote about his adventure with the Lilliputian Lovers, and that he must not mention the full extent of his relations with Reldresal, the Principal Secretary, or with the Lilliputian Empress, and all the rest of it.[45]

      At first my dear Lemuel could not grasp my meaning. Having been to sea for so long, in close proximity with such different cultures, he could not fathom the lethal consequences of his publishing his story in full. But finally he agreed, so I expect to read tonight only the memories, which are fit to print, and fit to Our Queen Anne's eyes.[46]