Chapter Twelve

The Author receives a letter from her Husband, and her hopes of having a healthy baby are revived. She continues to write the story of Gulliver, how he is being searched and his weapons confiscated. Lemuel succeeds to conceal some precious commodities; A war is almost declared against him, which he good-naturedly averts.

Redriff, Wednesday the 3rd of  February, 1703
Remarkably preserved among the pages of Mary Burton-Gulliver's manuscript, the letter she got from her husband, more than 300 years ago.
(L to R) Clefrin, Lemuel, Marsi.
Artist: Grandville​
General Reldresal listening attentively to the reports yelled at him by the Frelocs, Clefrin and Marsi.
Artist: Pierre Charles Baquoy (1759-1829)​
Gulliver's comb challenges the Lilliputians
Artist: John Hassall (1868-1948)
Note the greed on the faces of the onlookers, and the guard, proud to protect that which is not his. That's the power that power has.
Artist: Thomas Morten, 1865
The Frelocs, Clefrin and Marsi, examining reverently Lemuel's watch.
Artist: Unknown.
Stripped of almost all his possessions, but the most important ones.
Artist: Unknown.
Hoping - so far 
unsuccessfully - to make a good impression, Lemuel obeys all orders.
Artist: Unknown.​
Admiral Bolgolam (center) orders the troupes to surround Lemuel and to draw their arms.
Artists: steel engraving drawn by Alexandre Lacauchie, engraved by Leguay (1849)
Lemuel demonstrates the power of his pistols, but the noise they make is far too far to make a lasting impression on the Lilliputians.
Artist: Frédéric Théodore Lix (1830-1897)
Shumclum, the Lilliputian High Priest, supervising the removal of Lemuel's watch, fearing Moral Contamination of lilliputian religion.
Artist: Unknown.
Admiral Bolgolam raises his sword and delivers the speech that inspired generations to come.
Artist: Nicolas Guérard (1680-17..)

WHAT a good omen! this morning Captain Richard Branson brought me a letter from my Love, my Lemuel!

 

      Captain Branson’s ship, the “Virgin” docked safely in Redriff, after having landed at the Cape of Good Hope for water, on its way back from Surat. There he met my Lemuel, who asked him to bring me this letter. Oh, he loves me so, my dear husband. He loves me still!

      I gingerly copy it here:

My dearest Mary,

Four and twenty hours once we took sail I already miss your Kiss, My dearest Mary, My Mary. The power of your kiss is like a sacred Chalice.

We had a very prosperous Gale till we arrived at the Cape of Good Hope, where we landed for fresh Water, but discovering a Leak we unshipped our Goods and shall winter here; for the Captain fell sick of an Ague.

I have a consolation in the certainty that I shall see you, My dear wife, and my children in a few months! Thank God I shall Kiss your Lips! All of them! The dearest pleasures in the universe!

Ever yours, affectionately, my dearest, L.G.

      So the “Adventure” has arrived safely at the harbour of the Cape of Good Hope, sometime last Autumn! Soon winter will be over and he will continue his prosperous journey. If my calculations are correct, he is due back home in one year, or so. 

 

      Well, at least I am relieved that at least for now, he is safe at port. While he tends to the ague of Captain John Nicholas, I am sure he is also relishing the Ladies of the Cape and I am confident he is using his Condum regularly.

      I feel so relieved!

 

      It means that their journey might take a little longer than expected, but I will wait for my Lemuel. If it takes forever, I will wait for him. Oh, and this is such a good omen, for I am heavy with child... This must surely be a sign that The Curse is repelled and my baby will survive...?

      With renewed vigour, I continue to tell the story of my husband, what happened to him three years back, during his last voyage, when he was stranded in Lilliput:

*

THAT same day my Lemuel was forced to be stripped of his possessions, but he was willing to do anything at that point to gain back his freedom.

      General Reldresal summoned two of the soldiers to approach Gulliver, and politely introduced them as Clefrin Freloc and Marsi Freloc. (Lemuel figured that Freloc means Officer of the Crown. They didn't look like brothers.) They obeyed with much apprehension, though they need not have feared. My gentle Lemuel took up the two clerks in his hand, put them first into his coat-pockets, and then into every other pocket about him, except for his secret fob where I always packed his Condum.

      The Frelocs, Clefrin and Marsi, screamed their findings from high up to General Reldresal, who listened carefully and, sitting at his desk, composed a lengthy description of Lemuel’s possessions.

 

      By good chance, the whole box marked ‘Quinbus Flestrin’ (meaning ‘Man Mountain’ as they called my Lemuel) survived the Great Fire and Lemuel got hold of it in a clandestine way. Back home, using a magnifying glass, he translated it to me, and we delighted in it to no extent!)

      The List read:

“One great piece of coarse cloth, large enough to be a foot-cloth for His Majesty's chief room of state” – that was Lemuel’s handkerchief.

“A huge silver chest, with a cover of the same metal, containing some sort of dust, which set both officers a sneezing for several times together”- That is how they described Lemuel’s snuff box.

 

“A prodigious number of white thin substances folded one over another, about the bigness of three men, tied with a strong cable, and marked with black figures, probably writings, every letter almost half as large as the palm of our hands” – that was Lemuel’s journal-book…

 

“A sort of engine, from the back of which were extended twenty long poles, resembling the fence before His Majesty's Court”- That was the description of Lemuel’s comb.

 

“A hollow pillar of iron, about the length of a man, fastened to a strong piece of timber, larger than the pillar; and upon one side of the pillar were huge pieces of iron sticking out, cut into strange figures.” That was Lemuel’s pistol. He had two of them upon him.

 

“Several round flat pieces of white and red metal, of different bulk, with profiles of unknown Lilliputians, in real size”- a few crowns and copper farthings bearing the images of William and Mary[66].

“Two black pillars irregularly shaped, larger than any Lilliputian. Within each of these is enclosed a prodigious plate of steel” – These were Lemuel’s knives: His shaving knife and his meat knife.

“A great silver chain, with a wonderful kind of engine at the bottom” – This was Lemuel’s timepiece and they mistakenly understood it to be his God, since he tried to explain to them in his awkward Lilliputian, the meaning of Time and its monetary Value[67].

“A net almost large enough for a fisherman, but contrived to open and shut like a purse, containing several massy pieces of yellow metal, bearing the same real-size images of those two unknown Lilliputians, which, if they be real gold, must be of immense value.” – Yes, that was Lemuel’s purse, where he kept his guineas.

“A girdle about the Quinbus Flestrin’s (Man-Mountain) waist, made of the hide of some prodigious animal, from which, on the left side, hung a sword of the length of five men” – that was Lemuel’s scimitar and scabbard[68].

“A bag or pouch, divided into two cells, each cell capable of holding three of His Majesty's subjects. In one of these cells were several globes, or balls, of a most ponderous metal, about the bigness of our heads, and required a strong hand to lift them; the other cell contained a heap of certain black grains, but of no great bulk or weight, for we could hold about fifty of them in the palms of our hands.” – these were Lemuel’s bullets and gunpowder…

 

The list thus compiled, Lemuel landed Clefrin and Marsi carefullyback to earth. He was debating with himself, should he reveal to his captors his private pocket, which escaped their search, wherein there was a pair of spectacles (which he sometimes used for the weakness of his eyes,) a pocket perspective[69], and some other little conveniences; which, being of no consequence to the emperor, he did not think himself bound by honour to declare. Lemuel apprehended they might be lost or spoiled if he ventured them out of his possession, so he resolved to cheat his captors just this once.

      General Reldresal made the Frelocs sign the document ceremoniously. They all gaped at Lemuel, and he read their minds:

 

      He was expected to sign the document as well, according to Protocol. But how could such a simple act be achieved, seeing that Lemuel’s thumb was as big as the whole parchment? (Naturally, they assumed that a beast like Lemuel would be illiterate and would need to sign by putting its thumb in ink and on paper. At that time they were still deeply prejudiced against my Lemuel and only later did they learn of his many virtues!)

      Almost imperceptibly for Lemuel, General Reldresal shrugged his shoulders, rolled up the parchment, handed it to Lemuel and signalled him to deliver it, as before. Still wishing to make a good impression, Lemuel meekly obliged, but as he was standing there, watching the slow progress of the rider towards the Palace, he could not help resenting the way he was used by those Lilliputians.

      As he sat back dejectedly, General Reldresal thanked him again, and continued to teach Lemuel the Lilliputian language.

      The lesson was soon interrupted by the sound of an advancing army, accompanied by a loud March, played on trumpets and drums. Gulliver wanted to get on his feet to see what was it all about, but General Reldresal waived his hands so vigorously that the message was clear:

 

      "Sit!"

      The Emperor himself soon appeared from around the Temple’s wall, clad in colourful robes and reining in his horse. The Emperor glanced at Gulliver, turned around and gave a majestic sign, upon which Gulliver heard the March resumes, and the sounds of feet and clamour were soon translated into a snaking line of armed soldiers and mounted knights, led by a Lilliputian which Lemuel remembered from three days past: It was the one dressed in magnificent Green, the Admiral of the Realm, Skyresh Bolgolam (as Lemuel came to know his name later.)

      Admiral Bolgolam ordered the troupes to surround my Lemuel and to draw their arms.

      At first Lemuel feared that this was an execution, but he soon understood (his Lilliputian being already quite advanced) that under the threat of these thousands of poised arrows, he was expected to hand over the items on the list, which an aid to the Emperor was now reading aloud.

      He was ordered by Admiral Bolgolam to slowly withdraw his scimitar from its scabbard, and the Emperor commanded two of his Officers to examine it. They ran their fingers along its edge, and came to the conclusion that they did not know what would be the purpose of such a dull instrument.

 

      General Reldresal instructed Lemuel to give a demonstration of the use of this equipment, and Lemuel stood up and obediently mimicked slaying and hacking an invisible enemy.

 

      Enthusiastically, General Reldresal explained to the Emperor (as Lemuel could surmise,) that this weapon’s strategy is to blind the enemy, by reflecting the Sun’s rays into their eyes. Many Officers were quite impressed by this innovation, but Admiral Bolgolam pointed out, to the great shame of General Reldresal, that on a cloudy day this weapon would be useless.

      Lemuel’s pistol did not make much more impression on the Lilliputians, though they did appreciate the distant noise it made, when Lemuel fired a shot in the air.

      His watch was a subject of wonderment, seeing that it was some sort of Deity, but Shumclum, the Lilliputian High Priest (dressed in ominous black) dismissed it by saying that it was repeating its message – whatever those ticking noises were conveying – too often.

 

      Shumclum was waiving a heavy book and proclaiming that there is no mention of this God in the Holy Blundecral[70], so anyone who would listen to this incessant ticking is bound to go to Hell. For fear of brainwashing and conversion to the Ticking God, Lemuel’s watch was hastily whisked away by two of the tallest yeomen of the guards, who bore it on a pole upon their shoulders, as draymen in England do a barrel of ale. Not before they were ordered to stuff their ears with some invisible matter.

      Finally, as advised by the Admiral, the Emperor took possession of Lemuel’s scimitar and the two pistols, to prevent him from using them against any of his people.

      Then the Emperor turned to his troops, still standing with their arrows poised ominously at Lemuel, and screaming at the top of his tiny lungs, the Emperor was delivering a furious speech, along these lines:

      "Men, you are now facing the greatest danger that ever faced our glorious Lilliput! And if anyone says that Lilliputians want out of a war, not wanting to fight, you should answer that this is a crock of bullshit. Lilliputians love to fight, traditionally. All real Lilliputians love the sting and clash of battle. The mightier our enemy, the mightier our might!”

      The soldiers cheered and a few arrows were shot in the air, celebrating this mighty speech. When the cheers subsided, the Emperor commenced:

 

      “This Quinbus Flestrin sitting in front of you can be tamed. And by all that is dear to Us, you shall tame him!

      “Only two percent of you right here today would die -- if a major battle ensues. But Death must not be feared! Death, in time, comes to all men!

      “Advance and may Our God be with you![71]

      He then jumped carefully on his horse and safely departed from the maybe-soon-to-be-battle-field, with Shumclum the High Priest and other close advisers, quickly close behind him.

      Admiral Bolgolam raised his sword and screamed:

      “You heard our Dear Emperor! You will defend Him to the last! Let no Quinbus Flestrin, let no Man-Mountain scare the shit out of you! Go on, March!”

      And with that the March was resumed and the numerous little soldiers commenced stepping to the beat, as menacingly as they ever could, circling Lemuel and marching on, until they all disappeared back into the metropolis.

      As the soldiers were marching on and out of sight, Lemuel grasped that this elaborate military exercise, parading the soldiers and horses in a close proximity to him, was his opportunity to prove that he was tame enough to be set free, and he waved good-naturedly to the departing troops, and saluted them with much respect.

      But still, he was not released.

 
 
 
 
 

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