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roleplaying:munchausen:chapter_ix [2005/11/22 17:59] (current)
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 +====== TRAVELS OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN ======
 +===== CHAPTER IX =====
  
 +//​Adventures in Turkey, and upon the river Nile--Sees a balloon
 +over Constantinople;​ shoots at, and brings it down; finds a French
 +experimental philosopher suspended from it--Goes on an embassy to
 +Grand Cairo, and returns upon the Nile, where he is thrown into an
 +unexpected situation, and detained six weeks.//
 +
 +When I was in the service of the Turks I frequently amused myself in a
 +pleasure-barge on the Marmora, which commands a view of the whole city
 +of Constantinople,​ including the Grand Seignior'​s Seraglio. One
 +morning, as I was admiring the beauty and serenity of the sky, I
 +observed a globular substance in the air, which appeared to be about
 +the size of a twelve-inch globe, with somewhat suspended from it. I
 +immediately took up my largest and longest barrel fowling-piece,​ which
 +I never travel or make even an excursion without, if I can help it; I
 +charged with a ball, and fired at the globe, but to no purpose, the
 +object being at too great a distance. I then put in a double quantity
 +of powder, and five or six balls: this second attempt succeeded; all
 +the balls took effect, and tore one side open, and brought it down.
 +Judge my surprise when a most elegant gilt car, with a man in it, and
 +part of a sheep which seemed to have been roasted, fell within two
 +yards of me. When my astonishment had in some degree subsided, I
 +ordered my people to row close to this strange aërial traveller.
 +
 +I took him on board my barge (he was a native of France): he was much
 +indisposed from his sudden fall into the sea, and incapable of
 +speaking; after some time, however, he recovered, and gave the
 +following account of himself, viz.: "About seven or eight days since,
 +I cannot tell which, for I have lost my reckoning, having been most of
 +the time where the sun never sets, I ascended from the Land's End in
 +Cornwall, in the island of Great Britain, in the car from which I have
 +been just taken, suspended from a very large balloon, and took a sheep
 +with me to try atmospheric experiments upon: unfortunately,​ the wind
 +changed within ten minutes after my ascent, and instead of driving
 +towards Exeter, where I intended to land, I was driven towards the
 +sea, over which I suppose I have continued ever since, but much too
 +high to make observations.
 +
 +"The calls of hunger were so pressing, that the intended experiments
 +upon heat and respiration gave way to them. I was obliged, on the
 +third day, to kill the sheep for food; and being at that time
 +infinitely above the moon, and for upwards of sixteen hours after so
 +very near the sun that it scorched my eyebrows, I placed the carcase,
 +taking care to skin it first, in that part of the car where the sun
 +had sufficient power, or, in other words, where the balloon did not
 +shade it from the sun, by which method it was well roasted in about
 +two hours. This has been my food ever since."​ Here he paused, and
 +seemed lost in viewing the objects about him. When I told him the
 +buildings before us were the Grand Seignior'​s Seraglio at
 +Constantinople,​ he seemed exceedingly affected, as he had supposed
 +himself in a very different situation. "The cause,"​ added he, "of my
 +long flight, was owing to the failure of a string which was fixed to a
 +valve in the balloon, intended to let out the inflammable air; and if
 +it had not been fired at, and rent in the manner before mentioned, I
 +might, like Mahomet, have been suspended between heaven and earth till
 +doomsday."​
 +
 +The Grand Seignior, to whom I was introduced by the Imperial, Russian,
 +and French ambassadors,​ employed me to negotiate a matter of great
 +importance at Grand Cairo, and which was of such a nature that it must
 +ever remain a secret.
 +
 +I went there in great state by land; where, having completed the
 +business, I dismissed almost all my attendants, and returned like a
 +private gentleman; the weather was delightful, and that famous river
 +the Nile was beautiful beyond all description;​ in short, I was tempted
 +to hire a barge to descend by water to Alexandria. On the third day of
 +my voyage the river began to rise most amazingly (you have all heard,
 +I presume, of the annual overflowing of the Nile), and on the next day
 +it spread the whole country for many leagues on each side! On the
 +fifth, at sunrise, my barge became entangled with what I at first took
 +for shrubs, but as the light became stronger I found myself surrounded
 +by almonds, which were perfectly ripe, and in the highest perfection.
 +Upon plumbing with a line my people found we were at least sixty feet
 +from the ground, and unable to advance or retreat. At about eight or
 +nine o'​clock,​ as near as I could judge by the altitude of the sun, the
 +wind rose suddenly, and canted our barge on one side: here she filled,
 +and I saw no more of her for some time. Fortunately we all saved
 +ourselves (six men and two boys) by clinging to the tree, the boughs
 +of which were equal to our weight, though not to that of the barge: in
 +this situation we continued six weeks and three days, living upon the
 +almonds; I need not inform you we had plenty of water. On the forty-
 +second day of our distress the water fell as rapidly as it had risen,
 +and on the forty-sixth we were able to venture down upon //terra
 +firma//. Our barge was the first pleasing object we saw, about two
 +hundred yards from the spot where she sunk. After drying everything
 +that was useful by the heat of the sun, and loading ourselves with
 +necessaries from the stores on board, we set out to recover our lost
 +ground, and found, by the nearest calculation,​ we had been carried
 +over garden-walls,​ and a variety of enclosures, above one hundred and
 +fifty miles. In four days, after a very tiresome journey on foot, with
 +thin shoes, we reached the river, which was now confined to its banks,
 +related our adventures to a boy, who kindly accommodated all our
 +wants, and sent us forward in a barge of his own. In six days more we
 +arrived at Alexandria, where we took shipping for Constantinople. I
 +was received kindly by the Grand Seignior, and had the honour of
 +seeing the Seraglio, to which his highness introduced me himself.
 +----
 +Go to [[CHAPTER X]]
roleplaying/munchausen/chapter_ix.txt · Last modified: 2005/11/22 17:59 (external edit)