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roleplaying:munchausen:chapter_x [2005/11/22 18:01] (current)
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 +====== TRAVELS OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN ======
 +===== CHAPTER X =====
  
 +//Pays a visit during the siege of Gibraltar to his old friend
 +General Elliot--Sinks a Spanish man-of-war--Wakes an old woman on
 +the African coast--Destroys all the enemy'​s cannon; frightens the
 +Count d'​Artois,​ and sends him to Paris--Saves the lives of two
 +English spies with the identical sling that killed Goliath; and
 +raises the siege.//
 +
 +During the late siege of Gibraltar I went with a provision-fleet,​
 +under Lord Rodney'​s command, to see my old friend General Elliot, who
 +has, by his distinguished defence of that place, acquired laurels that
 +can never fade. After the usual joy which generally attends the
 +meeting of old friends had subsided, I went to examine the state of
 +the garrison, and view the operations of the enemy, for which purpose
 +the General accompanied me. I had brought a most excellent refracting
 +telescope with me from London, purchased of Dollond, by the help of
 +which I found the enemy were going to discharge a thirty-six pounder
 +at the spot where we stood. I told the General what they were about;
 +he looked through the glass also, and found my conjectures right. I
 +immediately,​ by his permission, ordered a forty-eight pounder to be
 +brought from a neighbouring battery, which I placed with so much
 +exactness (having long studied the art of gunnery) that I was sure of
 +my mark.
 +
 +I continued watching the enemy till I saw the match placed at the
 +touch-hole of their piece; at that very instant I gave the signal for
 +our gun to be fired also.
 +
 +About midway between the two pieces of cannon the balls struck each
 +other with amazing force, and the effect was astonishing! The enemy'​s
 +ball recoiled back with such violence as to kill the man who had
 +discharged it, by carrying his head fairly off, with sixteen others
 +which it met with in its progress to the Barbary coast, where its
 +force, after passing through three masts of vessels that then lay in a
 +line behind each other in the harbour, was so much spent, that it only
 +broke its way through the roof of a poor labourer'​s hut, about two
 +hundred yards inland, and destroyed a few teeth an old woman had left,
 +who lay asleep upon her back with her mouth open. The ball lodged in
 +her throat. Her husband soon after came home, and endeavoured to
 +extract it; but finding that impracticable,​ by the assistance of a
 +rammer he forced it into her stomach. Our ball did excellent service;
 +for it not only repelled the other in the manner just described, but,
 +proceeding as I intended it should, it dismounted the very piece of
 +cannon that had just been employed against us, and forced it into the
 +hold of the ship, where it fell with so much force as to break its way
 +through the bottom. The ship immediately filled and sank, with above a
 +thousand Spanish sailors on board, besides a considerable number of
 +soldiers. This, to be sure, was a most extraordinary exploit; I will
 +not, however, take the whole merit to myself; my judgment was the
 +principal engine, but chance assisted me a little; for I afterwards
 +found, that the man who charged our forty-eight pounder put in, by
 +mistake, a double quantity of powder, else we could never have
 +succeeded so much beyond all expectation,​ especially in repelling the
 +enemy'​s ball.
 +
 +General Elliot would have given me a commission for this singular
 +piece of service; but I declined everything, except his thanks, which
 +I received at a crowded table of officers at supper on the evening of
 +that very day.
 +
 +As I am very partial to the English, who are beyond all doubt a brave
 +people, I determined not to take my leave of the garrison till I had
 +rendered them another piece of service, and in about three weeks an
 +opportunity presented itself. I dressed myself in the habit of a
 +//Popish priest//, and at about one o'​clock in the morning stole out of
 +the garrison, passed the enemy'​s lines, and arrived in the middle of
 +their camp, where I entered the tent in which the Prince d'​Artois was,
 +with the commander-in-chief,​ and several other officers, in deep
 +council, concerting a plan to storm the garrison next morning. My
 +disguise was my protection; they suffered me to continue there,
 +hearing everything that passed, till they went to their several beds.
 +When I found the whole camp, and even the sentinels, were wrapped up
 +in the arms of Morpheus, I began my work, which was that of
 +dismounting all their cannon (above three hundred pieces), from forty-
 +eight to twenty-four pounders, and throwing them three leagues into
 +the sea. Having no assistance, I found this the hardest task I ever
 +undertook, except swimming to the opposite shore with the famous
 +Turkish piece of ordnance, described by Baron de Tott in his Memoirs,
 +which I shall hereafter mention. I then piled all the carriages
 +together in the centre of the camp, which, to prevent the noise of the
 +wheels being heard, I carried in pairs under my arms; and a noble
 +appearance they made, as high at least as the rock of Gibraltar. I
 +then lighted a match by striking a flint stone, situated twenty feet
 +from the ground (in an old wall built by the Moors when they invaded
 +Spain), with the breech of an iron eight-and-forty pounder, and so set
 +fire to the whole pile. I forgot to inform you that I threw all their
 +ammunition-waggons upon the top.
 +
 +Before I applied the lighted match I had laid the combustibles at the
 +bottom so judiciously,​ that the whole was in a blaze in a moment. To
 +prevent suspicion I was one of the first to express my surprise. The
 +whole camp was, as you may imagine, petrified with astonishment:​ the
 +general conclusion was, that their sentinels had been bribed, and that
 +seven or eight regiments of the garrison had been employed in this
 +horrid destruction of their artillery. Mr. Drinkwater, in his account
 +of this famous siege, mentions the enemy sustaining a great loss by a
 +fire which happened in their camp, but never knew the cause; how
 +should he? as I never divulged it before (though I alone saved
 +Gibraltar by this night'​s business), not even to General Elliot. The
 +Count d'​Artois and all his attendants ran away in their fright, and
 +never stopped on the road till they reached Paris, which they did in
 +about a fortnight; this dreadful conflagration had such an effect upon
 +them that they were incapable of taking the least refreshment for
 +three months after, but, chameleon-like,​ lived upon the air. =====
 +
 +//If any gentleman will say he doubts the truth of this story, I will
 +fine him a gallon of brandy and make him drink it at one draught.//
 +
 +About two months after I had done the besieged this service, one
 +morning, as I sat at breakfast with General Elliot, a shell (for I had
 +not time to destroy their mortars as well as their cannon) entered the
 +apartment we were sitting in; it lodged upon our table: the General,
 +as most men would do, quitted the room directly; but I took it up
 +before it burst, and carried it to the top of the rock, when, looking
 +over the enemy'​s camp, on an eminence near the sea-coast I observed a
 +considerable number of people, but could not, with my naked eye,
 +discover how they were employed. I had recourse again to my telescope,
 +when I found that two of our officers, one a general, the other a
 +colonel, with whom I spent the preceding evening, and who went out
 +into the enemy'​s camp about midnight as spies, were taken, and then
 +were actually going to be executed on a gibbet. I found the distance
 +too great to throw the shell with my hand, but most fortunately
 +recollecting that I had the very sling in my pocket which assisted
 +David in slaying Goliath, I placed the shell in it, and immediately
 +threw it in the midst of them: it burst as it fell, and destroyed all
 +present, except the two culprits, who were saved by being suspended so
 +high, for they were just turned off: however, one of the pieces of the
 +shell fled with such force against the foot of the gibbet, that it
 +immediately brought it down. Our two friends no sooner felt //terra
 +firma// than they looked about for the cause; and finding their guards,
 +executioner,​ and all, had taken it in their heads to die first, they
 +directly extricated each other from their disgraceful cords, and then
 +ran down to the sea-shore, seized a Spanish boat with two men in it,
 +and made them row to one of our ships, which they did with great
 +safety, and in a few minutes after, when I was relating to General
 +Elliot how I had acted, they both took us by the hand, and after
 +mutual congratulations we retired to spend the day with festivity.
 +----
 +Go to [[CHAPTER XI]]
roleplaying/munchausen/chapter_x.txt · Last modified: 2005/11/22 18:01 (external edit)