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roleplaying:munchausen:chapter_xxiii [2005/11/22 18:00] (current)
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 +====== TRAVELS OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN ======
 +===== CHAPTER XXIII =====
 +
 +//The Baron proceeds on his voyage--Convoys a squadron to Gibraltar
 +--Declines the acceptance of the island of Candia--His chariot
 +damaged by Pompey'​s Pillar and Cleopatra'​s Needle--The Baron out-
 +does Alexander--Breaks his chariot, and splits a great rock at the
 +Cape of Good Hope.//
 +
 +Taking the reins in my hand, while the music gave a general salute, I
 +cracked my whip, away they went, and in three hours I found myself
 +just between the Isle of Wight and the main land of England. Here I
 +remained four days, until I had received part of my accompaniment,​
 +which I was ordered to take under my convoy. 'Twas a squadron of men-
 +of-war that had been a long time prepared for the Baltic, but which
 +were now destined for the Mediterranean. By the assistance of large
 +hooks and eyes, exactly such as are worn in our hats, but of a greater
 +size, some hundredweight each, the men-of-war hooked themselves on to
 +the wheels of the vehicle: and, in fact, nothing could be more simple
 +or convenient, because they could be hooked or unhooked in an instant
 +with the utmost facility. In short, having given a general discharge
 +of their artillery, and three cheers, I cracked my whip, away we went,
 +helter skelter, and in six jiffies I found myself and all my retinue
 +safe and in good spirits just at the rock of Gibraltar. Here I
 +unhooked my squadron, and having taken an affectionate leave of the
 +officers, I suffered them to proceed in their ordinary manner to the
 +place of their destination. The whole garrison were highly delighted
 +with the novelty of my vehicle; and at the pressing solicitations of
 +the governor and officers I went ashore, and took a view of that
 +barren old rock, about which more powder has been fired away than
 +would purchase twice as much fertile ground in any part of the world!
 +Mounting my chariot, I took the reins, and again made forward, in mad
 +career, down the Mediterranean to the isle of Candia. Here I received
 +despatches from the Sublime Porte, entreating me to assist in the war
 +against Russia, with a reward of the whole island of Candia for my
 +alliance. At first I hesitated, thinking that the island of Candia
 +would be a most valuable acquisition to the sovereign who at that time
 +employed me, and that the most delicious wines, sugar, &c., in
 +abundance would flourish on the island; yet, when I considered the
 +trade of the East India Company, which would most probably suffer by
 +the intercourse with Persia through the Mediterranean,​ I at once
 +rejected the proposal, and had afterwards the thanks of the Honourable
 +the House of Commons for my propriety and political discernment.
 +
 +Having been properly refreshed at Candia, I again proceeded, and in a
 +short time arrived in the land of Egypt. The land of this country, at
 +least that part of it near the sea, is very low, so that I came upon
 +it ere I was aware, and the Pillar of Pompey got entangled in the
 +various wheels of the machine, and damaged the whole considerably.
 +Still I drove on through thick and thin, till, passing over that great
 +obelisk, the Needle of Cleopatra, the work got entangled again, and
 +jolted at a miserable rate over the mud and swampy ground of all that
 +country; yet my poor bulls trotted on with astonishing labour across
 +the Isthmus of Suez into the Red Sea, and left a track, an obscure
 +channel, which has since been taken by De Tott for the remains of a
 +canal cut by some of the Ptolemies from the Red Sea to the
 +Mediterranean;​ but, as you perceive, was in reality no more than the
 +track of my chariot, the car of Queen Mab.
 +
 +As the artists at present in that country are nothing wonderful,
 +though the ancient Egyptians, 'tis said, were most astonishing
 +fellows, I could not procure any new coach-springs,​ or have a
 +possibility of setting my machine to rights in the kingdom of Egypt;
 +and as I could not presume to attempt another journey overland, and
 +the great mountains of marble beyond the source of the Nile, I thought
 +it most eligible to make the best way I could, by sea, to the Cape of
 +Good Hope, where I supposed I should get some Dutch smiths and
 +carpenters, or perhaps some English artists; and my vehicle being
 +properly repaired, it was my intention thence to proceed, overland,
 +through the heart of Africa. The surface of the water, I well knew,
 +afforded less resistance to the wheels of the machine--it passed along
 +the waves like the chariot of Neptune; and in short, having gotten
 +upon the Red Sea, we scudded away to admiration through the pass of
 +Babelmandeb to the great Western coast of Africa, where Alexander had
 +not the courage to venture.
 +
 +And really, my friends, if Alexander had ventured toward the Cape of
 +Good Hope he most probably would have never returned. It is difficult
 +to determine whether there were then any inhabitants in the more
 +southern parts of Africa or not; yet, at any rate, this conqueror of
 +the world would have made but a nonsensical adventure; his miserable
 +ships, not contrived for a long voyage, would have become leaky, and
 +foundered, before he could have doubled the Cape, and left his Majesty
 +fairly beyond the limits of the then known world. Yet it would have
 +been an august exit for an Alexander, after having subdued Persia and
 +India, to be wandering the Lord knows where, to Jup or Ammon, perhaps,
 +or on a voyage to the moon, as an Indian chief once said to Captain
 +Cook.
 +
 +But, for my part, I was far more successful than Alexander; I drove on
 +with the most amazing rapidity, and thinking to halt on shore at the
 +Cape, I unfortunately drove too close, and shattered the right side
 +wheels of my vehicle against the rock, now called the Table Mountain.
 +The machine went against it with such impetuosity as completely
 +shivered the rock in a horizontal direction; so that the summit of the
 +mountain, in the form of a semi-sphere,​ was knocked into the sea, and
 +the steep mountain becoming thereby flattened at the top, has since
 +received the name of the Table Mountain, from its similarity to that
 +piece of furniture.
 +
 +Just as this part of the mountain was knocked off, the ghost of the
 +Cape, that tremendous sprite which cuts such a figure in the Lusiad,
 +was discovered sitting squat in an excavation formed for him in the
 +centre of the mountain. He seemed just like a young bee in his little
 +cell before he comes forth, or like a bean in a bean-pod; and when the
 +upper part of the mountain was split across and knocked off, the
 +superior half of his person was discovered. He appeared of a bottle-
 +blue colour, and started, dazzled with the unexpected glare of the
 +light: hearing the dreadful rattle of the wheels, and the loud
 +chirping of the crickets, he was thunder-struck,​ and instantly giving
 +a shriek, sunk down ten thousand fathoms into the earth, while the
 +mountain, vomiting out some smoke, silently closed up, and left not a
 +trace behind!
 +
 +
 +----
 +Go to [[CHAPTER XXIV]]
 +
  
roleplaying/munchausen/chapter_xxiii.txt · Last modified: 2005/11/22 18:00 (external edit)