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roleplaying:munchausen:chapter_xxv [2005/11/22 18:03] (current)
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 +====== TRAVELS OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN ======
 +
 +===== CHAPTER XXV =====
 +
 +//Count Gosamer thrown by Sphinx into the snow on the top of
 +Teneriffe--Gog and Magog conduct Sphinx for the rest of the voyage
 +--The Baron arrives at the Cape, and unites his former chariot,
 +&c., to his new retinue--Passes into Africa, proceeding from the
 +Cape northwards--Defeats a host of lions by a curious stratagem--
 +Travels through an immense desert--His whole company, chariot,
 +&c., overwhelmed by a whirlwind of sand--Extricates them, and
 +arrives in a fertile country.//
 +
 +The brave Count Gosamer, with a pair of hell-fire spurs on, riding
 +upon Sphinx, directed the whole retinue towards the Madeiras. But the
 +Count had no small share of an amiable vanity, and perceiving great
 +multitudes of people, Gascons, &c., assembled upon the French coast,
 +he could not refrain from showing some singular capers, such as they
 +had never seen before: but especially when he observed all the members
 +of the National Assembly extend themselves along the shore, as a piece
 +of French politeness, to honour this expedition, with Rousseau,
 +Voltaire, and Beelzebub at their head; he set spurs to Sphinx, and at
 +the same time cut and cracked away as hard as he could, holding in the
 +reins with all his might, striving to make the creature plunge and
 +show some uncommon diversion. But sulky and ill-tempered was Sphinx at
 +the time: she plunged indeed--such a devil of a plunge, that she
 +dashed him in one jerk over her head, and he fell precipitately into
 +the water before her. It was in the Bay of Biscay, all the world knows
 +a very boisterous sea, and Sphinx, fearing he would be drowned, never
 +turned to the left or the right out of her way, but advancing furious,
 +just stooped her head a little, and supped the poor count off the
 +water, into her mouth, together with the quantity of two or three tuns
 +of water, which she must have taken in along with him, but which were,
 +to such an enormous creature as Sphinx, nothing more than a spoonful
 +would be to any of you or me. She swallowed him, but when she had got
 +him in her stomach, his long spurs so scratched and tickled her, that
 +they produced the effect of an emetic. No sooner was he in, but out he
 +was squirted with the most horrible impetuosity,​ like a ball or a
 +shell from the calibre of a mortar. Sphinx was at this time quite sea-
 +sick, and the unfortunate count was driven forth like a sky-rocket,
 +and landed upon the peak of Teneriffe, plunged over head and ears in
 +the snow--//​requiescat in pace!//
 +
 +I perceived all this mischief from my seat in the ark, but was in such
 +a convulsion of laughter that I could not utter an intelligible word.
 +And now Sphinx, deprived of her postillion, went on in a zigzag
 +direction, and gambolled away after a most dreadful manner. And thus
 +had everything gone to wreck, had I not given instant orders to Gog
 +and Magog to sally forth. They plunged into the water, and swimming on
 +each side, got at length right before the animal, and then seized the
 +reins. Thus they continued swimming on each side, like tritons,
 +holding the muzzle of Sphinx, while I, sallying forth astride upon the
 +creature'​s back, steered forward on our voyage to the Cape of Good
 +Hope.
 +
 +Arriving at the Cape, I immediately gave orders to repair my former
 +chariot and machines, which were very expeditiously performed by the
 +excellent artists I had brought with me from Europe. And now
 +everything being refitted, we launched forth upon the water: perhaps
 +there never was anything seen more glorious or more august. 'Twas
 +magnificent to behold Sphinx make her obeisance on the water, and the
 +crickets chirp upon the bulls in return of the salute; while Gog and
 +Magog, advancing, took the reins of the great John Mowmowsky, and
 +leading towards us chariot and all, instantly disposed of them to the
 +forepart of the ark by hooks and eyes, and tackled Sphinx before all
 +the bulls. Thus the whole had a most tremendous and triumphal
 +appearance. In front floated forwards the mighty Sphinx, with Gog and
 +Magog on each side; next followed in order the bulls with crickets
 +upon their heads; and then advanced the chariot of Queen Mab,
 +containing the curious seat and orrery of heaven; after which appeared
 +the boat and ark of council, overtopped with two balloons, which gave
 +an air of greater lightness and elegance to the whole. I placed in the
 +galleries under the balloons, and on the backs of the bulls, a number
 +of excellent vocal performers, with martial music of clarionets and
 +trumpets. They sung the "​Watery Dangers,"​ and the "Pomp of Deep
 +Cerulean!"​ The sun shone glorious on the water while the procession
 +advanced toward the land, under five hundred arches of ice,
 +illuminated with coloured lights, and adorned in the most grotesque
 +and fanciful style with sea-weed, elegant festoons, and shells of
 +every kind; while a thousand water-spouts danced eternally before and
 +after us, attracting the water from the sea in a kind of cone, and
 +suddenly uniting with the most fantastical thunder and lightning.
 +
 +Having landed our whole retinue, we immediately began to proceed
 +toward the heart of Africa, but first thought it expedient to place a
 +number of wheels under the ark for its greater facility of advancing.
 +We journeyed nearly due north for several days, and met with nothing
 +remarkable except the astonishment of the savage natives to behold our
 +equipage.
 +
 +The Dutch Government at the Cape, to do them justice, gave us every
 +possible assistance for the expedition. I presume they had received
 +instruction on that head from their High Mightinesses in Holland.
 +However, they presented us with a specimen of some of the most
 +excellent of their Cape wine, and showed us every politeness in their
 +power. As to the face of the country, as we advanced, it appeared in
 +many places capable of every cultivation,​ and of abundant fertility.
 +The natives and Hottentots of this part of Africa have been frequently
 +described by travellers, and therefore it is not necessary to say any
 +more about them. But in the more interior parts of Africa the
 +appearance, manners, and genius of the people are totally different.
 +
 +We directed our course by the compass and the stars, getting every day
 +prodigious quantities of game in the woods, and at night encamping
 +within a proper enclosure for fear of the wild beasts. One whole day
 +in particular we heard on every side, among the hills, the horrible
 +roaring of lions, resounding from rock to rock like broken thunder. It
 +seemed as if there was a general rendezvous of all these savage
 +animals to fall upon our party. That whole day we advanced with
 +caution, our hunters scarcely venturing beyond pistol shot from the
 +caravan for fear of dissolution. At night we encamped as usual, and
 +threw up a circular entrenchment round our tents. We had scarce
 +retired to repose when we found ourselves serenaded by at least one
 +thousand lions, approaching equally on every side, and within a
 +hundred paces. Our cattle showed the most horrible symptoms of fear,
 +all trembling, and in cold perspiration. I directly ordered the whole
 +company to stand to their arms, and not to make any noise by firing
 +till I should command them. I then took a large quantity of tar, which
 +I had brought with our caravan for that purpose, and strewed it in a
 +continued stream round the encampment, within which circle of tar I
 +immediately placed another train or circle of gunpowder, and having
 +taken this precaution, I anxiously waited the lions' approach. These
 +dreadful animals, knowing, I presume, the force of our troop, advanced
 +very slowly, and with caution, approaching on every side of us with an
 +equal pace, and growling in hideous concert, so as to resemble an
 +earthquake, or some similar convulsion of the world. When they had at
 +length advanced and steeped all their paws in the tar, they put their
 +noses to it, smelling it as if it were blood, and daubed their great
 +bushy hair and whiskers with it equal to their paws. At that very
 +instant, when, in concert, they were to give the mortal dart upon us,
 +I discharged a pistol at the train of gunpowder, which instantly
 +exploded on every side, made all the lions recoil in general uproar,
 +and take to flight with the utmost precipitation. In an instant we
 +could behold them scattered through the woods at some distance,
 +roaring in agony, and moving about like so many Will-o'​-the-Wisps,​
 +their paws and faces all on fire from the tar and the gun-powder. I
 +then ordered a general pursuit: we followed them on every side through
 +the woods, their own light serving as our guide, until, before the
 +rising of the sun, we followed into their fastnesses and shot or
 +otherwise destroyed every one of them, and during the whole of our
 +journey after we never heard the roaring of a lion, nor did any wild
 +beast presume to make another attack upon our party, which shows the
 +excellence of immediate presence of mind, and the terror inspired into
 +the savage enemies by a proper and well-timed proceeding.
 +
 +We at length arrived on the confines of an immeasurable desert--an
 +immense plain, extending on every side of us like an ocean. Not a
 +tree, nor a shrub, nor a blade of grass was to be seen, but all
 +appeared an extreme fine sand, mixed with gold-dust and little
 +sparkling pearls.
 +
 +The gold-dust and pearls appeared to us of little value, because we
 +could have no expectation of returning to England for a considerable
 +time. We observed, at a great distance, something like a smoke arising
 +just over the verge of the horizon, and looking with our telescopes we
 +perceived it to be a whirlwind tearing up the sand and tossing it
 +about in the heavens with frightful impetuosity. I immediately ordered
 +my company to erect a mound around us of a great size, which we did
 +with astonishing labour and perseverance,​ and then roofed it over with
 +certain planks and timber, which we had with us for the purpose. Our
 +labour was scarcely finished when the sand came rolling in like the
 +waves of the sea; 'twas a storm and river of sand united. It continued
 +to advance in the same direction, without intermission,​ for three
 +days, and completely covered over the mound we had erected, and buried
 +us all within. The intense heat of the place was intolerable;​ but
 +guessing, by the cessation of the noise, that the storm was passed, we
 +set about digging a passage to the light of day again, which we
 +effected in a very short time, and ascending, perceived that the whole
 +had been so completely covered with the sand, that there appeared no
 +hills, but one continued plain, with inequalities or ridges on it like
 +the waves of the sea. We soon extricated our vehicle and retinue from
 +the burning sands, but not without great danger, as the heat was very
 +violent, and began to proceed on our voyage. Storms of sand of a
 +similar nature several times attacked us, but by using the same
 +precautions we preserved ourselves repeatedly from destruction. Having
 +travelled more than nine thousand miles over this inhospitable plain,
 +exposed to the perpendicular rays of a burning sun, without ever
 +meeting a rivulet, or a shower from heaven to refresh us, we at length
 +became almost desperate, when, to our inexpressible joy, we beheld
 +some mountains at a great distance, and on our nearer approach
 +observed them covered with a carpet of verdure and groves and woods.
 +Nothing could appear more romantic or beautiful than the rocks and
 +precipices intermingled with flowers and shrubs of every kind, and
 +palm-trees of such a prodigious size as to surpass anything ever seen
 +in Europe. Fruits of all kinds appeared growing wild in the utmost
 +abundance, and antelopes and sheep and buffaloes wandered about the
 +groves and valleys in profusion. The trees resounded with the melody
 +of birds, and everything displayed a general scene of rural happiness
 +and joy.
 +
 +
 +----
 +Go to [[CHAPTER XXVI]]
 +
  
roleplaying/munchausen/chapter_xxv.txt · Last modified: 2005/11/22 18:03 (external edit)