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roleplaying:munchausen:chapter_i [2005/11/22 18:01] (current)
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 +===== CHAPTER I =====
 +//The Baron relates an account of his first travels--The
 +  astonishing effects of a storm--Arrives at Ceylon; combats and
 +  conquers two extraordinary opponents--Returns to Holland.//
 +Some years before my beard announced approaching manhood, or, in other
 +words, when I was neither man nor boy, but between both, I expressed
 +in repeated conversations a strong desire of seeing the world, from
 +which I was discouraged by my parents, though my father had been no
 +inconsiderable traveller himself, as will appear before I have reached
 +the end of my singular, and, I may add, interesting adventures. A
 +cousin, by my mother'​s side, took a liking to me, often said I was
 +fine forward youth, and was much inclined to gratify my curiosity. His
 +eloquence had more effect than mine, for my father consented to my
 +accompanying him in a voyage to the island of Ceylon, where his uncle
 +had resided as governor many years.
 +We sailed from Amsterdam with despatches from their High Mightinesses
 +the States of Holland. The only circumstance which happened on our
 +voyage worth relating was the wonderful effects of a storm, which had
 +torn up by the roots a great number of trees of enormous bulk and
 +height, in an island where we lay at anchor to take in wood and water;
 +some of these trees weighed many tons, yet they were carried by the
 +wind so amazingly high, that they appeared like the feathers of small
 +birds floating in the air, for they were at least five miles above the
 +earth: however, as soon as the storm subsided they all fell
 +perpendicularly into their respective places, and took root again,
 +except the largest, which happened, when it was blown into the air, to
 +have a man and his wife, a very honest old couple, upon its branches,
 +gathering cucumbers (in this part of the globe that useful vegetable
 +grows upon trees): the weight of this couple, as the tree descended,
 +over-balanced the trunk, and brought it down in a horizontal position:
 +it fell upon the chief man of the island, and killed him on the spot;
 +he had quitted his house in the storm, under an apprehension of its
 +falling upon him, and was returning through his own garden when this
 +fortunate accident happened. The word fortunate, here, requires some
 +explanation. This chief was a man of a very avaricious and oppressive
 +disposition,​ and though he had no family, the natives of the island
 +were half-starved by his oppressive and infamous impositions.
 +The very goods which he had thus taken from them were spoiling in his
 +stores, while the poor wretches from whom they were plundered were
 +pining in poverty. Though the destruction of this tyrant was
 +accidental, the people chose the cucumber-gatherers for their
 +governors, as a mark of their gratitude for destroying, though
 +accidentally,​ their late tyrant.
 +After we had repaired the damages we sustained in this remarkable
 +storm, and taken leave of the new governor and his lady, we sailed
 +with a fair wind for the object of our voyage.
 +In about six weeks we arrived at Ceylon, where we were received with
 +great marks of friendship and true politeness. The following singular
 +adventures may not prove unentertaining.
 +After we had resided at Ceylon about a fortnight I accompanied one of
 +the governor'​s brothers upon a shooting party. He was a strong,
 +athletic man, and being used to that climate (for he had resided there
 +some years), he bore the violent heat of the sun much better than I
 +could; in our excursion he had made a considerable progress through a
 +thick wood when I was only at the entrance.
 +Near the banks of a large piece of water, which had engaged my
 +attention, I thought I heard a rustling noise behind; on turning about
 +I was almost petrified (as who would not be?) at the sight of a lion,
 +which was evidently approaching with the intention of satisfying his
 +appetite with my poor carcase, and that without asking my consent.
 +What was to be done in this horrible dilemma? I had not even a moment
 +for reflection; my piece was only charged with swan-shot, and I had no
 +other about me: however, though I could have no idea of killing such
 +an animal with that weak kind of ammunition, yet I had some hopes of
 +frightening him by the report, and perhaps of wounding him also. I
 +immediately let fly, without waiting till he was within reach, and the
 +report did but enrage him, for he now quickened his pace, and seemed
 +to approach me full speed: I attempted to escape, but that only added
 +(if an addition could be made) to my distress; for the moment I turned
 +about I found a large crocodile, with his mouth extended almost ready
 +to receive me. On my right hand was the piece of water before
 +mentioned, and on my left a deep precipice, said to have, as I have
 +since learned, a receptacle at the bottom for venomous creatures; in
 +short I gave myself up as lost, for the lion was now upon his hind-
 +legs, just in the act of seizing me; I fell involuntarily to the
 +ground with fear, and, as it afterwards appeared, he sprang over me. I
 +lay some time in a situation which no language can describe, expecting
 +to feel his teeth or talons in some part of me every moment: after
 +waiting in this prostrate situation a few seconds I heard a violent
 +but unusual noise, different from any sound that had ever before
 +assailed my ears; nor is it at all to be wondered at, when I inform
 +you from whence it proceeded: after listening for some time, I
 +ventured to raise my head and look round, when, to my unspeakable joy,
 +I perceived the lion had, by the eagerness with which he sprung at me,
 +jumped forward, as I fell, into the crocodile'​s mouth! which, as
 +before observed, was wide open; the head of the one stuck in the
 +throat of the other! and they were struggling to extricate themselves!
 +I fortunately recollected my //couteau de chasse//, which was by my
 +side; with this instrument I severed the lion's head at one blow, and
 +the body fell at my feet! I then, with the butt-end of my fowling-
 +piece, rammed the head farther into the throat of the crocodile, and
 +destroyed him by suffocation,​ for he could neither gorge nor eject it.
 +Soon after I had thus gained a complete victory over my two powerful
 +adversaries,​ my companion arrived in search of me; for finding I did
 +not follow him into the wood, he returned, apprehending I had lost my
 +way, or met with some accident.
 +After mutual congratulations,​ we measured the crocodile, which was
 +just forty feet in length.
 +As soon as we had related this extraordinary adventure to the
 +governor, he sent a waggon and servants, who brought home the two
 +carcases. The lion's skin was properly preserved, with its hair on,
 +after which it was made into tobacco-pouches,​ and presented by me,
 +upon our return to Holland, to the burgomasters,​ who, in return,
 +requested my acceptance of a thousand ducats.
 +The skin of the crocodile was stuffed in the usual manner, and makes a
 +capital article in their public museum at Amsterdam, where the
 +exhibitor relates the whole story to each spectator, with such
 +additions as he thinks proper. Some of his variations are rather
 +extravagant;​ one of them is, that the lion jumped quite through the
 +crocodile, and was making his escape at the back door, when, as soon
 +as his head appeared, Monsieur the Great Baron (as he is pleased to
 +call me) cut it off, and three feet of the crocodile'​s tail along with
 +it; nay, so little attention has this fellow to the truth, that he
 +sometimes adds, as soon as the crocodile missed his tail, he turned
 +about, snatched the //couteau de chasse// out of Monsieur'​s hand, and
 +swallowed it with such eagerness that it pierced his heart and killed
 +him immediately!
 +The little regard which this impudent knave has to veracity makes me
 +sometimes apprehensive that my //real facts// may fall under suspicion,
 +by being found in company with his confounded inventions.
 +Go to [[CHAPTER II]]
roleplaying/munchausen/chapter_i.txt · Last modified: 2005/11/22 18:01 (external edit)