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roleplaying:munchausen:chapter_xiii [2005/11/22 18:01] (current)
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 +===== CHAPTER XIII =====
 +//The Baron sails with Captain Phipps, attacks two large bears, and
 +has a very narrow escape--Gains the confidence of these animals,
 +and then destroys thousands of them; loads the ship with their
 +hams and skins; makes presents of the former, and obtains a
 +general invitation to all city feasts--A dispute between the
 +Captain and the Baron, in which, from motives of politeness, the
 +Captain is suffered to gain his point--The Baron declines the
 +offer of a throne, and an empress into the bargain.//
 +We all remember Captain Phipps'​s (now Lord Mulgrave) last voyage of
 +discovery to the north. I accompanied the captain, not as an officer,
 +but as a private friend. When we arrived in a high northern latitude I
 +was viewing the objects around me with the telescope which I
 +introduced to your notice in my Gibraltar adventures. I thought I saw
 +two large white bears in violent action upon a body of ice
 +considerably above the masts, and about half a league distance. I
 +immediately took my carbine, slung it across my shoulder, and ascended
 +the ice. When I arrived at the top, the unevenness of the surface made
 +my approach to those animals troublesome and hazardous beyond
 +expression: sometimes hideous cavities opposed me, which I was obliged
 +to spring over; in other parts the surface was as smooth as a mirror,
 +and I was continually falling: as I approached near enough to reach
 +them, I found they were only at play. I immediately began to calculate
 +the value of their skins, for they were each as large as a well-fed
 +ox: unfortunately,​ at the very instant I was presenting my carbine my
 +right foot slipped, I fell upon my back, and the violence of the blow
 +deprived me totally of my senses for nearly half an hour; however,
 +when I recovered, judge of my surprise at finding one of those large
 +animals I have been just describing had turned me upon my face, and
 +was just laying hold of the waistband of my breeches, which were then
 +new and made of leather: he was certainly going to carry me feet
 +foremost, God knows where, when I took this knife (showing a large
 +clasp knife) out of my side-pocket,​ made a chop at one of his hind
 +feet, and cut off three of his toes; he immediately let me drop and
 +roared most horribly. I took up my carbine and fired at him as he ran
 +off; he fell directly. The noise of the piece roused several thousand
 +of these white bears, who were asleep upon the ice within half a mile
 +of me; they came immediately to the spot. There was no time to be
 +lost. A most fortunate thought arrived in my pericranium just at that
 +instant. I took off the skin and head of the dead bear in half the
 +time that some people would be in skinning a rabbit, and wrapped
 +myself in it, placing my own head directly under Bruin'​s;​ the whole
 +herd came round me immediately,​ and my apprehensions threw me into a
 +most piteous situation to be sure: however, my scheme turned out a
 +most admirable one for my own safety. They all came smelling, and
 +evidently took me for a brother Bruin; I wanted nothing but bulk to
 +make an excellent counterfeit:​ however, I saw several cubs amongst
 +them not much larger than myself. After they had all smelt me, and the
 +body of their deceased companion, whose skin was now become my
 +protector, we seemed very sociable, and I found I could mimic all
 +their actions tolerably well; but at growling, roaring, and hugging
 +they were quite my masters. I began now to think that I might turn the
 +general confidence which I had created amongst these animals to my
 +I had heard an old army surgeon say a wound in the spine was instant
 +death. I now determined to try the experiment, and had again recourse
 +to my knife, with which I struck the largest in the back of the neck,
 +near the shoulders, but under great apprehensions,​ not doubting but
 +the creature would, if he survived the stab, tear me to pieces.
 +However, I was remarkably fortunate, for he fell dead at my feet
 +without making the least noise. I was now resolved to demolish them
 +every one in the same manner, which I accomplished without the least
 +difficulty; for although they saw their companions fall, they had no
 +suspicion of either the cause or the effect. When they all lay dead
 +before me, I felt myself a second Samson, having slain my thousands.
 +To make short of the story, I went back to the ship, and borrowed
 +three parts of the crew to assist me in skinning them, and carrying
 +the hams on board, which we did in a few hours, and loaded the ship
 +with them. As to the other parts of the animals, they were thrown into
 +the sea, though I doubt not but the whole would eat as well as the
 +legs, were they properly cured.
 +As soon as we returned I sent some of the hams, in the captain'​s name,
 +to the Lords of Admiralty, others to the Lords of the Treasury, some
 +to the Lord Mayor and Corporation of London, a few to each of the
 +trading companies, and the remainder to my particular friends, from
 +all of whom I received warm thanks; but from the city I was honoured
 +with substantial notice, viz., an invitation to dine at Guildhall
 +annually on Lord Mayor'​s day.
 +The bear-skins I sent to the Empress of Russia, to clothe her majesty
 +and her court in the winter, for which she wrote me a letter of thanks
 +with her own hand, and sent it by an ambassador extraordinary,​
 +inviting me to share the honours of her crown; but as I never was
 +ambitious of royal dignity, I declined her majesty'​s favour in the
 +politest terms. The same ambassador had orders to wait and bring my
 +answer to her majesty //​personally//,​ upon which business he was absent
 +about three months: her majesty'​s reply convinced me of the strength
 +of her affections, and the dignity of her mind; her late indisposition
 +was entirely owing (as she, kind creature! was pleased to express
 +herself in a late conversation with the Prince Dolgoroucki) to my
 +cruelty. What the sex see in me I cannot conceive, but the Empress is
 +not the only female sovereign who has offered me her hand.
 +Some people have very illiberally reported that Captain Phipps did not
 +proceed as far as he might have done upon that expedition. Here it
 +becomes my duty to acquit him; our ship was in a very proper trim till
 +I loaded it with such an immense quantity of bear-skins and hams,
 +after which it would have been madness to have attempted to proceed
 +further, as we were now scarcely able to combat a brisk gale, much
 +less those mountains of ice which lay in the higher latitudes.
 +The captain has since often expressed a dissatisfaction that he had no
 +share in the honours of that day, which he emphatically called //bear-
 +skin day//. He has also been very desirous of knowing by what art I
 +destroyed so many thousands, without fatigue or danger to myself;
 +indeed, he is so ambitious of dividing the glory with me, that we have
 +actually quarrelled about it, and we are not now upon speaking terms.
 +He boldly asserts I had no merit in deceiving the bears, because I was
 +covered with one of their skins; nay, he declares there is not, in his
 +opinion, in Europe, so complete a bear naturally as himself among the
 +human species.
 +He is now a noble peer, and I am too well acquainted with good manners
 +to dispute so delicate a point with his lordship.
 +Go to [[CHAPTER XIV]]
roleplaying/munchausen/chapter_xiii.txt · Last modified: 2005/11/22 18:01 (external edit)