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roleplaying:munchausen:chapter_xxxi [2005/11/22 18:03] (current)
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 +===== CHAPTER XXXI =====
 +//A litigated contention between Don Quixote, Gog, Magog, &c.--A
 +grand court assembled upon it--The appearance of the company--The
 +matrons, judges, &​c.--The method of writing, and the use of the
 +fashionable amusement quizzes--Wauwau arrives from the country of
 +Prester John, and leads the whole Assembly a wild-goose chase to
 +the top of Plinlimmon, and thence to Virginia--The Baron meets a
 +floating island in his voyage to America--Pursues Wauwau with his
 +whole company through the deserts of North America--His curious
 +contrivance to seize Wauwau in a morass.//
 +The contention between Gog and Magog, and Sphinx, Hilaro Frosticos,
 +the Lord Whittington,​ &c., was productive of infinite litigation. All
 +the lawyers in the kingdom were employed, to render the affair as
 +complex and gloriously uncertain as possible; and, in fine, the whole
 +nation became interested, and were divided on both sides of the
 +question. Colossus took the part of Sphinx, and the affair was at
 +length submitted to the decision of a grand council in a great hall,
 +adorned with seats on every side in form of an amphitheatre. The
 +assembly appeared the most magnificent and splendid in the world. A
 +court or jury of one hundred matrons occupied the principal and most
 +honourable part of the amphitheatre;​ they were dressed in flowing
 +robes of sky-blue velvet adorned with festoons of brilliants and
 +diamond stars; grave and sedate-looking matrons, all in uniform, with
 +spectacles upon their noses; and opposite to these were placed one
 +hundred judges, with curly white wigs flowing down on each side of
 +them to their very feet, so that Solomon in all his glory was not so
 +wise in appearance. At the ardent request of the whole empire I
 +condescended to be the president of the court, and being arrayed
 +accordingly,​ I took my seat beneath a canopy erected in the centre.
 +Before every judge was placed a square inkstand, containing a gallon
 +of ink, and pens of a proportionable size; and also right before him
 +an enormous folio, so large as to serve for table and book at the same
 +time. But they did not make much use of their pens and ink, except to
 +blot and daub the paper; for, that they should be the more impartial,
 +I had ordered that none but the blind should be honoured with the
 +employment: so that when they attempted to write anything, they
 +uniformly dipped their pens into the machine containing sand, and
 +having scrawled over a page as they thought, desiring them to dry it
 +with sand, would spill half a gallon of ink upon the paper, and
 +thereby daubing their fingers, would transfer the ink to their face
 +whenever thy leaned their cheek upon their hand for greater gravity.
 +As to the matrons, to prevent an eternal prattle that would drown all
 +manner of intelligibility,​ I found it absolutely necessary to sew up
 +their mouths; so that between the blind judges and the dumb matrons
 +methought the trial had a chance of being terminated sooner than it
 +otherwise would. The matrons, instead of their tongues, had other
 +instruments to convey their ideas: each of them had three quizzes, one
 +quiz pendent from the string that sewed up her mouth, and another quiz
 +in either hand. When she wished to express her negative, she darted
 +and recoiled the quizzes in her right and left hand; and when she
 +desired to express her affirmative,​ she, nodding, made the quiz
 +pendent from her mouth flow down and recoil again. The trial proceeded
 +in this manner for a long time, to the admiration of the whole empire,
 +when at length I thought proper to send to my old friend and ally,
 +Prester John, entreating him to forward to me one of the species of
 +wild and curious birds found in his kingdom, called a Wauwau. This
 +creature was brought over the great bridge before mentioned, from the
 +interior of Africa, by a balloon. The balloon was placed upon the
 +bridge, extending over the parapets on each side, with great wings or
 +oars to assist its velocity, and under the balloon was placed pendant
 +a kind of boat, in which were the persons to manage the steerage of
 +the machine, and protect Wauwau. This oracular bird, arriving in
 +England, instantly darted through one of the windows of the great
 +hall, and perched upon the canopy in the centre to the admiration of
 +all present. Her cackling appeared quite prophetic and oracular; and
 +the first question proposed to her by the unanimous consent of the
 +matrons and judges was, Whether or not the moon was composed of green
 +cheese? The solution of this question was deemed absolutely necessary
 +before they could proceed farther on the trial.
 +Wauwau seemed in figure not very much differing from a swan, except
 +that the neck was not near so long, and she stood after an admirable
 +fashion like to Vestris. She began cackling most sonorously, and the
 +whole assembly agreed that it was absolutely necessary to catch her,
 +and having her in their immediate possession, nothing more would be
 +requisite for the termination of this litigated affair. For this
 +purpose the whole house rose up to catch her, and approached in
 +tumult, the judges brandishing their pens, and shaking their big wigs,
 +and the matrons quizzing as much as possible in every direction, which
 +very much startled Wauwau, who, clapping her wings, instantly flew out
 +of the hall. The assembly began to proceed after her in order and
 +style of precedence, together with my whole train of Gog and Magog,
 +Sphinx, Hilaro Frosticos, Queen Mab's chariot, the bulls and crickets,
 +&c., preceded by bands of music; while Wauwau, descending on the
 +earth, ran on like an ostrich before the troop, cackling all the way.
 +Thinking suddenly to catch this ferocious animal, the judges and
 +matrons would suddenly quicken their pace, but the creature would as
 +quickly outrun them, or sometimes fly away for many miles together,
 +and then alight to take breath until we came within sight of her
 +again. Our train journeyed over a most prodigious tract of country in
 +a direct line, over hills and dales, to the summit of Plinlimmon,
 +where we thought to have seized Wauwau; but she instantly took flight,
 +and never ceased until she arrived at the mouth of the Potomac river
 +in Virginia.
 +Our company immediately embarked in the machines before described, in
 +which we had journeyed into Africa, and after a few days' sail arrived
 +in North America. We met with nothing curious on our voyage, except a
 +floating island, containing some very delightful villages, inhabited
 +by a few whites and negroes; the sugar cane did not thrive there well,
 +on account, as I was informed, of the variety of the climates; the
 +island being sometimes driven up as far as the north pole, and at
 +other times wafted under the equinoctial. In pity to the poor
 +islanders, I got a huge stake of iron, and driving it through the
 +centre of the island, fastened it to the rocks and mud at the bottom
 +of the sea, since which time the island has become stationary, and is
 +well known at present by the name of St. Christopher'​s,​ and there is
 +not an island in the world more secure.
 +Arriving in North America, we were received by the President of the
 +United States with every honour and politeness. He was pleased to give
 +us all the information possible relative to the woods and immense
 +regions of America, and ordered troops of the different tribes of the
 +Esquimaux to guide us through the forests in pursuit of Wauwau, who,
 +we at length found, had taken refuge in the centre of a morass. The
 +inhabitants of the country, who loved hunting, were much delighted to
 +behold the manner in which we attempted to seize upon Wauwau; the
 +chase was noble and uncommon. I determined to surround the animal on
 +every side, and for this purpose ordered the judges and matrons to
 +surround the morass with nets extending a mile in height, on various
 +parts of which net the company disposed themselves, floating in the
 +air like so many spiders upon their cobwebs. Magog, at my command, put
 +on a kind of armour that he had carried with him for the purpose,
 +corselet of steel, with gauntlets, helmet, &c., so as nearly to
 +resemble a mole. He instantly plunged into the earth, making way with
 +his sharp steel head-piece, and tearing up the ground with his iron
 +claws, and found not much difficulty therein, as morass in general is
 +of a soft and yielding texture. Thus he hoped to undermine Wauwau, and
 +suddenly rising, seize her by the foot, while his brother Gog ascended
 +the air in a balloon, hoping to catch her if she could escape Magog.
 +Thus the animal was surrounded on every side, and at first was very
 +much terrified, knowing not which way she had best to go. At length
 +hearing an obscure noise under ground, Wauwau took flight before Magog
 +could have time to catch her by the foot. She flew to the right, then
 +to the left, north, east, west, and south, but found on every side the
 +company prepared upon their nets. At length she flew right up, soaring
 +at a most astonishing rate towards the sun, while the company on every
 +side set up one general acclamation. But Gog in his balloon soon
 +stopped Wauwau in the midst of her career, and snared her in a net,
 +the cords of which he continued to hold in his hand. Wauwau did not
 +totally lose her presence of mind, but after a little consideration,​
 +made several violent darts against the volume of the balloon; so
 +fierce, as at length to tear open a great space, on which the
 +inflammable air rushing out, the whole apparatus began to tumble to
 +the earth with amazing rapidity. Gog himself was thrown out of the
 +vehicle, and letting go the reins of the net, Wauwau got liberty
 +again, and flew out of sight in an instant.
 +Gog had been above a mile elevated from the earth when he began to
 +fall, and as he advanced the rapidity increased, so that he went like
 +a ball from a cannon into the morass, and his nose striking against
 +one of the iron-capped hands of his brother Magog, just then rising
 +from the depths, he began to bleed violently, and, but for the
 +softness of the morass, would have lost his life.
roleplaying/munchausen/chapter_xxxi.txt · Last modified: 2005/11/22 18:03 (external edit)