Gulliver's Travels HTML version

Chapter I.8
[The author, by a lucky accident, finds means to leave Blefuscu; and, after some
difficulties, returns safe to his native country.]
Three days after my arrival, walking out of curiosity to the north- east coast of the island,
I observed, about half a league off in the sea, somewhat that looked like a boat
overturned. I pulled off my shoes and stockings, and, wailing two or three hundred yards,
I found the object to approach nearer by force of the tide; and then plainly saw it to be a
real boat, which I supposed might by some tempest have been driven from a ship.
Whereupon, I returned immediately towards the city, and desired his imperial majesty to
lend me twenty of the tallest vessels he had left, after the loss of his fleet, and three
thousand seamen, under the command of his vice-admiral. This fleet sailed round, while I
went back the shortest way to the coast, where I first discovered the boat. I found the tide
had driven it still nearer. The seamen were all provided with cordage, which I had
beforehand twisted to a sufficient strength. When the ships came up, I stripped myself,
and waded till I came within a hundred yards off the boat, after which I was forced to
swim till I got up to it. The seamen threw me the end of the cord, which I fastened to a
hole in the fore-part of the boat, and the other end to a man of war; but I found all my
labour to little purpose; for, being out of my depth, I was not able to work. In this
necessity I was forced to swim behind, and push the boat forward, as often as I could,
with one of my hands; and the tide favouring me, I advanced so far that I could just hold
up my chin and feel the ground. I rested two or three minutes, and then gave the boat
another shove, and so on, till the sea was no higher than my arm-pits; and now, the most
laborious part being over, I took out my other cables, which were stowed in one of the
ships, and fastened them first to the boat, and then to nine of the vessels which attended
me; the wind being favourable, the seamen towed, and I shoved, until we arrived within
forty yards of the shore; and, waiting till the tide was out, I got dry to the boat, and by the
assistance of two thousand men, with ropes and engines, I made a shift to turn it on its
bottom, and found it was but little damaged.
I shall not trouble the reader with the difficulties I was under, by the help of certain
paddles, which cost me ten days making, to get my boat to the royal port of Blefuscu,
where a mighty concourse of people appeared upon my arrival, full of wonder at the sight
of so prodigious a vessel. I told the emperor "that my good fortune had thrown this boat
in my way, to carry me to some place whence I might return into my native country; and
begged his majesty's orders for getting materials to fit it up, together with his license to
depart;" which, after some kind expostulations, he was pleased to grant.
I did very much wonder, in all this time, not to have heard of any express relating to me
from our emperor to the court of Blefuscu. But I was afterward given privately to
understand, that his imperial majesty, never imagining I had the least notice of his
designs, believed I was only gone to Blefuscu in performance of my promise, according
to the license he had given me, which was well known at our court, and would return in a
few days, when the ceremony was ended. But he was at last in pain at my long absence;