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The New Gulliver and Other Stories   By: (1864-1928)

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THE NEW GULLIVER AND OTHER STORIES

By

BARRY PAIN

Author of "STORIES IN GREY"

T. WERNER LAURIE, Ltd.

CLIFFORD'S INN

LONDON

CONTENTS

THE NEW GULLIVER IN A LONDON GARDEN ZERO WHEN I WAS KING THE SATYR THE CHOICE THE PIANO TUNER THE PEARLS AND THE SWINE

THE NEW GULLIVER

CHAPTER I

(The first few pages of the account of his travels by Mr Lemuel Gulliver, junior, have unfortunately been damaged by fire and are for the most part illegible. They contain reference to a sea fog and to a shipwreck. He appears to have escaped by swimming, and his record of the number of days he spent in the water and the distance covered verges upon the incredible. His statement that he lived principally upon the raw flesh of those sharks which made the mistake of attacking him will also be accepted with reserve by those who remember the latitude in which the Island of Thule is traditionally placed. The legible and consecutive manuscript begins with his arrival at the island.)

I now wrung the water from my clothes as well as I might, and spread them on the rocks in the sun. After an hour, perhaps, I was so far recovered from my exertions that I thought I might now see what manner of island this was to which my ill chance had brought me. Donning my clothes again I climbed up the low cliff.

The land that now lay before me appeared to be for the most part flat and bleak in character. There were long stretches of sand and coarse grass, and here and there a group of stunted shrubs. Presently, in the far distance, by the aid of my perspective glass, I made out several cultivated plots, but nowhere could I detect any building which might serve as a human habitation. At one point, which I guessed to be about two miles away, a column of smoke arose, as if from the interior of the earth. This I imagined to be of volcanic origin, but it puzzled me not a little that the land should be under cultivation and that yet I could find not so much as a single house or cottage.

So intent was I upon my survey of the distance that I did not note the approach of a human being until I heard the footsteps close beside me. I speak of it as a human being, but in many respects the creature differed from humanity as previously known to me. Particularly noticeable was its manner of progression. It walked very slowly and laboriously on all fours, the arms being longer and the legs shorter than in the normal man. Its body was clothed in two garments of a thick grey woollen material, and loose boots with tops of a similar material, but with leather soles, were worn both on the hands and feet. The size of the head was disproportionately large and seemed too heavy for the slender neck. It was bald save for a fringe of scanty grey hair. Large spectacles of high magnifying power distorted the eyes, and the toothless mouth was absurdly small. The grotesque object was more likely to inspire laughter than fear, for the body was small and its movements slow and feeble, but indeed it showed not the slightest sign of hostility.

"I see," said the creature, "that you are from the old world. Who are you?" He spoke in a gentle voice and with an accent not unlike that which we call American.

"My name is Lemuel Gulliver, a shipwrecked mariner, at your service. Will you tell me what island this is on which I find myself, and to whom I am speaking."

"The island is Thule Ultima Thule the one spot of earth that has emerged from barbarism. Chance has done great things for you in bringing you here."

He slipped one hand out of its boot, removed his big spectacles, and blinked his weak eyes. I watched him narrowly. His face was hairless. It might have been the face of an old woman or of an old man. A look of cunning now crept over it.

"I think," he said, "that I grasp your difficulty. You may speak of me as a man; but for beings of the first class, to which I belong, sex is abolished. It was perhaps the worst of nature's evils that our triumphant civilisation in the process of centuries overcame... Continue reading book >>




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