The reader may remember, that when I signed those articles, upon which I recovered my liberty, there were some which I disliked, upon account of their being too servile; neither could anything but an extreme necessity have forced me to submit. But, being now a nardac of the highest rank in that empire, such offices were looked upon as below my dignity, and the emperor, to do him justice, never once mentioned them to me. However, it was not long before I had an opportunity of doing his majesty, at least as I then thought, a most signal service. I was alarmed at midnight with the cries of many hundred people at my door, by which, being suddenly awaked, I was in some kind of terror. I heard the word burglum repeated incessantly.
Several of the emperor’s court, making their way through the crowd, entreated me to come immediately to the palace, where her imperial majesty’s apartment was on fire, by the carelessness of a maid of honor, who fell asleep while she was reading a romance. I got up in an instant; and orders being given to clear the way before me, and it being likewise a moonshine night, I made a shift to get to the palace, without trampling on any of the people. I found they had already applied ladders to the walls of the apartment, and were well provided with buckets, but the water was at some distance. These buckets were about the size of a large thimble, and the poor people supplied me with them as fast as they could; but the flame was so violent that they did little good. I might easily have stifled it with my coat, which I unfortunately left behind me for haste, and came away only in my leathern jerkin. The case seemed wholly desperate and deplorable, and this magnificent palace would have infallibly been burnt down to the ground, if, by a presence of mind unusual to me, I had not suddenly thought of an expedient by which in three minutes the fire was wholly extinguished, and the rest of that noble pile, which had cost so many ages in erecting, preserved from destruction.
It was now daylight, and I returned to my house, without waiting to congratulate with the emperor; because, although I had done a very eminent piece of service, yet I could not tell how his majesty might resent the manner by which I had performed it: for, by the fundamental laws of the realm, it is capital in any man, of what quality soever, to even touch the empress or the royal princesses without invitation. But I was a little comforted by a message from his majesty, that he would give orders to the grand justiciary for passing my pardon in form, which, however, I could not obtain. And I was privately assured that the empress, conceiving the greatest abhorrence of me, and, in the presence of her chief confidants, could not forbear vowing revenge.
OF THE INHABITANTS OF
LILLIPUT; THEIR LEARNING, LAWS, AND CUSTOMS;
THE MANNER OF EDUCATING THEIR CHILDREN. THE AUTHOR’S WAY OF LIVING
IN THAT COUNTRY.