Thursday, 20 February 2014

Problems in Lilliputia, part 1:

A letter from the High *Muckamuck of Little Bampot to His Grand Majesty, the King of Lilliputia, concerning the problem of the gulliver washed ashore:

I extend my greeting to Your Grand Majesty and kiss Your slipper.  May your reign last fifty years.

The township of Little Bampot is a humble village not far inland from the sea. We are facing an unprecedented crisis, and humbly beseech Your Majesty’s aid, in the form of manpower and tools.

Let me describe the disaster we are facing. Namely, near our village one morning, after what many thought was an earthquake, was found another gulliver. We presumed this one, like the previous one, had drifted in from the sea, as there had been a severe storm not two days previously. Deep marks could be seen, left by its large feet, where the being had walked or stumbled from the seashore nearly a  Lilliputian league distant. Though some panicked, at first many of our simple peasant citizenry was overjoyed, as the previous gulliver had, we knew, been of some service to our beautiful Kingdom.  

However, it was soon discovered that the individual had not collapsed in exhaustion and was sleeping, as it could not be awoken. It was also fairly clear it was not breathing, which should have been obvious in such a large creature, or so it was felt. The individual had suffered some injuries, which may have belatedly claimed its life, sadly so close to help and rescue. One of our healers climbed up the cadaver with the help of a ladder, and could find no sign of life. Now the question was how to deal with the exceedingly large corpse, as we cannot possibly bury it, not if we dug for a thousand moons.

Some impertinent people suggested it represented a large source of meat, while this was protested by the elders as it seemed like cannibalism, as despite its size, the gulliver does in shape, and I am told in faculties, resemble a lilliputian. Some vile rascals did carve at least a cartload out of its left buttock and carried it away, but this made no noticeable difference to the overall bulk. Neither have scavengers which, I regret to admit, we have not been able to completely keep away from the cadaver, while we tried to respect the dignity of the individual, there is no tarp large enough to even cover it. Neither is there enough fuel in either Little or Big Bampot to cause the thing to burn, even if that option would not suffocate the whole neighbourhood in noisome smoke.

The idea that either we or animals could dispose of the bodily remains as food has recently become moot, as the weather has been clement, the flesh has started to, how shall we put it, ripen considerably. The smell is already quite noticeable, and we fear it can only get worse.

We humbly beg that Your Majesty sends us some members of the Royal Engineer Corps, as soon as possible, with as much man- and horsepower and tools as can be procured at short notice, as we have not been able to solve this problem on our own.

Private Note by the Honourable Privy Councillor Lord Malky:

The writer of this letter is an ignoramus who does not even know that the correct word is “human” and Gulliver is an individual’s name. It is no wonder he has not been able to solve the problem presumably the village council are also the village idiots, and cannot see the positive in this. Such a large body, after rotting away, should enrich the ground wonderfully, and the skeleton would surely make an interesting novelty garden that many curious travellers would wish to visit. I shall send a message to this bumbling moron, with You, my nephew, and a couple of engineers to assess the situation, so at least we can say we have taken an interest.





A letter to the Honourable Privy Councillor Lord Malky, from the High Muccamuc of Little Bampot:

I have received your most excellent letter, and stand much wiser now I know what this mess is called, and not Gulliver. Thank you. Thank you also for sending me three men, this is enormous help. Your respectable nephew is a most capable and personable young man, alas, he is no Gulliver – if only this giant foreigner was still with us! – to haul this carcass the size of a village to the sea. He has promised to report of the situation honestly and thoroughly, and thus without further ado I direct Your attention to the document attached: 


Letter to Lord Malky, by his nephew Sir Antiron.

Dear Uncle,

The situation here is as dire as described, and indeed now already a lot worse. The cadaver is absolutely huge! Uncle, it is like a mountain: the locals say it has started to swell since it first came, and refuse to go anywhere near it. This is because they think it might burst and some horrible miasma, I shudder to even imagine, will gush forth. But also because the smell is horrendous, even after we have surveyed the site with our faces bound in scarves with twigs of lavender and  mint layered in, we were quite queasy and without appetite afterwards. We did still manage to make some measurements, I enclose these, some sketches and a map and survey of the surroundings.

It does indeed look like the thing walked in from the sea, a distance which for it was perhaps ten steps or less, but for us such that there is no way we can roll or drag it back and hope the waves wash it away again.  It has crossed the shoreline dune, so it would need to be moved uphill first, and it seems even moving it on flat ground would be impossible. Please do contact the Royal Engineers and give them all my notes, so they can plan an attack on this monstrosity. The local scholar and irrigation specialist, mister Clemps, has expressed fears the cadaver will poison the local fresh water sources, due to the lay of the land and the nearness of river Munch. (I have drawn this in the map, and tried to indicate the slope, and the types of soil of the area.)
Really if something is not done quite soon, bar some intervention from higher powers, though nothing short of a volcano erupting could feasibly cover this thing – as the Mayor’s (or the High Muckamok as he is locally known)  letter suggested, this would need removing all the sand in the Haar Bay to heap on it, and I doubt even Gulliver himself could have done that. 

Already some people have packed their things and left Little Bampot, generally those who have relatives elsewhere or otherwise are certain of a welcome and a position. Everyone is very worried. Even people from Big Bampot show up regularly to ask when if something done. I have sent this packet with the fastest courier, I do not feel up to travel right now and I think the villagers would be very disappointed. My gracious hosts hope to prolong their hospitality.

Your loving nephew,



Letter from an anonymous sender to Lord Malky, Honourable Privy Councillor, sealed with the government seal and marked Very Much Private:

Greetings to Your Lordship. I need to be quick, so I will cut the pleasantries short: we are heading for a disaster here. When we and the sappers arrived, the corpse had started to disintegrate. The engineers had spoken wisely about rollers and pulleys and counterweights, as You recall, but as we got here it was clear all that would do was pull the thing apart. It was decided we could only try and mitigate the effects by digging a ditch around it, to contain the, well, I do not know a technical term, so ‘corpse-liquid’ before it can flow to the river. The villagers had started this but given up.

We rounded up the few able-bodied locals and all the shovels we could get, and bullied them – the locals, not the shovels – to join us. We did however not make any progress as the stench set some men vomiting so frequently they simply could not be put to work. We handed around strong drink, in the hopes that like heals the like, and most men inhaled the vapours rather than drink, to numb their sinuses. Who knew you can actually get very drunk if you do that enough? That aside, some people had to be sent away as they really were of no use, we let those able to sort of walk carry those who had passed out. We had to give up the first day when no-one could make a straight line, and the ditch only progressed some ten steps distance or so.  

Next morning half the men had deserted, and about third of the remaining were too sick to work. We tried flogging a couple to see if they were malingering, but they did not show any sign they cared much. Those men able to work have since grown partial immunity to the stench, while most prefer to work with a cloth soaked in some strong-smelling concoction like crushed garlic and the rest of the fortified wine we used. They are led by an old sergeant who seems to not possess a sense of smell at all after some facial injuries he suffered on the battlefield in the past, but morale is still low as there simply is not enough people to dig the ditches as planned. We may have to turn to plan B, which is evacuation, no matter how much everyone is against that.

I send this message attached to your nephew, who indeed was prevented from leaving, but he says ‘everyone was very nice and you should not punish them’; he will fill you in with his experiences personally, no doubt. 

Yours in Confidence



Second letter from anonymous sender to Lord Malky, also sealed with the government seal and marked Urgent – Private:

The water in the well has spoiled the engineers say the soils here are sandy and porous so the corpse poison has seeped through ground also to river we are evacuating both Bampots upriver immediately.



 *A local ceremonial ruler with little real power, equivalent of Village Eldest. Correct spelling unclear, possibly Muckamok.

**"Tub" is a pseudonym apparently used by more than one spy in the service of the Privy Councillor's service.

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