Part Nine: A Voyage to Glubbdubrib and Luggnagg
I now decided to leave Lagado, and to go home to England. My plan was
to go to the port of MaJdonada, and to take a ship there for the island of
Luggnagg. From Luggnagg I planned to travel to Japan. I knew that many
ships went from Japan to Europe. When I arrived at Maldonada, I learnt that
the next ship for Luggnagg was expected in a month. I spent a few days in
the port of Maldonada, and the local people were very kind to me. One of
them offered to take me to the little island of Glubbdubrib.
'It will amuse you,' he said, 'and it isn't far. We can go there together,
and when we come back, your ship for Luggnagg will be here.'
I accepted his kind offer, because I was curious to see Glubbdubrib. I
knew that the name of the island means 'magician' in their language, and I
wanted to see what an island of magicians was like!
When we arrived on the island, we went to the Governor's palace. The
Governor welcomed us kindly, but there was something strange about his
servants. They were not dressed in modern clothes, and they were very white
and pale. The Governor asked us to sit down, and began to question me
about my adventures. Then he clapped his hands, and the servants in the
room suddenly disappeared. One minute they were there, and the next they
were gone! I was very surprised, and a little frightened. Then the Governor
told me the truth about his servants.
'They're not real people,' he said, 'they're ghosts. I'm a magician, and I can
make dead people appear and disappear.'
He clapped his hands again, and the servants reappeared instantly.
We stayed about ten days on the island, and we saw the Governor of the
island every day. I became used to the strange servants, and I was interested
in the governor's magic. He told me that he could use his power to make any
dead person appear. He asked me if I would like to meet any famous people
from history. He offered to make them appear for me.
You can ask them any questions you like,' he told me. 'They are ghosts,
and they will tell you the truth.'
I asked to see some of the heroes of the past. First I saw Alexander the
Great, and the great General Hannibal. Then I saw Pompey the Great, Caesar
and Brutus. Next I asked to see famous poets and thinkers from the past, and
I saw Homer and Aristotle. I also saw some of the heroes of modern times.
I asked them many questions about famous events in history, but their
answers made me sad. I learnt that many of these heroes had not been brave
at all during their lives. They had been dishonest, and they had been cruel. I
was very disappointed in my heroes.
We stayed about ten days on the island of Glubbdubrib before returning to
Maldonada. I then took a ship for the island of Luggnagg.
The King of Luggnagg welcomed me kindly, and I spent some time at the
palace. I made friends with some of the most important men on the island,
and we had many long conversations.
One day, one of my friends asked me if I knew about the Struldbruggs.
'No,' I replied, 'I've never heard of the Struldbruggs. Who are they?'
'The Struldbruggs,' he explained, 'are people who do not die. They live for
'How wonderful!' I cried. I was very excited. 'I'm sure the Struldbruggs are
very wise. Do they share their wisdom with the people? Do they help and
advise the King? Think how happy they are, these men who never die!'
My friend smiled.
'You think they are happy, these men who never die?' he asked me. 'You
think they are wise, and good, and happy, don't you?'
'Certainly,' I replied. 'I'm sure they are wise, and good, and happy.'
'Listen to me,' my friend said, 'and I'll tell you the truth about the
Struldbruggs. They are born with a special mark on their heads,' he began.
'Everyone knows who they are. They behave like ordinary people until they
are about thirty years old. Then they become sad, and they are sad until they
are about eighty years old. When they are eighty years old, they are like
other old men. They forget things, and they become ill. After the age of
eighty, they lose all their friends, and they never make new friends. Their
sufferings are terrible,' my friend said.
'When they are ninety years old, they have no memory at all,' he continued.
'They cannot remember the names of their children. They cannot read,
because they cannot remember the words of a sentence. After two hundred
years, they cannot even speak to people. This is because the language of the
country changes, and they cannot learn the new words.'
This story of the Struldbruggs made me very sad. I left Luggnagg shortly
afterwards. I travelled to Japan, where I found a ship for England.