Gulliver's Travels: Part 4, Chapter 1 - Summary

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Part: IV, Chapter I

A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms


      The author, who is addicted to voyage, spends about five months with his family before accepting another advantageous offer to travel to far-off lands. This time the author is offered the position of captain. He sets sail from Portsmouth on September 7, 1710. During the voyage, many of the crewmen die due to a fever called calentures. To cover up the loss, the author recruits some men from Barbadoes and the Leeward Islands. Most of these new recruits are criminals who intrigue against the author and capture the ship. The author is imprisoned in a cabin for several days before being deboarded from the ship into a long-boat with only a bundle of clothes. The author is allowed to keep no arms except his hanger. When the author’s boat reaches firm land he gets down and sits on the bank. His plan is to sell off his bracelets, glass rings, toys, etc. to the savages of that land and thus buy his life. The land has plenty of grass and there are several fields of oats. As the author walks very carefully, he comes to a beaten road where he finds the footprints of humans, cows and mainly of horses. The first living species he encounters is some animals. He finds these deformed creatures sitting in trees. The author has to hit one of them with the blunt side of his hanger which provokes the rest of these animals to chase him. The author who was struggling hard to keep them away is saved by two horses whose presence forces these beasts to run away. The soft, gentle and mild ways of the horses impress the author but what astonishes him more is the neighing of these horses which distinctly resembles a language. The orderly and rational behavior of the horses compels the author to conclude that the horses are really magicians. He tries to convey his tragedy in words but in vain, they cannot understand the language he speaks. The horses begin to discuss something with each other and repeat the word Yahoo! The author too pronounces Yahoo in a loud voice, which surprises the horses. They try to teach him the right accent by repeating the word twice. One more word which the horses try to teach him is Houyhnhnm. Finally, after some more conversation with each other, apparently relating to the author, the two horses leave and the gray horse signals to the author to walk before him.

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