Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 37

How Gargantua, in combing his head, made the great cannon-balls fall out of his hair.

Being come out of the river of Vede, they came very shortly after to Grangousier’s castle, who waited for them with great longing. At their coming they were entertained with many congees, and cherished with embraces. Never was seen a more joyful company, for Supplementum Supplementi Chronicorum saith that Gargamelle died there with joy; for my part, truly I cannot tell, neither do I care very much for her, nor for anybody else. The truth was, that Gargantua, in shifting his clothes, and combing his head with a comb, which was nine hundred foot long of the Jewish cane measure, and whereof the teeth were great tusks of elephants, whole and entire, he made fall at every rake above seven balls of bullets, at a dozen the ball, that stuck in his hair at the razing of the castle of the wood of Vede. Which his father Grangousier seeing, thought they had been lice, and said unto him, What, my dear son, hast thou brought us this far some short-winged hawks of the college of Montague? I did not mean that thou shouldst reside there. Then answered Ponocrates, My sovereign lord, think not that I have placed him in that lousy college which they call Montague; I had rather have put him amongst the grave-diggers of Sanct Innocent, so enormous is the cruelty and villainy that I have known there: for the galley-slaves are far better used amongst the Moors and Tartars, the murderers in the criminal dungeons, yea, the very dogs in your house, than are the poor wretched students in the aforesaid college. And if I were King of Paris, the devil take me if I would not set it on fire, and burn both principal and regents, for suffering this inhumanity to be exercised before their eyes. Then, taking up one of these bullets, he said, These are cannon-shot, which your son Gargantua hath lately received by the treachery of your enemies, as he was passing before the wood of Vede.

But they have been so rewarded, that they are all destroyed in the ruin of the castle, as were the Philistines by the policy of Samson, and those whom the tower of Silohim slew, as it is written in the thirteenth of Luke. My opinion is, that we pursue them whilst the luck is on our side; for occasion hath all her hair on her forehead; when she is passed, you may not recall her — she hath no tuft whereby you can lay hold on her, for she is bald in the hind-part of her head, and never returneth again. Truly, said Grangousier, it should not be at this time; for I will make you a feast this night, and bid you welcome.

This said, they made ready supper, and, of extraordinary besides his daily fare, were roasted sixteen oxen, three heifers, two and thirty calves, three score and three fat kids, four score and fifteen wethers, three hundred farrow pigs or sheats soused in sweet wine or must, eleven score partridges, seven hundred snipes and woodcocks, four hundred Loudun and Cornwall capons, six thousand pullets, and as many pigeons, six hundred crammed hens, fourteen hundred leverets, or young hares and rabbits, three hundred and three buzzards, and one thousand and seven hundred cockerels. For venison, they could not so suddenly come by it, only eleven wild boars, which the Abbot of Turpenay sent, and eighteen fallow deer which the Lord of Gramount bestowed; together with seven score pheasants, which were sent by the Lord of Essars; and some dozens of queests, coushats, ringdoves, and woodculvers; river-fowl, teals and awteals, bitterns, courtes, plovers, francolins, briganders, tyrasons, young lapwings, tame ducks, shovellers, woodlanders, herons, moorhens, criels, storks, canepetiers, oranges, flamans, which are phaenicopters, or crimson-winged sea-fowls, terrigoles, turkeys, arbens, coots, solan-geese, curlews, termagants, and water-wagtails, with a great deal of cream, curds, and fresh cheese, and store of soup, pottages, and brewis with great variety. Without doubt there was meat enough, and it was handsomely dressed by Snapsauce, Hotchpot, and Brayverjuice, Grangousier’s cooks. Jenkin Trudgeapace and Cleanglass were very careful to fill them drink.

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Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 15:33