Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 47

How Grangousier sent for his legions, and how Touchfaucet slew Rashcalf, and was afterwards executed by the command of Picrochole.

About this same time those of Besse, of the Old Market, of St. James’ Bourg, of the Draggage, of Parille, of the Rivers, of the rocks St. Pol, of the Vaubreton, of Pautille, of the Brehemont, of Clainbridge, of Cravant, of Grammont, of the town at the Badgerholes, of Huymes, of Segre, of Husse, of St. Lovant, of Panzoust, of the Coldraux, of Verron, of Coulaines, of Chose, of Varenes, of Bourgueil, of the Bouchard Island, of the Croullay, of Narsay, of Cande, of Montsoreau, and other bordering places, sent ambassadors unto Grangousier, to tell him that they were advised of the great wrongs which Picrochole had done him, and, in regard of their ancient confederacy, offered him what assistance they could afford, both in men, money, victuals, and ammunition, and other necessaries for war. The money which by the joint agreement of them all was sent unto him, amounted to six score and fourteen millions, two crowns and a half of pure gold. The forces wherewith they did assist him did consist in fifteen thousand cuirassiers, two-and-thirty thousand light horsemen, four score and nine thousand dragoons, and a hundred-and-forty thousand volunteer adventurers. These had with them eleven thousand and two hundred cannons, double cannons, long pieces of artillery called basilisks, and smaller sized ones known by the name of spirols, besides the mortar-pieces and grenadoes. Of pioneers they had seven-and-forty thousand, all victualled and paid for six months and four days of advance. Which offer Gargantua did not altogether refuse, nor wholly accept of; but, giving them hearty thanks, said that he would compose and order the war by such a device, that there should not be found great need to put so many honest men to trouble in the managing of it; and therefore was content at that time to give order only for bringing along the legions which he maintained in his ordinary garrison towns of the Deviniere, of Chavigny, of Gravot, and of the Quinquenais, amounting to the number of two thousand cuirassiers, three score and six thousand foot-soldiers, six-and-twenty thousand dragoons, attended by two hundred pieces of great ordnance, two-and-twenty thousand pioneers, and six thousand light horsemen, all drawn up in troops, so well befitted and accommodated with their commissaries, sutlers, farriers, harness-makers, and other such like necessary members in a military camp, so fully instructed in the art of warfare, so perfectly knowing and following their colours, so ready to hear and obey their captains, so nimble to run, so strong at their charging, so prudent in their adventures, and every day so well disciplined, that they seemed rather to be a concert of organ-pipes, or mutual concord of the wheels of a clock, than an infantry and cavalry, or army of soldiers.

Touchfaucet immediately after his return presented himself before Picrochole, and related unto him at large all that he had done and seen, and at last endeavoured to persuade him with strong and forcible arguments to capitulate and make an agreement with Grangousier, whom he found to be the honestest man in the world; saying further, that it was neither right nor reason thus to trouble his neighbours, of whom they had never received anything but good. And in regard of the main point, that they should never be able to go through stitch with that war, but to their great damage and mischief; for the forces of Picrochole were not so considerable but that Grangousier could easily overthrow them.

He had not well done speaking when Rashcalf said out aloud, Unhappy is that prince which is by such men served, who are so easily corrupted, as I know Touchfaucet is. For I see his courage so changed that he had willingly joined with our enemies to fight against us and betray us, if they would have received him; but as virtue is of all, both friends and foes, praised and esteemed, so is wickedness soon known and suspected, and although it happen the enemies to make use thereof for their profit, yet have they always the wicked and the traitors in abomination.

Touchfaucet being at these words very impatient, drew out his sword, and therewith ran Rashcalf through the body, a little under the nipple of his left side, whereof he died presently, and pulling back his sword out of his body said boldly, So let him perish that shall a faithful servant blame. Picrochole incontinently grew furious, and seeing Touchfaucet’s new sword and his scabbard so richly diapered with flourishes of most excellent workmanship, said, Did they give thee this weapon so feloniously therewith to kill before my face my so good friend Rashcalf? Then immediately commanded he his guard to hew him in pieces, which was instantly done, and that so cruelly that the chamber was all dyed with blood. Afterwards he appointed the corpse of Rashcalf to be honourably buried, and that of Touchfaucet to be cast over the walls into the ditch.

The news of these excessive violences were quickly spread through all the army; whereupon many began to murmur against Picrochole, in so far that Pinchpenny said to him, My sovereign lord, I know not what the issue of this enterprise will be. I see your men much dejected, and not well resolved in their minds, by considering that we are here very ill provided of victual, and that our number is already much diminished by three or four sallies. Furthermore, great supplies and recruits come daily in to your enemies; but we so moulder away that, if we be once besieged, I do not see how we can escape a total destruction. Tush, pish, said Picrochole, you are like the Melun eels, you cry before they come to you. Let them come, let them come, if they dare.

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