Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 21

How Panurge was in love with a lady of Paris.

Panurge began to be in great reputation in the city of Paris by means of this disputation wherein he prevailed against the Englishman, and from thenceforth made his codpiece to be very useful to him. To which effect he had it pinked with pretty little embroideries after the Romanesca fashion. And the world did praise him publicly, in so far that there was a song made of him, which little children did use to sing when they were to fetch mustard. He was withal made welcome in all companies of ladies and gentlewomen, so that at last he became presumptuous, and went about to bring to his lure one of the greatest ladies in the city. And, indeed, leaving a rabble of long prologues and protestations, which ordinarily these dolent contemplative lent-lovers make who never meddle with the flesh, one day he said unto her, Madam, it would be a very great benefit to the commonwealth, delightful to you, honourable to your progeny, and necessary for me, that I cover you for the propagating of my race, and believe it, for experience will teach it you. The lady at this word thrust him back above a hundred leagues, saying, You mischievous fool, is it for you to talk thus unto me? Whom do you think you have in hand? Begone, never to come in my sight again; for, if one thing were not, I would have your legs and arms cut off. Well, said he, that were all one to me, to want both legs and arms, provided you and I had but one merry bout together at the brangle-buttock game; for herewithin is — in showing her his long codpiece — Master John Thursday, who will play you such an antic that you shall feel the sweetness thereof even to the very marrow of your bones. He is a gallant, and doth so well know how to find out all the corners, creeks, and ingrained inmates in your carnal trap, that after him there needs no broom, he’ll sweep so well before, and leave nothing to his followers to work upon. Whereunto the lady answered, Go, villain, go. If you speak to me one such word more, I will cry out and make you to be knocked down with blows. Ha, said he, you are not so bad as you say — no, or else I am deceived in your physiognomy. For sooner shall the earth mount up unto the heavens, and the highest heavens descend unto the hells, and all the course of nature be quite perverted, than that in so great beauty and neatness as in you is there should be one drop of gall or malice. They say, indeed, that hardly shall a man ever see a fair woman that is not also stubborn. Yet that is spoke only of those vulgar beauties; but yours is so excellent, so singular, and so heavenly, that I believe nature hath given it you as a paragon and masterpiece of her art, to make us know what she can do when she will employ all her skill and all her power. There is nothing in you but honey, but sugar, but a sweet and celestial manna. To you it was to whom Paris ought to have adjudged the golden apple, not to Venus, no, nor to Juno, nor to Minerva, for never was there so much magnificence in Juno, so much wisdom in Minerva, nor so much comeliness in Venus as there is in you. O heavenly gods and goddesses! How happy shall that man be to whom you will grant the favour to embrace her, to kiss her, and to rub his bacon with hers! By G — that shall be I, I know it well; for she loves me already her bellyful, I am sure of it, and so was I predestinated to it by the fairies. And therefore, that we lose no time, put on, thrust out your gammons! — and would have embraced her, but she made as if she would put out her head at the window to call her neighbours for help. Then Panurge on a sudden ran out, and in his running away said, Madam, stay here till I come again; I will go call them myself; do not you take so much pains. Thus went he away, not much caring for the repulse he had got, nor made he any whit the worse cheer for it. The next day he came to the church at the time she went to mass. At the door he gave her some of the holy water, bowing himself very low before her. Afterwards he kneeled down by her very familiarly and said unto her, Madam, know that I am so amorous of you that I can neither piss nor dung for love. I do not know, lady, what you mean, but if I should take any hurt by it, how much you would be to blame! Go, said she, go! I do not care; let me alone to say my prayers. Ay but, said he, equivocate upon this: a beau mont le viconte, or, to fair mount the prick-cunts. I cannot, said she. It is, said he, a beau con le vit monte, or to a fair c. . .the pr. . .mounts. And upon this, pray to God to give you that which your noble heart desireth, and I pray you give me these paternosters. Take them, said she, and trouble me no longer. This done, she would have taken off her paternosters, which were made of a kind of yellow stone called cestrin, and adorned with great spots of gold, but Panurge nimbly drew out one of his knives, wherewith he cut them off very handsomely, and whilst he was going away to carry them to the brokers, he said to her, Will you have my knife? No, no, said she. But, said he, to the purpose. I am at your commandment, body and goods, tripes and bowels.

In the meantime the lady was not very well content with the want of her paternosters, for they were one of her implements to keep her countenance by in the church; then thought with herself, This bold flouting roister is some giddy, fantastical, light-headed fool of a strange country. I shall never recover my paternosters again. What will my husband say? He will no doubt be angry with me. But I will tell him that a thief hath cut them off from my hands in the church, which he will easily believe, seeing the end of the ribbon left at my girdle. After dinner Panurge went to see her, carrying in his sleeve a great purse full of palace-crowns, called counters, and began to say unto her, Which of us two loveth other best, you me, or I you? Whereunto she answered, As for me, I do not hate you; for, as God commands, I love all the world. But to the purpose, said he; are not you in love with me? I have, said she, told you so many times already that you should talk so no more to me, and if you speak of it again I will teach you that I am not one to be talked unto dishonestly. Get you hence packing, and deliver me my paternosters, that my husband may not ask me for them.


After dinner, Panurge went to see her.

How now, madam, said he, your paternosters? Nay, by mine oath, I will not do so, but I will give you others. Had you rather have them of gold well enamelled in great round knobs, or after the manner of love-knots, or, otherwise, all massive, like great ingots, or if you had rather have them of ebony, of jacinth, or of grained gold, with the marks of fine turquoises, or of fair topazes, marked with fine sapphires, or of baleu rubies, with great marks of diamonds of eight and twenty squares? No, no, all this is too little. I know a fair bracelet of fine emeralds, marked with spotted ambergris, and at the buckle a Persian pearl as big as an orange. It will not cost above five and twenty thousand ducats. I will make you a present of it, for I have ready coin enough — and withal he made a noise with his counters, as if they had been French crowns.

Will you have a piece of velvet, either of the violet colour or of crimson dyed in grain, or a piece of broached or crimson satin? Will you have chains, gold, tablets, rings? You need no more but say, Yes; so far as fifty thousand ducats may reach, it is but as nothing to me. By the virtue of which words he made the water come in her mouth; but she said unto him, No, I thank you, I will have nothing of you. By G — said he, but I will have somewhat of you; yet shall it be that which shall cost you nothing, neither shall you have a jot the less when you have given it. Hold! — showing his long codpiece — this is Master John Goodfellow, that asks for lodging! — and with that would have embraced her; but she began to cry out, yet not very loud. Then Panurge put off his counterfeit garb, changed his false visage, and said unto her, You will not then otherwise let me do a little? A turd for you! You do not deserve so much good, nor so much honour; but, by G — I will make the dogs ride you; — and with this he ran away as fast as he could, for fear of blows, whereof he was naturally fearful.

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