Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 26

How Pantagruel and his company were weary in eating still salt meats; and how Carpalin went a-hunting to have some venison.

Thus as they talked and chatted together, Carpalin said, And, by the belly of St. Quenet, shall we never eat any venison? This salt meat makes me horribly dry. I will go fetch you a quarter of one of those horses which we have burnt; it is well roasted already. As he was rising up to go about it, he perceived under the side of a wood a fair great roebuck, which was come out of his fort, as I conceive, at the sight of Panurge’s fire. Him did he pursue and run after with as much vigour and swiftness as if it had been a bolt out of a crossbow, and caught him in a moment; and whilst he was in his course he with his hands took in the air four great bustards, seven bitterns, six and twenty grey partridges, two and thirty red-legged ones, sixteen pheasants, nine woodcocks, nineteen herons, two and thirty cushats and ringdoves; and with his feet killed ten or twelve hares and rabbits, which were then at relief and pretty big withal, eighteen rails in a knot together, with fifteen young wild-boars, two little beavers, and three great foxes. So, striking the kid with his falchion athwart the head, he killed him, and, bearing him on his back, he in his return took up his hares, rails, and young wild-boars, and, as far off as he could be heard, cried out and said, Panurge, my friend, vinegar, vinegar! Then the good Pantagruel, thinking he had fainted, commanded them to provide him some vinegar; but Panurge knew well that there was some good prey in hands, and forthwith showed unto noble Pantagruel how he was bearing upon his back a fair roebuck, and all his girdle bordered with hares. Then immediately did Epistemon make, in the name of the nine Muses, nine antique wooden spits. Eusthenes did help to flay, and Panurge placed two great cuirassier saddles in such sort that they served for andirons, and making their prisoner to be their cook, they roasted their venison by the fire wherein the horsemen were burnt; and making great cheer with a good deal of vinegar, the devil a one of them did forbear from his victuals — it was a triumphant and incomparable spectacle to see how they ravened and devoured. Then said Pantagruel, Would to God every one of you had two pairs of little anthem or sacring bells hanging at your chin, and that I had at mine the great clocks of Rennes, of Poictiers, of Tours, and of Cambray, to see what a peal they would ring with the wagging of our chaps. But, said Panurge, it were better we thought a little upon our business, and by what means we might get the upper hand of our enemies. That is well remembered, said Pantagruel. Therefore spoke he thus to the prisoner, My friend, tell us here the truth, and do not lie to us at all, if thou wouldst not be flayed alive, for it is I that eat the little children. Relate unto us at full the order, the number, and the strength of the army. To which the prisoner answered, Sir, know for a truth that in the army there are three hundred giants, all armed with armour of proof, and wonderful great. Nevertheless, not fully so great as you, except one that is their head, named Loupgarou, who is armed from head to foot with cyclopical anvils. Furthermore, one hundred three score and three thousand foot, all armed with the skins of hobgoblins, strong and valiant men; eleven thousand four hundred men-at-arms or cuirassiers; three thousand six hundred double cannons, and arquebusiers without number; four score and fourteen thousand pioneers; one hundred and fifty thousand whores, fair like goddesses —(That is for me, said Panurge)— whereof some are Amazons, some Lionnoises, others Parisiennes, Taurangelles, Angevines, Poictevines, Normandes, and High Dutch — there are of them of all countries and all languages.

Yea but, said Pantagruel, is the king there? Yes, sir, said the prisoner; he is there in person, and we call him Anarchus, king of the Dipsodes, which is as much to say as thirsty people, for you never saw men more thirsty, nor more willing to drink, and his tent is guarded by the giants. It is enough, said Pantagruel. Come, brave boys, are you resolved to go with me? To which Panurge answered, God confound him that leaves you! I have already bethought myself how I will kill them all like pigs, and so the devil one leg of them shall escape. But I am somewhat troubled about one thing. And what is that? said Pantagruel. It is, said Panurge, how I shall be able to set forward to the justling and bragmardizing of all the whores that be there this afternoon, in such sort that there escape not one unbumped by me, breasted and jummed after the ordinary fashion of man and women in the Venetian conflict. Ha, ha, ha, ha, said Pantagruel.

And Carpalin said: The devil take these sink-holes, if, by G — I do not bumbaste some one of them. Then said Eusthenes: What! shall not I have any, whose paces, since we came from Rouen, were never so well winded up as that my needle could mount to ten or eleven o’clock, till now that I have it hard, stiff, and strong, like a hundred devils? Truly, said Panurge, thou shalt have of the fattest, and of those that are most plump and in the best case.

How now! said Epistemon; everyone shall ride, and I must lead the ass? The devil take him that will do so. We will make use of the right of war, Qui potest capere, capiat. No, no, said Panurge, but tie thine ass to a crook, and ride as the world doth. And the good Pantagruel laughed at all this, and said unto them, You reckon without your host. I am much afraid that, before it be night, I shall see you in such taking that you will have no great stomach to ride, but more like to be rode upon with sound blows of pike and lance. Baste, said Epistemon, enough of that! I will not fail to bring them to you, either to roast or boil, to fry or put in paste. They are not so many in number as were in the army of Xerxes, for he had thirty hundred thousand fighting-men, if you will believe Herodotus and Trogus Pompeius, and yet Themistocles with a few men overthrew them all. For God’s sake, take you no care for that. Cobsminny, cobsminny, said Panurge; my codpiece alone shall suffice to overthrow all the men; and my St. Sweephole, that dwells within it, shall lay all the women squat upon their backs. Up then, my lads, said Pantagruel, and let us march along.

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