Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 20

How the pilots were forsaking their ships in the greatest stress of weather.

Oh, said Panurge, you sin, Friar John, my former crony! former, I say, for at this time I am no more, you are no more. It goes against my heart to tell it you; for I believe this swearing doth your spleen a great deal of good; as it is a great ease to a wood-cleaver to cry hem at every blow, and as one who plays at ninepins is wonderfully helped if, when he hath not thrown his bowl right, and is like to make a bad cast, some ingenious stander-by leans and screws his body halfway about on that side which the bowl should have took to hit the pins. Nevertheless, you offend, my sweet friend. But what do you think of eating some kind of cabirotadoes? Wouldn’t this secure us from this storm? I have read that the ministers of the gods Cabiri, so much celebrated by Orpheus, Apollonius, Pherecydes, Strabo, Pausanias, and Herodotus were always secure in time of storm. He dotes, he raves, the poor devil! A thousand, a million, nay, a hundred million of devils seize the hornified doddipole. Lend’s a hand here, hoh, tiger, wouldst thou? Here, on the starboard side. Ods-me, thou buffalo’s head stuffed with relics, what ape’s paternoster art thou muttering and chattering here between thy teeth? That devil of a sea-calf is the cause of all this storm, and is the only man who doth not lend a helping hand. By G — if I come near thee, I’ll fetch thee out by the head and ears with a vengeance, and chastise thee like any tempestative devil. Here, mate, my lad, hold fast, till I have made a double knot. O brave boy! Would to heaven thou wert abbot of Talemouze, and that he that is were guardian of Croullay. Hold, brother Ponocrates, you will hurt yourself, man. Epistemon, prithee stand off out of the hatchway. Methinks I saw the thunder fall there but just now. Con the ship, so ho — Mind your steerage. Well said, thus, thus, steady, keep her thus, get the longboat clear — steady. Ods-fish, the beak-head is staved to pieces. Grumble, devils, fart, belch, shite, a t — d o’ the wave. If this be weather, the devil’s a ram. Nay, by G — a little more would have washed me clear away into the current. I think all the legions of devils hold here their provincial chapter, or are polling, canvassing, and wrangling for the election of a new rector. Starboard; well said. Take heed; have a care of your noddle, lad, in the devil’s name. So ho, starboard, starboard. Be, be, be, bous, bous, bous, cried Panurge; bous, bous, be, be, be, bous, bous, I am lost. I see neither heaven nor earth; of the four elements we have here only fire and water left. Bou, bou, bou, bous, bous, bous. Would it were the pleasure of the worthy divine bounty that I were at this present hour in the close at Seuille, or at Innocent’s the pastry-cook over against the painted wine-vault at Chinon, though I were to strip to my doublet, and bake the petti-pasties myself.

Honest man, could not you throw me ashore? you can do a world of good things, they say. I give you all Salmigondinois, and my large shore full of whelks, cockles, and periwinkles, if, by your industry, I ever set foot on firm ground. Alas, alas! I drown. Harkee, my friends, since we cannot get safe into port, let us come to an anchor in some road, no matter whither. Drop all your anchors; let us be out of danger, I beseech you. Here, honest tar, get you into the chains, and heave the lead, an’t please you. Let us know how many fathom water we are in. Sound, friend, in the Lord Harry’s name. Let us know whether a man might here drink easily without stooping. I am apt to believe one might. Helm a-lee, hoh, cried the pilot. Helm a-lee; a hand or two at the helm; about ships with her; helm a-lee, helm a-lee. Stand off from the leech of the sail. Hoh! belay, here make fast below; hoh, helm a-lee, lash sure the helm a-lee, and let her drive. Is it come to that? said Pantagruel; our good Saviour then help us. Let her lie under the sea, cried James Brahier, our chief mate; let her drive. To prayers, to prayers; let all think on their souls, and fall to prayers; nor hope to escape but by a miracle. Let us, said Panurge, make some good pious kind of vow; alas, alas, alas! bou, bou, be, be, be, bous, bous, bous, oho, oho, oho, oho, let us make a pilgrim; come, come, let every man club his penny towards it, come on. Here, here, on this side, said Friar John, in the devil’s name. Let her drive, for the Lord’s sake unhang the rudder; hoh, let her drive, let her drive, and let us drink, I say, of the best and most cheering; d’ye hear, steward? produce, exhibit; for, d’ye see this, and all the rest will as well go to the devil out of hand. A pox on that wind-broker Aeolus, with his fluster-blusters. Sirrah, page, bring me here my drawer (for so he called his breviary); stay a little here; haul, friend, thus. Odzoons, here is a deal of hail and thunder to no purpose. Hold fast above, I pray you. When have we All-saints day? I believe it is the unholy holiday of all the devil’s crew. Alas! said Panurge, Friar John damns himself here as black as buttermilk for the nonce. Oh, what a good friend I lose in him. Alas, alas! this is another gats-bout than last year’s. We are falling out of Scylla into Charybdis. Oho! I drown. Confiteor; one poor word or two by way of testament, Friar John, my ghostly father; good Mr. Abstractor, my crony, my Achates, Xenomanes, my all. Alas! I drown; two words of testament here upon this ladder.

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