Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 29

How Pantagruel sailed by the Sneaking Island, where Shrovetide reigned.

The jovial fleet being refitted and repaired, new stores taken in, the Macreons over and above satisfied and pleased with the money spent there by Pantagruel, our men in better humour than they used to be, if possible, we merrily put to sea the next day, near sunset, with a delicious fresh gale.

Xenomanes showed us afar off the Sneaking Island, where reigned Shrovetide, of whom Pantagruel had heard much talk formerly; for that reason he would gladly have seen him in person, had not Xenomanes advised him to the contrary; first, because this would have been much out of our way, and then for the lean cheer which he told us was to be found at that prince’s court, and indeed all over the island.

You can see nothing there for your money, said he, but a huge greedy-guts, a tall woundy swallower of hot wardens and mussels; a long-shanked mole-catcher; an overgrown bottler of hay; a mossy-chinned demi-giant, with a double shaven crown, of lantern breed; a very great loitering noddy-peaked youngster, banner-bearer to the fish-eating tribe, dictator of mustard-land, flogger of little children, calciner of ashes, father and foster-father to physicians, swarming with pardons, indulgences, and stations; a very honest man; a good catholic, and as brimful of devotion as ever he can hold.

He weeps the three-fourth parts of the day, and never assists at any weddings; but, give the devil his due, he is the most industrious larding-stick and skewer-maker in forty kingdoms.

About six years ago, as I passed by Sneaking-land, I brought home a large skewer from thence, and made a present of it to the butchers of Quande, who set a great value upon them, and that for a cause. Some time or other, if ever we live to come back to our own country, I will show you two of them fastened on the great church porch. His usual food is pickled coats of mail, salt helmets and head-pieces, and salt sallets; which sometimes makes him piss pins and needles. As for his clothing, ’tis comical enough o’ conscience, both for make and colour; for he wears grey and cold, nothing before, and nought behind, with the sleeves of the same.

You will do me a kindness, said Pantagruel, if, as you have described his clothes, food, actions, and pastimes, you will also give me an account of his shape and disposition in all his parts. Prithee do, dear cod, said Friar John, for I have found him in my breviary, and then follow the movable holy days. With all my heart, answered Xenomanes; we may chance to hear more of him as we touch at the Wild Island, the dominions of the squab Chitterlings, his enemies, against whom he is eternally at odds; and were it not for the help of the noble Carnival, their protector and good neighbour, this meagre-looked lozelly Shrovetide would long before this have made sad work among them, and rooted them out of their habitation. Are these same Chitterlings, said Friar John, male or female, angels or mortals, women or maids? They are, replied Xenomanes, females in sex, mortal in kind, some of them maids, others not. The devil have me, said Friar John, if I ben’t for them. What a shameful disorder in nature, is it not, to make war against women? Let’s go back and hack the villain to pieces. What! meddle with Shrovetide? cried Panurge, in the name of Beelzebub, I am not yet so weary of my life. No, I’m not yet so mad as that comes to. Quid juris? Suppose we should find ourselves pent up between the Chitterlings and Shrovetide? between the anvil and the hammers? Shankers and buboes! stand off! godzooks, let us make the best of our way. I bid you good night, sweet Mr. Shrovetide; I recommend to you the Chitterlings, and pray don’t forget the puddings.

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