Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 35

How Pantagruel went on shore in the Wild Island, the ancient abode of the Chitterlings.

The boat’s crew of the ship Lantern towed the physeter ashore on the neighbouring shore, which happened to be the Wild Island, to make an anatomical dissection of its body and save the fat of its kidneys, which, they said, was very useful and necessary for the cure of a certain distemper, which they called want of money. As for Pantagruel, he took no manner of notice of the monster; for he had seen many such, nay, bigger, in the Gallic ocean. Yet he condescended to land in the Wild Island, to dry and refresh some of his men (whom the physeter had wetted and bedaubed), at a small desert seaport towards the south, seated near a fine pleasant grove, out of which flowed a delicious brook of fresh, clear, and purling water. Here they pitched their tents and set up their kitchens; nor did they spare fuel.

Everyone having shifted as they thought fit, Friar John rang the bell, and the cloth was immediately laid, and supper brought in. Pantagruel eating cheerfully with his men, much about the second course perceived certain little sly Chitterlings clambering up a high tree near the pantry, as still as so many mice. Which made him ask Xenomanes what kind of creatures these were, taking them for squirrels, weasels, martins, or ermines. They are Chitterlings, replied Xenomanes. This is the Wild Island of which I spoke to you this morning; there hath been an irreconcilable war this long time between them and Shrovetide, their malicious and ancient enemy. I believe that the noise of the guns which we fired at the physeter hath alarmed them, and made them fear their enemy was come with his forces to surprise them, or lay the island waste, as he hath often attempted to do; though he still came off but bluely, by reason of the care and vigilance of the Chitterlings, who (as Dido said to Aeneas’s companions that would have landed at Carthage without her leave or knowledge) were forced to watch and stand upon their guard, considering the malice of their enemy and the neighbourhood of his territories.

Pray, dear friend, said Pantagruel, if you find that by some honest means we may bring this war to an end, and reconcile them together, give notice of it; I will use my endeavours in it with all my heart, and spare nothing on my side to moderate and accommodate the points in dispute between both parties.

That’s impossible at this time, answered Xenomanes. About four years ago, passing incognito by this country, I endeavoured to make a peace, or at least a long truce among them; and I had certainly brought them to be good friends and neighbours if both one and the other parties would have yielded to one single article. Shrovetide would not include in the treaty of peace the wild puddings nor the highland sausages, their ancient gossips and confederates. The Chitterlings demanded that the fort of Cacques might be under their government, as is the Castle of Sullouoir, and that a parcel of I don’t know what stinking villains, murderers, robbers, that held it then, should be expelled. But they could not agree in this, and the terms that were offered seemed too hard to either party. So the treaty broke off, and nothing was done. Nevertheless, they became less severe, and gentler enemies than they were before; but since the denunciation of the national Council of Chesil, whereby they were roughly handled, hampered, and cited; whereby also Shrovetide was declared filthy, beshitten, and berayed, in case he made any league or agreement with them; they are grown wonderfully inveterate, incensed, and obstinate against one another, and there is no way to remedy it. You might sooner reconcile cats and rats, or hounds and hares together.

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