Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 54

How Homenas gave Pantagruel some bon-Christian pears.

Epistemon, Friar John, and Panurge, seeing this doleful catastrophe, began, under the cover of their napkins, to cry Meeow, meeow, meeow; feigning to wipe their eyes all the while as if they had wept. The wenches were doubly diligent, and brought brimmers of Clementine wine to every one, besides store of sweetmeats; and thus the feasting was revived.

Before we arose from table, Homenas gave us a great quantity of fair large pears, saying, Here, my good friends, these are singular good pears. You will find none such anywhere else, I dare warrant. Every soil bears not everything, you know. India alone boasts black ebony; the best incense is produced in Sabaea; the sphragitid earth at Lemnos; so this island is the only place where such fine pears grow. You may, if you please, make seminaries with their pippins in your country.

I like their taste extremely, said Pantagruel. If they were sliced, and put into a pan on the fire with wine and sugar, I fancy they would be very wholesome meat for the sick, as well as for the healthy. Pray what do you call ‘em? No otherwise than you have heard, replied Homenas. We are a plain downright sort of people, as God would have it, and call figs, figs; plums, plums; and pears, pears. Truly, said Pantagruel, if I live to go home — which I hope will be speedily, God willing — I’ll set off and graff some in my garden in Touraine, by the banks of the Loire, and will call them bon-Christian or good-Christian pears, for I never saw better Christians than are these good Papimans. I would like him two to one better yet, said Friar John, would he but give us two or three cartloads of yon buxom lasses. Why, what would you do with them? cried Homenas. Quoth Friar John, No harm, only bleed the kind-hearted souls straight between the two great toes with certain clever lancets of the right stamp; by which operation good Christian children would be inoculated upon them, and the breed be multiplied in our country, in which there are not many over-good, the more’s the pity.

Nay, verily, replied Homenas, we cannot do this; for you would make them tread their shoes awry, crack their pipkins, and spoil their shapes. You love mutton, I see; you will run at sheep. I know you by that same nose and hair of yours, though I never saw your face before. Alas! alas! how kind you are! And would you indeed damn your precious soul? Our decretals forbid this. Ah, I wish you had them at your finger’s-end. Patience, said Friar John; but, si tu non vis dare, praesta, quaesumus. Matter of breviary. As for that, I defy all the world, and I fear no man that wears a head and a hood, though he were a crystalline, I mean a decretaline doctor.

Dinner being over, we took our leave of the right reverend Homenas, and of all the good people, humbly giving thanks; and, to make them amends for their kind entertainment, promised them that, at our coming to Rome, we would make our applications so effectually to the pope that he would speedily be sure to come to visit them in person. After this we went o’board.

Pantagruel, by an act of generosity, and as an acknowledgment of the sight of the pope’s picture, gave Homenas nine pieces of double friezed cloth of gold to be set before the grates of the window. He also caused the church box for its repairs and fabric to be quite filled with double crowns of gold; and ordered nine hundred and fourteen angels to be delivered to each of the lasses who had waited at table, to buy them husbands when they could get them.

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