Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 6

How, the fray being over, Panurge cheapened one of Dingdong’s sheep.

This quarrel being hushed, Panurge tipped the wink upon Epistemon and Friar John, and taking them aside, Stand at some distance out of the way, said he, and take your share of the following scene of mirth. You shall have rare sport anon, if my cake be not dough, and my plot do but take. Then addressing himself to the drover, he took off to him a bumper of good lantern wine. The other pledged him briskly and courteously. This done, Panurge earnestly entreated him to sell him one of his sheep.

But the other answered him, Is it come to that, friend and neighbour? Would you put tricks upon travellers? Alas, how finely you love to play upon poor folk! Nay, you seem a rare chapman, that’s the truth on’t. Oh, what a mighty sheep-merchant you are! In good faith, you look liker one of the diving trade than a buyer of sheep. Adzookers, what a blessing it would be to have one’s purse well lined with chink near your worship at a tripe-house when it begins to thaw! Humph, humph, did not we know you well, you might serve one a slippery trick! Pray do but see, good people, what a mighty conjuror the fellow would be reckoned. Patience, said Panurge; but waiving that, be so kind as to sell me one of your sheep. Come, how much? What do you mean, master of mine? answered the other. They are long-wool sheep; from these did Jason take his golden fleece. The gold of the house of Burgundy was drawn from them. Zwoons, man, they are oriental sheep, topping sheep, fatted sheep, sheep of quality. Be it so, said Panurge; but sell me one of them, I beseech you; and that for a cause, paying you ready money upon the nail, in good and lawful occidental current cash. Wilt say how much? Friend, neighbour, answered the seller of mutton, hark ye me a little, on the ear.

Panurge. On which side you please; I hear you.

Dingdong. You are going to Lanternland, they say.

Panurge. Yea, verily.

Dingdong. To see fashions?

Panurge. Even so.

Dingdong. And be merry?

Panurge. And be merry.

Dingdong. Your name is, as I take it, Robin Mutton?

Panurge. As you please for that, sweet sir.

Dingdong. Nay, without offence.

Panurge. So I would have it.

Dingdong. You are, as I take it, the king’s jester; aren’t you?

Panurge. Ay, ay, anything.

Dingdong. Give me your hand — humph, humph, you go to see fashions, you are the king’s jester, your name is Robin Mutton! Do you see this same ram? His name, too, is Robin. Here, Robin, Robin, Robin! Baea, baea, baea. Hath he not a rare voice?

Panurge. Ay, marry has he, a very fine and harmonious voice.

Dingdong. Well, this bargain shall be made between you and me, friend and neighbour; we will get a pair of scales, then you Robin Mutton shall be put into one of them, and Tup Robin into the other. Now I will hold you a peck of Busch oysters that in weight, value, and price he shall outdo you, and you shall be found light in the very numerical manner as when you shall be hanged and suspended.

Patience, said Panurge; but you would do much for me and your whole posterity if you would chaffer with me for him, or some other of his inferiors. I beg it of you; good your worship, be so kind. Hark ye, friend of mine, answered the other; with the fleece of these your fine Rouen cloth is to be made; your Leominster superfine wool is mine arse to it; mere flock in comparison. Of their skins the best cordovan will be made, which shall be sold for Turkey and Montelimart, or for Spanish leather at least. Of the guts shall be made fiddle and harp strings that will sell as dear as if they came from Munican or Aquileia. What do you think on’t, hah? If you please, sell me one of them, said Panurge, and I will be yours for ever. Look, here’s ready cash. What’s the price? This he said exhibiting his purse stuffed with new Henricuses.

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