Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 8

How with much ado we got a sight of the pope-hawk.

Our junketting and banqueting held on at the same rate the third day as the two former. Pantagruel then earnestly desired to see the pope-hawk; but Aedituus told him it was not such an easy matter to get a sight of him. How, asked Pantagruel, has he Plato’s helmet on his crown, Gyges’s ring on his pounces, or a chameleon on his breast, to make him invisible when he pleases? No, sir, returned Aedituus; but he is naturally of pretty difficult access. However, I’ll see and take care that you may see him, if possible. With this he left us piddling; then within a quarter of an hour came back, and told us the pope-hawk is now to be seen. So he led us, without the least noise, directly to the cage wherein he sat drooping, with his feathers staring about him, attended by a brace of little cardin-hawks and six lusty fusty bish-hawks.

Panurge stared at him like a dead pig, examining exactly his figure, size, and motions. Then with a loud voice he said, A curse light on the hatcher of the ill bird; o’ my word, this is a filthy whoop-hooper. Tush, speak softly, said Aedituus; by G — he has a pair of ears, as formerly Michael de Matiscones remarked. What then? returned Panurge; so hath a whoopcat. So, said Aedituus; if he but hear you speak such another blasphemous word, you had as good be damned. Do you see that basin yonder in his cage? Out of it shall sally thunderbolts and lightnings, storms, bulls, and the devil and all, that will sink you down to Peg Trantum’s, an hundred fathom under ground. It were better to drink and be merry, quoth Friar John.

Panurge was still feeding his eyes with the sight of the pope-hawk and his attendants, when somewhere under his cage he perceived a madge-howlet. With this he cried out, By the devil’s maker, master, there’s roguery in the case; they put tricks upon travellers here more than anywhere else, and would make us believe that a t — d’s a sugarloaf. What damned cozening, gulling, and coney-catching have we here! Do you see this madge-howlet? By Minerva, we are all beshit. Odsoons, said Aedituus, speak softly, I tell you. It is no madge-howlet, no she-thing on my honest word; but a male, and a noble bird.

May we not hear the pope-hawk sing? asked Pantagruel. I dare not promise that, returned Aedituus; for he only sings and eats at his own hours. So don’t I, quoth Panurge; poor pilgarlic is fain to make everybody’s time his own; if they have time, I find time. Come, then, let us go drink, if you will. Now this is something like a tansy, said Aedituus; you begin to talk somewhat like; still speak in that fashion, and I’ll secure you from being thought a heretic. Come on, I am of your mind.

As we went back to have t’other fuddling bout, we spied an old green-headed bish-hawk, who sat moping with his mate and three jolly bittern attendants, all snoring under an arbour. Near the old cuff stood a buxom abbess-kite that sung like any linnet; and we were so mightily tickled with her singing that I vow and swear we could have wished all our members but one turned into ears, to have had more of the melody. Quoth Panurge, This pretty cherubim of cherubims is here breaking her head with chanting to this huge, fat, ugly face, who lies grunting all the while like a hog as he is. I will make him change his note presently, in the devil’s name. With this he rang a bell that hung over the bish-hawk’s head; but though he rang and rang again, the devil a bit bish-hawk would hear; the louder the sound, the louder his snoring. There was no making him sing. By G — quoth Panurge, you old buzzard, if you won’t sing by fair means, you shall by foul. Having said this, he took up one of St. Stephen’s loaves, alias a stone, and was going to hit him with it about the middle. But Aedituus cried to him, Hold, hold, honest friend! strike, wound, poison, kill, and murder all the kings and princes in the world, by treachery or how thou wilt, and as soon as thou wouldst unnestle the angels from their cockloft. Pope-hawk will pardon thee all this. But never be so mad as to meddle with these sacred birds, as much as thou lovest the profit, welfare, and life not only of thyself, and thy friends and relations alive or dead, but also of those that may be born hereafter to the thousandth generation; for so long thou wouldst entail misery upon them. Do but look upon that basin. Catso! let us rather drink, then, quoth Panurge. He that spoke last, spoke well, Mr. Antitus, quoth Friar John; while we are looking on these devilish birds we do nothing but blaspheme; and while we are taking a cup we do nothing but praise God. Come on, then, let’s go drink; how well that word sounds!

The third day (after we had drank, as you must understand) Aedituus dismissed us. We made him a present of a pretty little Perguois knife, which he took more kindly than Artaxerxes did the cup of cold water that was given him by a clown. He most courteously thanked us, and sent all sorts of provisions aboard our ships, wished us a prosperous voyage and success in our undertakings, and made us promise and swear by Jupiter of stone to come back by his territories. Finally he said to us, Friends, pray note that there are many more stones in the world than men; take care you don’t forget it.

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