Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 29

How Pantagruel discomfited the three hundred giants armed with free-stone, and Loupgarou their captain.

The giants, seeing all their camp drowned, carried away their king Anarchus upon their backs as well as they could out of the fort, as Aeneas did to his father Anchises, in the time of the conflagration of Troy. When Panurge perceived them, he said to Pantagruel, Sir, yonder are the giants coming forth against you; lay on them with your mast gallantly, like an old fencer; for now is the time that you must show yourself a brave man and an honest. And for our part we will not fail you. I myself will kill to you a good many boldly enough; for why, David killed Goliath very easily; and then this great lecher, Eusthenes, who is stronger than four oxen, will not spare himself. Be of good courage, therefore, and valiant; charge amongst them with point and edge, and by all manner of means. Well, said Pantagruel, of courage I have more than for fifty francs, but let us be wise, for Hercules first never undertook against two. That is well cacked, well scummered, said Panurge; do you compare yourself with Hercules? You have, by G — more stretch in your teeth, and more scent in your bum, than ever Hercules had in all his body and soul. So much is a man worth as he esteems himself. Whilst they spake those words, behold! Loupgarou was come with all his giants, who, seeing Pantagruel in a manner alone, was carried away with temerity and presumption, for hopes that he had to kill the good man. Whereupon he said to his companions the giants, You wenchers of the low country, by Mahoom! if any of you undertake to fight against these men here, I will put you cruelly to death. It is my will that you let me fight single. In the meantime you shall have good sport to look upon us.

Then all the other giants retired with their king to the place where the flagons stood, and Panurge and his comrades with them, who counterfeited those that have had the pox, for he wreathed about his mouth, shrunk up his fingers, and with a harsh and hoarse voice said unto them, I forsake — od, fellow-soldiers, if I would have it to be believed that we make any war at all. Give us somewhat to eat with you whilest our masters fight against one another. To this the king and giants jointly condescended, and accordingly made them to banquet with them. In the meantime Panurge told them the follies of Turpin, the examples of St. Nicholas, and the tale of a tub. Loupgarou then set forward towards Pantagruel, with a mace all of steel, and that of the best sort, weighing nine thousand seven hundred quintals and two quarterons, at the end whereof were thirteen pointed diamonds, and least whereof was as big as the greatest bell of Our Lady’s Church at Paris — there might want perhaps the thickness of a nail, or at most, that I may not lie, of the back of those knives which they call cutlugs or earcutters, but for a little off or on, more or less, it is no matter — and it was enchanted in such sort that it could never break, but, contrarily, all that it did touch did break immediately. Thus, then, as he approached with great fierceness and pride of heart, Pantagruel, casting up his eyes to heaven, recommended himself to God with all his soul, making such a vow as followeth.

O thou Lord God, who hast always been my protector and my saviour! thou seest the distress wherein I am at this time. Nothing brings me hither but a natural zeal, which thou hast permitted unto mortals, to keep and defend themselves, their wives and children, country and family, in case thy own proper cause were not in question, which is the faith; for in such a business thou wilt have no coadjutors, only a catholic confession and service of thy word, and hast forbidden us all arming and defence. For thou art the Almighty, who in thine own cause, and where thine own business is taken to heart, canst defend it far beyond all that we can conceive, thou who hast thousand thousands of hundreds of millions of legions of angels, the least of which is able to kill all mortal men, and turn about the heavens and earth at his pleasure, as heretofore it very plainly appeared in the army of Sennacherib. If it may please thee, therefore, at this time to assist me, as my whole trust and confidence is in thee alone, I vow unto thee, that in all countries whatsoever wherein I shall have any power or authority, whether in this of Utopia or elsewhere, I will cause thy holy gospel to be purely, simply, and entirely preached, so that the abuses of a rabble of hypocrites and false prophets, who by human constitutions and depraved inventions have empoisoned all the world, shall be quite exterminated from about me.

This vow was no sooner made, but there was heard a voice from heaven saying, Hoc fac et vinces; that is to say, Do this, and thou shalt overcome. Then Pantagruel, seeing that Loupgarou with his mouth wide open was drawing near to him, went against him boldly, and cried out as loud as he was able, Thou diest, villain, thou diest! purposing by his horrible cry to make him afraid, according to the discipline of the Lacedaemonians. Withal, he immediately cast at him out of his bark, which he wore at his girdle, eighteen cags and four bushels of salt, wherewith he filled both his mouth, throat, nose, and eyes. At this Loupgarou was so highly incensed that, most fiercely setting upon him, he thought even then with a blow of his mace to have beat out his brains. But Pantagruel was very nimble, and had always a quick foot and a quick eye, and therefore with his left foot did he step back one pace, yet not so nimbly but that the blow, falling upon the bark, broke it in four thousand four score and six pieces, and threw all the rest of the salt about the ground. Pantagruel, seeing that, most gallantly displayed the vigour of his arms, and, according to the art of the axe, gave him with the great end of his mast a homethrust a little above the breast; then, bringing along the blow to the left side, with a slash struck him between the neck and shoulders. After that, advancing his right foot, he gave him a push upon the couillons with the upper end of his said mast, wherewith breaking the scuttle on the top thereof, he spilt three or four puncheons of wine that were left therein.

Upon that Loupgarou thought that he had pierced his bladder, and that the wine that came forth had been his urine. Pantagruel, being not content with this, would have doubled it by a side-blow; but Loupgarou, lifting up his mace, advanced one step upon him, and with all his force would have dashed it upon Pantagruel, wherein, to speak to the truth, he so sprightfully carried himself, that, if God had not succoured the good Pantagruel, he had been cloven from the top of his head to the bottom of his milt. But the blow glanced to the right side by the brisk nimbleness of Pantagruel, and his mace sank into the ground above threescore and thirteen foot, through a huge rock, out of which the fire did issue greater than nine thousand and six tons. Pantagruel, seeing him busy about plucking out his mace, which stuck in the ground between the rocks, ran upon him, and would have clean cut off his head, if by mischance his mast had not touched a little against the stock of Loupgarou’s mace, which was enchanted, as we have said before. By this means his mast broke off about three handfuls above his hand, whereat he stood amazed like a bell-founder, and cried out, Ah, Panurge, where art thou? Panurge, seeing that, said to the king and the giants, By G — they will hurt one another if they be not parted. But the giants were as merry as if they had been at a wedding. Then Carpalin would have risen from thence to help his master; but one of the giants said unto him, By Golfarin, the nephew of Mahoom, if thou stir hence I will put thee in the bottom of my breeches instead of a suppository, which cannot choose but do me good. For in my belly I am very costive, and cannot well cagar without gnashing my teeth and making many filthy faces. Then Pantagruel, thus destitute of a staff, took up the end of his mast, striking athwart and alongst upon the giant, but he did him no more hurt than you would do with a fillip upon a smith’s anvil. In the (mean) time Loupgarou was drawing his mace out of the ground, and, having already plucked it out, was ready therewith to have struck Pantagruel, who, being very quick in turning, avoided all his blows in taking only the defensive part in hand, until on a sudden he saw that Loupgarou did threaten him with these words, saying, Now, villain, will not I fail to chop thee as small as minced meat, and keep thee henceforth from ever making any more poor men athirst! For then, without any more ado, Pantagruel struck him such a blow with his foot against the belly that he made him fall backwards, his heels over his head, and dragged him thus along at flay-buttock above a flight-shot. Then Loupgarou cried out, bleeding at the throat, Mahoom, Mahoom, Mahoom! at which noise all the giants arose to succour him. But Panurge said unto them, Gentlemen, do not go, if will believe me, for our master is mad, and strikes athwart and alongst, he cares not where; he will do you a mischief. But the giants made no account of it, seeing that Pantagruel had never a staff.

And when Pantagruel saw those giants approach very near unto him, he took Loupgarou by the two feet, and lift up his body like a pike in the air, wherewith, it being harnessed with anvils, he laid such heavy load amongst those giants armed with free-stone, that, striking them down as a mason doth little knobs of stones, there was not one of them that stood before him whom he threw not flat to the ground. And by the breaking of this stony armour there was made such a horrible rumble as put me in mind of the fall of the butter-tower of St. Stephen’s at Bourges when it melted before the sun. Panurge, with Carpalin and Eusthenes, did cut in the mean time the throats of those that were struck down, in such sort that there escaped not one. Pantagruel to any man’s sight was like a mower, who with his scythe, which was Loupgarou, cut down the meadow grass, to wit, the giants; but with this fencing of Pantagruel’s Loupgarou lost his head, which happened when Pantagruel struck down one whose name was Riflandouille, or Pudding-plunderer, who was armed cap-a-pie with Grison stones, one chip whereof splintering abroad cut off Epistemon’s neck clean and fair. For otherwise the most part of them were but lightly armed with a kind of sandy brittle stone, and the rest with slates. At last, when he saw that they were all dead, he threw the body of Loupgarou as hard as he could against the city, where falling like a frog upon his belly in the great Piazza thereof, he with the said fall killed a singed he-cat, a wet she-cat, a farting duck, and a bridled goose.

Striking them down as a mason doth little knobs of stone.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59