Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 10

How Pantagruel went ashore at the island of Chely, where he saw King St. Panigon.

We sailed right before the wind, which we had at west, leaving those odd alliancers with their ace-of-clubs snouts, and having taken height by the sun, stood in for Chely, a large, fruitful, wealthy, and well-peopled island. King St. Panigon, first of the name, reigned there, and, attended by the princes his sons and the nobles of his court, came as far as the port to receive Pantagruel, and conducted him to his palace; near the gate of which the queen, attended by the princesses her daughters and the court ladies, received us. Panigon directed her and all her retinue to salute Pantagruel and his men with a kiss; for such was the civil custom of the country; and they were all fairly bussed accordingly, except Friar John, who stepped aside and sneaked off among the king’s officers. Panigon used all the entreaties imaginable to persuade Pantagruel to tarry there that day and the next; but he would needs be gone, and excused himself upon the opportunity of wind and weather, which, being oftener desired than enjoyed, ought not to be neglected when it comes. Panigon, having heard these reasons, let us go, but first made us take off some five-and-twenty or thirty bumpers each.

Pantagruel, returning to the port, missed Friar John, and asked why he was not with the rest of company. Panurge could not tell how to excuse him, and would have gone back to the palace to call him, when Friar John overtook them, and merrily cried, Long live the noble Panigon! As I love my belly, he minds good eating, and keeps a noble house and a dainty kitchen. I have been there, boys. Everything goes about by dozens. I was in good hopes to have stuffed my puddings there like a monk. What! always in a kitchen, friend? said Pantagruel. By the belly of St. Cramcapon, quoth the friar, I understand the customs and ceremonies which are used there much better than all the formal stuff, antique postures, and nonsensical fiddle-faddle that must be used with those women, magni magna, shittencumshita, cringes, grimaces, scrapes, bows, and congees; double honours this way, triple salutes that way, the embrace, the grasp, the squeeze, the hug, the leer, the smack, baso las manos de vostra merce, de vostra maesta. You are most tarabin, tarabas, Stront; that’s downright Dutch. Why all this ado? I don’t say but a man might be for a bit by the bye and away, to be doing as well as his neighbours; but this little nasty cringing and courtesying made me as mad as any March devil. You talk of kissing ladies; by the worthy and sacred frock I wear, I seldom venture upon it, lest I be served as was the Lord of Guyercharois. What was it? said Pantagruel; I know him. He is one of the best friends I have.

He was invited to a sumptuous feast, said Friar John, by a relation and neighbour of his, together with all the gentlemen and ladies in the neighbourhood. Now some of the latter expecting his coming, dressed the pages in women’s clothes, and finified them like any babies; then ordered them to meet my lord at his coming near the drawbridge. So the complimenting monsieur came, and there kissed the petticoated lads with great formality. At last the ladies, who minded passages in the gallery, burst out with laughing, and made signs to the pages to take off their dress; which the good lord having observed, the devil a bit he durst make up to the true ladies to kiss them, but said, that since they had disguised the pages, by his great grandfather’s helmet, these were certainly the very footmen and grooms still more cunningly disguised. Odds fish, da jurandi, why do not we rather remove our humanities into some good warm kitchen of God, that noble laboratory, and there admire the turning of the spits, the harmonious rattling of the jacks and fenders, criticise on the position of the lard, the temperature of the pottages, the preparation for the dessert, and the order of the wine service? Beati immaculati in via. Matter of breviary, my masters.

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