Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 9

How Pantagruel arrived at the island of Ennasin, and of the strange ways of being akin in that country.

We had still the wind at south-south-west, and had been a whole day without making land. On the third day, at the flies’ uprising (which, you know, is some two or three hours after the sun’s), we got sight of a triangular island, very much like Sicily for its form and situation. It was called the Island of Alliances.

The people there are much like your carrot-pated Poitevins, save only that all of them, men, women, and children, have their noses shaped like an ace of clubs. For that reason the ancient name of the country was Ennasin. They were all akin, as the mayor of the place told us; at least they boasted so.

You people of the other world esteem it a wonderful thing that, out of the family of the Fabii at Rome, on a certain day, which was the 13th of February, at a certain gate, which was the Porta Carmentalis, since named Scelerata, formerly situated at the foot of the Capitol, between the Tarpeian rock and the Tiber, marched out against the Veientes of Etruria three hundred and six men bearing arms, all related to each other, with five thousand other soldiers, every one of them their vassals, who were all slain near the river Cremera, that comes out of the lake of Beccano. Now from this same country of Ennasin, in case of need, above three hundred thousand, all relations and of one family, might march out. Their degrees of consanguinity and alliance are very strange; for being thus akin and allied to one another, we found that none was either father or mother, brother or sister, uncle or aunt, nephew or niece, son-in-law or daughter-in-law, godfather or godmother, to the other; unless, truly, a tall flat-nosed fellow, who, as I perceived, called a little shitten-arsed girl of three or four years old, father, and the child called him daughter.

Their distinction of degrees of kindred was thus: a man used to call a woman, my lean bit; the woman called him, my porpoise. Those, said Friar John, must needs stink damnably of fish when they have rubbed their bacon one with the other. One, smiling on a young buxom baggage, said, Good morrow, dear currycomb. She, to return him his civility, said, The like to you, my steed. Ha! ha! ha! said Panurge, that is pretty well, in faith; for indeed it stands her in good stead to currycomb this steed. Another greeted his buttock with a Farewell, my case. She replied, Adieu, trial. By St. Winifred’s placket, cried Gymnast, this case has been often tried. Another asked a she-friend of his, How is it, hatchet? She answered him, At your service, dear helve. Odds belly, saith Carpalin, this helve and this hatchet are well matched. As we went on, I saw one who, calling his she-relation, styled her my crumb, and she called him, my crust.

Quoth one to a brisk, plump, juicy female, I am glad to see you, dear tap. So am I to find you so merry, sweet spiggot, replied she. One called a wench, his shovel; she called him, her peal: one named his, my slipper; and she, my foot: another, my boot; she, my shasoon.

In the same degree of kindred, one called his, my butter; she called him, my eggs; and they were akin just like a dish of buttered eggs. I heard one call his, my tripe, and she him, my faggot. Now I could not, for the heart’s blood of me, pick out or discover what parentage, alliance, affinity, or consanguinity was between them, with reference to our custom; only they told us that she was faggot’s tripe. (Tripe de fagot means the smallest sticks in a faggot.) Another, complimenting his convenient, said, Yours, my shell; she replied, I was yours before, sweet oyster. I reckon, said Carpalin, she hath gutted his oyster. Another long-shanked ugly rogue, mounted on a pair of high-heeled wooden slippers, meeting a strapping, fusty, squabbed dowdy, says he to her, How is’t my top? She was short upon him, and arrogantly replied, Never the better for you, my whip. By St. Antony’s hog, said Xenomanes, I believe so; for how can this whip be sufficient to lash this top?

A college professor, well provided with cod, and powdered and prinked up, having a while discoursed with a great lady, taking his leave with these words, Thank you, sweetmeat; she cried, There needs no thanks, sour-sauce. Saith Pantagruel, This is not altogether incongruous, for sweet meat must have sour sauce. A wooden loggerhead said to a young wench, It is long since I saw you, bag; All the better, cried she, pipe. Set them together, said Panurge, then blow in their arses, it will be a bagpipe. We saw, after that, a diminutive humpbacked gallant, pretty near us, taking leave of a she-relation of his, thus: Fare thee well, friend hole; she reparteed, Save thee, friend peg. Quoth Friar John, What could they say more, were he all peg and she all hole? But now would I give something to know if every cranny of the hole can be stopped up with that same peg.

A bawdy bachelor, talking with an old trout, was saying, Remember, rusty gun. I will not fail, said she, scourer. Do you reckon these two to be akin? said Pantagruel to the mayor. I rather take them to be foes. In our country a woman would take this as a mortal affront. Good people of t’other world, replied the mayor, you have few such and so near relations as this gun and scourer are to one another; for they both come out of one shop. What, was the shop their mother? quoth Panurge. What mother, said the mayor, does the man mean? That must be some of your world’s affinity; we have here neither father nor mother. Your little paltry fellows that live on t’other side the water, poor rogues, booted with wisps of hay, may indeed have such; but we scorn it. The good Pantagruel stood gazing and listening; but at those words he had like to have lost all patience [Here Motteux adds an aside —’(Greek). M.’].

Having very exactly viewed the situation of the island and the way of living of the Enassed nation, we went to take a cup of the creature at a tavern, where there happened to be a wedding after the manner of the country. Bating that shocking custom, there was special good cheer.

While we were there, a pleasant match was struck up betwixt a female called Pear (a tight thing, as we thought, but by some, who knew better things, said to be quaggy and flabby), and a young soft male, called Cheese, somewhat sandy. (Many such matches have been, and they were formerly much commended.) In our country we say, Il ne fut onques tel mariage, qu’est de la poire et du fromage; there is no match like that made between the pear and the cheese; and in many other places good store of such bargains have been driven. Besides, when the women are at their last prayers, it is to this day a noted saying, that after cheese comes nothing.

In another room I saw them marrying an old greasy boot to a young pliable buskin. Pantagruel was told that young buskin took old boot to have and to hold because she was of special leather, in good case, and waxed, seared, liquored, and greased to the purpose, even though it had been for the fisherman that went to bed with his boots on. In another room below, I saw a young brogue taking a young slipper for better for worse; which, they told us, was neither for the sake of her piety, parts, or person, but for the fourth comprehensive p, portion; the spankers, spur-royals, rose-nobles, and other coriander seed with which she was quilted all over.

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