Pantagruel/Chapter XIV

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Pantagruel by François Rabelais, translated by Thomas Urquhart and Peter Antony Motteux
~ How Panurge related the manner how he escaped out of the hands of the Turks


How Panurge related the manner how he escaped out of the hands of the Turks

The great wit and judgment of Pantagruel was immediately after this made known unto all the world by setting forth his praises in print, and putting upon record this late wonderful proof he hath given thereof amongst the rolls of the crown and registers of the palace, in such sort that everybody began to say that Solomon, who by a probable guess only, without any further certainty, caused the child to be delivered to its own mother, showed never in his time such a masterpiece of wisdom as the good Pantagruel hath done. Happy are we, therefore, that have him in our country. And indeed they would have made him thereupon master of the requests and president in the court; but he refused all, very graciously thanking them for their offer. For, said he, there is too much slavery in these offices, and very hardly can they be saved that do exercise them, considering the great corruption that is amongst men. Which makes me believe, if the empty seats of angels be not filled with other kind of people than those, we shall not have the final judgment these seven thousand, sixty and seven jubilees yet to come, and so Cusanus will be deceived in his conjecture. Remember that I have told you of it, and given you fair advertisement in time and place convenient.

But if you have any hogsheads of good wine, I willingly will accept of a present of that. Which they very heartily did do, in sending him of the best that was in the city, and he drank reasonably well, but poor Panurge bibbed and boused of it most villainously, for he was as dry as a red-herring, as lean as a rake, and, like a poor, lank, slender cat, walked gingerly as if he had trod upon eggs. So that by someone being admonished, in the midst of his draught of a large deep bowl full of excellent claret with these words--Fair and softly, gossip, you suck up as if you were mad --I give thee to the devil, said he; thou hast not found here thy little tippling sippers of Paris, that drink no more than the little bird called a spink or chaffinch, and never take in their beakful of liquor till they be bobbed on the tails after the manner of the sparrows. O companion! if I could mount up as well as I can get down, I had been long ere this above the sphere of the moon with Empedocles. But I cannot tell what a devil this means. This wine is so good and delicious, that the more I drink thereof the more I am athirst. I believe that the shadow of my master Pantagruel engendereth the altered and thirsty men, as the moon doth the catarrhs and defluxions. At which word the company began to laugh, which Pantagruel perceiving, said, Panurge, what is that which moves you to laugh so? Sir, said he, I was telling them that these devilish Turks are very unhappy in that they never drink one drop of wine, and that though there were no other harm in all Mahomet's Alcoran, yet for this one base point of abstinence from wine which therein is commanded, I would not submit myself unto their law. But now tell me, said Pantagruel, how you escaped out of their hands. By G--, sir, said Panurge, I will not lie to you in one word.

The rascally Turks had broached me upon a spit all larded like a rabbit, for I was so dry and meagre that otherwise of my flesh they would have made but very bad meat, and in this manner began to roast me alive. As they were thus roasting me, I recommended myself unto the divine grace, having in my mind the good St. Lawrence, and always hoped in God that he would deliver me out of this torment. Which came to pass, and that very strangely. For as I did commit myself with all my heart unto God, crying, Lord God, help me! Lord God, save me! Lord God, take me out of this pain and hellish torture, wherein these traitorous dogs detain me for my sincerity in the maintenance of thy law! The roaster or turnspit fell asleep by the divine will, or else by the virtue of some good Mercury, who cunningly brought Argus into a sleep for all his hundred eyes. When I saw that he did no longer turn me in roasting, I looked upon him, and perceived that he was fast asleep. Then took I up in my teeth a firebrand by the end where it was not burnt, and cast it into the lap of my roaster, and another did I throw as well as I could under a field-couch that was placed near to the chimney, wherein was the straw-bed of my master turnspit. Presently the fire took hold in the straw, and from the straw to the bed, and from the bed to the loft, which was planked and ceiled with fir, after the fashion of the foot of a lamp. But the best was, that the fire which I had cast into the lap of my paltry roaster burnt all his groin, and was beginning to cease (seize) upon his cullions, when he became sensible of the danger, for his smelling was not so bad but that he felt it sooner than he could have seen daylight. Then suddenly getting up, and in a great amazement running to the window, he cried out to the streets as high as he could, Dal baroth, dal baroth, dal baroth, which is as much to say as Fire, fire, fire. Incontinently turning about, he came straight towards me to throw me quite into the fire, and to that effect had already cut the ropes wherewith my hands were tied, and was undoing the cords from off my feet, when the master of the house hearing him cry Fire, and smelling the smoke from the very street where he was walking with some other Bashaws and Mustaphas, ran with all the speed he had to save what he could, and to carry away his jewels. Yet such was his rage, before he could well resolve how to go about it, that he caught the broach whereon I was spitted and therewith killed my roaster stark dead, of which wound he died there for want of government or otherwise; for he ran him in with the spit a little above the navel, towards the right flank, till he pierced the third lappet of his liver, and the blow slanting upwards from the midriff or diaphragm, through which it had made penetration, the spit passed athwart the pericardium or capsule of his heart, and came out above at his shoulders, betwixt the spondyls or turning joints of the chine of the back and the left homoplat, which we call the shoulder-blade.

True it is, for I will not lie, that, in drawing the spit out of my body I fell to the ground near unto the andirons, and so by the fall took some hurt, which indeed had been greater, but that the lardons, or little slices of bacon wherewith I was stuck, kept off the blow. My Bashaw then seeing the case to be desperate, his house burnt without remission, and all his goods lost, gave himself over unto all the devils in hell, calling upon some of them by their names, Grilgoth, Astaroth, Rappalus, and Gribouillis, nine several times. Which when I saw, I had above sixpence' worth of fear, dreading that the devils would come even then to carry away this fool, and, seeing me so near him, would perhaps snatch me up to. I am already, thought I, half roasted, and my lardons will be the cause of my mischief; for these devils are very liquorous of lardons, according to the authority which you have of the philosopher Jamblicus, and Murmault, in the Apology of Bossutis, adulterated pro magistros nostros. But for my better security I made the sign of the cross, crying, Hageos, athanatos, ho theos, and none came. At which my rogue Bashaw being very much aggrieved would, in transpiercing his heart with my spit, have killed himself, and to that purpose had set it against his breast, but it could not enter, because it was not sharp enough. Whereupon I perceiving that he was not like to work upon his body the effect which he intended, although he did not spare all the force he had to thrust it forward, came up to him and said, Master Bugrino, thou dost here but trifle away thy time, or rashly lose it, for thou wilt never kill thyself thus as thou doest. Well, thou mayst hurt or bruise somewhat within thee, so as to make thee languish all thy lifetime most pitifully amongst the hands of the chirurgeons; but if thou wilt be counselled by me, I will kill thee clear outright, so that thou shalt not so much as feel it, and trust me, for I have killed a great many others, who have found themselves very well after it. Ha, my friend, said he, I prithee do so, and for thy pains I will give thee my codpiece (budget); take, here it is, there are six hundred seraphs in it, and some fine diamonds and most excellent rubies. And where are they? said Epistemon. By St. John, said Panurge, they are a good way hence, if they always keep going. But where is the last year's snow? This was the greatest care that Villon the Parisian poet took. Make an end, said Pantagruel, that we may know how thou didst dress thy Bashaw. By the faith of an honest man, said Panurge, I do not lie in one word. I swaddled him in a scurvy swathel-binding which I found lying there half burnt, and with my cords tied him roister-like both hand and foot, in such sort that he was not able to wince; then passed my spit through his throat, and hanged him thereon, fastening the end thereof at two great hooks or crampirons, upon which they did hang their halberds; and then, kindling a fair fire under him, did flame you up my Milourt, as they use to do dry herrings in a chimney. With this, taking his budget and a little javelin that was upon the foresaid hooks, I ran away a fair gallop-rake, and God he knows how I did smell my shoulder of mutton.

When I was come down into the street, I found everybody come to put out the fire with store of water, and seeing me so half-roasted, they did naturally pity my case, and threw all their water upon me, which, by a most joyful refreshing of me, did me very much good. Then did they present me with some victuals, but I could not eat much, because they gave me nothing to drink but water after their fashion. Other hurt they did me none, only one little villainous Turkey knobbreasted rogue came thiefteously to snatch away some of my lardons, but I gave him such a sturdy thump and sound rap on the fingers with all the weight of my javelin, that he came no more the second time. Shortly after this there came towards me a pretty young Corinthian wench, who brought me a boxful of conserves, of round Mirabolan plums, called emblicks, and looked upon my poor robin with an eye of great compassion, as it was flea-bitten and pinked with the sparkles of the fire from whence it came, for it reached no farther in length, believe me, than my knees. But note that this roasting cured me entirely of a sciatica, whereunto I had been subject above seven years before, upon that side which my roaster by falling asleep suffered to be burnt.

Now, whilst they were thus busy about me, the fire triumphed, never ask how? For it took hold on above two thousand houses, which one of them espying cried out, saying, By Mahoom's belly, all the city is on fire, and we do nevertheless stand gazing here, without offering to make any relief. Upon this everyone ran to save his own; for my part, I took my way towards the gate. When I was got upon the knap of a little hillock not far off, I turned me about as did Lot's wife, and, looking back, saw all the city burning in a fair fire, whereat I was so glad that I had almost beshit myself for joy. But God punished me well for it. How? said Pantagruel. Thus, said Panurge; for when with pleasure I beheld this jolly fire, jesting with myself, and saying--Ha! poor flies, ha! poor mice, you will have a bad winter of it this year; the fire is in your reeks, it is in your bed-straw--out come more than six, yea, more than thirteen hundred and eleven dogs, great and small, altogether out of the town, flying away from the fire. At the first approach they ran all upon me, being carried on by the scent of my lecherous half-roasted flesh, and had even then devoured me in a trice, if my good angel had not well inspired me with the instruction of a remedy very sovereign against the toothache. And wherefore, said Pantagruel, wert thou afraid of the toothache or pain of the teeth? Wert thou not cured of thy rheums? By Palm Sunday, said Panurge, is there any greater pain of the teeth than when the dogs have you by the legs? But on a sudden, as my good angel directed me, I thought upon my lardons, and threw them into the midst of the field amongst them. Then did the dogs run, and fight with one another at fair teeth which should have the lardons. By this means they left me, and I left them also bustling with and hairing one another. Thus did I escape frolic and lively, gramercy roastmeat and cookery.