The Fourth Book/Chapter XXXIX

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How Friar John joined with the cooks to fight the Chitterlings

Friar John seeing these furious Chitterlings thus boldly march up, said to Pantagruel, Here will be a rare battle of hobby-horses, a pretty kind of puppet-show fight, for aught I see. Oh! what mighty honour and wonderful glory will attend our victory! I would have you only be a bare spectator of this fight, and for anything else leave me and my men to deal with them. What men? said Pantagruel. Matter of breviary, replied Friar John. How came Potiphar, who was head-cook of Pharaoh's kitchens, he that bought Joseph, and whom the said Joseph might have made a cuckold if he had not been a Joseph; how came he, I say, to be made general of all the horse in the kingdom of Egypt? Why was Nabuzardan, King Nebuchadnezzar's head-cook, chosen to the exclusion of all other captains to besiege and destroy Jerusalem? I hear you, replied Pantagruel. By St. Christopher's whiskers, said Friar John, I dare lay a wager that it was because they had formerly engaged Chitterlings, or men as little valued; whom to rout, conquer, and destroy, cooks are without comparison more fit than cuirassiers and gendarmes armed at all points, or all the horse and foot in the world.

You put me in mind, said Pantagruel, of what is written amongst the facetious and merry sayings of Cicero. During the more than civil wars between Caesar and Pompey, though he was much courted by the first, he naturally leaned more to the side of the latter. Now one day hearing that the Pompeians in a certain rencontre had lost a great many men, he took a fancy to visit their camp. There he perceived little strength, less courage, but much disorder. From that time, foreseeing that things would go ill with them, as it since happened, he began to banter now one and then another, and be very free of his cutting jests; so some of Pompey's captains, playing the good fellows to show their assurance, told him, Do you see how many eagles we have yet? (They were then the device of the Romans in war.) They might be of use to you, replied Cicero, if you had to do with magpies.

Thus, seeing we are to fight Chitterlings, pursued Pantagruel, you infer thence that it is a culinary war, and have a mind to join with the cooks. Well, do as you please, I'll stay here in the meantime, and wait for the event of the rumpus.

Friar John went that very moment among the sutlers, into the cooks' tents, and told them in a pleasing manner: I must see you crowned with honour and triumph this day, my lads; to your arms are reserved such achievements as never yet were performed within the memory of man. Ods-belly, do they make nothing of the valiant cooks? Let us go fight yonder fornicating Chitterlings! I'll be your captain. But first let's drink, boys. Come on! let us be of good cheer. Noble captain, returned the kitchen tribe, this was spoken like yourself; bravely offered. Huzza! we are all at your excellency's command, and we live and die by you. Live, live, said Friar John, a God's name; but die by no means. That is the Chitterlings' lot; they shall have their bellyful of it. Come on then, let us put ourselves in order; Nabuzardan's the word.