Gargantua/Chapter XLIV

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How the Monk rid himself of his keepers, and how Picrochole's forlorn hope was defeated

The monk, seeing them break off thus without order, conjectured that they were to set upon Gargantua and those that were with him, and was wonderfully grieved that he could not succour them. Then considered he the countenance of the two keepers in whose custody he was, who would have willingly run after the troops to get some booty and plunder, and were always looking towards the valley unto which they were going. Farther, he syllogized, saying, These men are but badly skilled in matters of war, for they have not required my parole, neither have they taken my sword from me. Suddenly hereafter he drew his brackmard or horseman's sword, wherewith he gave the keeper which held him on the right side such a sound slash that he cut clean through the jugulary veins and the sphagitid or transparent arteries of the neck, with the fore-part of the throat called the gargareon, even unto the two adenes, which are throat kernels; and, redoubling the blow, he opened the spinal marrow betwixt the second and third vertebrae. There fell down that keeper stark dead to the ground. Then the monk, reining his horse to the left, ran upon the other, who, seeing his fellow dead, and the monk to have the advantage of him, cried with a loud voice, Ha, my lord prior, quarter; I yield, my lord prior, quarter; quarter, my good friend, my lord prior. And the monk cried likewise, My lord posterior, my friend, my lord posterior, you shall have it upon your posteriorums. Ha, said the keeper, my lord prior, my minion, my gentle lord prior, I pray God make you an abbot. By the habit, said the monk, which I wear, I will here make you a cardinal. What! do you use to pay ransoms to religious men? You shall therefore have by-and-by a red hat of my giving. And the fellow cried, Ha, my lord prior, my lord prior, my lord abbot that shall be, my lord cardinal, my lord all! Ha, ha, hes, no, my lord prior, my good little lord the prior, I yield, render and deliver myself up to you. And I deliver thee, said the monk, to all the devils in hell. Then at one stroke he cut off his head, cutting his scalp upon the temple-bones, and lifting up in the upper part of the skull the two triangulary bones called sincipital, or the two bones bregmatis, together with the sagittal commissure or dartlike seam which distinguisheth the right side of the head from the left, as also a great part of the coronal or forehead bone, by which terrible blow likewise he cut the two meninges or films which enwrap the brain, and made a deep wound in the brain's two posterior ventricles, and the cranium or skull abode hanging upon his shoulders by the skin of the pericranium behind, in form of a doctor's bonnet, black without and red within. Thus fell he down also to the ground stark dead.

And presently the monk gave his horse the spur, and kept the way that the enemy held, who had met with Gargantua and his companions in the broad highway, and were so diminished of their number for the enormous slaughter that Gargantua had made with his great tree amongst them, as also Gymnast, Ponocrates, Eudemon, and the rest, that they began to retreat disorderly and in great haste, as men altogether affrighted and troubled in both sense and understanding, and as if they had seen the very proper species and form of death before their eyes; or rather, as when you see an ass with a brizze or gadbee under his tail, or fly that stings him, run hither and thither without keeping any path or way, throwing down his load to the ground, breaking his bridle and reins, and taking no breath nor rest, and no man can tell what ails him, for they see not anything touch him. So fled these people destitute of wit, without knowing any cause of flying, only pursued by a panic terror which in their minds they had conceived. The monk, perceiving that their whole intent was to betake themselves to their heels, alighted from his horse and got upon a big large rock which was in the way, and with his great brackmard sword laid such load upon those runaways, and with main strength fetching a compass with his arm without feigning or sparing, slew and overthrew so many that his sword broke in two pieces. Then thought he within himself that he had slain and killed sufficiently, and that the rest should escape to carry news. Therefore he took up a battle-axe of those that lay there dead, and got upon the rock again, passing his time to see the enemy thus flying and to tumble himself amongst the dead bodies, only that he suffered none to carry pike, sword, lance, nor gun with him, and those who carried the pilgrims bound he made to alight, and gave their horses unto the said pilgrims, keeping them there with him under the hedge, and also Touchfaucet, who was then his prisoner.