The Fourth Book/Chapter LXIII

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How Pantagruel fell asleep near the island of Chaneph, and of the problems proposed to be solved when he waked

The next day, merrily pursuing our voyage, we came in sight of the island of Chaneph, where Pantagruel's ship could not arrive, the wind chopping about, and then failing us so that we were becalmed, and could hardly get ahead, tacking about from starboard to larboard, and larboard to starboard, though to our sails we added drabblers.

With this accident we were all out of sorts, moping, drooping, metagrabolized, as dull as dun in the mire, in C sol fa ut flat, out of tune, off the hinges, and I-don't-know-howish, without caring to speak one single syllable to each other.

Pantagruel was taking a nap, slumbering and nodding on the quarter-deck by the cuddy, with an Heliodorus in his hand; for still it was his custom to sleep better by book than by heart.

Epistemon was conjuring, with his astrolabe, to know what latitude we were in.

Friar John was got into the cook-room, examining, by the ascendant of the spits and the horoscope of ragouts and fricassees, what time of day it might then be.

Panurge (sweet baby!) held a stalk of Pantagruelions, alias hemp, next his tongue, and with it made pretty bubbles and bladders.

Gymnast was making tooth-pickers with lentisk.

Ponocrates, dozing, dozed, and dreaming, dreamed; tickled himself to make himself laugh, and with one finger scratched his noddle where it did not itch.

Carpalin, with a nutshell and a trencher of verne (that's a card in Gascony), was making a pretty little merry windmill, cutting the card longways into four slips, and fastening them with a pin to the convex of the nut, and its concave to the tarred side of the gunnel of the ship.

Eusthenes, bestriding one of the guns, was playing on it with his fingers as if it had been a trump-marine.

Rhizotome, with the soft coat of a field tortoise, alias ycleped a mole, was making himself a velvet purse.

Xenomanes was patching up an old weather-beaten lantern with a hawk's jesses

Our pilot (good man!) was pulling maggots out of the seamen's noses.

At last Friar John, returning from the forecastle, perceived that Pantagruel was awake. Then breaking this obstinate silence, he briskly and cheerfully asked him how a man should kill time, and raise good weather, during a calm at sea.

Panurge, whose belly thought his throat cut, backed the motion presently, and asked for a pill to purge melancholy.

Epistemon also came on, and asked how a man might be ready to bepiss himself with laughing when he has no heart to be merry.

Gymnast, arising, demanded a remedy for a dimness of eyes.

Ponocrates, after he had a while rubbed his noddle and shaken his ears, asked how one might avoid dog-sleep. Hold! cried Pantagruel, the Peripatetics have wisely made a rule that all problems, questions, and doubts which are offered to be solved ought to be certain, clear, and intelligible. What do you mean by dog-sleep? I mean, answered Ponocrates, to sleep fasting in the sun at noonday, as the dogs do.

Rhizotome, who lay stooping on the pump, raised his drowsy head, and lazily yawning, by natural sympathy set almost everyone in the ship a-yawning too; then he asked for a remedy against oscitations and gapings.

Xenomanes, half puzzled, and tired out with new-vamping his antiquated lantern, asked how the hold of the stomach might be so well ballasted and freighted from the keel to the main hatch, with stores well stowed, that our human vessels might not heel or be walt, but well trimmed and stiff.

Carpalin, twirling his diminutive windmill, asked how many motions are to be felt in nature before a gentleman may be said to be hungry.

Eusthenes, hearing them talk, came from between decks, and from the capstan called out to know why a man that is fasting, bit by a serpent also fasting, is in greater danger of death than when man and serpent have eat their breakfasts;--why a man's fasting-spittle is poisonous to serpents and venomous creatures.

One single solution may serve for all your problems, gentlemen, answered Pantagruel; and one single medicine for all such symptoms and accidents. My answer shall be short, not to tire you with a long needless train of pedantic cant. The belly has no ears, nor is it to be filled with fair words; you shall be answered to content by signs and gestures. As formerly at Rome, Tarquin the Proud, its last king, sent an answer by signs to his son Sextus, who was among the Gabii at Gabii. (Saying this, he pulled the string of a little bell, and Friar John hurried away to the cook-room.) The son having sent his father a messenger to know how he might bring the Gabii under a close subjection, the king, mistrusting the messenger, made him no answer, and only took him into his privy garden, and in his presence with his sword lopped off the heads of the tall poppies that were there. The express returned without any other despatch, yet having related to the prince what he had seen his father do, he easily understood that by those signs he advised him to cut off the heads of the chief men in the town, the better to keep under the rest of the people.