The Fourth Book/Chapter XXV

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How, after the storm, Pantagruel went on shore in the islands of the Macreons

Immediately after we went ashore at the port of an island which they called the island of the Macreons. The good people of the place received us very honourably. An old Macrobius (so they called their eldest elderman) desired Pantagruel to come to the town-house to refresh himself and eat something, but he would not budge a foot from the mole till all his men were landed. After he had seen them, he gave order that they should all change clothes, and that some of all the stores in the fleet should be brought on shore, that every ship's crew might live well; which was accordingly done, and God wot how well they all toped and caroused. The people of the place brought them provisions in abundance. The Pantagruelists returned them more; as the truth is, theirs were somewhat damaged by the late storm. When they had well stuffed the insides of their doublets, Pantagruel desired everyone to lend their help to repair the damage; which they readily did. It was easy enough to refit there; for all the inhabitants of the island were carpenters and all such handicrafts as are seen in the arsenal at Venice. None but the largest island was inhabited, having three ports and ten parishes; the rest being overrun with wood and desert, much like the forest of Arden. We entreated the old Macrobius to show us what was worth seeing in the island; which he did; and in the desert and dark forest we discovered several old ruined temples, obelisks, pyramids, monuments, and ancient tombs, with divers inscriptions and epitaphs; some of them in hieroglyphic characters; others in the Ionic dialect; some in the Arabic, Agarenian, Slavonian, and other tongues; of which Epistemon took an exact account. In the interim, Panurge said to Friar John, Is this the island of the Macreons? Macreon signifies in Greek an old man, or one much stricken in years. What is that to me? said Friar John; how can I help it? I was not in the country when they christened it. Now I think on't, quoth Panurge, I believe the name of mackerel (Motteux adds, between brackets,--'that's a Bawd in French.') was derived from it; for procuring is the province of the old, as buttock-riggling is that of the young. Therefore I do not know but this may be the bawdy or Mackerel Island, the original and prototype of the island of that name at Paris. Let's go and dredge for cock-oysters. Old Macrobius asked, in the Ionic tongue, How, and by what industry and labour, Pantagruel got to their port that day, there having been such blustering weather and such a dreadful storm at sea. Pantagruel told him that the Almighty Preserver of mankind had regarded the simplicity and sincere affection of his servants, who did not travel for gain or sordid profit, the sole design of their voyage being a studious desire to know, see, and visit the Oracle of Bacbuc, and take the word of the Bottle upon some difficulties offered by one of the company; nevertheless this had not been without great affliction and evident danger of shipwreck. After that, he asked him what he judged to be the cause of that terrible tempest, and if the adjacent seas were thus frequently subject to storms; as in the ocean are the Ratz of Sammaieu, Maumusson, and in the Mediterranean sea the Gulf of Sataly, Montargentan, Piombino, Capo Melio in Laconia, the Straits of Gibraltar, Faro di Messina, and others.