A little while after Pantagruel heard news that his father Gargantua had been translated into the land of the fairies by Morgue, as heretofore were Ogier and Arthur; as also, (In the original edition it stands ’together, and that.’—M.) that the report of his translation being spread abroad, the Dipsodes had issued out beyond their borders, with inroads had wasted a great part of Utopia, and at that very time had besieged the great city of the Amaurots. Whereupon departing from Paris without bidding any man farewell, for the business required diligence, he came to Rouen.
Now Pantagruel in his journey seeing that the leagues of that little territory about Paris called France were very short in regard of those of other countries, demanded the cause and reason of it from Panurge, who told him a story which Marotus of the Lac, monachus, set down in the Acts of the Kings of Canarre, saying that in old times countries were not distinguished into leagues, miles, furlongs, nor parasangs, until that King Pharamond divided them, which was done in manner as followeth. The said king chose at Paris a hundred fair, gallant, lusty, brisk young men, all resolute and bold adventurers in Cupid’s duels, together with a hundred comely, pretty, handsome, lovely and well-complexioned wenches of Picardy, all which he caused to be well entertained and highly fed for the space of eight days. Then having called for them, he delivered to every one of the young men his wench, with store of money to defray their charges, and this injunction besides, to go unto divers places here and there. And wheresoever they should biscot and thrum their wenches, that, they setting a stone there, it should be accounted for a league. Thus went away those brave fellows and sprightly blades most merrily, and because they were fresh and had been at rest, they very often jummed and fanfreluched almost at every field’s end, and this is the cause why the leagues about Paris are so short. But when they had gone a great way, and were now as weary as poor devils, all the oil in their lamps being almost spent, they did not chink and duffle so often, but contented themselves (I mean for the men’s part) with one scurvy paltry bout in a day, and this is that which makes the leagues in Brittany, Delanes, Germany, and other more remote countries so long. Other men give other reasons for it, but this seems to me of all other the best. To which Pantagruel willingly adhered. Parting from Rouen, they arrived at Honfleur, where they took shipping, Pantagruel, Panurge, Epistemon, Eusthenes, and Carpalin.
In which place, waiting for a favourable wind, and caulking their ship, he received from a lady of Paris, which I (he) had formerly kept and entertained a good long time, a letter directed on the outside thus, —To the best beloved of the fair women, and least loyal of the valiant men —P.N.T.G.R.L.