When he saw me, he invited me to drink with him very courteously, and I being willing to be entreated, we tippled and chopined together most theologically. In the meantime came Cyrus to beg one farthing of him for the honour of Mercury, therewith to buy a few onions for his supper. No, no, said Epictetus, I do not use in my almsgiving to bestow farthings. Hold, thou varlet, there’s a crown for thee; be an honest man. Cyrus was exceeding glad to have met with such a booty; but the other poor rogues, the kings that are there below, as Alexander, Darius, and others, stole it away from him by night. I saw Pathelin, the treasurer of Rhadamanthus, who, in cheapening the pudding-pies that Pope Julius cried, asked him how much a dozen. Three blanks, said the Pope. Nay, said Pathelin, three blows with a cudgel. Lay them down here, you rascal, and go fetch more. The poor Pope went away weeping, who, when he came to his master, the pie-maker, told him that they had taken away his pudding-pies. Whereupon his master gave him such a sound lash with an eel-skin, that his own would have been worth nothing to make bag-pipe-bags of. I saw Master John Le Maire there personate the Pope in such fashion that he made all the poor kings and popes of this world kiss his feet, and, taking great state upon him, gave them his benediction, saying, Get the pardons, rogues, get the pardons; they are good cheap. I absolve you of bread and pottage, and dispense with you to be never good for anything. Then, calling Caillet and Triboulet to him, he spoke these words, My lords the cardinals, despatch their bulls, to wit, to each of them a blow with a cudgel upon the reins. Which accordingly was forthwith performed. I heard Master Francis Villon ask Xerxes, How much the mess of mustard? A farthing, said Xerxes. To which the said Villon answered, The pox take thee for a villain! As much of square-eared wheat is not worth half that price, and now thou offerest to enhance the price of victuals. With this he pissed in his pot, as the mustard-makers of Paris used to do. I saw the trained bowman of the bathing tub, known by the name of the Francarcher de Baignolet, who, being one of the trustees of the Inquisition, when he saw Perce-Forest making water against a wall in which was painted the fire of St. Anthony, declared him heretic, and would have caused him to be burnt alive had it not been for Morgant, who, for his proficiat and other small fees, gave him nine tuns of beer.
Well, said Pantagruel, reserve all these fair stories for another time, only tell us how the usurers are there handled. I saw them, said Epistemon, all very busily employed in seeking of rusty pins and old nails in the kennels of the streets, as you see poor wretched rogues do in this world. But the quintal, or hundredweight, of this old ironware is there valued but at the price of a cantle of bread, and yet they have but a very bad despatch and riddance in the sale of it. Thus the poor misers are sometimes three whole weeks without eating one morsel or crumb of bread, and yet work both day and night, looking for the fair to come. Nevertheless, of all this labour, toil, and misery, they reckon nothing, so cursedly active they are in the prosecution of that their base calling, in hopes, at the end of the year, to earn some scurvy penny by it.