How Panurge had a flea in his ear, and forbore to wear any longer his magnificent codpiece.
Panurge, the day thereafter, caused pierce his right ear after the Jewish fashion, and thereto clasped a little gold ring, of a ferny-like kind of workmanship, in the beazil or collet whereof was set and enchased a flea; and, to the end you may be rid of all doubts, you are to know that the flea was black. O, what a brave thing it is, in every case and circumstance of a matter, to be thoroughly well informed! The sum of the expense hereof, being cast up, brought in, and laid down upon his council-board carpet, was found to amount to no more quarterly than the charge of the nuptials of a Hircanian tigress; even, as you would say, 600,000 maravedis. At these vast costs and excessive disbursements, as soon as he perceived himself to be out of debt, he fretted much; and afterwards, as tyrants and lawyers use to do, he nourished and fed her with the sweat and blood of his subjects and clients.
He then took four French ells of a coarse brown russet cloth, and therein apparelling himself, as with a long, plain-seamed, and single-stitched gown, left off the wearing of his breeches, and tied a pair of spectacles to his cap. In this equipage did he present himself before Pantagruel; to whom this disguise appeared the more strange, that he did not, as before, see that goodly, fair, and stately codpiece, which was the sole anchor of hope wherein he was wonted to rely, and last refuge he had midst all the waves and boisterous billows which a stormy cloud in a cross fortune would raise up against him. Honest Pantagruel, not understanding the mystery, asked him, by way of interrogatory, what he did intend to personate in that new-fangled prosopopoeia. I have, answered Panurge, a flea in mine ear, and have a mind to marry. In a good time, quoth Pantagruel, you have told me joyful tidings. Yet would not I hold a red-hot iron in my hand for all the gladness of them. But it is not the fashion of lovers to be accoutred in such dangling vestments, so as to have their shirts flagging down over their knees, without breeches, and with a long robe of a dark brown mingled hue, which is a colour never used in Talarian garments amongst any persons of honour, quality, or virtue. If some heretical persons and schismatical sectaries have at any time formerly been so arrayed and clothed (though many have imputed such a kind of dress to cosenage, cheat, imposture, and an affectation of tyranny upon credulous minds of the rude multitude), I will nevertheless not blame them for it, nor in that point judge rashly or sinistrously of them. Everyone overflowingly aboundeth in his own sense and fancy; yea, in things of a foreign consideration, altogether extrinsical and indifferent, which in and of themselves are neither commendable nor bad, because they proceed not from the interior of the thoughts