The other cause of my being averse from consulting with dumb women is, that to our signs they would make no answer at all, but suddenly fall backwards in a divarication posture, to intimate thereby unto us the reality of their consent to the supposed motion of our tacit demands. Or if they should chance to make any countersigns responsory to our propositions, they would prove so foolish, impertinent, and ridiculous, that by them ourselves should easily judge their thoughts to have no excursion beyond the duffling academy. You know very well how at Brignoles, when the religious nun, Sister Fatbum, was made big with child by the young Stiffly-stand-to’t, her pregnancy came to be known, and she cited by the abbess, and, in a full convention of the convent, accused of incest. Her excuse was that she did not consent thereto, but that it was done by the violence and impetuous force of the Friar Stiffly-stand-to’t. Hereto the abbess very austerely replying, Thou naughty wicked girl, why didst thou not cry, A rape, a rape! then should all of us have run to thy succour. Her answer was that the rape was committed in the dortour, where she durst not cry because it was a place of sempiternal silence. But, quoth the abbess, thou roguish wench, why didst not thou then make some sign to those that were in the next chamber beside thee? To this she answered that with her buttocks she made a sign unto them as vigorously as she could, yet never one of them did so much as offer to come to her help and assistance. But, quoth the abbess, thou scurvy baggage, why didst thou not tell it me immediately after the perpetration of the fact, that so we might orderly, regularly, and canonically have accused him? I would have done so, had the case been mine, for the clearer manifestation of mine innocency. I truly, madam, would have done the like with all my heart and soul, quoth Sister Fatbum, but that fearing I should remain in sin, and in the hazard of eternal damnation, if prevented by a sudden death, I did confess myself to the father friar before he went out of the room, who, for my penance, enjoined me not to tell it, or reveal the matter unto any. It were a most enormous and horrid offence, detestable before God and the angels, to reveal a confession. Such an abominable wickedness would have possibly brought down fire from heaven, wherewith to have burnt the whole nunnery, and sent us all headlong to the bottomless pit, to bear company with Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.
You will not, quoth Pantagruel, with all your jesting, make me laugh. I know that all the monks, friars, and nuns had rather violate and infringe the highest of the commandments of God than break the least of their provincial statutes. Take you therefore Goatsnose, a man very fit for your present purpose; for he is, and hath been, both dumb and deaf from the very remotest infancy of his childhood.