When he had done thus speaking, he withdrew himself from the company. Pantagruel and others with him would have followed and accompanied him, but he would not permit them so to do. No sooner was Gargantua departed out of the banqueting-hall than that Pantagruel said to the invited guests: Plato’s Timaeus, at the beginning always of a solemn festival convention, was wont to count those that were called thereto. We, on the contrary, shall at the closure and end of this treatment reckon up our number. One, two, three; where is the fourth? I miss my friend Bridlegoose. Was not he sent for? Epistemon answered that he had been at his house to bid and invite him, but could not meet with him; for that a messenger from the parliament of Mirlingois, in Mirlingues, was come to him with a writ of summons to cite and warn him personally to appear before the reverend senators of the high court there, to vindicate and justify himself at the bar of the crime of prevarication laid to his charge, and to be peremptorily instanced against him in a certain decree, judgment, or sentence lately awarded, given, and pronounced by him; and that, therefore, he had taken horse and departed in great haste from his own house, to the end that without peril or danger of falling into a default or contumacy he might be the better able to keep the prefixed and appointed time.
I will, quoth Pantagruel, understand how that matter goeth. It is now above forty years that he hath been constantly the judge of Fonsbeton, during which space of time he hath given four thousand definitive sentences, of two thousand three hundred and nine whereof, although appeal was made by the parties whom he had judicially condemned from his inferior judicatory to the supreme court of the parliament of Mirlingois, in Mirlingues, they were all of them nevertheless confirmed, ratified, and approved of by an order, decree, and final sentence of the said sovereign court, to the casting of the appellants, and utter overthrow of the suits wherein they had been foiled at law, for ever and a day. That now in his old age he should be personally summoned, who in all the foregoing time of his life hath demeaned himself so unblamably in the discharge of the office and vocation he had been called unto, it cannot assuredly be that such a change hath happened without some notorious misfortune and disaster. I am resolved to help and assist him in equity and justice to the uttermost extent of my power and ability. I know the malice, despite, and wickedness of the world to be so much more nowadays exasperated, increased, and aggravated by what it was not long since, that the best cause that is, how just and equitable soever it be, standeth in great need to be succoured, aided, and supported. Therefore presently, from this very instant forth, do I purpose, till I see the event and closure thereof, most heedfully to attend and wait upon it, for fear of some underhand tricky surprisal, cavilling pettifoggery, or fallacious quirks in law, to his detriment, hurt, or disadvantage.