The way is this, said the interpreter. When a monk, levite, close-fisted usurer, or lawyer owes a grudge to some neighbouring gentleman, he sends to him one of those catchpoles or apparitors, who nabs, or at least cites him, serves a writ or warrant upon him, thumps, abuses, and affronts him impudently by natural instinct, and according to his pious instructions; insomuch, that if the gentleman hath but any guts in his brains, and is not more stupid than a gyrin frog, he will find himself obliged either to apply a faggot-stick or his sword to the rascal’s jobbernowl, give him the gentle lash, or make him cut a caper out at the window, by way of correction. This done, Catchpole is rich for four months at least, as if bastinadoes were his real harvest; for the monk, levite, usurer, or lawyer will reward him roundly; and my gentleman must pay him such swingeing damages that his acres must bleed for it, and he be in danger of miserably rotting within a stone doublet, as if he had struck the king.
Quoth Panurge, I know an excellent remedy against this used by the Lord of Basche. What is it? said Pantagruel. The Lord of Basche, said Panurge, was a brave, honest, noble-spirited gentleman, who, at his return from the long war in which the Duke of Ferrara, with the help of the French, bravely defended himself against the fury of Pope Julius the Second, was every day cited, warned, and prosecuted at the suit and for the sport and fancy of the fat prior of St. Louant.
One morning, as he was at breakfast with some of his domestics (for he loved to be sometimes among them) he sent for one Loire, his baker, and his spouse, and for one Oudart, the vicar of his parish, who was also his butler, as the custom was then in France; then said to them before his gentlemen and other servants: You all see how I am daily plagued with these rascally catchpoles. Truly, if you do not lend me your helping hand, I am finally resolved to leave the country, and go fight for the sultan, or the devil, rather than be thus eternally teased. Therefore, to be rid of their damned visits, hereafter, when any of them come here, be ready, you baker and your wife, to make your personal appearance in my great hall, in your wedding clothes, as if you were going to be affianced. Here, take these ducats, which I give you to keep you in a fitting garb. As for you, Sir Oudart, be sure you make your personal appearance there in your fine surplice and stole, not forgetting your holy water, as if you were to wed them. Be you there also, Trudon, said he to his drummer, with your pipe and tabor. The form of matrimony must be read, and the bride kissed; then all of you, as the witnesses used to do in this country, shall give one another the remembrance of the wedding, which you know is to be a blow with your fist, bidding the party struck remember the nuptials by that token. This will but make you have the better stomach to your supper; but when you come to the catchpole’s