This made me call to mind a saying of the venerable abbot of Castilliers, the very same who never cared to hump his chambermaids but when he was in pontificalibus. That pious person, being much dunned, teased, and importuned by his relations to resign his abbey in his old age, said and professed that he would not strip till he was ready to go to bed, and that the last fart which his reverend paternity was to utter should be the fart of an abbot.
How our ships were stranded, and we were relieved by some people that were subject to Queen Whims (qui tenoient de la Quinte).
We weighed and set sail with a merry westerly gale. When about seven leagues off (twenty-two miles) some gusts or scuds of wind suddenly arose, and the wind veering and shifting from point to point, was, as they say, like an old woman’s breech, at no certainty; so we first got our starboard tacks aboard, and hauled off our lee-sheets. Then the gusts increased, and by fits blowed all at once from several quarters, yet we neither settled nor braided up close our sails, but only let fly the sheets, not to go against the master of the ship’s direction; and thus having let go amain, lest we should spend our topsails, or the ship’s quick-side should lie in the water and she be overset, we lay by and run adrift; that is, in a landloper’s phrase, we temporized it. For he assured us that, as these gusts and whirlwinds would not do us much good, so they could not do us much harm, considering their easiness and pleasant strife, as also the clearness of the sky and calmness of the current. So that we were to observe the philosopher’s rule, bear and forbear; that is, trim, or go according to the time.
However, these whirlwinds and gusts lasted so long that we persuaded the master to let us go and lie at trie with our main course; that is, to haul the tack aboard, the sheet close aft, the bowline set up, and the helm tied close aboard; so, after a stormy gale of wind, we broke through the whirlwind. But it was like falling into Scylla to avoid Charybdis (out of the frying-pan into the fire). For we had not sailed a league ere our ships were stranded upon some sands such as are the flats of St. Maixent.
All our company seemed mightily disturbed except Friar John, who was not a jot daunted, and with sweet sugar-plum words comforted now one and then another, giving them hopes of speedy assistance from above, and telling them that he had seen Castor at the main-yardarm. Oh! that I were but now ashore, cried Panurge, that is all I wish for myself at present, and that you who like the sea so well had each man of you two hundred thousand crowns. I would fairly let you set up shop on these sands, and would get a fat calf dressed and a hundred of faggots (i.e. bottles of wine) cooled for you against you come ashore. I freely consent never to mount a wife, so you but set me ashore and