As we went back to our ships, we saw three waylayers, who, having been taken in ambuscado, were going to be broken on the wheel; and a huge fornicator was burned with a lingering fire for beating a way and breaking one of its sides; we were told it was the way of the banks of the Nile in Egypt.
How we came to the island of Sandals; and of the order of Semiquaver Friars.
Thence we went to the island of Sandals, whose inhabitants live on nothing but ling-broth. However, we were very kindly received and entertained by Benius the Third, king of the island, who, after he had made us drink, took us with him to show us a spick-and-span new monastery which he had contrived for the Semiquaver Friars; so he called the religious men whom he had there. For he said that on t’other side the water lived friars who styled themselves her sweet ladyship’s most humble servants. Item, the goodly Friar-minors, who are semibreves of bulls; the smoked-herring tribe of Minim Friars; then the Crotchet Friars. So that these diminutives could be no more than Semiquavers. By the statutes, bulls, and patents of Queen Whims, they were all dressed like so many house-burners, except that, as in Anjou your bricklayers use to quilt their knees when they tile houses, so these holy friars had usually quilted bellies, and thick quilted paunches were among them in much repute. Their codpieces were cut slipper-fashion, and every monk among them wore two—one sewed before and another behind —reporting that some certain dreadful mysteries were duly represented by this duplicity of codpieces.
They wore shoes as round as basins, in imitation of those who inhabit the sandy sea. Their chins were close-shaved, and their feet iron-shod; and to show they did not value fortune, Benius made them shave and poll the hind part of their polls as bare as a bird’s arse, from the crown to the shoulder-blades; but they had leave to let their hair grow before, from the two triangular bones in the upper part of the skull.
Thus did they not value fortune a button, and cared no more for the goods of this world than you or I do for hanging. And to show how much they defied that blind jilt, all of them wore, not in their hands like her, but at their waist, instead of beads, sharp razors, which they used to new-grind twice a day and set thrice a night.
Each of them had a round ball on their feet, because Fortune is said to have one under hers.
The flap of their cowls hanged forward, and not backwards, like those of others. Thus none could see their noses, and they laughed without fear both at fortune and the fortunate; neither more nor less than our ladies laugh at barefaced trulls when they have those mufflers on which they call masks, and which were formerly much more properly called charity, because they cover a multitude of sins.