While we were thus talking, there came to us the great flask whom our lantern called the philosopher, her holiness the Bottle’s governor. He was attended with a troop of the temple-guards, all French bottles in wicker armour; and seeing us with our javelins wrapped with ivy, with our illustrious lantern, whom he knew, he desired us to come in with all manner of safety, and ordered we should be immediately conducted to the Princess Bacbuc, the Bottle’s lady of honour, and priestess of all the mysteries; which was done.
How we went down the tetradic steps, and of Panurge’s fear.
We went down one marble step under ground, where there was a resting, or, as our workmen call it, a landing-place; then, turning to the left, we went down two other steps, where there was another resting-place; after that we came to three other steps, turning about, and met a third; and the like at four steps which we met afterwards. There quoth Panurge, Is it here? How many steps have you told? asked our magnificent lantern. One, two, three, four, answered Pantagruel. How much is that? asked she. Ten, returned he. Multiply that, said she, according to the same Pythagorical tetrad. That is, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, cried Pantagruel. How much is the whole? said she. One hundred, answered Pantagruel. Add, continued she, the first cube—that’s eight. At the end of that fatal number you’ll find the temple gate; and pray observe, this is the true psychogony of Plato, so celebrated by the Academics, yet so little understood; one moiety of which consists of the unity of the two first numbers full of two square and two cubic numbers. We then went down those numerical stairs, all under ground, and I can assure you, in the first place, that our legs stood us in good stead; for had it not been for ’em, we had rolled just like so many hogsheads into a vault. Secondly, our radiant lantern gave us just so much light as is in St. Patrick’s hole in Ireland, or Trophonius’s pit in Boeotia; which caused Panurge to say to her, after we had got down some seventy-eight steps:
Dear madam, with a sorrowful, aching heart, I most humbly beseech your lanternship to lead us back. May I be led to hell if I be not half dead with fear; my heart is sunk down into my hose; I am afraid I shall make buttered eggs in my breeches. I freely consent never to marry. You have given yourself too much trouble on my account. The Lord shall reward you in his great rewarder; neither will I be ungrateful when I come out of this cave of Troglodytes. Let’s go back, I pray you. I’m very much afraid this is Taenarus, the low way to hell, and methinks I already hear Cerberus bark. Hark! I hear the cur, or my ears tingle. I have no manner of kindness for the dog, for there never is a greater toothache than when dogs bite us by the shins. And if this be only Trophonius’s