Chapter 48 How Gargantua set upon Picrochole within the rock Clermond, an_tterly defeated the army of the said Picrochole
Gargantua had the charge of the whole army, and his father Grangousier staye_n his castle, who, encouraging them with good words, promised great reward_nto those that should do any notable service. Having thus set forward, a_oon as they had gained the pass at the ford of Vede, with boats and bridge_peedily made they passed over in a trice. Then considering the situation o_he town, which was on a high and advantageous place, Gargantua thought fit t_all his council, and pass that night in deliberation upon what was to b_one. But Gymnast said unto him, My sovereign lord, such is the nature an_omplexion of the French, that they are worth nothing but at the first push.
Then are they more fierce than devils. But if they linger a little and b_earied with delays, they'll prove more faint and remiss than women. M_pinion is, therefore, that now presently, after your men have taken breat_nd some small refection, you give order for a resolute assault, and that w_torm them instantly. His advice was found very good, and for effectuatin_hereof he brought forth his army into the plain field, and placed th_eserves on the skirt or rising of a little hill. The monk took along with hi_ix companies of foot and two hundred horsemen well armed, and with grea_iligence crossed the marsh, and valiantly got upon the top of the gree_illock even unto the highway which leads to Loudun. Whilst the assault wa_hus begun, Picrochole's men could not tell well what was best, to issue ou_nd receive the assailants, or keep within the town and not to stir. Himsel_n the mean time, without deliberation, sallied forth in a rage with th_avalry of his guard, who were forthwith received and royally entertained wit_reat cannon-shot that fell upon them like hail from the high grounds on whic_he artillery was planted. Whereupon the Gargantuists betook themselves unt_he valleys, to give the ordnance leave to play and range with the large_cope.
Those of the town defended themselves as well as they could, but their sho_assed over us without doing us any hurt at all. Some of Picrochole's men tha_ad escaped our artillery set most fiercely upon our soldiers, but prevaile_ittle; for they were all let in betwixt the files, and there knocked down t_he ground, which their fellow-soldiers seeing, they would have retreated, bu_he monk having seized upon the pass by the which they were to return, the_an away and fled in all the disorder and confusion that could be imagined.
Some would have pursued after them and followed the chase, but the mon_ithheld them, apprehending that in their pursuit the pursuers might los_heir ranks, and so give occasion to the besieged to sally out of the tow_pon them. Then staying there some space and none coming against him, he sen_he Duke Phrontist to advise Gargantua to advance towards the hill upon th_eft hand, to hinder Picrochole's retreat at that gate; which Gargantua di_ith all expedition, and sent thither four brigades under the conduct o_ebast, which had no sooner reached the top of the hill, but they me_icrochole in the teeth, and those that were with him scattered.
Then charged they upon them stoutly, yet were they much endamaged by thos_hat were upon the walls, who galled them with all manner of shot, both fro_he great ordnance, small guns, and bows. Which Gargantua perceiving, he wen_ith a strong party to their relief, and with his artillery began to thunde_o terribly upon that canton of the wall, and so long, that all the strengt_ithin the town, to maintain and fill up the breach, was drawn thither. Th_onk seeing that quarter which he kept besieged void of men and competen_uards, and in a manner altogether naked and abandoned, did most magnanimousl_n a sudden lead up his men towards the fort, and never left it till he ha_ot up upon it, knowing that such as come to the reserve in a conflict brin_ith them always more fear and terror than those that deal about them wit_hey hands in the fight.
Nevertheless, he gave no alarm till all his soldiers had got within the wall,
except the two hundred horsemen, whom he left without to secure his entry.
Then did he give a most horrible shout, so did all these who were with him,
and immediately thereafter, without resistance, putting to the edge of th_word the guard that was at that gate, they opened it to the horsemen, wit_hom most furiously they altogether ran towards the east gate, where all th_urlyburly was, and coming close upon them in the rear overthrew all thei_orces.
The besieged, seeing that the Gargantuists had won the town upon them, an_hat they were like to be secure in no corner of it, submitted themselves unt_he mercy of the monk, and asked for quarter, which the monk very nobl_ranted to them, yet made them lay down their arms; then, shutting them u_ithin churches, gave order to seize upon all the staves of the crosses, an_laced men at the doors to keep them from coming forth. Then opening that eas_ate, he issued out to succour and assist Gargantua. But Picrochole, thinkin_t had been some relief coming to him from the town, adventured more forwardl_han before, and was upon the giving of a most desperate home-charge, whe_argantua cried out, Ha, Friar John, my friend Friar John, you are come in _ood hour. Which unexpected accident so affrighted Picrochole and his men,
that, giving all for lost, they betook themselves to their heels, and fled o_ll hands. Gargantua chased them till they came near to Vaugaudry, killing an_laying all the way, and then sounded the retreat.