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Whan that our Hoste had herd this sermoning,
He gan to speke as lordly as a king,
And sayde; What amounteth all this wit?
What? shall we speke all day of holy writ?
The divel made a Reve for to preche,
Or of a souter a shipman, or a leche.
Say forth thy tale, and tary not the time:
Lo Depeford, and it is half way prime:
Lo Grenewich, ther many a shrew is inne.
It were al time thy tale to beginne.
Now, sires, quod this Osewold the Reve,
I pray you alle, that ye not you greve,
Though I answere, and somdel set his howve,
For leful is with force force off to showve.
This dronken Miller hath ytold us here,
How that begiled was a carpentere,
Paraventure in scorne, for I am on:
And by your leve, I shal him quite anon,
Right in his cherles termes wol I speke.
I pray to God his necke mote to-breke.
He can wel in min eye seen a stalk,
But in his owen he cannot seen a balk,
THE REVES TALE.
AT Trompington, not fer fro Cantebrigge,
Ther goth a brook, and over that a brigge,
Upon the whiche brook ther stont a melle:
And this is veray sothe, that I you telle.
A miller was ther dwelling many a day,
As any peacok he was proude and gay:
Pipen he coude, and fishe, and nettes bete,
And turnen cuppes, and wrastlen wel, and shete.
Ay by his belt he bare a long pavade,
And of a swerd ful trenchant was the blade.
A joly popper bare he in his pouche;
Ther n'as no man for peril dorst him touche.
A Shefeld thwitel bare he in his hose.
Round was his face, and camuse was his nose.
As pilled as an ape was his skull.
He was a market-beter at the full.
Ther dorste no wight hond upon him legge,
That he ne swore he shuld anon abegge.
A thefe he was forsoth, of corn and mele,
And that a slie, and usant for to stele.
His name was hoten deinous Simekin.
A wif he hadde, comen of noble kin:
The person of the toun hire father was.
With hire he yaf ful many a panne of bras,
For that Simkin shuld in his blood allie.
She was yfostered in a nonnerie:
For Simkin wolde no wif, as he sayde,
But she were wel ynourished, and a mayde,
To saven his estat of yemanrie:
And she was proud, and pert as is a pie.
A ful faire sight was it upon hem two.
On holy dayes beforne hire wold he go
With his tipet ybounde about his hed;
And she came after in a gite of red,
And Simkin hadde hosen of the same.
Ther dorste no wight clepen hire but dame:
Was non so hardy, that went by the way,
That with hire dorste rage or ones play,
But if he wold be slain of Simekin
With pavade, or with knif, or bodekin.
(For jalous folk ben perilous evermo:
Algate they wold hir wives wenden so.)
And eke for she was somdel smoterlich,
She was as digne as water in a dich,
And al so ful of hoker, and of bismare.
Hire thoughte that a ladie shuld hire spare,
What for hire kinrede, and hire nortelrie,
That she had lerned in the nonnerie.
A doughter hadden they betwix hem two
Of twenty yere, withouten any mo,
Saving a child that was of half yere age,
In cradle it lay, and was a propre page.
This wenche thicke and wel ygrowen was,
With camuse nose, and eyen grey as glas;
With buttokes brode, and brestes round and hie;
But right faire was hire here, I wol nat lie.
The person of the toun, for she was faire,
purpos was to maken hire his haire
Both of his catel, and of his mesuage,
And strange he made it of hire mariage.
His purpos was for to bestowe hire hie
Into som worthy blood of ancestrie.
For holy chirches good mote ben despended
On holy chirches blood that is descended.
Therfore he wolde his holy-blood honoure,
Though that he holy chirche shuld devoure.
Gret soken hath this miller out of doute With whete and malt, of all the land aboute; And namely ther was a gret college
Men clepe the Soler hall at Cantebrege,
Ther was hir whete and eke hir malt yground.
And on a day it happed in a stound,
Sike lay the manciple on a maladie,
Men wenden wisly that he shulde die.
For which this miller stale both mele and corn
An hundred times more than beforn.
For therbeforn he stale but curteisly,
But now he was a thefe outrageously.
For which the werdein chidde and made fare,
But therof set the miller not a tare;
He craked bost, and swore it n'as not so.
Than were ther yonge poure scoleres two,
That dwelten in the halle of which I say;
Testif they were, and lusty for to play;
And only for hir mirth and revelrie
Upon the wardein besily they crie,
To yeve hem leve but a litel stound,
To gon to mille, and seen hir corn yground:
And hardily they dorsten lay hir necke,
The miller shuld not stele hem half a pecke
Of corn by sleighte, ne by force hem reve.
And at the last the wardein yave hem leve: John highte that on, and Alein highte that other, Of o toun were they born, that highte Strother, Fer in the North, I can not tellen where.
This Alein maketh redy all his gere, And on a hors the sack he cast anon: Forth goth Alein the clerk, and also John, With good swerd and with bokeler by hir side. John knew the way, him neded not no guide, And at the mille the sak adoun he laith.
Alein spake first; All haile, Simond, in faith, How fares thy faire doughter, and thy wif? Alein, welcome (quod Simkin) by my lif, And John also: how now, what do ye here? By God, Simond, (quod John) nede has no pere. Him behoves serve himself that has na swain, Or elles he is a fool, as clerkes sain.
Our manciple I hope he wol be ded,
Swa werkes ay the wanges in his hed:
And therfore is I come, and eke Alein,
To grind our corn and cary it hame agein:
I pray you spede us henen that ye may.
It shal be don (quod Simkin) by my fay.
What wol ye don while that it is in hand?
By God, right by the hopper wol I stand,
(Quod John) and seen how that the corn gas in.
Yet saw I never by my fader kin,
How that the hopper wagges til and fra.
Alein answered; John, and wolt thou swa? Than wol I be benethe by my croun,
And see how that the mele falles adoun
In til the trogh, that shal be my disport:
For, John, in faith I may ben of
I is as ill a miller as is ye.
This miller smiled at hir nicetee,
And thought, all this n'is don but for a wile.
They wenen that no man may hem begile,
But by my thrift yet shal I blere hir eie,
For all the sleighte in hir philosophie.
The more queinte knakkes that they make,
The more wol I stele whan that I take.
In stede of flour yet wol I yeve hem bren.
The gretest clerkes ben not the wisest men,
As whilom to the wolf thus spake the mare:
Of all hir art ne count I not a tare.
Out at the dore he goth ful prively,
Whan that he saw his time, softely.
He loketh up and doun, til he hath found
The clerkes hors, ther as he stood ybound
Behind the mille, under a levesell:
And to the hors he goth him faire and well,