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To reden in this book of wikked wives.
For trusteth wel, it is an impossible,
Upon a night Jankin, that was our sire,
Lo here expresse of wimmen may ye find, That woman was the losse of all mankind.
Tho redde he me how Sampson lost his heres Sleping, his lemman kitte hem with hire sheres, Thurgh whiche treson lost he both his eyen.
Tho redde he me, if that I shal not lien,
Nothing forgat he the care and the wo,
Of Pasiphae, that was the quene of Crete,
Of Clitemnestra for hire lecherie
He told me eke, for what occasion
Of Lima told he me, and of Lucie: They bothe made hir husbondes for to die, That on for love, that other was for hate. Lima hire husbond on an even late Empoysoned hath, for that she was his fo: Lucia likerous loved hire husbond so,
That for he shuld alway upon hire thinke,
him swiche a maner love-drinke, That he was ded er it were by the morwe: And thus algates husbondes hadden sorwe.
Than told he me, how on Latumeus
Of later date of wives hath he redde,
slain: Som han hem yeven poyson in hir drink: He spake more harm than herte may bethinke.
And therwithall he knew of mo proverbes, Than in this world their growen grass or herbes.
Bet is (quod he) thin habitation
Bet is (quod he) high in the roof abide,
He sayd, a woman cast hire shame away, Whan she cast of hire smock; and forthermo, A faire woman, but she be chast also,
Is like a gold ring in a sowes nose.
Who coude wene, or who coude suppose The wo that in min herte was, and the pine ? And whan I saw he n'olde never fine To reden on this cursed book all night, Al sodenly three leves have I plight Out of his book, right as he redde, and eke I with my fist so toke him on the cheke, That in oure fire he fell bakward adoun. And he up sterte, as doth a wood leoun, And with his fist he smote me on the hed, That in the flore I lay as I were ded. And whan he saw how stille that I lay, He was agast, and wold have fled away, Til at the last out of my swough I brayde. 0, hast thou slain me, false theef? I sayde, And for
lond thus hast thou mordred me? Er I be ded, yet wol I kissen thee. And nere he came, and kneled faire adoun, And sayde; dere suster Alisoun, As helpe me God I shal thee never smite: That I have don it is thyself to wite, Foryeve it me, and that I thee beseke. And yet eftsones I hitte him on the cheke, And sayde; theef, thus much am I awreke. Now wol I die, 1 may no longer speke.
But at the last, with mochel care and wo We fell accorded by ourselven two: He yaf me all the bridel in min hond To han the governance of hous and lond, And of his tonge, and of his hond also, And made him brenne his book anon right tho.
And whan that I had getten unto me By maistrie all the soverainetee,
And that he sayd, min owen trewe wif,
wol here. The frere lough whan he had herd all this: Now dame, quod he, so have I joye and blis, This is a long preamble of a tale.
And whan the Sompnour herd the frere gale, Lo (quod this Sompnour) Goddes armes two, A frere wol entermete him evermo: Lo, goode men, a flie and eke a frere Wol fall in every dish and eke matere. What spekest thou of preambulatioun? What? amble or trot; or pees, or go sit doun: Thou lettest our disport in this matere.
Ye,wolt thou so,Sire Sompnour?quod the frere; Now by my faith I shal, er that I Tell of a Sompnour swiche a tale or two, That all the folk shal laughen in this place.
Now elles, frere, I wol beshrewe thy face, (Quod this Sompnour) and I beshrewe me, But if I telle tales two or three Of freres, or I come to Sidenborne, That I shal make thin herte for to morne: For wel I wot thy patience is gon.
Our hoste cried; pees, and that anon; And sayde; let the woman tell hire tale. Ye fare as folk that dronken ben of ale.