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But he that nought hath, ne coveiteth to have,
Juvenal saith of poverte merily:
frendes see. And therfore, sire, sin that I you not greve, Of my poverte no more me repreve.
Now, sire, of elde, that ye repreven me:
Now ther ye sain that I am foule and old,
Chese now (quod she) on of thise thinges twey,
Or elles wol
wel be? Now chese yourselven whether that you
liketh. This knight aviseth him, and sore siketh, But at the last he said in this manere;
My lady and my love, and wif so dere, I put me in your
governance, Cheseth yourself which may be most plesance And most honour to you and me also, I do no force the whether of the two: For as you liketh, it sufficeth me.
Thay have I got the maisterie, quod she, Sin I may chese and governe as me lest. Ye certes, wit, quod he, 1 hold it best.
Kisse me, quod she, we be no lenger wrothe, For by my trouth I wol be to you bothe, This is to sayn, ye bothe faire and good. I pray
to God that I mote sterven wood, But I to you be al so good and trewe, As ever was wif, sin that the world was newe; And but I be to-morwe as faire to seen, As any lady, emperice, or quene, That is betwix the Est and eke the West, Doth with my lif and deth right as you
the curtein, loke how that it is.
And thus they live unto hir lives ende
to overlive hem that we wed.
THE FRERES PROLOGUE. This worthy limitour, this noble Frere, He made alway a maner louring chere Upon the Sompnour, but for honestee No vilains word as yet to him spake he: But at the last he said unto the wif; Dame, (quod he) God yeve you right good lif, Ye have here touched, all so mote I the, In scole matere a ful gret difficultee. Ye han said mochel thing right wel, I say: But, dame, here as we riden by the way, Us nedeth not to speken but of game, And let auctoritees in Goddes name To preching, and to scole eke of clergie.
But if it like unto this compagnie, I wol you of a Sompnour tell a game; Parde ye may wel knowen by the name, That of a Sompnour may no good be said; I pray that non of you be evil apaid; A Sompnour is a renner up and doun With mandements for fornicatioun, And is ybete at every tounes ende. shende
Tho spake our hoste; A, sire, ye shuld ben
And curteis, as a man of your estat,
THE FRERES TALE. Whilom ther was dwelling in my contree An archedeken, a mạn of high degree, That boldely did execution In punishing of fornication, Of witchecraft, and eke of bauderie, Of defamation, and avouterie, Of chirche-reves, and of testaments, Of contracts, and of lack of sacraments, Of usure, and of simonie also; But certes lechours did he gretest wo; They shulden singen, if that they were hent; And smale titheres weren foule yshent, If any persone wold upon hem plaine, Ther might astert hem no pecunial peine. For smale tithes, and smale offering, He made the peple pitously to sing;
For er the bishop hent hem with his crook
He had a Sompnour redy to his hond,
Peter, so ben the women of the stives, Quod this Sompnour, yput out of our cure.
Pees, with mischance and with misaventure, Our hoste said, and let him tell his tale. Now telleth forth, and let the Sompnour gale, Ne spareth not, min owen maister dere.
This false theef, this Sompnour, quod the frere, Had alway baudes redy to his hond, As any hauke to lure in Englelond, That told him all the secree that they knewe, For hir acquaintance was not come of newe; They weren his approvers prively. He tooke himself a gret profit therby: His maister knew not alway what he wan. Withouten mandement, a lewed man He coude sompne, up peine of Cristes curse, And they were inly glad to fille his purse, And maken him gret festes at the nale. And right as Judas hadde purses smale