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To winnen good, thou rekkest never how,
Right so fare I, for riden wol I now
Unto the worldes ende for a praye.
A, quod this Sompnour, benedicite, what say ye? I wend ye were a yeman trewely. Ye have a mannes shape as wel as I. Have ye than a figure determinat In helle, ther ye ben in your estat?
Nay certainly, quod he, ther have we non, But whan us liketh we can take us on, Or elles make you wene that we ben shape Somtime like a man, or like an ape; Or like an angel can I ride or go; It is no wonder thing though it be so, A lousy jogelour can deceiven thee, And parde yet can I more craft than he.
Why, quod the Sompnour, ride ye than or gon In sondry shape, and not alway in on?
For we, quod he, wol us swiche forme make, As most is able our preye for to take.
What maketh you to han al this labour?
Ful many a cause, leve sire Sompnour,
Saide this fend. But alle thing hath time;
The day is short, and it is passed prime,
And yet ne wan I nothing in this day;
I wol entend to winning, if I may,
And not entend our thinges to declare:
For, brother min, thy wit is al to bare
To understand, although I told hem thee.
But for thou axest, why labouren we:
For somtime we be Goddes instruments,
And menes to don his commandements,
Whan that him list, upon his creatures,
In divers actes and in divers figures;
Withouten him we have no might certain,
If that him list to stonden theragain.
And somtime at our praiere han we leve,
Only the body, and not the soule to greve:
Witnesse on Job, whom that we diden wo,
And somtime han we might on bothe two,
This is to sain, on soule and body eke.
And somtime be we suffered for to seke
Upon a man, and don his soule unreste
And not his body, and all is for the beste.
Whan he withstandeth our temptation,
It is a cause of his salvation,
Al be it that it was not our entente
He shuld be sauf, but that we wold him hente,
And somtime be we servants unto man,
As to the archebishop Seint Dunstan,
And to the apostle servant eke was I.
Yet tell me, quod this Sompnour, faithfully,
Make ye you newe bodies thus alway
Of elements? The fend answered, nay:
Somtime we feine, and somtime we arise
With dede bodies, in ful sondry wise,
And speke as renably, and faire, and wel,
As to the Phitonesse did Samuel:
And yet wol som men say it was not he.
I do no force of your divinitee.
But o thing warne I thee, I wol not jape,
Thou wolt algates wete how we be shape:
Thou shalt hereafterward, my brother dere,
Come, wher thee nedeth not of me to lere,
For thou shalt by thin owen experience
Conne in a chaiere rede of this sentence,
Bet than Virgile, while he was on live,
Or Dant also. Now let us riden blive,
Fer I wol holden compagnie with thee,
Till it be so that thou forsake me.
Nay, quod this Sompnour, that shal never beI am a yeman knowen is ful wide;
My trouthe wol I hold, as in this cas.
For though thou were the devil Sathanas,
My trouthe wol I hold to thee, my brother,
As I have sworne, and eche of us to other,
For to be trewe brethren in this cas,
And bothe we gon abouten our pourchas.
Take thou thy part, what that men wol thee yeve,
And I shal min, thus may we bothe leve.
And if that any of us have more than other,
Let him be trewe, and part it with his brother.
I graunte, quod the devil, by my fay.
And with that word they riden forth hir way,
And right at entring of the tounes ende,
To which this Sompnour shope him for to wende,
They saw a cart, that charged was with hay,
Which that a carter drove forth on his way.
Depe was the way, for which the carte stood:
The carter smote, and cried as he were wood,
Heit scot, heit brok, what spare ye for the stones?
The fend (quod he) you fecche body and bones,
As ferforthly as ever ye were foled,
So mochel wo as I have with you tholed.
The devil have al, bothe hors, and cart, and hay.
The Sompnour sayde, here shal we have a pray; And nere the fend he drow, as nought ne were, Ful prively, and rouned in his ere:
Herken my brother, herken, by thy faith,
Herest thou not, how that the carter saith?
Hent it anon, for he hath yeve it thee,
Both hay and cart, and eke his caples three.
Nay, quod the devil, God wot, never a del, It is not his entente, trust thou me wel, Axe him thyself, if thou not trowest me, Or elles stint a while and thou shalt see.
This carter thakketh his hors upon the eroupe, And they begonne to drawen and to stoupe. Heit now, quod he, ther Jesu Crist you blesse, And all his hondes werk, both more and lesse: That was wel twight, min owen liard boy,
pray God save thy body and Seint Eloy. Now is my cart out of the slough parde.
Lo, brother, quod the fend, what told I thee? Here may ye seen, min owen dere brother, The cherl spake o thing, but he thought another. Let us go forth abouten our viage;
Here win I nothing upon this cariage.
Whan that they comen somwhat out of toun,
This Sompnour to his brother gan to roune;
Brother, quod he, here woneth an old rebekke,
That had almost as lefe to lese hire nekke,
As for to yeve a peny of hire good.
I wol have twelf pens though that she be wood,
Or I wol somone hire to our office;
And yet, God wot, of hire know I no vice.
But for thou canst not, as in this contree,
Winnen thy cost, take here ensample of me.
This Sompnour clappeth at the widewes gate;
Come out, he sayd, thou olde very trate;
I trow thou hast some frere or preest with thee.
Who clappeth? said this wif, benedicite,
God save you, sire, what is your swete will?
I have, quod he, of somons here a bill.
Up peine of cursing, loke that thou be
To-morwe before the archedekenes knee,
To answere to the court, of certain thinges.
Now lord, quod she, Crist Jesu, king of kinges,
So wisly helpe me, as I ne may.
I have ben sike, and that ful many a day.
I may not go so fer (quod she) ne ride,
But I be ded, so priketh it in my side.
May I not axe a libel, sire Sompnour,
And answere ther by my procuratour
To swiche thing as men wold apposen me?
Yes, quod this Sompnour, pay anon, let see,
Twelf pens to me, and I wol thee acquite.
I shal no profit han therby but lite:
My maister hath the profit and not I.
Come of, and let me riden hastily;
Yeve me twelf pens, I may no lenger tarie.
Twelf pens, quod she, now lady Seinte Marie
So wisly helpe me out of care and sinne,
This wide world though that I shuld it winne,
Ne have I not twelf pens within my hold.
Ye knowen wel that I am poure and old;
Kithe your almesse upon me poure wretche.
Nay than, quod he, the foule fend me fetche, If I thee excuse, though thou shuldest be spilt. Alas! quod she, God wot, I have no gilt. Pay me, quod he, or by the swete Seinte Anne As I wol bere away thy newe panne For dette, which thou owest me of old, Whan that thou madest thyn husbond cokewold, I paied at home for thy correction.
Thou liest, quod she, by my salvation, Ne was I never or now, widew ne wif, Sompned unto your court in all my lif; Ne never I n'as but of my body trewe. Unto the devil rough and blake of hewe