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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.
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, Ι 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 VOL. I.
Yeve I thy body and my panne also.
And whan the devil herd hire cursen so Upon hire knees, he sayd in this manere;
Now, Mabily, min owen moder dere, Is this your will in ernest that ye sey? The devil, quod she, so fetche him or he dey, And panne and all, but he wol him repent. Nay, olde stot, that is not min entent, Quod this Sompnour, for to repenten me For any thing that I have had of thee; I wold I had thy smok and every cloth. Now brother, quod the devil, be not wroth; Thy body and this panne ben min by right. Thou shalt with me to helle yet to-night, Wher thou shalt knowen of our privetee More than a maister of divinitee.
And with that word the foule fend him hent. Body and soule, he with the devil went, Wher as thise Sompnours han hir heritage; And God that maked after his image Mankinde, save and gide us all and some, And lene this Sompnour good man to become.
Lordings, I coude have told you, (quod this Had I had leiser for this Sompnour here, [frere) After the text of Crist, and Poule, and John, And of oure other doctours many on, Swiche peines, that your hertes might agrise, Al be it so, that no tonge may devise, Though that I might a thousand winter telle, The peines of thilke cursed hous of helle. But for to kepe us fro that cursed place, Waketh, and prayeth Jesu of his grace, So kepe us fro the temptour Sathanas. Herkneth this word, beware as in this cas.
The leon sit in his awaite alway
The fend, that you wold maken thral and bond;
THE SOMPNOURES PROLOGUE.
This Frere bosteth that he knoweth helle,
For parde, ye han often time herd telle,
And as an angel lad him up and doun,
Unto this angel spake the Frere tho;
Yes, quod this angel, many a millioun: And unto Sathanas he lad him doun.
(And now hath Sathanas, saith he, a tayl
God save you alle, save this cursed frere; My prologue wol I end in this manere.
THE SOMPNOURES TALE. LORDINGS, ther is in Yorkshire, as I gesse, A mersh contree ycalled Holdernesse,
In which ther went a limitour aboute
To preche, and eke to beg, it is no doute.
To trentals, and to yeve for Goddes sake,
Not ther as it is wasted and devoured,
And whan this frere had said all his entent,
And wrote alway the names, as he stood,