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This false chanoun came upon a day
Unto the prieste's chamber where he lay,
Beseeching him to lene him a certain
Of gold, and he would quit it him again.
“Lene me a mark," quod he, “but dayes three,
And at my day I will it quite thee.
And, if so be that thou finde me false,
Another day hong me up by the halse."
This priest him took a mark, and that as swithe ;
And this chanoun him thanked ofte sithe,
And took his leave, and wente forth his way;
And attè thriddè day brought his money,
And to the priest he took his gold again-
Whereof this priest was wonder glad and fain.
“Certes," quod he, “nothing annoyeth me
To lene a man a noble, or two or three,
Or what thing were in my possession,
Whan he so true is of condition
That in no wise he breake wol his day :
To such a man I can never say nay.'
“What !” quod this chanoun, “should I he untrue?
Nay, that were thing yfallen of the new !
Truth is a thing that I wol ever keep
Unto that day in which that I shall creep
Into my grave, and elles God forbede !
Believeth that as sicker as your creed.
God thank I, and in good time be it said,
That there was never man yet evil-apaid
For gold ne silver that he to me lent,
Ne never falsehood in my heart I meant.
Ard, sir,” quod he, "; now of my privity,
Sin' ye so goodlich have be unto me,
And kythed to me so great gentilesse,
Somewhat to quite with your kindeness,
I will you show, and, if you lust to lere,
I will you teache plainly, the mannere
How I can worken in philosophy.
Taketh good heed, ye shul seen well at ye
That I wol doon a maistry ere I go.”
“Yea?" quod the priest, "yea, sir, and wul ye so ?
Mary! thereof I pray you heartily.”
"At your commandement, sir, truely,"
Quod the chanoun, " and elles God forbede !"
Lo how this thief couthé his service beed !1
Full sooth it is that such proffered service
Stinketh, as witnessen these olde wise.
And that full soon I wol it verify
In this chanoun, root of all treachery,
That evermore delight hath and gladness
(Such fiendly thoughtes in his heart impress)
How Christe's people he may to mischief bring.
God keep us from his false dissimiling!
What wiste this priest with whom that he dealt ?
Ne of his harm- coming he nothing felt.
O silly priest, O silly innocent,
With covetise anon thou shalt be blent !1
O gracëless ! full blind is thy conceit :
Nothing art thou ware of the deceit
Which that this tox yshapen hath to thee !
His wily wrenches I wis thou mayst not flee.
Wherefore—to go to the conclusion
That rèferreth to thy confusion,
Unhappy man-anon I will mé hie
To tellen thine unwit and thy folly,
And eke the falseness of that other wretch,
Als farforth as my cunning wollè stretch.
This chanoun was my lord, ye woulde ween?
Sir ost, in faith, and by the heaven queen,
It was another chanoun, and not he,
That can an hundred-fold more subtlety.
He hath betrayed folkes many time:
Of his falseness it dulleth me to rhyme.
Ever whan I speake of his falsehede,
For shame of him my cheekes wexen reed.
Algatès 3 they beginne for to glow;
For reedness have I none, right well I know,
In my visagè, for fumés diverse
Of metals, which ye han heard me rehearse,
Consumed and wasted han my reednèss.-
Now take heed of this chanoun's cursedness.
“Sir," quod he to the priest, “let your man goen
For quicksilver, that we it had anon;
And let him bringe ounces two or three;
And, whan he cometh, as fast shul ye see
A wonder thing which ye saw never ere this.”
“Sir," quod the priest, “it shall be done, I wis.”
He bad his servant fetche him his things;
And he all ready was at his biddings,
And went him forth, and com anon again
With this quicksilver, shortly for to sayn, 1 Blinded.
And took these ounces three to the chanoun.
And he it laide fair and well adoun,
And bad the servant coales for to bring,
That he anon might go to his working.
The coales right anon weren yfett ;
And this chanoun took out a croselet 1
Of his bosòm, and showed it to the priest.
" This instrument,” quod he, “which that thou seest,
Take in thine hond ; and put thyself therein
Of this quicksilver an ounce; and here begin,
In the name of Christ, to wax a philosopher.
There been full few which that I woulde proffer
To showe hem thus much of my science :
For ye shul seen here by experience
That this quicksilver I wul mortify
Right in your sight'anon, withouten lie,
And make it as good silver and as fine
As there is any in your purse or mine,
Or ellèswhere ; and make it malleable :-
And elles holdeth me false, and unable
Amonges folk forever to appear.
I have a powder here, that cost me dear,
Shall make all good; for it is cause of all
My cunning which that I you showe shall.
Voideth your man, and let him be thereout ;
And shet the doore whiles we ben about
Our privity, that no man us aspie
Whilès we werken in this philosophy.
All, as he bad, fulfilled was in deed.
This ilkè servant anon right out-yede ;
And his maistèr shitté the door anon,
And to here labour speedily they gone.
This priest, at this cursed chanoun's bidding,
Upon the fire anon sette this thing,
And blew the fire, and busied him full fast.
And this chanoun into the croslet cast
A powder-noot I whereof that it was
Ymade, outher of chalk outher of glass,
Or somewhat elles was nought worth a fly,
To blinde with this priest ; and bad him hie,
These coales for to couchen all above
The croislet ; for, “in tokening I thee love,”
Quod this chanoun, “thine owne handes two
Shall wirchè all thing which that shall be do."
“Graunt-mercy,” quod the priest ; and was full glad,
And couched coales as the chanoun bad.
And, while he busy was, this fiendly wretch,
This false chanoun (the foule fiend him fetch!)
Out of his bosom took a bechen coal,
In which full subtilly was made an hole;
And therein put was of silver limayl?
An ounce, and stopped was withoute fail
The hole with wex, to keep the limayl in.
And understondeth that this false gin
Was not made there, but it was made before :
And other thinges I shall telle more
Hereafterward which that he with him brought.
Ere he com there, to beguile him he thought,
And so he dedè, ere they went atwin :
Till he had turned him, couth he nought blyn.'
It dulleth me whan that I of him speak :
On his falsehedé fain would I me wreak,
If I wist how; but he is here and there, -
He is so variant he byt3 nowhere.
But taketh heed now, sirs, for Goddes love.
He took his coal of which I spake above,
And in his hond he bare it privily :
And, whiles the prieste couched busily
The coales, as I tolde you ere this,
This chanoun saide : "Friend, ye doon amiss :
This is not couchèd as it oughte be ;
But soon I shall amenden it,” quod he.
“Now let me mellé therewith but awhile,
For of you have I pity, by Saint Gile !
Ye been right hot, I see well how ye sweat :
Have here a cloth, and wipe away the wet.
that this priest him wiped has,
This chanoun took his coal (I shrew his face !)
And laid it aboven on the midward
Of the croslet, and blew well afterward,
Till that the coales gonnè faste brenn.
Now give us drinke," quod the chanoun thee: “ Als swithe all shall be well, I undertake. Sitte we down, and let us merry make.” And, whan that the chanounès bechen coal Was brent, all the limayl out of the hole Into the croslet anon fell adoun; And so it muste needes by reasoun, Since it so even above couched was. But thereof wist the priest nothing, alas ! He deemed all the coals ilikè good, For of the sleight he nothing understood. i Filings. 2 Cease.
And, whan this alcamister saw his time,
“Rise up, sir priest," quod he, “and stondè by me :
And, for I wot well ingot have ye none,
Goth, walketh forth, and bringe a chalk-stone;
For I wol make it of the same shape
That is an ingold, if I may have hap.
And bring with you a bowle or a pan
Full of water; and ye shall well see than
How that our business shall hap and preve.
And yit, for you shoul have no misbelieve
Ne wrong conceit of me in your absence,
I ne wol nought ben out of your presence,
But go with you, and come with you again.”
The chamber-doore, shortly for to sayn
They opened and shet, and went here way;
And forth with hem they carried the key,
And comen again withouten any delay.
What should | tarry all the longe day?
He took the chalk, and shop it in the wise
Of an ingot, as I shall you devise :
1 say, he took out of his owne sleeve
A teyne of silver (evil mot he cheeve !)3
Which that was but an ounce of wight.
And taketh heed now of his cursèd sleight:
He shop his ingot in length and in brede
Of this teynė, withouten any dread,
So slyly that the priest it nought aspied ;
And in his sleeve again he gan it hide ;
And fro the fire he took up his matteer,
And into the ingot put it with merry cheer;
And into the water-vessel he it cast
Whan that him list; and bad this priest as fast-
“Look what there is : put in thine hond, and grope :
Thou finde there shalt silver, as I hope.'
What, devil of helle, should it elles be?
Shaving of silver silver is, pardie !
He put in his hond, and took up a teyne
Of silver fine;' and glad in every vein
Was this priest when he saw it was so.
“Goddes blessing, and his moder's also,
And alle halwes', have ye, sir chanoun !”
Saide this priest (and I, here malison) :
“But, and ye vouchesauf to teache me
This noble craft and this subtility,
I will be your in all that ever I may.”