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
To sle the innocent, if that he may.
Disposeth ay your hertes to withstond

The fend, that you wold maken thral and bond;
He may not tempten you over your might,
For Crist wol be your champion and your knight;
And prayeth, that this Sompnour him repent
Of his misdedes, or that the fend him hent.

THIS Sompnour in his stirops high he stood,
Upon this Frere his herte was so wood,
That like an aspen leef he quoke for ire:
Lordings, quod he, but o thing I desire,
I you beseche, that of your curtesie,
Sin ye han herd this false Frere lie,
As suffereth me I may my tale telle.

This Frere bosteth that he knoweth helle,
And, God it wot, that is but litel wonder,
Freres and fendes ben but litel asonder.

For parde, ye han often time herd telle,
How that a Frere ravished was to helle
In spirit ones by a visioun,

And as an angel lad him up and doun,
To shewen him the peines that ther were,
In all the place saw he not a Frere,
Of other folk he saw ynow in wo.

Unto this angel spake the Frere tho;
Now, sire, quod he, han Freres swiche a grace,
That non of hem shal comen in this place?

Yes, quod this angel, many a millioun: And unto Sathanas he lad him doun.

(And now hath Sathanas, saith he, a tayl
Broder than of a carrike is the sayl)
Hold up thy tayl, thou Sathanas, quod he,
Shew forth thin ers, and let the Frere see
Wher is the nest of Freres in this place.
And er than half a furlong way of space,
Right so as bees out swarmen of an hive,
Out of the devils ers ther gonnen drive
A twenty thousand Freres on a route.
And thurghout hell they swarmed al aboute,
And com agen, as fast as they may gon,
And in his ers they crepen everich on:
He clapt his tayl agen, and lay ful still.
This Frere, whan he loked had his fill
Upon the turments of this sory place,
His spirit God restored of his grace
Into his body agen, and he awoke;
But natheles for fere yet he quoke,
So was the devils ers ay in his mind,
That is his heritage of veray kind.

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.
And so befell that on a day this frere
Had preched at a chirche in his manere,
And specially aboven every thing
Excited he the peple in his preching

To trentals, and to yeve for Goddes sake,
Wherwith men mighten holy houses make,
Ther as divine service is honoured,

Not ther as it is wasted and devoured,
Ne ther it nedeth not for to be yeven,
As to possessioners, that mowen leven
(Thanked be God) in wele and abundance.
Trentals, sayd he, deliveren fro penance
Hir frendes soules, as wel olde as yonge,
Ye, whan that they ben hastily ysonge,
Not for to hold a preest jolif and gay,
He singeth not but o masse on a day.
Delivereth out (quod he) anon the soules.
Ful hard it is, with fleshhook or with oules
To ben yclawed, or to bren or bake:
Now spede you hastily for Cristes sake.

And whan this frere had said all his entent,
With qui cum patre forth his way he went.
Whan folk in chirche had yeve him what hem lest,
He went his way, no lenger wold he rest,
With scrippe and tipped staf, ytucked hie:
In every hous he gan to pore and prie,
And begged mele and chese, or elles corn.
His felaw had a staf tipped with horn,
A pair of tables all of ivory,
And a pointel ypolished fetisly,

And wrote alway the names, as he stood,
Of alle folk that yave hem any good,
Askaunce that he wolde for hem preye.
Yeve us a bushel whete, or malt, or reye,
A Goddes kichel, or a trippe of chese,
Or elles what you list, we may not chese;
A Goddes halfpeny, or a masse peny;
Or yeve us of your braun, if ye have any,

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