Crist spak him-self ful brode in holy writ, Hold up your hond, withoute more speche."
And wel ye woot, no vileinye is it.
Our counseil was nat longe for to seche;
Us thoughte it was noght worth to make it


Eek Plato seith, who-so that can him rede,
The wordes mote be cosin to the dede.
Also I prey yow to foryeve it me,
Al have I nat set folk in hir degree1
Here in this tale, as that they sholde


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And of a mirthe, I am right now bithoght,
To doon yow ese, and it shal coste noght.
Ye goon to Caunterbury; God yow

The blisful martir quyte yow your mede.9
And wel I woot, as ye goon by the weye,771
Ye shapen yow to talen10 and to pleye;
For trewely, confort ne mirthe is noon
To ryde by the weye doumb as a stoon;
And therfore wol I maken yow disport, 775
As I seyde erst, and doon yow som confort.
And if yow lyketh alle, by oon assent,
Now for to stonden at my Iugement,
And for to werken as I shal yow seye,
To-morwe, whan ye ryden by the weye,780
Now, by my fader soule, that is deed,
But ye be merye, I wol yeve yow myn

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In this viage, shal telle tales tweye,
To Caunterbury-ward, I mene it so,
And hom-ward he shal tellen othere two,
Of aventures that whylom14 han bifalle.795
And which of yow that bereth him best of

That is to seyn, that telleth in this cas
Tales of best sentence15 and most solas, 16
Shal han a soper at our aller cost17
Here in this place, sitting by this post, 800
Whan that we come agayn fro Caunter-

And for to make yow the more mery,
I wol my-selven gladly with yow ryde,
Right at myn owne cost, and be your gyde.
And who-so wol my Iugement withseye 805
Shal paye al that we spenden by the weye.
And if ye vouche-sauf that it be so,
Tel me anon, with-outen wordes mo,
And I wol erly shape me18 therfore."

This thing was graunted, and our othes

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With ful glad herte, and preyden him also
That he wold vouche-sauf for to do so,
And that he wolde been our governour,
And of our tales Iuge and reportour,
And sette a soper at a certeyn prys;
And we wold reuled been at his devys,19
In heigh and lowe; and thus, by oon assent,
We been acorded to his Iugement.
And ther-up-on the wyn was fet20 anon;
We dronken, and to reste wente echon, 820
With-outen any lenger taryinge.

A-morwe, whan that day bigan to

Up roos our host, and was our aller cok,21 And gadrede us togidre, alle in a flok,

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Un-to the watering of seint Thomas.
And there our host bigan his hors areste,2
And seyde; "Lordinges, herkneth if yow

Ye woot your forward,3 and I it yow recorde.1

If even-song and morwe-song acorde, 830
Lat se now who shal telle the firste tale.
As ever mote I drinke wyn or ale,
Who-so be rebel to my Iugement
Shal paye for al that by the weye is

Now draweth cut, er that we ferrer" twinne:6


He which that hath the shortest shal beginne.

Sire knight," quod he, "my maister and my lord,

Now draweth cut, for that is myn acord. Cometh neer," quod he, “my lady prior

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THE NUN'S PRIEST'S TALE Here biginneth the Nonne Preestes Tale of the Cok and Hen, Chauntecleer and Pertelote.

A povre widwe somdel stope17 in age, Was whylom dwelling in a narwe cotage, Bisyde a grove, stondyng in a dale. This widwe, of which I telle yow my tale, Sin thilke18 day that she was last a wyf, In pacience ladde a ful simple lyf, For litel was hir catel19 and hir rente;20 By housbondrye, of such as God hir sente, She fond21 hir-self, and eek hir doghtren



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For whan degrees fiftene were ascended, Thanne crew he, that it mighte nat ben amended.1

His comb was redder than the fyn coral, And batailed,2 as it were a castel-wal.


Right now, that yet myn herte is sore afright.


Now god," quod he, "my sweven15 rede16 aright,

And keep my body out of foul prisoun!

His bile3 was blak, and as the Ieet it Me mette, how that I romed up and doun Withinne our yerde, wher as I saugh a beste,


Lyk asur were his legges, and his toon;5
His nayles whytter than the lilie flour,
And lyk the burned gold was his colour.
This gentil cok hadde in his governaunce 45
Sevene hennes, for to doon al his plesaunce,
Whiche were his sustres and his para-

And wonder lyk to him, as of colours.

Of whiche the faireste hewed on hir throte

Was cleped faire damoysele Pertelote. 50 Curteys she was, discreet, and debonaire, And compaignable, and bar hirself so faire,

Syn thilke day that she was seven night old,


That trewely she hath the herte in hold"
Of Chauntecleer loken in every lith;9
He loved hir so, that wel was him ther-

But such a Ioye was it to here hem singe, Whan that the brighte sonne gan to springe,

In swete accord, "My lief is faren10 in londe."

For thilke tyme, as I have understonde, 60 Bestes and briddes coude speke and singe.

And so bifel, that in a daweninge,11 As Chauntecleer among his wyves alle Sat on his perche, that was in the halle, And next him sat this faire Pertelote, 65 This Chauntecleer gan gronen in his throte, As man that in his dreem is drecched12

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Allas!" quod she, "for, by that god above,
Now han ye lost myn herte and al my love;
I can nat love a coward, by my feith.
For certes, what so any womman seith,
We alle desyren, if it might be,
To han housbondes hardy, wyse, and free,17
And secree, and no nigard, ne no fool,
Ne him that is agast of every tool,18
Ne noon avauntour,19 by that god above!
How dorste ye seyn for shame unto your


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Swevenes engendren of 20 replecciouns, And ofte of fume,21 and of complecciouns, 22 Whan humours been to habundant in a wight. 105

Certes this dreem, which ye han met tonight,

Cometh of the grete superfluitee
Of youre rede23 colera,24 pardee,
Which causeth folk to dreden in here

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Of arwes,25 and of fyr with rede lemes, 26
Of grete bestes, that they wol hem byte,
Of contek,27 and of whelpes grete and lyte;


4 jet.

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11 dawn.

22 temperaments.

13 true.

gone. 14 I dreamed.

25 arrows.

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On pilgrimage, in a full good intente;
And happed so, they come into a toun,
Wher as ther was swich congregacioun
Of peple, and eek so streit16 of herber-
That they ne founde as muche as o18 cotage,
In which they bothe mighte y-logged be.
Wherfor thay mosten, of necessitee,
As for that night, departen compaignye;
And ech of hem goth to his hostelrye,
And took his logging as it wolde falle. 175
That oon of hem was logged in a stalle,
Fer in a yerd, with oxen of the plough;
That other man was logged wel y-nough,
As was his aventure,19 or his fortune,
That us governeth alle as in commune. 20180

And so bifel, that, long er it were day, This man mette21 in his bed, ther-as he lay,


How that his felawe gan up-on him calle,
And seyde, 'allas! for in an oxes stalle
This night I shal be mordred ther22 I lye.
Now help me, dere brother, er I dye;
In alle haste com to me,' he sayde.
This man out of his sleep for fere abrayde;23
But whan that he was wakned of his sleep,
He turned him, and took of this no keep;
Him thought his dreem nas but a vanitee.
Thus twyes in his sleping dremed he.
And atte thridde tyme yet his felawe
Cam, as him thoughte, and seide 'I am now



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And at the west gate of the toun,' quod That thay biknewell hir wikkednesse he,

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My gold caused my mordre, sooth to sayn;'

And tolde hym every poynt how he was slayn,

With a ful pitous face, pale of hewe.

And truste wel, his dreem he fond ful trewe;

For on the morwe, as sone as it was day,205
To his felawes in2 he took the way;
And whan that he cam to this oxes stalle,
After his felawe he bigan to calle.


The hostiler answered hym anon,
And seyde, 'sire, your felawe is agon,
As sone as day he wente out of the toun.'
This man gan fallen in suspecioun,
Remembring on his dremes that he mette,
And forth he goth, no lenger wolde he

Unto the west gate of the toun, and fond
A dong-carte, as it were to donge lond, 216
That was arrayed in that same wyse
As ye han herd the dede man devyse;
And with an hardy herte he gan to crye
Vengeaunce and Iustice of this felonye:-
'My felawe mordred is this same night, 221
And in this carte he lyth gapinge upright.
I crye out on the ministres,' quod he,
'That sholden kepe and reulen this citee;
Harrow! allas! her lyth my felawe slayn!'
What sholde I more unto this tale sayn?226
The peple out-sterte, and cast the cart to


And in the middel of the dong they founde
The dede man that mordred was al newe.
O blisful god, that art so Iust and trewe!
Lo, how that thou biwreyest5 mordre
Mordre wol out, that se we day by day.
Mordre is so wlatsom6 and abhominable
To god, that is so Iust and resonable,
That he ne wol nat suffre it heled' be;
Though it abyde a yeer, or two, or three,
Mordre wol out, this my conclusioun.
And right anoon, ministres of that toun
Han hent the carter, and so sore him

And eek the hostiler so sore engyned,"

1 shalt thou.

$ revealest.

⚫ tortured.



240 2 inn. a delay. 4 on his back. heinous. 7 concealed. 8 this is. 10 racked.


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For certeyn cause, in-to a fer contree,
If that the wind ne hadde been contrarie,
That made hem in a citee for to tarie,
That stood ful mery upon an haven-syde.
But on a day, agayn1s the even-tyde,
The wind gan chaunge, and blew right as
hem leste.


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