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Bledinge ay at his nose in dronkenesse;
A capitayn shoulde live in sobernesse.
And over al this, avyseth yow18 right wel 255
What was comaunded un-to Lamuel—
Nat Samuel, but Lamuel, seye I—
Redeth the Bible, and finde it expresly
Of wyn-yeving19 to hem that han Iustyse;
Namore of this, for it may wel suffyse. 260
And now that I have spoke of glotonye,
Now wol I yow defenden20 hasardrye.21
Hasard is verray moder of lesinges,22
And of deceite, and cursed forsweringes,"
Blaspheme of Crist, manslaughtre, and
wast24 also



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Ne I wol nat take on me so greet defame,3
Yow for to allye un-to none hasardours. 285
Sendeth othere wyse embassadours;
For, by my trouthe, me were lever1 dye,
Than I yow sholde to hasardours allye.
For ye that been so glorious in honours
Shul nat allyen yow with hasardours
As by my wil, ne as by my tretee."
This wyse philosophre thus seyde he.


Loke eek that to the king Demetrius The king of Parthes, as the book seith us,

Sente him a paire of dees of gold in scorn,
For he hadde used hasard ther-biforn; 296
For which he heeld his glorie or his renoun
At no value or reputacioun.
Lordes may fynden other maner pley
Honeste ynough to dryve the day awey. 300
Now wol I speke of othes false and grete
A word or two, as olde bokes trete.
Gret swering is a thing abhominable,
And fals swering is yet more reprevable.
The heighe god forbad swering at al,
Witnesse on Mathew; but in special
Of swering seith the holy Ieremye,
"Thou shalt seye sooth thyn othes, and
nat lye,


And swere in dome, and eek in rightwisnesse;"

But ydel swering is a cursednesse.
Bihold and see, that in the firste table
Of heighe goddes hestes honurable,


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Forswering, ire, falsnesse, homicyde.

Now, for the love of Crist that for us dyde, Leveth your othes, bothe grete and smale; But, sirs, now wol I telle forth my tale. 332

Thise ryotoures three, of whiche I telle, Longe erst er pryme16 rong of any belle, Were set hem in a taverne for to drinke; 335 And as they satte, they herde a belle clinke Biforn a cors, was caried to his grave; That oon of hem gan callen to his knave, Go bet,"17 quod he, "and axe redily, What cors is this that passeth heer forby; And look that thou reporte his name wel."


"Sir," quod this boy, "it nedeth neveradel.1 18

It was me told, er ye cam heer, two houres; He was, pardee, an old felawe19 of youres; And sodeynly he was yslayn to-night, 345 For-dronke, 20 as he sat on his bench upright;

Ther cam a privee theef, men clepeth21

That in this contree al the peple sleeth,
And with his spere he smoot his herte
And wente his wey with-outen wordes mo.
He hath a thousand slayn this pestilence:


How that the seconde heste of him is And, maister, er ye come in his presence,

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I trowe his habitacioun be there;
To been avysed3 greet wisdom it were,
Er that he dide a man a dishonour."
"Ye, goddes armes," quod this ryotour,
"Is it swich peril with him for to mete? 365
I shal him seke by wey and eek by strete,
I make avow to goddes digne1 bones!
Herkneth, felawes, we three been al ones;5
Lat ech of us holde up his hond til other,
And ech of us bicomen otheres brother, 370
And we wol sleen this false traytour Deeth;
He shal be slayn, which that so many

By goddes dignitee, er it be night."

Togidres han thise three her trouthes plight,

To live and dyen ech of hem for other, 375 As though he were his owene yboren brother.

And up they sterte al dronken, in this rage, And forth they goon towardes that village, Of which the taverner had spoke biforn, And many a grisly ooth than han they 380 And Cristes blessed body they to-rente"Deeth shal be deed, if that they may him hente."7


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Thou spak right now of thilke traitour Deeth,

425 That in this contree alle our frendes sleeth. Have heer my trouthe, as thou art his aspye,



Tel wher he is, or thou shalt it abye,24 By god, and by the holy sacrament! For soothly thou art oon of his assent,25 To sleen us yonge folk, thou false theef!" "Now, sirs," quod he, "if that yow be so leef26

To finde Deeth, turne up this croked wey, For in that grove I lafte him, by my fey, Under a tree, and ther he wol abyde; 435 Nat for your boost28 he wol him no-thing hyde.

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1 hence. 2 servant.

a forewarned.

6 born.

4 honorable. 7 seize.


10 bad luck to you.

14 must.

spy. 24 rue. 27 on account of.

5 of one mind.

8 protect. 9 churl.

11 art thou. 12 wrapped up. 13 looked.

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See ye that ook? right ther ye shul him finde.

God save yow, that boghte agayn mankinde,

And yow amende!"-thus seyde this olde



And everich of thise ryotoures ran, Til he cam to that tree, and ther they founde

Of florins fyne of golde ycoyned rounde Wel ny an eighte1 busshels, as hem thoughte.

No lenger thanne after Deeth they soughte, But ech of hem so glad was of that sighte, For that the florins been so faire and brighte, 446 That doun they sette hem by this precious hord.

The worste of hem he spak the firste word. "Brethren," quod he, "tak kepe2 what I seye;

My wit is greet, though that I bourde3 and pleye.


This tresor hath fortune un-to us yiven,
In mirthe and Iolitee our lyf to liven,
And lightly as it comth, so wol we spende.
Ey! goddes precious dignitee! who wende1
To-day, that we sholde han so faire a


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2 note of. • quickly.

3 jest.

4 thought.

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7 it seems best.

8 fist.

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14 agreed.

This yongest, which that wente un-to the toun,

Ful ofte in herte he rolleth upa and doun 510 The beautee of thise florins newe and brighte.

"O lord!" quod he, "if so were that I mighte

Have al this tresor to my-self allone, Ther is no man that liveth under the trone1

Of god, that sholde live so mery as I!" 515 And atte laste the feend, our enemy, Putte in his thought that he shold poyson beye,2

With which he mighte sleen his felawes

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A thing that, al-so god my soule save,
In al this world ther nis no creature,
That ete or dronke hath of this confiture?
Noght but the mountance10 of a corn of


That he ne shal his lyf anon forlete;11
Ye, sterve12 he shal, and that in lasse whyle
Than thou wolt goon a paas13 nat but a

This poyson is so strong and violent." This cursed man hath in his hond yhent14

This poyson in a box, and sith he ran
In-to the nexte strete, un-to a man,
And borwed of him large botels three;
And in the two his poyson poured he;
buy. 3 because. ' permission.
7 yard. 8 avenge. • mixture.
12 die. 13 at a foot pace.

1 throne. kill. 11 lose.


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And whan that this was doon, thus spak that oon,

"Now lat us sitte and drinke, and make us merie,


And afterward we wol his body berie."
And with that word it happed him, par



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5 entirely. 10 amount. 14 seized.

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