Prologue to the Tale of Beryn

The Prologue; Or, the Merry Adventure of the Pardoner and Tapster at the Inn at Canterbury.

The text is lightly glossed and (rarely) regularized; see the glossary in the Riverside Chaucer for words not glossed here.



















































































































































When all this fresshe felawship were com to Caunterbury,
As ye have herd to-fore, with tales glad and merry,
Som of sotle sentence, of vertu and of lore,
And som of other mirthes, for hem that hold no store
Of wisdom, ne of holinese, ne of Chivalry,
Neither of vertuouse matere, but holich to foly
Leyd wit and lustes all, to suche nice japes
As Hurlewaines meine in every hegg that capes
Thurgh unstable minde, right as the leves grene
Stonden a-gein the weder, right so by hem I mene;
But no more here-of nowe, as at this ilche time,
In saving of my sentence, my prolog, and my rime.

They toke hir inn, and logged hem at midmorowe, I trowe,
Atte "Cheker of the Hoop," that many a man doth knowe.
Hir Hoost of Southwork that with hem went, as ye have herde to-fore,
That was rewler of hem al, of lass and eke of more,
Ordeined hir diner wisely, or they to chirche went,
Such vitailles as he fond in town, and for noon other sent.

The Pardonere beheld the bisyness, how states wer y-served,
Diskenning him al prively, and aside swerved,
(The hostelere was so halowed from oo place to another;)
He toke his staf to the tapstere: "Welcom mine owne brothere,"
Quod she, with a frendly look, al redy for to kiss;
And he, as a man y-lerned of such kindenes,
Braced hir by the middell, and made hir gladly chere
As thoughe he had y-knowe hir al the rather yeer
She haled him into the tapstry, there hir bed was maked:
"Lo, Here I ligg," quod she, "my self al night al naked,
Withouten mannes company, sin my love was dede:
Jenkin Harpour if ye him know; from fete to the hede
Was nat a lustier persone to daunce ne to lepe,
Than he was, thoughe I it sey": And therewith she to wepe
She made, and, with hir napron fair and white y-wassh,
She wiped soft hir eyen, for teres that she out lassh;
As grete as any millstone, upward gon they stert.
For love of hir sweting that sat so nighe hir hert,
She wept and wailed, and wrong hir hondes, and made much to done;
For they that loven so passingly, such trowes they have echone.
She snifith, sighith, and shooke hire hede and made rueful chere.

"Benedicite," quod the Pardonere, and toke hir by the swere;
"Ye make sorowe ynough," quod he, "Your lyf thoughe ye shuld lese."

"It is no wonder," quod she than, And therewith she gan to snese.

"Aha! Al hole!" quod the Pardoner, "Your penaunce is somwhat passed."

"God forbede it els!" quod she, "but it were somwhat lassed,
I mighte nat live els, thou wotist, and it shuld longe endure."

"Now blessed be God of mendement, of hele and eke of cure!"
Quod the Pardoner tho anoon, and toke hir by the Chinne,
And seyd to hir these wordes tho: "Allas! that love is sin!
So kinde a lover as ye be oon, and eke so trew of hert,
For, be my trewe conscience, yet for you I smert,
And shal this month hereafter, for your soden disese:
Now wele wer him ye loved, so that he coude you plese!
I durste swere upon a book, that trewe he shuld you find;
For he that is so yare dede, is green yet in your minde.
Ye made me a sory man; I dred ye wold have sterved."

"Graunt mercy, gentil Sir!" quod she, "that ye been unaserved;
Ye be a noble man! Y-blessed mot ye be!
Sitteth down, and ye shul drink!"
"Nay, y-wis," quod he,
"I am fasting yet, mine owne hertes rote!"

"Fasting yet! allas!" quod she, "therof I can good bote."

She stert into the town, and fet a pie al hote,
And set to-fore the Pardoner; "Jenken, I ween? I note:
Is that your name, I yow prey?"
"Yee, y-wis mine owne suster;
So was I enformed of hem that did me foster.
And what is yours?"
"Kitt, y-wis; so cleped me my dame."
"And Goddes blessing have thou, Kitt! now broke wel thy name!"
And privelich unlased his bothen eyen liddes,
And loked hir in the visage Paramour amiddes;
And sighed therewith a litle time, that she it here mighte,
And gan to croon and seyn this song, "Now, love, thou do me righte!"

"Ete and be merry," quod she; "Why breke ye noght your fast?
To waite more felashipp, it were but work in wast.
Why make ye so dull chere? For your love at home?"

"Nay forsoth, mine own hert! it is for you aloon!"

"For me? allas! what say ye? That wer a simple prey."

"Trewlich yet," quod the pardoner, "It is as I you sey."

"Ye etith and beth mery; we woll speke thereof ful sone;
`Brenned Cat dredith fire'; it is mery to be aloon:
For, by our lady Mary, that bare Jesu on hir arm,
I coud never love yet, but it did me harm;
For ever my maner hath be to loven over much."

"Now Cristes blessing," quod the pardoner, "go with alle such!
Lo! how the cloudes worchen, eche man to mete his macch!
For trewly, gentil Cristian, I use the same tacch,
And have y-do ful many a yer; I may it nat forber;
For `Kinde woll have his cours,' though men the contrary swer."
And therwith he stert up smertly, and cast adown a grote,

"What shal this do, gentle Sir? Nay, sir! for my cote
I nold ye payde a peny here, and tho so sone pas!"
The Pardonere swore his gretter othe, he wolde pay no las.
"Y-wis, sir, it is over-do! but sith it is your will,
I woll put it in my purs, lest ye it take in ill
To refuse your curtesy:" And therewith she gan to bowe.

"Now trewly," quod the Pardoner, "Your maners been to alowe;
For had ye counted streytly, and no thing left behinde,
I mighte have wele y-demed that ye be unkinde,
And eke untrewe of hert, and sooner me foryete,
But ye list be my tresorer; for we shull ofter mete."

"Now certen," quod the tapster, "Ye have a rede ful even,
As wold to God ye couth as wele undo my sweven
That I my self did mete this night that is y-passed:
How I was in a chirch, when it was al y-massed;
And was in my devocioune til service was al doon,
Till the Preest and the clerk ful boistly bad me goon,
And put me out of the chirch with right an egir mode."

"Now, Seint Daniel," quod the pardonere, "Your sweven turne to good!;
And I woll halsow it to the best, have it in your mind;
For comonly of these swevenes the contrary men shul finde:
Ye have be a lover glad, and litle joy y-had;
Pluk up a lusty hert, and be mery and glad;
For ye shul have an husbond, that shal you wed to wive,
That shal love you as hertely, as his owne live.
The preest that put you out of Chirch, shal lede you in agein,
And helpen to your mariage, with al his mighte and main:
This is the sweven al and som; Kit, how likith thee?"

"By my trouth, wonder wele; blessed mot thou be!"

Then toke he leve at that time, till he com eft sone,
And went unto his felashippe, as it was for to doon.

(Thoughe it be no grete holines to prech this ilk matere,
And that som list not to her it; yet, sirs, ner the latter
Endurith for a while, and sufrith hem that woll,
And ye shull here how the Tapster made the Pardoner pull
Garlik al the longe nighte, til it was nere end day;
For the more cher she made of love, the falser was hir lay;
But litle charge gaf she therof, thoughe she aquit his while,
For eitheres thought and tent was, other to begile,
As ye shull here herafter, when time comith and space
To meve such mater, but nowe a litle space
I woll retourne me agein unto the company.)

The knight and al the felashipp, and no thing for to ly,
When they wer all y-logged, as skill wold, and resoun,
Everich after his degre, to Chirch then was sesoun
To passen and to wend, to maken hir offringes,
Righte as hir devocioune was, of silver broch and ringes.
Then atte Chirche dor the curtesy gan to rise,
Til the knight, of gentilnes, that knewe righte wele the guise,
Put forth the Prelates, the Person, and his fere.
A monk, that toke the springle with a manly chere,
And did right as the maner is, moilled al hir pates,
Everich after other, righte as they wer of states.
The frere feined fetously the springle for to hold,
To spring upon the remnaunt, that for his cope he nold
Have laft that occupacioune in that holy place,
So longed his holy conscience to see the Nonnes face.
The knight went with his compeers toward the holy shrine,
To do that they were com fore, and after for to dine;
The Pardoner and the Miller, and other lewde sotes,
Sought hem selfen in the Chirch, right as lewde gotes;
Pired fast, and poured, highe upon the glase,
Counterfeting gentilmen, the armes for to blase,
Discovering fast the peintour, and for the story mourned,
And a red it also right as wolde Rammes horned: they read it as correctly
"He berith a balstaf," quod the toon, "and els a rakes ende."
"Thow faillist," quod the Miller, "thou hast nat wel thy minde;
It is a spere, if thou canst see, right with a prik to-fore,
To bussh adown his enmy, and thurh the sholder bore."

"Pese!" quod the hoost of Southwork, "let stond the window glased!
Goth up, and doth your offeringe! ye semeth half amased!
Sith ye be in company of honest men and good,
Worchith somwhat after, and let the kind of brode
Pass for a time! I hold it for the best;
For who doth after company, may live the bet in rest."

Then passed they forth boistly, gogling with hir hedes,
Kneled a down to-fore the shrine, and hertilich hir bedes
They prayd to Seint Thomas, in such wise as they couth;
And sith, the holy relikes, ech man with his mouth
Kissed, as a goodly monke the names told and taught.
And sith to other places of holines they raughte,
And were in hir devocioun til service wer al doon;
And sith they drough to dinerward, as it drew to noon.

Then, as manere and custom is, signes there they boughte,
For men of contre shulde know whom they hadde oughte,
Ech man set his silver in such thing as they liked:
And in the meene while, the Miller had y-piked
His bosom ful of signes of Caunterbury broches:
Huch the Pardoner, and he, prively in hir pouches
They put hem afterward, that noon of hem it wist,
Save the Sompnour seed somwhat, and seyde to hem "List!
Half part!" quod he, prively rowning on hir ere:

"Hussht! Pees!" quod the Miller, "seist thou nat the Frere,
How he lowrith under his hood with a doggissh ey?
Hit shuld be a privy thing that he coude nat aspy:
Of every craft he can somwhat, Our Lady give him sorowe!"

"Amen!" tho quod the Sompnour, "on eve and eke on morowe!
So cursed a tale he told of me, the devil of hell him spede!
And me, but if I pay him wele, and quite wele his mede,
If it happene homward that ech man tell his tale,
As we did hedirward, thoughe we shuld set at sale,
Al the shrewdnes that I can, I wol him no thing spare,
That I nol touch his taberd, somwhat of his care!"

They set hir signes upon hir heddes, and som upon hir cappe,
And siththen to the dinerward, they ganne for to stappe.
Every man, in his degre, wissh, and toke his sete
As they were wont to doon at soper and at mete,
And wer in silence for a time, till girdle gon arise;
But then, as Nature axith, (as these old wise
Knowen wele,) when veines been somwhat replete,
The spirites wol stere, and also metes swete
Causen ofte mirthes for to be y-meved,
And eke it was no time tho for to be y-greved:
Every man in his wise made hertly chere,
Taling to his felowe of sportes and of chere,
And of other mirthes that fellen by the wey,
As custom is of pilgrims, and hath been many a day.

The hoost leyd to his ere, of Southwork as ye knowe,
And thenked al the company, bothen highe and lowe,
"So wele kepeing the covenaunt, in Southwork that was made,
That every man shuld, by the wey, with a tale glade
Al the hole company in shorting of the wey;
And al is wele perfourmed, but than nowe thus I sey,
That we must so homward, eche man tel another;
Thus we were accorded, And I shuld be a rother
To setten you in governaunce by rightful jugement."

"Trewly, hoost," quod the frer, "that was al our assent,
With a litle more that I shal sey therto.
Ye graunted of your curtesy, that we shuld also,
Al the hole company, sope with you at nighte:
Thus I trowe that it was: what sey yee, sir knighte?"

"It shal nat nede," quod the hoost, "to axe no witnes;
Your record is good ynowe; and of your gentilnes
Yit I prey you eft agein: for, by Seint Thomas shrine,
And ye woll hold your covenaunt, I wol holden mine."

"Now trewly, hoost," quod the knight, "Yee have right wel y-sayd;
And, as towching my persone, I hold me wel apayde;
And so I trowe that al doth. Sirs, what seye ye?"

The Monke, and eke the Marchaunte, and al seyd, "Yee!"

"Then al this after-mete I hold it for the best
To sport and pley us," quod the hoost, "eche man as him lest,
And go by time to soper, and thanne to bed also;
So mowe we erly risen, our journey for to do."

The knight arose therwithal, and cast on a fressher gown,
And his sone another, to walken in the town;
And so did al the remnaunt that were of that aray,
That had hir chaunges with hem; they made hem fressh and gay,
Sorted hem togedir, righte as hir lustes lay,
As they were the more used, traveling by the wey.

The knight tho with his meine went to se the wall,
And the wardes of the town, as to a knight befall;
Devising ententiflich the strengthes al about,
And apointed to his sone the perill and the dout,
For shot of arblast and of bowe, and eke for shot of gonne,
Unto the wardes of the town, and how it might be wone;
And al defence ther-agein, after his entent
He declared compendiously, and al that ever he ment,

His sone perceived every point, as he was ful able
To armes, and to travaill, and persone covenable;
He was of al factur, after fourm of kinde;
And for to deme his governaunce, it semed that his minde
Was set much in his lady that he loved best,
That made him oft to wake, when he shuld have his rest.

The Clerk that was of Oxenforth, unto the Sompnore seyd,
"Me semeth of grete clerge that thou art a maide;
For thou puttist on the frer, in maner of repref,
That he knowith falshede, vice, and eke a thef;
And I it hold vertuouse and right commendable
To have verry knowlech of thinges reprovable.
For whoso doth, may eschew it, and let it passen by,
And els he mighte fall theron, unware and sodenly.
And thoughe the frere told a tale of a false Sompnour,
Thou oughtist for to taken it for no dishonour;
For, of alle craftes, and of eche degre,
They be nat al perfite; but som ful nice be."

"Lo! what is worthy," seyd the knighte, "for to be a clerk!
To sommon among us hem, this mocioune was ful derk;
I comend his wittes, and eke his grete clerge,
For of ethir parte he savith honeste."

The monke toke the Parson then, and the Greye Frere,
And prayde hem ful curteisly for to go in fere:
"I have ther a queintaunce, that al this yeres thre
Hath prayd me by his lettres that I him wolde se:
And ye be my brother in habit and in possessioune.
And now that I am here, me thinkith it is to doon,
To preven it in dede, what cher he wold me make,
And to yive, my frende, also for my sake."

They went forth togedir, talking of holy matere:
But woot ye wele, in certein, they had no mind on water
To drinken at that time, when they wer met in fere;
For of the best that might be found, and therwith mery cher
They had, it is no doute; for spices and eke wine
Went round aboute, the Gascoin, and eke the Ruine.
The Wif of Bath was so wery, she had no will to walk;
She toke the Priores by the hond: "Madam! wol ye stalk
Prively into the garden, to see the herbes growe?
And after, with our hostes wif, in hir parlour rowe,
I woll give you the wine, and ye shull me also;
For till we go to soper we have naught elles to do."

The Priores, as womman taught of gentil blood, and hend,
Assented to hir counsell; and forth tho gon they wend,
Passing forth ful softly into the herbery:
For many a herbe grewe, for sew and surgery;
And al the alleyes fair y-pared, y-railed, and y-maked;
The sauge, and the ysope, y-frethed and y-staked;
And other beddes by and by ful fressh y-dight:
For comers to the hoost, righte a sportful sight.

The Marchaunt, and the Manciple, the Miller, and the Reve,
And the Clerk of Oxenforth, to townward gon they meve,
And al the other meine; and laft noon at home,
Save the Pardoner, that privelich, when al they wer goon,
Stalked into the tapstry: for no thing wold he leve,
To make his covenaunte in certen, that same eve
He wold be logged with hir; that was his hole entencioun.

(But hap, and eke fortune, and al the constellacioune,
Was clene him ageins, as ye shull after here;
For him had better be y-logged al night in a myere,
Then he was the same nighte, or the sonne was up:
For such was his fortune, he drank without the cupp;
But thereof wiste he no dele; ne no man of us alle
May have that highe conning, to know what shal befalle.)

He stepped into the tapstry wonder prively,
And fond hir ligging lirilong; with halfe slepy eye
Poured fellich under hir hood, and sawe al his coming,
And lay ay still, as naught she knewe, but feined hir sleping.
He put his hond to hir brest: "Awake!" quod he, "Awake!"

"A! benedicite, sir, who wist you here? Out! Thus I might be take
Prisoner," quod the tapstere, "being al aloon;"
And therwith breyd up in a frighte, and began to groon.

"Now, sith ye be my prisoner, yeld you now!" quod he,

"I muste nedes," quod she; "I may no thing fle;
And eke I have no strength, and am but yong of age,
And also it is no maistry to cacch a mouse in a cage,
That may no where stert out, but closed wonder fast;
And eke, Sir, I tell you, though I had grete hast,
Ye shuld have coughed when ye com. Wher lern ye curtesy?
Now trewlich I must chide, for of righte privytee
Wommen been som time of day, when they be aloon.
Wher coud I (I you prey) when ye com eft-sone?"

"Now mercy, dere sweting! I wol do so no more:
I thanke you an hundred sithes! And also by your lore
I woll do here-after, in what place that I com.
But lovers, Kitt, ben evill avised ful oft and too lom;
Wherfor I prey you hertlich, holdith me excused,
And I behote you trewly, it shal no more be used.
But nowe to our purpose: how have ye y-fare
Sith I was with you last? That is my moste care.
For if ye ailed any thing other-wise then good,
Trewly it wold chaunge my chere and eke my blood."

"I have y-fared the wers for you," quod Kitt, "do ye no drede,
God that is above! And eke ye had no nede
For to conjure me, God woot, with your nigromancy,
That have no more to vaunce me, but oonly my body;
And if it were disteined, then wer I undo.
Y-wis I trowe, Jenkin, ye be nat to trust to!
For ever-more ye clerkes con so much in book,
Ye woll win a womman, atte firste look."

Thought the Pardoner, "this goth wele"; and made hir better chere,
And axed of hir softely: "Lord, who shall liggen here
This nighte that is to coming? I prey you telle me!"

"Ywis it is grete nede to telle you," quod she:
"Make it nat over queint, thoughe ye be a clerk!
Ye know wele ynough y-wis, by loke, by word, by work!"

"Shal I com then, Cristian, and fese awey the Cat?"

"Shul ye com, sir? Benedicite! What question is that?
Wherefor I prey you hertly, do by my counsaille;
Comith somwhat late, and for no thing faille;
The dor shall stond char up; put it from you soft:
But be wel avised, ye wake nat them on loft."

"Care ye nat," quod Jenken, "I can there-on atte best;
Shall no man for my stiring be waked of his rest."
Anoon they dronk the beverage, and wer of oon accord
As it semed by hir chere, and also by hir word:
And al ascaunce she loved him wele, she toke him by the swere,
As thoughe she had lerned cury favel, of som olde frere.
The pardonere plukked out of his purs, I trow, the dowery,
And toke it Kit, in hir hond, and bad hir prively
"To orden a rere soper for hem bothe two,
A caudle y-made with swete wine, and with sugar also;
For trewly I have no talent to ete in your absence;
So longith my hert toward you, to be in your presence."

He toke his leve, and went his wey as thoughe no thing were,
And met with al the felashippe; but in what place ne where
He spak no word ther-of, but held him close and still
As he that hoped sikirlich to have had al his will;
And thought ful many a mery thought by him-self aloon:
"I am y-logged," thought he, "best, how-so-ever it gon!
And thoughe it have costed me, yet wol I do my pein
For to pike hir purs to nighte, and win my cost agein."

Now leve I the Pardonere till that it be eve,
And woll retourne me agein right ther as I did leve.
Whan al wer com togedir, into hir herbegage,
The hoost of Southwork, as ye knowe, that had no spice of rage,
But al thing wrought prudenciall, as sober man and wise;
"Now woll we to the souper; Sir Knight, seyth your avise,"
Quod the hoost ful curteisly; and in the same wise
The knight answerd him agein, "Sir, as ye devise
I must obey, ye woot wele; but if I faille witt,
Then takith these prelates to you, and wasshith, and go sit;
For I woll be your Marchall, and serven you echone;
And then the oficers and I, to soper shull we goon."

They wissh, and sett righte as he bad, ech man with his fere,
And begonne to talk, of sportes and of chere
That they had the after-mete, whils that they were out;
For other occupacioun, til they were served aboute,
They had nat at that time, but any man kitt a lof;
But the Pardonere kept him close, and tolde no thing of
The mirth and hope that he had, but kept it for himself;
And thoughe he did, it is no fors; for he had nede to sol-fe
Long or it wer midnight, as ye shul here sone;
For he met with his love, in crokeing of the moon.

They were y-served honestly, and ech man held him payde:
For of o maner of service hir soper was arayde,
As skill wold, and reson, sith the lest of all
Payed y-liche much, for growing of the gall.
But yet, as curtesy axith, though it were som dele streite,
The states that wer above had of the feyrest endreite.
Wherfor they did hir gentilnes agein to al the rout;
They dronken wine at hire cost, ones round aboute.
Now pass I lightly over: when they souped had,
Tho that were of governaunce, as wise men and sad
Went to hir rest, and made no more to doon;
But the Miller and the Coke, dronken by the moon
Twyes to ech other in the repening.

And when the Pardoner hem aspied, anoon he gan to sing,
"Double me this bourdon," chokeling in his throte,
For the tapster shulde here of his mery note.
He cleped to him the Sompnoure that was his own disciple,
The Yeman, and the Reve, and eke the Maunciple;
And stoden so holowing; for no thing wold they leve,
Til the time that it was wel within the eve.
The hoost of Southwork herd hem wele, and the Marchaunt both,
As they were at a-countes, and wexen somwhat wroth.
But yet they prayd hem curteisly to reste for to wend;
And so they ded, al the route; they dronk and made an ende.
And eche man droughe to cusky, to slepe and take his rest,
Save the Pardonere, that drewe apart, and weyted him a trest
For to hide him self, till the candle were out.

And in the meene while, have ye no doute,
The tapster and hir Paramour, and the hosteler of the house
Sit togedir privelich, and of the beste gouse
That was y-found in town, and y-set at sale,
They had ther-of suficiaunt, and dronk but litle ale;
And sit and ete the caudle, for the Pardonere that was made
With sugar and with swete wine, right as himselfe bade:
So he that payd for all in feer, ne hadde nat a twint;
For oft is more better y-merked then there is y-mint:
And so it fared there ful righte, as ye have y-herd.

(But who is, that a womman coud nat make his berd,
And she were there-about, and set hir wit therto?
Ye woot wele I lye nat; and, wher I do or no,
I woll nat here termin it, lest ladies stond in place,
Or els gentil wommen, for lesing of my grace,
Of daliaunce and of sportes, and of goodly chere;
Therfor, anenst hir estates, I woll in no manere
Deme ne determin; but of lewde Kittes,
As tapsters, and other such, that hath wily wittes
To pik mennes purses, and eke to bler hir eye;
So wele they make seme soth, when they falssest ly.)

Now of Kitt Tapster, and of hir Paramour,
And the hosteler of the house, that sit in Kittes bour:
When they had ete and dronk right in the same place,
Kit began to render out al thing as it was,
The wowing of the Pardonere, and his cost also,
And how he hoped for to lygge al night with hir also;
"But therof he shall be siker as of Goddes cope;"
And sodenly kissed hir Paramour; and seyd, "We shul slope
Togedir hul by hul, as we have many a nighte.
And if he com and make noise, I prey you dub him knight."

"Yis, dame," quod hir Paramour, "be thou nat agast!
This is his owne staf, thou seyist; thereof he shal atast!"

"Now trewly," quod the hosteler, "and he com by my lot,
He shall drink for Kittes love withoute cup or pot;
And he be so hardy to waken any gist,
I make avowe to the Pecok, there shal wake a foul mist;"
And arose up ther-with-al, and toke his leve anoon:

It was a shrewed company; they had served so many oon.
With such maner of felashipp ne kepe I never to dele,
Ne no man that lovith his worshipp and his hele.

Quod Kitt to hir Paramour, "Ye must wake a while,
For trewlich I am siker, that within this mile
The Pardonere wol be coming, his hete to assuage;
But loke ye pay him redelich, to kelen his corage;
And therfor, love, dischauce you nat til this chek be do."

"No! For God, Kit, that woll I no!"

Then Kit went to bed, and blewe out al the lighte,
And by that time it was, nere hond quarter night.
Whan al was still, the Pardonere gan to walk,
As glad as any goldfinch, that he herd no man talk:
And droughe to Kittes dorward, to herken and to list,
And wende to have fond the dor up by the hasp; and eke the twist
Held him out a while, and the lok also;
Yit trowed he no gile, but wente nere to,
And scraped the dor welplich, and wined with his mouth
After a dogges lyden, as nere as he couth.

"Away, dogg, with evil deth!" quod he that was within,
And made him al redy, the dor for to unpin.

"A!" thought the Pardoner tho, "I trow my berd be made
The tapster hath a Paramour, and hath made hem glade
With the caudle that I ordeined for me, as I gess:
Now the devill hir spede, such oon as she is!
She seed I had y-conjured hir: Our Lady give hir sorow!
Now wold to God she were in stokkes til I shuld him borowe!
For she is the falssest that ever yet I knewe,
To pik the mony out of my purs! Lord, she made him trew!"

And therwith he caught a cardiakle and a cold sot;
For who hath love longing, and is of corage hote,
He hath ful many a merry thought to-fore his delite;
And right so had the Pardoner, and was in evil plighte;
For failing of his purpose he was no thing in ese;
Wherfor he fell sodenlich into a ful wood rese,
Entring wonder fast into a frenesy,
For pure verry anger, and for jelousy;
For when he herd a man within, he was almost wood;
And because the cost was his, no marvel though his mood
Were turned into vengaunce, if it mighte be:
But this was the mischef, also strong as he
Was he that was within, and lighter man also,
As preved wel the batell betwene hem bothe two.
The Pardonere scraped eft agein; for no thing wold he blin,
So fein he wold have hered more of him that was within.

"What dogg is that?" quod the Paramour; "Kit! Wost thou ere?"

"Have God my trouth," quod she, "it is the Pardonere."
"The Pardoner? With mischef! God give him evil pref!"
"Sir," she seide, "be my trouth, he is the same thef."

"Ther-of thou liest," quod the Pardonere, and might nat long forbere,
"A, thy fals body!" quod he, "the devill of hell thee tere!
For be my trouth a falsser sawe I never noon;"
And nempned hir names many mo then oon,
Huch, to rechen hire, were noon honestee
Amonges men of good, of worship and degree.
But shortly to conclude; when he had chid y-nowe,
He axed his staf spitouslich with wordes sharp and rowe.

"Go to bed," quod he within, "no more noise thou make!
Thy staf shall be redy to morow, I undertake."

"In soth," quod he, "I woll nat fro the dor wend
Till I have my staf, thou bribour!"
"Then have the tother end!"
Quod he that was within; and leyd it on his bak,
Righte in the same place, as chapmen berith hir pak;
And so he did too mo, as he coud arede,
Grasping after with the staf in length and eke in brede,
And fond him other while redilich y-noughe
With the staffes end highe upon his browe.

The hosteler lay upon his bedd, and herd of this afray,
And stert him up lightlich, and thought he wold assay:
He toke a staf in his hond, and highed wonder blive
Till he were with the felaship that shuld never thrive:
"What be yee?" quod the hosteler, and knew hem bothe wele.

"Hust! Pese!" quod the Paramour; "Jak, thou must be fele.
Ther is a thef, I tell thee, within this halle dor."

"A thef!" quod Jak. "This is a noble chere
That thou him hast y-found, if we him mighte cacche."

"Yis, yis, care thee naught; with him we shul macche
Wel inoughe, or he be go, if so we hadde lighte;
For we two be stronge inough with oo man for to fighte."
"The Devill of Hell," quod Jak, "breke this theves bones!
The key of the kichen, as it were for the nones,
Is above with oure dame, and she hath such usage,
And she be waken of hir slepe, she fallith in such a rage,
That al the week after ther may no man hir plese,
So she stirith aboute this house in a ful wood rese.
But now I am avised bet how we shull have lighte;
I have too gistes a-rin, that this same nighte
Soped in the hall, and had a litle fire.
Go up," quod Jak, "and loke, and in the asshes pire;
And I woll kepe the dor; he shal nat stert out."

"Nay, for God, that wol I nat, lest I cacch a cloute!"
Seide the tother to Jak; "for thou knowest better then I
Al the estres of this house: go up thy self, and spy!"

"Nay for soth!" quod Jak, "that were grete unrighte,
To aventur upon a man that with him did nat fighte.
Sithens thou hast him bete, and with thy staf y-pilt,
Me thinkith it were no reson that I shuld bere the gilt:
For, by the blysing of the cole, he might se mine hede,
And lightly leve me such a stroke, ny hond to be dede.
Then woll we do by comon assent, sech him al aboute;
Who that metith him first, pay him on the snoute;
For me thought I herd him here last among the pannes.
Kepe thou the tother side, but ware the water cannes!
And if he be here in, right sone we shul him find;
And we two be strong inoughe, oo thef for to bind."

"A! Ha, ha!" thought the Pardonere, "Beth there pannes a-rin?"
And droughe upon that side, and thought upon a ginne:
So atte last he fond oon, and set it on his hede;
For, as the case was fall, there-to he had grete nede.
But yet he grasped ferthermore to have somwhat in honde,
And fond a grete ladle, right as he was gonde,
And thoughte for to sterten out betwen hem bothe two;
And waited wele the Paramour that hadde doon him wo;
And set him with the ladle on the gristle on the nose,
That al the week ther-after he had such a pose,
That both his eyen watered erlich by the morowe.
But she that cause was of al, had therof no sorowe.

But nowe to the Pardoner: as he wold stert awey,
The hosteler met with him, but no thing to his pay:
The Pardoner ran so swith, the panne fil him fro,
And Jak the hosteler after him, as blive as he might go;
And stepped upon a bronde, al at unaware,
That him had been better to have goon more a-sware:
For the egge of the panne met with his shin,
And karf a-two a vein, and the nexte sin.
But whils that it was grene, he thought ful litle on,
But when the oeptas was a-past, the gref sat nere the boon.

Yet Jak leyd to his hond to grope wher it sete;
And when he fond he was y-hurt, the Pardonere he gan to thrett,
And swore by Seint Amyas, that he shuld hit abigge
With strokes hard and sore, even upon the rigge;
If he him mighte finde, he no thing wold him spare.
That herd the Pardonere wele, and held him better a square,
And thoughte that he hadde strokes righte y-noughe;
Witnes on his armes, his bak, and eke his browe.
"Jak," then quod the Paramour, "wher is this thef ago?"

"I not," quod tho Jak; "right now he lept me fro,
That Cristes curs go with him! for I have harm and spite,
Be my trouth!"
"And I also; and he goth nat al quite!
But and we might him find, we wold aray him so
That he ne shuld have legg ne foot, tomorow on to go.
But how shull we him find? The moon is now a-down."

As grace was for the Pardonere, and eke when they did roun,
He herd hem ever wel y-noughe, and went the more a-side,
And droughe him ever bakward, and lete the strokes glide.

"Jak," quod the Paramour, "I hold it for the best,
Sith that the moon is down, now for to go to rest,
And make the gates fast; he may nat then astert,
And eke of his own staf he berith a redy mark,
Wherby thou maist him know amonges al the route,
And thou bere a redy eye, and waite wele aboute,
To morowe when they shull wend: this is the best rede.
Jak, what seyst thou thereto? Is this wel y-seyd?"

"Thy wit is cler," quod Jak, "thy wit mot nedes stonde."
He made the gates fast; ther is no more to doon.
The Pardoner stood aside, his chekes ron on blood,
And was right evil at ese, al night in his hede:
He must of force ligge like a colin swerd:
Yit it greved him wonder sore, for makeing of his berd;
He payed atte ful therfore, thurgh a womman art,
For wine, and eke for caudle, and had therof no part;
He therfor prayd Seint Julian, as ye mowe understonde,
That the devill hir shuld spede, on water, and on londe,
So to desceive a traveling man of his herbegage;
And coude nat els, save curs, his anger to assuage;
And was distract eke of his wit, and in grete dispair;
For after his hete he caughte a cold, thurh the nightes air,
That he was ner a-founded, and coude noon other help.

But as he sought his logging, he happed upon a whelp
That lay under a stair, a grete Walssh dogg,
That bare aboute his nek a grete huge clogg,
Because that he was spitouse, and wolde sone bite:
The clogg was honged about his nek, for men shuld nat wite
No thing the dogges master, if he did any harm;
So, for to excuse hem both, it was a wily charm.
The Pardoner wold have logged him there, and lay somwhat nigh;
The warrok was awaked, and caught him by the thigh,
And bote him wonder spitously, defending wele his couch,
That the Pardonere might nat nere him, neithere touch,
But held him right a square, by that other side,
As holsom was at that time, for tereing of his hide:
He coude noon other help, but leyd adown his hede
In the dogges litter, and wisshed after brede
Many a time and oft, the dogge for to plese,
To have y-ley more nere, right for his own ese.
But, wisshen what he wold, his fortune seyde nay;
So trewly for the Pardonere it was a dismal day.
The dogg lay ever growning, redy for to snacche;
Wherfor the Pardoner durst nat with him macche;
But lay as still as ony stone, remembring his foly,
That he wold trust a tapster of a comon hostry:
For comonly for the most part they been wily echon.

But nowe to all the company: a morrow, when they shuld goon,
Was noon of al the felashippe half so sone y-dighte
As was the gentil Pardoner; for al time of the nighte
He was a-redy in his aray, and had no thing to doon,
Saf shake a lite his eres, and truss, and tho be goon.
Yet, or he cam in company, he wissh awey the blood,
And bond the sores to his hede with the tipet of his hood,
And made lightsom cher, for men shuld nat spy
No thing of his turment, ne of his luxury.
And the hosteler of the house, for no thing he coude pry,
He coude nat knowe the pardoner among the company
A morowe, when they shuld wend, for aught that they coude pour,
So wisely went the Pardoner out of the dogges bour;
And blenched from the hosteler, and turned oft aboute,
And evermore he held him a-midward of the route,
And was ever singing, to maken al thing good;
But yet his notes wer somwhat lowe, for aking of his hede.
So at that ilche time he hadde no more grame,
But held him to his harmes for to scape shame.

The knight and al the felasship, forward gon they wende,
Passing forth right merrily unto the townes ende;
And by that time they were there, the day began to ripe,
And the sonne merrily, upward gan she pike,
Playing right under the egge of the firmament.
"Now," quod the hoost of Southwork, and to the felashipp bent,
"Who sawe ever so fair, or ever so glad a day?
And how sote this seson is, entring in to May,
When Chauceres daisyes springe. Herke eek the fowles singing,
The thrusteles and the thrusshes, in this glad morning,
The ruddok and the Goldfinch; but the Nightingale,
His amerous notes, lo, how he twinith smale!
Lo! how the trees grenith, that naked wer, and nothing bare
This month afore; but now hir somer clothing wear!
Lo! how nature makith for hem everichone!
And, as many as ther been, he foryetith noon!
Lo! how the seson of the yer, and Averill showres,
Doth the busshes burgeon out blosomes, and flowres!
Lo! the prime-roses, how fressh they been to seen!
And many other flowres among the grasses grene,
Lo! how they spring, and sprede, and of divers hewe!
Beholdith and seith both rede, and eke white, and blewe,
That lusty been, and confortable for mannes sighte!

"For I sey, for my self, it makith my hert to lighte.
Now, sith almighty soverein hath sent so fair a day,
Let se nowe, as covenaunt is, in shorting of the way,
Who shall be the first that shall unlace his male,
In comfort of us all, and gin som mery tale?
For, and we shuld now begin for to drawen lott,
Perauentur it mighte fall ther it oughte not,
On som unlusty persone, that wer nat wele awaked,
Or semybousy over eve, and had y-song and craked
Somwhat over much; how shuld he than do?
For who shuld tell a tale, he must have good will therto;
And eke, som men fasting beth no thing jocounde,
And som, hir tunges, fasting, beth glewed and y-bound
To the palate of the mouth, as often as they mete;
So if the lott fell on such, no thonk shuld they gete;
And som in the morning, hir mouthes beth adoun:
Till that they be charmed, hir wordes woll nat soun.
So this is my conclusioun, and my laste knot,
It were grete gentilnes to tell withouten lott."

"By the rood of Bromholm," quod the Marchaunte tho,
"As fer as I have sailed, reden, and y-go,
Sawe I never man yet, to-fore this ilche day,
So well coude rewle a company, as can our hoost, in fay.
His wordes been so comfortable, and comith so in seson,
That my wit is over-com, to maken any reson
Contrary to his counsaill, at mine imaginacioune;
Wherfor I woll tell a tale to your consolacioune;
In ensaumple to you; that when that I have do,
Another be all redy thenne for to tell; right so
To fulfill our hoostes will, and his ordinaunce.
Ther shall no faute be found in me; good will shal be my chaunce;
With this, I be excused of my rudenes,
All thoughe I can nat peint my tale, but tell it as it is;
Leping over no sentence, as ferforth as I may,
But telle you the yolke, and put the white away.

subtle meaning
for them

desires; foolish tricks
Harlequin's gang; hedge; gapes

storm; concerning them
ilche = ilke

atte = at the

less (in rank)
or = ere

states = decent people


bar, tap-room

since; dead



throwes, pains



you know; and = if

amendment; health



not served

root (utmost interior)

know; remedy

note = ne wot





work; match
give it up
Nature; his = its
groat (small coin)

nold = ne wolde
tho = then; go away





as a wife

peel garlic=
(made a fool of)


each according to his rank; time

holy water brush
estates, rank


unlearned fools
peered closely and pored
describe (technically)


point at the head


nature of your breeding
/(i.e., low manners)


reached, got to

souvenirs (pins, etc.)

saw something
whispering in their ear


pay; reward

nol = ne wol

step, go

stir, move; food

telling tales

making short

rudder, guide



And = If

changes (of clothing)

pointed out; fear

capable of doing

accuse; reproof



Gascon (wine) and Rhine

to rest

then did they go
herb garden
cooking and medicine
sage, hyssop; protected
side by side; prepared

move, go
group, company


or = ere

not a bit

lying stretched out
pored, looked




black magic

sullied (in reputation)

too complicated

drive away

ajar, unlocked

And all as if
curry favor

late supper
thick, sweetened drink

lodged, placed in
a situation; goes



washed; companion

cut a loaf

sing "sol, fa"
or = ere
curving (i.e., new moon)


increasing their ill humor





cusky = sleep
hiding place


not a bit







side by side



mile = mile-way (20 mins.)

don't take off your shoes

chek = trick

toward Kit's door

like a whelp; whined
manner of speech; near

I have been tricked


heart-burn; sweat

mad fit of violence

also = as


at all




hastened; quickly


or = ere

mad fit of violence







rheum, head cold

to one side


(octave, eight days); grief

pay for it

not = ne wot


Cologne sword




bit; cruelly
draw near
to one side
wholesome, safe




buckle up


pore, look
bower, room
turned aside

him to = to himself



warbles delicately


open his bag

half drunk


fault; chaunce
this (condition)

[The Tale of Beryn follows]

Adapted (lightly regularized and occasionally emended) for beginning readers of Middle English from The Tale of Beryn . . . ed. F.J. Furnivall and W.G. Stone, London, Chaucer Society, 1887 [Widener 11483.17]; reprinted as EETS, Extra Series, 105; London, 1909 [Widener 11473.105].