The Tell-Tale Bird

The Book of the Knight of Latour-Landry

[A tale of a tell-tale bird.]

The text is lightly glossed; see the glossary in the Riverside Chaucer for words not explained here.








Page 22


I woll tell you an ensaumple of a woman that ete the
good morsell in the absence of her husbonde.

Ther was a woman that had a pie in a cage, that spake and
wolde tell tales that she saw do. And so it happed that
her husbonde made kepe a gret eel in a litll ponde in his garden,
to that entent to yeve hit sum of his frendes that wolde come to
see him; but the wiff, whane her husbond was oute, saide to
her maide, "Late us ete the gret eel, and I will saye to my husbond
that the otour hath eten him;" and so it was done. And whan
the good man was come, the pie began to tell him how her
maistresse had eten the ele. And he yode to the ponde, and
fonde not the eel. And he asked his wiff wher the eel was become.
And she wende to have excused her, but he saide her
"Excuse you not, for well ye have eten it, for the pie
hathe told me." And so ther was gret noise betwene the man and
his wiff for etinge of the eel. But whann the good man was
gone, the maistresse and the maide come to the pie, and plucked
off all the fedres on the pies hede, saying, "thou hast discovered
us of the eel;" and thus was the pore pie plucked. But ever after,
whanne the pie saw a balled or pilled man, or a woman with
an high forhede, the pie saide to hem, "ye spake of the eel."
And therfor here us an ensaumple that no woman shulde ete no
licorous morcelles in the absens and withoute witting of her
husbond, but if it were so that it be with folk of worshippe, to
make hem chere; for this woman was afterward mocked for the
pie and the eel.





bad or hairless


From The Book of the Knight of La Tour-Landry, EETS o.s. 33, London, ed. Thomas Wright (from MS Harley 1764 and Caxton's Print) rev ed. 1903 [Widener 11472.33.3], corrected in few minor details.