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On a broad bank by the side of a brook;
Taverners to them told the same tale,
SIR JOHN MANDEVILLE
The Land of Prester John
(From Travels, Chap. XXX) In the land of Prester John be many diverse things and many precious stones, so great and so large, that men make of them vessels, as platters, dishes, and cups. And many other marvels be there, that it were too cumbrous and too 5 long to put it in scripture of books; but of the principal isles and of his estate and of his law, I shall tell you some part.
This Emperor Prester John is Christian, and a great part of his country also. But yet, they have not all the articles 10 of our faith as we have. They believe well in the Father,
in the Son, and in the Holy Ghost. And they be full devout and right true one to another. And they set not by no barretts, nor by cautels, nor of no deceits.
And he hath under him seventy-two provinces, and in 15 every province is a king. And these kings have kings under
them, and all be tributaries to Prester John. And he hath in his lordships many great marvels.
For in his country is the sea that men clepe the Gravelly Sea, that is all gravel and sand, without any drop of water, 20 and it ebbeth and floweth in great waves as other seas do, and it is never still nor in peace, in no manner season.
And no man may pass that sea by navy, nor by no manner of craft, and therefore may no man know what land is beyond
And albeit that it have no water, yet men find 25 therein and on the banks full good fish of other manner of
kind and shape, than men find in any other sea, and they be of right good taste and delicious to man's meat.
And a three journeys long from that sea be great mountains, out of which goeth out a great flood that cometh out of Paradise. And it is full of precious stones, without any drop of 30 water, and it runneth through the desert on that one side, so that it maketh the sea gravelly; and it beareth into that sea, and there it endeth. And that flome runneth, also, three days in the week, and bringeth with him great stones and the rocks also therewith, and that great plenty. And anon, as they 35 be entered into the Gravelly Sea, they be seen no more, but lost for evermore. And in those three days that that river runneth, no man dare enter into it; but in the other days men dare enter well enough.
Also beyond that flome, more upward to the deserts, is a 40 great plain all gravelly, between the mountains. And in that plain, every day at the sun-rising, begin to grow small trees, and they grow till mid-day, bearing fruit; but no man dare take of that fruit, for it is a thing of faerie. And after mid-day, they decrease and enter again into the earth, so 45 that at the going down of the sun they appear no more.
And so they do, every day. And that is a great marvel.
Whan that Aprille with his shoures sote
When April with its sweet showers hath pierced the dryness of March to the root, and hath bathed every vein in the sort of moisture by virtue of which flowers grow; when Zephyr also with its sweet breath hath quickened the tender shoots in every wood and heath, and the young sun hath run his half-course in the Ram, and little birds make melody, that sleep all night with open eye (nature so stirs them in their hearts): then people long to go on pilgrimages (and palmers to seek strange shores) to distant shrines, known in sundry lands; and especially, from the end of every county of England to Canterbury they go, to seek the holy blessed martyr, who hath helped them when they were sick.
Bifel that, in that seson on a day,
al the condicioun
It happened one day in that season, while I was lodging at the Tabard Inn in Southwark, ready to go on my pilgrimage with devout heart, that at night there came into that hostelry just twenty-nine sundry folk in a company, by chance come together, who were going to ride to Canterbury. The chambers and the stables were large, and we were entertained in the best fashion. And shortly, when the sun had gone down, I had spoken with them every one, so that I was of their fellowship right away; and we made an agreement to rise early to take our way, as I shall describe
But nevertheless, while I have time and space, before I proceed further in my story, methinks it is reasonable to tell you the condition of each of them, as it appeared to me, and what