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Now draweth cut, er that we ferrer twinne;
He which that hath the shortest shal beginne.
Sire knight," quod he, "my maister and my lord,
Now drawęth cut, for that is myn acord.
Cometh neer," quod he, "my lady prioresse;
And ye, sir clerk, lat be your shamfastnesse,
Ne studieth noght; ley hond to, every man.”

Anon to drawen every wight bigan,
And shortly for to tellen, as it was,
Were it by aventure, or sort, or cas,
The sothe is this, the cut fil to the knight,
Of which ful blythe and glad was every wight;
And telle he moste his tale, as was resoun,
By forward and by composicioun,

ye han herd; what nedeth wordes mo?
And whan this goode man saugh it was so,
As he that wys was and obedient
To kepe his forward by his free assent,
He seyde: “Sin I shal beginne the game,
What, welcome be the cut, a Goddes name!
Now lat us ryde, and herkneth what I seye.”




Now draw lots before we go further, and whoever has the shortest shall begin. Sir Knight," said he, “my master and my lord, now draw, for that is my judgment. Come nearer,” said he, “my lady Prioress; and you, Sir Clerk, put aside your modesty, don't wait at all; come up everybody.”

Immediately every one began to draw, and to tell it briefly, whether it was by luck, or lot, or chance, the truth is this the lot fell to the Knight, at which everybody was pleased; and he had to tell his tale, as was right, according to agreement, as you have heard; what's the use of saying more? When this good man saw that it was so, like one who was sensible and obedient to keep an agreement made by his free will, he said: “Since I am to begin the game, why! welcome be the lot, in God's name! Now let us ride; and hear what I say.”

The Pardoner's Tale


(From The Canterbury Tales)
In Flaundres whylom was a companye
Of yonge folk, that haunteden folye,
A ryot, hasard, stewes, and tavernes,
Where-as, with harpes, lutes, and giternes,
They daunce and pleye at dees both day and night,
And ete also and drinken over hir might,
Thurgh which they doon the devel sacrifyse
With-in that develes temple, in cursed wyse,
By superfluitee abhominable;
Hir othes been so grete and so dampnable,
That it is grisly for to here hem swere;
Our blissed lordes body they to-tere;
Hem thoughte Jewes rente him noght y-nough;
And ech of hem at otheres sinne lough.

Thise ryotoures three, of whiche I telle,
Longe erst er pryme rong of any belle,
Were set hem in a taverne for to drinke;
And as they satte, they herde a belle clinke



Once upon a time there was in Flanders a company of young people who followed after foolishness -- as riotous living, gambling, brothels, and taverns, where with harps, lutes, and guitars they dance and play at dice both day and night, and also eat and drink beyond their capacity, by which they do sacrifice to the devil in that devil's temple in scandalous fashion, by outrageous excess. Their oaths are so many and so dreadful that it is terrible to hear them

Our blessed Lord's body they do tear to pieces -it seemed to them Jews tore him not enough; and each of them laughed at the others' sins.

These three rioters of whom I tell, long before any bell struck nine, had gone into a tavern to drink; and as they sat, they heard a bell ringing before a corpse that was being




Biforn a cors, was caried to his grave;
That oon of hem gan callen to his knave,
“Go bet," quod he, “and axe redily,
What cors is this that passeth heer forby;
And look that thou reporte his name wel.”

“Sir,” quod the boy, "it nedeth never-a-del.
It was me told, er ye cam heer, two houres;
He was, pardee, an old felawe of youres;
And sodeynly he was y-slayn to-night,
For-dronke, as he sat on his bench upright;
Ther cam a privee theef, men clepeth Deeth,
That in this contree al the peple sleeth,
And with his spere he smoot his herte a-two,
And wente his way with-outen wordes mo.
He hath a thousand slayn this pestilence:
And, maister, er ye come in his presence,
Me thinketh that it were necessarie
For to be war of swich an adversarie:
Beth redy for to mete him evermore.
Thus taughte me my dame, I sey na-more."




carried to the grave. One of them called to his page, quickly," said he, "and ask at once whose body is passing by; and be sure you report his name correctly.”

“Sir," said this boy, “that's not at all necessary. It was told me two hours before you came here; he was, in faith, an old companion of yours, and he was suddenly slain tonight, dead drunk, as he sat straight up on his bench. There came a secret thief, whom men call Death, who slays all the people in this country; and with his spear he broke his heart in two, and went his way without more words. He hath slain a thousand during this plague; and master, before you come into his presence, it seems to me necessary that you be cautious of such an adversary; be always ready to meet him. So my mother taught me; that's all I have to




“By seinte Marie,” said this taverner,
“The child seith sooth, for he hath slayn this yeer,
Henne over a myle, with-in a greet village,
Both man and womman, child and hyne, and page.
I trowe his habitacioun be there;
To been avysed 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?
I shal him seke by wey and eke by strete,
I make avow to Goddes digne bones !
Herkneth, felawes, we three been al ones;
Lat ech of us hold up his hond til other,
And ech of us bicomen otheres brother,
And we wol sleen this false traytour Deeth;
He shal be slayn, which that so many sleeth,
By Goddes dignitee, er it be night.”

Togidres han thise three her trouthes plight,
To live and dyen ech of hem, for other,
As though he were his owene y-boren brother.



“By Saint Mary,” said this taverner, “the child speaks truth; for he hath slain this year, in a large village about a mile hence, both man and woman, child and servant, and

I believe his habitation is there; it would be great wisdom to be well advised before he caused a man trouble.”

“By God's arms,” said this rioter, “is it so perilous to meet him? I shall seek him in the highways and the byways, I hereby vow to God's noble bones! Listen, comrades, we three are all of one mind; let each of us hold up his hand to the other, and each of us become the other's brother, and we will slay this false traitor Death, he who slays so many shall himself be slain, by God's dignity, before night."

These three pledged their words to live and die for each other as though he were his own blood brother. They started



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 sworn,
And Cristes blessed body they to-rente
“Deeth shal be deed, if that they may him hente."

Whan they han goon nat fully half a myle,
Right as they wolde han troden over a style,
An old man and a povre with hem mette.
This olde man ful mekely hem grette,
And seyde thus, “Now lordes, God you see !”

The proudest of thise ryotoures three
Answerde agayn, “What? carl, with sory grace,
Why artow al forwrapped save thy face?
Why livestow so longe in so greet age?”

This olde man gan loke in his visage,
And seyde thus, “For I ne can nat finde
A man, though that I walked in-to Inde,
Neither in citee nor in no village,
That wolde chaunge his youthe for myn age;



up all drunk in this rage, and went forth towards the village of which the taverner spoke before; and they swore many a terrible oath, and tore Christ's blessed body to pieces – “Death shall be dead if they can catch him."

When they had gone not quite a mile, just as they were going to get over a stile, a poor old man met them. This old man greeted them very meekly, and said, "God save

you, sirs !

The proudest of these rioters answered, -- "You churl

curse you ! why are you all wrapped up except your face? why do you live so long at so great an age ?"

This old man looked in his face, and said, “Because even if I walk to India I can not find in city or village a man who is willing to exchange his youth for my old age; and therefore

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