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Now draweth cut, er that we ferrer twinne;
Anon to drawen every wight bigan,
ye han herd; what nedeth wordes mo?
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)
Thise ryotoures three, of whiche I telle,
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;
“Sir,” quod the boy, "it nedeth never-a-del.
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,
Togidres han thise three her trouthes plight,
“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,
Whan they han goon nat fully half a myle,
The proudest of thise ryotoures three
This olde man gan loke in his visage,
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