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The Canterbury Interlude and Merchant's Tale of Beryn


1 Explicating swiftly the depiction, and upon the story meditated

2 Behave with more reserve, and hide your native (gauche) manner

3 "Lo, how worthwhile," said the Knight, "it is to be a scholar! / To summon such scholars among us, this motive was quite obscure."

4 And each person withdrew to settle down to sleep and take his rest

5 Nor, with such sorts of people, would I care ever to deal again

6 But when eight days had passed, the infection was located nearer the bone

7 That might have made him sorrowful or ever once have altered his cheerfulness

8 His name was Evander, who was so devious and cruel / That a man must be well counseled who would speak before him

9 In brief, let's shake hands on it; it seems to me I say nothing amiss

10 Whoever creates a disturbance or causes strife or mingles too much or swaggers

11 And they move as if they were alive. Acknowledge the subtle engineering!


6-10 "but applied all their intellect and desires to foolishness, to such trickery as Harlequin's company, with their wild minds, (performs) behind every hedge that opens up when the green leaves withstand the weather - in this way I refer to them." Chaucer's fabliau characters are compared to the goblin-like spirit Harlequin and his legendary band of demonic (or dead) spirits pursuing wild hunts in the woods. See the criticism of Richard II's council in Mum and the Sothsegger (I, 90-91), p. 6: "Other hobbis ye hadden of Hurlewaynis kynne / Reffusynge the reule of realles kynde." For studies of Chaucer's revived characters, see Bashe (1933), Kohl (1983), and Winstead (1988) .

14 Brown (1991), p. 151, explains that the "Checker of the Hoop" was an inn built for the pilgrimage trade by Prior Chillenden between 1392 and 1395; its sign was a checkerboard enclosed in a metal or wooden hoop. Portions of the structure survive in Canterbury today at the west corner of Mercery Lane and High Street. Its preeminence as a pilgrim hostel went unchallenged until 1437-38, when "The Sun" was erected even closer to the cathedral.

15-18 The Host of Southwark is Harry Bailly, proprietor of the Tabard Inn, who proposed the tale-telling competition, accompanied Chaucer's pilgrims at his own expense, and offered to act as judge to select a winner (CT I, 747-818). If the phrase in town (18) means "at hand," the line indicates the Host settled for food served in the inn and did not send out for provisions.

19 The Pardoner beheld the activity, how various people (social ranks) behaved

19-22 The Pardoner had been described by Chaucer as a conniving con-artist (CT I, 669-714 and VI, 320-968). His misfortunes with Kit the Tapster figured as part of a contemporary stereotype. In 1407 the Lollard William Thorpe admitted to Archbishop Arundel that he had warned against the foolishness of pilgrims "spendynge these goodis upon vicious hosteleris which ben ofte unclene wymmen of her bodies" (The Oxford Book of Late Medieval Verse and Prose, ed. Douglas Gray [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988], p. 15). Much ironic symbolism is involved with the Pardoner's staff, since the pilgrimage staff was suggestive of a tumescent phallus, for example, at the conclusion of Le Roman de la Rose (lines 21,552-88).

22 He (the Pardoner) gave his staff to the barmaid. "Welcome, my dear brother."

30 Jenkyn is a fairly generic man's name (see line 62), for instance, the Wife of Bath's apprentice and later her fifth husband (CT III, 303 and 628). "Jenkyn Harpour" may recall Perkyn Revelour of the Cook's Tale (CT I, 4371).

38 For those who love so surpassingly, such fancies they each one have

43 "Aha! All whole (Good health)," said the Pardoner. "Your penance (mourning for your dead husband) is just about over."

The opening phrase, like Gesundheit!, is a response to the barmaid's sneeze. On the Properties of Things, p. 355, notes that "fnesinge" is sometimes caused by the brain's "superfluytees of smokes that beth cause of yvel othir of bredinge of som vice."

56"Many thanks, gentle sir," she said; "Pain on my behalf you didn't deserve."

59 It was customary for pilgrims to fast until they had visited the shrine; see lines 145-46.

65 Kit is not a name for a respectable woman, as indicated by Beryn's nasty reference to his father's maid-servant as "lewd Kit" (line 1011). See Tauno F. Mustanoja, "The Suggestive Use of Christian Names in Middle English Poetry," in Medieval Literary and Folklore Studies: Essays in Honor of Francis Lee Utley, ed. Jerome Mandel and Bruce A. Rosenberg (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1970), pp. 51-76, at pp. 72-74.

66 This expression is also used by the Host in the Prologue to the Siege of Thebes (line 96): "`Daun John,' quod he, `wel broke ye youre name!"'

71 nat. MS: nowe.

78 This proverb is equivalent to "Once burned, twice shy."

98 For the Pardoner to designate Kit as his treasurer is ironic, since a pardoner's ultimate treasurer was the Pope who drew upon the thesaurus or "treasury of merit" for dispensations; see John M. Steadman, "Chaucer's Pardoner and the Thesaurus Meritorium," English Language Notes 3 (1965), 4-7.

99-100 Chaucer used the same vocabulary of dream-interpretation in The Book of the Duchess when claiming even Macrobius could scarcely "arede myn dremes even" (284-89).

106 The prophet Daniel was reckoned to be expert at dream-interpretation, as cited in The Nun's Priest's Tale (CT VII, 3127-29), particularly for unraveling Nebuchadnezzar's dream (Dan. 4).

120 list nat. MS: list. yit sirs. MS: yit sir ne yit sirs. This line recalls Chaucer's warnings for those "whoso list it nat yheere" in the Prologue to The Miller's Tale (CT I, 3170-85).

122-23 To "peel garlic" means to engage in a long, frustrating activity with an unhappy outcome.

133-34 Pilgrims typically made gifts of silver brooches and rings to the shrine, though such practices were criticized with increasing vehemence; see J. F. Davis, "Lollards, Reformers and St. Thomas of Canterbury," University of Birmingham Historical Journal 9 (1963), 1-15.

138 Chaucer described his Monk as "a manly man" (CT I, 167), though here the mildly flattering phrase "with a manly cher" is applied to a Canterbury monk, perhaps a confrere of the author. The Friar's attempt to usurp the office of sprinkler attests to the ongoing conflict between mendicants and monks (see lines 362 and 1643).

141-44 The Friar is depicted as a man of many appetites, including lechery (CT I, 208-69). The nun is probably the Second Nun, since the Prioress is named separately in line 287. Huberd's longing to see the Second Nun's face may be shared by many of Chaucer's readers, since this faceless pilgrim is given no real portrait in the General Prologue (CT I, 163-64).

145 The knight's compers or companions are the Squire (his son) and their Yeoman.

147-57 It would be appropriate if the image causing such confusion in interpretation - a man with a staff? or rake? or spear? - were the panel originally in the north window, opposite the main southwest entrance, showing Adam delving the earth, since the Miller and his friends so clearly belong to the unregenerated class of the Old Adam. See Madeline Harrison Caviness, Early Stained Glass of Canterbury Cathedral, circa 1175-1220 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977), p. 113 and pl. 6 for Adam and his digging implement; the scene tends to confirm her statement (p. 104) that many of these windows, rather than betokening "a book to the lewyd peple" as commonly claimed by defenses of church art such as Dives and Pauper (ed. Priscilla Heath Barnum, EETS o.s. 275, 1976, p. 82), instead offered challenging, even esoteric images directed primarily at the monks of the cathedral. The expression "straight as a ram's horn" means crooked; that is, the low-born pilgrims have incorrectly interpreted the images. The line "And redith as right as the Ram is hornyd" carries much the same force in Mum and the Sothsegger (M 1725), p. 77. There was much heated controversy over church images at this time; see G. R. Owst, Literature and Pulpit in Medieval England (Oxford: Blackwell, 1961), pp. 126-48, and W. R. Jones, "Lollards and Images: The Defense of Religious Art in Later Medieval England," Journal of the History of Ideas 34 (1973), 27-50.

153 "That one bears a stout stick," said the one, "just like a rake handle."

158-67 The culmination of the pilgrimage was the ascent on one's knees to the shrine of St. Thomas à Becket in the Trinity Chapel behind the main altar, a gold-covered chest encrusted with jewels and supported on pink marble columns standing on a stepped plinth. See Daniel Knapp, "The Relyk of a Seint: A Gloss on Chaucer's Pilgrimage," ELH 39 (1972), 1-26.

168-69 The other holy sites would include the corona with a severed piece of St. Thomas's scalp, the place of martyrdom, and the altar of the sword's point broken off when Richard le Breton attacked the archbishop. The six major stations of the church, visited as a sort of pilgrimage within a pilgrimage, have been described by W. A. Scott Robertson, "The Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral," Archaeologia Cantiana 13 (1880), 500-51, at 518-19.

171-72 These tokens stamped with the image of St. Thomas or a Canterbury bell - as well as lead phials containing a portion of his "blood" - were sold as souvenirs of the pilgrimage. The Palmer is laden with such tokens in Piers Plowman (B.5.515-31). For discussion of the iconography of badges and other pilgrim lore, see John V. Fleming, "Chaucer and Erasmus on the Pilgrimage to Canterbury: An Iconographical Speculation," in The Popular Literature of Medieval England, ed. Thomas J. Heffernan (Knoxville: Tennessee Studies in Literature, vol. 28, 1985), pp. 148-66.

184-90 The Summoner refers to The Friar's Tale in which "the devil of hell" conveyed a fellow summoner to damnation. In the Northumberland manuscript the Friar has told his tale prior to the Canterbury Interlude; as a unique feature of this collection, the final section of The Summoner's Tale (III, 2159-2294) with its account of the fart's division has been re-positioned immediately after The Tale of Beryn (fols. 235b-236+b) to fulfil the Summoner's threat here to "quyte wele his mede" by telling a retaliatory tale against the Friar on the homeward trip.

188 I. MS: wee. "although I would reveal publicly all the maliciousness I know, I will not spare him in attacking his character, to do him harm."

195 "Till their stomachs began to bulge." Chaucer used a similar image in The Man of Law's Tale: "He drank, and wel his girdel underpighte" (CT II, 789).

196-99 Glending Olson, Literature as Recreation in the Later Middle Ages (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982), pp. 40-55, reviews medieval commentaries on "nonnaturals" such as food and drink in promoting glad spirits, as background to his argument that mirthful tales, like Chaucer's, have a hygienic justification.

207-11 The General Prologue (CT I, 790-94) stipulates that each pilgrim should tell two tales going to Canterbury, another two tales on the return trip, whereas the Parson's Prologue (CT X, 25) suggests the plan had been reduced to one tale from each pilgrim. Here, in yet another revision, the Host implies one tale per pilgrim has already been told and another, a second per pilgrim, should be offered on the journey back to Southwark.

214-22 The Friar's statement implies that the Host had agreed to pay for the meal back at the Tabard Inn, whereas originally the Host proposed that the winner alone "shal have a soper at oure aller cost" (CT I, 799), that is, purchased by all the others. The theme of "covenaunt" or contractual agreement will become central to The Tale of Beryn that follows.

231 Chaucer's General Prologue noted that the Knight wore a tunic stained by the rust from his coat of mail (CT I, 75-78); here he finally changes to a "fressher gown."

237-44 The Knight's company (meyné) would have included the Squire and the Yeoman, the latter not mentioned here. In response to the French threat, Canterbury's defenses were extensively rebuilt between 1378 and 1409 under supervision of Henry Yevele, the architectural genius also responsible for the cathedral's nave. It is noteworthy that the Knight mentions attack by gunfire ("shot of gonne"), since the West Gate, reconstructed at the expense of Archbishop Simon Sudbury, is the earliest surviving English fortification designed for defense with guns; see Brown, "Journey's End," p. 151. For the Knight to have "declared compendiously" is not surprising, as he offered by far the longest tale (CT I, 859-3108).

245 His. MS: He.

245-50 Description of the Squire is very faithful to the General Prologue (CT I, 79-100), down to the insomnia he suffers on account of his lady-love.

251-54 This abrupt transition led Vipan (p. 179) to suggest lines have been lost after 250. The Clerk's reference to the Summoner's criticism of the Friar as a vicious thief recalls the wholesale indictment of mendicants in The Summoner's Prologue and Tale (CT III, 1665-2294). The Clerk's comment that the Summoner lacks higher education reflects the General Prologue's portrait of him as a man, when drunk, parroting Latin phrases he does not understand (CT I, 637-46).

257 whoso hath. MS: who so.

268 ful curteysly for. MS: for curteysly for. See line 383 ful curteysly.

270 me. MS: hym.

271 The Monk's "brother in habit" might be another Benedictine confrere of the author - perhaps a witty reference to the author himself! - whose conviviality extends to the Parson and even the Friar, here designated a Gray Friar or Franciscan, though Chaucer is not so specific about his order.

274 frendes. MS: frende.

281 It is ironic that the Wife of Bath, who now has "no will to walk," was the great globe-trotter who previously boasted of knowing "muchel of wandrynge by the weye" (CT I, 467).

287 The Prioress, here described as "taught (nurtured? affected?) of gentil blood," was portrayed as a lady of great courtly pretensions in the General Prologue (CT I, 118-62). Enthusiasm for a kitchen garden would therefore be as comically inappropriate for her as for the Wife of Bath. On the Properties of Things, pp. 882-1091, describes the medicinal powers of herbs; for example, hyssop "clensith and purgith alle maner yveles that cometh of colde if it is y-sode in wyn with drye figes and the wyn y-give to the pacient to drynke, and doth awey ache of the stomak and of the guttes" (p. 975).

306 The Franklin used a similar expression: "Withouten coppe he drank al his penaunce" (CT V, 942).

322 ye. MS: I.

326 I yewe prey. MS: yewe prey. "How could I know, I ask you, that you would return so soon?"

362 This unflattering comment on friars reflects an anti-mendicant sentiment typical of the age, as does line 1643 with its reference to the treachery and guile of friars. We should not be surprised by such snide references from a monk-poet with institutional bias against the mendicant orders.

370 feleshipp. MS: felshipp.

386-88 These lines are spoken by the Host. The "marchall" was the chief officer of a hall; Chaucer described the Host as worthy "to been a marchal in an halle" (CT I, 752). The other "officers" are the butler, pantry-keeper, and others who ate at the second-sitting.

396 He must sing the notes sol fa, that is, "go whistle."

410 Chaucer had cast both the Miller and the Cook as drunkards (CT I, 3120-50; IX, 15-93).

412-15 Chaucer's General Prologue remarked upon the Pardoner's singing skills (CT I, 672 and 710-14). The Summoner, here called the Pardoner's disciple, had a more suspicious role as "his freend and his compeer" in the General Prologue (CT I, 670).

422 the. MS: they.

434-35 People, like coins stamped at greater value than their worth, are not always what they seem.

453 This hyperbole relies upon the fabled elusiveness of Christ's garments as a holy relic for which even the Roman soldiers at the Crucifixion cast lots (Matthew 27:35). The Pardoner was a great purveyor of dubious relics (CT I, 694-704; VI, 347-84).

462 To vow to the peacock at table was part of a chivalric ceremony involving love or knightly service.

471 The verb dischauce can mean to remove one's shoes or one's hose (leggings); the root word is immortalized in the family trade-name Chaucer. Kit's order "dischauce yewe nat" instructs her lover not to undress fully for bed till dealing with the Pardoner.

474 The last line on fol. 186a is repeated as the first line on fol. 186b: "And by that tyme it was nere quarter nyghte." The variant nerhond/nere is perhaps suggestive of the copyist's free handling of his text.

476 Here meaning a merry creature, the goldfinch in the visual arts had a wide range of interpretations; see Herbert Friedmann, The Symbolic Goldfinch: Its History and Significance in European Devotional Art (Washington, DC: Pantheon, Bollingen Series, no. 7, 1946).

478 but. MS: by.

And expected to have found the door open, but the latch and also the hinge

480ff. The Pardoner's disappointment and anger at discovering Kit in bed with her lover is reminiscent of Absolon's response to finding Alison in bed with Nicholas in The Miller's Tale (CT I, 3687-3810). Likened to a dog as a creature of greed, the Pardoner will be beaten like a dog and end up spending the night in a dog's litter.

502 his. MS: he.

517 here. MS: hire.

520 The Pardoner, notoriously described by Chaucer as "a geldyng or a mare" (CT I, 691), here has been deprived of his phallic staff.

524ff. This fight in the dark bedroom, so typical of fabliau slapstick, recalls the chaotic brawl at the end of The Reeve's Tale (CT I, 4268-4310).

536 The half-line Jak, thow must be fele may be a warning preserved in the nursery rhyme "Jack, be nimble! Jack, be quick!"

538 Vipan (p. 183) observed that if chere is given the American pronunciation chore, it then rhymes with dorr in the preceding line.

545-48 The wife's foul temper may have been a popular commonplace in respect to the wives of innkeepers; Harry Bailly's wife Goodelief could be roused to murderous fury (CT VII, 1893-1922).

563-68 These lines are spoken by Kit's lover.

580 Like young Alison in The Miller's Tale, Kit escapes unscathed from the violence involving the three men.

593 This mysterious Seynt Amyas may be St. Aimo, St. Aime, St. Amatus, St. Hamo, St. Amos - the prophet who is supposed to have been transfixed with an iron bar through the temples - or even "holy Emmaus" near Jerusalem where the resurrected Christ appeared as the unknown third man (Luke 24:13-35), or perhaps even St. Thomas of Canterbury.

621 lyke. MS: lyle. Cologne was famous for producing solid, heavy weapons.

622 Symkyn uses such an expression for outwitting John and Aleyn in the Reeve's Tale: "Yet kan a millere make a clerkes berd" (CT I, 4096).

625-29 According to legend, St. Julian built a hospice beside a river where he and his wife tended the sick and poor, rowing travelers across the river, hence becoming the patron saint of travelers, innkeepers, and boatmen. The Pardoner's stifled, frustrated anger was previously seen at the end of his Tale when he was insulted by the Host (CT VI, 956-57).

640 The word warrok referring to a bound creature (see Piers Plowman B.4.21 and Patience 80) combines with warlock as a devilish monster. Mum and the Sothsegger (M 1703), p. 76, uses the word in an expression meaning "let sleeping dogs lie."

642 nere. MS: ne.

660 The scribe's spelling eres makes it unclear whether the Pardoner shook his "ears" or his "hairs," the former more likely, in keeping with the scoundrel's canine character. See Maria to Malvolio in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (2.3.125): "Go shake your ears!"

667 he. MS: they.

675-79 This passage reverses the Parson's Prologue, where Chaucer had left his pilgrims "at a thropes ende" in the late afternoon when "the sonne wole adoun" (CT X, 12, 70).

678 pipe. MS: pike. Rhyme with rype.

680 Southwork. MS: Southword.

682 Though modern scholars usually reckon Chaucer's time-setting around April 17-19, when "the yonge sonne / Hath in the Ram his half course yronne" (CT I, 7-8), here the dating at the end of the month, "entring into May," agrees with Lydgate's Prologue to the Siege of Thebes (1-17) where the astrological description suggests that the poem opens on April 27, with the homeward trip the next morning, April 28.

683 The break in rhyme suggests that a line may be missing.

685 ruddok. MS: oudduk.

686 The phrase twyneth smale may mean to intertwine neatly or to cry with a small, high-pitched voice.

689-90 Since Nature is usually feminine, the pronoun he may be understood as heo, "she" (see line 86). The same pronoun ambiguity arises with Fortune (lines 1365-69; see also 943-45) and Folly (lines 2319-20). The poet specifically refers to "Dame Fortune" at line 2196.

703-16 In the General Prologue, a drawing of lots determined the Knight as the first tale-teller on the outward journey (CT I, 835-55).

717 The Holy Cross of Bromholm Priory, a supposed relic of the true cross, was brought to Norfolk from Constantinople in the early thirteenth century following the Fourth Crusade. Famed for its miraculous powers, it became a popular destination for pilgrims - and figured as a common oath; see CT I, 4286.

725-27 In the Northumberland manuscript, the Merchant's Tale of Beryn is in fact followed by contributions from the Summoner, Chaucer the pilgrim, the Monk, the Nun's Priest, the Manciple, and the Parson.

729-32 The Merchant's apology for ignorance and inability to "peynt" his tale is reminiscent of the Franklin's modest disclaimers (CT V, 716-28).

756 Two of the Cinque Ports towns, Winchelsea and Rye on the Sussex coast, were victims of naval raids by the French and their allies, notably the vicious attack of 1360 that included plunder and massacre of citizens in a useless attempt to free King Jean. Rye was again sacked and burned in 1377, Winchelsea in 1380; see Tamanini, pp. 73-74. The phrase "here fast by" further suggests that The Tale of Beryn was composed in the southeast, as does the poet's dialect and the Canterbury associations. Green, "Legal Satire in The Tale of Beryn," pp. 61-62, suggests that the two port cities declined because their economies had been depressed by a drop in foreign trade as a result of legal abuses of the sort described in the tale that follows.

758-59 The twins Romulus and Remus were the legendary founders of Rome according to "old bookes" such as Ovid's Metamorphoses (14.771-851).

762-64 The narrator maintains the pretense that he is speaking to an audience of pilgrims on horseback.

772 Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People (1.2) recounts Julius Caesar's campaign to conquer Britain in 55-54 B.C.

776 The poet's sense of Roman history becomes confused. Here he equates the Senate with the Douzepers, the twelve peers of Charlemagne.

783-86 This account of imperial succession has no basis in Roman history; see Tamanini, pp. 296-97. Constantine the Great was emperor in 324-37; Constantine III was a Byzantine emperor who ruled briefly in 641. Philippus was emperor in Rome in 243-49, while Philippicus was a Byzantine usurper reigning 711-13.

789 The Seven Sages, or advisors to the Roman emperor, appear in the romance tradition of The Seven Sages of Rome, ed. Karl Brunner, EETS o.s. 191, 1933; see Killis Campbell, "A Study of the Romance of the Seven Sages," PMLA 14 (1899), 1-107.

810 men. MS: me.

812 myght. MS: mygth.

822 the. MS: thes. Scribal confusion of t for c has led to the spellings Stypio for Scipio and Sithero for Sichero (Cicero); see Kane (1960), p. 120. Their common surname was Astrolage after their shared profession of astrology or "astonomy" (line 824); see On the Properties of Things, Book VIII, "De Mundo et Corporibus Supracelestibus," pp. 441-515.

837 Sportes may have been miswritten for portes, doorways.

850 to be. MS: to.

913 Seven was considered the first year of childhood, the transition from infantia (the "age of innocence") to pueritia (the "age of accountability"); see On the Properties of Things, pp. 291-93 and 298-301, and Burrow, The Ages of Man, p. 74.

922 over mischeff. MS: ovir. Supply of this missing word "mischeff" is suggested by the French source.

938 in is hard. MS: in hard.

943-46 The wheel of Fortune is a traditional image of life's ups and downs; see Howard R. Patch, The Goddess Fortuna in Medieval Literature (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1927).

971 krase. MS: karse. Rhyme with pase.

984 had. MS: have.

987 yew lafft me. MS: I lafft yew.

998 kissed Beryn, but. MS: kissid but.

1011 The Canterbury Interlude made clear that Kit was not a name befitting a respectable woman.

1015 ought. MS: outgh.

1017 Beryn swore by the mass book and the church bell.

1019 thow. MS: were thow. Beryn threatens to knock out her teeth.

1021 now. MS: nowgh.

1022 And he struck the damsel under her ear; the blood spurted upward.

1058 every. MS: by. The scribe was probably confused by the contracted form of every.

1064 withey. MS: with.

1065 overgrowe. MS: ovir grove.

1066 bowe. MS: growe.

1084 ne write. MS: write. halffyndele. MS: halsfyndele.

1085 "[as a result of] his son's disobedience and his wife's death."

1090 And Faunus. MS: A ffawnus.

1099 When. MS: With.

1114-15 See the opening line of Chaucer's "To Rosemounde": "Madame, ye ben of al beaute shryne."

1120 snell. MS: swell.

1137 nas. MS: was.

1139 When. MS: With.

1140 For the medieval imagery of Love with his arrows, see Erwin Panofsky, "Blind Cupid," in Studies in Iconology, rev. ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), pp. 95-128, plates 69-106.

1145 made. MS: did make. Rhyme with sade; the word make is crossed out in the manuscript.

1148-56 The assumption that women are by nature treacherous is embedded in the clerical ideology that a monastic poet would share with the Wife of Bath's fifth husband, Jankyn, whose chief reading was his "book of wikked wyves" containing such "olde Romayn geestes" as Beryn (see CT III, 642-787).

1150 condicioune. MS: condicoune.

1167 spak. MS: spal. This emendation resists the difficilior lectio or "harder reading" of the manuscript, where spal could be the preterite of spell, meaning to cast a spell or speak bewitchingly.

1175 erthly. MS: ertly.

1179 own. MS: hown.

1200 refreit. MS: frefreit.

1221-23 These lines are spoken by Faunus.

1229 spede. MS: spech. Anticipation of reche.

1249 rebawdry. MS: rebawdy. The rhyme is with hazardry; see line 1257.

1250 The two-man game merelles or morris is played on a board with an equal number of pebbles, pegs, pins, or disks.

1275 Curs com. MS: Com. Some noun has been omitted at the head of the line; Tamanini astutely emended to Curse com. See line 1280 for the spelling curs.

1300 thys. MS: thy.

1308 "To claw a sorry man's head" means to realize one's own miserable condition.

1318 This reference to Beryn's coat is mocking, since lines 1295-98 indicate his makeshift wardrobe does not cover his nakedness.

1340 And. MS: Ant.

1342 "I think that (his fainting) might prove he had his share of sorrow."

1346 Dame Fortune typically carries a sceptre rather than a spear; for a survey of the iconographic tradition, see Kolve (1984), pp. 327-30 and 490-91. The poet may have been thinking of the spear carried by Death; see CT VI, 675-78.

1350 totare his ere: The spelling makes it unclear whether Beryn tore his ear or his hair; the latter is more likely.

1365-69 The copyist was confused by the pronoun he for heo ("she") in reference to Fortune; the gender of the goddess is later clarified by the phrase "Dame Fortune" (line 2196).

1383 witted. MS: wit. Emended on the basis of line 1376.

1422 as sone as. MS: as sone a.

1423 lenger. MS: legir.

1425-42 Vipan (p. 190) observed that Faunus, warming to his repentant son, switches from the formal thow to the familiar yewe.

1431 I shall. MS: Shall.

1433 that for thy moder. MS: for thy modir that.

1463 In this tale told by the Merchant, it is apt that the protagonist prefers the life of a merchant to that of a knight.

1475 she made. MS: & made.

1478 Besides "belly," the word kite can also mean "bird of prey" or "rapacious person." Thus the odd phrase went lowe for the kite might otherwise mean to dive like a bird avoiding a kite's attack, or to swoop down as a kite does upon its prey. On the Properties of Things, p. 634, describes the cowardice and treachery of the kite: "And he is a ravyschinge foul and hardy among smale briddes and coward and fereful among grete briddes; . . . and lighth ofte in waite to take tame briddes and lith ofte in waite to take chekenes and to slee ham that he fyndith unwaar."

1489 mekerly. MS: mekely. Rhyme with sikerly.

1531 A side bond, here a sealed document executed in the presence of witnesses, was given to the new owner when the release or conveyance of property was handed over to him. For such "conditional bonds," see Simpson (1975), pp. 90-92.

1555-99 Whereas the French source does not describe the voyage or tempest in any detail, the English version expands the account with so much nautical terminology that Vipan (p. 191) speculated the author might have been a seafaring man earlier in life. Such fascination with nautical detail is in fact typical of English poets, as in Patience (97-244) and Chaucer's Legend of Cleopatra (LGW 628-55).

1565 They. MS: The.

1581 nas. MS: was.

1582 The expression the thiknes of a skale means "in the least bit."

1589 shippes that. MS: shippis.

1598 The break in rhyme suggests a line may be missing.

1631 longed. MS: longeth. Correct verb-tense, rhyming with honged.

1637 A manciple was a subordinate official who arranged provisions for some corporate institution, like Chaucer's pilgrim who managed supplies for one of the inns of court, to his own advantage (CT I, 567-86).

1641 A burgess was a freeman or citizen of a town, a term often used to describe a merchant.

1643-44 A friar's obligation to divide his ill-gotten gain with the other members of his convent became the topic of Chaucer's Summoner's Tale, whose last section with the solution for dividing Thomas's donation (a fart) immediately follows Beryn in the Northumberland manuscript.

1646 ches. MS: dise. The rhyme with dres confirms this substitution for sense.

1652 I. MS: or.

1717 fremd. MS: frend.

1737 Distances such as a mile or a furlong are used to express durations of time, that is, how long it would take to walk a mile or a quarter-mile.

1754 faileth. MS: fallith.

1765-78 Beryn has rashly entered into a contractual agreement ("covenant") sealed with a handshake ("hond in hond") in front of witnesses. As opposed to the modern contract, the medieval covenant is best understood as a transaction promising reciprocal gifts; it was by definition an agreement to perform something in the future, so that failure to perform might result in "assumpsit," an action for the recovery of damages for the non-performance of a parol or unsealed contract. See William M. McGovern, "The Enforcement of Informal Contracts in the Later Middle Ages," California Law Review 59 (1971), 1145-93, and Simpson (1975), "Covenants," pp. 9-52 and 146-53.

1787-90 Dame Philosophy's advice on avoiding the snares of Fortune occupies Book II of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy.

1790 world wide. MS: world. Adjective supplied for rhyme with ryde.

1795 The "sergauntes" were not policemen in the modern sense but rather officers of the court, in the later Middle Ages a generic name for lawyers. See Chaucer's Sergeant of the Lawe (CT I, 309). The evolution of the term is outlined by Pollock and Maitland, The History of English Law, 1:282-90.

1823 scleve. - "Sirs. MS: scleve and seyd sirs.

1837 The word gesolreut refers to the three musical pitches G (ge-sol), D (re) and high C (ut). In the medieval scale there were two gesolreuts, the lower and the upper, the haut. To cry "in gesolreut the haut" means to shout in the uppermost register or at an extremely high pitch.

1843 Chaucer makes this careful distinction, for example, in his warning about the vulgarity of the Miller: "And eek men shal nat maken ernest of game" (CT I, 3186). On the invalidity of Dorigen's contract made "in pley" with Aurelius in The Franklin's Tale, see Hornsby (1988), pp. 52-54.

1851 For the zigzag of an indenture, see Black's Law Dictionary, p. 911: "if a deed was made by more parties than one, it was usual to make as many copies of it as there were parties, and each was cut or indented (either in acute angles, like the teeth of a saw, or in a wavering line) at the top or side, to tally or correspond with the others, and the deed so made was called an `indenture'."

1858-60 The Burgeyse, as plaintiff, enters an oral plea before the court to describe the contract. The author invokes the same ancient dichotomy between words (verba) and deeds (res) that Chaucer uses in statements like "The word moot nede accorde with the dede" (CT IX, 208), which he derived from the Platonic philosophy of the Boece (III, prose 12.205-07).

1873 Beryn correctly understands that he can lose the case merely because his account of events is inaccurate or deficient in some small detail ("in som word"). See Pollock and Maitland, 2:602-05.

1876-81 Beryn's "borow" was a piece of valuable property that served to secure a promise. The surety was forfeited if the contract were not fulfilled, that is, if Beryn were unable to drink all of the salt water in the sea. See Henry, Contracts, pp. 179-201. For the provost to have seized Beryn's five ships ("i-sesed in our honde") means that he has assumed legal possession of them while acting as Beryn's custodian; see Pollock and Maitland, 2:29-80. For uses of the term sesed elsewhere in Middle English literature, see John A. Alford, "Literature and Law in Medieval England," PMLA 92 (1977), 941-51, at 945-47. Beryn's ineptitude as a merchant is reflected in his persistent failure to obtain a sealed covenant, an indenture, or a tally as evidence of his transactions.

1881 As provost or chief magistrate of the town, Hanybald can overrule Evander who, as steward, exercises less judicial authority.

1884-85 Besides seizing the ships, Hanybald undertakes the obligation of mainpernor to ensure the arrested defendant's appearance in court.

1891 is. MS: it.

1897ff. Hanybald appears to offer a scheme by which Beryn's cargo might be safeguarded against seizure by transfer of possession secured with merchandise stored in his own house, merchandise liable to forfeiture if Hanybald fails in his agreement. He solicits Beryn's "vowe" (line 1905). They signal good faith by drinking on the terms (line 1915), then Hanybald pushes for a handshake contract (line 1922). The subsequent emptying of the house is a breech of good faith, which could have served Beryn as the pretext for nullifying the contract. Hanybald preempts this tact by accusing Beryn himself of wavering (lines 1971-77).

1904 The break in rhyme suggests a missing line.

1905 yeur vow also. MS: yeur also.

1909 Here "arest" refers to the seizure of Beryn's ships as well as his own personal detention.

1918 high. MS: his. The copyist mistook the yogh for an s.

1924 ye. MS: I.

2002 Here. MS: Ther.

2010 The words "Out!" and "Harrowe!" were shouted to raise the hue and cry for neighbors to pursue and arrest a criminal. Chaucer uses these cries in the Miller's Tale (CT I, 3824-29) and The Nun's Priest's Tale (CT VII, 3375-82).

2035 never yit. MS: nevir.

2063 Evander. MS: Edwandir.

2065-70 Probate proceedings involve establishing proof in civil law. Since the Blind Man alleges that his complaint has a history and he can produce witnesses or compurgators, including Evander himself, to establish his grievance, he has the advantage as plaintiff. Sir John Fortescue (1394?-1476?) in his De Laudibus Legum Anglie (XXI), ed. and trans. S. B. Chrimes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1942), pp. 44-45, criticized this procedure: "By the civil law, the party who has taken the affirmative in the joinder of issue ought to produce the witnesses, whom he shall name at his pleasure. But a negative cannot be proven, that is, directly, though it may be indirectly. Feeble indeed . . . who cannot find, out of all the men he knows, two who are so lacking in conscience . . . they will contradict every truth. . . . And since their statements are in the affirmative, they are not easily disproved by circumstantial or other indirect evidence."

2083-84 Vipan (pp. 192-93) notes condempnyd/examened would make a bad rhyme, but I have not judged this failing sufficient to emend to examned.

2098 Hit. MS: Yit.

2101 howe lome. MS: lome.

2128 of his child. MS: of his.

2130 with. MS: without.

2135-39 If Beryn were really her husband, his spousal bond ("trowth") would oblige him to a marital debt comparable to commercial indebtedness; see Hornsby, pp. 100-03. The Woman apparently has a "gage" or pledge that she offers as security to be forfeited upon failure of her case (which should actually be tried in ecclesiastical court).

2139 Steward. MS: Stwarge.

2161 worldlich. MS: wordlich.

2179 ne down. MS: the down.

2182 they woll. MS: the woll.

2194 Vipan (p. 193) suggests this hypermetric line be shortened by deleting he did.

2208 they pursu. MS: the pursu.

2210 A catchpoll, like a sergeant, was a constable or deputy officer whose duty it was to arrest persons. To detain and control prisoners he would place a yoke with pikes around the prisoner's neck. The yoke was attached to a pole which enabled the officer to direct the prisoner as he wished. If the prisoner struggled, the pikes would impale his throat.

2227 eche man. MS: eke man.

2260 Again Beryn enters into a rash handshake agreement.

2266 he had. MS: they had.

2273 good. MS: God. See line 2291.

2275 There appears to be some confusion between dromodaries meaning "camels" and dromoundes meaning "large ships." Camels are called dromondaries in Morte Arthure (line 2286), ed. Edmund Brock, EETS o.s. 8, 1871, p. 68.

2286 sesed hym. MS: sesid.

2293-98 Beryn, who has previously been accused only of violating various contracts, is now charged with the felony of murder. Distinct from homicide (which may have been man-slaughter with extenuating circumstances) the term murder designated those slayings committed in secret, at night, or by devious or clandestine means. Murder was a capital offense punishable by death. The wording murder woll out perhaps echoes Chaucer's Prioress (CT VII, 576) or the Nun's Priest's echoing of her phrase (CT VII, 3052).

2300 were. MS: where.

2335-38 Beryn imagines himself in a morality play with Fortune, Wisdom, Wit, and Governance.

2340 wrought hymselff. MS: wrought myselff.

2357 I, iwis. MS: I wis

2363 his. MS: is.

2386 An incumbrance is a claim, charge, or liability attaching property as part of a writ or judgment. Beryn fears he is going to be sued by the Crippled Man, no doubt for causing his physical disability.

2388 prece. MS: preche. Rhyme with cese.

2394 no word. MS: o word.

2405 Wolde ye had. MS: yee had.

2408 Phrases like outed all yeur chaffare are used by the Wife of Bath (CT III, 521) and the Host (CT IV, 2438).

2436 contreman. MS: contremen.

2450 Vipan (p. 195) says the cleiks was a leg-cramp afflicting horses, hence the mocking name for the crippled-looking Geffrey. Since cleek was a verb meaning to catch with a crook, here the lame man's crutch, the name might otherwise be understood as "Sir Snatch 'em."

2460-61 Geffrey invites the crew to be summoned as witnesses to the conversation. One of Beryn's major legal problems has been his inability to produce witnesses to testify in his favor against his accusers and their array of witnesses.

2466 how goodly Geffrey spak. MS: how goodly as Geffrey spak.

2476 in whom. MS: I whom.

2488 A "behest" is a legal promise creating an obligation. The Man of Law's statement "Bihest is dette" (CT II, 41) reflects the fundamental idea behind the secular law of contracts that agreements must be kept.

2503 I dure. MS: I dryve dure.

2518-20 Looking back upon the longevity of the Old Testament patriarchs, readers in the Middle Ages believed that in ancient times men lived longer, with life-expectancy becoming shorter as the world itself became more corrupt. See Burrow, The Ages of Man, esp. pp. 79-92, for the ages of the world.

2530 Beryn offers to become the lawyer's liegeman or sworn follower rendering service in exchange for protections, another rash promise which Geffrey wisely refuses. For the legal workings of feudal service, see F. W. Maitland, The Constitutional History of England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1908), pp. 141-64.

2538 Beryn replied: "Were I not to grant you that, I would be more stupid than an ass!"

2569-74 The contract between Geffrey and Beryn is sealed "in signe of trowth" not with a handshake, but a kiss followed by wine.

2583 Vipan (p. 195) suggests i-secled (sickened) may be the victim of another c/t confusion, hence i-setled for the doublet "settled and fixed" as in line 1742.

2595-2600 Green, "Legal Satire," p. 57, notes that this prohibition of inquest (preferred by merchants) in favor of the old customary compurgation proof of witnesses (preferred by local burgesses) was practiced at this time by England's Cinque Ports, much to the chagrin of foreign traders and, ultimately, the ports themselves when trade declined; see note for line 756.

2601 togider. MS: togid.

2602 though ye were. MS: they ye were.

2603 wold gyve yewe. MS: wold gyve yeve yewe.

2605-07 Black's Law Dictionary, p. 82, gives this definition of affirmative: "The party who, upon the allegations of pleadings joining issue, is under the obligation of making proof, in the first instance, of matters alleged." Thus the citizens sustain the burden of proof, which they accomplish by lining up witnesses willing to perjure themselves. Beryn sustains the burden of negative proof, that is, he must produce evidence or witnesses to prove the contrary - which he cannot do. Green, p. 53, describes Beryn's procedural bind: "In this legal catch-22, the defendant is guilty until proved innocent, but as soon as he denies his guilt, he forfeits the right to prove anything at all."

2616 daunger. MS: daunser.

2645 that. MS: tha.

2660 They shuld. MS: The shuld.

2666 Seneca (c. 4 B.C. - A.D. 65) was the Roman stoic philosopher and dramatist frequently cited by Chaucer. Sydrak was a philosopher to whom was attributed a medieval book of popular wisdom, The Book of Sydrach. "Salamones sawes" refers to the Proverbs of Solomon. This alliterative trio also appears in Mum and the Sothsegger (M 1212), p. 62.

2667 The seven sciences are the seven liberal arts of the Trivium (grammar, rhetoric, logic) and the Quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music). The conduct of war was the subject of Vegetius's foundational De Re Militari (fourth century A.D.) and later Honoré Bonet's Arbre des Batailles (c. 1387), principal sources for Christine de Pizan's Book of Fayttes of Armes and of Chyualrye (c. 1408-10), translated in 1489 by William Caxton (ed. A. T. P. Byles, EETS o.s. 189, 1932).

2673 The French source joins with several texts from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in which Denmark is cited as the birthplace of great men, saints as well as villains, whose origins are otherwise obscure.

2689 That seven score. MS: Tha vii xx.

2695 this ilch day. MS: his ilch day.

2702 But whoso ly. MS: Both who so ly.

2703 The correct reading may be enpechements to rhyme with thens.

2723 keveryng above. MS: keveryng of bove. On the Properties of Things, p. 841, describes how celidony "helpeth ageins the passioun lunatik and ageins woodnes and ageins old sorwe and maketh a man kynde and plesyng"; since it is "a litel stoon and precious," an entire ceiling of celidony would have been very impressive. (Celidony was a fabulous stone, of two kinds [either black or red], that was said to be found in the stomach of a swallow.)

2731 On the Properties of Things, p. 843, says nothing about the coldness of the stone dionisius, only its power to prevent drunkenness.

2741-46 On the Properties of Things, pp. 1219-20, says much about the leopard's violence and aggressiveness, but nothing about the animal's irritation at human breathing.

2753-58 Ptolemy, originally known as Claudius Ptolomaios (c. A.D. 100-170), was a Greek astronomer best known for his treatise Almagest. His renown as a scientist was so great that here he is credited with inventing robotic animals. On medieval automatons, see William Eamon, "Technology as Magic in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance," Janus 70 (1983), 171-212. See also Rosemary Ascherl, "The Technology of Chivalry in Reality and Romance," in The Study of Chivalry: Resources and Approaches, ed. Howell Chickering and Thomas H. Seiler (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1988), pp. 263-311, esp. 285-87 and bibliographies on pp. 310-11.

2758 move. MS: mowe.

2771-78 Chaucer showed great respect for the illusionist powers of "tregetours" in The House of Fame (1259-81) and The Franklin's Tale (CT VII, 1138-51). See Laura Hibbard Loomis, "Secular Dramatics in the Royal Palace, Paris, 1378, 1389, and Chaucer's `Tregetoures'," Speculum 33 (1958), 242-55.

2774 apparence. MS: apparene.

2791 wrieth. MS: wrighe. On indenture ("dentour"), see note for line 1851.

2801 herte. MS: hertis.

2813 They had. MS: The had.

2815-18 In desperation, the crew wishes to be convicted of a felony, which would carry the death penalty, rather than to be reduced to slavery through forfeiture of all their property in civil suits.

2823 Thurhout all the long nyghte, till cokkes gan to syng. MS: Thurhout the nyghte till Cokkis gan to syng. A fuller version of the first half-line is copied following line 2830 - Thurh out all the long nyghte - which I have conflated with line 2823, but which Furnivall (p. 86) reconstructed as a full couplet based on lines 2815-16: Thurh-out all the long nyghte [this was hir compleynt], / They wisshid that of felony they had been atteynt (2831-32).

2825 wynd. MS: wyne.

2826 they had been. MS: he had been.

2827 apassed hope. MS: a passid.

2872 Here meaning a crafty plot, wanlase was the circuit made in hunting to intercept game, especially deer.

2888 tyll Geffrey gan. MS: to Geffrey gan.

2925 i-dight. MS: in dight. See line 2968.

2943 Geffrey will describe a nonsense game instead of the well-known board game called "quek." Quek as a dialect variant for "neck" may account for the abrupt transition between images.

2946 haled. MS: hale.

2977 Beryn makes a point which he ought to have pressed harder, namely, that he is a merchant who should be accorded his rights under "law merchant" (lex mercatoria), a special legal code which extended to mercantile transactions and was internationally recognized by the fifteenth century. Though ley marchaunt normally differed from common law only in expeditious procedure, the merchants themselves could act as judges; if a civil case such as Beryn's was tried by jury, half of the jury might consist of foreigners like the defendant himself. Beryn is placed at a decided disadvantage because law merchant denied wager of law (lining up of witnesses) as a means of establishing the negative and enabled plaintiffs to prove informal contracts by suit ("pleynt"); see note for lines 2605-07. See Frederic Rockwell Sanborn, Origins of the Early English Maritime and Commercial Law (New York: Century, 1930), pp. 324-401, and J. H. Baker, "The Law Merchant and the Common Law Before 1700," Cambridge Law Journal 38 (1979), 295-322. Green, pp. 54-62, makes the case that Beryn is entangled in law-merchant proceedings throughout.

2979 yf. MS: yef.

2982 A "wed" was an object or even hostages given as security to guarantee a party's intention to perform a promise in good faith. See Henry, Contracts, pp. 202-06. The address Sir John is used mockingly for "silly man."

2987 sor. MS: for.

3003 Geffrey's ceaseless chatter is compared, proverbially, to the clatter of a waterwheel.

3018 chasted. MS: chased.

3046 Gilhochet, the name that Geffrey assumes, appears in the French original as Guinehoches, formed from guignol for "hand-puppet clown" and hochet for "toy rattle," according to Tamanini, p. 309.

3054 in company. MS: a company. The phrase "the grettest of the town" may mean the majority of the citizens or the most distinguished men of the town.

3070 So shall I. MS: So shall.

3074 A guest at a medieval banquet would often have a dinner companion, someone of equal social rank with whom to share servings of food and even the same wine cup, as Geffrey claims in asserting intimacy with the Emperor of Rome.

3096-98 In law merchant, these ten witnesses who are neighbors (unlike Beryn who is a foreigner) have the double function of affirming the truth of the Burgeyse's testimony and acting as compurgators or "oath-helpers" who swear that the plaintiff can be believed. The irregularity of the procedure is underscored by the fact that eleven oath-helpers were normally required for wager of law. Green, pp. 54-56, details Beryn's disadvantages as a non-citizen defendant barred from jury inquest.

3097 every word. MS: evir word.

3131 this. MS: thes.

3153 shall nat nede. MS: shall nede.

3154-57 Geffrey offers to prove the justice of Beryn's cause by ordeal of judicial combat, absurdly boasting a record of four previous victories as if he were the sort of professional champion sometimes in the employ of a prince for deciding such cases. See Henry C. Lea, Superstition and Force: Essays on the Wager of Law, the Wager of Battle, the Ordeal, Torture, 2nd ed. rev. (1870; rpt. New York: Greenwood, 1968), pp. 85-199, and M. J. Russell, "I. Trial by Battle and the Writ of Right" and "II. Trial by Battle and the Appeals of Felony," Journal of Legal History 1 (1981), 111-34 and 135-64.

3171 on hond. MS: an hond.

3176 til at the last. MS: til al the last.

3178 For "tregitours," see note for lines 2771-78; also Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages, pp. 95-100.

3182 Bayard is used as a typical name for a horse in Langland's Piers Plowman (B.4.53) and in a famous simile in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde (I, 218-24).

3190 yit shuld it. MS: it shuld it.

3202 Besides making it difficult for the Woman to talk, a slit tongue would have indicated punishment for some previous conviction of false accusation; Pollock and Maitland, 2:453.

3206 harmes. MS: Armys.

3221 Womman. MS: vommen.

3229 Secret marriages formed a suspicious practice in the period; see Henry Ansgar Kelly, "Clandestine Marriage and Chaucer's Troilus," Viator 4 (1973), 435-57, and Hornsby, pp. 56-68.

3230 Geffrey alludes to the proverb "The child is as much like the father as if he had been spit out of his mouth."

3235 tanry. MS: tavener crossed out and corrected to tanry. The line means "until he is old enough to be apprenticed to the tanner's trade."

3239-40 Geffrey refers back to the insane notion that all the townspeople have a mouse for their mother (lines 2955-58).

3247 he thought nat so. MS: he thought nat nat so.

3287 yit sith his departyng. MS: gift crossed out after sith.

3300 On celidony, see note for line 2723; On The Properties of Things discusses the lore of rubies (pp. 839-40) and sapphires (pp. 869-71).

3327-28 On Geffrey's offer of "wager of battle," see note for line 3153.

3350 This line is recopied by mistake after line 3356. The first time the scribe wrote o tale I shall yew tell, the second time o tale I shall yewe tell; the difference in spelling yew/yewe suggests the copyist's flexible attitude toward final -e.

3364-65 The proverb runs something like "He who arrives last to dinner (the cook-pot) is served the worst."

3381 we. MS: I.

3392 They wisshed. MS: The wisshid.

3416 comand. MS: comyng. Rhyme with honde.

3423 hem. MS: hym.

3425ff. By playing the fool, Geffrey has avoided entering any plea until he has heard all five complaints. He then pleads additional matter, a tactic known as confession and avoidance (Black's Law Dictionary, p. 369), which gives his client the advantage of being in the affirmative position.

3452 thertofor. MS: therfor. See line 3457 for heretofore.

3462 The expression "drive the nail to the head" refers to increasing a victim's agony.

3466 but fynde it clene. MS: but clene.

3475 This compressed line might be expanded thus: "Nor can anyone play chess better than I, though I myself say so, who knows not half so much as my master."

3476 Nowe how he lost. MS: Ne how he lost.

3477 went. MS: wend.

3487 to seche the Sepulker. MS: to se the the sepulkir. Another c/t confusion.

3502 this was the end. MS: this was end.

3531 failleth. MS: fallith.

3552 though ye sotil pry. MS: thought sotil pry. Vipan (p. 199) suggested emending pry > be for the sake of the rhyme with iniquité.

3565 The gage was a pawn given as security against the future delivery of a debt, while the pledge was usually a glove given as public acknowledgement of the debt.

3584 he. MS: they.

3594 hem. MS: hym.

3629 This proverbial expression is not as close to the Latin Ars long, vita brevis as it is to the opening line of Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls: "The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne." Geffrey's altered form of the name "Sir Hanyball," here and in line 3619, seems to be mocking.

3637 yit it is. MS: yit is.

3656 The line combines two proverbial expressions, "wipe a man's nose" and "shave a man's beard," both implying the party has been bested.

3658 They profered. MS: The proferid. For pledge and gage, see note for line 3565 above.

3723 For the practice of necromancy, see Kiekhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages, pp. 151-75; and see line 339.

3751 For "borowes" or sureties, see note for lines 1876-81 above.

3761 thre. MS: the.

3769 asyde. MS: a seyd.

3777 The shaved head was the sign of a fool or lunatic.

3780 they myght. MS: the myght.

3795 than. MS: that.

3798-99 first tho / To have. MS: first to / To have.

3801 i-passed. MS: & passid.

3816 Beryn shouts "Out!" to raise the hue and cry; see note for line 2010 above.

3830-32 Customary law established that a weapon's owner was responsible for any injury inflicted with it; Pollock and Maitland, 1:54.

3855 Normally composed of twelve men, a jury might be doubled in size to twenty-four to decide cases of unusual importance, hence literally a "grand jury." Green, pp. 59-60, compares this to a "jury of attaint."

3866 therof. MS: therof therof.

3879 they were. MS: the were.

3912 quod Beryn. MS: Beryn.

3928 cloth. MS: cloith.

3930 In tokyn. MS: I tokyn.

3957 with Beryn. MS: wit B.

3981 Thes wymmen. MS: This wymmen.

3982 as it was do. MS: at it was do.

3987-90 Isope interprets Beryn's instinctive choice of the sword as a sign of well-bred nobility.

3993 To cond him saff. MS: To cond his saff. performed. MS: perfomyd.

4002 Thurh the wit of Geffrey, it fil so. MS: Thurh the wit of Geffrey that ech day did hym lere it fil so. The phrase that ech day did hym lere has been imported from line 4006, by mistake, though the corruption probably runs deeper.

4013 "Except the town's citizens, who were the source of falsehood." Furnivall (p. 120) ignored the mid-line caesura and lack of capitalization in the manuscript to take the town of falshede as a proper noun; hence "Falsetown" figures in his commentary as the name of the port city where Beryn encounters so much fraud.

4015 were fawe. MS: fawe. The word were is added in the manuscript's right margin.

The Latin colophon forming a couplet at the bottom of the last page of The Tale of Beryn can be translated "The name of the author presenting the chronicle of Rome, and of the translator, is a son of the Church of St. Thomas." Brown, "Journey's End," pp. 148-50, proposes that the author might have been a monk charged with the care of the shrine of St. Thomas à Becket in the cathedral's Trinity Chapel, which was almost universally called the St. Thomas Chapel, hence "Filius ecclesie Thome." The wording suggests that the clerical poet's name may also have been Thomas. Therefore worth noting is Green's suggestion, pp. 61-62 n. 49, that the author was Thomas Astell, rector of St. Thomas the Martyr in Winchelsea.

When all this fressh feleship were com to Caunterbury,
As ye have herd tofore, with tales glad and mery,
Som of sotill centence, of vertu and of lore,
And som of other myrthes for hem that hold no store
Of wisdom, ne of holynes, ne of chivalry,
Nether of vertuouse matere, but to foly
Leyd wit and lustes all, to such japes
As Hurlewaynes meyné in every hegg that capes
Thurh unstabill mynde, ryght as the leves grene
Stonden ageyn the weder, ryght so by hem I mene.
Butt no more hereof nowe at this ilch tyme,
In saving of my centence, my prolog and my ryme.
   They toke hir in and logged hem at mydmorowe, I trowe,
Atte Cheker of the Hope, that many a man doth knowe.
Hir Hoost of Southwork that with hem went, as ye have herd tofore,
That was rewler of hem al, of las and eke of more,
Ordeyned hir dyner wisely or they to chirch went
Such vitailles as he fond in town and for noon other sent.
   The Pardonere beheld the besynes, howe states were i-served,
Diskennyng hym al pryvely and asyde swerved.
The hostelere was so halowed from o plase to another,
He toke his staff to the tapstere. - "Welcom, myne owne brothere,"
Quod she with a frendly look, al redy for to kys.
And he, as a man i-lerned of such kyndnes,
Braced hir by the myddill and made hir gladly chere,
As thoughe he had i-knowe hir al the rather yeer.
She haled hym into the tapstry, there hir bed was maked.
   "Lo, here I ligg," quod she, "myselff al nyght al naked,
Without mannes company, syn my love was dede,
Jenkyn Harpour, yf ye hym know. From fete to the hede,
Was nat a lustier persone to daunce ne to lepe
Then he was, thoughe I it sey." - And therewith she to wepe
She made, and with hir napron feir and white i-wassh,
She wyped sofft hir eyen, for teres that she out lassh
As grete as eny mylstone, upward gon they stert
For love of hir swetyng that sat so nyghe hir hert.
She wept and wayled and wrong hir hondes, and made much to done,
For they that loven so passyngly, such trowes they have echon.
She snyffeth, sigheth, and shooke hire hede, and made rouful chere.
   "Benedicite!" quod the Pardonere, and toke hir by the swere.
"Ye make sorowe inowgh," quod he, "yeur lyff thoughe ye shuld lese."
   "It is no wonder," quod she than, and therewith she gan to fnese.
   "Aha! Al hole!" quod the Pardoner. "Yeur penaunce is somwhat passed."
   "God forbede it els," quod she; "but it were somwhat lassed,
I myght nat lyve els, thowe wotest, and it shuld long endure."
   "Now blessed be God of mendement, of hele and eke of cure,"
Quod the Pardoner tho anoon and toke hir by the chynne,
And seyd to hir these wordes tho: "Allas, that love ys syn!
So kynde a lover as ye be oon, and so trew of hert,
For by my trewe conscience, yit for yewe I smert
And shall this month hereafter for yeur soden disese.
Now wele were hym ye loved, so he coude yewe plese.
I durst swere oppon a book that trewe he shuld yewe fynd,
For he that is so yore dede is green in yeur mynde.
Ye made me a sory man; I dred ye wold have sterved."
   "Graunt mercy, gentil sir," quod she, "that ye unaserved.
Ye be a nobill man, i-blessed mut ye be.
Sit down, ye shul drynk." - "Nay, iwis!" quod he;
"I am fastyng yit, myne own hertes rote."
   "Fasting yit? Allas!" quod she. "Therof I can good bote."
She stert into the town and fet a py al hote
And set tofore the Pardoner. "Jenken, I ween? I note.
Is that yeur name, I yow prey?" - "Yee, iwis, myne own suster,
So was I enformed of hem that me did foster.
And what is yeurs?" - "Kit, iwis, so cleped me my dame."
   "And Goddes blessing have thow, Kit, now broke we thy name,"
And pryvelich unlased his both eyen-liddes
And loked hir in the visage paramour amyddes,
And sighed therewith a litil tyme, that she it here myghte,
And gan to trown and feyn this song, "Now love, thu do me righte!"
   "Ete and be mery," quod she. "Why breke ye nat yeur fast?
To waite more feleshipp it were but work in wast.
Why make ye so dull chere? For yeur love at home?"
   "Nay forsoth, myne own hert, it is for yewe aloon."
   "For me? Allas, what sey ye? That were a sympill prey."
   "Trewlich yit," quod the Pardoner, "it is as I yewe sey."
   "Ye eteth and beth mery. We woll speke thereof sone.
Brenned cat dredeth feir; it is mery to be aloon.
For, by Our Lady Mary that bare Ihesu on hir arm,
I coud never love yit, but it did me harm,
For ever my maner hath be to love over-much."
   "Now, Cristes blessing," quod the Pardoner, "go with al such.
Lo, howe the clowdes worchen eche man to mete his mach.
For trewly, gentil Cristian, I use the same tach
And have i-do many a yere. I may it nat forber,
For Kynde woll have his cours, though men the contrary swer."
And therwith he stert up smertly and cast down a grote.
   "What shal this do, gentill sir? Nay, sir! For my cote,
I nold ye payde a peny here and so sone pas."
   The Pardoner swore his gretter othe; he wold pay no las.
   "Iwis, sir, it is over-do. But sith it is yeur will,
I woll put it in my purs, lest ye it take in ill
To refuse yeur curtesy!" - and therewith she gan to bowe.
   "Now trewly," quod the Pardoner, "yeur maners been too alowe.
For had ye counted streytly and nothing lefft behynde,
I myghte have wele i-demed that ye be unkynde
And eke untrewe of hert and sonner me forgete,
But ye list be my tresorer, for we shull offter mete."
   "Now certen," quod the Tapster, "ye have ared ful even.
As wold to God ye couth as wele undo my sweven,
That I myselff did mete this nyght that is i-passed -
How I was in a chirch when it was al i-massed
And was in my devocioune tyl service was al doon,
Tyll the preest and the clerk boystly bad me goon
And put me out of the chirch with an eger mode."
   "Now Seynt Danyel," quod the Pardoner, "yeur sweven turne to good!
And I woll halsow it to the best, have it in yeur mynd,
For comenly of these swevenes the contrary men shul fynde.
Ye have be a lover glad, and litil joy i-had.
Pluk up a lusty hert and be mery and glad,
For ye shul have a husbond that shal yewe wed to wyve
That shal love yewe as hertly as his own lyve.
The preest that put yewe out of chirch shal lede yew in ageyn
And help to yeur mariage with al his myghte and mayn.
This is the sweven, al and som. Kit, how liketh thee?"
   "By my trowth, wonder wele! Blessed mut thowe be!"
   Then toke he leve at that tyme, tyll he com efftsone,
And went to his feleshipp, as it was to doon.
   Thoughe it be no grete holynes to prech this ilk matere
And that som list nat to here it, yit sirs, ner-the-latter,
Endureth for a while and suffreth hem that woll,
And ye shull here howe the Tapster made the Pardoner pull
Garlik al the long nyghte, til it was nerend day,
For the more cher she made of love, the falsher was hir lay.
But litil charge gaff she therof, thoughe she aquyt his while,
For etheres thought and tent was other to begile,
As ye shull here herafter, when tyme cometh and spase
To meve such mater. But nowe a litill spase
I woll retourn me ageyn to the company.
   The Knyght and al the feleshipp, and nothing for to ly,
When they were all i-logged, as skill wold and reson,
Everich after his degre, to chirch then was seson
To pas and to wend, to make hir offringes,
Righte as hir devocioune was, of sylver broch and rynges.
Then atte chirch dorr the curtesy gan to ryse,
Tyl the Knyght of gentilnes that knewe righte wele the guyse
Put forth the prelates, the Person and his fere.
A monk that toke the spryngill with a manly cher
And did as the maner is, moilled al hir pates,
Everich after other, righte as they were of states.
The Frere feynded fetously the spryngil for to hold
To spryng oppon the remnaunt, that for his cope he nold
Have lafft that occupacioune in that holy plase,
So longed his holy conscience to se the Nonnes fase!
The Knyghte went with his compers toward the holy shryne
To do that they were com fore, and after for to dyne.
The Pardoner and the Miller and other lewde sotes
Sought hemselff in the chirch, right as lewd gotes,
Pyred fast and poured highe oppon the glase,
Counterfeting gentilmen, the armes for to blase,
Diskyveryng fast the peyntour, and for the story mourned 1
And ared also - right as rammes horned!
   "He bereth a balstaff," quod the toon, "and els a rakes ende."
   "Thow faillest," quod the Miller, "thowe hast nat wel thy mynde.
It is a spere, yf thowe canst se, with a prik tofore
To bussh adown his enmy and thurh the sholder bore."
   "Pese!" quod the Hoost of Southwork. "Let stond the wyndow glased.
Goth up and doth yeur offerynge. Ye semeth half amased.
Sith ye be in company of honest men and good,
Worcheth somwhat after, and let the kynd of brode 2
Pas for a tyme. I hold it for the best,
For who doth after company may lyve the bet in rest."
   Then passed they forth boystly, goglyng with hir hedes,
Kneled adown tofore the shryne, and hertlich hir bedes
They preyd to Seynt Thomas, in such wise as they couth.
And sith the holy relikes ech man with his mowth
Kissed, as a goodly monke the names told and taught.
And sith to other places of holynes they raughte
And were in hir devocioun tyl service were al doon,
And sith they drowgh to dynerward, as it drew to noon.
Then, as manere and custom is, signes there they boughte,
For men of contre shuld know whom they had soughte.
Ech man set his sylver in such thing as they liked.
And in the meenwhile, the Miller had i-piked
His bosom ful of signes of Caunterbury broches,
Huch the Pardoner and he pryvely in hir pouches
They put hem afterward, that noon of hem it wist,
Save the Sompnour seid somwhat and seyd to hem, "List,
Halff part!" quod he pryvely, rownyng on hir ere.
   "Hussht! Pees!" quod the Miller. "Seist thowe nat the Frere,
Howe he lowreth under his hood with a doggissh ey?
Hit shuld be a pryvy thing that he coude nat aspy.
Of every crafft he can somwhat, Our Lady gyve hym sorowe!"
   "Amen," tho quod the Sompnour, "on eve and eke on morowe!
So cursed a tale he told of me, the devil of hell hym spede -
And me! - but yf I pay hym wele and quyte wele his mede,
Yf it hap homward that ech man tell his tale,
As we did hiderward, thoughe I shuld set at sale
Al the shrewdnes that I can, I wol hym nothing spare
That I nol touch his taberd somwhat of his care."
   They set hir signes oppon hir hedes, and som oppon hir capp,
And sith to the dynerward they gan for to stapp.
Every man in his degre wissh and toke his sete,
As they were wont to doon at soper and at mete,
And were in scilence for a tyme, till girdill gon arise.
But then as Nature axeth, as these old wise
Knowen wele, when veynes been somwhat replete,
The spirites wol stere, and also metes swete
Causen offt myrthes for to be i-meved.
And eke it was no tyme tho for to be i-greved;
Every man in his wise made hertly chere,
Talyng his felowe of sportes and of chere,
And of other myrthes that fyllen by the wey,
As custom is of pilgryms - and hath been many a day.
   The Hoost leyd to his ere, of Southwork as ye knowe,
And thenked al the company, both 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 set yewe in governaunce by rightful jugement."
   "Trewly, Hoost," quod the Frere, "that was al our assent
With a litill more that I shal sey thereto.
Ye graunted of yeur curtesy that we shuld also,
Al the hole company, sope with yewe at nyghte.
Thus I trow that it was. What sey ye, Sir Knyght?"
   "It shal nat nede," quod the Hoost, "to axe no witnes.
Yeur record is good inowe, and of yeur gentilnes
Yit I prey yewe efft ageyn, for by Seynt Thomas shryne,
And ye woll hold covenaunt, I wol hold myne."
   "Now trewly, Hoost," quod the Knyght, "ye have right wel i-sayd.
And as towching my persone, I hold me payde,
And so I trowe that al doth. Sirs, what sey ye?"
   The Monke and eke the Marchaunte and al seid "Yee!"
   "Then al this aftermete I hold it for the best
To sport and pley us," quod the Hoost, "eche man as hym lest,
And go bytyme to soper and to bed also,
So mowe we erly rysen our journey for to do."
   The Knyght arose therwithal and cast on a fressher gown,
And his sone another, to walk 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 togider righte as hir lustes lay,
As they were more used traveling by the wey.
   The Knyght with his meyné went to se the wall
And the wardes of the town, as to a knyght befall,
Devising ententiflich the strengthes al about,
And apoynted to his sone the perell and the dout
For shot of arblast and of bowe, and eke for shot of gonne,
Unto the wardes of the town, and howe it myght be wone.
And al defence therageyn, after his entent,
He declared compendiously. And al that ever he ment,
His sone perseyved every poynt, as he was ful abill
To armes and to travaill, and persone covenabill.
He was of al factur after fourm of Kynde,
And for to deme his governaunce, it semed that his mynde
Was much in his lady that he loved best,
That made hym offt to wake when he shuld have his rest.
   The Clerk that was of Oxenforth onto the Sompnore seyd,
"Me semeth of grete clerge that thow art a mayde,
For thow puttest on the Frere in maner of repreff
That he knoweth falshede, vice, and eke a theff.
And I it hold vertuouse and right commendabill,
To have verry knowlech of thinges reprovabill.
For whoso hath may eschew it and let it pas by.
And els he myghte fall thereon, unware and sodenly.
And thoughe the Frere told a tale of a sompnour,
Thowe oughtest for to take it for no dishonour,
For of all crafftes and of eche degré
They be nat al perfite, but som nyce be."
   "Lo, what is worthy," seyd the Knyght, "for to be a clerk!
To sommon among us hem, this mocioune was ful derk. 3
I comend his wittes and eke his clergé
For of ether parte he saveth honesté."
   The Monke toke the Person then and the Grey Frere,
And preyd hem ful curteysly for to go in fere:
"I have there a queyntaunce that al this yeres thre
Hath preyd me by his lettres that I hym wold se,
And ye, my brother in habit and in possessioune.
And now I am here, me thinketh it is to doon
To preve it in dede what cher he wold me make,
And to yewe, my frendes, also for my sake."
   They went forth togider, talking of holy matere,
But woot ye wele in certeyn, they had no mynd on water
To drynk at that tyme, when they were met in fere,
For of the best that myght be found, and therwith mery cher
They had, it is no doute, for spyces and eke wyne
Went round about, the Gascoyn and eke the Ruyne.
   The Wyff of Bath was so wery, she had no will to walk.
She toke the Priores by the hond: "Madam, wol ye stalk
Pryvely into the garden to se the herbes growe,
And after with our hostes wyff in hir parlour rowe?
I woll gyve yewe the wyne, and ye shull me also,
For tyll 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 gon they wend,
Passyng forth sofftly into the herbery,
For many a herbe grewe for sew and surgery,
And al the aleyes feir i-pared, i-rayled and i-maked,
The sauge and the isope i-frethed and i-staked,
And other beddes by and by fressh i-dight,
For comers to the hoost righte a sportful sight.
   The Marchaunt and the Mancipill, the Miller and the Reve,
And the Clerk of Oxenforth to townward gon they meve,
And al the other meyné, and lafft noon at home -
Save the Pardoner that pryvelich, when al they were goon,
Stalked into the tapstry, for nothing 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 hym agayns, as ye shull after here.
For hym had better be i-logged al nyght in a myere
Then he was the same nyghte or the sonne was up.
For such was his fortune, he drank without the cupp!
But thereof wist he no dele, ne no man of us all
May have that highe connyng to know what shal befall.
   He stapped into the tapstry wonder pryvely,
And fond hir liggyng lirylong, with half sclepy eye -
Poured fellich under hir hood and saw al his comyng,
And lay ay still, as naught she knewe, but feyned hir scleping.
He put his hond to hir brest. "Awake," quod he, "Awake!"
   "A, Benedicite! Sir, who wist yewe here? Out! Thus I myght be take
Prisoner," quod the tapstere, "being al aloon!" -
And therwith breyd up in a frighte and began to groon.
   "Nowe sith ye be my prisoner, yeld yewe now," quod he.
   "I must nedes," quod she. "I may nothing fle,
And eke I have no strength and am but yong of age,
And also it is no mastry to cach a mouse in a cage
That may nowhere stert out, but closed wonder fast.
And eke, sir, I tell yewe, though ye had grete hast,
Ye shuld have coughed when ye com. Where lern ye curtesy?
Now trewlich I must chide, for of righte pryvyté
Wommen been som tyme of day when they be aloon.
Where coud I, I yewe prey, when ye com efftsone?"
   "Nowe mercy, dere sweting, I wol do so no more.
I thank yew an hundred sithes, and also by yeur lore
I woll do hereafter in what place that I com.
But lovers, Kit, been evill avised ful offt and too lom.
Wherfor, I prey yew hertlich, hold me excused.
And I behote yew trewly, it shal no more be used.
But nowe to our purpose: how have ye fare
Sith I was with yew last? That is my most care,
For yf ye eyled eny thing otherwise then good,
Trewly it wold chaunge my cher and my blood."
   "I have i-fared the wers for yewe," quod Kit. "Do ye no drede
God that is above? And eke ye had no nede
For to conger me, God woot, with yeur nygromancy
That have no more to vaunce me but oonly my body;
And yf it were disteyned, then were I ondo.
Iwis I trowe, Jenken, ye be nat to trust to,
For evermore ye clerkes con so much in book,
Ye woll wyn a womman atte first look."
   Thought the Pardoner, "This goth wele!" and made hir better cher
And axed of hir sofftly, "Lord! Who shall ligg here
This nyghte that is to comyng? I prey yewe tell me."
   "Iwis, it is grete nede to tell yew," quod she;
"Make it nat over queynt, thoughe ye be a clerk.
Ye know wel inowgh iwis 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?
Wherfore I prey yew hertly, do by my counsaill.
Cometh somwhat late, and for nothing faill.
The dorr shall stond char up. Put it from yew sofft,
But be wel avised ye wake nat hem on lofft."
   "Care ye nat," quod Jenken. "I can thereon atte best;
Shall no man for my stering be waked of his rest."
   Anoon they dronk the beverage and were of oon accord,
As it semed by hir cher and also by hir word.
And al ascaunce she loved hym wele, she toke hym by the swere,
As thoughe she had lerned cury favel of som old frere.
The Pardoner plukked out of his purs, I trow, the dowry
And toke it Kit in hir hond, and bad hir pryvely
To orden a rere soper for hem both to:
"A cawdell i-made with swete wyne and with suger also;
For trewly I have no talent to ete in yeur absence,
So longeth my hert toward yewe to be in yeur presence."
   He toke his leve and went his wey, as thoughe nothing were,
And met with al the feleshipp. But in what plase ne where,
He spak no word therof but held hym close and still,
As he that hoped sikerlich to have had al his will,
And thought many a mery thought by hymself aloon:
"I am i-logged," thought he, "best, howesoever it gone!
And thoughe it have costed me, yit wol I do my peyn
For to pike hir purs tonyghte and wyn my cost ageyn."
   Now leve I the Pardoner till that it be eve,
And woll retourn me ageyn right there as I did leve.
   When al were com togider in 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:
"Nowe woll we to the souper? Sir Knyght, seith yeur avyse,"
Quod the Hoost ful curteysly. And in the same wise
The Knyght answerd hym ageyn, "Sir, as ye devise,
I must obey, ye woot wele, but yf I faill witt."
   "Then taketh these prelates to yewe and wassheth and go sit,
For I woll be yeur marchall and serve yewe echone,
And then the officers 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 aftermete whils they were out;
For other occupacioun til they were served about,
They had nat at that tyme, but eny man kitt a loff.
   But the Pardoner kept hym close and told nothing of
The myrth and hope that he had, but kept it for hymselff.
And thoughe he did, it is no fors, for he had nede to solve
Long or it were mydnyght, as ye shul here sone,
For he met with his love in crokeing of the moon.
   They were i-served honestly, and ech man held hym payde,
For of o maner of service hir soper was araide,
As skill wold and reson, sith the lest of all
Payed ilich much, for growing of the gall.
But yit as curtesy axeth, though it were somdele streyte,
The states that were above had of the feyrest endreyte.
Wherfor they did hir gentilnes ageyn to al the rout;
They dronken wyne at hir cost ones round aboute.
   Nowe 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.
Butte Miller and the Coke dronken by the moon
Twyes to ech other in the repenyng,
And when the Pardoner hem aspied, anoon he gan to syng
"Doubil me this bourdon," chokelyng in his throte,
For the tapster shuld here of his mery note.
He cleped to hym the Sompnore, that was his own discipill,
The Yeman and the Reve and the Mauncipill,
And stoden so holowing, for nothing wold they leve
Tyl the tyme that it was wel within eve.
The Hoost of Southwork herd hem wele, and the Marchaunt both,
As they were at acountes and wexen somwhat wroth,
But yit they preyd hem curteysly to rest for to wend.
And so they did, al the route, they dronk and made an ende,
And eche man droughe to cusky to sclepe and take his rest - 4
Save the Pardoner that drewe apart and weyted hym a trest,
For to hyde hymselff till the candill were out.
   And in the meenwhile - have ye no doute -
The tapster and hir paramour and the hosteler of the house
Sit togider pryvelich, and of the best gouse
That was i-found in town and i-set at sale
They had thereof sufficiaunt, and dronk but litill ale,
And sit and ete the cawdell for the Pardoner that was made
With suger and with swete wyne, right as hymselff bade.
So he that payd for all in feer had nat a twynt.
For offt is more better i-merked then i-mynt,
And so fared there, ful righte as ye have i-herd.
   But who is that a womman coud nat make his berd
And she were thereabout and set hir wit thereto?
Ye woot wele I ly nat, and where I do or no,
I woll nat here termyn it, lest ladies stond in plase,
Or els gentil women, for lesing of my grace
Of daliaunce and of sportes and of goodly chere.
Therefor, anenst hir estates I woll in no manere
Deme ne determyn, but of lewd Kittes
As tapsters and other such that hath wyly wittes
To pik mennes purses and eke to bler hir eye;
So wele they make seme soth when they falssest ly.
   Now of Kit 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 plase,
Kit began to render out al thing as it was,
The wowing of the Pardoner and his cost also,
And howe he hoped for to lygg al nyght with hir also -
But therof he shall be siker as of Goddes cope! -
And sodenly kissed hir paramour and seyd, "We shul sclope
Togider hul by hul as we have many a nyghte,
And yf he com and make noyse, I prey yew dub hym knyght."
   "Yis, dame," quod hir paramour, "be thow nat agast.
This is his own staff, thow seyest; thereof he shal atast."
   "Now trewly," quod the hosteler, "and he com by my lot,
He shall drynk for Kittes love without cup or pot.
And he be so hardy to wake eny gist,
I make a vowe to the pecok, there shal wake a foul myst!" -
And arose up therwithal and toke his leve anoon.
It was a shrewed company; they had served so many oon.
With such maner of feleshipp ne kepe I never to dele, 5
Ne no man that loveth his worshipp and his hele.
   Quod Kit to hir paramour, "Ye must wake a while,
For trewlich I am siker that within this myle
The Pardoner wol be comyng, his hete to aswage.
But loke ye pay hym redelich to kele his corage.
And therfor, love, dischauce yewe nat til this chek be do."
   "No, for God! Kit, that woll I no!"
   Then Kit went to bed and blew out al the lighte,
And by that tyme it was nerhond quarter nyght.
When al was still, the Pardoner gan to walk,
As glad as eny goldfynch that he herd no man talk,
And drowghe to Kittes dorward to herken and to list,
And went to have fond the dor up, but the hasp and eke the twist
Held hym out a whils, and the lok also.
Yit trowed he no gyle, but went nere to
And scraped the dorr welplich and wyned with his mowth
After a dogges lyden, as nere as he couth.
   "Away, dogg, with evil deth!" quod he that was within,
And made hym al redy the dorr to unpyn.
   "A!" thought the Pardoner tho. "I trow my berd be made!
The tapster hath a paramour and hath made him glade
With the cawdell that I ordeyned for me, as I ges.
Now the devill hir spede, such oon as she is!
She said I had i-congered hir. Our Lady gyve hir sorow!
Now wold to God she were in stokkes til I shuld hir borowe,
For she is the falssest that ever yit I knewe,
To pik the mony out of my purs! Lord, she made hir trew!"
   And therwith he caught a cardiakill and a cold sot.
For who hath love-longing and is of corage hote,
He hath ful many a mery thought tofore his delyte,
And right so had the Pardoner and was in evil plighte.
For fayling of his purpose he was nothing in ese.
Wherfor he fill sodenlich into a wood rese,
Entryng wonder fast into a frensy
For pure verry anger and for gelousy.
For when he herd a man within, he was almost wood.
And because the cost was his, no mervel though his mood
Were turned into vengaunce, yf it myght be.
But this was the myscheff: al so strong as he,
Was he that was within, and lighter man also,
As preved wel the batell betwene hem both to.
The Pardoner scraped efft ageyn, for nothing wold he blyn,
So feyn he wold have herd more of hym that was within.
   "What dogg is that?" quod the paramour. "Kit, wost thou ere?"
   "Have God my trowth," quod she, "it is the Pardoner."
   "The Pardoner with myscheff, God gyve hym evil preff!"
   "Sir," she seid, "by my trowth, he is the same theff."
   "Thereof thow liest," quod the Pardoner, and myght nat long forbere.
"A! Thy fals body!" quod he. "The devill of hell thee tere!
For by my trowth, a falsher sawe I never noon!" -
And nempned hir names, many mo then oon,
Huch to rech here were noon honesté
Among men of good, of worship and degré.
But shortly to conclude, when he had chid inowe,
He axed his staff spitouslich with wordes sharp and rowe.
   "Go to bed," quod he within, "No more noyse thow make.
Thy staff shall be redy tomorow, I undertake."
   "In soth," quod he, "I woll nat fro the dorr wend
Tyll I have my staff, thow bribour!" - "Then have the toder end!"
Quod he that was within, and leyd it on his bak,
Right in the same plase as chapmen bereth hir pak.
And so he did too mo, as he coude arede,
Graspyng after with the staff in length and eke in brede,
And fond hym otherwhile redlich inowghe
With the staffes ende highe oppon his browe.
   The hosteler lay oppon his bedd and herd of this affray,
And stert hym up lightlich and thought he wold asay.
He toke a staff in his hond and highed wonder blyve,
Tyll he were with the felesshipp that shuld never thryve.
   "What be ye?" quod the hosteler, and knew hem both wele.
   "Huyst! Pese!" quod the paramour. "Jak, thow must be fele.
There is a theff, I tell thee, within this hall dorr."
   "A theff!" quod Jak. "This is a nobill chere
That thow hym hast i-found, yf we hym myghte cache."
   "Yis, yis! Care thee naught! With hym we shul mache
Wel inowghe or he be go, yf so we had lighte,
For we too be strong inowgh with o man for to fighte."
   "The devill of hell," quod Jak, "breke this theves bones!
The key of the kychen, as it were for the nones,
Is above with our dame, and she hath such usage
And she be wake of hir sclepe, she falleth in such a rage
That al the wook after there may no man hir plese,
So she stereth aboute this house in a wood rese.
But now I am avised bet how we shull have lyghte:
I have too gistes aryn that this same nyghte
Soped in the hall and had a litill feir.
Go up," quod Jak, "and loke and in the asshes pire,
And I woll kepe the dorr. He shal nat stert out!"
   "Nay, for God, that wol I nat, lest I cach a cloute,"
Seid the toder to Jak. "For thow knowest better then I
Al the estres of this house. Go up thyselff and spy."
   "Nay, for soth!" quod Jak. "That were grete unryghte
To aventur oppon a man that with hym did nat fighte.
Sithens thow hast hym bete and with thy staff i-pilt,
Me thinketh it were no reson that I shuld bere the gilt.
For by the blysyng of the cole, he myght se myne hede
And lightly leve me such a stroke nyhond to be dede."
   "Then woll we do by comon assent sech hym al aboute.
Who that meteth hym first, pay hym on the snoute.
For me thought I herd hym here last among the pannes.
Kepe thow the toder syde, but ware the water cannes!
And yf he be herein, right sone we shul hym fynd,
And we to be strong inowghe o theff for to bynd."
   "Aha-ha!" thought the Pardoner; "beth there pannes aryn?"
And droughe oppon that side and thought oppon a gynne.
So atte last he fond oon and set it on his hede,
For as the case was fall, thereto he had grete nede.
But yit he grasped ferthermore to have somwhat in honde,
And fond a grete ladill right as he was gonde,
And thought for to stert out betwen hem both to;
And wayted wele the paramour that had doon hym wo,
And set hym with the ladill on the grustill on the nose
That al the wook 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 hym, but nothing to his pay.
The Pardoner ran so swith, the pan fil hym fro,
And Jak Hosteler after hym as blyve as he myght go,
And stapped oppon a bronde, al unware,
That hym had been better to have goon more asware,
For the egge of the panne met with his shyn
And karff a-too a veyn and the next syn.
But whils that it was grene, he thought litil on,
But when the oeptas was apast, the greff sat nere the boon. 6
Yet Jak leyd to his hond to grope where to sete,
And when he fond he was i-hurt, the Pardoner he gan to thrett
And swore by Seynt Amyas that he shuld abigg
With strokes hard and sore even oppon the rigg;
Yff he hym myghte fynde, he nothing wold hym spare.
That herd the Pardoner wele and held hym better asquare
And thought that he had strokes ryghte inowghe,
Witnes on his armes, his bak, and his browe.
   "Jak," then quod the paramour, "where is this theff ago?"
   "I note," quod tho Jak, "right now he lept me fro.
That Cristes curs go with hym, for I have harm and spite."
   "By my trowth, and I also, and he goth nat al quyte!
But and we myght hym fynd, we wold aray hym so,
That he shuld have legg ne foot tomorow on to go!"
   "But howe shull we hym fynd? The moon is adown."
   As grace was for the Pardoner, and eke when they did roun,
He herd hem ever wel inowghe and went the more aside,
And droughe hym ever bakward and lete the strokes glyde.
   "Jak," quod the paramour, "I hold it for the best,
Sith the moon is down, for to go to rest
And make the gates fast; he may nat then astert.
And eke of his own staff he bereth a redy mark
Whereby thow maist hym know among al the route,
And thow bere a redy ey and weyt wele aboute
Tomorowe when they shull wend. This is the best rede.
Jak, what seyst thowe thereto? Is this wel i-seyd?"
   "Thy wit is clere," quod Jak. "Thy wit mut nedes stonde."
He made the gates fast. There is no more to doon.
   The Pardoner stood asyde, his chekes ron on bleed,
And was right evil at ese al nyght in his hede.
He must of force lige lyke a Colyn swerd,
Yit it greved hym wonder sore for makeing of his berd.
He paid atte ful therefore thurh a womman art
For wyne and eke for cawdill, and had therof no part.
He therfor preyd Seynt Juliane, as ye mowe understonde,
That the devill hir shuld spede on water and on londe,
So to disseyve a traveling man of his herbegage,
And coude nat els save curs, his anger to aswage,
And was distract of his wit and in grete dispeyr.
For after his hete, he caughte a cold thurh the nyghtes eyr
That he was nere afounded and coude noon other help.
But as he sought his logging, he apped oppon a whelp
That lay under a steyir, a grete Walssh dogg
That bare aboute his nek a grete huge clogg,
Because that he was spetouse and wold sone bite.
The clogg was honged about his nek for men shuld nat wite
Nothing the dogges master yf he did eny harm;
So for to excuse hem both, it was a wyly charm.
The Pardoner wold have logged hym there and lay somwhat ny.
The warrok was awaked and caught hym by the thy
And bote hym wonder spetously, defendyng wele his couch,
That the Pardoner myght nat nere hym nethere touch,
But held hym asquare by that other syde
As holsom was, at that tyme, for tereing of his hyde.
He coude noon other help, but leyd adown his hede
In the dogges litter, and wisshed after brede
Many a tyme and offt, the dogg for to plese,
To have i-ley more nere for his own ese.
But wissh what he wold, his Fortune seyd nay.
So trewly for the Pardoner, it was a dismol day.
The dogg lay ever grownyng, redy for to snache;
Wherfor the Pardoner durst nat with hym mache,
But lay as styll as eny stone, remembryng his foly,
That he wold trust a tapster of a comon hostry,
For comenly for the most part, they been wyly echon.
   But nowe to all the company: amorow when they shuld goon,
Was noon of al the feleshipp half so sone i-dighte
As was the gentil Pardoner, for al tyme of the nyghte
He was aredy in his aray and had nothing to doon
Saff shake a lite his eres, and trus and be goon.
Yet or he cam in company, he wissh awey the blood,
And bond the sores to his hede with the typet of his hood,
And made lightsom chere for men shuld nat spy
Nothing of his turment ne of his luxury.
And the hosteler of the house, for nothing he coude pry,
He coude nat knowe the Pardoner among the company
Amorowe when they shuld wend, for aught that he coude pour,
So wisely went the Pardoner out of the dogges bour,
And blynched from the hosteler and turned offt aboute.
And evermore he held hym amydward the route
And was ever synging to make al thing good,
But yit his notes were somwhat lowe, for akyng of his hede.
So at that tyme he had no more grame,-
But held hym to his harmes to scape shame.
   The Knyght and al the felesship, forward gon they wende,
Passing forth merely to the townes ende.
And by that tyme they were there, the day began to rype,
And the sonne merely upward gan she pipe,
Pleying under the egge of the firmament.
   "Now," quod the Hoost of Southwork, and to the feleshipp bent,
"Who sawe ever so feir or so glad a day?
And how sote this seson is entring into May!
[ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ]
The thrusteles and the thrusshes in this glad mornyng,
The ruddok and the goldfynch, but the nyghtyngale
His amerous notes, lo, how he twyneth smale!
Lo, how the trees greneth that naked were and nothing
Barre this month afore, but now hir somer clothing.
Lo, how Nature maketh for hem everichone,
And as many as there been, he forgeteth noon.
Lo, howe the seson of the yere and Averell shoures
Doth the busshes burgyn out blosoms and floures!
Lo, the prymeroses, how fressh they been to seen!
And many other floures among the grases green,
Lo, howe they spryng and sprede of divers hewe!
Beholdeth and seeth both rede, white and blewe,
That lusty been and confortabill for mannes sighte,
For I sey for myselff it maketh my hert to lighte.
   Now sith Almyghty Sovereyn hath sent so feir a day,
Let se nowe, as covenaunt is, in shorting of the way,
Who shall be the first that shall unlace his male
In confort of us all, and gyn som mery tale?
For and we shuld now begyn to draw lott,
Peraventur it myght fall there it ought not
On som unlusty persone that were nat wele awaked,
Or semy-bousy over eve, and had i-song and craked
Somwhat over much. Howe shuld he than do?
For who shuld tell a tale, he must have good will therto.
And eke som men fasting beth nothing jocounde,
And som hir tunges fasting beth glewed and i-bound
To the palet of the mowth as offt as they mete.
So yf the lott fell on such, no thonk shuld they gete.
And som in the mornyng, hir mouthes beth adoun;
Till that they be charmed, hir wordis woll nat soun.
So this is my conclusyioun and my last knot:
It were grete gentilnes to tell without lott."
   "By the Rood of Bromholm," quod the Marchaunte tho,
"As fer as I have sayled, riden and i-go,
Sawe I never man yit tofore this ilch day
So well coude rewle a company as our Hoost in fay.
His wordes been so comfortabill and cometh so in seson
That my wit is overcom to make eny reson
Contrary to his counsaill at myne ymaginacioune.
Wherefor I woll tell a tale to yeur consolacioune,
In ensaumpill to yewe that when that I have do,
Another be all redy then for to tell right so
To fulfill our Hoostes will and his ordinaunce.
There shall no fawte be found in me; good will shal be my chaunce.
With this I be excused of my rudines,
Allthoughe I cannat peynt my tale but tell as it is,
Lepyng over no centence, as ferforth as I may,
But tell yewe the yolke and put the white away."
The Tale of Beryn   
   Whilom, yeres passed in the old dawes,
When rightfullich by reson governed were the lawes,
And principally in the ceté of Rome that was so rich,
And worthiest in his dayes and noon to hym ilich
Of worshipp ne of wele, ne of governaunce,
For all londes Cristened therof had dotaunce,
And all other naciouns, of what feith they were.
Whils the Emperour was hole and in his paleyse there,
I-mayntened in honour and in popes se,
Rome was then obeyed in all Cristienté.
But it fareth thereby as it doth by other thinges,
For burh nether ceté, regioune ne kynges
Beth nat nowe so worthy as were by old tyme,
As we fynde in romaunces, in gestes and in ryme.
For all thing doth wast, and eke mannes lyffe
Ys more shorter then it was, and our wittes fyve
Mow nat comprehende nowe in our dietes
As somtyme myghte these old wise poetes.
But sith that terrene thinges been nat perdurabill,
No mervell is thoughe Rome be somwhat variabill
Fro honour and fro wele, sith his frendes passed,
As many another town is payred and i-lassed
Within these fewe yeres, as we mowe se at eye:
Lo, sirs, here fast by Wynchelse and Ry.
But yit the name is ever oon of Rome, as it was grounded
After Romus and Romulus that first that ceté founded,
That brithern weren both to, as old bookes writen.
But of hir lyff and governaunce I wol nat nowe enditen,
But of other mater that falleth to my mynde.
   Wherfor, gentill sirs, ye that beth behynde,
Draweth somwhat nere, thikker to a route,
That my wordes mowe soune to ech man aboute.
   After these too bretheren, Romulus and Romus,
Julius Cezar was Emperour, that rightfull was of domus.
This ceté he governed nobilich wele
And conquerd many a regioune, as cronicul doth us tell.
For shortly to conclude, al tho were adversaries
To Rome in his dayes, he made hem tributories;
So had he in subjeccioune both frende and foon,
Of wich I tell yew trewly, Englond was oon.
   Yet after Julius Cezar, and sith that Criste was bore,
Rome was governed as wele as it was tofore,
And namelich in that tyme and in tho same yeres
When it was governed by the Doseperes.
As semeth wele by reson, whoso can entende,
That o mannes witt ne will may nat comprehend
The boncheff and the myscheff as mowe many hedes.
Therfor hir operaciouns, hir domes and hir deedes
Were so egallich i-doon, for in al Cristen londes
Was noon that they spared for to mend wronges.
Then Constantyne the Third, after these Doseperes,
Was Emperour of Rome and regned many yeres.
   So shortly to pas over, after Constantynes dayes
Philippus Augustinus, as songen is in layes,
That Constantynes sone and of plener age
Was emperour i-chose, as fil by heritage,
In whose tyme sikerlich the Seven Sages were
In Rome dwelling dessantly. And yf ye lust to lere
Howe they were i-cleped or I ferther goon,
I woll tell yewe the names of hem everychoon,
And declare yewe the cause why they hir names bere.
   The first was i-cleped Sother Legifeer:
This is thus much for to sey as "man bereing the lawe";
And so he did trewly, for lever he had be sclawe
Then do or sey enything that sowned out of reson,
So cleen was his conscience i-set in trowth and reson.
Marcus Stoycus, the second, so pepill him highte:
That is to mene in our consceit "a keper of the righte";
And so he did ful trewe, for the record and the plees,
He wrote hem ever trewly and took noon other fees,
But such as was ordeyned to take by the yere.
Now, Lord God, in Cristendon I wold it were so clere!
The third, Crassus Asulus, among men cleped was
"An hous of rest and ese and counsell in every case;"
For to understond, that was his name ful righte,
For evermore the counsalles he helped with all his myghte.
Antonyus Judeus the ferth was i-cleped,
That was as much to meen, as wele men might have cleped:
As enything purposed of al the long yeer
That myght have made hym sory or chonged ones chere, 7
But evermore rejoysing what-that-ever betid,
For his hert was ever mery right as the somer bridd.
Sumus Philopater was the fifftes name,
That thoughe men wold sclee hym or do hym al the shame,
Anger or disese, as evill as men couthe,
Yit wold he love hem never the wers in hert ne in mowth.
His will was cleen under his foot and nothing hym above;
Therfor he was cleped "fader of perfite love."
The sixt and the seveneth of these Seven Sages
Was Scypio and Sichero, as the word "Astrolages"
Was surname to hem both after hir sciences,
For of astronomy sikerlich, the cours and al the fences,
Both they knowe hit wele inowghe and were righte sotil of art.
   But nowe to other purpose, for here I woll departe
As lightly as I can and drawe to my matere.
   In that same tyme that these sages were
Dwellyng thus in Rome, a litill without the walles
In the subbarbes of the town, of chambres and of halles
And al other howsing that to a lord belonged
Was noon within the ceté, ne noon so wele behonged
With docers of highe pryse, ne walled so aboute
As was a cenatours hous, within and eke without;
Faunus was his name, a worthy man and riche,
And for to sey shortlych, in Rome was noon hym lych.
His sportes and his estres were ful evenaunte
Of tresour and of lordshipp; also the most vaillant
He was and eke i-com of highe lynage.
And atte last he toke a wyff like to his parage,
For noriture and connyng, bewté and parentyne
Were tho counted more with then gold or sylver fyne.
But nowe it is al other in many mannes thought,
For muk is nowe i-maried and vertu set at nought.
   Faunus and his worthy wyff were togider aloon
Fiftene wynter fullich, and issu had they noon.
Wherfor hir joyes were nat halff perfite,
For utterlich to have a child was al hir delite,
That myghte enjoy hir heritage and weld hir honour,
And eke when they were febill, to be hir trew socoure.
Hir fasting and hir preyer and al that ever they wroughte,
As pilgremage and almes-ded, ever they besoughte
That God wold of his goodnes som fruyte betwene hem send.
For gynnyng of hir spousaill, the myddil and the ende,
This was hir most besynes, and al other delites
And eke this worldes riches they set at litil pris.
   So atte last, as God wold, it fill oppon a day
As this lady fro chirchward went in the way,
A child gan stere in hir wombe, as Goddes will was,
Wherof she gan to mervill and made shorter pas,
With colour pale and eke wanne, and fyll in hevynes,
For she had never tofore that day such manere seknes.
The wymmen that with hir were gon to behold
The lady and hir chere, but nothing they told,
But feir and sofft with ese homward they hir led,
For hir soden sekenes ful sore they were adred.
For she was inlich gentil, kinde and amyabill,
And eke trewe of hert and nothing variabill.
She loved God above al thyng, and dred syn and shame -
And Agea sikerly was hir rightful name.
   And after, in breff tyme, when it was perseyved
That she had done a wommans dede and had a child conseyved,
The joy that she made, there may no tung tell.
And also much or more, yf I ne ly shell,
Faunus made in his behalf for this glad tyding,
That I trow I leve the Emperour ne the Kyng
Made no better chere to wyff ne no more myrth
Then Faunus to Agea. And when the tyme of birth
Nyghed nere and nere, after cours of kynde,
Weteth wele in certen that al the wit and mynde
Of Faunus was continuell of feir delyveraunce
Betwene Agea and his child, and made grete ordenaunce
Ageyn the tyme it shuld be bore, as it was for to doon.
   So as God wold, when tyme cam, Agea had a son.
Butte joy that Faunus made was dobil tho tofore,
When that he knewe in certen she had a sone i-bore,
And sent anoon for nursses, four and no les,
To reule this child afterward as yeres did pas.
   The child was kept so tenderly that it throff wel the bett,
For what the norisshes axed, anoon it was i-fett.
In his chamber it norisshed was; to town it mut nat go.
Faunus loved it so cherely, hit myght nat part hym fro.
It was so feir a creature as myght be on lyve
Of lymes and of fetour, and growe wonder blyve.
This child that I of tell - Berinus was his name -
Was over-mych chersshed, wich turned hym into grame,
As ye shull here after when tyme cometh and spase,
For after swete the soure cometh ful offt in many a plase;
For as sone as he coude go and also speke,
All that he set his eye on or after list to keke,
Anoon he shuld it have, for no man hym werned.
But it had be wel better he had be wele i-lerned
Noriture and gentilnes, and had i-had som hey,
For it fill so after with what child he did pley,
Yf the pley ne liked hym, he wold breke his hede
Or with a knyff hym hurt, right nighehond to be dede.
For there nas knyght ne squyer in his faders house
That thought his own persone most coraiouse
That did or seid enything Berinus to displese,
That he nold spetously anoon oppon hym rese.
Wherof his fader had joy and his moder also,
Yit it semeth to many a man it was nat wisely do.
   When Beryn passed was seven yeer and grewe in more age,
He wrought ful many an evill chek, for such was his corage
That there he wist or myghte do eny evill dede,
He wold never sese for aught that men hym seyde.
Wherfor many a pore man ful offt was agreved,
But Faunus and Agea ful lite theron beleved.
And thoughe men wold pleyne, ful short it shuld availl,
For Faunus was so myghty and cheff of all counsaill
With Augustyn the Emperour that al men hym dradd
And lete pas over mischeff and harmes that they had.
   Berinus ferthermore loved wele the dise
And for to pley at hazard, and held therof grete pryse,
And al other games that losery was in,
And evermore he lost and never myghte wyn.
Berinus atte hazard many a nyghte he waked,
And offt tyme it fill so that he cam home al naked.
And that was al his joy, for ryghte wele he knewe
That Agea his moder wold cloth hym newe.
   Thus Berinus lyved, as I have told tofore,
Tyll he was of the age of eightene yeer or more.
But other whils amonges for pleyntes that were grete,
Faunus made amendes and put hem in quyete.
So was the fader cause the sone was so wild,
And so have many mo such of his own child
Because of his undoyng, as we mowe se al day.
For thing i-take in is hard to put away.
As hors that ever trotted, trewlich I yew tell,
It were hard to make hym after to ambill well;
Right so by Beryn when he had his lust and will when he was lite,
It shuld be hevy afterward to reve his old delite,
Save the whele of Fortune that no man may withstonde,
For every man on lyve thereon he is gond;
O spoke she turned bakward right atte highe noon
All ageyn Berinus, as ye shull here sone.
   Agea his moder fil in grete sekenes
And sent after husbond with wordes hir to lis,
And for she wold tell hym hir hole hertes will,
Er she out of the world parted, as it was righte and skill.
When Faunus was i-come and sawe so rodylese
His wyff that was so dere, that for love he chese,
No mervell thoughe his hert were in grete mournyng,
For he perseyved fullich she drewe to hir ending.
Yit made he other chere then in his hert was,
To put awey discomforte, dissimilyng with his fase
The hevynes of his hert, with chere he did it close.
For such a maner crafft there is with hem can glose,
Save that tourneth al to cautele - but Faunus did nat so,
For weteth wele in certeyn, his hert was ful of woo
For his wyff, Agea, and yit for crafft he couthe,
The teres fro his eyen ran down by his mowth;
When he sawe the panges of deth comyng so fast
Oppon his wyff, Agea, almost his hert tobrast.
   Agea lyfft up hir eyen and beheld the chere
Of hir husbond, Faunus, that was so trewe a fere,
And seyd, "Sir, why do ye thus? This is an elyng fare.
In comfort of us both, yf ye myghte spare
And put awey this hevenes whils that ye and I
Myghte speke of other thinges, for Deth me nygheth nyghe.
For to body ne to soule, this vayleth nat a krase."
   "Now telleth on," quod Faunus, "and I wol lete it pase
For the tyme of talkyng, as wele as I may.
But out of my remembraunce onto my endyng day
Yeur deth wol never, I woot it wele, but ever be in mynde."
   "Then, good sir," quod Agea, "beth to my soule kynde,
When my body is out of sighte, for therto have I nede,
For truer make then ye be, in word ne in dede,
Had never womman, ne more kyndnes
Hath shewed onto his make, I knowe right wele iwis.
Now wold ye so hereafter in hert be as trewe
To lyve without make and on yeur sone rewe
That litill hath i-lerned sithens he was bore.
Let hym have no stepmoder, for children had tofore
Comelich they loveth nat. Wherfore with hert I prey,
Have chere onto yeur sone after my endyng day.
For so God me help, and yew lafft me behynde,
Shuld never man on lyve bryng it in my mynde,
To be no more i-wedded but lyve soule aloon.
Nowe ye knowe al my will. Good sir, think thereon."
   "Certes," quod Faunus, "whils I have wittes fyve,
I thynk never after yewe to have another wyff."
   The preest was com therwithal for to do hir rightes.
Faunus toke his leve, and all the other knyghtes;
Hir kyn and all hir frendes kissed hir echone.
It is no nede to axe where there was dole or noon.
Agea cast hir eye up and loked al aboute,
And wold have kissed Beryn, but then was he withoute,
Pleying to the hazard as he was wont to doon,
For as sone as he had ete, he wold ren out anoon.
And when she sawe he was nat there, that she thought most on,
Hire sekenes and hir mournyng berst hir hert anoon.
   A damesell tofore that was ronne into the town
For to seche Beryn, that pleyd for his gown
And had almost i-lost it right as the damesel cam,
And swore and stared as he was wood, as longed to the game.
The damesell seyd to Beryn, "Sir, ye must com home,
For but ye highe blyve that ye were i-come,
Yeur moder woll be dede. She is yit on live;
Yf ye woll speke with hir, ye must highe blyve!"
   "Who bad so, lewd Kit?" - "Yeur fader, sir," quod she.
   "Go home, lewde vise-nag, that evil mut thowe the!"
Quod Beryn to the damesell and gan hir fray and feer,
And bad the devill of Hell hir shuld totere.
"Hast thowe ought els to do but let me of my game?
Now, by God in heven, by Peter and by Jame!"
Quod Beryn in grete anger and swore by book and bell,
Rehersing many names mo then me list to tell.
"Nere thow my faders messenger, thow shuldest never ete brede!
I had lever my moder and also thowe were dede
Then I shuld lese the game that I am now in!" -
And smote the damesell under the ere; the weet gon upward spyn.
The deth of Agea he set at litil prise.
   So in that wrath frelich Beryn threwe the dise
And lost with that same cast al was leyde adown,
And stert up in a wood rage and balled on his crown,
And so he did the remnaunte, as many as wold abide.
But for drede of Faunus, his felawes gan to hide
And never had will ne lust with Beryn for to fighte,
But ever redy to pley and wyn what they myghte.
   The deth of Agea sprang about the town,
And every man that herd the bell for hir sown
Bemened hir ful sore, saff Beryn toke noon hede,
But sought another feleshipp and quyklich to hem yede,
To such maner company as shuld never thryve,
For such he loved better then his moders lyve.
And evermore it shuld be nyghte or he wold home drawe,
For of his fader in certen he had no maner awe.
For ever in his yowthe he had al his will
And was i-passed chastising, but men wold hym kill.
   Faunus for Agea, as it was wele sitting,
Made grete ordenaunce for hir burying,
Of prelates and of prestes and of al other thing,
As thoughe she had be a wyff of a worthy kyng.
It myght nat have be mended, such was his gentilnes,
For at hir enteryng was many a worthy messe.
For four wookes full, or he did hir entere,
She lay in lede within his house. But Beryn cam nat there,
Namelich onto the place there his moder lay,
Ne ones wold he a pater-noster for hir soule say.
His thought was al in unthryfft, lechery and dyse,
And drawing al to foly, for yowth is recheles
But there it is refreyned and hath som maner eye.
   And therfor me thinketh that I may wele sey:
A man i-passed yowth and is without lore
May be wele i-likened to a tre without more
That may nat bowe ne bere fruyte, but root and ever wast;
Right so every youthe fareth that no man list to chast.
This mowe we know verely by experience
That yerd maketh vertu and benevolence
In childhode for to growe, as preveth imaginacioun;
A plant whils it is grene, or it have dominacioun,
A man may with his fyngers ply it where hym list
And make thereof a shakill, a withey or a twist,
But let the plant stond, and yeres overgrowe,
Men shall nat with both his hondes unnethes make it bowe.
No more myght Faunus make his sone Beryn,
When he growe in age, to his lore enclyne.
For every day when Beryn rose, unwassh he wold dyne
And drawe hym to his feleshipp as even as a lyne,
And then com home, and ete and soop, and sclepe at nyghte.
This was al his besynes, but yf that he did fighte.
Wherfor his faders hert, Faunus, gan for to blede,
That of his moder that lay at home he took no more hede.
And so did all the pepill that dwelled in the town
Of Beryns wildnes gon speke and eke roune.
   Faunus oppon a day, when Beryn cam at eve,
Was set oppon a purpose to make his sone leve
All his shrewd tacches, with goodnes yf he myghte,
And taughte hym feir and sofft. But Beryn toke it light
And counted at litill price al his faders tale.
Faunus saw it wold nat; with colour wan and pale
He parted from his sone, and with a sorowful hert.
I can ne write halffyndele howe sore he did smert
The disobeying of his sone and his wyffes deth,
That, as the book telleth, he wisshed that his breth
Had i-been above the serkill celestyne,
So fervent was his sorowe, his anger and his pyne.
   So, shortly to conclude, Agea was entered,
And Faunus lyved wyfles - thre yeer were wered -
Wherof there was grete spech for his highe honour,
Tyll atte last, word cam onto the Emperour
That Faunus was without wyff, and seld was jocounde,
But mournyng for Agea that he was to i-bounde,
And lyved as an hermyte, soule and destitute,
Without consolacioune, pensyff offt and mut.
Wherfor Augustinus, of Rome the Emperour,
Was inwardlich sory and in grete dolour.
When the Seven Sages and Senatoures all
Were assembled to discryve what shuld therof fall,
The wich seyd shortly: for a molestacioune,
There was noon other remedy but a consolacioune,
For whoso were in enything displesed or agreved
Must by a like thing egall be remeved.
And when the Emperour knewe al hir determinacioune,
Quiklich in his mynde he had imaginacioun
That Faunus for Agea was in highe distres
And must be i-cured with passing gentilnes
Of som lusty lady that of pulcritude
Were excellent al other. So, shortly to conclude,
The Emperour had a love tofore he had a wyff
That he loved as hertlich as his own lyff,
As was as feir a creature as sone myghte beshyne,
So excellent of bewté that she myght be shryne
To all other wymmen that were tho livand.
But for the Emperour had a wyff, ye shul wele understond,
He cam nat in hir company to have his delite,
For Cristendom and conscience was tho more perfite
Then it is nowe-a-dayes, yf I durst tell.
But I woll leve at this tyme. Than Faunus also snell
Was after sent in hast of sekenes to be cured.
So, what for drede and elles, they were both ensured
In presence of the Emperour, so Faunus myght nat flee.
It was the Emperours will; it myght noon other be.
   So within a tyme Agea was forgete,
For Faunus thought litill on that he hir behighte.
For as the Seven Sages had afore declared,
It cam al to purpos, for Faunus litill cared
For enything at all save his wyff to plese,
That Rame was i-cleped. For rest nether ese
Faunus never had out of hir presence,
So was his hert on hir i-set that he coude no defence,
Save evermore be with hir and stare on hir visage,
That the most parte of Rome held it for dotage,
And had much mervell of his variaunce.
But what is that Fortune cannat put in chaunce?
For there nas man on lyve on womman more bedoted
Then Faunus was in Rame, ne halff so much i-soted.
   When that Rame had knowlech that Faunus was i-smyt
With the dart of Love, ye mowe right wele it wyt
That all that ever she coude cast or bythynch
Was al ageyn Berinus. For many a sotill wrench
She thought and wrought day by day, as meny wommen doon
Tyll they have of hir desire the full conclusyoune.
For the more that Faunus of Rame made,
The more daungerous was Rame and of chere sade,
And kept well hir purpose under coverture.
She was the las to blame - it grew of Nature -
But thoughe that Rame wrought so, God forbede that all
Were of that condicioune! Yet touch no man the gall,
It is my pleyn counsell, but doth as other doth:
Take yeur part as it cometh, of roughe and eke of smoth.
Yit noritur, wit and gentilnes, reson and perfite mynde,
Doth al thes worthy wommen to worch ageyns kynde,
That thoughe they be agreved, they suffer and endure
And passeth over, for the best, and foloweth nothing nature.
   But nowe to Rames purpose and what was hir desire:
Shortly to conclude, to make debate and ire
Betwene the fader and the sone, as it was likly tho.
What for his condicioune and what for love also
That Faunus owt to his wyff, the rather he must hir leve
And graunt for to mend, yf ought hir did greve.
   Berinus ever wrought ryght as he did tofore,
And Rame made hym chere of love, there myght no womman more,
And gaff hym gold and clothing ever as he did lese,
Of the best that he couthe oughwhere in town chese,
And spak ful feir with hym to make al thing dede.
Yit wold she have i-ete his hert without salt or brede!
She hid so hir felony and spak so in covert
That Beryn myght nat spy it but lite of Rames hert.
   So, shortly to pas over, it fill oppon a nyghte
When Faunus and his fressh wyff were to bedd i-dighte,
He toke hir on his armes and made hir hertly chere,
There myght no man better make to his fere,
And seyd, "Myne erthly joy, myne hertes ful plesaunce,
My wele, my woo, my paradise, my lyves sustenaunce,
Why ne be ye mery? Why be ye so dull,
Sith ye knowe I am yeur own, right as yeur hert woll?
Now tell on, love, myne own hert, yf ye eyleth ought.
For and it be in my power, anoon it shal be wrought."
   Rame with that gan sighe, and with a wepeing chere
Undid the bagg of trechery, and seid in this manere:
"No mervell thoughe myne hert be sore and full of dele,
For when that I to yew wedded was, wrong went my whele.
But who may be ageyns hap and aventure?
Therefor, as wele as I may, myne I mut endure."
   With many sharp wordes, she set his hert on feir
To purchase with hir practik that she did desire.
But hoolich al hir wordes I cannat wele reherce,
Ne write ne endite howe she did perce
Thurh Faunes hert and his scull also.
For more petouse compleynt of sorow and of woo,
Made never woman, ne more petously,
Then Rame made to Faunus; she smote ful bitterly
Into the veyn and thurh his hert blood.
She blodered so and wept, and was so highe and mode,
That unneth she myghte speke but otherwhile among
Wordes of discomfort, and hir hondes wrong.
For "Alas!" - and woo the tyme that she wedded was! -
Was evermore the refreit when she myght have spase:
"I am i-wedded (yee, God woot best) in what maner and howe!
For if it were so fall I had a child by yewe,
Lord, how shuld he lyve? Howe shuld he com away? -
Sith Beryn is yeur first sone and heir after yeur day,
But yf that he had grace to scole for to goo,
To have som maner connyng that he myghte trust to.
For as it now stondeth, it were the best rede,
For (so God me help) I had lever he were dede
Than were of such condicioune or of such lore
As Beryn yeur sone is. It were better he were unbore!
For he doth nat elles save atte hazard pley
And cometh home al naked ech other day.
For within this month that I have with yew be,
Fifftene sithes, for verry grete peté,
I have i-clothed hym al newe when he was totore,
For evermore he seyde the old were i-lore.
Now and he were my sone, I had lever he were i-sod.
For and he pley so long, halff our lyvlode
Wold scarsly suffise hymselff oon.
And nere ye wold be greved, I swere by Seynt John!"
   "He shuld after this day be clothed no more for me,
But he wold kepe hem better and drawe fro nyceté.
Nowe, gentill wyff, gromercy of yeur wise tale!"
   "I thynk wel the more that I sey no fale,
For towching my grevaunce, that Beryn goth al naked,
Treulich that grevaunce is somwhat asclaked."
   "Let hym aloon, I prey yew, and I wol con yew thanke,
For in such losery he hath lost many a frank.
The devill hym spede that reche yf he be totore,
And he use it hereaffter as he hath doon tofore!"
   Beryn arose amorowe and cried wonder fast,
And axed after clothes, but it was al in wast.
There was no man-tendant for hym in al the house.
The whele was i-chaunged into another cours.
Faunus herd his sone wele, how he began to cry,
And rose up anoon and to hym did highe,
And had forgete nothing that Rame had i-seyde,
For he boilled so his hert, he was nat wel apayde.
He went onto the chamber there his sone lay
And set hym doun in a chair, and thus he gan to sey:
   "My gentil sone, Beryn, now feir I woll thee tech.
Rew oppon thyselff and be thyn own leche.
Manhode is i-com nowe, myne own dere sone.
It is tyme thow be aweyned of thyne old wone,
And thow art twenty wynter and naught hast of doctryne.
Yit woldest thowe drawe to profite, the worshipp wold be thyne,
To noritur and goodshipp and al honest thing;
There myght com to myne hert no more glad tyding.
Leve now al thy foly and thy rebawdry,
As tables and merelles and the hazardry,
And draw thee to the company of honest men and good.
Els leve thewe me, as wele as Criste died on the rode
And for al menkynde His gost pas lete,
Thow shalt for me hereafter stond on thyn own fete!
For I woll no longer suffer this aray
To clothe thee al new ech other day.
Yff thow wolt drawe thee to wit and rebawdry withdrawe,
Of such good as God have sent, thy part shalt thow have.
And yf thow wolt nat, my sone, do as I thee tell,
Of me shalt thow naught have. Trust me right well!
Wenest thow with thy dise-pleying hold mine honoure
After my deth-day?" - Then Beryn gan to loure
And seid, "Is this a sermon or a prechement?
Ye were nat wont hereto. How is this i-went?
Sendeth for som clothing that I were a-go.
My felawes loketh after me; I woot wele they do so.
I woll nat leve my feleshipp ne my rekelages,
Ne my dise-pleying for all yeur hostages.
Doth yeur best with hem by yeur lyff-day,
For when they fall to me, I wol do as I may.
Benedicite, Fader! Who hath enfourmed yewe
And set yewe into ire to make me chere rowe?
But I know well inowgh whens this counsaill cam,
Trewlich of yeur own wyfe, that evil dame.
Curs com oppon hir body, that fals putaigne!
For trewlich, Fader, ye dote on hir, and so al men seyn.
Allas that ever a man shuld, that is of highe counsaill,
Set al his wisdom on his wyves tayll!
Ye loveth hir so much, she hath benome yeur witt,
And I may curs the tyme that ever ye were i-knyt.
For now I am in certen I have a stepmoder.
They been shrewes som - there been but few other -
Wel fikil flaptaill, such oon as she ys.
For al my pleying atte dise, yit do ye more amys:
Ye have i-lost yeur name, yeur worshipp and yeur feith,
So dote ye on hir and leveth al she sayeth!"
   Faunus with the same word gaff the chayir a but,
And lepe out of the chamber, as who seyd "Cut!"
And swore in verry woodnes, by God omnipotent,
That Beryn of his wordes shuld sore repent.
   Beryn set nought thereof with a proude hert,
Answerd his fader, and axed a new shert.
He groped al aboute to have found oon,
As he was wont tofore, but there was noon.
Then toke he such willokes as he fond there
And beheld hymselff, what man he were.
For when he was arayde, then gan he first be wrothe,
For his wombe loked and his rigg both.
He stert after his fader and began to cry:
"For seeth myne aray! For thys vilany
Ys as wele yeurs as it is myne!"
   Faunus lete hym clater, and cry wel and fyne,
And passed forth still and spak nat a word.
Then Beryn gan to think it was nat al bord
That his fader seyde when he with hym was,
And gan to think al about, and therwith seyd "Allas!
Now know I wele forsoth that my moder is dede!"
For tho gan he to glow first a sory mannes hede.
   Now kepe thy cut, Beryn, for thow shalt have a fit
Somwhat of the world to lern better witt.
For and thow wist sikerly what is for to com,
Thow woldest wissh after thy deth ful offt and ilome.
For there nys beting half so sore with staff nether swerd
As man to be bete with his own yerd.
The pyry is i-blowe - hop, Beryn, hop! -
That ripe wol hereafter and on thyn hede dropp.
Thow tokest noon hede whils it shoon hoot;
Therfor wynter thee nygheth. Asay by thy cote!
   Beryn for shame to town durst he nat go.
He toke his way to chirchward; his frend was made his foo.
For anger, sorow and shame, and hevynes that he had,
Unneth he myghte speke, but stode halff as mad.
   "O, allas!" quod Beryn, "what wit had I
That coude nat, tofore this day, knowe sikerly,
That my moder dede was? But nowe I knowe to sore
And drede more that eche day herafter, more and more,
I shall knowe and fele that my moder is dede.
Allas, I smote the messangere and toke of hir noon hede!
Allas, I am right pore! Allas, that I am naked!
Allas, I sclept to fast till sorowe nowe hath me waked!
Allas, I hunger sore! Allas, for dole and peyn!
For eche man me seeth hath me in disdeyn!"
   This was al his myrth to the chirchward,
That of his moder, Agea, he toke so litill reward.
When Beryn was within the chirch, then gan he wers fray;
As sone he sawe the tombe where his moder lay,
His coloure gan to chaunge into a dedely hewe.
   "Allas, gentill Moder, so kynd thow were and trewe!
It is no mervell for thy deth, thoughe, I sore smert!"
   And therewithall the sorowe so fervent smote in his hert
That sodenly he fil down stan-dede in swowe.
That he had part of sorowe, me thinketh that myght avowe.
Beryn lay so longe or he myghte awake,
For al his fyve wittes had clene hym forsake.
Wel myghte he by hymselff, when reson i-com were,
Understond that Fortune had a sharp spere
And eke grete power among highe and lowe,
Som to avaunce and som to overthrowe.
So atte last, when Beryn a litill waked were,
He trampeled fast with his feet, and al totare his ere
And his visage both, ryght as a wood man,
With many a bitter tere that from his eyen ran,
And sighed many a sore sigh and had much hevynes.
And evermore he cursed his grete unkyndnes
To foregit his moder whils she was alyve,
And lened to hir tombe opon his tore sclyv,
And wisshed a thowsand sithes he had i-be hir by,
And beheld hir tombe with a petouse eye.
   "Now, glorious God," quod Beryn, "that al thing madest of nought,
Heven and erth, man and best, sith I am myswrought,
Of yewe I axe mercy, socour and help and grace,
For my mysdede and foly, unthryfft and trespase.
Set my sorowe and peyn somwhat in mesure
Fro dispeir and myscheff, as I may endure.
Lord of all lordes, thoughe Fortune be my foo,
Yit is thy myghte above to turn hym to and fro.
First my moders lyff Fortune hath me bereved,
And sith my faders love, and naked also me leved.
What may he do more? Yis, take awey my lyff!
But for that were myne ese and end of al stryff,
Therfor he doth me lyve for my wers, I sey,
That I shuld evermore lyve and never for to dey."
   Now leve I Beryn with his moder tyl I com aye,
And wol retourne me to Rame that of hir sotilté
Bethought hir al aboute, when Beryn was agoon,
That it shuld be witted hir. Wherfor she anoon
In this wise seyd to Faunus, "Sir, what have ye do?
Althoughe I speke a mery word to suffer yeur sone go
Naked into the town, it was nat my counsaill.
What wol be seyd therof? Siker without faill,
For I am his stepmoder, that I am cause of all;
The violence, the wrath, the anger and the gall
That is betwene yewe both, it wol be witted me.
Wherfor I prey yew hertly, doth hym com home aye."
   "Nay, by my trowth!" quod Faunus, "for me cometh he nat yit.
Sith he of my wordes so litil prise set,
As litill shall I charge his estate also.
Sorowe have that reccheth, thoughe he naked go!
For every man knoweth that he is nat wise;
Wherfor may be supposed his pleying atte dise
Is cause of his aray, and nothing ye, my wyff."
   "Yis, iwis," quod Rame, "the tale wol be ryff
Of me and of noon other, I knowe righte wel a fyne.
Wherfor I prey yewe, gentil sir, and for love myne,
That he were i-fet home, and that in grete hast,
And let asay efft ageyn with feirnes hym to chast,
And send Beryn clothes and a newe shert." -
And made al wele in eche side, and kept close hir hert.
   "Now sith it is yeur will," quod Faunus tho anoon,
"That Beryn shall home come, for yeur sake aloon
I woll be the message, to put yeur hert in ese.
And els, so God me help, were it nat yewe to plese,
The gras shuld growe on pament or I hym home bryng!
   Yit, netherles, forth he went with too or thre ryding
From o strete to another, enqueryng to and fro,
After Beryn in every plase where he was wont to go,
Sheching every halk, howres to or thre,
With hazardours and other such, there as he was wont to be,
And fond hym nat there. But to chirch went echone,
And atte dorr they stode awhile and herd Beryn made his moon;
They herd all his compleynt, that petouse was to here.
   Faunus into the chirch pryvelych gan pire,
But also sone as he beheld where Agea lay,
His teres ran down by his chekes, and thus he gan to say:
"A, Agea, myne old love, and my newe also!
Allas, that ever our hertes shuld depart a-too,
For in yeur graciouse dayes, of hertes trobilnes
I had never knowlech, but of al gladnes!" -
Remembryng in his hert, and ever gan renewe
The goodnes betwene hem both and hir hert trewe,
And drewe hym nere to Beryn with an hevy mode.
   But as sone as Beryn knew and understode
That it was his fader, he wold no lenger abide,
But anoon he voided by the toder syde.
   And Faunus hym encountred and seyd, "We have thee soughte
Thurh the town, my gentill sone, and therfor void thee noughte.
Thoughe I seyd a word or to, as me thought for the best
For thyne erudicioune to drawe thee to lyff honest,
Thow shuldest nat so fervently have take it to thyn hert.
But sith I knowe my wordes doth thee so sore smert,
I shall no more hereafter, and ech day our diete
Shall be mery and solase, and this shal be forgete.
For wel I woot that for thy moder thow art totore;
Also thow hast grete sorow, but ones nedeth and no more.
And therefor, sone, on my blessing to put sorow awey,
Drawe thee nowe herafter to honest myrth and pley.
Lo, there is clothing for yewe, and yeur hors i-dighte
With harneyse al fressh newe. And yf ye list be knyght,
I shall yit or eve that bergeyn undertake
That the Emperour for my love a knyght shall yew make.
And what-that-ever ye nede, anoon it shall be bought,
For whils that I have enything, ye shall lak naughte."
   "Graunte mercy," quod Beryn with an hevy chere,
"Of yeur worshipful profer that ye have profered me here,
But order of knyghthode to take is nat my likeing.
And sith yeur will is for to do somwhat my plesing,
Ye have a wyff ye love wele and so tenderlich
That, and she have children, I knowe right sikerlich
Al that she can devise, both by nyghte and day,
Shall be to make hir childryn heirs, yf that she may,
And eke sowe sedes of infelicité
Wherof wold growe devisioun betwene yewe and me.
For yf ye spend on me yeur good, and thus riallich,
Leveth well in certen, yeur wyff woll sikerliche
Eche day for anger hir tuskes whet,
And to smyte with hir tunge yeur hert in wrath to set
Toward me from day to day. But ye wold aply
Somwhat to hir purpose and after hir yewe guy,
She wold wexe so overtwart and of so lither tach,
And ever lour under hir hood aredy for to snache;
She wold be shortyng of yeur lyff, and that desire I naught.
Wherfor to plese al aboute, my purpose and my thought
Is for to be a marchaunte and leve myne heritage,
And relese it forever, for shippes fyve of stage
Ful of marchandise, the best of al this londe.
And yff ye wol so, Fader, quyk let make the bonde."
   Faunus was ryghte wele apayde that ilk word outstert,
But yit he seid to Beryn, "I mervell in myne hert
Where haddest thow this counsell to leve thyne honoure
And lyve in grete aventur and in grete labour?" -
And rid so forth talking a sofft esy pase
Homward to his plase, there that Rame was.
And as sone as Faunus was i-lighte adown
And highed fast to his wyff, and with hir gan to rown
And told hir al the purpose, she made Faunus chere.
She did hym nat halff so much the tyme she was his fere:
She hulled hym and molled hym and toke hym aboute the nekk,
And went lowe for the kite and made many a bekk,
And seyd, "Sir, by yeur spech, nowe right wel I here
That yf ye list, ye mowe do thing that I most desire,
And that is this: yeur heritage, there yewe best liked,
That ye myght gyve." And ever among the brussh awey she piked
From hir clothes, here and there, and sighed therewithall.
   Faunus, of his gentilnes, by hir myddil small
Hertlich hir braced and seyd, "I wol nat leve,
I suyr yew my trowth, that ones or it be eve
That I shall do my devoir without fentyse
For to plese yeur hert fullich in al wise."
   "Graunt mercy, myne own soverene," quod Rame tho mekerly,
And made protestacioune that she wold sikerly
All the dayes of hir lyff be to hym as ende
As ever woman was to man, as ferforth as hir mynde
And wit hir wold serve, and made grete othe.
Faunus bood no lenger, but forth therewith he goth.
   A, precius God in heven, Kyng of magesté,
So plentivouse this world is of iniquité!
Why is it i-suffred that trowth is brought adown
With trechery and falshede, in feld and eke in town?
   But now to Faunus and his entent. When he his sone met,
He toke hym sofft by the hond; his tung he gan to whet.
Sotilly to engyne hym, first he gan to preche:
"Leve thy foly, my dere sone, and do as I thee teche.
Sith thow hast wit and reson, and art of mannes age,
What nedeth thee be marchant and shal have heritage?
For and thy good were i-lost, the sorow wold be myne,
To tell the soth, right nyghe peregall to thyne.
And yf that I were dede whils thow were oute,
Lond and rent and all my good, have thow no doute,
It wold be plukked from thee; thy parte wold be lest.
And also, ferthermore, I make oon beheest,
That I trowe my mobles wol nat suffice
To charge fyve shippes ful of marchandise,
But yf I leyde in morgage my lond and eke my rent,
And that, I leve, be nat thy will ne thyne entent.
Yit netherles, yf thy hert be so inly set
For to be a marchant, for nothing woll I let
That I nyl do thy plesaunce, as ferforth as I may,
To go ryghte nyghe myne own estate. But lever I had nay!"
   Hir wordes ne hir redes, ne maters hem betwene,
I wol nat tary now thereon my parchemen to spene.
But fynallich, to the ende of hir acordement,
Faunus had so goon about, i-turned and i-went,
That he had brought his sone tofore the Emperour
To relese his heritage and al his honour
That he shuld have, after his day, for shippes fyve and full
I-led of marchaundise, of lynnyn and of woll,
And of other thinges that were i-used tho.
Engrosed was the covenaunte betwen hem to,
In presence of the Emperour, in opyn and no roun,
Tofore the grettest senatours and eldest of the town.
So when the relese seled was with a syde bonde,
They were i-leyde both in a meen honde
Into the tyme that Beryn fullich sesed were
In the five shippes, that I yew tolde ere.
   But who was glad but Faunus, and to his wyff went
And seyd, "Nowe, my hertes swete, al thyn hole entent
Is utterlich perfourmed. Us lakketh nowe no more
But marchandise and shippes, as I told tofore."
   "That shall nat faill," quod Rame, and began to daunce;
And afterward they speken of the purveaunce.
   Allas, this fals world, so ful of trechery!
In whom shuld the sone have trust and feith sikerly
If his fader fayled hym? Whether myght he go
For to fynde a siker frend that he myght trist to?
   So when these fyve shippes were rayed and dighte,
Faunus and his sone to the Emperour ful righte
They went, and many a grete man for the same case,
To see both in possessioune as hir covenaunte was:
Beryn first was sesed in the shippes fyve,
And Faunus had the relese and bare it to his wyff.
And eche held hem payde, and Rame best of all,
For she had conquerd thing that caused most hir gall.
   Now leve I Faunus and his wyff, and of the governaunce
Of Beryn I woll speke, and also of his chaunce.
When lodesmen and maryneres in al thing redy was,
This Beryn into Alisaunder, yf God wold send hym grace
That wynde hym wold serve. He wold so on a day
The wynde was good, and they seyled on hir wey,
Too dayes fullich and a nyght therewithall
And had weder at will, till atte last gan fall
Such a myst among hem that no man myght se other,
That wele was hym that had there the blessing of his moder.
For thre dayes dessantly the derknes among hem was
That no shipp myghte se other; wherfor ful offt "Alas!"
They seyd, and to the highe God they made hir preyere
That He wold of His grace hem govern and stere,
So that hir lyves myghte i-saved be.
For they were cleen in dispeyr because they myght nat se
The loder, wherby these shipmen her cours toke echon.
   So atte last, the ferth day, makeing thus hir moon,
The day gan clere, and then such wynde arose
That blew hir shippes elswhere then was hir first purpose.
The tempest was so huge and so strong also
That wel was hym that coude bynd or ondo
Any rope within the shipp that longed to the crafft.
Every man shewed his connyng tofore the shipp and bafft.
The wynd awook, the see tobrast, it blew so gresly sore
That Beryn and all his company, of synnes las and more,
Eche man round aboute shroff hymselff to other,
And put in Goddes governaunce lyff, shipp and strother.
For there nas shippes meyné, for aught they coude hale,
That myghte abate of the shipp the thiknes of a skale.
The weder was so fervent, of wynd and eke of thunder,
That every shipp from other was blowe of sighte asonder,
And dured so al day and nyghte tyl on the morowe.
I trow it was no questioune whether they had joy or sorowe.
So afterward, as God wold, the wynd was somwhat sofft.
   Beryn cleped a maryner and bad hym, "Sty on lofft,
And weyte after our four shippes that after us doth dryve,
For it is butte grace of God yf they be alyve."
   A marynere anoon with that, ryght as Beryn bad,
Styed into the topcastell and brought hym tydinges glad:
"Sir," he seith, "beth mery! Yeur shippes cometh echone,
Saff and sound, sayling as ye shul se anoon.
And eke, sir, ferthermore, lond also I sigh!
Let draw our corse estward. This tyde wol bryng us ny."
   "Blessed be God!" quod Beryn, "Then were our shippes com.
[ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ]
We have no nede to dout werr ne molestacioun,
For there nys within our shippes nothing of spoliacioun,
But all trewe marchaundise. Wherfor, sir lodesman,
Stere ones into the costes as wel as thowe can.
When our shippes been i-com, that we mow pas in fere,
Lace on a bonet or tweyn, that we mowe saill nere."
   And when they were the costes nyghe, was noon of hem all
That wist what lond it was. Then Beryn gan to call
Out of every shipp anoon a marynere or tweyne
For to take counsell, and thus he gan to seyne:
   "The frountes of this ilch toun been wonder feir withall.
Me thinketh it is the best rede, what that ever befall,
That I myselff aloon walk into the toun
And here and se both here and there, upward and doun,
And enquere fullich of hir governaunce.
What sey ye, sirs? Wol ye sent to this ordenaunce?"
   All they accorded wel thereto and held it for the best:
"For thus yf it be profitabill, we mowe abide and rest;
And yf it be otherwise, the rather shall we go.
For after that ye spede, we wol worch and do."
   But nowe mowe ye here right a wonder thing -
In al the world wyde, so fals of hir lyving
Was no pepill under sonne, ne noon so desseyvabill
As was the pepill of this town, ne more unstabill,
And had a cursed usage of sotill ymaginacioune:
That yff so were the shippes of any straunge nacioun
Were come into the porte, anoon they wold hem hyde
Within hir own howses, and no man go ne ryde
In no strete of al the town, ascaunce that they were lewde
And coude no skill of marchandise. A skill it was, a shrewde,
As ye shull here after of hir wrong and falshede.
But yit it fill, as worthy was, oppon hir own hede.
   Beryn arayd hym fresshly, as to a marchand longed,
And set hym on a palfrey wel besey and honged;
And a page rennyng by his hors feet,
He rode endlong the town, but no man coud he mete.
The dorres were i-closed in both too sides,
Wherof he had mervell, yit ferthermore he rides
And wayted on his ryght-hond a mancipiles plase,
All fressh and newe, and thider gan he pase.
The gates were wyde up, and thider gan he go,
For thurhout the long town he fond so no mo.
   Therein dwelled a Burgeyse, the most scliper man
Of al the town thurhout, and what so he wan
With trechery and gile - as doth som freres -
Right so must he part with his comperes.
Beryn light down on his hors, and inward gan he dres,
And fond the good man of the house pleying atte ches
With his neyghbour, as trewe as he, that dwelled hym fast by.
But as sone as this Burgeyse on Beryn cast his eye,
Sodenly he stert up and put the ches hym fro,
And toke Beryn by the hond and seyd these wordes tho:
   "Benedicite! What manere wynd hath i-brought yewe here?
Now wold to God I had wherof I coude make yew chere,
But ye shall lowe my good will, and take such as there is,
And of yeur gentill paciens suffer that is amys."
   For well he wist, by his aray and by his contenaunce,
That of the shippes that were i-com he had som governaunce.
Wherfor he made hym chere, semeyng amyabill,
I-colered all with cawteles, and wonder desseyvabill.
He braced hym by the middil and preyd hym sit adown,
And lowly with much worshipp dressed his cosshoun.
   "Lord God," seyd this Burgeyse, "I thank this ilk day
That I shuld see yewe hole and sounde here in my contray.
And yff ye list to tell the cause of yeur comyng,
And yff ye have nede to eny maner thing,
And it be in my power, and thoughe I shuld it seche,
It shuld go right wonder streyte, I sey yew sikerlich,
But ye it had in hast, therewith yewe to plese.
For nowe I se yewe in my house, my hert is in grete ese."
   The toder burgeyse rose hym up for to make rouse,
And axed of his felawe, that lord was of the house:
"Whens is this worshipful man?" - with wordes end and lowe -
"For it semeth by the manere that ye hym shuld knowe
And have sey hym tofore this tyme." "I have seen hym," quod the toder,
"Yee, iwis, an hundred sithes! And right as to my brother
I wold do hym plesaunce in al that ever I can,
For trewlich in his contray he is a worshipful man."
   "Forsoth, sir, and for yeur love, a thousand in this town
Wold do hym worshipp and be righte feyne and bown
To plese hym and availl, to have thonk of yewe.
I woot wele, God hem yeld, so have they offt or nowe!"
And arose up therewithall and with his felaw spak
Of such maner mater that fayled never of lakk.
   So when hir counsell was i-do, this Burgeyse preyd his fere
To sit adown by Beryn and do hym sporte and chere:
"And in the while, I woll se to his hors;
For every gentill hert, afore his own cors,
Desireth that his ryding best be served and i-dighte
Rather then hymselff. Wherfor with al my myghte
I woll have an ey therto, and sith perce wyne,
Wich tonne or pipe is best and most fyne."
   Beryn was al abasshed of his soden chere.
But netherles the Burgeyse sat hym somwhat nere
And preyd hym, of his gentilnes, his name for to tell,
His contrey and his lynage. And he answerd snell:
   "Berinus I am i-named, and in Rome i-bore,
And have fyve shippes of myne own, las and more,
Ful of marchaundise, ligging tofore the town.
But much mervaill have I the goodman is so boune
To serve me and plese, and how it myghte be."
   "Sir," seyd the burgeyse, "no mervell it is to me,
For many a tyme and offt - I cannat sey how lome -
He hath be in yeur marches, and as I trowe, in Rome
Also he was i-bore, yf I ne ly shall."
   "Yf it be so," quod Beryn, "no mervell it is at all
Thoughe he me have i-sey, and eke his gentill chere
Preveth it al opynly. But by Hym that bought me dere,
I have thereof no knowlech, as I am nowe avised."
   With that cam in the goodman with contenaunce disguised,
And had enquered of the child that with Beryn cam,
From gynnyng to the ending, and told his mastres name
And of Agea, his moder, and al thing as it was,
Wherethurh he was ful perfite to answere to every cas.
So entryng into the hall, the Burgeyse spak anoon:
   "A, my gentill Beryn! Allas, that under stone
Myne own hert, Agea, thy moder leff and dere!
Now God assoyll hir soule, for never better chere
Had I of fremd womman, ne never halff so good.
Benedicite, a marchaunt comyng over flood!
Who brought yewe in this purpose, and beth yeur faders heir?
Now, by my trewe conscience, ryght nyghe in dispeyr
I waxe for yeur sake, for now frendlese
Ye mowe wel sey that ye been. But yit, sir, netherles,
Ye mut endure Fortune and hevynes put awey.
There is noon other wisdom. Also, yeur shippes gay
That been i-com in saveté ought to amend yeur mode,
The wich when we have dyned, I swere, sir, by the rood,
We woll se hem trewly, within and eke withoute,
And have wyne with us and drynk al aboute."
   They set and wissh and fedd hem, and had wherof plenté.
The Burgeyse was a stuffed man; there lakked noon deynté.
So when they had i-dyned, the cloth was up i-take.
A ches there was i-brought forth - but tho gan sorow to wake!
The ches was al of yvery, the meyné fressh and newe,
I-pulsshed and i-piked of white, asure and blewe.
Beryn beheld the chekker; it semed passing feir.
   "Sir," quod the Bergeyse, "ye shull fynd here a peyr
That woll mate yew trewly in las then half a myle!" -
And was i-sayd of sotilté, Beryn to begile.
   "Now in soth," quod Beryn, "it myghte wel hap nay,
And nere I must my shippes se, else I wold assay."
   "What nedeth that?" quod the Burgeyse. "Trewlich, I wol nat glose.
They been nat yit i-seteled ne fixed in the wose,
For I have sent thries, sith ye hider cam,
To waite oppon hir governaunce. Wherfor lete set o game,
And I shall be the first that shall yewe atast."
   The meyné were i-set up, and gon to pley fast.
Beryn wan the first, the second, and the third,
And atte fourth game in the ches amyd,
The Burgeyse was i-mated - but that lust hym wele.
And al was doon to bryng hym in, as ye shul here snel.
   "Sir," then seyd Beryn, "ye woot wele howe it is.
Me list no more to pley, for ye know this:
Where is noon comparisoun, of what thing so it be,
Lust and likeing faileth there, as it semeth me;
Ne myrth is nat commendabill that ay is by o syde,
But it rebound to the toder. Wherfor tyme is to ryde,
And as many thonkes as I can or may
Of my sport and chere, and also of yeur play."
   "Nay, iwis, gentill Beryn, I woot ye wol nat go.
For noritur wol it nat for to part so.
And eke my condicioune, but I ley somthing,
Is no more to pley then whoso shoke a rynge
There no man is within, the rynging to answere.
To shete a fetherles bolt, almost as good me were.
But and ye wold this next game som manere wager legg,
And let the trowth on both sides be morgage and i-plegg
That whoso be i-mated graunt and assent
To do the toders bidding; and whoso do repent,
Drink al the water that salt is of the see."
   Beryn beleved that he coude pley better then he,
And sodenly assented with hond in hond assured.
Men that stode besides, i-capped and i-hured,
Wist wele that Beryn shuld have the wers mes,
For the Burgeyse was the best pleyer atte ches
Of all the wyde marches or many a myle aboute.
But that ne wist Beryn of, ne cast thereof no doute.
He set the meyné efft ageyn, and toke better hede
Then he did tofore, and so he had nede.
   The Burgeyse toke avisement long on every draughte,
So with an houre or to, Beryn he had i-caughte
Somwhat oppon the hipp, that Beryn had the wers.
And albeit his mynde and will was for to curs,
Yit must he dure his fortune when he was so fer i-go.
For who is that that Fortune may alwey undo?
And namelich stont even in eche side
Of pro and contra, but God help, down wol he glide.
But nowe a word of Philosophy that falleth to my mynde:
Who take hede of the begynnyng what fal shal of the end,
He leyeth a bussh tofore the gap ther Fortune wold in ryde;
But comynlich yowth forgeteth that, thurhout the world wide.
Right so be Beryn, I may wele sey, that counsailles in raked,
Likly to lese his marchandise and go hymselff al naked.
   Beryn studied on the ches, althoughe it naught availed.
The Burgeyse, in the menewhile, with other men counsailled
To fech the sergauntes in the town for thing he had ado.
So when they com were, they walked to and fro,
Up and down in the hall as skaunce they knewe naughte,
And yit of all the purpose, wit and mynde and thought
Of this untrew Burgeyse, by his messengeres
They were ful enfourmed. Wherfor with ey and eres,
They lay awaite ful doggedly Beryn to arest,
For therefor they were affter sent, and was hir charge and hest.
   Lord, howe shuld o sely lombe among wolves weld
And scape un-i-harmed? It hath be seyn seld.
Kepe thy cut nowe, Beryn, for thow art in the case!
   The hall was ful of pepill; the serjauntes shewed hir mase.
Beryn kast up his hede and was ful sore amayed,
For then he was in certen the Burgeyse had hym betrayde.
   "Draw on," seyd the Burgeyse, "Beryn, ye have the wers!"
   And every man to other the covenaunt gan rehers.
The Burgeyse, whils that Beryn was in hevy thought,
The next draught after, he toke a roke for naughte.
Beryn swat for anger and was in hevy plyghte,
And dred ful sore in hert, for wele he wist al quyte,
He shuld nat escape, and was in highe distres.
And pryvylich in his hert, that ever he saw the ches,
He cursed the day and tyme. But what avayled that?
For wele he wist then that he shuld be mate.
He gan to chaunge his coloure both pale and wan.
   The Burgeyse seid, "Cometh nere. Ye shul se this man,
How he shall be mated with what man me list."
He droughe and seyd, "Chek mate!" The sergauntes were ful prest
And sesed Beryn by the scleve. - "Sirs, what thynk ye for to do,"
Quod Beryn to the serjauntes, "that ye me handeth so?
Or what have I offended? Or what have I seyde?"
   "Trewlich," quod the serjauntes, "it vayleth nat to breyde.
With us ye must a while, where ye woll or no,
Tofore the Steward of this town. Arise and trus and go!
And there it shall be opened howe wisely thow hast wroughte.
This is the ende of our tale. Make it never so toughte."
   "Sirs, fareth feir! Ye have no nede to hale!"
   "Pas forth!" quod the serjauntes. "We woll nat here thy tale."
   "Yis, sirs, of yeur curtesy, I prey yewe of o word.
Althoughe my gentil hoost hath pleyd with me in borde
And i-wonne a wager, ye have naught to doon.
That is betwene hym and me. Ye have nothing to doon!"
   The hoost made an hidouse cry in gesolreut the haut
And set his hond in kenebowe. He lakked never a faute:
"Wenest thowe," seid he to Beryn, "for to scorn me?
Whatever thow speke or stroute, certes it wol nat be.
Of me shalt thow have no wrong. Pas forth a better pase.
In presence of our Steward I wol tell my case."
   "Why, hoost, sey ye this in ernest or in game?
Ye know my contray and my moder, my lynage and my name,
And thus ye have i-seyd me ten sith on this day."
   "Yee, what thoughe I seyd so? I know wele it is nay.
There lieth no more thereto, but another tyme,
Leve me so much the les when thow comest by me.
For al that ever I seyd was to bryng thee in care,
And now I have my purpose, I wol nothyng thee spare."
   Thus jangelyng to ech other, endenting every pase,
They entred both into the hall there the Steward was.
Evander was his name, that sotill was, and so fell
He must be wel avised tofore hym shuld tell. 8
Another burgeyse with hym was, provost of the cité,
That Hanybald was i-cleped, but of sotilté
He passed many another, as ye shul here sone.
Beryns hoost gan to tell al thing as it was doon,
Fro gynnyng to the ending, the wordes with the dede,
And howe they made hir covenaunte, and wager howe they leyde.
   "Now, Beryn," quod the Steward, "thow hast i-herd this tale,
How and in what maner thow art i-brought in bale.
Thow must do his bidding - thow maist in no wise flee -
Or drynke al the water that salt is in the see.
Of these too thinges, thow must chese the toon.
Now be wel avised, and sey thy will anoon.
To do ye both lawe, I may no better sey,
For thow shalt have no wrong, as ferforth as I may.
Chese thyselff righte as thee list, and wit thow nothing me,
Thoughe thowe chese the wers and let the better be."
   Beryn stood astoned, and no mervaill was,
And preyd the Steward of a day to answere to the case:
"For I myght lightlich in som word be i-caughte,
And eke it is righte hard to chese of to that beth righte naught.
But and it were yeur likyng to graunt me day til tomorow,
I wold answere thurh Goddes help." - "Then must thow fynde a borow,"
Seyd the Steward to Beryn, "and yit it is of grace."
   "Now hereth me," quod Hanybald, "I prey a litil space.
He hath fyve shippes under the town, liggyng on the strond,
The wich been sufficiant, i-sesed in our honde,
By me that am yeur provost, to execute the lawe."
   "He must assent," quod Evander; "let us ones here his saw."
   "I graunt wele," quod Beryn, "sith it may be noon other."
   Then Hanybald arose hym up to sese both shipp and stroder,
And toke Beryn with hym, so talking on the wey:
   "Beryn," quod Hanybald, "I suyr thee, by my fey,
That thow art much i-bound to me this ilk day.
So is thy plé amended by me, and eke of such a way
I am avised in thy cause, yf thow wolt do by rede,
That lite or naught, by my counsaill, ought thee to drede.
Ye knowe wele tomorowe the day of plee is set
That ye mut nedes answer, or els without lett
I must yeld hem yeur shippes. I may in no wise blyn,
So have I undertake; but the marchandise within
Is nat in my charge - ye know as wele as I -
To make therof no lyvery. Wherfor now wisely
Worch and do after rede: let al yeur marchandise
Be voided of yeur shippes, and atte hiest prise
I wol have it everydele in covenant, yf ye list.
To se myne house here ones tofore, I hold it for the best,
Wher ye shul se, of divers londes, houses to or thre
Ful of marchandise, that thurh this grete ceté,
Is no such in preve, I may right wel avowe.
[ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ]
So when ye have all seyn, and I have yeur vowe also,
Let som bargen be i-made betwen us both to."
   "Graunt mercy, sir," quod Beryn. "Yeur profer is feir and good.
Feyn wold I do therafter, yf I understood
I myght without blame of breking of arest."
   "Yis," quod Hanybald, "at my perell me trest!"
   So to Hanybaldes house togider both they rode
And fonde as Hanybald had i-seyd: an houge house, long and brode,
Ful of marchandise as riche as it may be,
Passing al the marchantes that dwelled in that ceté.
Thus when al was shewed, they dronk and toke hir leve.
To see Beryns shippes in hast they gon to meve.
And when that Hanybald was avised what charg the shippes bere,
He gan to speke in high voise, ascaunce he rought nere
Whether he bargeyned or no, and seyd thus: "Beryn, frend,
Yeur marchandise is feir and good. Now let us make an ende.
If ye list, I can no more. Ye knoweth how it is.
Com of short, let tuk le meyn; me thinketh I sey nat mys, 9
And then yeur meyné and ye and I, to my house shall we go.
And of the marchandise ye saw - I wol nat part therfro -
Chese of the best of that ye fynd there,
Thurhout the long house, there shal no man yew dere,
And therwith shall yeur shippes be filled al fyve.
I can sey no better. If ye list to dryve
This bargeyn to the ende, counselleth with yeur men.
I may nat long tary. I must nedes hen."
   Beryn cleped his meyné, counsell for to take,
But his first mocioun was of the woo and wrake,
And al the tribulacioune for pleying atte ches,
That he had everydele his shame and his dures.
Fro poynt to poynt, and how it stode, he told how it was.
And then he axed counsell, what best was in the cas,
To chaunge with the Burgeyse or els for to leve.
   Ech man seyd his avise, but al that they did meve,
It were to long a tale for to tell it here.
But fynally atte end, they corded al in fere
That the chaunge shuld stond; for as the case was fall,
They held it clerly for the best, and went forth withall
The next wey that they couth to Hanybaldes plase.
   But nowe shull ye here the most sotil fallace
That ever man wrought till other, and highest trechery,
Wich Hanybald had wrought hymselff to this company:
"Go in," quod Hanybald, "and chese as thy covenaunt is."
   In goon these Romeyns echoon, and fond amys,
For there was nothing that eny man myghte se
Saff the wall and tyle-stones and tymber made of tre,
For Hanybald had do void it of al thing that was ther;
Whils he was atte shippes, his men awey it bere.
   When Beryn saw the house lere, that ful was thertofore
Of riche marchandise, "Alas," thought he, "I am lore!
I am in this world!" - and witeth wel his hert
Was nat al in likeing, and outward gan he stert
Like half a wood man, and bote both his lippes,
And gan to hast fast toward his own shippes
To kepe his good within, with al that ever he myghte,
That it were nat discharged, as hym thought verry ryghte.
But al for naught was his hast, for thre hundred men,
As fast as they myghte the, bere the good then,
Thurh ordenaunce of Hanybald that privelich tofore
Had purposed and i-cast shuld be out i-bore.
Beryn made a swyff pase, there myght no man hym let.
   But Hanybald was ware inowgh and with Beryn met:
"Al for nought, Beryn, thow knowest wel and fyne
Thy shippes been arested and the good is myne.
What woldest thow do there? Thow hast there naught to do.
I wol hold thy covenaunte, and thow shalt myne also.
For yit sawe I never man that was of thy manere:
Sometyme thowe wolt avaunte, and somtyme arere;
Now thow wolt, and now thow nolt. Where shull men thee fynde?
Now sey oon and sith another, so variant of mynde;
Saw I never tofore this day man so variabill.
Sith I thee fynde in suche plyte, our bargen for to stabill,
We woll tofore the Steward, there we both shull have righte."
   "Nay, forsoth!" quod Beryn. - "Yis, trulich thee tite,"
Quod Hanybald, "where thowe wolt or no, and so I thee charge
As provost. Knowe that yff me list, my warant is so large,
And thowe make eny diffence, to bynym thy lyff.
Take thyn hors! It gayneth nat for to make stryffe."
   So with sorowfull hert, Beryn toke his hors
And sofftly seyd to his men, "Of me," quod he, "no fors;
But wend to yeur shippes. I wol com when I may.
Ye seth wele, everichone, I may no bet awey."
   Now here by this same tale, both fre and bonde
Mow fele in hir wittes and eke understonde
That litil vaileth wisdom or els governaunce
There Fortune ever werreth, and eke hap and chaunce.
Of what availeth bounté, beuté or riches?
Frendship or sotilté, or els hardines?
Gold, good or catell, wit or hy lynage?
Lond or lordes service, or els highe parage?
What may al this availl, there Fortune is a foo?
Iwis, righte litill or never a dele, ful offt it falleth so.
   So shortly to pas over, they fill to such an end
That Beryn shuld have day ageyn amorow, and so to wend,
He set hym in ful purpose to his shippes ward.
But yit or he cam there, he fond the passage hard.
For how he was begiled, thurhout al the town,
Here and ther a coupill gon to speke and to roune,
And every man his purpose was to have parte
With falsnes and with soteltees; they coud noon other art.
   Beryn rode forth in his wey, his page ran hym by,
Ful sore adred in hert, and cast about his eye,
Up and down even long the strete, and for anger swet.
And er he had riden a stones cast, a blynd man with hym met
And spak no word, but sesed hym fast by the lap,
And cried "Out!" and "Harowe!" and nere hym gan to stap.
"Al for nought!" quod this Blynd. "What, wenest thow for to skape?"
   Beryn had thought to prik forth and thought it had be jape.
   The Blynd Man cast awey his staff and set on both his hondes:
"Nay, thow shalt nat void," quod he, "for al thy rich londes,
Tyll I of thee have reson, lawe and eke righte.
For trewlich I may wit it thee that I have lost my sighte!"
   So for aught that Beryn coude other speke or prey,
He myght in no wise pas. Ful sore he gan to may,
And namelich for the pepill throng hym so aboute,
And ech man gan hym hond, and seyd without doute:
"Ye must nedes stond and rest and bide the lawe,
Be ye never so grete a man!" - "So wold I wonder fawe,"
Quod Beryn, "yf ye had cause, but I know noon."
   "No? Thow shalt knowe or thow go! Thow hast nat al i-doon,"
The Blynd Man seyd to Beryn. "Tel on, then," quod he.
   "Here is no place to plete," the Blynd Man seid aye.
"Also, we have no juge here of autorité,
But Evander the Steward shall deme both thee and me.
When I my tale have told, and thow hast made answere,
By that tyme men shal know how thow canst thee clere.
Nowe, soveren God, I thank Thee of this ilk day!
Then I may preve thee, by my lyve, of word and eke of fay,
Fals and eke untrew of covenaunt thowe hast i-maked.
But litill is thy charge now, though that I go naked,
That somtyme were partinere and rekenedest never yit.
But thow shalt here, or we depart, therof a litill witt,
For after comyn seying, `Ever atte ende
The trowth woll be preved, how so men ever trend'."
   Thus they talked to ech other till they com into the plase
And were i-entred in the hall there the Steward was.
   The Blynd Man first gan to speke: "Sir Steward, for Goddes sake,
Hereth me a litill while, for here I have i-take
He that hath do me wrong, most of man of mold.
Be my help, as law woll, for Hym that Judas sold.
Ye know wele that offt-tyme I have to yew i-pleyned
How I was betrayed and how I was i-peyned,
And how a man somtyme and I our yen did chaunge.
This is the same persone, though that he make it straunge.
I toke hem hym but for a tyme and leved trewly,
Myne to have i-had ageyn, and so both he and I
Were ensured utterlich, and was our both will.
But for myne the better were, wrongfullich and ill
He hath hem kept hiderto, with much sorow and pyne
To me, as ye wele knoweth. Because I have nat myne,
I may nat se with his; wherfor me is ful woo.
And evermore ye seyde that ye myght nothing do
Without presence of the man that wrought me this unquert.
Nowe sith he is tofore yew, now let hym nat astert,
For many tyme and offt ye behete me,
And he myght be take, he shuld do me gre.
Sith ye of hym be sesed, however so ye tave,
Let hym never pas til I myne eyen have."
   "Beryn," quod Evander, "herest thow nat thyselve
How sotilly he pleteth?" - And ware by eche halve,
Beryn stood al muet, and no word he spak.
   And that was tho his grace: ful sone he had be take
And he had misseyd ones or els i-seyd nay,
For then he had been negatyff and undo for ay.
For they were grete seviliouns and used probat law,
Wher evermore affirmatyff shuld preve his own sawe.
Wherfor they were so querelouse of al myght com in mynde;
Thoughe it were never in dede i-do, such mater they wold fynde
To benym a man his good thurh som maner gile.
For the Blynd Man wist right wele he shuld have lost his while
To make his pleynt on Beryn and sued oppon his good,
For shippes and eke marchandise in a balaunce stode.
Therfor he made his chalenge his eyen for to have,
Or els he shuld for hem fyne, yf he wold hem have,
And ligg for hem in hostage til the fynaunce cam.
This was al the sotilté of the Blynd Man.
Beryn stood al mewet, and no word he spak.
   "Beryn," quod Evander, "lest thow be i-take
In defaute of answere, thow myghtest be condempned.
Be right wele avised, sith thow art examened."
   "Sir," seyd Beryn, "it wold litill availl
To answere thus aloon without good consaill.
And also, fethermore, ful litill I shuld be leved,
Whatever I answerd, thus stoned and repreved.
And eke my wit doth faill, and no wonder is.
Wherfor I wold prey yew of yeur gentilnes
To graunte me day til tomorow. I myght be avised
To answere forth with other that on me been surmysed."
   "Depardeux," quod the Steward, "I graunt wel it be so."
   Beryn toke his leve and hoped to pas and go.
But as sone as Beryn was on his hors rydyng,
He met a womman and a child with sad chere comyng,
That toke hym by the reyn and held hym wonder fast,
And seyd, "Sir, voideth nat! Hit vailleth nat to hast.
Ye mow in no wise scape; ye must nedes abide.
For thoughe ye list to knowe me nat, yit lien by yeur side
I have ful many a tyme, I cannat tell yewe howe lome.
Come tofore the Steward, there shull ye here yeur dome
Of thing that I shal put on yew, and no word for to ly;
To leve me thus aloon, it is yeur vylany.
Alas, the day and tyme that ever I was yeur make!
Much have I endured this too yeer for yeur sake,
But now it shall be know who is in the wronge."
   Beryn was al abasshed. The pepil so thik thronge
Aboute hym in eche syde; for ought that he couth peyn,
He must to the Steward of fyne force ageyn.
   Now shull ye here how sotillich this Womman gan hir tale
In presence of the Steward. With colour wan and pale,
Petously she gan to tell and seyd, "Sir, to yewe
Ful offt I have compleyned in what manere and howe
My childes fader lefft me by myselff aloon,
Without help or comforte, as grete as I myght goon,
With my sone here and his, that shame it is to tell
The penury that I have i-had, that aforce sell
I must nedes myne aray, where me list or lothe,
Or els I must have begged for to fynd us both.
For there was never woman i-leve, as I ges,
For lak of hede of lyvlode that lyved in more distres
Then I myselff, for offt-time for lak of mete and drynk.
And yit I trow no creatur was feyner for to swynke
My lyff to sustene, but as I mut nede,
Above al other thinges to his child take hede,
That wonder is and mervail that I am alyve.
For the sokeyng of his child, ryght as it were a knyve,
It ran into my hert, so lowe I was of mode;
That wel I woot in certen, with parcell of my blood
His child I have i-norisshed, and that is by me seen,
For my rede colour is turned into grene.
And he that cause is of all, here he stondeth by me.
To pay for the fosteryng, me thinketh it is tyme.
And sith he is my husbond and hath on me no rowth,
Let hym make amendes in saving of his trowth.
And yf he to any word ones can sey nay,
Lo, here my gage al redy to preve al that I say."
   The Steward toke the gage and spak in sofft wise:
"Of this petouse compleynt a mannes hert may grise,
For I know in parcell hir tale is nat al lese,
For many a tyme and offt this Womman that here is
Hath i-be tofore me and pleyned of hir greffe,
But without a party, hir cause myght nat preff.
Now thow art here present that she pleyneth on.
Make thy defence now, Beryn, as wele as thowe can."
   Beryn stood al mwet, and no word he spak.
   "Beryn," quod the Steward, "doest thow sclepe or wake?
Sey ones oon or other: ys it soth or nay
As she hath declareth? Tell on saunce delay!"
   "Lord God!" quod Beryn. "What shuld it me availe
Among so many wise, without right good counsaill,
To tell eny tale? Ful litill, as I ges!
Wherfor, I wold prey yew of yeur gentilnes,
Graunt me day till tomorow to answer forth with other."
   "I graunt wele," quod the Steward, "but for fader and moder,
Thow getest no lenger term, pleynly I thee tell."
   Beryn toke his leve. His hert gan to swell
For pure verry anguyssh, and no mervel was.
And who is that that nold and he were in such case?
For al his trist and hope in eny worldlich thing
Was cleen from hym passed, save sorow and myslikyng.
For body, good and catell and lyff, he set at nought,
So was his hert i-wounded for anger and for thought.
   Beryn passed sofftly and to his hors gan go,
And when he was without the gates, he loked to and fro
And coude noon other contenaunce, but to his page he seyd:
"Preciouse God in heven, howe falsly am I betrayde!
I trowe no man alyve stont in wors plighte,
And all is for my synne and for my yong delite,
And pryncipally, above al thing, for grete unkyndnes
That I did to my moder, for litill hede iwis
I toke of hir - this know I wele - whils she was alyve.
Therfor, al this turment is sent to me so ryve.
For there was never womman kynder to hir child
Then she was, and thereageyns never thing so wild
Ne so evill-thewed as I was myselff.
Therfor, sorow and happous environ me by eche helve
That I note whider ryde nether up ne down.
There been so many devilles dwelling in this town,
And so ful of gile and trechery also,
That wele I woot in certeyn they woll me ondo.
Now wold to God in heven what is my best rede!"
   He took his hors to his page, and thus to hym he seyde:
"Lede my hors to shipward, and take it to som man,
And I woll go on foot as pryvyly as I can,
And assay yf I may in eny maner wise
Ascape unarested more in such maner wise."
   The child toke his mastres hors and lafft hym there alone,
Walking forth on foot, makeing offt his moon.
And in his most musing - I cannat sey how lome -
He wosshed naked as he was bore he had be in Rome.
And no mervaill was it, as the case stode,
For he drad more to lese his eyen than he did his shippes or his good.
   Now ye that listeth to dwell and here of aventure,
How petously Dame Fortune, Beryn to amure,
Turneth hir whele about in the wers syde,
With hap of sorow and anguyssh she gynneth for to ride.
Beryn passed toward the stronde there his shippes were,
But ye mow understond his hert was ful of fere,
Yit netherles he sat hym down sofftly on a stall,
Semy-vif for sorow, and lened to the wall.
For turment that he had, so wery he was and feynt,
And to God above thus he made his pleynt:
   "Glorious God in heven, that al thing madest of nought,
Why sufferest thow these cursed men to stroy me for nought,
And knowest wel myne innocent, that I have no gilt
Of al that they pursu me or on me is pilt?"
   And in the meenwhils that Beryn thus gan pleyn,
A cachepoll stode besides - his name was Macaign -
And herd all the wordes and knew also tofore
How Beryn was turmented, both with las and more;
It was i-sprong thurh the toun. So was he ful ensensed
How he hym wold engyne, as he had purpensed,
And had araid hym sotillich as man of contemplacioun,
In a mantell with the lyste, with fals dissimilacioune,
And a staff in his hond, as though he febill were,
And drow hym toward Beryn and seid in this manere:
   "The highe God of heven, that al thing made of nought,
Bles yew, gentil sir, for many an hevy thought,
Me thinketh that ye have, and no wonder is.
But, good sir, dismay yew nat, but leveth yeur hevynes.
And yff ye list to tell me somwhat of yeur distres,
I hope to God almyghty in party it redres
Thurh my pore counsaill, and so I have many oon.
For I have peté on yew, by God and by Seynt Jon,
And eke pryvy hevynes doth eche man appeir,
Sodenly or he be ware, and fall in dispeir.
And who be in that plage, that man is incurabill,
For consequent cometh after sekenes abominabill.
And therfor, sir, diskevereth yewe and be nothing adrad."
   "Graunt mercy, sir," quod Beryn. "Ye seme trewe and sad,
But o thing lieth in my hert: I note to whom to trust,
For tho that dyned me today ordeyned me to arest."
   "A, sir, be ye that man? Of yew I have i-herd.
Gentil sir, douteth nat, ne be nothing aferd
Of me, for I shall counsell yewe as wel as I can,
For trulich in the ceté dwelleth many a fals man,
And usen litill els but falshode, wrong and while,
And how they myght straungours with trechery begile.
But ye shull do ryght wisely somwhat by my counsayll.
Speke with the Steward, that may yewe most availl,
For there is a comyn byword, yf ye it herd haveth,
`Wele setteth he his peny that the pound saveth.'
The Steward is a covetouse man that long hath desired
A knyff I have in kepeing, wherewith his hert I wired,
Shall be yewe to help, in covenaunte that ye
Shall gyve me fyv mark yeur trew frend to be.
The knyff is feir, I tell yew, yit never tofore this day
Myght the Steward have it, for aught he coud prey.
The wich ye shull gyve hym, the better for to spede,
And behote hym twenty pounds to help yewe in yeur nede.
And yf he graunteth, trusteth wele, ye stond in good plighte,
For better is then lese all, the las the more quyt.
And I woll go with yewe streyte to his plase,
And knele doun and speke first to amend yeur case,
And sey ye be my cosyn, the better shull ye spede.
And when that I have all i-told, the knyff to hym ye bede."
   Beryn thanked hym hertlich and on hym gan trust,
With hond in hond ensured, and al for the best.
Beryn thought noon other, al that it other was.
Macaign hym comforted, talking of hir case;
And passed forth stylly toward the Steward blyve
Beryn and Macaign. But Beryn bare the knyff,
And trust much in his felaw to have som help.
   But or they departed were, he had no cause to yelp
Of no maner comfort, as ye shull here anoon.
For as sone as Macaign tofore the Steward come,
He fill plat to the erth; a grevous pleynt and an huge
He made, and seyd, "Sir Steward, nowe be a trew juge
Ageyns this fals treytour that stondeth me besyde.
Let take of hym good hede, els he wol nat abyde.
Now mercy, good Steward, for ye have herd me yore
For my fader, Melan, pleyn to yew ful sore
That with seven dromodaries, as I have told yewe lome,
With marchandise charged went toward Rome.
And it is seven yeer ago, and a litil more,
Of hym or of his goodes that I herd les or more.
And yit I have enquered as bysely as I couthe,
And met never man yit that me coude tell with mouth
Any tyding of hym, onto this same day.
But now I know to much, allas! I may wel say!"
   When Beryn herd these wordes, he kist doun his hede.
"Allas!" he thought in hert; "allas, what is my rede?" -
And wold feyn have voided and outward gan to stapp.
   But Macaign arose and sesed hym by the lapp:
"Nay, thow shalt nat void," he seid. "My tale is nat i-do.
For by trowth of my body, yf thow scapedest so,
I shuld never have mery whils I were on lyve!" -
And set hond fast on Beryns other scleve,
And seyd, "Good Sir Steward, my tale to the ende
I prey ye wold here, for wend how men wend,
There may no man hele murder that it woll out atte last.
The same knyff my fader bere when he of contré past,
Let serch wele this felon, and here ye shull hym fynde.
I know the knyff wel inowgh; it is nat out of my mynde.
The cotelere dwelleth in this town that made the same knyff,
And for to preve the trowth, he shall be here as blyve."
   Beryn swat for anger; his hert was ful of fere.
He toke the knyff to the Steward or he serched were.
   The Steward onto Beryn: "My frend, lo!" quod he.
"And thow think thee wel about, this is a foule plee.
I can know noon other but thow must, or thow go,
Yeld the body of Melan and his good also.
Now be wel avised ageyn tomorow day;
Then shalt thow have thy jugement. There is no more to say."
   When Beryn fro the Steward thus departed was
And was without the gate, he loked oppon the plase,
And cursed it wonder bitterly in a fervent ire,
And wisshed many tymes it had been afeir.
   "For I trow that man of lyve was never wors betrayed
Then I am, and therewithall my hert is cleen dismayed,
For here I have no frendship, but am al counselles,
And they been falsher then Judas, and eke mercyles.
A, Lord God in hevyn, that my hert is woo!
And yit suyrly I mervell nat, though that it be so,
For yit in al my lyve sith I ought understode,
Had I never will for to lern good.
Foly - I haunted it ever, there myght no man me let;
And now he hath i-paid me; he is cleen out of my dett.
For whils I had tyme, wisdom I myght have lerned,
But I drowgh me to Foly and wold nat be governed,
But had al myne own will and of no man a-ferd.
For I was never chastised, but nowe myne own yerd
Beteth me to sore, the strokes been to hard.
For these devilles of this town taketh but litill reward
To sclee my body to have my good; the day is set tomorowe.
Now wold to God I were in grave, for it were end of sorow!
I was iwis to much a fole, for hate I had to Rame,
I wold forsake myne heritage; therfor sorow and shame
Is oppon me fall, and right wele deserved,
For I tooke noon maner hede when my moder sterved,
And disobeyed my fader and set hym at naught also.
What wonder is it than though that I have woo?
Fortune and eke Wisdom have werred with me ever,
And I with hem in al my lyff, for Fortune was me lever
Then eny Wit or Governaunce, for hem too I did hate.
And thoughe I wold be at oon, now it is to late.
O myghtfull God in heven, where was ever man
That wrought hymselff more foly then I myselff did than?
Acursed be the tyme that I out of Rome went,
That was my faders righte heir of lyvlode and of rent,
And al the riall lordshipp that he hath in the town.
Had I had wit and grace, and hold me lowe and boune,
It were my kynd now among my baronage
To hauke and to hunt, and eke to pley and rage
With feir fressh ladies, and daunce when me lyst.
But nowe it is to late to speke of `Had I wist!'
But I fare like the man that for to swele his vlyes,
He stert into the bern and after stre he hies,
And goth about the walles with a brennyng wase,
Tyll it was, atte last, that the leem and blase
Entred into the chynes where the whete was,
And kissed so the evese that brent was al the plase;
But first in the begynnyng, til feer smote in the raftres,
He toke no maner kepe and thought of nothing after,
What perell there myghte fall - ne more did I, iwis,
That wold forsake myne honour for the unkyndnes
Of Rame that was my stepmoder, for yf I shal nat ly,
They beth soure. Wherfor, the more wisely
I shuld have wrought, had I had wit and suffred for a tyme,
And after com to purpose wel inowghe of myne.
But evil avenged he his deol that, for a litill mode
And anger, to his neyghbour selleth awey his good
And goth hymselff abegging after in breff tyme.
He mut be counted a lewd man in al maner ryme.
So have I wrought, and wers, for I dout of my lyve
How that it shall stond, for plukking of my scleve,
The knyffe that was me take!" - as ye have herd tofore -
"And yit it greveth myne hert also much more
Of myne own pepill that no disese aserved.
I wote wele after pleding right nought wol be reserved
To sustene hir lyves; I trow ryght nought or lyte,
And paraventur lightly stond in wors plyghte.
Of me it is no force, thoughe I be thus arayed,
But it is dole and peté that they shul be betrayed
That hath nought aserved, but for my gilt aloon."
   And when that Beryn in this wise had i-made his mone,
A crepill he saw comyng with grete spede and hast,
Oppon a stilt under his kne bound wonder fast,
And a crouch under his armes, with hondes al forskramed.
   "Allas!" quod this Beryn, "shall I be more examened?" -
And gan to turn aside onto the see-stronde,
And the Cripill after, and wan oppon hym londe.
Tho began Beryn to drede inwardlich sore,
And thought thus in his hert: "Shal I be combered more?
And it were Goddes will my sorowe for to cese,
Me thinketh I have inowe." The Cripill began to prece
And had i-raught nerehond Beryn by the scleve.
   Beryn turned as an hare and gan to ren blyve,
But the Cripill knew better the pathes smale and grete
Then Beryn, so tofore hym he was and gan hym mete.
When Beryn saw it vayled nought to renne ne to lepe,
What for dole and anguyssh no word myght he speke,
But stode still amased and stared fast aboute.
   The Cripill began to speke: "Sir, to drede or to dout
Of me wold ye righte light, and ye knewe myne hert.
So where ye like evil or il, fro me shull ye nat parte
Tyll I have treted with yew, and ye with me also,
Of all yeur soden happes, yeur myscheff and yeur woo.
For by the tyme that I have knowlech of yeur case,
Yeur rennyng and yeur trotting into any esy pase
I shall turn, or that we twyn, so ye after my scole
Wol do, and as I rede yew. For ye were a fole
When ye cam first a londe. Wolde ye had met with me,
For I wold have ensensed yewe al the iniquité
Of these fals marchandes that dwellen in this town,
And outed all yeur chaffare without gruch or groun.
For had ye dwelled within yeur shippes and nat go hem among,
Then had ye been undaungered and quyt of al hir wrong
On yewe that been surmysed thurh fals suggestioune."
   Beryn gan to sigh; unneth he myght soune
Saff o word or tweyn, and "Mercy!" was the first,
Preying with all his hert that he myght have his rest
And be no more enpleded, but pas from hym quyte.
   "Good sir," quod Beryn, "doth me no more dispite,
And suffer me to pas, and have on me routhe,
And I suyr yew feithfully, have here my trowth,
Tomorowe when I have pleded, and anything be lafft
Of shipp or marchandise, afore the ship or bafft,
I woll shewe yew al i-fere and opyn every chest,
And put it in yeur grace to do what ye lest."
   And in the meenwhile that Beryn gan to clapp,
The Cripill nyghed hym nere and nere, and hent hym by the lap,
And as sone as Beryn knew that he was in honde,
He unlaced his mantell for drede of som comand,
And pryveliche over his shuldres lete hym down glyde,
And had lever lese his mantell then abyde.
The Cripill all perceyved and hent hym by the scleve
Of his nether surcote. - "Alas, nowe mut Y stryve,"
Thoughte Beryn by hymselff; "nowe I am i-hent,
There helpeth naughte save strength!" - Therewith the scleve torent;
Beryn gan to scappe, he spared for no cost.
   "Alas!" thought this Cripill. "This man woll be lost
And be undo forever, but he counsell have.
Iwis, thoughe he be lewde, my contreman to save
Yit will my besynes do and peyn that I may
Sith he is of Rome, for that is my contray."
   This Cripill was an hundred yere ful of age
With a long thik berd, and a trewe visage
He had and a manly, and july was he -
And Geffrey was his name i-knowe in that contré.
   "Allas!" thought this Geffrey, "this man hath grete drede
Of me that by my power wold help hym in his nede.
Iwis, thoughe he be nyce, untaught and unwise,
I woll nat for his foly leve myne enpryse!"
And lept after Beryn, and that in right good spede.
   Beryn was so sore agast, he toke no maner hede
To look ones bakward till he to the water cam;
Then loked he behynd and saw Sir Clekam
Comannd wonder fast with staff and with his stilt.
   "Alas!" thought Beryn, "I nowe am i-spilt,
For I may no ferther without I wold me droune -
I note wich were the better! - or go ageyn to toune."
   Geffrey was so ny com that Beryn myght nat fle.
"Good sir," quod this Geffrey, "why do ye void me?
For, by Heven Quene that bare Criste in hir barme,
But righte as to myselff I woll yewe no more harm.
Sitteth down here by me oppon this see-stronde,
And yff ye drede anything, clepe yeur men to londe
And let hem be here with us all our speche-tyme,
For I woll nat feyn oon woord, as makers doon to ryme,
But counsell yewe as prudently as God woll send me grace.
Take comforte to yewe, and herk a litill spase."
   And when that Beryn had i-herd his tale to the ende,
And how goodly Geffrey spak as he were his frende,
Nonobstant his drede, yet part of sapience
Stremed into his hert for his eloquence,
And seyd, "God me counsayll for His highe mercy!
For I have herd, this same day, men as sotilly
Speke, and of yeur semblant and in such manere,
And byhete me frendshipp outward by hir chere,
But inward it was contrary hir intelleccioune.
Wherfor the blame is les, thoughe I suspecioune
Have of yeur wordes, lest other be yeur entent.
For I note in whom to trust, by God omnipotent!
Yit netherles, yf yeur will is to come into the shipp with me,
I woll somwhat do by yeur rede, how so it ever be."
   Then quod Geffrey: "yf it be so that I in yeur power
Enter into yeur shippes, and yewe help in yeur mystere,
That ye ageyn yeur adversaries shull have the better syde,
And gyve yewe such counsell to bate down hir pride,
And that ye wyn in every pleynt, also much or more
As they purpose to have of yewe; yf they be doun i-bore
And ye have amendes for hir iniquité -
And I yewe bryng to this end - what shall my guerdon be?"
   "In verry soth," quod Beryn, "yf I yewe may trust,
I woll quyte yewe trewly, I make yewe behest."
   "In feith then," quod Geffrey, "I woll with yewe wende."
   "What is yeur name," seid Beryn tho, "my frend?"
   "Geffrey," he seyd; "but in this marches I was nat bore,
But I have dwelled in this ceté yeeres heretofore
Ful many, and turmented wors then were ye,
And endured for my trowth much adversité,
For I wold in no wise suffer hir falshedes.
For in all the world, so corrupt of hir dedes
Been noon men alyve, I may ryghte wele avowe,
For they set all hir wittes in wrong, al that they mowe.
Wherfor ful many a tyme, the grettest of hem and I
Have stonden in altercacioune for hir trechery,
For I had in valowe in trewe marchandise
A thousand pound - al have they take in such maner wise.
So ferforth to save my blood, no longer myght I dure.
For drede of wors, thus thought I myselff to disfigure,
And have amonge hem twelve yeer go right in this plighte,
And ever have had in memory howe I myght hem quyte.
And so I hope nowghe, as sotill as they be,
With my wit engyne hem and help yewe and me.
My lymes been both hole and sound; me nedeth stilt ne crouch."
   He cast asyde hem both and lepe oppon an huche,
And adown ageynes, and walked too and fro,
Up and down within the shipp, and shewed his hondes tho,
Strecching forth his fyngers in sight over al aboute,
Without knot or knor or eny signe of goute,
And clyghte hem efft ageyns right disfeterly,
Som to ride eche other and som aweyward wry.
Geffrey was right myghty and wele his age did bere,
For natur was more substancial when tho dayes were
Then nowe in our tyme, for al thing doth wast
Saffe vise and cursed lyving, that groweth al to wast.
What shuld I tell more? But Geffrey sat hym down
And Beryn hym besydes. The Romeyns gan to rown
And mervelled much in Geffrey of his disgisenes.
And Beryn had another thought and spak of his distres:
   "Now, Geffrey," seid this Beryn, "and I durst trust in yewe,
That and ye knewe eny man that is alyve anowe
That had of discrecioune so much influence
To make my party good tomorowe in my defence
And delyver me of sorowe, as ye behote have,
I wold becom his legeman - as God my soule save!"
   "That were to much," quod Geffrey; "that woll I yew relese,
But I desire of other thing to have yeur promes:
That and I bryng yeur enmyes into such a traunce
To make for yeur wronges to yew righte highe fenaunce,
And so declare for yewe that with yew pas such dome,
That ye oppon yeur feith bryng me at Rome,
Yf God woll send yew weder and grace to repase."
   Quod Beryn: "But I graunt yewe, I were lewder then an asse!
But or I fullich trust yewe, holdeth me excused;
I woll go counsell with my men, lest they it refused."
   Beryn drewe asyde and spak with his meyné,
And expressed every word in what plight and degré
That he stood, from poynt to poynt, and of his fals arestes.
His meyné were astoned and stared forth as bestes.
   "Speketh som word," quod Beryn, "sith I am betrayd;
Ye have i-herd what Geffrey to me hath sayd."
   These Romeyns stood all still; o word ne cowd they meve,
And eke it passed hir wittes. Then Beryn gan releve,
And to Geffrey efft ageyn and mercy hym besought.
   "Help me, sir," quod Beryn, "for His love that us bought,
Dying on the rood!" - and wept ful tenderly.
"For but ye help," quod Beryn, "there is no remedy,
For comfort nether counsaill of my men have I noon.
Help me, as God yew help, and els I am undoon!"
   When Geffrey sawe this Beryn so distract and wept,
Pité into eche veyn of his hert crept.
   "Alas," quod Geffrey, "I myght nat do a more synfull dede,
I leve by my trowth, then fayll yew in this nede.
Faill me, God in heven, yf that I yewe faill
That I shall do my besines, my peyn and my travaill
To help yew by my power. I may no ferther goo!"
   "Yis, ye behete me more," seyd Beryn tho,
"That ye wold help me at all, that I shuld stond clere."
Beryn gan to wepe and make wers chere.
   "Stilleth yewe," quod Geffrey, "for howesoever ye tire,
More then my power ye ought nat desire.
For thurh the grace of God, ye shull be holp wele,
I have thereof no doute. But trewlich I yewe tell
That ye woll hold me covenaunte, and I woll yew also,
To bryng me at Rome when it is al i-do.
In signe of trowth of both sides of our acordement,
Ech of us kis other of our comyn assent."
   And all was do, and afterward Beryn comaunded wyne.
They dronk, and then Geffrey seyd: "Sir Beryn,
Ye mut declare yeur maters to myne intelligence
That I may the bet perseyve al inconvenience,
Dout, pro, contra and anbiguité
Thurh yeur declaracioune, and enfourmed be.
And with the help of our soveren Lord celestiall,
They shull be behynd, and we shul have the ball!
For nowe the tyme approcheth for hir cursednes,
To be somwhat rewarded, and cause of yeur distres
Hath my hert i-secled and fixed hem anye,
As trowth woll and reson, for hir trechery.
For many a man, tofore this day, they have do out of daw,
Distroid and turmented thurh hir fals lawe.
For they think litill elles, and all hir wittes fyve,
Save to have a mannes good and to benym his lyve,
And hath a cursed custom, al ageyns reson,
That what man they enpeche, they have noon encheson,
Thoughe it be as fals a thing as God hymselff is trewe.
And it touch a straunger that is com of newe,
Atte first mocioune that he begynneth to meve,
There stondeth up an hundred hym to repreve.
The lawes of the ceté stont in probacy;
They usen noon enquestes the wronges for to try,
And yf thow haddest eny wrong and woldest pleyn thee,
And were as trewe a cause as eny myghte be,
Thow shuldest nat fynd o man to bere thee witnes,
Though every man in the town knew it, more or les.
So burreth they togider and holdeth with ech other
That as to counterplede hem, though ye were my brothere,
I wold gyve yewe no counsell ne hir enpechement
In no word to deny, for that were comberment.
For then were they in the affirmatyff and wold preve anoon,
And to yew that were negatyff the lawe woll graunte noon.
So for to plede ageyn hem, it woll litill availe.
And yit to every mannes wit it ought be grete mervaill,
For hir lawes been so streyt, and peynous ordinaunce
Is stalled for hir falshede; for this is hir fynaunce,
To lese hir lyff for lesing, and Isope it may knowe,
That lord is riall of the town and holdeth hem so lowe.
Wherfor they have a custom, a shrewed for the nones,
If eny of hem sey a thing, they cry all attones
And ferm it for a soth, and it bere any charge.
Thus of the daunger of Isope, they kepe hem ever at large.
And therfore wisdom were, whoso myght eschewe,
Never to dele with hem, for were it wrong or trewe,
It shuld litill availl ageyns hir falshedes,
For they been accursed and so been hir dedes.
Wherfor we must with al our wit sensibill
Such answers us purvey that they been insolibil,
Tomorow at our apparaunce, and shull be responsaill.
For of wele and elles, it is thy day fynall!"
   "Nowe, soveren Lord celestiall!" with many sorowful sighes
Seyd Beryn to Geffrey, ymmemorat of lyes,
"Graunt me grace tomorowe, so that God be plesed,
Make so myne answere and I somwhat i-esed
By thee that art my counsaill, for other help is noon."
   "Reherce me then," quod Geffrey, "the causes of thy foon,
Fro poynt to poynt, al in fere on thee is surmysed,
Wherthurh I myght tomorowe the better be avised."
   "Now in soth," quod Beryn, "thoughe I shuld dy,
I cannat tell the tenth part of hir trechery,
What for sorow and anger that they to me have wrought.
So stond I clene desperat, but ye con help ought."
   "Deupardeux," seid Geffrey, "and I thee wol nat faill,
Sith I have ensured thee to be of thy counsaill,
And so much the more that thow art nat wise
And canst nat me enfourm of no maner avise.
Here therfor a while, and tend wel to my lore:
The lord that dwelleth in this town, whose name I told tofore,
Isope efft rehersed, is so inly wise
That no man alyve can pas his devise,
And is so grow in yeres that sixty yeer ago
He saw nat for age, and yit it stondeth so
That thurh his witt and wisdom and his governaunce,
Who maketh a fray or striveth aught or mel to much or praunce 10
Within the same cyté, that he nys take anoon
And hath his penaunce forthwith, for pardon useth he noon.
For there nys pore ne riche, ne what state he be,
That he nys underfote for his iniquité.
And it be preved on hym, there shal no gold hym quyte,
Right as the forfete axeth, moch or lite.
For geyns his comaundement is noon so hardy quek,
So hard setteth he his fote in every mannes nek.
For under sky and sterres, this day is noon alyve
That coude amend hym in o poynt, al thing to discryve.
The Seven Sages of Rome, though al ageyn hym were,
They shuld be insufficient to make his answere.
For he can al langages: Grew, Ebrewe and Latyne,
Caldey, Frenssh and Lombard, ye knowe wel fyne,
And all maner that men in bokes write.
In poysé and philosophé also he can endite,
Sevile and canoun and al maner lawes,
Seneca and Sydrak and Salamones sawes,
And the seven sciences and eke lawe of armes,
Experimentes and pompery and al maner charmes,
As ye shull here after, er that I depart,
Of his imaginaciouns and of his sotill art.
For he is of age thre hundred yeer and more;
Wherfor of all sciences he hath the more lore.
In Denmark he was goten and i-bore also,
And in Grece i-norisshed til he coud speke and go.
There was he put to scole and lerned wonder fast,
For such was his grace that al other he past.
But first in his begynnyng, litil good he had,
But lerned ever passyngly and was wise and sad.
Of stature and of feture, there was noon hym like
Thurh the londe of Grece, though men wold hym seke.
A kyng there was in tho yeres that had noon heir male,
Saff a doughter that he loved as his own saal.
Isope was his servaunt and did hym such plesaunce
That he made hym his heir, and did hym so avaunce
To wedd his doughter and after hym to bere crown,
Thurh prowes and his port, so low he was and boun.
So as Fortune wold, that was Isopes frend,
This worthy kyng that same yere made his carnel ende.
That seven score yeer is passed that Isope thus hath regned,
And yit was there never for wrong on hym compleyned
For no jugement that he gaff. Yit som ageyn hym wyled,
A grete part of his pepill, and wold have hym exiled,
But his grete wisdom and his manfulnes,
His governaunce, with his bounté and his rightfulnes,
Hath ever yit meyntened hym unto this ilch day -
And woll whils that he lyveth, for aught that men can say.
For who hath eny quarell or cause for to wonde,
Within this same ceté quiklich woll he fonde,
And it be sotil mater, to Isope for to fare,
Fro gynnyng to the end his quarel to declare.
And eve afore, as custom is, the plee shal be on the morowe.
But whoso ly, he scapeth nat without shame or sorow.
Beryn, thow must go thider where thyn enpechement
Shull be i-meved, and therfor pas nat thens
Tyll thow have herd hem all, and report hem wele
To me that am thy counsell, and repeir snele.
   But so riall mancioune as Isope dwelleth in,
There is noon in the world, ne so queynt of gyn.
Wherfor, be wel avised how I enfourm thee
Of the wonder weyes, and of the pryvyté
That been within his paleyse, that thow must pas by.
And when thow approchest and art the castell nygh,
Blench fro the brode gate and enter thow nat there,
For there been men to kepe it. Yit have thow no fere.
Pas doun on the right hond by the castell wall
Tyll thow fynd a wyndowe, and whatso thee byfall,
Enter there, yf thow may, and be nothing agast,
But walk forth in that entré. Then shalt thow see in hast
A port-colyse thee tofore. Pas in boldly
Tyll thow com to an hall, the feyrest under sky.
The walles been of marbill i-joyned and i-closed,
And the pilours cristall, grete and wele purposed.
The keveryng above is of selondyn,
And the pament beneth of gold and asure fyne.
   But whoso passeth thurh this hall hath nede to ren blyve,
Or els he myght be disware of his own lyve,
For there within lieth a stoon that is so hote of kynde
That what thing com forby, anoon it woll atend,
As bryght as any candel leem, and consume anoon.
And so wold the hall also, nere coldnes of a stoon
That is i-cleped dyonyse, that set is hym ageyn.
So and thow lepe lightly, thow shalt have no peyn,
For ether stone in kynde proporciouned they be
Of hete and eke of coldnes, of oon equalité.
Thow must pas thurh the hall, but tary nat, I rede,
For thow shalt fynd a dur up right afore thyn hede.
   When thow art entred there and the dor apast,
Whatso thow se ligg or stond, be thow nat agast,
And yf thow drede anything, do no more save blowe,
But yit I rede thee beware that it be somwhat lowe.
There been to libardes loos and untyed.
If that thy blowing of that other in enything be spyed,
Anoon he raketh on thee to sese thee by thy pate,
For there nys thing in erth that he so much doth hate
As breth of mannes mowth. Wherfor refreyn thee,
And blowe but fair and sofft, and when that nede be.
   When thow art passed this hall, anoon then shalt thowe com
Into the fayrest gardyn that is in Cristendom,
The wich thurh his clergy is made of such devise
That a man shall ween he is in paradise
At his first comyng in, for melody and song
And other glorious thinges and delectabill among,
The wich Tholomeus, that somtyme paynym was,
That of astronomy knew every poynt and case,
Did it so devise thurh his highe connyng
That there nys best in erth ne bird that doth syng
That he nys there in figur, in gold and sylver fyne,
And move as they were quyk. Knawe the sotil engyne! 11
In mydward of this gardyn stant a feir tre,
Of all maner leves that under sky be
I-forged and i-fourmed, eche in his degré,
Of sylver and of gold fyne, that lusty been to see.
This gardeyn is ever green and ful of May floures
Of rede, white and blewe, and other fressh coloures,
The wich been so redolent and sentyn so aboute,
That he must be ryghte lewd therin shuld route.
These monstrefull thinges I devise to thee
Because thow shuldest nat of hem abasshed be;
When that thowe comest there, so thow be strong in thought
And do by my counsell, drede thee right nought.
For there beth eight tregetours that this gardyn kepeth -
Four of hem doth waak whils the four sclepeth -
The wich been so perfite of nygramancé,
And the arte of apparence and of tregetrie,
That they make semen as to a mannes sight
Abominabill wormes, that sore ought be afrighte
The hertiest man on erth, but he warned were
Of the grisly sightes that he shuld see there.
Among al other ther is a lyon white,
That and he se a straunger, he raumpeth for to bite
And hath, tofore this tyme, five hundred men and mo
Devoured and i-ete, that therforth have i-goo.
Yit shalt thowe pas suyrly, so thow do as I tell.
The tre I told tofore, that round as any bell,
Bereth bowe and braunce traylyng to the ground;
And thow touch oon of hem, thow art saff and sound.
The tre hath such vertu, there shall nothing thee dere.
Loke that be the first when thow comest there.
Then shalt thowe se an entré by the ferther syde;
Thoughe it be streyt tofore, inner large and wyde
It groweth more and more, and as a dentour wrieth,
Yit woll that wey thee bryng there that Isope lieth,
Into the feyrest chamber that ever man sawe with eye.
When thow art therewithin, govern thee wisely,
For there shalt thow here al thyn enpechement
Opynly declared in Isopes present.
Report hem wele, and kepe hem in thy mynde,
And after thy relacioune, we shall so turn and wend,
Thurh help of God above, such help for to make
That they shull be acombred, and we ryght wel to scape."
   "Now in soth," quod Beryn, "a mannes herte may grise
Of such wonder weyes! For al my marchandise
I had lever lese then oppon me take
Such a wey to pas!" - "Then, sir, for yeur sake
I woll myselff," quod Geffrey; "sith I am ensured
To help thee with my power, thowe shalt be amyred
As ferforth as I may, that I woll do my peyn
To bryng yewe plesaunt tyding and retourn ageyn
Yit or the cok crowe. And therfor let me se,
Whils I am out, how mery ye can be."
   Geffrey tok his leve. But who was sory tho
But Beryn and his company? For when he was go,
They had no maner joy, but dout and hevynes,
For of his repeyryng they had no sikernes.
So every man to other made his compleynt
And wisshed that of felony they had been atteynt,
And so hem thought better to end hevynes
Then every day to lak brede atte first mes:
"For when our good is go, what shall fal of us?
Ever to be hir thralles, and paraventure wers -
To lese our lyff after, yf we displese hem ought!"
   After Geffrey went, this was al hir thought
Thurhout all the long nyghte, till cokkes gan to syng.
But then encresed anguyssh, hir hondes gan to wryng,
And cursed wynd and water that hem brought there,
And wisshed many tymes that they had been in bere,
And were apassed hope and entred into dispeyr.
In as much as Geffrey did nat repeir,
Eche man seyd to other, it myght nat be i-nayed
But Geffrey had utterlich falsly hem betrayd.
   Tho went they to counsell a litill tofore the day
And were all accorded for to sayll away,
And so hem thought better, and leve hir good there
Then abyde thereoppon and have more fere.
They made hir takelyng redy and wend the saill acros
For to save hir lyves, and set nat of hir los,
So sore they were adrad to be in servitute,
And hoped God above wold send hem som refute
By som other costes, there wynd hem wold bryng.
   And therewithall cam Geffrey on his stilt lepeing
And cried wonder fast by the water-syde.
When Beryn herd Geffrey, he bad his men abyde,
And to launch out a bote and bryng Geffrey in:
"For he may more availl me now then al my kyn,
And he be trewe and trusty, as myne hope is."
   But yit thereof had Beryn no ful sikernes.
These Romeyns fet in Geffrey with an hevy chere,
For they had lever saill forth then put hem in were,
Both lyve and goodes. And evill suspecioune
They had of this Geffery, wherfor they gon roune,
Talking to eche other, "This man woll us betray!"
   Geffrey wist wel inowghe he was nat to hir pay,
And for verry anger he threw into the see
Both stilt and eke his cruch, that made were of tre,
And gan hem to comfort and seid in this manere:
   "Benedicite, Beryn! Why make ye such chere?
For and ye wexe hevy, what shull yeur men do
But take ensaumpill of yewe, and have no cause to?
For yit or it be eve, yeur adversaries all
I shall make hem spurn and have a sore fall,
And ye go quyte and al yeur good, and have of hirs too,
And they to be ryght feyn for to scape so,
Without more daunger, and yeur will be.
For of the lawes here, such is the equyté
That who pursu other and his pleynt be wrong,
He shall make amendes, be he never so strong,
Right as shuld the toder yf he condempned were;
Right so shall the pleyntyff, right as I yew lere.
And that shall preve by hem, have ye no doute,
Yit or it be eve, right low to yew to loute
And submit hem to yew and put hem in yeur grace,
By that tyme I have i-made al my wanlase.
And in hope to spede wele, let shape us for to dyne."
   Geffrey axed water, and sith brede and wyne,
And seid, "It is holsom to breke our fast betyme,
For the Steward wol to the court atte hour of pryme."
   The sonne gan to shyne and shope a feir day,
But for aught that Geffrey coud do or say,
These Romeyns speken fast al the dyner while
That Geffrey with his sotill wordes wold hem begile.
So when they had i-dyned, they rysen up echoon
And drew hem to counsell what was best to doon.
Som seyd, "The best rede that we do may,
To throwe Geffrey over the bord and seyll forth our way."
But for drede of Beryn, som wold nat so,
Yit the more party assented wele thereto.
   Geffrey and Beryn and worthy Romeyns tweyn
Stood apart within the shipp, tyll Geffrey gan to seyn:
"Beryn, beth avised! Yeur men beth in distaunce.
Sith ye been her soveren, put hem in governaunce.
For me thinketh they holdeth contrary opynyoun,
And grace fayleth comynlych where is dyvisioun."
   In the meenwhile that they gan thus to stryve,
Hanybald was up and i-com as blyve
To the brigg of the town, there the shippes rood,
And herd much noyse. But litil while he bood,
For when he sawe the sayles stond al acros,
"Alas!" quod Hanybald, "here groweth a smert los
To me that am provost, and have in charge and hest
All these fyve shippes under myne arest!" -
And ran into the toun and made an hidouse cry,
And charged al the cetezins to armes for to hy,
From o strete till another, and rered up al the town,
And made the trompes blowe up and the belles soun,
And seyd that the Romeyns were in poynt to pas,
Til there were a thowsand, rather mo then les,
Men i-armed cleen, walking to the strond.
   When Beryn hem aspied, "Now, Geffrey, in thy honde
Stont lyff and goodes! Doth with us what thee list,
For all our hope is on thee, comfort, help and trist.
For we must bide aventur such as God woll shape,
For nowe I am in certen we mow no wise scape."
   "Have no dout," quod Geffrey; "beth mery; let me aloon.
Geteth a peir sisours, shereth my berd anoon,
And afterward lete top my hede hastlych and blyve."
   Som went to with sesours, som with a knyfe,
So what for sorowe and hast, and for lewd tole,
There was no man alyve bet like to a fole
Then Geffrey was, by that tyme they had al i-do.
   Hanybald cleped out Beryn to motehall for to go,
And stood oppon the brigg with an huge route.
   Geffrey was the first to Hanybald gan to loute,
And loked out aforeshipp: "God bles yew, sir," quod he.
"Where art thow now, Beryn? Com nere, behold and se!
Here is an huge pepill i-rayd and i-dight.
All these been my children that been in armes bryghte.
Yisterday I gate hem! Is nat mervaill
That they been hider i-com to be of our counsaill
And to stond by us and help us in our plé?
Al myne own childryn, blessed mut ye be!"
Quod Geffrey with an highe voise, and had a nyce visage,
And gan to daunce for joy in the forestage.
   Hanybald loked on Geffrey as he were amased,
And beheld his contenaunce and howe he was i-rased,
But evermore he thought that he was a fole,
Naturell of kynde, and had noon other tool,
As semed by his wordes and his visage both,
And thought it had been foly to wex with hym wroth,
And gan to bord ageyn and axed hym in game:
"Sith thow art our fader, who is then our dame?
And howe and in what plase were we begete?"
   "Yisterday," quod Geffrey, "pleying in the strete
Atte gentill game that cleped is the quek,
A long peny-halter was cast about my nekk
And i-knet fast with a ryding knot
And cast over a perche and haled along my throte."
   "Was that a game," quod Hanybald, "for to hang thyselve?"
   "So they seyd about me, a thousand ech by hymselff."
   "How scapeddest thow," quod Hanybald, "that thow were nat dede?"
   "Thereto can I answere without eny rede.
I bare thre dise in myne own purs,
For I go never without, fare I better or wors.
I kist hem forth al thre and too fil amys-ase.
But here now what fill after, right a mervolouse case!
There cam a mows lepe forth and ete the third boon,
That puffed out hir skyn as grete as she myght goon,
And in this maner wise, of the mouse and me,
All ye be i-com my children fair and fre.
And yit, or it be eve, fall wol such a chaunce,
To stond in my power yew all to avaunce,
For and we plede wele today, we shull be riche inowghe!"
   Hanybald of his wordes hertlich loughe,
And so did al that herd hym, as they myghte wele,
And had grete joy with hym for to tell,
For they knewe hym noon other but a fole of kynde.
And al was his discrecioune, and that preved the ende!
   Thus whils Geffrey japed to make hir hertes lighte,
Beryn and his company were rayed and i-dighte,
And londed hem in botes, ferefull how to spede,
For all hir thoughtes in balance stode betwene hope and drede.
But yit they did hir peyn to make lightsom chere,
As Geffrey hem had enfourmed, of port and al manere
Of hir governaunce, al the long day
Tyll hir plee were ended. So went they forth hir wey
To the court with Hanybald. Then Beryn gan to sey,
"What nedeth this, Sir Hanybald, to make such aray,
Sith we been pese-marchantes and use no spoliacioune?"
   "Forsoth, sir," quod Hanybald, "to me was made relacioun
Ye were in poynt to void, and yf ye had do so,
Ye had lost yeur lyves without wordes mo."
   Beryn held hym still. Geffrey spak anoon:
"No les wed then lyves? Why so, good Sir John?
That were somwhat to much, as it semeth me!
But ye be over-wise that dwell in this ceté.
For ye have begonne a thing maketh yewe righte bold,
And yit, or it be eve, as foles shul ye be hold.
And eke ye devyne sor in shipmannes craft
And woteth litill what longeth to afore the shipp and bafft,
And namelich in the dawnyng, when shipmen first arise."
   "My good frend," quod Hanybald in a scornyng wise,
"Ye must ones enfourm me thurh yeur discrecioun,
But first ye must answer to a questioun:
Why make men cros-saill in myddes of the mast?"
   "For to talowe the shipp and fech more last."
   "Why goon the yemen to bote - ankers to hale?"
   "For to make hem redy to walk to the ale."
   "Why hale they up stones by the crane-lyne?"
   "To make the tempest sese and the sonne shyne."
   "Why close they the port with the see bord?"
   "For the master shuld awake atte first word."
   "Thow art a redy reve," quod Hanybald, "in fay!"
   "Yee, sir, trewly, for sothe is that ye sey!"
   Geffrey ever clapped as doth a watermyll,
And made Hanybald to laughe al his hert fell.
   "Beryn," quod this Geffrey, "retourn thy men ageyn.
What shull they do with thee at court? No man on hem pleyn.
Plede thy case thyselve, ryght as thow hast i-wrought.
To bide with the shippes, my purpos is and thought."
   "Nay, forsoth," quod Hanybald, "thow shalt abyde on lond.
We have no foles but thee!" - and toke hym by the hond -
"For thow art wise in lawe to plede al the case."
   "That can I better," quod Geffrey, "then eny man in this plase.
What seyst thow therto, Beryn? Shall I tell thy tale?"
   Hanybald liked his wordes wele and forward gan hym hale.
Beryn made hym angry, and sighed wonder sore,
For Geffrey hym had enfourmed of every poynt tofore
How he hym shuld govern all the long day.
Geffrey chasted hym ageyn: "Sey me yee or nay!
Maystowe nat i-here speke som maner word?"
   "Leve thy blab, lewd fole! Me liketh nat thy bord!
I have another thought," quod Beryn, "wherof thowe carest lite."
   "Clepest thow me a fole?" quod Geffrey. "Al that I may thee wite!
But first, when we out of Rome sailled both in fere,
Tho I was thy felawe and thy partynere;
For tho the marchandise was more then halff myne,
And sith that thowe com hider, thowe takest al for thyne.
But yit or it be eve, I woll make oon behest:
But thowe have my help, thy part shal be lest."
   "Thyn help!" quod Beryn. "Lewde fole, thow art more then mased!
Dres thee to the shippesward with thy crown i-rased,
For I myght never spare thee bet! Trus, and be ago!"
   "I wol go with thee," quod Geffrey, "where thow wolt or no,
And lern to plede lawe to wyn both house and londe."
   "So thow shalt!" quod Hanybald, and led hym by the honde,
And leyd his hond oppon his nek. But and he had i-knowe
Whom he had led, in sikernes he had wel lever in snowe
Have walked forty myle, and rather then faill more,
For he wisshed that Geffrey had i-be unbore
Ful offt-tyme in that day or the plé were do,
And so did al that wrought Beryn shame and woo.
   Now ye that list abide and here of sotilté,
Mow knowe how that Beryn sped in his plé,
And in what aray to the court he went,
And howe Hanybald led Geffrey, disware of his entent.
But yit he axed of Geffrey, "What is thy name, I prey?"
   "Gilhochet," quod Geffrey, "men cleped me yisterday."
   "And where weer thow i-bore?" - "I note, I make avowe,"
Seyd Geffrey to this Hanybald; "I axe that of yewe,
For I can tell no more but here I stond nowe."
   Hanybald of his wordes hertlich lowghe
And held hym for a passing fole to serve eny lord.
Thus they romed janglyng into the court ward.
   But or they com there, the Steward was i-set
And the grettest of the town in company i-met,
And gon to stryve fast who shuld have the good,
That com was with Beryn over the salt flood.
Som seyd oon, and som seyde another;
Som wold have the shippes, the parell and the rother;
Som his eyen, som his lyff wold have, and no les,
Or els he shuld for hem fyne or he did pas.
And in the menewhils they were in this afray,
Beryn and these Romeyns were com in good aray,
As myght be made of woll and of colour greyned.
They toke a syde bench that for hem was ordeyned.
   When all was husst and still, Beryn rose anoon
And stode in the myddes of the hal tofore hem everychon,
And seyd, "Sir Steward, in me shall be no let.
I am i-com to answer as my day is set.
Do me ryghte and reson - I axe yewe no more!"
   "So shall I," quod the Steward, "for therto I am swore."
   "He shall have ryght," quod Geffrey, "where thow wolt or no,
For and thow mys ones thy jugement ondo,
I woll to the Emperour of Rome, my cosyn.
For of o cup he and I ful offt have dronk the wyne,
And yit we shull hereafter, as offt as we mete,
For he is long the gladder when I send hym to grete."
   Thus Geffrey stode oppon a fourm, for he wold be sey
Above all other, the shuldres and the cry,
And stared al aboute, with his lewd berd,
And was i-hold a verry fole of ech man hym herd.
   The Steward and the officers and the burgeysses all
Laughed at hym hertlich. The criour gan to call
The Burgeyse that had pleyd with Beryn atte ches,
And he aros quiklich and gan hym for to dres
Afore the Steward atte barr, as the maner is.
He gan to tell his tale with grete redynes:
   "Here me, Sir Steward! This day is me set,
To have ryght and reson - I ax yewe no bet -
Of Beryn that here stondeth, that with me yisterday
Made a certen covenaunt, and atte ches we did pley,
That whoso were i-mated of us both too
Shuld do the toders byddyng; and yf he wold nat so,
He must drynke al the water that salt were in the se.
Thus I to hym sured, and he also to me.
To preve my tale trewe, I am nat al aloon."
   Up rose ten burgeyses quyklich anoon,
And affermed every word of his tale soth,
And made hem al redy for to do hir othe.
   Evander the Steward: "Beryn, now," quod he,
"Thow must answere nede, it wol noon other be.
Take thy counsell to thee. Spede on! Have i-doon!"
   Beryn held hym still. Geffrey spak anoon:
"Now, by my trowth," quod Geffrey, "I mervell much of yewe,
To bid us go to counsell and knoweth me wise inowgh
And ever ful avised, in twynkelyng of an eye,
To make a short answer, but yf my mowth be dry.
Shuld we go to counsell for o word or tweyn?
By my trowth we nyl! Let se mo that pleyn!
And but he be i-answerd, and that right anoon,
I geve yewe leve to rise and walk out, everychoon,
And aspy redely yf ye fynd me there.
In the meenwhils, I wol abide here.
Nay, I tell trewly, I am wiser then ye ween.
For there nys noon of yewe woot redely what I meen."
   Every man gan lawghe al his hert fill
Of Geffrey and his wordes, but Beryn held hym still
And was cleen astoned. But yit nere-the-latter
He held it nat al foly that Geffrey did clater,
But wisely hym governed, as Geffrey hym taughte,
For parcell of his wisdom tofore he had smaught.
   "Sir Steward," quod Beryn, "I understond wele
The tale of this Burgeyse. Now let another tel
That I may take counsell and answer al attones."
   "I graunt," quod the Steward, "thyn axing, for the nones,
Sith thow wolt be rewled by thy foles rede,
For he is ryghte a wise man to help thee in thy nede."
   Up arose the accusours queyntlich anoon.
Hanybald was the first of hem everichon,
And gan to tell his tale with a proud chere:
   "Yisterday, soverens, when I was here,
Beryn and this Burgeyse gon to plede fast
For pleying atte ches. So ferforth atte last,
Thurh vertu of myne office, that I had in charge
Beryns fyve shippes, for to go at large
And to be in answere here this same day.
So walkyng to the strondward, we bargeyned by the wey
That I shuld have the marchaundise that Beryn with hym broughte,
Wherof I am sesed as ful sold and boughte,
In covenaunt that I shuld his shippes fill ageyn
Of my marchandise, such as he tofore had seyn
In myne own plase, howses to or thre,
Ful of marchandise as they myght be.
And I am ever redy, whensoever he woll,
Let hym go or sende, and charge his shippes full
Of such marchandise as he fyndeth there.
For in such wordes, we accorded were."
   Up rose ten burgeyses - not tho that rose tofore,
But other - and made hem redy to have swore
That every word of Hanybald, from the begynnyng to the ende,
Was soth and eke trewe, and with all hir mende,
Ful prest they were to preve, and seyd they were present
Atte covenaunte makeing, by God omnipotent.
   "It shall nat nede," quod Geffrey, "whils that I here stonde,
For I woll preve it myself with my right honde.
For I have been in four batelles heretofore,
And this shall be the fifft, and therfor I am swore.
Beholdeth and seeth!" - and turned hym aboute.
   The Steward and the Burgeyse gamed al aboute.
The Romeyns held hem still and lawghed but a lite.
   With that cam the Blynd Man, his tale to endite,
That God hym graunte wynnyng, righte as he hath aserved.
Beryn and his company stood al astryved
Betwene hope and drede, righte in highe distres,
For of wele or of woo they had no sikernes.
   "Beryn," quod the Blynd, "thoughe I may nat se,
Stond nere yit the barr. My comyng is for thee,
That wrongfullich thowe witholdest my both to eyen,
The wich I toke thee for a tyme, and quyklich to me hyen
And take hem me ageyn, as our covenant was.
Beryn, I take no reward of other mennes case
But oonlich of myne own, that stont me most on hond.
Nowe blessed be God in heven that brought thee to this lond,
For sith our last parting, many bitter teres
Have I lete for thy love, that somtyme partineres
Of wynnyng and of lesing were, yeres fele.
And ever I fond thee trewe, til at the last thow didest stele
Awey with my too eyen that I toke to thee
To se the tregitours pley, and hir sotilté,
As yisterday here in this same plase
Tofore yewe, Sir Steward, rehersed as it was.
Ful trewe is that byword, `a man to servesabill
Ledeth offt Beyard from his own stabill.'
Beryn, by thee I meen, thoughe thowe make it straunge.
For thow knowest trewly that I made no chaunge,
Of my good eyen for thyne that badder were."
   Therewith stood up bergeys four, witnes to bere.
Beryn held hym still, and Geffrey spak anoon:
   "Nowe of thy lewde compleynt and thy mased moon,
By my trowth," quod Geffrey, "I have grete mervaill.
For thoughe thow haddest eyen-sight, yit shuld it litil availl.
Thow shuldest never fare the bet, but the wors in fay,
For al thing may be stil nowe for thee in house and way,
And yf thow haddest thyn eyen, thowe woldest no counsell hele.
I knowe wele by thy fisnamy thy kynd were to stele.
And eke it is thy profite and thyne ese als
To be blynd as thowe art, for nowe whereso thow go,
Thow hast thy lyvlode whils thow art alyve,
And yf thowe myghtest see, thow shuldest never thryve."
   Al the house thurhout, save Beryn and his feres,
Lawghed of Geffrey that water on hir leres
Ran down from hir eyen for his mased wit.
   With that cam the Womman - hir tung was nat sclytt -
With fiftene burgeyses and wommen also fele,
Hir querell for to preve and Beryn to apele,
With a feir knave child i-loke within hir armes,
And gan to tell hir tale of wronges and of harmes
And eke of unkyndnes, untrowth and falshede,
That Beryn had i-wrought to hir, that queyntlich from hir yede
Anoon oppon hir wedding, when he his will had doon
And brought hir with child, and lete hir sit aloon
Without help and comfort from that day: "And nowegh
He profered me nat to kis ones with his mowth!
As yisterday, Sir Steward, afore yewe eche word
Was rehersed here, my pleynt is of record,
And this day is me set for to have reson.
Let hym make amendes, or els tell encheson
Why hym ought nat fynd me as man ought his wyffe."
   These fifftene burgeyses quyklich also blyve,
And as fele wymmen as stode by hir there,
Seyd that they were present when they wedded were
And that every word that the Womman seyde
Was trewe, and eke Beryn had hir so betrayd.
   "Benedicite!" quod Geffrey, "Beryn, hast thowe a wyff?
Now, have God my trowth, the dayes of my lyff
I shall trust thee the las! Thow toldest me nat tofore
As wele of thy wedding and of thy sone i-bore.
Go to and kis hem both, thy wyff and eke thyn heir.
Be thow nat ashamed, for they both be feyr.
This wedding was right pryvy, but I shal make it couthe.
Behold, thy sone (it semeth) crope out of thy mowth,
And eke of thy condicioune both sofft and some.
Now am I glad thyne heir shall with us to Rome,
And I shall tech hym as I can, whils that he is yong,
Every day by the strete to gader houndes doung,
Tyll it be abill of prentyse to crafft of tanry,
And after I shall teche hym for to cache a fly,
And to mend mytens when they been totore
And after to cloute shoon, when he is elder more.
Yit for his parentyne, to pipe as doth a mowse
I woll hym tech, and for to pike a snayll out of his house,
And to berk as doth an hound and sey `Baw-bawe!'
And turn round about as a cat doth with a strawe,
And to blete as doth a shepe, and ney as doth an hors,
And to lowe as doth a cowe. And as myne own corps
I woll cherissh hym every day, for his moders sake!" -
And gan to stapp nere the child to have i-take,
As semed by his contenaunce, althoughe he thought nat so.
   Butte moder was ever ware, and blenched to and fro,
And leyd hir hond betwene and loked somwhat wroth.
   And Geffrey in pure wrath beshrewed hem al bothe:
"For by my trowth," quod Geffrey, "wel mased is thy pan.
For I woll teche thy sone the craftes that I can
That he in tyme to com myght wyn his lyvlood.
To wex therfor angry, thow art verry wood!
Of husbond, wyff and sone - by the Trynyté -
I note wich is the wisest of hem al thre!"
   "No, sothly," quod the Steward, "it lieth al in thy noll,
Both wit and wisdom, and preveth by thy poll!"
   For al be that Geffrey worded sotilly,
The Steward and the burgeyses held it for foly
Al that ever he seyd, and toke it for good game,
And had ful litill knowlech he was Geffrey the lame.
Beryn and his company stode still as stone,
Betwene hope and drede, disware how it shuld goon,
Saff Beryn trist in party that Geffrey wold hym help,
But yit into that hour he had no cause to yelpe.
Wherfor they made much sorow, that dole was and peté.
   Geffrey herd hym sighe sore. "What devill is yewe?" quod he.
"What nede yew be sory whils I stonde here?
Have I nat enfourmed yewe how and in what manere
That I yew wold help and bryng hem in the snare?
Yf ye coude plede as wele as I, ful litill wold ye care.
Pluke up thy hert," quod Geffrey. "Beryn, I speke to thee!"
   "Leve thy blab leude!" quod Beryn to hym aye.
"It doth nothing availl that sorowe com on thy hede.
It is nat worth a fly, al that thowe hast seyde.
Have we nat els nowe for to thynk oppon
Saff here to jangill?" Macaign rose anoon,
And went to the barr and gan to tell his tale.
He was as fals as Judas, that set Criste at sale.
   "Sir Steward," quod this Macaign, "and the burgeyses all,
Knoweth wele how Melan, with purpill and with pall
And other marchandise, seven yere ago
Went toward Rome, and howe that I also
Have enquered sith, as reson woll and kynde,
Syth he was my fader, to knowe of his ende.
For yit sith his departyng til it was yisterday,
Met I never creature that me coude wissh or say
Reedynes of my fader, dede other alyve.
But blessed be God in heven, in this theves sclyve
The knyff I gaff my fader was yisterday i-found.
Sith I hym apele, let hym be fast i-bound.
The knyff I knowe wel inowe; also the man stont here
And dwelleth in this town and is a cotelere,
That made the same knyff with his too hondes,
That wele I woot there is noon like, to sech al Cristen londes.
For thre preciouse stones been within the hafft
Perfitlych i-couched and sotillich by crafft
Endended in the hafft, and that right coriously:
A saphir and a salidone and a rich ruby."
   The coteler cam lepeing forth with a bold chere,
And seyd to the Steward, "That Macaign told now here,
Every word is trew; so beth the stones sett.
I made the knyff myselff - who myght know it bet? -
And toke the knyff to Macaign, and he me payd wele.
So is this felon gilty. There is no more to tell."
   Up arose burgeyses by too, by thre, by four,
And seyd they were present the same tyme and hour
When Macaign wept sore and brought his faders gownd
And gaff hym the same knyff oppon the see-stronde.
   "Bethe there eny mo pleyntes of record?"
Quod Geffrey to the Steward. And he ageynward,
"How semeth thee, Gilhochet? Beth there nat inowghe?
Make thyne answer, Beryn, case that thow mowe.
For oon or other thow must sey, althoughe it nat availl.
And but thowe lese or thowe go, me thinketh grete mervaill."
   Beryn goth to counsell and his company,
And Geffrey bode behynde to here more and se,
And to shewe the Burgeyse somwhat of his hert,
And seyd, "But I make the pleyntyfs for to smert,
And al that hem meynteneth for aught that is i-seyd,
I woll graunte yewe to kut the eres fro my hede.
My master is at counsell, but counsell hath he noon,
For but I hym help, he is cleen undoon.
But I woll help hym al that I can, and meynten hym also
By my power and connyng, so I am bound thereto.
For I durst wage batell with yewe, thoughe ye be stronge,
That my master is in the trowth and ye be in the wrong.
For and we have lawe, I ne hold yew but distroyed
In yeur own falshede, so be ye now aspied.
Wherfor, yit or eve, I shall abate yeur pride
That som of yew shall be right feyn to sclynk awey and hyde."
   The burgeyses gon to lawghe and scorned hym thereto.
   "Gilhochet," quod Evander, "and thow cowdest so
Bryng it thus about, it were a redy way!"
   "He is a good fool," quod Hanybald, "in fay,
To put hymselff aloon in strength and eke in witt
Ageyns al the burgeyses that on this bench sit."
   "What clater is this," quod Macaign, "al day with a fole?
Tyme is nowe to worch with som other tole,
For I am certeyn of hir answer that they woll faill.
And lyf for lyf of my fader, what may that availl?
Wherfor beth avised, for I am in no doute,
The goodes been sufficient to part al aboute,
So may every party pleyntyff have his part."
   "That is reason," quod the Blynd; "a trew man thow art!
And eke it were untrowth, and eke grete syn,
But ech of us that pleyneth myght somwhat wyn."
   Hanybald bote his lyppes and herd hem both wele:
"Towching the marchandise, o tale I shall yew tell,
And eke make a vowe and hold my behest,
That of the marchandise yeur part shall be lest.
For I have made a bargeyn that may nat be undo.
I woll hold his covenaunt, and he shall myne also."
   Up roos quyklich the burgeyse Syrophanes
"Hanybald," quod he, "the lawe goth by no lanes
But hold forth the streyt wey, even as doth a lyne.
For yisterday, when Beryn with me did dyne,
I was the first persone that put hym in arest.
And for he wold go large, thow haddest in charge and hest
To sese both shipp and goodes til I were answered.
Then must I first be served. This knoweth al men i-lered."
   The Womman stode besides and cried wonder fast:
"Ful soth is that byword, `to pot who cometh last,
He worst is served!' And so it fareth by me.
Yit netherles, Sir Steward, I trist to yeur leuté,
That knoweth best my cause and my trew entent.
I ax yewe no more but rightfull jugement.
Let me have part with other, sith he my husbond is.
Good sirs, beth avised, I axe yew nat amys."
   Thus they gon to stryve and were of highe mode
For to depart among hem other mennes good,
Where they tofore had never properté
Ne never shuld thereafter, by doom of equyté;
But they had other cause then they had tho.
   Beryn was at counsell, his hert was ful woo,
And his meyny sory, distrakt and al amayede,
For tho they leved noon other but Geffrey had hem trayde,
Because he was so long, they coude no manere rede -
But everich by hymselff wisshed he had be dede.
   "O myghtfull God!" they seyd, "we trow tofore this day
Was never gretter treson, fere ne affray
I-wrought onto mankynde then now is to us here,
And namelich by this Geffrey with his sotil chere.
So feithfull he made it he wold us help echone,
And nowe we be i-myred. He leteth us sit aloon!"
   "Of Geffrey," quod Beryn, "be as it be may;
We mut answer nede, there is noon other way.
And therfor let me know yeur wit and yeur counsaill."
   They wept and wrong hir hondes, and gan to waill
The tyme that they were bore, and shortly of the lyve
They wisshed that they were. With that cam Geffrey blyve,
Passing hem towardes, and began to smyle.
   Beryn axed Geffrey where he had be al the while:
"Have mercy oppon us, and help us as thowe highte!"
   "I woll help yew right wele thurh grace of Goddes myghte,
And I can tell yew tyding of hir governaunce.
They stond in altercacioune and stryff, in poynt to praunce,
To depart yeur goodes, and leveth verryly
That it were impossibill yewe to remedy.
But hir highe pryde and hir presumpcioune
Shal be, yit or eve, hir confusioune,
And to make amendes ech man for his pleynt.
Let se, therfor, yeur good avise howe they myght be ateynt."
   The Romeyns stode still, as who had shore hir hed.
   "In feith," quod Beryn, "we con no manere rede,
But in God and yewe we submit us all,
Body, lyffe and goodes, to stond or to fall,
And never for to travers o word that thow seyst.
Help us, good Geffrey, as wele as thow maist!"
   "Depardeux," quod Geffrey, "and I wol do me peyn
To help yewe, as my connyng wol strech and ateyn."
   The Romeyns went to barr, and Geffrey al tofore
With a nyce contenaunce, bare-fote and totore,
Pleyng with a yerd he bare in his honde
And was ever wistlyng att every pase comand.
The Steward and the burgeyses had game inowghe
Of Geffreyes nyce comyng, and hertlich lowghe,
And eche man seyd, "Gilhochet, com nere.
Thowe art ryght welcom, for thowe makest us chere."
   "The same welcom," quod Geffrey, "that ye wol us,
Fall oppon yeur hedes, I prey to God - and wers!"
   They held hym for a verry fole, but he held hem wel more,
And so he made hem in breff tyme, although they were nat shore.
   "Stynteth nowe," quod Geffrey, "and let make pese.
Of myrthes and of japes, tyme is now to cese
And speke of other mater that we have to doon.
For and we hewe amys eny maner spone,
We knowe wele in certeyn what pardon we shull have;
The more is our nede us to defend and save.
My master hath bee at counsell and ful avised is
That I shall have the wordes, speke I wele or mys.
Wherfor, Sir Steward, and ye burgeyses all,
Sitteth upryght and wrieth nat for auntres that may fall.
For and ye deme untrewly or do us eny wrong,
Ye shull be refourmed, be ye never so strong,
Of every poynt and injury, and that in grete hast,
For he is nat unknowe to us that may yewe chast.
Hold forthe the right wey and by no side lanes!
And as towching the first pleyntyfe, Syrophanes,
That pleyde with my master yisterday atte ches
And made a certen covenaunte, who that had the wers
In the last game (althoughe I were nat there)
Shuld do the toders bidding, whatsoever it were,
Or drynk al the water that salt were in the see;
Thus I trowe, Sir Steward, ye woll record the plé,
And yf I have i-myssed in letter or in word
The lawe, wol I be rewled after yeur record.
For we be ful avised in this wise to answer."
   Evander the Steward and al men that were there
Had mervill much of Geffrey that spak so redely,
Whose wordes thertofor semed al foly,
And were astonyed cleen and gan for to drede.
And every man til other lened with his hede
And seyd, "He reported the tale right formally.
He was no fool in certen, but wise, ware and scly,
For he hath but i-japed us and scorned heretofore,
And we have hold hym a fole, but we be wel more!"
   Thus they stodied on Geffrey and laughed tho right naught.
When Geffrey had aspied they were in such thought
And hir hertes trobeled, pensyff and anoyed,
Hym list to dryv in bet the nayll til they were fully cloyed.
   "Soveren sirs," he seyd, "sith that it so is
That in reportyng of our plé ye fynd nothing amys,
As preveth wele yeur scilence, eke ye withseyeth not
O word of our tale, but fynde it clene without spot,
Then to our answer I prey yewe take hede,
For we wol sey al the trowth, right as it is in dede.
For this is soth and certeyn, it may nat be withseyd,
That Beryn that here stondeth was thus overpleid
In the last game when wager was opon.
But that was his sufferaunce, as ye shul here anoon,
For in al this ceté there nys no maner man
Can pley better atte ches then my master can;
Ne bet then I, thoughe I it sey, cannat half so much.
Nowe how he lost it by his will, the cause I wol teche,
For ye went - and ween - that ye had hym engyned,
But ye shul fele in every veyn that ye be undermyned
And i-brought at ground and eke overmused.
And agenst the first that Beryn is acused,
Hereth nowe entyntyflich. When we were on the see,
Such a tempest on us fill that noon myght other se.
Of thunder, wynd and lightenyng, and stormes there among,
Fiftene dayes duryng, the tempest was so strong
That ech man til other began hym for to shryve,
And made hir avowes yf they myghte have the lyve -
Som to seche the Sepulker, and som to other plase
To sech holy seyntes for help and for grace,
Som to fast and do penaunce, and som do almes-dede -
Tyl atte last, as God wold, a voise to us seyde
In our most turment, and desperate of mynde,
That yf we wold be saved, my master must hym bynde
By feith and eke by vowe, when he cam to londe,
To drynke al the salt water within the se-stronde
Without drynkyng any sope of the fressh water;
And taught hym al the sotilté, how and in what manere
That he shuld wirch by engyne and by a sotill charm
To drynk al the salt water and have hymselff no harm,
But stop the fressh ryvers by every cost-side,
That they enter nat in the se thurh the world wyde.
The voyse we herd, but naught we sawe, so were our wittes raved.
For this was the end fynally, yf we lust be saved.
Wherfor my master Beryn, when he cam to this port,
To his avowe and promys he made his first resort,
Ere that he wold bergeyn any marchandise.
And right so doth these marchandes in the same wise
That maken hir avowes in saving of hir lyves;
They completen hir pilgremages or they se hir wyves.
So mowe ye understond that my master Beryn
Of fre will was i-mated, as he that was a pilgrym,
And myght nat perfourm by many thowsand part
His avowe and his hest without right sotil art,
Without help and strength of many mennes myghte.
Sir Steward and Sir Burgeyse, yf we shul have righte,
Syrophanes must do cost and aventure
To stopp al the fressh ryvers into the see that enter.
For Beryn is redy in al thing hym to quyte,
So ho be in defaute must pay for the wite.
Sith ye been wise all, what nede is much clater?
There was no covenaunte hem betwen to drynk fressh water."
   When Syrophanes had i-herd al Geffreyes tale,
He stode al abasshed with colour wan and pale,
And loked oppon the Steward with a rewful chere
And on other frendshipp and neyghbours he had there,
And preyd hem of counsell the answere to reply.
   "These Romeyns," quod the Steward, "been wonder scly,
And eke right ynmagytyff and of sotill art,
That I am in grete dowte howe ye shull depart
Without harm in oon side. Our lawes - wel thowe wost -
Is to pay damages and eke also the cost
Of every party plentyff that failleth in his pleynt.
Let hym go quyte, I counsell, yf it may so be queynt."
   "I merveill," quod Syrophanes, "of hir sotilté,
But sith that it so stondeth and may noon other be,
I do woll by counsell!" - and graunted Beryn quyte.
   But Geffrey thought another, and without respite:
"Sirs," he seyd, "we weteth wele that ye wol do us righte.
And so ye must nedes, and so ye have us highte.
And therfor, Sir Steward, ye occupy our plase,
And ye knowe wele what law woll in this case.
My master is redy to perfourm his avowe."
   "Geffrey," quod the Steward, "I cannat wete howe
To stop all the fressh water were possibilité."
   "Yis, in soth," quod Geffrey, "who had of gold plenté
As man coude wissh, and it myght wel be do.
But that is nat our defaute he hath no tresour to.
Let hym go to in hast, or fynd us suerté
To make amendes to Beryn for his iniquité:
Wrong and harm and trespas and undewe vexacioun,
Lost of sale of marchandise, disese and tribulacioun,
That we have sustened thurh his iniquité.
What vayleth it to tary us? For though ye sotil pry,
We shull have reson, where ye woll or no.
So wol we that ye knowe what that we wol do:
In certen, ful avised, to Isope for to pase
And declare every poynt, the more and eke the lase,
That of yeur opyn errours hath pleyn correccioune,
And ageyns his jugement is noon proteccioune.
He is yeur lord riall, and soveren jugg and lele,
That and ye work in eny poynt, to hym lieth our apele."
   So when the Steward had i-herd, and the burgeyses all,
Howe Geffrey had i-stered that went so nyghe the gall,
What for shame and drede of more harm and repreff,
They made Syrophanes - weer hym looth or leffe -
To take Beryn gage and plegg fynd also,
To byde the ward and jugement of that he had mysdo.
   "Nowe ferthermore," quod Geffrey, "sith that it so is
That of the first pleyntyff we have sikernes,
Nowe to the marchant we must nedes answere,
That bargayned with Beryn al that his shippes bere,
In covenaunte that he shuld his shippes fill ageyn
Of other marchandise that he tofore had seyn
In Hanybaldes plase, howses too or thre,
Ful of marchandise as they myght be.
Let us pas thider yf enything be there
At our lust and likeing, as they accorded were."
   "I graunt wele," quod Hanybald; "thow axest but righte."
   Up arose these burgeyses: "Thowe axest but righte."
   The Steward and his comperes entred first the house
And sawe nothing within, strawe ne leffe ne mowse,
Save tymber and the tyle-stones and the walles white.
   "I trowe," quod the Steward, "the wynnyng woll be but lite
That Beryn wol nowe gete in Hanybaldes pleynte,
For I can se noon other but he wol be atteynt!" -
And cleped hem in, echone, and went out hymselve.
   As soon as they were entred, they sawe no maner selve
For sores of hir hert, but as tofore is seyd,
The house was cleen i-swept. Then Geffrey feir they preyde
To help yf he coude. - "Let me aloon," quod he;
"Yit shull they have the wors, as sotill as they bee!"
   Evander the Steward in the menewhile
Spak to the burgeyse and began to smyle:
"Thoughe Syrophanes be i-hold these Romeyns for to curs,
Yit I trow that Hanybald woll put hem to the wers.
For I am suyr and certeyn within they shul nat fynde."
   "What sey ye by my pleynt, sirs?" quod the Blynd.
"For I make a vowe I wol never cese,
Tyl Syrophanes have of Beryn a pleyn relese
And to make hym quyte of his submyssioune;
Els woll I have ne peté of his contricioune
But folow hym also fersly as I can or may,
Tyl I have his eyen both to away."
   "Now in feith," quod Macaign, "and I wol have his lyffe.
For thoughe he scape yewe all, with me wol he nat stryffe,
But be right feyn in hert al his good forsake,
For to scape with his lyff and to me it take."
   Beryn and his feleshipp were within the house,
And speken of hir answer and made but litill rouse,
But ever preyd Geffrey to help yf he coude ought.
   "I woll nat faill," quod Geffrey, and was tofore bethought
Of too boterflies as white as eny snowe.
He lete hem flee within the house, that after on the wowe
They cleved wonder fast, as hir kynde woll,
After they had flowe to rest another pull.
   When Geffrey sawe the boterflies cleving on the wall,
The Steward and the Burgeyse in he gan call:
"Lo, sirs!" he seyde, "whosoever repent,
We have chose marchandise most to our talent,
That we fynd herein. Behold, Sir Hanyball,
The yonder botterflyes that cleveth on the wall.
Of such ye must fill our shippes al fyve!
Pluk up thy hert, Beryn, for thow must nedes thryve,
For when we out of Rome in marchant-fare went,
To purchase butterflyes was our most entent.
Yit woll I tell the cause especial and why:
There is a leche in Rome that hath i-made a cry,
To make an oyntement to cure al tho been blynde
And all maner infirmytees that groweth in mankynde.
The day is short, the work is long - Sir Hanyball, ye mut hy!"
   When Hanybald herd this tale, he seyd pryvely
In counsell to the Steward: "In soth I have the wors,
For I am siker by this pleynt that I shal litil purs."
   "So me semeth," quod the Steward, "for in the world rounde
So many boterflyes wold nat be founde,
I trowe, o ship to charge. Wherfor me thinketh best,
Lete hym have his good ageyn, and be in pese and rest.
And yit it is an aunter and thowe scape so,
Thy covenaunt to relese without more ado."
   The burgeyses, everichon that were of that ceté,
Were anoyed sore when they herd of this plee.
Geffrey with his wisdom held hem hard and streyte
That they were accombred in hir own disceyte.
   When Hanybald with his frendes had spoke of this mater,
They drowe hem toward Beryn and seid in this maner:
"Oonly for boterflyes ye com fro yeur contrey;
And we yewe tell, in sikernes and opon our fey,
That so many boterflyes we shul never gete.
Wherfor we be avised otherwise to trete:
That Hanybald shall relese his covenaunt that is maked,
And delyver the good ageyn that from yewe was ransaked,
And vexe yewe no more, but let yew go in pese."
   "Nay, forsoth," quod Geffrey; `ùs nedeth no relese!
Ye shull hold our covenaunt and we shul yeurs also.
For we shull have reson, where ye wol or no.
Whils Isope is alyve, I am nothing aferd,
For I can wipe al this plé cleen from yeur berd,
And ye blench ones out of the hy wey."
   They profered hym plegg and gage without more deley.
   "Now ferthermore," quod Geffrey, `ùs ought to procede.
For to the Blynd Mannes poynt we must answer nede,
That for to tel trowth, he lyveth al to long.
For his own fawte and his own wrong
On Beryn he hath surmysed, as preveth by his plé,
And that ye shull opynlich knowe wele and se.
For as I understod hym, he seyd that fele yeres
Beryn, that here stondeth, and he were pertyneres
Of wynnyng and of lesyng, as men it use and doth,
And that they chaunged eyen - and yit this is sothe.
But the cause of chaunging yit is to yewe onknow;
Wherfor I wol declare it both to highe and lowe.
In that same tyme that this burgeyse blynde
And my master Beryn, as fast as feith myght bynde,
Were marchaundes in comyn of al that they myght wyn,
Saff of lyffe and lym and of dedely synne,
There fill in tho marches of al thing such a derth
That joy, comfort and solas, and al maner myrth
Was exiled cleen, saff oonly molestacioune
That abood contenuell, and also dispiracioune.
So when that the pepill were in most myscheff,
God that is above, that al thing doth releve,
Sent hem such plenté of mony, fruyte and corn,
Wich turned al to joy hir mournyng al toforn.
Then gaff they hem to myrth, revel, pley and song,
And thanked God above evermore among
Of hir relevacioun from woo into gladnes.
For after sour, when swete is com, it is a plesant mes.
So in the meenwhile of this prosperité,
There cam such a pleyer into the same contré
That never theretofore was seyn such another,
That wele was the creature that born was of his moder
That myght se the mirthes of this jogelour.
For of the world wyde tho dayes he bare the floure.
For there nas man ne womman in that regioune
That set of hymselff the store of a boton
Yf he had nat sey his myrthes and his game.
So oppon a tyme, this pleyer did proclame
That all maner of pepill his pleyes wold se
Shuld com oppon a certen day to the gret ceté.
Then among other my master here, Beryn,
And this same Blynd that pledeth now with hym
Made a certen covenaunt, that they wold see
The mervelles of this pleyer and his sotilté.
So what for hete of somer, age and febilnes,
And eke also the long way, this Blynd for werynes
Fil flat adown to the erth, o foot ne myght ne go.
Wherfor my master Beryn in hert was ful woo,
And seyd, `My frend, how nowe? Mowe ye no ferther pas?'
`No,' he seyd, `by Hym that first made mas!
And yit I had lever, as God my soule save,
Se these wonder pleyes then al the good I have.'
`I cannat els,' quod Beryn, `but yf it may nat be,
But that ye and I mut retourn aye
Affter ye be refresshed of yeur werynes.
For to leve yewe in this plyte, it were no gentilnes.'
Then seyd this Blynd, `I am avised bet.
Beryn, ye shull wend thider without eny let,
And have myne eyen with yewe that they the pley mowe se,
And I woll have yeurs tyll ye com aye.'
Thus was hir covenaunt made, as I to yewe report,
For ese of this Blynd and most for his comfort.
But woteth wele, the hole science of al surgery
Was uned or the chaunge was made of both eye,
With many sotill enchauntours and eke nygramancers,
That sent were for the nones, mastres and scoleres.
So when al was complete, my master went his way
With this mannes eyen and sawe al the pley,
And hastly retourned into that plase aye,
And fond this Blynd seching on hondes and on kne,
Grasping al aboute to fynd that he had lore:
Beryn his both eyen that he had tofore!
But as sone as Beryn had pleyn knowleche
That his eyen were i-lost, unneth he myght areche
O word for pure anguyssh that he toke sodenly.
And from that day till nowghe, ne myght he never spy
This man in no plase there lawe was i-meved;
But nowe in his presence the soth is ful i-preved,
That he shall make amendes or he hens pas,
Righte as the lawe wol deme, ether more or les.
For my mastres eyen were better and more clere
Then these that he hath nowe, to se both fer and nere.
So wold he have his own, that proper were of kynde,
For he is ever redy to take to the Blynd
The eyen that he had of hym, as covenaunt was,
So he woll do the same. Nowe, soverens, in this cas
Ye mut take hede for to deme righte,
For it were no reson my master shuld lese his sighte
For his trew hert and his gentilnes."
   "Beryn," quod the Blynd tho, "I woll thee relese,
My quarell and my cause, and fal fro my pleynt."
   "Thow mut nede," quod Geffrey, "for thow art atteynt.
So mut thow profer gage, and borowes fynd also,
For to make amendes, as other have i-do.
Sir Steward, do us lawe, sith we desire but righte.
As we been pese-marchandes, us longeth nat to fighte,
But pleyn us to the lawe yf so we be agreved."
   Anoon oppon that Geffrey these wordes had i-meved,
The Blynd Man fond borowes for al his maletalent,
And were i-entred in the court to byde the jugement.
For thoughe that he blynd were, yit had he good plenté -
And more wold have wonne thurh his iniquité!
   "Nowe hereth, sirs," quod Geffrey, "thre pleyntyfs been assured.
And as anenst the ferth, this Womman hath arered
That pleyneth her on Beryn and seyeth she is his wyff,
And that she hath many a day led peynous lyff
And much sorowe endured, his child to sustene;
And al is soth and trewe. Nowe rightfullich to deme
Whether of hem both shal other obey,
And folow wil and lustes, Sir Steward, ye mut sey."
   And therewith Geffrey loked asyde on this Woman,
Howe she chaunged colours, pale and eke wan.
   "Al for nought!" quod Geffrey; "for ye mut with us go,
And endur with yeur husbond both wele and woo!" -
And wold have take hir by the hond, but she awey did breyde,
And with a grete sighing these wordes she seyd,
That ageyns Beryn she wold plede no more,
But gaged with too borowes, as other had do tofore.
   The Steward sat as still as who had shore his hede,
And specially the pleyntifs were in much drede.
Geffrey set his wordes in such manere wise
That wele they wist they myght nat scape in no wise,
Without los of goodes for damage and for cost.
For such were hir lawes where pleyntes were i-lost.
   Geffrey had ful perseyte of hir encomberment,
And eke he was in certen that the jugement
Shuld pas with his master; wherfor he anoon:
"Soveren sirs," he seyd, "yit must we ferther goon,
And answere to this Macaign that seith the knyff is his
That found was on Beryn. Thereof he seith nat amys.
And for more pryvy, he seith in this manere
That here stondeth present the same cotelere
That the knyffe made; and the precious stones thre
Within the hafft been couched that in Christyanyté,
Thoughe men wold of purpose make serch and siche,
Men shuld nat fynd in al thing a knyff that were it lich.
And more opyn pryve than mannes own knowlech,
Men of lawe ne clerkes con nat tell ne teche.
Now sith we be in this manere thus ferforth ago,
Then were spedful for to knowe howe Beryn cam first tho
To have possessioune of the knyff that Macaign seith is his.
To yewe unknowe, I shall enfourm the trowth as it is.
Nowe seven yeer i-passed oppon a Tuesday
In the Passion Woke, when men leven pley
And use more devosioune, fastyng and preyer
Then in other tyme or seson of the yeer,
This Beryns fader erlich wold arise
And barefote go to chirch to Goddes service,
And lay hymselff aloon from his own wyff
In reverence of the tyme and mending of his lyff.
So on the same Tuesday that I tofore nempt,
This Beryn rose and rayd hym and to the chirch went,
And merveled in his hert his fader was nat there,
And homward went ageyn with drede and eke fere.
Into his faders chamber sodenlich he raked,
And fond hym ligg stan-dede oppon the strawe, al naked,
And the clothes haled from the bed away.
`Out! Alas,' quod Beryn, `that ever I sawe this day!'
The meyné herd the noyse, how Beryn cried `Allas!'
And cam into the chamber, al that therein was,
But the dole and the sorowe and anguyssh that was there,
It vayleth nat at this tyme to declare it here.
But Beryn had most of all, have ye no doute.
And anoon they serched the body al aboute,
And fond this same knyff, the poynt right at his hert
Of Beryns fader, whose teres gan outstert
When he drowgh out the knyff of his faders wound.
Then stan-dede I sawe hym fal doun to the ground
In sighte of the most part that beth with hym nowe here."
   And they affermed it for sothe, as Geffrey did hem lere.
   "And yit had I never suspecioune from that day til nowth
Who did that cursed dede, till Macaign with his mowth
Afore yewe hath knowleched that the knyff is his.
So mut he nedes answer for his deth, iwis."
   When Macaign had i-herd al Geffreyes tale,
He rose of bench sodynly with colour wan and pale,
And seyd onto Beryn, "Sir, ageyn thee
I woll plete no more, for it were gret peté
To comber yewe with accions, that beth of nobill kynde."
   "Graunte mercy, sir," quod Geffrey, "but yit ye shull fynde
Borowes or ye pas, amendes for to make
For our undewe vexacioun, and gage also us take
In signe of submissioun for yeur injury,
As lawe woll and reson. For we woll utterly
Procede tyll we have jugement finall.
And therfor, Sir Steward, what that ever fall,
Delay us no lenger, but gyve us jugement.
For tristeth ye noon other, but we be fullich bent
To Isope for to wend and in his highe presence
Reherce all our plees and have his sentence.
Then shul ye make fynes and highlich be agreved."
   And as sone as the Steward herd these wordes meved,
"Reson, ryghte and lawe," seyd the Steward tho,
"Ye mut nedes have, where I woll or no,
And to preve my full will or we ferther goon."
   Quiklich he comaunded, and spared never oon,
Twenty-four burgeyses in lawe best i-lered,
Rehersyng hem the plees and how Geffrey answered,
And on lyffe and lym and forfetur of good -
And as they wold nat lese the ball within hir hood -
To drawe apart togider and by hir al assent,
Spare no man on lyve to gyve trewe jugement.
And when these twenty-four burgeyses had i-herd
The charge of the Steward, right sore they were aferd
To lese hir own lyves, but they demed trowth.
And eke of hir neyghbours they had grete rowth,
For they perseyved clerelich in the plé thurhoute
Hir frendes had the wors side - therof they had no doute!
   "And yff we deme trewly, they wol be sore anoyed;
Yit it is better then we be shamed and distroyed."
   And anoon they were accorded, and seyd with Beryn,
And demed every pleyntyff to make a grete fyne
With Beryn, and hym submyt hoolich to his grace -
Body, good and catell - for wrong and hir trespase,
So ferforth till atte last it was so boute i-bore
That Beryn had the dobill good that he had tofore.
And with joy and myrth, with al his company,
He droughe hym to his shippesward with song and melody.
   The Steward and the Burgeyse from the court bent
Into hir own places, and ever as they went,
They talked of the Romeyns, howe sotil they were,
To aray hym like a fole that for hem shuld answer.
   "What vayleth it," quod Hanybald, "to anger or to curs?
And yit I am in certen I shall fare the wers
All the dayes of my lyff, for this dayes pleding;
And so shall al the remnaunt, and hir hondes wryng,
Both Syrophanes and the Blynd, the Womman and Macaign,
And be bet avised er they efftsones pleyn;
And all other persones within this ceté
Mell the les with Romeyns whils they here be.
For such another fole was never yit i-born,
For he did naught elles but ever with us scorn,
Tyl he had us caught even by the shyn
With his sotill wittes in our own gren."
   Nowe woll I retourn to Beryn ageyn,
That of his grete luker in hert was righte feyn,
And so was all his meyné, as hem oughte wele,
That they were so delyvered from turment like to hell,
And graciusly releved out of hir grete myscheff,
And i-set above in comforte and boncheff.
   "Now in soth," quod Beryn, "it may nat be denyed,
Nad Geffrey and his wit be, we had be distroyed.
I-thanked be almyghty God omnipotent
That for our consolacioune Geffrey to us sent!
And in protest opynly here among yewe all,
Halff my good whils that I lyve, whatever me befall,
I graunt it here to Geffrey to gyve or to sell,
And never to part from me, yf it were his will,
And fare as wele as I, amorowe and eke on eve,
And never for man on lyve his company for to leve."
   "Graunt mercy, sir," quod Geffrey; "yeur profer is feir and grete.
But I desir no more but as ye me behete -
To bryng me at Rome - for this is covenaunte."
   "It shall be do," quod Beryn, "and al the remnaunte."
   "Depardeux," quod Geffrey, "therof we shull wele do!"
   He rayed hym otherwise, and without wordes mo
They went to the dyner, the hole company,
With pipes and with trompes and other melody.
   And in the myddes of hir mete, gentil wommen fyve,
Maydyns fressh atired as myght be on lyve,
Com from the Duke Isope, lord of that regioune,
Everich with a present and that of grete renown.
The first bare a cup of gold and of asure fyne,
So corouse and so nobill that I cannat devyne.
The second brought a swerd i-shethed with seynture,
I-freted all with pereles, orient and pure.
The third had a mantell of lusty fressh coloure,
The utter part of purpill, i-furred with pelour.
The ferth a cloth of gold, a worthy and a riche,
That never man tofore sawe cloth it liche.
The fifft bare a palme that stode tofore the deyse
In tokyn and of signe of trowth and pese,
For that was the custom thurh al the contray.
The message was the lever and more plesant to pay:
The cup was uncovered, the swerd was out i-brayed,
The mantell was unfold, the cloth along aleyded.
They kneled adown eche oon, right tofore Beryn.
   The first did the message that taught was wel afyne:
"Isope," she seyd, "Sir Beryn, that is our lord riall,
And greteth yewe and sendeth yewe these presentes all,
And joy hath of yeur wisdom and of yeur governaunce,
And preyd yewe to com and have with hym plesaunce
Tomorowe, and se his palyse and to sport yewe there,
Ye and all yeur company." Beryn made noon answer,
But sat still and beheld the wommen and the sondes.
And afterward avisely the swerd first he hondes,
And comaunded therewithall the wymmen wassh and sitt
And pryvelich charged officers that with al hir witt
To serve hem of the best and make hem hertly chere,
Resseyving al the presentes in worshipfull manere.
   I cannat wele expres the joy that they had,
But I suppose tofore that day that they were nat so glad
That they were so ascaped Fortune and myscheff;
And thonked God above, that al thing doth releff.
For after mysty cloudes, there cometh a clere sonne,
So after bale cometh bote, whoso byde conne.
The joy and nobley that they had whils they were at mete,
It vayleth nat at this tyme thereof long to trete.
But Geffrey sat with Beryn, as he had served wele.
Hir hedes they leyd togider and begon to tell
In what maner the wymmen shuld be answered.
Geffrey ever avised Beryn thereof he lered,
And of other thinges, howe he hym shuld govern.
Beryn savered wele thereon, and fast he gan to lern.
   When all were up, the wymmen cam to take hir leve.
Beryn, as sat hym wele of blode, hem toward gan releve
And preyd hem hertly hym to recomende:
`ùnto the worthy lordshipp of Isope, that yewe sende
To me that am unworthy, save of his grete nobley;
And thank hym of his gyfftes, as ye can best, and sey
Tomorow I woll be redy his hest to fulfill.
With this I have save-condit I may com hym till,
For me and al my feleshipp saff to com and go,
Trustyng in his discrecioune that thoughe I ax so,
He wol nat be displesed. For in my contray
It hath ever be the custom, and is into this day,
That yf a lord riall desireth for to see
Eny maner persone that is of las degré,
Ere he approche his presence, he woll have in his honde
A saff-condit enseled, or els som other bonde
That he may com and pas without disturbaunce.
Thurhoute all our marches, it is the observaunce."
   Thes wymmen toke hir leve without wordes mo,
Repeyring onto Isope, and al as it was do,
They rehersed redely and fayled never a word
To Isope with his baronage, there he sat at his borde,
Talkyng fast of Romayns and of hir highe prudence,
That in so many daungers made so wise defence.
But as sone as Isope had pleynlich i-herd
Of Beryns governaunce, that first sesed the swerd
Afore all other presentes, he demed in his mynde
That Beryn was i-com of som nobill kynde.
   The nyght was past, the morowe cam, Isope had nat forgete;
He charged barons twelff with Beryn for to mete,
To cond him saff, and his meyné - and al performed was.
   Thre dayes there they sported hym in myrth and solas,
That thurh the wise instruccioune of Geffrey nyght and day,
Beryn plesed Isope with wordes al to pay,
And had hym so in port and in governaunce
Of all honest myrthes and witty daliaunce
That Isope cast his chere to Beryn so groundly
That atte last there was no man with Isope so pryvy.
Resorting to his shippes, comyng to and fro,
Thurh the wit of Geffrey, it fil so
That Isope coude no chere when Beryn was absent.
So Beryn must nedes ech day be after sent,
And chefe he was of counsell within the first yere -
Thurh the wit of Geffrey, that ech day did hym lere.
   This Isope had a doughter betwen hym and his wyffe,
That was as feir a creature as myght bere lyff,
Wise and eke bountevouse and benyng withall,
That heir shuld be after his day of his lordshippes all.
So shortly to conclude, the mariage was made
Betwene hir and Beryn, many a man to glade -
Saff the burgeyses of the town, of falshede that were rote.
But they were ever hold so lowe under foot
That they myghte nat regne, but atte last were fawe
To leve hir condicioune and hir fals lawe.
Beryn and Geffrey made hem so tame
That they amended ech day and gate a better name.
   Thus Geffrey made Beryn his enmyes to overcom,
And brought hym to worshipp thurh his wisdom.
Now God us graunt grace to fynde such a frende
When we have nede - and thus I make an ende.
Nomen Autoris presentis Cronica Rome
Et translatoris Filius ecclesie Thome
lofty meaning
them; put no stock in
Nor; (see note)
Applied; tricks
company; gapes
weather; them
In keeping with my theme
their inn; mid-morning
(see note)
Their; (see note)
ruler; less
Ordered; lunch; before
(see note)
Withdrawing; secretly
innkeeper; shouted at; one
 (see note)
Embraced; waist; expression
hauled; taproom; where
since; lover
feet; (see note)
livelier; leap
started; apron
eyes; poured
sweetheart; near
 (see note)
sad expression
Bless us; neck
enough; lose
(see note)
unless; lessened
otherwise; know, if
recovery; health
feel pain
acute distress
long dead; fresh
sorrowful; died
 (see note)
root; (see note)
know; remedy
hurried; fetched; pie
guess; don't know
by them
called; mother; (see note)
do credit to; (see note)
furtively opened; eyelids
face amorously direct
croon; sing
(see note)
await; vain
sad looks
say; trick
Burned; dreads fire; (see note)
who bore
do away
heavens cause; match
well-born; practice; habit
done; resist
Nature; swear
groat (coin)
would not; soon leave
oath; less
excessive; since
unfaithful; sooner
wish; more often; (see note)
explained completely; (see note)
could; interpret; dream
mass was said
rudely ordered
dream; (see note)
often; dreams
been; eager
as wife
heartily; life
sum; does it please you?
returned again
particular event
nevertheless; (see note)
allow; want to
peel; (see note)
Garlic; nearly
look; falser; talk
gave; repaid; efforts
each one's; intention
hear; opportunity
To bring up
social rank; time
go; (see note)
at the; social custom
who; proper form
clergymen; companion (Plowman)
sprinkler; (see note)
wetted all their heads
Every; ranks
acted winsomely; (see note)
sprinkle; cloak; wouldn't
companions; (see note)
low-born fools; (see note)
Placed; goats
Looked intently; peered; stained-glass
Posing as; heraldic arms; identify
interpreted; straight
are wrong
point on top
push; enemy; pierce
dazed; (see note)
does so in public
boisterously; oggling
devoutly; rosaries
manner; knew how
then; mouth
then; reached; (see note)
then; went to lunch
souvenir tokens; (see note)
So that neighbors
purchased with his money
Which; secretly; pockets
them; knew
Except; saw; Listen
Give half; whispering in
Don't you see
lowers; greedy eye
trick; knows
(see note)
me too; repay; fee
on display; (see note)
wouldn't; garment; sorrow
their badges
then; walk
washed; seat
do; meal
silence; waist-sash; (see note)
wise men; (see note)
veins; full
stir; foods
amusements; motivated
also; gloomy
Telling; jolliness
listened carefully
agreement; (see note)
whole; shortening; journey
agreed; rudder
(see note)
be necessary; ask
recollection; good manners
once again
If; your agreement
pertaining to; satisfied
put; (see note)
extra clothes
Grouped; pleasures
accustomed to
company; (see note)
Describing attentively
pointed out; peril; risk
crossbow; gun
fortifications; won
against that
exhaustively; meant
(see note)
struggle; accomplished
feature; Nature
judge; composure
Oxford; unto; (see note)
education; innocent
accuse; reproof
avoid; (see note)
Otherwise; unaware
professions; social rank
perfect; foolish
intelligence; learning
preserves reputation
begged; together; (see note)
acquaintance; these
implored; (see note)
attire; endowment; (see note)
test; welcome
(see note)
know; for certain
Gascon (red); Rhine (white)
desire; (see note)
afterwards; innkeeper's; rest
supper; nothing
nurtured; courteous; (see note)
plan; depart
soup; medicine
paths; trimmed; fenced; made
sage; hyssop enclosed; staked
side by side newly cultivated
visitors; hostelry; entertaining
toward town; move
company; left
Except; who secretly
Crept; taproom
lodged; whole
chance; astrological forces
Than; before
i.e., had difficulty; (see note)
knew; part
stepped; taproom
lying full-length; sleepy
[She] peered slyly
as if; sleeping
[she] started
since; surrender
(see note)
return so soon; (see note)
times; instruction
poorly advised; frequently
Since; prime concern
on account of
conjure; necromancy
Who (Kit); advance
dishonored; undone
Surely I believe
at the
asked; lie
overly subtle
enough surely
Therefore; follow my advice
ajar; Push
careful; them upstairs
Don't worry; know
all as if; neck
[to] curry favor; (see note)
late supper; two
hot toddy
i.e., where he'd been; (see note)
certainly; desire
take pains
their lodgings
speck of rashness
speak; advice
in reply; decide
know; unless I lack
clergymen; (see note)
master of ceremonies
games; entertainment
unless; cut a loaf
sing a different tune; (see note)
before; hear soon
crescent (i.e., unlucky phase)
felt satisfied
one; their; presented
since; least
equally; to avert ill-humor
requires; somewhat narrow
estates; seating at table
Therefore; in return; company
their; once
quickly; dined
Those; regular habits; sober
But the; Cook; drank; (see note)
Twice; still of the night
them; at once; (see note)
Accompany; duet; yodeling
So that; hear; tune
called; Summoner, who
stood; hollering; stop
record-keeping; grew; angry
group; (see note)
Except; spotted; nook
lover; innkeeper
hot toddy
all together; bit
stamped than minted; (see note)
i.e., cheat him
If; mind
know; lie; whether
determine; be present
losing; privilege
sociability; entertainment
against their
Judge; uncouth
i.e., deceive them
seem truth
innkeeper; bedroom
wooing; payment
as certain; garment; (see note)
side by side
i.e., beat him
you say; taste
if; way
i.e., have trouble
If; rash; guest
be made a stink; (see note)
nasty; treated
honor; health
stay awake
i.e., time it takes to go a mile
passion to quench
immediately; cool; ardor
disrobe; feat is done; (see note)
nearly 9:00 p.m.; (see note)
(see note)
drew; to the door; listen
(see note)
believed; near; (see note)
dog-like; whined
Like; manner
i.e., I am tricked
toddy; ordered; guess
help; a one
stocks; make bail
acted as if she were
heart-ache; sweat
whoever; passion
Therefore; insane rage
true; jealousy
(see note)
difficulty; just as
proved; two
knocked; cease
misfortune; outcome
hold back
treacherous; tear
[he] called; more than
Which; tell; decency; (see note)
substance; rank
chided enough
asked for; spitefully; rough; (see note)
thief; the other; (see note)
salesmen; their
two more; reckon
Reaching; breadth
sometimes ready enough
quickly; investigate
hurried; fast
them; well
Hush; careful; (see note)
lucky break; (see note)
Don't worry; contend
enough before; gone
two; one
so happens
tendency; (see note)
stirs; mad rage
have a better idea
two guests herein
Dined; fire
rooms; look
Since; hit
swiftly; nearly
act; seek; (see note)
Whoever; strike
watch out for
two; one
ladle; going
bolt out; two
But [he] spied
gristle (i.e., bridge)
week; nasal problem
eyes; early; morning
who; (see note)
swiftly; fell
stepped; cinder
cut in two; nearest sinew
pay for it; (see note)
don't know; then
if; repaid
if; treat
luck; whisper
withdrew; miss
secure; escape
If; eye; look
leave; plan
must necessarily
ran with blood
perforce lie; Cologne sword; (see note)
i.e., being tricked; (see note)
in full; woman's
hot toddy
(see note)
deceive; lodging
except to curse; lessen
heated exertion; air
nearly exhausted; knew
stairs; Welsh
In no way
them; clever device
monster; thigh; (see note)
bit; fiercely
approach; nor; (see note)
stayed away
healthy; to avert; skin
knew; remedy
growling; bite
Therefore; struggle
public inn
usually; each one
in the morning
Except; little; pack; (see note)
before; washed
bound; wounds; tippet
suffering; lust
innkeeper; search
Next day; peer; (see note)
cleverly; bed
amidst the group
soft; aching
kept to himself; avoid
depart; (see note)
cheerfully; peep; (see note)
inclined; (see note)
sweet; (see note)
(see note)
robin; (see note)
spins gracefully; (see note)
Bore; before; their
provides; (see note)
burgeon with
to quicken
prior agreement
For if; lots; (see note)
Perhaps; where
cranky; wide awake
half-drunk last night; croaked
(without breakfast?); jolly
roof; meet
enchanted; sound
discretion; drawing lots
Cross; then; (see note)
proper time
As an example; done; (see note)
fault; occasion
ignorance; (see note)
essential point, to the extent
[of an egg]
Once; days
honor; wealth
town nor city
heroic tales
five senses
Might; lifestyles
earthly; permanent
wealth; its supporters
ruined; degraded
(see note)
Remus; city; (see note)
brothers; two
i.e., other pilgrims; (see note)
closer in a group
Caesar; judgment
those who
(see note)
particularly; those
Twelve Peers; (see note)
good fortune
(see note)
Who [as]; maturer
fell by inheritance
certainly; (see note)
permanently; desire
called before
rather; slain
legal actions
i.e., bribes
(see note)
(see note)
fifth man's
Who; slay; dishonor
completely under control
(see note)
certainly; orbits; limits
it; cunning
speedily; subject
city; draped
wall-hangings; value
in brief; like
chambers; adorned; (see note)
at the; parentage
upbringing; education; ancestry
then; than
trash; wedded; zero
nearly complete
their; possess
elderly; steady aid; (see note)
beginning; wedlock
chief concern; delights
took smaller steps
fell; illness
who; began
expression; said
in no way fickle
Agatha, "the Good"
Just as; shall not lie
Drew nearer; nature
In advance of
double than
thrived; better
whatever; nurses; fetched
dearly; it (the baby)
limbs; figure; quickly
pampered; grief
wanted; look upon
been; [if] he; taught
later; whatever
wouldn't angrily; attack
(see note)
deed; inclination
wherever he knew
cease; said to him
complain; little
injuries; (see note)
gambling; esteem
risk of loss
befell; i.e., lost his shirt
over and over again
the cause [that]
every day
internalized; (see note)
Except that; (see note)
alive; going
One spoke [of the wheel]
fell; sickness
Before; reasonable
whom; chose
expression than
[who] can cover over
know; woe
despite the skill
Upon; burst
lifted; eyes
who; companion
ailing manner
approaches near
matters; cress-leaf; (see note)
mate than
shown; mate
spouse; take pity
Who; since
i.e., from a previous marriage; (see note)
Usually; i.e., stepmothers
Be kind
if you left; (see note)
i.e., unmarried
last rites
family; each one
ask whether; sorrow
away; (see note)
maid-servant earlier
seek; who
just as
mad; was befitting
unless; hurry fast
make haste
low-born; (see note)
vice-scolder; thrive
frighten; scare
tear apart
prevent; (see note)
(see note)
Were not; (see note)
I'd prefer
Than; lose; (see note)
 (see note)
roll all [that]
mad frenzy; hammered
did [strike]
spread [as news]
Lamented; except
interring; mass
weeks; before; bury
lead [coffin]
once; Lord's Prayer
extravagance; dice
Except where; i.e., supervision
grow branches; rot
desires to discipline; (see note)
before; strength
bend; pleases
shackle; wreath; hinge; (see note)
grow thicker; (see note)
hardly; bend; (see note)
sup; sleep
occupation; unless
wicked habits
wouldn't [succeed]
half-part; suffer from; (see note)
(see note)
heavenly circle (primum mobile)
wifeless; elapsed; (see note)
to whom; wedded
unmarried; desolate
(see note)
set forth; befall
in short; annoyance
equal; removed
their advice
delightful; beauty
Whom; whole-heartedly
creation; sun
beauty; (see note)
then living
then; correct
Then; quickly; (see note)
so forth; betrothed
what; promised to her
Who; was called; nor ease
Except; face
considered; infatuation
at risk
wasn't; alive; obsessed; (see note)
Than; stupefied
smitten; (see note)
understand; (see note)
plot; devise
against; scheme
(see note)
aloof; sad expression
less; (see note)
sore spot; (see note)
Yet; correct
work; nature
in no way
owed; more readily; believe
remedy; anything
behaved exactly
gave; lose
anywhere; chose
spoke; secret; (see note)
new; prepared
(see note)
good fortune
anything troubles you; (see note)
For if; performed
wheel [of Fortune]
happenstance; fate
cunning what
wholly; repeat
express; pierce
pitiful; woe
Than; struck
blubbered; shrill; distraught
hardly; except
refrain; opportunity; (see note)
yes; knows
to befall that
Unless; school
would prefer
never born
i.e., Beryn; gambling
times; truly; compassion
ripped to shreds
old [clothes]; lost
if; buried
if; livelihood
(see note)
Unless; folly
thank-you; words
not many [words]
be grateful to you
gambling; franc
who cares; torn apart; (see note)
If; behaves
in the morning; immediately
in vain
wheel [of Fortune]
toughened; (Beryn); contented
Have pity; physician
weaned; habits
vice; (see note)
backgammon; morris; dice; (see note)
believe you; cross
spirit let pass
Expect; social station
accustomed; come about
expect; know
quit; wild ways
during your lifetime
Damnation; whore; (see note)
destroyed your reason
Very; slut
gave; shove
real fury
accustomed previously
belly showed; backside
dishonor; (see note)
chatter; fully
exited silently
a joke
then; claw; (see note)
lot; bout
if; i.e., future events
isn't beating; nor
pear-tree is in bloom
paid no attention; (the sun)
approaches; You can tell; (see note)
Hardly; almost
Who; certainly
too sorely
struck; no
too soundly
[who] sees me holds
[as he went]
As soon as
then; suffer
(see note)
fell; stone-dead; swoon
his share; affirm; (see note)
spear; (see note)
stamped; tore; hair; (see note)
face; insane
torn sleeve
times; been
beast, since; guilty
foe; (see note)
(a man)
then; left
she (Fortune)
she; worse [fate]
blamed on
facetious; allow
blamed on; (see note)
make; again
because of
Since; value
take the troubled one
[ragged] attire
in full
try; to correct
[she]; secret
since; then
pavement before
Searching; corner, hours two
gamblers; where
found; each one
at the; moan
pitiful; hear
discreetly; peer
just as soon
in two
sad heart
(see note)
longer; (see note)
left; other
intercepted; (see note)
don't leave
education; decent
lifestyle; (see note)
torn apart; (see note)
once [it is] required
want to
before nightfall; bargain
Thank you
substance; royally
Believe; surely
fangs sharpen
Unless; comply
conduct yourself
perverse; wicked intent
scowl; ever-ready
i.e., plotting your death
inheritance; (see note)
renounce; with decks
let [us]; contract
pleased; came forth
social position
[he] rode
household; where
hurried; whisper
(see note)
[during] the time; mate
hugged; caressed
his belly; bow; (see note)
legacy, wherever
lint; picked
pledge; once before
duty; deceit
more meekly; (see note)
Ah; majesty
Craftily; manipulate
if [you] shall; inheritance
For if; merchandise
truth; nearly equal
one request
personal property
believe; intention
won't; fully
rather; not
Their; advice
parchment to use up
finally; agreement
social position
Laden; linen; wool
Concluded; contract; two
i.e., no secrecy
In front of
sealed; (see note)
intermediary's custody
Until; in possession
To whom
steadfast; trust in
outfitted; readied
took possession of
himself paid (pleased)
pilots; navigators; (see note)
unto Alexandria (Egypt)
(God) willed
weather to their liking
fog; see
  (see note)
loadstar; their
their moan
in front of; astern
burst forth; horribly
confessed; one another
wasn't; crew; haul; (see note)
strike sail; scale; (see note)
out of
lasted; next morning
Climb aloft
look for; (see note)
only by the grace
Climbed; crow's nest
each one
direct; near
(see note)
suspect war
isn't; plunder
legitimate; helmsman
at once unto the coast
as a company
auxiliary sail or two
Who knew
appearances; same
hear and see
consent; plan
succeed; work
treacherous; their
custom; crafty scheming
as if; ignorant
trick; wicked one
hear later
fell; deserving
was befitting; (see note)
equipped; adorned
running; horse's
end to end
on both two
observed; manciple's home; (see note)
devious; (see note)
friars; (see note)
divide; accomplices
alighted from; move
found; chess; (see note)
honest; who
anything; (see note)
accept what
knew; (Beryn's)
deceptions; treacherous
prepared his cushion
If; seek
strict; assuredly
other; mirth
pleasant; humble
seen; other
Yes; times
glad; obedient
know; pay; before
[he]; spoke
well-born; body
beast; tended
then purple wine
amazed by; unexpected
i.e., for sake of manners
householder; ready
i.e., the neighbor
often; frequently
territories; believe
i.e., Christ; dearly
i.e., the pageboy
[the page] told
foreign; (see note)
God bless
[you who] be
safety; attitude
sat; washed; plenty
prosperous; delicacy
ivory; pieces
polished; carved; azure
checkmate; less; (see note)
[it] was; trickery
happen otherwise
never; unless; try
waste words
sunk; stuck; mud
chess-pieces; [they] began
at the; in mid-board
i.e., Beryn; hear at once
I prefer
Pleasure; (see note)
Unless; other
good breeding; depart
unless I lie somewhat
shoot; arrow without a quill
But if; place; (see note)
security; pledged
other's; renege
immediately; pledged
wearing caps and head-gear
Knew; portion
chess-set; care
deliberation; move
within; two
i.e., had the upper hand
endure; far gone
whom; eventually
[he who] stands
unless; down [the wheel]
(see note)
[He] who; at the end
i.e., sets a trap
(see note)
ill-advised rushed in
law officers; (see note)
as if
one innocent; fare
escape; seldom seen
staff of authority
agreement; repeat
deep concentration
move; rook
sweated; serious condition
knew; repaid
whatever chesspiece
moved; eager
seized; sleeve; (see note)
avails; resist
whether; will
get ready
hear; excuse
on the chessboard
at the top of his voice; (see note)
akimbo; didn't miss a beat
Expect; defraud
quarrel, certainly
(see note)
to me ten times
Yes; otherwise
next time
Believe; less
now [that]
bickering; zigzagging; (see note)
surpassed; hear
(see note)
two; one
render; justice
Choose; please; blame
carelessly; (see note)
But if
security; (see note)
anchored; shore
(see note)
at once; story
since; other [way]
seize; rudder; (see note)
assure; faith
(see note)
Work; advice; (see note)
unloaded off; at the
(see note)
(see note)
bargain; two
Thanks; offer
[That]; (see note)
risk; trust
i.e., sealed the agreement
cargo; bore
loud; as if; cared nothing; (see note)
deviate; (see note)
where; injure
go hence
summoned; crew
woe; injury
entirely; suffering
advice; recommend
too; account
agreed unanimously
most direct; household
hear; fraud
to another
contract stipulates
Except for
[he] knew
insane man; bit
truly just
thrive; cargo thence
command; who
plotted; determined [what]
swift trip; prevent
impounded; cargo
advance; retreat
will; won't
[you] say; then; unstable
condition; confirm
where; justice
you are obliged
authority; extensive
If; resistance; destroy
no matter
see; better
hear; bondsmen
Might; senses
Where; opposes; accident
cleverness; courage
where; enemy
not a bit
fell; conclusion
his day [in court]; go
toward his ships
before; found
couple; whisper; (see note)
man's; a share
knew; profession
straight along; sweated
seized; garment-flap
nearer to him stepped; (see note)
spur [his horse]
escape; be dismayed
particularly because
grab; hesitation
plead; in reply
clear yourself [of blame]
life; good faith
unfaithful; [which] thou
partner; reckoned; (see note)
hear, before; bit of wisdom
common proverb
i.e., courthouse
mortal men
i.e., Christ
eyes; exchange
denies it
gave them; believed
If; arrested; favor
in custody; strain
leave until; eyes
(see note)
pleads; wary on all sides
mute; (see note)
good luck; arrested
If; misspoken
the defendant; ruined
civil-law experts
plaintiff; case
litigious; all [who]
deprive; possessions; guile
wasted his time
allegation; eyes
pay a fine
security; settlement
(see note)
i.e., legal counsel
advised [how]
what; charged
By God
Who; securely
depart; It; hasten; (see note)
often; (see note)
where; judgment
these two
densely crowded
on each; endeavor
sheer necessity
hear; craftily
great [with child]
his [son]
wardrobe, whether
to provide for
deserted; guess
provision for
Than; food
believe; more eager; work
nursing; knife; (see note)
(see note)
pity; (see note)
pledge; prove
mild manner; (see note)
pathetic; be horrified
part; falsehood
complained; grief
litigant; prove
at once; true
clever [people]
for [the sake of]
sheer authentic anguish
that who wouldn't if
trust; (see note)
believe; stands
in return
mishaps surround; side
don't know whither [to]; (see note)
destroy; (see note)
[I knew] what; plan
page; left
wished; been
dreaded; (see note)
wish; hear
pitifully; ruin
wheel; worse
shore where
permit; destroy
pushed; (see note)
(see note)
fully informed
con; prepared
disguised himself
inward sorrow; impair; (see note)
disclose yourself
Thank you; sober
don't know
those who hosted
[Who]; guile
invests; penny (i.e., a bribe)
knife; worried
[Which]; agreement
lose; less; repays
(see note)
quietly; at once
But before; boast; (see note)
fell face-down; complaint
long ago; (see note)
cargo ships; often; (see note)
[he]; departed; step
grabbed; garment-flap; (see note)
leave; done
enjoyment; alive
hear; fare
conceal; (see note)
bore; from; passed
cutler; who
gave; before; (see note)
If; accusation
in anticipation of
on fire
believe; alive
without legal advice
Ah; woeful
she (Folly)
was respectful
kill; possessions
too; fool; (his stepmother)
fought; (see note)
to me preferable
Discipline; those two
in harmony; too
than; then; (see note)
Who; rightful; income
custom; peers
it pleased me
too late; known
exterminate; flies
rushes; straw; hurries
burning torch
eaves; burned
befall; indeed; (see note)
because of
i.e., stepmothers; bitter
later; an outcome
sorrow who; petty outburst; (see note)
afterwards; brief
i.e., satiric verses
tugging at
crew; adversity deserved
being sued; left over
their; little or nothing
perhaps quickly
no matter; treated
sorrow; pity
Who; deserved
manner; complaint
crippled man
peg-leg; tightly
crutch; contorted
[he]; seashore
gained distance upon him
encumbered; (see note)
If; cease
enough; press; (see note)
seized nearly
run fast
Than; intercept
availed; run
(see note)
little, if you
recent mishaps
before; separate; school
on shore; (see note)
displayed; wares; complaint; (see note)
among them
safe from
charged; allegations
hardly; speak
Except one
sued; i.e., the Cripple
permit; pity
assure; pledge
if; left
in front of; astern
together; open
power; please
approached; caught
something coming
stealthily; it
rather lose
outer-coat; struggle
ruined; unless
unschooled; compatriot; (see note)
diligence; action
honest face
i.e., Sir Crampleg; (see note)
unless; drown
don't know
i.e., Virgin Mary; womb
call; (see note)
as if; (see note)
on account of
promised; expression
For which reason
don't know; (see note)
beat; their
suit, just as much
repay; promise; (see note)
these territories; born
endorse their crimes
because of
To such an extent; endure; (see note)
i.e., pose as cripple
now; crafty
limbs; healthy
clinched; misshapenly
knot; twist
sturdy; (see note)
Except vice; to destroy all
if; dare
That if
sound judgment
suit successful
follower; (see note)
That if; confusion
weather; return
(see note)
But before
overwhelmed; arise
i.e., Christ's
cross; [he]
reduced to weeping
clear [of all charges]
Quiet yourself; strain
in agreement; (see note)
better; obstacles
questions; uncertainties
i.e., be on the offensive
sickened; harm on them; (see note)
put to death
Except; take away
whatever; accuse; grounds
If; foreigner; recently
affirmative proof; (see note)
official investigation
file a complaint
cling; (see note)
argue against them; (see note)
accusation; (see note)
i.e., the plaintiff; (see note)
i.e., the defendant
strict; severe decree
fixed; punishment
forfeit; perjury, if
royal; subordinate
wicked one
affirm; truth; sustains
threat; free; (see note)
or otherwise; decisive
Repeat for; foes
in sum; charged
Through which; informed
hopeless, unless
By God
contracted with
Listen; attend; instructions
mentioned; thoroughly
surpass; judgment
(see note)
i.e., went blind
isn't arrested
isn't; whatever
isn't subdued
If; absolve
penalty demands; little
against; courageous alive
correct; discover
(see note)
knows; Greek; Hebrew
Chaldean; fully
all manner [of things]
poetry; expound
Civil; canon
proverbs; (see note)
(see note)
display; magic spells
later, before
conceived; born; (see note)
nurtured; walk
talent; surpassed
few possessions
surpassingly; sober
Except; soul
advance [in rank]
ability; manner; obedient
i.e., 140; (see note)
gave; against; plotted
same; (see note)
city; disclose
If; complicated
If the night; morning
(see note)
(see note)
i.e., the charges
return quickly
royal a palace
ingenious of design
wondrous; secrets
guard; fear
passage; at once
constructed; enclosed
ceiling; celidony; (see note)
pavement; lapis lazuli
run fast
careless; life
by nature
nearby; catch fire
were it not [for the]
in opposition; (see note)
if; quickly
by nature
linger; advise
door open
lie; afraid
except breathe
two leopards; unleashed; (see note)
breathing; detected
rushes; seize; head
isn't anything
Ptolemy; pagan; (see note)
isn't beast
it; replica; refined
(see note)
the midst; stands
low-born; misbehave
marvelous; describe
so that
conjurers; (see note)
stay awake
expert; necromancy
illusion; magic; (see note)
serpents; afraid
bravest; unless
Which if; rears up
eaten; who
safely, if
power; injure
your priority
narrow up front, on the inside
indenture zigzags; (see note)
hear; accusation
i.e., the charges
account; go
defeated; escape
be terrified; (see note)
rather lose than
will [go]; pledged
so far as
i.e., Geffrey was gone
(see note)
return; certainty
(see note)
i.e., be executed
cargo; happen to
crow; (see note)
[they]; (see note)
coffin; (see note)
(see note)
Then; daybreak
Than wait; fear
equipment; deployed
rather; jeopardy
their satisfaction
real; sea
if; grow sad
example; reason
before; nightfall
free; theirs
other; convicted
[I] shall prove
at your mercy
strategy; (see note)
prepare ourselves
ordered; then
beneficial; early
6:00 a.m.
spoke intently
advice we may do [is]
(see note)
pier; rode [at anchor]
Only; hesitated
[he]; terrible
to; rallied
trumpets; sound
completely; shore
Stands; it pleases
in no way escape
pair of scissors, clip
crop; quickly
crude instruments
more; lunatic
summoned; courthouse
pier; mob
outfitted; (see note)
i.e., as compurgators
idiotic expression
Simpleton by birth; means
useless; angry
upper-class; (see note)
tied tightly
peg; hauled; (see note)
carry; dice
cast; two; "snake eyes"
hear; befell
mouse; bone (die)
from birth
shrewdness; outcome
dressed; prepared
anxious; succeed
instructed; behavior
their plea
peaceful traders; plunder; (see note)
on the verge; depart; (see note)
pledge than lives; (see note)
who; city
begun; [that] makes
before; considered
perceive poorly; (see note)
know; pertains; astern
at once instruct; expertise
the middle
grease the bottom of; ballast
yeomen; anchors; haul up
themselves; ale-house
porthole; cover
bailiff; faith
Yes; the truth; say
chattered; (see note)
heart's fill
[For the men] to stay
jesters; him (Geffrey)
pretended to be sad
he himself
reproved; Tell; yea; (see note)
Maybe you didn't hear me
Call; blame
before; promise
Unless; least
Return; shaved head
better; Get ready
But if
certainty; preferred
never been born
before; done
who; woe
wish to; hear; craftiness
(see note)
were; don't know
except here
excellent jester
But before; seated
assembled; (see note)
rigging; rudder
pay a fine before
wool; dyed
(see note)
For if; badly
from one cup; (see note)
bench; seen
real lunatic; [who] heard
Hear me
justice; better
Beryn who
as at chess
(see note)
as truth; (see note)
their oath
himself silent
fully advised
we won't; complaint
And unless
will remain
isn't; [who] knows precisely
heart's fill
himself silent
totally stunned
part; tasted
So that; at once
guided; fool's advice
(see note)
So much so
power; custody
for [him] to go freely
I am in possession
houses two
those who
Fully concentrated
be unnecessary; (see note)
(see note)
[he] twirled himself
made merry
two eyes
lent; hurry
But only; (see note)
For since
expended; who
for many years
trustworthy; (see note)
two; lent
conjurers; illusions; (see note)
too accommodating
(see note)
feign ignorance
foolish; bewildered moan
(see note)
the same now
physiognomy; nature
except; companions
so that tears; cheeks
because of his crazy
not slit; (see note)
just as many
boy; clutched
(see note)
who cruelly; left
provide for
immediately; eagerly
many women
(see note)
less; previously
secret; known; (see note)
crept; (see note)
shall [go]
gather dogs' shit
he; apprentice; (see note)
gloves; torn
mend shoes
parentage; squeak; (see note)
pick; i.e., his shell
bark; bow-wow
[he] started to approach
(see note)
But the; wary; dodged
sheer anger cursed
dazed; skull
earn; livelihood
truly mad
Holy Trinity
don't know
[shaved] head
albeit; cleverly
trusted partially
silly babble; in reply
who set
ever since; nature
(see note)
Knowledge; or
thief's sleeve
enough; stands
Who made; two hands
Mounted; skillfully
celidony; (see note)
What Macaign
by two
gave; seashore
he (Evander) in reply
does [it] seem to you
[whatever] case
But unless; lose
remained; hear
Unless; suffer
cut the ears
unless; totally
judicial duel; (see note)
For if; justice
before; shatter
glad to sneak
if thou
jester; faith
work; device
cargo; divide
his share
Regarding; one account; (see note)
free; command
To take custody of
(see note)
trust; good faith
i.e., emotions ran high
divide; possessions
than they had then
crew sad; afraid
believed; betrayed
been dead
believe; (see note)
Enacted; than now
crafty appearance
pretended [that] he
bogged down
must answer
wrung; bewail
soon dead
suddenly; (see note)
on the verge
divide; believe truly
before nightfall
brought to justice
like [men]; shaved
know; strategy
contradict one word
By God; exert myself
skill; achieve
the courtroom
idiotic; ragged
Playing; staff [which]
whistling; successive step; (see note)
foolish; laughed
true madman; (see note)
brief; shorn
Stop; (see note)
jokes; cease
For if; cut; splinter
i.e., Beryn
turn; events; befall
For if; judge
i.e., Isope; chastise
believe; write down
guided; transcript
silliness; (see note)
[the men] were stunned; worry
to other inclined
astute; sly
jested with
[that] they
pinned; (see note)
(see note)
who; defeated
acquiescence; hear
city; isn't
(see note)
intentionally; (see note)
thought; think; tricked; (see note)
carefully; sea
to other; make confession
vows; survive
seek; Holy Sepulcher; (see note)
commit himself
[the voice]
work; trickery
Providing he; coastline
conclusion; wished to; (see note)
Before; negotiate
i.e., by the smallest fraction
whoever; at fault; guilt
Since; chatter
pitiful expression
law suit; (see note)
free; concluded
their cleverness
since; otherwise
[he]; acquitted
know; justice
Yes; whoever
fault; to [do it]
security bond
Loss; discomfort
avails; search; (see note)
justice; whether
Who; obvious
royal; just
if; belabor
steered; sore spot
if he liked it or not
give; guarantee; (see note)
endure; award; injured
proceed thither [to see] if
believe; little
convicted; (see note)
[he] summoned
their hearts
(see note)
free; claim
just as fiercely as
escape; contend
[to] renounce
two butterflies
clung; firmly; nature
flown; period
on business
prime objective
physician; announcement
those [who]
must hurry; (see note)
believe; load
miracle if; (see note)
defeated; deception
certainty; faith
contract; made
cargo; plundered
justice; whether
i.e., win my case; (see note)
If; turn once
guarantees; (see note)
entirely too long
for many years
who; partners
profit and loss
exchanged; true
Except; limb
those territories; famine
remained; despair
they gave themselves
their relief
Who; entertainer
[in] those; i.e., was supreme
value; button
people [who]
Eucharistic Mass
good breeding
have a better idea
come again
know; whole
united before; exchange
necromancers; (see note)
occasion; students
what; lost
hardly; utter
sheer; suffered
until now
where; pleaded
before; hence
Than; far
correct; by nature
from him
must take; to judge
not just [that]; lose
Because of; courtesy
offer surety; guarantees; (see note)
justice, since
peaceful traders
As soon as
sureties; malevolence
endure; verdict
pledged; (see note)
regards; fourth; risen
to the side; (see note)
you must
[he] would; jump
two sureties
as if someone shaved; (see note)
(see note)
perception; penalties
in favor of
i.e., proof; confession; (see note)
so far gone
profitable; then; (see note)
years ago; (see note)
i.e., abstain from sex
dressed himself
instantly; rushed
lying stone-dead
covers pulled
(see note)
household staff
[Beryn's] tears
drew; from
[Beryn] as if stone-dead
(see note)
[Beryn's father's] death
from the
plead; pity
encumber; lawsuits
Thank you
Sureties before
pledge; give
trust; resolved
to go
justice; then
educated; (see note)
limb; merchandise
i.e., not lose advantage
(see note)
agreed; sided
wholly; mercy
So much so; concluded
twice as much
toward his ships
crafty; (see note)
i.e., Geffrey
avails it
on account of
before; afterwards
i.e., Geffrey
i.e., tripped us up
profit; glad
good fortune
Had not
proclamation publically
in the morning
Thank you
the contract
the rest; (see note)
God bless
changed clothes
midst of their meal
Maidens; alive
Every one
lapis lazuli
exquisite; describe
Ornamented; pearls
outward; pelts
fourth [bore]
like; (see note)
(see note)
embassy; more precious
delivered; perfectly
carefully; seizes
[they] thanked; relieve
harm; relief; endure
pomp; at the banquet
(see note)
breeding; arise
requested; commend
who sends you
except; nobility
for his gifts
safe-conduct; to him
judgment; ask
lower rank
safe-conduct officially sealed
territories; custom
(see note)
Returning unto; (see note)
repeated wisely; omitted
where; table
completely; (see note)
conduct; who seized first
Before; decided
conduct; followers; (see note)
entertained; comfort
So that
favor; so completely
wisdom; befell; (see note)
who; instruct
virtuous; goodly
Except; who were root; (see note)
glad; (see note)
earned; reputation