Page images


That may no where stert out, but closid wondir fast;
And eke, sir, I tell yow, though I had grete hast,
Ye shuld have coughed when ye com; wher lern you curtesy?
Now trewlich I must chide, for of right pryvety
Women ben som tyme of day, when they be aloon.
Wher coud I yow prey when ye com efftsone ?”
“Nowe, mercy ! dere swetyng, I wol do so no more ;
I thank you an hundrit sithis ; and also by your lore
I wol do hereaftir in what plase that I com.
But lovers, Kitt, ben evil avysid ful oft and to lom.
Wherfor I prey you hertlich hold me excusid,
And I behote yow trewly it shall no more be usid.
But now to our purpose ; how have ye fare,
Sith I was wyth you last ? that is my most care.
For yf yee eylid eny thing othir wise then good,
Trewly it wold chaunge my chere and my blood.”
“I have farid the wers for yowe,” quod Kitt,“ do yo no drede
God that is above! and eke had no nede
For to congir me, God woot, wyth your nygromancy,
That havo no more to vaunte me but oonly my body;
And yf it were disteynid, then wer I ondo;
I-wis 1 trowe, Jenkyn, ye be nat to trust to.
For evir more ye clerkis con so much in book,
Yee wol wynn a woman at first look.”
Thought the pardonere, this goith wele; and made his

better chere, And axid of bir, softly, “Love, who shall ligg here This nyght that is to comyng? I prey yowe tell me.” “ I-wis it is grete nede to tell yowe,” quod she : “Make it nat overqueynt, though yow be a clerk, Ye knowe wele i-nough, i-wis, by loke, by word, by work.” 360 “Shal I com than, christian, and fese awey the cat ?" “Shal ye com ? per benedicite, what question is that?




Wherfor I prey you hertly to be my counsail ;
Comyth somwhat late, and for nothing faill ;
The dorr shall stond thar up; put it from yow soft.
But be wele avysid ye wake nat them on lofft."
“ Care ye nat," quod Jenkin, “I can theron at best;
Shal no man for my stepyng be wakid of his rest.”
Anoon they dronk the beverage, and wer of oon accord,
As it semed by their chere, and also by their word ;
And al a staunce she lovid hym wele, she toke hym by the

swere, As though he had lernyd cury favel of som old frere ; The pardoner plukkid out of his purs, I trow, the dowry, And toke it Kitt, in hir hond, and bad her pryvely To orden a rere sopor for them both to, A cawdell y-made with swete wyne, and with sugir also ; “For, trewly, I have no talent to ete in


absence ; So longith my hert to-ward yow to be in yowr presence.” He toke his leve, and went his wey as though nothing wer, And met wyth al the felship; but in what plase ne wher 370 He spake no word therof, but held hym close and styll ; As he that hopid sikirlich to have had al his wyll ; And thought many a mery thought by hymself aloon ; “I am a-loggit,” thought he,“ best, how soevir it goon; And thoughe it have costid me, yit wol I do my peyn For to pike hir purs to nyghte, and win my cost ageyn.”

Now leve I the pardonere tyll that it be eve, And wol returne me ageyn righte ther as I did leve. Whan al wer com togithir in their herbegage, The boost of Southwork, as ye knowe, that had no spice of

rage, But al thing wrought prudenciall, as sobir man and wise, “Now wol we to the soup, sir knyght, seith your avyse," Quod the hoost ful curteysly; and in the same wise

[ocr errors]


The knyght answerd him ageyn, “Sir, as ye devyse,
I must obey, ye woot wele; but yf I faill wytt,
Then takith these prelatis to yowe, and washith, and go sit ;
For I woll be yowr marchall, and serve yowe echone,
And then the officers and I to soper shall we gone."
They wissh, and sett right as he bad, eche man wyth his fere,
And begonne to talk of sportis and of chere,

That they had the aftir-mete whiles they wer out;
For othir occupacioune, tyll they wer servid 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 hymself ;
And thoughe he did, it is no fors; for he had nede to solve
Long or it wer mydnyght, as ye shul her sone ;
For he met with his love in crokeing of the moon.
They wer y-servyd honestly, and eche man held hym payde;
For of o manere of service their soper was araide,

400 As skill wold and reson, sith the lest of all Payid y-like much, for growing of the gall. But yit as curtesy axith, though it wer som dele streight, The statis that wer above had of the feyrest endreyte. Wherfor they did their gentilnes ageyn to all the rout, They dronken wyne at their cost onys round about. Now pass I lightly ovir; when they soupid had, Tho that were of governaunce as wyse men and sad Went to their rest, and made no more to doon ; But the miller and the coke dronken by the moon Twyes to eche othir in the repenyng. And when the pardoner them espyd, anoon he gan to sing, Doubill me this bourden, chokelyng in his throte; For the tapster shuld here of his mery note. He clepid to hym the sompnour, that was his own discipill, The yeman, and the reve, and the mancipill ;



And stoden so holowyng; for nothing wold they leve,
Tyl the tyme that it was well within eve.

[both, The hoost of Southwork herd them wele, and the marchaunt As they wer at a countis, and wexen somewhat wroth.

420 But yet they preyd them curteysly to rest for to wend, And so they did all the rout, they dronk, and made an end. And eche man droughe to cusky to slepe and take his rest, Save the pardoner, that drew apart, and weytid by a cheste For to hide hymself, tyll the candill wer out.

And in the meen while, have ye no doute, The tapster and hir paramour, and the hosteler of the house, Sitt togithir pryvelich, and of the best gouse That was y-found in town and y-set at sale, They had there of sufficiaunt, and dronk but litill ale ; And sit and ete the cawdell, for the pardoner that was made, With sugir, and with swete wyne, right as hymself bade: So he that payd for all in feer had not a twynt ; For offt is more better y-merkid then y-mynt. And so farid he ful right, as ye have y-herd. But who is that a woman coud not make his berd, And she wer therabout, and set hir wytt therto ? Ye woot wele I ly nat, and wher I do or no I wol nat here termyn it, lest ladies stond in plase, Or els gentil women, for lesing of my grace Of daliaunce, and of sportis, and of goodly chere; Therfor anenst their estatis I wol in no manere Deme ne determyn, but of lewd kitts, As tapsters, and othir such that hath wyly wytts, To pike mennys pursis, and eke to bler their eye; So wele they make seme soth when they falsest by. Now of Kitt tapster, and of hir paramour, And the hosteler of the house that sit in Kittis bour, When they had ete and dronk right in the same plase,



Kit began to rendir out all thing as it was :
The wowing of the pardoner, and his cost also,
And how he hopid for to lygg al nyght wyth hir also ;
And therof he shall be sikir as of Godis cope.
And sodeynly kissid her paramour; and seyd,“We shul sclope
Togithir hul by hul, as we have many a nyght;
And yf he com and make noyse, I prey yowe dubhym knyght!"
“ Yes dame," quod hir paramour,“ be thow not agast;
This is his own staff thou seyst, therof he shall a tast."
“Now trewly," quod the hosteler, “and he com by my lot
He shall drink for Kittis love wythout cup or pot;

And he be so hardy to wake eny gift,
I make a vowe to the pecock, ther shal wake a foul mist !"
And arose up therewithal, and toke his leve anoon ;
It was a shrewid company, they had servid so many oon.
With such manere of feleship ne kepe I never to dele,
Ne no man that lovith his worship and his hele.
Quod Kitt to hir paramour, “ Ye must wake a whyle,
For trewlich I am sikir that within this myle
The pardoner wol be comyng his hete to aswage ;
But loke ye pay hym redelich to kele his corage ! 470
And therfor, love, dischance yowe not tyll this chek be do.”
“No, for God! Kitt, that wol I no.”
Then Kitt went to bed, and blewe out all the light;
And by that tyme it was ner hond quarter nyght,
Whan all was still, the pardoner gan to walk,
As glad as eny goldfynch, that he herd no man talk ;
And drowgbe to Kittis dor-ward to herken and to list,
And went to have fond the dor up by the hasp, and eke the



a vowe to the pecock. The peacock was only brought on the table on festive occasions; and it was customary for the knight who carved it, to place his hand upon the bird with great ceremony, and make a vow before he began. The vow thus made was considered to be a very solemn

See, on this subject, Le Grand d'Aussy, Histoire de la Vie privée des François, tom. I, p. 365.


« PreviousContinue »