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That doun they sette hem by this precious hord.
The worste of hem he spake the firste word.

'Brethren,' quod he, 'tak kepe what I seye;
My wit is greet, though that I bourde and pleye.
This tresor hath fortune un-to us yiven,
In mirthe and jolitee our lyf to liven,
And lightly as it comth, so wol we spende.
Ey! goddes precious dignitee! who wende
To-day, that we sholde han so fair a grace?
But mighte this gold be caried fro this place
Hoom to myn hous, or elles un-to youres
For wel ye woot that al this gold is oures-
Than were we in heigh felicitee.
But trewely, by daye it may nat be;
Men wolde seyn that we were theves stronge,
And for our owene tresor doon us honge.
This tresor moste y-caried be by nighte
As wysly and as slyly as it mighte.
Wherfore I rede that cut among us alle
Be drawe, and lat see wher the cut wol falle;
And he that hath the cut with herte blythe
Shal renne to the toune, and that ful swythe,
And bringe us breed and wyn ful prively.
And two of us shul kepen subtilly
This tresor wel; and, if he wol nat tarie,
Whan it is night, we wol this tresor carie
By oon assent, wher-as us thinketh best.'
That oon of hem the cut broughte in his fest;
And bad hem drawe, and loke wher it wol falle;
And it fil on the yongeste of hem alle;
And forth toward the toun he wente anon.
And al-so sone as that he was gon,
That oon of hem spak thus un-to that other,
'Thou knowest .wel thou art my sworne brother,

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Thy profit wol I telle thee anon.
Thou woost wel that our felawe is agon;
And heer is gold, and that ful greet plentee,

That shal departed been among us three.
5 But natheles, if I can shape it so
That it departed were among us two,
Hadde I nat doon a freendes torn to thee?'

That other answerde, I noot how that may be; He woot how that the gold is with us tweye, 10 What shal we doon, what shal we to him seye?'

Shal it be conseil ?' seyde the firste shrewe,
And I shal tellen thee, in wordes fewe,
What we shal doon, and bringe it wel aboute.'

'I graunte,' quod that other, “out of doute, 15 That, by my trouthe, I wol thee nat biwreye.'

Now,' quod the firste, “thou woost wel we be tweye, And two of us shul strenger be than oon. Look whan that he is set, and right anoon

Arys, as though thou woldest with him pleye; 20 And I shal ryve him thurgh the sydes tweye

Whyl that thou strogelest with him as in game,
And with thy dagger look thou do the same;
And than shal al this gold departed be,

My dere freend, bitwixen me and thee; 25 Than may we bothe our lustes al fulfille,

And pleye at dees right at our owene wille.'
And thus acorded been thise shrewes tweye
To sleen the thridde, as ye han herd me seye.

This yongest, which that wente un-to the toun, 30 Ful ofte in herte he rolleth up and doun

The beautee of thise florins newe and brighte.
'Olord!' quod he, “if so were that I mighte
Have al this tresor to my-self allone,
Ther is no man that liveth under the trone

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Of god, that sholde live so mery as I!'
And atte laste the feend, our enemy,
Putte in his thought that he shold poyson beye,
With which he mighte sleen his felawes tweye;
For-why the feend fond him in swich lyvinge,
That he had leve him to sorwe bringe,
For this was outrely his fulle entente
To sleen hem bothe, and never to repente.
And forth he gooth, no lenger wolde he tarie,
Into the toun, un-to a pothecarie,
And preyed him, that he him wolde selle
Som poyson, that he mighte his rattes quelle;
And eek ther was a polcat in his hawe,
That, as he seyde, his capouns hadde y-slawe,
And fayn he wolde wreke him, if he mighte,
On vermin, that destroyed him by nighte,

The pothecarie answerde, and thou shalt have
A thing that, al-so god my soule save,

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In al this world ther nis no creature,
That ete or dronke hath of this confiture
Noght but the mountance of a corn of whete,
That he ne shal his lyf anon forlete;
Ye, sterye he shal, and that in lasse whyle
Than thou wolt goon a paas nat but a myle;
This poyson is so strong and violent.'

This cursed man hath in his hond y-hent
This poyson in a box, and sith he ran
In-to the nexte strete, un-to a man,
And borwed [of] him large botels three;
And in the two his poyson poured he;
The thridde he kepte clene for his drinke.
For al the night he shoop him for to swinke
In caryinge of the gold out of that place.
And whan this ryotour, with sory grace,

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Had filled with wyn his grete botels three,
To his felawes agayn repaireth he.

What nedeth it to sermone of it more?
For right as they had cast his deeth bifore,
5 Right so they han him slayn, and that anon.
And whan that this was doon, thus spak that oon,
Now lat us sitte and drinke, and make us merie,
And afterward we wol his body berie.'

And with that word it happed him, par cas, 10 To take the botel ther the poyson was,

And drank, and yaf his felawe drinke also,
For which anon they storven bothe two.

But, certes, I suppose that Avicen Wroot never in no canon, ne in no fen,* 15 Mo wonder signes of empoisoning

Than hadde thise wrecches two, er hir ending.
Thus ended been thise homicydes two,
And eek the false empoysoner also.

Here is ended the Pardoners Tale.

* Fen, the Arabic name of the sections of Avicenna's Canon.

THE PRIORESSES TALE *

BY GEOFFREY CHAUCER

THER was in Asie, in a greet citee,
Amonges Cristen folk, a Jewerye,
Sustened by a lord of that contree
For foule usure and lucre of vilanye,
Hateful to Crist and to his companye;
And thurgh the strete men mighte ryde or wende,
For it was free, and open at either ende.

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A litel scole of Cristen folk ther stood
Doun at the ferther ende, in which ther were
Children an heep, y-comen of Cristen blood,
That lerned in that scole yeer by yere
Swich maner doctrine as men used there,
This is to seyn, to singen and to rede,
As smale children doon in hir childhede.

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Among thise children was a widwes sone,
A litel clergeon, seven yeer of age,
That day by day to scole was his wone,
And eek also, wher-as he saugh th'image
Of Cristes moder, hadde he in usage,

* See note to The Pardoner's Tale. This story had been told by earlier writers, but never before so well. The piety and the unjust attack upon the Jews are equally characteristic of the Middle Ages. See also pp. 3-12.

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