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The Canterbury Tales and Other Works of Chaucer (Middle English), by Geoffery Chaucer, [14th cent.], at

The Canterbury Tales

The Summoner's Tale

 Lordynges, ther is in Yorkshire, as I gesse,
1710 A mersshy contree called Holdernesse,
 In which ther wente a lymytour aboute
 To preche, and eek to begge, it is no doute.
 And so bifel that on a day this frere
 Hadde preched at a chirche in his manere,
 And specially, aboven every thyng,
 Excited he the peple in his prechyng
 To trentals, and to yeve, for Goddes sake,
 Wherwith men myghte hooly houses make,
 Ther as divine servyce is honoured,
1720 Nat ther as it is wasted and devoured,
 Ne ther it nedeth nat for to be yive,
 As to possessioners, that mowen lyve,
 Thanked be God, in wele and habundaunce.
 "Trentals," seyde he, "deliveren fro penaunce
 Hir freendes soules, as wel olde as yonge --
 Ye, whan that they been hastily ysonge,
 Nat for to holde a preest joly and gay --
 He syngeth nat but o masse in a day.
 Delivereth out," quod he, "anon the soules!
1730 Ful hard it is with flesshhook or with oules
 To been yclawed, or to brenne or bake.
 Now spede yow hastily, for Cristes sake!"
 And whan this frere had seyd al his entente,
 With qui cum patre forth his wey he wente.
 Whan folk in chirche had yeve him what hem leste,
 He wente his wey; no lenger wolde he reste.
 With scrippe and tipped staf, ytukked hye,
 In every hous he gan to poure and prye,
 And beggeth mele and chese, or elles corn.
1740 His felawe hadde a staf tipped with horn,
 A peyre of tables al of yvory,
 And a poyntel polysshed fetisly,
 And wroot the names alwey, as he stood,
 Of alle folk that yaf hym any good,
 Ascaunces that he wolde for hem preye.
 "Yif us a busshel whete, malt, or reye,
 A Goddes kechyl, or a trype of chese,
 Or elles what yow lyst, we may nat cheese;
 A Goddes halfpeny, or a masse peny,
1750 Or yif us of youre brawn, if ye have eny;
 A dagon of youre blanket, leeve dame,
 Oure suster deere -- lo! Heere I write youre name --
 Bacon or beef, or swich thyng as ye fynde."
 A sturdy harlot wente ay hem bihynde,
 That was hir hostes man, and bar a sak,
 And what men yaf hem, leyde it on his bak.
 And whan that he was out at dore, anon
 He planed awey the names everichon
 That he biforn had writen in his tables;
1760 He served hem with nyfles and with fables.
 "Nay, ther thou lixt, thou Somonour!" quod the Frere.
 "Pees," quod oure Hoost, "for Cristes mooder deere!
 Tel forth thy tale, and spare it nat at al."
 "So thryve I," quod this Somonour, "so I shal!"
 So longe he wente, hous by hous, til he
 Cam til an hous ther he was wont to be
 Refresshed moore than in an hundred placis.
 Syk lay the goode man whos that the place is;
 Bedrede upon a couche lowe he lay.
1770 "Deus hic!" quod he, "O Thomas, freend, good day!"
 Seyde this frere, curteisly and softe.
 "Thomas," quod he, "God yelde yow! Ful ofte
 Have I upon this bench faren ful weel;
 Heere have I eten many a myrie meel."
 And fro the bench he droof awey the cat,
 And leyde adoun his potente and his hat,
 And eek his scrippe, and sette hym softe adoun.
 His felawe was go walked into toun
 Forth with his knave, into that hostelrye
1780 Where as he shoop hym thilke nyght to lye.
 "O deere maister," quod this sike man,
 "How han ye fare sith that March bigan?
 I saugh yow noght this fourtenyght or moore."
 "God woot," quod he, "laboured I have ful soore,
 And specially for thy savacion
 Have I seyd many a precious orison,
 And for oure othere freendes, God hem blesse!
 I have to day been at youre chirche at messe,
 And seyd a sermon after my symple wit --
1790 Nat al after the text of hooly writ,
 For it is hard to yow, as I suppose,
 And therfore wol I teche yow al the glose.
 Glosynge is a glorious thyng, certeyn,
 For lettre sleeth, so as we clerkes seyn --
 There have I taught hem to be charitable,
 And spende hir good ther it is resonable;
 And there I saugh oure dame -- A! Where is she?"
 "Yond in the yerd I trowe that she be,"
 Seyde this man, "and she wol come anon."
1800 "Ey, maister, welcome be ye, by Seint John!"
 Seyde this wyf, "How fare ye, hertely?"
 The frere ariseth up ful curteisly,
 And hire embraceth in his armes narwe,
 And kiste hire sweete, and chirketh as a sparwe
 With his lyppes: "Dame," quod he, "right weel,
 As he that is youre servant every deel,
 Thanked be God, that yow yaf soule and lyf!
 Yet saugh I nat this day so fair a wyf
 In al the chirche, God so save me!"
1810 "Ye, God amende defautes, sire," quod she.
 "Algates, welcome be ye, by my fey!"
 "Graunt mercy, dame, this have I founde alwey.
 But of youre grete goodnesse, by youre leve,
 I wolde prey yow that ye nat yow greve,
 I wole with Thomas speke a litel throwe.
 Thise curatz been ful necligent and slowe
 To grope tendrely a conscience
 In shrift; in prechyng is my diligence,
 And studie in Petres wordes and in Poules.
1820 I walke and fisshe Cristen mennes soules
 To yelden Jhesu Crist his propre rente;
 To sprede his word is set al myn entente."
 "Now, by youre leve, o deere sire," quod she,
 "Chideth him weel, for seinte Trinitee!
 He is as angry as a pissemyre,
 Though that he have al that he kan desire;
 Though I hym wrye a-nyght and make hym warm,
 And over hym leye my leg outher myn arm,
 He groneth lyk oure boor, lith in oure sty.
1830 Oother desport right noon of hym have I;
 I may nat plese hym in no maner cas."
 "O Thomas, je vous dy, Thomas! Thomas!
 This maketh the feend; this moste ben amended.
 Ire is a thyng that hye God defended,
 And therof wol I speke a word or two."
 "Now, maister," quod the wyf, "er that I go,
 What wol ye dyne? I wol go theraboute."
 "Now, dame," quod he, "now je vous dy sanz doute,
 Have I nat of a capon but the lyvere,
1840 And of youre softe breed nat but a shyvere,
 And after that a rosted pigges heed --
 But that I nolde no beest for me were deed --
 Thanne hadde I with yow hoomly suffisaunce.
 I am a man of litel sustenaunce;
 My spirit hath his fostryng in the Bible.
 The body is ay so redy and penyble
 To wake, that my stomak is destroyed.
 I prey yow, dame, ye be nat anoyed,
 Though I so freendly yow my conseil shewe.
1850 By God! I wolde nat telle it but a fewe."
 "Now, sire," quod she, "but o word er I go.
 My child is deed withinne thise wykes two,
 Soone after that ye wente out of this toun."
 "His deeth saugh I by revelacioun,"
 Seide this frere, "at hoom in oure dortour.
 I dar wel seyn that, er that half an hour
 After his deeth, I saugh hym born to blisse
 In myn avision, so God me wisse!
 So dide oure sexteyn and oure fermerer,
1860 That han been trewe freres fifty yeer;
 They may now -- God be thanked of his loone! --
 Maken hir jubilee and walke allone.
 And up I roos, and al oure covent eke,
 With many a teere trillyng on my cheke,
 Withouten noyse or claterynge of belles;
 Te Deum was oure song, and nothyng elles,
 Save that to Crist I seyde an orison,
 Thankynge hym of his revelacion.
 For, sire and dame, trusteth me right weel,
1870 Oure orisons been moore effectueel,
 And moore we seen of Cristes secree thynges,
 Than burel folk, although they weren kynges.
 We lyve in poverte and in abstinence,
 And burell folk in richesse and despence
 Of mete and drynke, and in hir foul delit.
 We han this worldes lust al in despit.
 Lazar and Dives lyveden diversly,
 And divers gerdon hadden they therby.
 Whoso wol preye, he moot faste and be clene,
1880 And fatte his soule, and make his body lene.
 We fare as seith th' apostle; clooth and foode
 Suffisen us, though they be nat ful goode.
 The clennesse and the fastynge of us freres
 Maketh that Crist accepteth oure preyeres.
 "Lo, Moyses fourty dayes and fourty nyght
 Fasted, er that the heighe God of myght
 Spak with hym in the mountayne of Synay.
 With empty wombe, fastynge many a day,
 Receyved he the lawe that was writen
1890 With Goddes fynger; and Elye, wel ye witen,
 In mount Oreb, er he hadde any speche
 With hye God, that is oure lyves leche,
 He fasted longe and was in contemplaunce.
 "Aaron, that hadde the temple in governaunce,
 And eek the othere preestes everichon,
 Into the temple whan they sholde gon
 To preye for the peple and do servyse,
 They nolden drynken in no maner wyse
 No drynke which that myghte hem dronke make,
1900 But there in abstinence preye and wake,
 Lest that they deyden. Taak heede what I seye!
 But they be sobre that for the peple preye,
 War that -- I seye namoore, for it suffiseth.
 "Oure Lord Jhesu, as hooly writ devyseth,
 Yaf us ensample of fastynge and preyeres.
 Therfore we mendynantz, we sely freres,
 Been wedded to poverte and continence,
 To charite, humblesse, and abstinence,
 To persecucioun for rightwisnesse,
1910 To wepynge, misericorde, and clennesse.
 And therfore may ye se that oure preyeres --
 I speke of us, we mendynantz, we freres --
 Been to the hye God moore acceptable
 Than youres, with youre feestes at the table.
 Fro Paradys first, if I shal nat lye,
 Was man out chaced for his glotonye;
 And chaast was man in Paradys, certeyn.
 "But herkne now, Thomas, what I shal seyn.
 I ne have no text of it, as I suppose,
1920 But I shal fynde it in a maner glose,
 That specially oure sweete Lord Jhesus
 Spak this by freres, whan he seyde thus:
 `Blessed be they that povere in spirit been.'
 And so forth al the gospel may ye seen,
 Wher it be likker oure professioun,
 Or hirs that swymmen in possessioun.
 Fy on hire pompe and on hire glotonye!
 And for hir lewednesse I hem diffye.
 "Me thynketh they been lyk Jovinyan,
1930 Fat as a whale, and walkynge as a swan,
 Al vinolent as botel in the spence.
 Hir preyere is of ful greet reverence,
 Whan they for soules seye the psalm of Davit:
 Lo, `buf!' they seye, `cor meum eructavit!'
 Who folweth Cristes gospel and his foore,
 But we that humble been, and chaast, and poore,
 Werkeris of Goddes word, nat auditours?
 Therfore, right as an hauk up at a sours
 Up springeth into th' eir, right so prayeres
1940 Of charitable and chaste bisy freres
 Maken hir sours to Goddes eres two.
 Thomas, Thomas! So moote I ryde or go,
 And by that lord that clepid is Seint Yve,
 Nere thou oure brother, sholdestou nat thryve.
 In our chapitre praye we day and nyght
 To Crist, that he thee sende heele and myght
 Thy body for to weelden hastily."
 "God woot," quod he, "no thyng therof feele I!
 As help me Crist, as I in fewe yeres,
1950 Have spent upon diverse manere freres
 Ful many a pound; yet fare I never the bet.
 Certeyn, my good have I almoost biset.
 Farwel, my gold, for it is al ago!"
 The frere answerde, "O Thomas, dostow so?
 What nedeth yow diverse freres seche?
 What nedeth hym that hath a parfit leche
 To sechen othere leches in the toun?
 Youre inconstance is youre confusioun.
 Holde ye thanne me, or elles oure covent,
1960 To praye for yow been insufficient?
 Thomas, that jape nys nat worth a myte.
 Youre maladye is for we han to lyte.
 A, yif that covent half a quarter otes!
 A, yif that covent foure and twenty grotes!
 A, yif that frere a peny, and lat hym go!
 Nay, nay, Thomas, it may no thyng be so!
 What is a ferthyng worth parted in twelve?
 Lo, ech thyng that is oned in himselve
 Is moore strong than whan it is toscatered.
1970 Thomas, of me thou shalt nat been yflatered;
 Thou woldest han oure labour al for noght.
 The hye God, that al this world hath wroght,
 Seith that the werkman worthy is his hyre.
 Thomas, noght of youre tresor I desire
 As for myself, but that al oure covent
 To preye for yow is ay so diligent,
 And for to buylden Cristes owene chirche.
 Thomas, if ye wol lernen for to wirche,
 Of buyldynge up of chirches may ye fynde
1980 If it be good in Thomas lyf of Inde.
 Ye lye heere ful of anger and of ire,
 With which the devel set youre herte afyre,
 And chiden heere the sely innocent,
 Youre wyf, that is so meke and pacient.
 And therfore, Thomas, trowe me if thee leste,
 Ne stryve nat with thy wyf, as for thy beste;
 And ber this word awey now, by thy feith;
 Touchynge swich thyng, lo, what the wise seith:
 `Withinne thyn hous ne be thou no leon;
1990 To thy subgitz do noon oppression,
 Ne make thyne aqueyntances nat to flee.'
 And, Thomas, yet eft-soones I charge thee,
 Be war from Ire that in thy bosom slepeth;
 War fro the serpent that so slily crepeth
 Under the gras and styngeth subtilly.
 Be war, my sone, and herkne paciently
 That twenty thousand men han lost hir lyves
 For stryvyng with hir lemmans and hir wyves.
 Now sith ye han so hooly meke a wyf,
2000 What nedeth yow, Thomas, to maken stryf?
 Ther nys, ywys, no serpent so cruel,
 Whan man tret on his tayl, ne half so fel,
 As womman is, whan she hath caught an ire;
 Vengeance is thanne al that they desire.
 Ire is a synne, oon of the grete of sevene,
 Abhomynable unto the God of hevene;
 And to hymself it is destruccion.
 This every lewed viker or person
 Kan seye, how ire engendreth homycide.
2010 Ire is, in sooth, executour of pryde.
 I koude of ire seye so muche sorwe,
 My tale sholde laste til to-morwe.
 And therfore preye I God bothe day and nyght
 An irous man, God sende hym litel myght!
 It is greet harm and certes greet pitee
 To sette an irous man in heigh degree.
 "Whilom ther was an irous potestat,
 As seith Senek, that, durynge his estaat,
 Upon a day out ryden knyghtes two,
2020 And as Fortune wolde that it were so,
 That oon of hem cam hoom, that oother noght.
 Anon the knyght bifore the juge is broght,
 That seyde thus, `Thou hast thy felawe slayn,
 For which I deme thee to the deeth, certayn.'
 And to another knyght comanded he,
 `Go lede hym to the deeth, I charge thee.'
 And happed, as they wente by the weye
 Toward the place ther he sholde deye,
 The knyght cam which men wenden had be deed.
2030 Thanne thoughte they it were the beste reed
 To lede hem bothe to the juge agayn.
 They seiden, `Lord, the knyght ne hath nat slayn
 His felawe; heere he standeth hool alyve.'
 `Ye shul be deed,' quod he, `so moot I thryve!
 That is to seyn, bothe oon, and two, and thre!'
 And to the firste knyght right thus spak he,
 `I dampned thee; thou most algate be deed.
 And thou also most nedes lese thyn heed,
 For thou art cause why thy felawe deyth.'
2040 And to the thridde knyght right thus he seith,
 `Thou hast nat doon that I comanded thee.'
 And thus he dide doon sleen hem alle thre.
 "Irous Cambises was eek dronkelewe,
 And ay delited hym to been a shrewe.
 And so bifel, a lord of his meynee
 That loved vertuous moralitee
 Seyde on a day bitwix hem two right thus:
 "`A lord is lost, if he be vicius;
 And dronkenesse is eek a foul record
2050 Of any man, and namely in a lord.
 Ther is ful many an eye and many an ere
 Awaityng on a lord, and he noot where.
 For Goddes love, drynk moore attemprely!
 Wyn maketh man to lesen wrecchedly
 His mynde and eek his lymes everichon.'
 "`The revers shaltou se,' quod he, `anon,
 And preve it by thyn owene experience,
 That wyn ne dooth to folk no swich offence.
 Ther is no wyn bireveth me my myght
2060 Of hand ne foot, ne of myne eyen sight.'
 And for despit he drank ful muchel moore,
 An hondred part, than he hadde don bifoore;
 And right anon this irous, cursed wrecche
 Leet this knyghtes sone bifore hym fecche,
 Comandynge hym he sholde bifore hym stonde.
 And sodeynly he took his bowe in honde,
 And up the streng he pulled to his ere,
 And with an arwe he slow the child right there.
 `Now wheither have I a siker hand or noon?'
2070 Quod he; `Is al my myght and mynde agon?
 Hath wyn bireved me myn eyen sight?'
 What sholde I telle th' answere of the knyght?
 His sone was slayn; ther is namoore to seye.
 Beth war, therfore, with lordes how ye pleye.
 Syngeth Placebo and `I shal, if I kan,'
 But if it be unto a povre man.
 To a povre man men sholde his vices telle,
 But nat to a lord, thogh he sholde go to helle.
 "Lo irous Cirus, thilke Percien,
2080 How he destroyed the ryver of Gysen,
 For that an hors of his was dreynt therinne,
 Whan that he wente Babiloigne to wynne.
 He made that the ryver was so smal
 That wommen myghte wade it over al.
 Lo, what seyde he that so wel teche kan?
 `Ne be no felawe to an irous man,
 Ne with no wood man walke by the weye,
 Lest thee repente;' I wol no ferther seye.
 "Now, Thomas, leeve brother, lef thyn ire;
2090 Thou shalt me fynde as just as is a squyre.
 Hoold nat the develes knyf ay at thyn herte --
 Thyn angre dooth thee al to soore smerte --
 But shewe to me al thy confessioun."
 "Nay," quod the sike man, "by Seint Symoun!
 I have be shryven this day at my curat.
 I have hym toold hoolly al myn estat;
 Nedeth namoore to speken of it," seith he,
 "But if me list, of myn humylitee."
 "Yif me thanne of thy gold, to make oure cloystre,"
2100 Quod he, "for many a muscle and many an oystre,
 Whan othere men han ben ful wel at eyse,
 Hath been oure foode, our cloystre for to reyse.
 And yet, God woot, unnethe the fundement
 Parfourned is, ne of our pavement
 Nys nat a tyle yet withinne oure wones.
 By God, we owen fourty pound for stones.
 "Now help, Thomas, for hym that harwed helle!
 For elles moste we oure bookes selle.
 And if yow lakke oure predicacioun,
2110 Thanne goth the world al to destruccioun.
 For whoso wolde us fro this world bireve,
 So God me save, Thomas, by youre leve,
 He wolde bireve out of this world the sonne.
 For who kan teche and werchen as we konne?
 And that is nat of litel tyme," quod he,
 "But syn Elye was, or Elise,
 Han freres been -- that fynde I of record --
 In charitee, ythanked be oure Lord!
 Now Thomas, help, for seinte charitee!"
2120 And doun anon he sette hym on his knee.
 This sike man wax wel ny wood for ire;
 He wolde that the frere had been on-fire
 With his false dissymulacioun.
 "Swich thyng as is in my possessioun,"
 Quod he, "that may I yeve, and noon oother.
 Ye sey me thus, how that I am youre brother?"
 "Ye, certes," quod the frere, "trusteth weel.
 I took oure dame oure lettre with oure seel."
 "Now wel," quod he, "and somwhat shal I yive
2130 Unto youre hooly covent whil I lyve;
 And in thyn hand thou shalt it have anon,
 On this condicion, and oother noon,
 That thou departe it so, my deere brother,
 That every frere have also muche as oother.
 This shaltou swere on thy professioun,
 Withouten fraude or cavillacioun."
 "I swere it," quod this frere, "by my feith!"
 And therwithal his hand in his he leith,
 "Lo, heer my feith; in me shal be no lak."
2140 "Now thanne, put in thyn hand doun by my bak,"
 Seyde this man, "and grope wel bihynde.
 Bynethe my buttok there shaltow fynde
 A thyng that I have hyd in pryvetee."
 "A!" thoghte this frere, "That shal go with me!"
 And doun his hand he launcheth to the clifte
 In hope for to fynde there a yifte.
 And whan this sike man felte this frere
 Aboute his tuwel grope there and heere,
 Amydde his hand he leet the frere a fart;
2150 Ther nys no capul, drawynge in a cart,
 That myghte have lete a fart of swich a soun.
 The frere up stirte as dooth a wood leoun --
 "A, false cherl," quod he, "for Goddes bones!
 This hastow for despit doon for the nones.
 Thou shalt abye this fart, if that I may!"
 His meynee, whiche that herden this affray,
 Cam lepynge in and chaced out the frere;
 And forth he gooth, with a ful angry cheere,
 And fette his felawe, ther as lay his stoor.
2160 He looked as it were a wilde boor;
 He grynte with his teeth, so was he wrooth.
 A sturdy paas doun to the court he gooth,
 Wher as ther woned a man of greet honour,
 To whom that he was alwey confessour.
 This worthy man was lord of that village.
 This frere cam as he were in a rage,
 Where as this lord sat etyng at his bord;
 Unnethes myghte the frere speke a word,
 Til atte laste he seyde, "God yow see!"
2170 This lord gan looke, and seide, "Benedicitee!
 What, frere John, what maner world is this?
 I se wel that som thyng ther is amys;
 Ye looken as the wode were ful of thevys.
 Sit doun anon, and tel me what youre grief is,
 And it shal been amended, if I may."
 "I have," quod he, "had a despit this day,
 God yelde yow, adoun in youre village,
 That in this world is noon so povre a page
 That he nolde have abhomynacioun
2180 Of that I have receyved in youre toun.
 And yet ne greveth me nothyng so soore,
 As that this olde cherl with lokkes hoore
 Blasphemed hath oure hooly covent eke."
 "Now, maister," quod this lord, "I yow biseke --"
 "No maister, sire," quod he, "but servitour,
 Thogh I have had in scole that honour.
 God liketh nat that `Raby' men us calle,
 Neither in market ne in youre large halle."
 "No fors," quod he, "but tel me al youre grief."
2190 "Sire," quod this frere, "an odious meschief
 This day bityd is to myn ordre and me,
 And so, per consequens, to ech degree
 Of hooly chirche -- God amende it soone!"
 "Sire," quod the lord, "ye woot what is to doone.
 Distempre yow noght; ye be my confessour;
 Ye been the salt of the erthe and the savour.
 For Goddes love, youre pacience ye holde!
 Tel me youre grief." And he anon hym tolde,
 As ye han herd biforn -- ye woot wel what.
2200 The lady of the hous ay stille sat
 Til she had herd what the frere sayde.
 "Ey, Goddes mooder," quod she, "Blisful mayde!
 Is ther oght elles? Telle me feithfully."
 "Madame," quod he, "how thynke ye herby?"
 "How that me thynketh?" quod she. "So God me speede,
 I seye a cherl hath doon a cherles dede.
 What shold I seye? God lat hym nevere thee!
 His sike heed is ful of vanytee;
 I holde hym in a manere frenesye."
2210 "Madame," quod he, "by God, I shal nat lye,
 But I on oother wyse may be wreke,
 I shal disclaundre hym over al ther I speke,
 This false blasphemour that charged me
 To parte that wol nat departed be
 To every man yliche, with meschaunce!"
 The lord sat stille as he were in a traunce,
 And in his herte he rolled up and doun,
 "How hadde this cherl ymaginacioun
 To shewe swich a probleme to the frere?
2220 Nevere erst er now herde I of swich mateere.
 I trowe the devel putte it in his mynde.
 In ars-metrike shal ther no man fynde,
 Biforn this day, of swich a question.
 Who sholde make a demonstracion
 That every man sholde have yliche his part
 As of the soun or savour of a fart?
 O nyce, proude cherl, I shrewe his face!
 Lo, sires," quod the lord, "with harde grace!
 Who evere herde of swich a thyng er now?
2230 To every man ylike? Tel me how.
 It is an inpossible; it may nat be.
 Ey, nyce cherl, God lete him nevere thee!
 The rumblynge of a fart, and every soun,
 Nis but of eir reverberacioun,
 And evere it wasteth litel and litel awey.
 Ther is no man kan deemen, by my fey,
 If that it were departed equally.
 What, lo, my cherl, lo, yet how shrewedly
 Unto my confessour to-day he spak!
2240 I holde hym certeyn a demonyak!
 Now ete youre mete, and lat the cherl go pleye;
 Lat hym go honge hymself a devel weye!"
 Now stood the lordes squier at the bord,
 That karf his mete, and herde word by word
 Of alle thynges whiche I have yow sayd.
 "My lord," quod he, "be ye nat yvele apayd,
 I koude telle, for a gowne-clooth,
 To yow, sire frere, so ye be nat wrooth,
 How that this fart sholde evene deled be
2250 Among youre covent, if it lyked me."
 "Tel," quod the lord, "and thou shalt have anon
 A gowne-clooth, by God and by Seint John!"
 "My lord," quod he, "whan that the weder is fair,
 Withouten wynd or perturbynge of air,
 Lat brynge a cartwheel heere into this halle;
 But looke that it have his spokes alle --
 Twelve spokes hath a cartwheel comunly.
 And bryng me thanne twelve freres. Woot ye why?
 For thrittene is a covent, as I gesse.
2260 Youre confessour heere, for his worthynesse,
 Shal parfourne up the nombre of his covent.
 Thanne shal they knele doun, by oon assent,
 And to every spokes ende, in this manere,
 Ful sadly leye his nose shal a frere.
 Youre noble confessour -- there God hym save! --
 Shal holde his nose upright under the nave.
 Thanne shal this cherl, with bely stif and toght
 As any tabour, hyder been ybroght;
 And sette hym on the wheel right of this cart,
2270 Upon the nave, and make hym lete a fart.
 And ye shul seen, up peril of my lyf,
 By preeve which that is demonstratif,
 That equally the soun of it wol wende,
 And eke the stynk, unto the spokes ende,
 Save that this worthy man, youre confessour,
 By cause he is a man of greet honour,
 Shal have the firste fruyt, as resoun is.
 The noble usage of freres yet is this,
 The worthy men of hem shul first be served;
2280 And certeinly he hath it weel disserved.
 He hath to-day taught us so muche good
 With prechyng in the pulpit ther he stood,
 That I may vouche sauf, I sey for me,
 He hadde the firste smel of fartes thre;
 And so wolde al his covent hardily,
 He bereth hym so faire and hoolily."
 The lord, the lady, and ech man, save the frere,
 Seyde that Jankyn spak, in this matere,
 As wel as Euclide [dide] or Ptholomee.
2290 Touchynge the cherl, they seyde, subtiltee
 And heigh wit made hym speken as he spak;
 He nys no fool, ne no demonyak.
 And Jankyn hath ywonne a newe gowne --
 My tale is doon; we been almoost at towne.

Next: The Clerk's Prologue