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

The Canterbury Tales

The Manciple's Prologue

 Woot ye nat where ther stant a litel toun
 Which that ycleped is Bobbe-up-and-doun,
 Under the Blee, in Caunterbury Weye?
 Ther gan oure Hooste for to jape and pleye,
 And seyde, "Sires, what! Dun is in the myre!
 Is ther no man, for preyere ne for hyre,
 That wole awake oure felawe al bihynde?
 A theef myghte hym ful lightly robbe and bynde.
 See how he nappeth! See how, for cokkes bones,
10 That he wol falle fro his hors atones!
 Is that a cook of Londoun, with meschaunce?
 Do hym come forth, he knoweth his penaunce;
 For he shal telle a tale, by my fey,
 Although it be nat worth a botel hey.
 Awake, thou Cook," quod he, "God yeve thee sorwe!
 What eyleth thee to slepe by the morwe?
 Hastow had fleen al nyght, or artow dronke?
 Or hastow with som quene al nyght yswonke,
 So that thow mayst nat holden up thyn heed?"
20 This Cook, that was ful pale and no thyng reed,
 Seyde to oure Hoost, "So God my soule blesse,
 As ther is falle on me swich hevynesse,
 Noot I nat why, that me were levere slepe
 Than the beste galon wyn in Chepe."
 "Wel," quod the Maunciple, "if it may doon ese
 To thee, sire Cook, and to no wight displese,
 Which that heere rideth in this compaignye,
 And that oure Hoost wole, of his curteisye,
 I wol as now excuse thee of thy tale.
30 For, in good feith, thy visage is ful pale,
 Thyne eyen daswen eek, as that me thynketh,
 And, wel I woot, thy breeth ful soure stynketh:
 That sheweth wel thou art nat wel disposed.
 Of me, certeyn, thou shalt nat been yglosed.
 See how he ganeth, lo, this dronken wight,
 As though he wolde swolwe us anonright.
 Hoold cloos thy mouth, man, by thy fader kyn!
 The devel of helle sette his foot therin!
 Thy cursed breeth infecte wole us alle.
40 Fy, stynkyng swyn! Fy, foule moote thee falle!
 A, taketh heede, sires, of this lusty man.
 Now, sweete sire, wol ye justen atte fan?
 Therto me thynketh ye been wel yshape!
 I trowe that ye dronken han wyn ape,
 And that is whan men pleyen with a straw."
 And with this speche the Cook wax wrooth and wraw,
 And on the Manciple he gan nodde faste
 For lakke of speche, and doun the hors hym caste,
 Where as he lay, til that men hym up took.
50 This was a fair chyvachee of a cook!
 Allas, he nadde holde hym by his ladel!
 And er that he agayn were in his sadel,
 Ther was greet showvyng bothe to and fro
 To lifte hym up, and muchel care and wo,
 So unweeldy was this sory palled goost.
 And to the Manciple thanne spak oure Hoost:
 "By cause drynke hath dominacioun
 Upon this man, by my savacioun,
 I trowe he lewedly wolde telle his tale.
60 For, were it wyn or oold or moysty ale
 That he hath dronke, he speketh in his nose,
 And fneseth faste, and eek he hath the pose.
 "He hath also to do moore than ynough
 To kepen hym and his capul out of the slough;
 And if he falle from his capul eftsoone,
 Thanne shal we alle have ynogh to doone
 In liftyng up his hevy dronken cors.
 Telle on thy tale; of hym make I no fors.
 "But yet, Manciple, in feith thou art to nyce,
70 Thus openly repreve hym of his vice.
 Another day he wole, peraventure,
 Reclayme thee and brynge thee to lure;
 I meene, he speke wole of smale thynges,
 As for to pynchen at thy rekenynges,
 That were nat honest, if it cam to preef."
 "No," quod the Manciple, "that were a greet mescheef!
 So myghte he lightly brynge me in the snare.
 Yet hadde I levere payen for the mare
 Which he rit on, than he sholde with me stryve.
80 I wol nat wratthen hym, also moot I thryve!
 That that I spak, I seyde it in my bourde.
 And wite ye what? I have heer in a gourde
 A draghte of wyn, ye, of a ripe grape,
 And right anon ye shul seen a good jape.
 This Cook shal drynke therof, if I may.
 Up peyne of deeth, he wol nat seye me nay."
 And certeynly, to tellen as it was,
 Of this vessel the Cook drank faste, allas!
 What neded hym? He drank ynough biforn.
90 And whan he hadde pouped in this horn,
 To the Manciple he took the gourde agayn;
 And of that drynke the Cook was wonder fayn,
 And thanked hym in swich wise as he koude.
 Thanne gan oure Hoost to laughen wonder loude,
 And seyde, "I se wel it is necessarie,
 Where that we goon, good drynke with us carie;
 For that wol turne rancour and disese
 T' acord and love, and many a wrong apese.
 "O Bacus, yblessed be thy name,
100 That so kanst turnen ernest into game!
 Worshipe and thank be to thy deitee!
 Of that mateere ye gete namoore of me.
 Telle on thy tale, Manciple, I thee preye."
 "Wel, sire," quod he, "now herkneth what I seye.

Next: The Manciple's Tale