The canterbury tales, p.40
The Canterbury Tales,
Ther is no wight that hereth it but we tweye.
‘Ye woot yourself wel how that ye cam heere
Into this hous; it is nat longe ago.
And thogh to me that ye be lief and deere,
480 Unto my gentils480 ye be nothing so.
They seyn, to hem it is greet shame and wo
For to be subgetz and been in servage482
To thee, that born art of a smal village.
‘And namely484 sith thy doghter was ybore
485 Thise wordes han they spoken, doutelees.
But I desire, as I have doon bifore,
To live my lif with hem in reste and pees.
I may nat in this cas be recchelees488;
I moot doon with thy doghter for the beste,
490 Nat as I wolde, but as my peple leste.
‘And yet, God woot, this is ful looth491 to me.
But nathelees, withouten youre witing492
I wol nat doon, but this wol I,’ quod he,
‘That ye to me assente as in this thing.
495 Shewe now youre pacience in youre wirking495
That ye me highte496 and swore in youre village,
That day that maked was oure mariage.’
Whan she hadde herd al this, she noght ameved498,
Neither in word or cheere or contenaunce,
500 For, as it semed, she was nat agreved500.
She seide, ‘Lord, al lith501 in youre plesance.
My child and I, with hertly502 obeisance,
Been youres al, and ye mowe save or spille503
Youre owene thing; werketh after504 youre wille.
505 ‘Ther may nothing, God so my soule save,
Liken to yow that may displese me;
Ne I desire nothing for to have
Ne drede for to lese508, save oonly ye.
This wil is in min herte and ay shal be;
510 No lengthe of time or deth may this deface510,
Ne chaunge my corage511 to another place.’
Glad was this markis of hir answering,
But yet he feined513 as he were nat so.
Al drery was his cheere and his looking
515 Whan that he sholde out of the chambre go.
Soone after this, a furlong wey or two516,
He prively517 hath told al his entente
Unto a man, and to his wif him sente.
A maner sergeant519 was this privee man,
520 The which that feithful ofte he founden hadde
In thinges grete, and eek swich folk wel kan
Doon execucioun in thinges badde;
The lord knew wel that he him loved and dradde523.
And whan this sergeant wiste his lordes wille,
525 Into the chambre he stalked him525 ful stille.
‘Madame,’ he seide, ‘ye mote foryeve it me,
Thogh I do thing to which I am constreined.
Ye ben so wis that ful wel knowe ye
That lordes hestes529 mowe nat ben yfeined.
530 They mowe wel been biwailled or compleined,
But men mote nede unto hir lust531 obeye.
And so wol I; ther is namoore to seye.
‘This child I am comaunded for to take.’
– And spak namoore, but out the child he hente
535 Despitously, and gan a cheere make535
As thogh he wolde han slain it er he wente.
Grisildis moot537 al suffren and consente,
And as a lamb she sitteth meke and stille,
And leet this cruel sergeant doon his wille.
540 Suspecious was the diffame540 of this man,
Suspect541 his face, suspect his word also,
Suspect the time in which he this bigan.
Allas, hir doghter that she loved so,
She wende544 he wolde han slawen it right tho!
545 But nathelees, she neither weep545 ne siked,
Conforminge hire to that the markis liked546.
But at the laste to speken she bigan,
And mekely she to the sergeant preyde,
So as he was a worthy gentil man,
550 That she moste550 kisse hir child er that it deide.
And in hir barm551 this litel child she leide
With ful sad552 face, and gan the child to blisse,
And lulled it, and after gan it kisse.
And thus she seide, in hir benigne vois:
555 ‘Farewel, my child! I shal thee nevere see.
But sith I thee have marked with the crois
Of thilke fader – blessed mote he be –
That for us deide upon a crois of tree558,
Thy soule, litel child, I him bitake559,
560 For this night shaltow dien for my sake.’
I trowe that to a norice561 in this cas
It hadde been hard this routhe562 for to se;
Wel mighte a moder than han cryd ‘allas!’
But nathelees, so sad564 stedefast was she
565 That she endured al adversitee;
And to the sergeant mekely she saide,
‘Have here again youre litel yonge maide.
‘Goth now,’ quod she, ‘and doth my lordes heste.
But o thing wol I pray yow, of youre grace,
570 That, but570 my lord forbad yow, at the leste
Burieth this litel body in som place
That bestes ne no briddes it to-race572.’
But he no word wol to that purpos seye,
But took the child and wente upon his weye.
575 This sergeant cam unto his lord again,
And of Grisildis wordes and hir cheere576
He tolde him, point for point577, in short and plain,
And him presenteth with his doghter deere.
Somwhat this lord hadde routhe579 in his manere,
580 But nathelees his purpos held he stille,
As lordes doon whan they wol han hir wille.
And bad this sergeant that he prively
Sholde this child softe winde583 and wrappe,
With alle circumstances584 tendrely,
585 And carye it in a cofre585 or in a lappe –
But, upon peine his heed of for to swappe586,
That no man sholde knowe of his entente,
Ne whennes588 he cam, ne whider that he wente –
But at Boloigne, to his suster deere,
590 That thilke time of Panik was countesse,
He sholde it take and shewe591 hire this matere,
Bisekinge hire to doon hir bisinesse592
This child to fostre in al gentilesse593.
And whos child that it was, he bad hire hide
595 From every wight, for aught that may bitide.
The sergeant goth, and hath fulfild this thing;
But to this markis now retourne we.
For now goth he ful faste imagining598
If by his wives cheere he mighte se,
600 Or by hir word aperceive, that she
Were chaunged; but he nevere hir koude finde
But evere in oon ilike sad602 and kinde.
As glad, as humble, as bisy in servise,
And eek in love, as she was wont604 to be,
605 Was she to him in every maner wise.
Ne of hir doghter noght a word spak she.
Noon accident607 for noon adversitee
Was seyn in hire, ne nevere hir doghter name608
Ne nempned609 she, in ernest ne in game.
610 In this estat ther passed ben foure yeer
Er she with childe was, but, as God wolde,
A knave child she bar by this Walter,
Ful gracious613 and fair for to biholde.
And whan that folk it to his fader tolde,
615 Nat oonly he, but al his contree merye
Was for this child, and God they thanke and herie616.
Whan it was two yeer old, and fro the brest
Departed618 of his norice, on a day
This markis caughte
620 To tempte his wif yet ofter620, if he may.
O nedelees was she tempted in assay621!
But wedded men ne knowe no mesure622
Whan that they finde a pacient creature.
‘Wif,’ quod this markis, ‘ye han herd er this
625 My peple sikly berth625 oure mariage;
And namely sith my sone yboren is,
Now is it worse than evere in al oure age627.
The murmur sleeth628 min herte and my corage,
For to min eris comth the vois629 so smerte
630 That it wel neigh destroyed hath min herte.
‘Now sey they thus: “Whan Walter is agon,
Thanne shal the blood of Janicle succede
And been oure lord, for oother have we noon.”
Swiche wordes seyth my peple, out of drede634.
635 Wel oghte I of swich murmur taken hede,
For certeinly I drede swich sentence636,
Though they nat plein speke in min audience637.
‘I wolde live in pees, if that I mighte.
Wherfore I am disposed outrely639,
640 As I his suster servede640 by nighte,
Right so thenke I to serve him prively.
This warne I yow, that ye nat sodeinly
Out of yourself for no wo sholde outraye643;
Beth pacient, and therof I yow praye.’
645 ‘I have’, quod she, ‘seid thus, and evere shal:
I wol no thing, ne nil no thing, certein,
But as yow list; noght greveth me647 at al
Thogh that my doghter and my sone be slein –
At youre comandement, this is to seyn.
650 I have nat had no part of650 children tweine
But first, siknesse, and after, wo and peine.
‘Ye ben oure lord; dooth with youre owene thing
Right as yow list; axeth no reed653 of me.
For as I lefte at hom al my clothing,
655 Whan I first cam to yow, right so,’ quod she,
‘Lefte I my wil and al my libertee,
And took youre clothing. Wherfore I yow preye,
Dooth youre plesance; I wol youre lust658 obeye.
‘And certes if I hadde prescience659
660 Youre wil to knowe er ye youre lust me tolde,
I wolde it doon withouten necligence.
But now I woot youre lust and what ye wolde,
Al youre plesance ferme and stable I holde663.
For wiste I664 that my deeth wolde doon yow ese,
665 Right gladly wolde I dien, yow to plese.
‘Deeth may nat make no comparisoun
Unto youre love.’ And whan this markis say667
The constance of his wif, he caste adoun
His eyen two, and wondreth that she may
670 In pacience suffre670 al this array.
And forth he goth with drery contenance,
But to his herte it was ful gret plesance.
This ugly sergeant, in the same wise
That he hir doghter caughte, right so he –
675 Or worse, if men worse kan devise675 –
Hath hent676 hir sone that ful was of beautee.
And evere in oon so pacient was she,
That she no cheere678 made of hevinesse,
But kiste hir sone, and after gan it blesse679.
680 Save this: she preyede him that if he mighte
Hir litel sone he wolde in erthe grave681,
His tendre limes, delicat682 to sighte,
Fro foweles683 and fro bestes for to save.
But she noon answere of him mighte have;
685 He wente his wey as him nothing ne roghte685.
But to Boloigne he tendrely it broghte.
This markis wondreth, ever lenger the moore,
Upon hir pacience, and if that he
Ne hadde soothly knowen therbifoore
690 That parfitly690 hir children loved she,
He wolde have wend691 that of som subtiltee,
And of malice, or of cruel corage,
That she hadde suffred this with sad visage693.
But wel he knew that next himself, certain,
695 She loved hir children best in every wise.
But now of wommen wolde I asken fain696
If thise assayes mighte nat suffise?
What koude a sturdy698 housbond moore devise
To preve hir wifhod and hir stedfastnesse,
700 And he continuinge evere in sturdinesse700?
But ther ben folk of swich condicioun,
That whan they have a certein purpos take,
They kan nat stinte of703 hir entencioun,
But right as they were bounden to a stake,
705 They wol nat of that firste purpos slake705.
Right so, this markis fulliche706 hath purposed
To tempte his wif, as he was first disposed.
He waiteth708 if by word or contenance
That she to him was chaunged of corage709.
710 But nevere koude he finde variance;
She was ay oon711 in herte and in visage.
And ay the ferther that she was in age,
The moore trewe, if that it were possible,
She was to him in love, and moore penible714.
715 For which it semed thus, that of hem two
Ther nas but o wil, for as Walter leste716,
The same lust was hir plesance also.
And, God be thanked, al fil718 for the beste.
She shewed wel, for no worldly unreste719
720 A wif, as of hirself, nothing ne sholde
Wille in effect721, but as hir housbond wolde.
The sclaundre722 of Walter ofte and wide spradde,
That of a cruel herte he wikkedly,
For724 he a povre womman wedded hadde,
725 Hath mordred bothe his children prively.
Swich murmur was among hem comunly.
No wonder is, for to the peples ere727
Ther cam no word, but that they mordred were.
For which, wheras his peple therbifore
730 Hadde loved him wel, the sclaundre of his diffame730
Made hem that they hated him therfore.
To ben a mordrere732 is an hateful name;
But nathelees, for ernest ne for game733,
He of his cruel purpos nolde stente734;
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