The Schipmannes Tale

A Marchaunt whilom dwelled at Seint Denys,
That riche was, for which men hild him wys.
A wyf he had of excellent beauté,
And companable, and reverent was sche;
Which is a thing that causeth more despence,
Than worth is al the cher and reverence
That men doon hem at festes or at daunces.
Such salutaciouns and continaunces
Passeth, as doth the schadow on a wal;
But wo is him that paye moot for al.
The sely housbond algat moste paye,
He most us clothe in ful good arraye
Al for his oughne worschip richely;
In which array we daunce jolily.
And if that he may not, paraventure,
Or elles wil not such dispens endure,
But thynketh it is wasted and i-lost,
Than moot another paye for oure cost,
Or lene us gold, and that is perilous.

This worthy marchaunt huld a noble hous,
For which he hadde alday gret repair
For his largesce, and for his wyf was fair.
What wonder is? but herkneth to my tale.

Amonges al these gestes gret and smale,
Ther was a monk, a fair man and a bold,
I trowe, thritty wynter he was old,
That ever in oon was drawyng to that place.
This yonge monk, that was so fair of face,
Aqueynted was so with the goode man,
Sithen that her firste knowleche bygan,
That in his hous as familier was he
As it possibil is a frend to be.
And for as mochil as this goode man
And eek this monk, of which that I bygan,
Were bothe tuo i-born in oon village,
The monk him claymeth, as for cosynage;
And he ayein him saith nat oones nay,
But was as glad therof, as foul of day,
For to his hert it was a gret plesaunce.
Thus ben thay knyt with eterne alliaunce,
And ilk of hem gan other to assure
Of brotherhed, whil that her lif may dure.
Fre was daun Johan, and manly of despence
As in that hous, and ful of diligence
To do plesaunce, and also gret costage;
He nought foryat to yeve the leste page
In al that hous; but, after her degré,
He yaf the lord, and siththen his meyné,
Whan that he com, som maner honest thing;
For which thay were as glad of his comyng
As foul is fayn, whan that the sonne upriseth.
No mor of this as now, for it suffiseth.

But so bifel, this marchaunt on a day
Schop him to make redy his array
Toward the toun of Bruges for to fare,
To byen ther a porcioun of ware;
For which he hath to Paris sent anoon
A messanger, and prayed hath dan Johan
That he schulde come to Seint Denys, and playe
With him, and with his wyf, a day or twaye,
Er he to Brigges went, in alle wise.
This nobil monk, of which I yow devyse,
Hath of his abbot, as him list, licence,
(Bycause he was a man of heih prudence,
And eek an officer) out for to ryde,
To se her graunges and her bernes wyde;
And unto Seint Denys he cometh anoon.
Who was so welcome as my lord dan Johan,
Oure deere cosyn, ful of curtesie?
With him brought he a jubbe of malvesie,
And eek another ful of wyn vernage,
And volantyn, as ay was his usage;
And thus I lete hem ete, and drynk, and playe,
This marchaunt and this monk, a day or twaye.

The thridde day this marchaund up he riseth,
And on his needes sadly him avyseth;
And up into his countour hous goth he,
To rekyn with him-self, as wel may be,
Of thilke yer, how that it with him stood,
And how that he dispended had his good,
And if that he encresced were or noon.
His bookes and his bagges many oon
He hath byforn him on his counter bord,
For riche was his tresor and his hord;
For which ful fast his contour dore he schette;
And eek he wolde no man schold him lette
Of his accomptes, for the mene- tyme;
And thus he sat, til it was passed prime.

Dan Johan was risen in the morn also,
And in the gardyn walkith to and fro.
And hath his thinges said ful curteisly.
This good wyf com walkyng ful prively
Into the gardyn, ther he walketh softe,
And him salueth, as sche hath doon ful ofte.
A mayde child com in hir compaignie,
Which as hir list sche may governe and gye,
For yit under the yerde was the mayde.
“O dere cosyn myn, dan Johan,” sche sayde,
“What ayleth yow so rathe to arise?”
“Nece,” quod he, “it aught y-nough suffise
Fyve houres for to slepe upon a night;
But it were for eny old palled wight,
As ben these weddid men, that ly and dare,
As in a forme ther lith a wery hare,
Were al for-straught with houndes gret and smale.
But, dere nece, why be ye so pale?
I trowe certis, that oure goode man
Hath on yow laborid, sith the night bygan,
That yow were nede to resten hastiliche.”
And with that word he lowgh ful meriliche,
And of his owne thought he wex al reed.

This faire wyf bygan to schake hir heed,
And sayde thus, “Ye, God wot al,” quod sche.
“Nay, cosyn myn, it stant not so with me.
For by that God, that yaf me soule and lif,
In al the reme of Fraunce is ther no wyf
That lasse lust hath to that sory play;
For I may synge allas and waylaway
That I was born; but to no

  By PanEris using Melati.

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