wight,” quod sche
“Dar I not telle how it stont with me.
Wherfor I think out of this lond to wende,
Or elles of my-self to make an ende,
So ful am I of drede and eek of care.”

This monk bygan upon this wyf to stare;
And sayd, “Allas! my nece, God forbede,
That ye for eny sorw, or eny drede,
Fordo your self; but telleth me your greef,
Paraventure I may in youre mescheef
Councel or help; and therfor telleth me
Al your annoy, for it schal be secré.
For on my portos here I make an oth,
That never in my lif, for lief ne loth,
Ne schal I of no counseil you bywraye.”
“The same ayein,” quod sche, “to yow I saye.
By God and by this portos wil I swere,
Though men me wolde al in peces tere,
Ne schal I never, for to go to helle,
Bywreye a word of thing that ye me telle,
Not for no cosynage, ne alliaunce,
But verrayly for love and affiaunce.”
Thus ben thay sworn, and herupon i-kist,
And ilk of hem told other what hem list.

“Cosyn,” quod sche, “if that I had a space,
As I have noon, and namly in this place,
Then wold I telle a legend of my lyf,
What I have suffred sith I was a wyf
With myn housbond, though he be your cosyn.”
“Nay,” quod this monk, “by God and seint Martyn!
He nis no more cosyn unto me,
Than is this leef that hongeth on the tre;
I cleped him so, by seint Denis of Fraunce,
To have the more cause of acqueyntaunce
Of yow, which I have loved specially
Aboven alle wommen sikerly;
This swere I yow on my professioun.
Tellith youre greef, lest that he come adoun,
And hasteth yow; and goth your way anoon.”
“My deere love,” quod sche, “O dan Johan!
Ful leef me were this counseil for to hyde,
But out it moot, I may no more abyde.
Myn housbond is to me the worste man,
That ever was siththe the world bigan;
But sith I am a wif, it sit nought me
To telle no wight of oure priveté,
Neyther a-bedde, ne in none other place;
God schilde I scholde telle it for his grace!
A wyf ne schal not say of hir housbonde
But al honour, as I can understonde.
Save unto yow thus moche telle I schal;
As help me God, he is not worth at al,
In no degré, the valieu of a flie.
But yit me greveth most his nigardye.
And wel ye wot, that wymmen naturelly
Desiren sixe thinges, as wel as I.
They wolde that here housbondes scholde be
Hardy, and wys, and riche, and therto fre,
And buxom to his wyf, and freisch on bedde.
But by the Lord that for us alle bledde,
For his honour my-selven to arraye,
A sonday next comyng yit most I paye
An hundred frank, or elles I am lorn.
Yit were me lever that I were unborn,
Than me were doon a sclaunder or vilenye.
And if myn housbond eek might it espie,
I ner but lost; and therfor I yow praye
Lene me this somme, or elles mot I deye.
Dan Johan, I seie, lene me this hundreth frankes;
Pardé I wil nouht faile the my thankes,
If that yow lust to do that I yowe praye.
For at a certein day I wol yow paye,
And do to yow what pleasaunce and servise
That I may do, right as you list devyse;
And but I do, God take on me vengeaunce,
As foul as hadde Geneloun of Fraunce!”

This gentil monk answerd in this manere;
“Now trewely, myn owne lady deere,
I have on yow so gret pité and reuthe,
That I yow swere, and plighte yow my treuthe,
Than whan your housbond is to Flaundres fare,
I schal deliver yow out of youre care,
For I wol bringe yow an hundred frankes.”
And with that word he caught hir by the schankes,
And hir embraced hard, and kite hir ofte.
“Goth now your way,” quod he, “al stille and softe,
And let us dyne as sone as ever ye maye,
For by my chilindre it is prime of daye;
Goth now, and beth as trew as I schal be.”
“How elles God forbede, sire!” quod sche.
And forth sche goth, as joly as a pye,
And bad the cookes that thai schold hem hye,
So that men myghte dyne, and that anoon.
Up to hir housbond this wif is y-goon,
And knokketh at his dore boldely.
Quy est la?” quod he. “Peter! it am I,”
Quod sche. “How longe, sire, wol ye faste?
How longe tyme wol ye reken and caste
Your sommes, and your bokes, and your thinges?
The devel have part of alle such rekenynges.
Ye have i-nough pardy of Goddes sonde.
Com doun to day, and let your bagges stonde.
Ne be ye not aschamed, that daun Johan
Schal alday fastyng thus elenge goon?
What? let us hiere masse, and go we dyne.”

“Wif,” quod this man, “litel canstow divine
The curious besynesse that we have;
For of us chapmen, al-so God me sake,
And by that lord that cleped is seint Ive,
Scarsly amonges twelve, two schuln thrive
Continuelly, lastyng unto our age.
We may wel make cheer and good visage,
And dryve forth the world, as it may be,
And kepen our estat in priveté,
Til we be deed, or elles that we playe
A pilgrimage, or goon out of the waye;
And therfor have I gret necessité
Upon this queynte world to avyse me.
For evermor we moste stond in drede
Of hap and fortun in our chapmanhede.
To Flaundres wil I go to morw at day,
And come agayn as soone as ever I may;
For which, my deere wif, I the byseeke
As be to every wight buxom and meeke,
And for to kepe oure good be curious,
And honestly governe wel our hous.
Thou hast y-nough, in every maner

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