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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Clerk's Tale

Incipit tercia pars.
Here begins the third part

       Ther fil, as it bifalleth tymes mo,
450Whan that this child had souked but a throwe,
This markys in his herte longeth so
To tempte his wyf, hir sadnesse for to knowe,
That he ne myghte out of his herte throwe
This merveillous desir his wyf t'assaye.
455Nedelees, God woot, he thoghte hir for t'affraye.

       He hadde assayed hir ynogh bifore,
And foond hir evere good; what neded it
Hir for to tempte and alwey moore and moore?
Though som men preise it for a subtil wit,
460But as for me, I seye that yvele it sit
To assaye a wyf, whan that it is no nede,
And putten hir in angwyssh and in drede.

       For which this markys wroghte in this manere;
He cam allone a-nyght, ther as she lay,
465With stierne face and with ful trouble cheere,
And seyde thus, "Grisilde," quod he, "that day
That I yow took out of your povere array,
And putte yow in estaat of heigh noblesse, -
Ye have nat that forgeten, as I gesse.

470        I seye, Grisilde, this present dignitee
In which that I have put yow, as I trowe
Maketh yow nat foryetful for to be
That I yow took in povre estaat ful lowe
For any wele ye moot youreselven knowe.
475Taak heede of every word that y yow seye,
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 though to me that ye be lief and deere,
480Unto my gentils ye be no thyng so.
They seyn, to hem it is greet shame and wo
For to be subgetz, and to been in servage,
To thee, that born art of a smal village.

       And namely, sith thy doghter was ybore,
485Thise wordes han they spoken, doutelees;
But I desire, as I have doon bifore,
To lyve my lyf with hem in reste and pees.
I may nat in this caas be recchelees;
I moot doon with thy doghter for the beste,
490Nat as I wolde, but as my peple leste.

       And yet God woot, this is ful looth to me;
But nathelees, withoute youre wityng
I wol nat doon, but this wol I," quod he,
"That ye to me assente as in this thyng.
495Shewe now youre pacience in youre werkyng,
That ye me highte and swore in youre village,
That day that maked was oure mariage."

       Whan she had herd al this, she noght ameved
Neither in word, or chiere, or countenaunce;
500For as it semed she was nat agreved.
She seyde, "Lord, al lyth in youre plesaunce,
My child, and I, with hertely obeisaunce
Been youres al, and ye mowe save and spille
Youre owene thyng, werketh after youre wille.

505        Ther may no thyng, God so my soule save,
Liken to yow, that may displese me,
Ne I ne desire no thyng for to have,
Ne drede for to leese, save oonly yee;
This wyl is in myn herte, and ay shal be;
510No lengthe of tyme or deeth may this deface,
Ne chaunge my corage to another place."

       Glad was this markys of hir answeryng,
But yet he feyned as he were nat so.
Al drery was his cheere and his lookyng,
515Whan that he sholde out of the chambre go.
Soone after this, a furlong wey or two,
He prively hath toold al his entente
Unto a man, and to his wyf hym sente.

       A maner sergeant was this privee man,
520The which that feithful ofte he founden hadde
In thynges grete, and eek swich folk wel kan
Doon execucioun on thynges badde.
The lord knew wel that he hym loved and dradde;-
And whan this sergeant wiste the lordes wille,
525Into the chambre he stalked hym ful stille.

       "Madame," he seyde, "ye moote foryeve it me,
Though I do thyng to which I am constreyned,
Ye been so wys, that ful wel knowe ye
That lordes heestes mowe nat been yfeyned,
530They mowe wel been biwailled and compleyned,
But men moote nede unto hir lust obeye;
And so wol I, ther is namoore to seye.

       This child I am comanded for to take."
And spak namoore, but out the child he hente
535Despitously, and gan a cheere make
As though he wolde han slayn it er he wente.
Grisildis moot al suffren and consente;
And as a lamb she sitteth meke and stille,
And leet this crueel sergeant doon his wille.

540        Suspecious was the diffame of this man,
Suspect his face, suspect his word also,
Suspect the tyme in which he this bigan.
Allas, hir doghter that she loved so!
She wende he wolde han slawen it right tho;
545But nathelees she neither weep ne syked,
Conformynge hir to that the markys lyked.

       But atte laste speken she bigan,
And mekely she to the sergeant preyde,
So as he was a worthy gentil man,
550That she moste kisse hire child, er that it deyde,
And in hir barm this litel child she leyde,
With ful sad face, and gan the child to kisse,
And lulled it, and after gan it blisse.

       And thus she seyde in hir benigne voys,
555"Fareweel, my child, I shal thee nevere see,
But sith I thee have marked with the croys
Of thilke Fader blessed moote thou be,
That for us deyde upon a croys of tree.
Thy soule, litel child, I hym bitake,
560For this nyght shaltow dyen for my sake."

       I trowe, that to a norice in this cas
It had been hard this reuthe for to se;
Wel myghte a mooder thanne han cryd `allas!'
But nathelees so sad and stidefast was she,
565That she endured al adversitee,
And to the sergeant mekely she sayde,
"Have heer agayn your litel yonge mayde."

       "Gooth now," quod she, "and dooth my lordes heeste;
But o thyng wol I prey yow of youre grace,
570That, but my lord forbad yow atte leeste,
Burieth this litel body in son place
That beestes ne no briddes it torace."
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 ageyn,
And of Grisildis wordes and hire cheere
He tolde hym point for point, in short and pleyn,
And hym presenteth with his doghter deere.
Somwhat this lord hath routhe in his manere,
580But nathelees his purpos heeld he stille,
As lordes doon whan they wol han hir wille;

       And bad his sergeant, that he pryvely
Sholde this child ful softe wynde and wrappe,
With alle circumstances tendrely,
585And carie it in a cofre or in a lappe,
But, upon peyne his heed of for to swappe
That no man sholde knowe of his entente,
Ne whenne he cam, ne whider that he wente.

       But at Boloigne to his suster deere,
590That thilke tyme of Panik was countesse,
He sholde it take, and shewe hir this mateere,
Bisekynge hir to doon hir bisynesse
This child to fostre in alle gentillesse,
And whos child that it was, he bad hire hyde
595From every wight, for oght that may bityde.

       The sergeant gooth, and hath fulfild this thyng,
But to this markys now retourne we,
For now gooth he ful faste ymaginyng,
If by his wyves cheere he myghte se
600Or by hir word aperceyve that she
Were chaunged, but he nevere hir koude fynde,
But evere in oon ylike sad and kynde.

       As glad, as humble, as bisy in servyse,
And eek in love, as she was wont to be,
605Was she to hym in every maner wyse,
Ne of hir doghter noght a word spak she.
Noon accident for noon adversitee
Was seyn in hire, ne nevere hir doghter name
Ne nempned she, in ernest nor in game.


Explicit tercia pars.
Here ends the third part




Next:
The Clerk's Tale, Fourth Part (ll. 610-784)