The Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer/Words of the Host (2)

Words of the Host

The words of the Host to the Physician and the Pardoner.

OUR host gan swear as he were mad. "Harrow! by nails and by blood!" quoth he, "this was a false churl and a false justice! As shameful death as heart may conceive come upon these judges and their advocates. Natheless this poor maid is slain, alas! Too dear she bought her beauty! Wherefore I say that alway, as men may witness, the gifts of fortune or nature be cause of death to many a wight. Verily her beauty was her death. Alas! so pitifully as she was slain! Of both these gifts that I speak of, men have full oft more harm than profit. But truly, my own master dear, this is a piteous tale for to hearken to. But natheless, pass over, it is no matter. I pray to God save thy gentle corse, and thy Galens and eke thine Hippocrates, and every box full of thine electuary. God and our Lady bless them! Thou art a proper man, as I live, and like a prelate, by Saint Ronyan! Said I not well? I cannot speak in clerkly terms, but I wot well thou makest me so to grieve that I almost have caught a spasm about my heart. By Corpus bones! unless I have physic or a draught of musty and corny ale, or else hear anon a merry story, my heart is broken for pity of this maid. Thou bel amy, thou Pardoner, tell us straightway some mirth or jests."

"It shall be done!" quoth he, "by Saint Ronyan. But first here at this ale-stake," quoth he, "I will drink and eat of a loaf." But straightway these gentles gan exclaim, "Nay! let him tell us no ribaldry. Tell us some moral thing that we may learn some wisdom, and then we will gladly hear." "I agree, sure," quoth he, "but I must ponder on some virtuous thing—while I drink."