The Canterbury Pilgrims eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 138 pages of information about The Canterbury Pilgrims.
a tale that unless I have a draught of cool corny ale to cheer my spirits, or else hear a merry tale at once, I shall weep for sorrow!  Come, Sir Pardoner,” he called, “tell us of mirth and quips and cranks!” “That shall be done,” answered the Pardoner, stopping the love song which he had been singing all the morning; “but first I must drink at this inn here, and eat a cake.”  The gentlefolk of our company looked suspicious.  “We want no vulgar tales,” they said.  “Let him tell us of morals that we may learn good, or let him hold his peace.”  “That shall be as you wish, good folk,” the Pardoner replied.  “I will think of something virtuous while I quaff my ale.”

As we left the inn he began thus: 

“Gentles all, you should hear my voice when I preach in church!  It rings loud and clear like a bell, and I never falter, for I know all I have to say by heart.  My text is always the same:  ’Greed is the root of all evils’—­only you must know I speak it in Latin to my congregation, for Latin gives a learned tone to my speech, whether the audience understands it or not.

“Would you care to know my procedure?  Here it is: 

“First, I announce whence I have come, then show all my bulls, with the seals of my liege lord the Pope attached, then my letters of authority from cardinals and bishops and patriarchs, so that everybody believes in me and none dare interrupt me in my holy work.

“Then I produce my long crystal tubes, packed full of rags and bones which the ignorant are pleased to think are sacred relics.  See,” he said, opening his wallet, “here is a pillow-case made of Our Lady’s veil, and here a piece of the sail from the ship in which Peter sailed before he walked on the Sea of Galilee.  I have also a fine shoulder-blade made of brass, fashioned by a Jew.  That’s a very profitable possession, I can assure you.

“When I have roused people’s curiosity and awe in these ways, I begin my speech.

“‘Brethren all,’ I say in my fullest voice, ’behold this bone.  It has great powers.  If it be washed in the water of a well, any cow, calf, sheep or ox that drinks of that well will be cured at once of any disorder that affects him.  No matter if he have eaten, poisonous insects or plants, or been stung by poisonous flies, or suffer from scab or sores, the water in which this wonderful bone has been washed will cure him.  Listen carefully to what I say.  This bone has never been known to fail.  Why, if a man drink every morning of water it has touched, not only himself but his cattle will prosper, his goods will multiply, he will grow rich and famous.  This bone can help a woman too!  If her husband is jealous, all she need do is to wash this bone in the man’s broth, and at once all his suspicions will vanish.

“’Here now is a mitten, as powerful as the bone.  Of a truth, if a man puts his hand in this mitten all his grain will yield, some sixty, some a hundred fold.  No matter whether he owns wheat or oats, he that but touches this mitten will grow wealthy indeed.

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The Canterbury Pilgrims from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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