The Canterbury Pilgrims eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 138 pages of information about The Canterbury Pilgrims.

After supper the king went to examine the horse of brass.  The knight explained that to go to any place on earth all that was necessary was to whisper the name of the place in the horse’s ear, then turn a secret pin, and in a few hours the rider would be at his destination.  To stop at any moment another pin must be turned.  When standing still the horse could be moved by no man but only by its owner, who must turn another secret pin.  The horse would then vanish out of sight, but come again when the owner called it by name in a way the knight revealed.

The king was greatly rejoiced at this fine present.  He sent the bridle to the treasure-house to be guarded and kept, and went again with his guest to the revelry and feasting which lasted until dawn.

Soon after daybreak Canacee awoke to find the sun was streaming in at her window.  She felt she must rise at once to see her presents, and to walk abroad in the fresh morning wind.  She called her women, who quickly helped her to dress.  She was clad lightly for running and playing, and with six or seven companions was soon walking gaily through the park and wood.  Canacee understood all the birds’ songs, for she wore her magic ring, and she sang with them for very gladness of heart.

Suddenly, upon a tree-trunk, dried as white as chalk, she saw a falcon sitting.  The bird’s cry was piteous to hear, and as it sat it so beat itself with its wings and pecked itself with its sharp beak that the red blood ran down.

Canacee nearly fainted at the sorrowful sight.  She went nearer, however, and saw that the falcon was a princess among birds, with fine white feathers and perfect shape.  For a long time she watched it, thinking it would fall from the tree in its weakness.  At last she spoke to it.  “Why sit you here so sorrowfully?” she said.  “Surely it is for the death of some loved one, or the love of some faithless one that you weep.  Tell me, can I not help you?  I know the virtue of all herbs, and will find a salve for your wounds.”  The falcon cried yet louder, and at last fell down in a swoon.  Canacee was quick and caught it as it fell.  She laid it in her lap and waited till it should recover.  At length the falcon opened its eyes, and began to speak.  Canacee understood all.

“Long ago,” said the falcon, “I lived happily in a tall rock of grey marble, for I am royally born.  Many birds wooed me, but especially one, who seemed the very flower of chivalry—­a tercelet eagle, strong and famous.  For many years I rejected his suit, but at last gave him all my heart and my love, and thought that I had all his true love and service in return.  Ah me for the faithlessness of men!  One day he must needs go to a far land.  We took a loving farewell, yet I was sad at heart and fearful, I know not why.  The pain of death could not be worse than the pain of parting to true lovers.  I watched and waited for him many a day, but alas! in a far land he saw a kite, and suddenly loved her so that all love of me died in his heart.  I am lost and hurt beyond all remedy.  Ah, woe is me!”

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The Canterbury Pilgrims from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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