The Belles of Canterbury eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 18 pages of information about The Belles of Canterbury.

(The PRIORESS comes forward with dignity and speaks to the evident wonder of the JUNIOR.)

PRIORESS.  Mademoiselle, were you from Stratford-at-the-Bowe,
            Where I learned French, some manners you might know.

JUNIOR.  Bats in my belfry all right.

PRIORESS.  Alas, my child, try while that you are yonge
            To make your Englishe sweet upon the tonge. 
            You should speak always in fair Charity.

WIFE.  Yea, but how harshly did you speak of me!

JUNIOR.  I’m blessed if I know what you are, so how could I say anything?

HIPPOLYTA.  We are Dan Chaucer’s children, he who hath
            But love for all men.

WIFE.  I’m the wife of Bath. 
            What did you say of me?  What did you say?

(JUNIOR looks around wildly.)

EMILY.  Look out, be careful, or she’ll run away.

JUNIOR.  Honest, you’ve got me so muddled I don’t know what I’m doing.  Do you want me to believe that you’re people out of a book?  Why those old Canterbury Tales’ characters never did live, Chaucer just made them up.  If you aren’t somebody dressed up to tease me, I’ve got ’em.

PRIORESS.  Ladies, hear that which maketh the last straw. 
            I plead for justice and demand the law. 
            Not live, when we are deathless?  Chaucer, dear,
            I pray that you that heresy can’t hear!

HIPPOLYTA.  Hark one and all, while judgment I pronounce: 
            If that this maid her treason will renounce,
            Most humbly on her knees our grace beseech,
            And duly quote some lines of praise for each,
            Then we will pardon grant?  Do all consent?

(All bow.)

If not, unto the bookcase she is sent.

JUNIOR.  Say something about each one of you!  I never could in the world.  That’s why I hate Chaucer so. (as she says hate Chaucer the characters all cringe) I never could learn the old stuff, (as she says old stuff they sigh and raise their eyes in silent protest)

FIRST NUN.  It will go hard with thee for that same sin.

(SECOND NUN nods to these words.)

EMILY.  Prithee, delay no longer but begin.

(The JUNIOR looks around until her eye meets the PRIORESS.)

JUNIOR.  Are you the Prioress?

PRIORESS.  I am y-cleped Madame Eglantine.

JUNIOR.  What rhymes with Eglantine?  Wine? (the PRIORESS looks duly shocked) Thine?  Divine?  I know.  It’s something about singing through your nose the service divine.

FIRST NUN.  The seemly way to sing.

SECOND NUN.  The seemly way.

GRISELDA.  Here, Eglantine, you can’t take up all day.

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The Belles of Canterbury from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.