The Squire's Tale Notes from The Canterbury Tales

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The Canterbury Tales The Squire's Tale

A young noble king by the name of Cambinskan ruled over the land of Tartary with honor and skill. He was the most renown, honorable, and ambitious king in the entire world at this time. He had two sons, Algarsyf and Cambalo, and one daughter, Canacee, by his wife, Elpheta. Canacee was so beautiful that even the squire cannot give her true beauty justice through his poor English oration.

Cambinskan held a large feast to celebrate the twenty-year anniversary of his reign, during which a knight with a gold ring and a sword entered the hall. The knight had been sent from the king of Arabia and India, offering him a brass horse that can miraculously transport a person safely anywhere on the earth within twenty-four hours. The mysterious knight also presents Canacee a mirror that can foresee imminent misfortune. It also has the ability to determine the character of friends and foes, and enables whoever wears the ring to understand the language of any bird and the healing properties of all herbs. This coveted ring is the source of much commotion at the feast. The knight also offers a magical sword whose flat will cure any wounds inflicted by the sharp edge of the knife, but can also slice through any armor. "And what man that is wounded with a strook / Shal never be hool, til that yow list of grace / To stroke hym with the plate in thilke place / Ther he is hurt; this is as muche to seyn, / Ye moote with the plate swerd ageyn / Strike hym in the wounde, and it wol close. Squire's Tale, l.152-157.

The knight was then led to a chamber whilst the ring was given to Canacee. The brass horse, however, could not move until the knight taught people how to move it. Like other mythical horses such as Pegasus, this brass horse became an enigma and source of delight for the people at the feast. They soon learned that the simple way to move the horse was to twirl a peg in its ear.

The morning following the great feast everybody but Canacee stayed in slumber until late. Canacee had dreamed of the ring and the mirror, allowing her sleep to be satisfactory, something that she had not experienced in much time. As she went on a stroll with her maids in the morning, she came across bleeding peregrine falcon that had injured itself and was crying in agony. Canacee picked up the falcon and spoke to it, for she had gained the power from the ring from the knight. The falcon told her a tale of a handsome tercelet who was as seditious and erroneous as he was beautiful. The tercelet, however, fell in love with a kite as well as with the falcon, and simply could not choose between the two. Canacee was able to heal the bird with herbs, another magical trade learned from the Knight. The tale then returns to King Cambinskan, but abruptly ends.

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