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Aurelius had now to think of the thousand pounds which he had to pay to the magician. He had promised it much too hastily, for he did not have the money, and could think of no means
“I se no more, but that I am fordone,
He therefore endeavoured to come to terms with him. He offered to pay half the money at once, and then so much every year until the whole was paid, and he told him he had “never failéd of his
“This philosophre sobrely answerde
and the result was that, when the musician ‘had | << * *
heard the whole story, he generously resolved t free Aurelius from the payment of the thousand pounds. And, said he—
Thou art a squyère, and he is knight,
When he had told his tale, the Franklin asked the company to tell which of the four had been the most generous. No answer to the question is given in the poem, as it is usually presented; but in one of the manuscripts the Host is made to say, somewhat brusquely, “Yea, let that passe as now;” and he then called upon the Doctor of Physik to give them a tale “ of some honèste mattere,” which turned out to be a condensed version of the story of “Virginius,” as told in the third book of Livy, and rendered so well known to us by Macaulay's Lay. The story was so tragic, and the injury done to the father and daughter so great, that the Host declared he had no language in which to express his horror of the deed, and he said that the worthy Doctor, by telling the tale so graphically, had caused what it was his business to cure—that he had given him “a cardiacle,” a heavy heartache, and that he thought the only remedy for it would be either “a draught of moyste and corny ale,” or else that the next tale should be a specially merry one; and in order that this might be so, he called upon the mountebank Pardoner, who, he thought from the look of him, could tell them of “some mirthe or japés right anon.” That worthy said he was quite agreeable, but that he must first have something to eat and drink at the next “alestake,” where he would think out what he was going to say as he drank his glass.
THE PARDONERES TALE: THE DEATH SLAYERS.
The “Pardoner's Tale,” like the Wife of Bath's, is a short one with a long prologue. In this prologue he discloses the tricks of his trade, and tells how, under pretence of teaching moral lessons, he endeavours to wheedle money out of his auditors for his own ends. He says he has only one text to preach from, but that it is a very powerful one. It is “Radia, malorum est cupiditas,” (the love of money is the root of all evil). On that text he preaches loudly and confidently, and the result is that, when he is violently declaiming against covetousness, his hearers cannot think that he is playing upon them, and practising the very vice which he is openly denouncing:—
“Therfor my theme is yet, and ever was,
He therefore gets high prices for his bones, and stones, and mittens, and other rubbish; and he incites his hearers to covetous desires by telling them that they will acquire great wealth and comfort if they will use his relics. But he says, that although he does not pretend to be better than he is, he will tell the present company a tale, which certainly illustrates the truth of his one text. In a certain town of Flanders there was a company of roysterers who practised every kind of devilry they could think of ; and the worst of them were three young men, who swore over their cups, as they watched the dead body of one of their boon companions being carried by for burial, that they would slay the slayer, Death, who made such havoc among them. They therefore started up, drunken as they were, and proceeded onwards towards a certain village where Death had been very busy of late. On the way they came upon a miserablelooking old man, sitting by the side of the road, who meekly greeted them as they passed. They began to jeer at him, on account of his miserable looks, and to ask him why he lived so long. He said it was because he could find no one who would exchange his youth for his own old age, that he longed to go, but “Ne deeth, allas ! ne wol nat have my lyf; Thus walk I, lyk a restéles caityf, And on the ground, which is my mother's gate, I knokké with my staf, both erly and late, And sayé, ‘Levé mother, let me in Lo, how I vanish, flesh, and bones, and skin | Allas ! whan shal my bonés been at reste l'
Bot yet to me she wol nat do that grace,
“But,” said Old Age, “I hope you do not intend to do me harm, for a curse is pronounced against those who injure the aged.” They said, however, that they would not let him off so easily; and that, as he had mentioned that traitor Death, he must at least tell them where he was to be found. And then the old man looked strangely on them and said, “Do you really wish to meet with Death 2" And when they said “Yes,” he told them that, if they turned up the next opening in the grove, they would find him, under a certain tree. They did so; but when they came to the tree, they saw no