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name he finds is Sir Piers; he compliments him on his jolly looks; says he is sure that those in the convent of which he has charge must have a good time of it; and regrets that religious men like him are so much lost to society.
The Monk winced somewhat under his patronage, but took it all in good part, and agreed to tell the next tale, which was, he said, to be one to illustrate
“Tragedie, that is to sayn a certeyn storie,
and he cites a large number of examples, beginning with the Devil himself. The stories of Adam, Sampson, Hercules, Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Zenobia, Nero, Holofernes, Antiochus, Alexander the Great, Pompey, Julius Caesar, Croesus, Pedro the Cruel, the Glory of Spain, and many more, are all made to pass under review, and among the rest he gives that of Count Hugolino of Pisa, as told by Dante in the thirty-third canto of the ‘Inferno.’ The Count was accused of having betrayed the city, and, along with his three young children, was condemned to die of starvation in the prison in which he was confined,
“His yongé sone, that three yeer was of age,
Thus day by day this child bigan to crye,
His children wened that it for honger was
The tale was so long, and the stories contained in it so doleful, that even the Knight could tolerate it no longer. He said that, no doubt, it was all very worthy to be told; but that, since they were out for a holiday, there would be more pleasure in hearing the contrary:
“As when a man hath ben in poure estaat,
And then the Host, backed up in this way, with scant ceremony Said,
“Sir Monk, no more of this, so God you blesse !
But the Monk, with all the dignity he could assume, declined, and said that the Host must call upon some one else, as he had done his part, in accordance with his promise. Harry Bailly did not mind the rebuff in the least, but called out to the third priest who accompanied the prioress: “Sir Priest, let us see what you can do; tell us the next tale, and let it be a merry one, after the doleful one we have just heard. The horse you ride is not much to boast of certainly; but never mind, keep up your own heart, and tell us a tale which will raise our spirits.” The priest said he would do his best, and began at once.
THE NONNE PRESTES TALE: CHANTICLEER AND DAME PERTELOTE.
Once upon a time there was a poor widow who, with her two daughters, lived in a humble cottage in a dale at the foot of a wood which spread itself up the side of a hill. She was very poor, and she and her daughters had a hard struggle for existence. They were not in actual want; they had one or two cows, a few pigs, and some poultry; and, thanks to their frugal diet and the fresh country air, they were in excellent health, and lived their simple lives in content and thankfulness, and were dependent on no one. They were specially proud of their cock, a splendid bird, who knew his own value, and so crowed louder than any other cock in the place. He had seven hens in his charge, who followed him submissively and admiringly; and, among these, the one called Dame Pertelote was first favourite. They all roosted on one of the rafters of the barn, and Chanticleer invariably nestled next to Pertelote.
One morning shortly before sunrise the cock began to make strange noises in his throat, as if he were groaning over some calamity; and as in these days beasts and birds could do most things that men can do, Pertelote said to him that he ought to be ashamed of himself for groaning in that way and disturbing them all. Poor Chanticleer said that he could not help it, because in his sleep he had had a most distressing dream, as a frightful beast, somewhat like a hound, with a reddish body and two fiery eyes, had tried to seize him. Dame Pertelote taunted him for his cowardice, said he had lowered himself immensely in her estimation, and asked if he did not feel ashamed of himself for being so frightened at a mere dream, because all hens expected their husbands to be brave and strong and manly, “as became their beards.” She said he must have been overeating himself, and that she would have to physic him in many doses of elder-berry, and laurel, and centaury, and catapuce, and ivy, and fumitory, which she would see that he took, and which would put him all right again; and she quoted Cato to him to show that dreams were of little account. Chanticleer, after duly thanking her, showed his
knowledge of the classics by saying that he could