THE COKES TALE

The prologe of the Cokes tale.

 

The Cook of London, whyl the Reve spak,

For joye, him though te, he clawed him on the bak,

‘Ha ! ha !’ quod he, ‘for Cristes passioun,

This miller hadde a sharp conclusioun

Upon his argument of herbergage !

Wei seyde Salomon in his langage,

” Ne bringe nat every man in-to thyn hous ; “

For herberwing by nighte is perilous.

Wei oghte a man avysed for to be

Whom that he broghte in-to his privetee.

I pray to god, so yeve me sorwe and care,

If ever, sith I highte Hogge of Ware,

Herde I a miller bettre y-set a-werk.

He hadde a jape of malice in the derk.

But god forbede that we stinten here ;

And therfore, if ye vouche-sauf to here

A tale of me, that am a povre man,

I wol yow telle as wel as ever I can

A litel jape that fil in our citee.’

Our host answerde, and seide, ‘ I graunte it thee;

Now telle on, Roger, loke that it be good ;

For many a pastee hastow laten blood,

And many a Jakke of Dover hastow sold

That hath been twyes hoot and twyes cold.

Of many a pilgrim hastow Cristes curs,

For of thy persly yet they fare the wors,

That they han eten with thy stubbel-goos ;

For in thy shoppe is many a flye loos.

Now telle on, gentil Roger, by thy name.

But yet I pray thee, be nat wrooth for game,

A man may seye ful sooth in game and pley.’

‘ Thou seist ful sooth,’ quod Roger, ‘ by my fey,

But “sooth pley, quaad pley,” as the Fleming seith;

And ther-fore, Herry Bailly, by thy feith,

Be thou nat wrooth, er we departen heer,

Though that my tale be of an hostileer.

But nathelees I wol nat telle it yit,

But er we parte, y-wis, thou shalt be quit.’

And ther-with-al he lough and made chere,

And seyde his tale, as ye shul after here.

 

Thus endeih the Prologe of the Cokes tale.

Heer bigynneth the Cokes tale.

 

A Prentis whylom dwelled in our citee,

And of a craft of vitaillers was he ;

Gail lard he was as goldfinch in the shawe,

Broun as a berie, a propre short felawe,

With lokkes blake, y-kempt ful fetisly.

Dauncen he coude so wel and jolily,

That he was cleped Perkin Revelour.

He was as ful of love and paramour

As is the hyve ful of hony swete ;

Wel was the wenche with him mighte mete.

At every brydale wolde he singe and hoppe,

He loved bet the tavern than the shoppe.

For whan ther any ryding was in Chepe,

Out of the shoppe thider wolde he lepe.

Til that he hadde al the sighte y-seyn,

And daunced wel, he wolde nat come ageyn.

And gadered him a meinee of his sort

To hoppe and singe, and maken swich disport.

And ther they setten steven for to mete

To pleyen at the dys in swich a strete.

For in the toune nas ther no prentys,

Tha fairer coude caste a paire of dys

Than Perkin coude, and ther-to he was free

Of his dispense, in place of privetee.

That fond his maister wel in his chaffare;

For often tyme he fond his box ful bare.

For sikerly a prentis revelour,

That haunteth dys, riot, or paramour,

His maister shal it in his shoppe abye,

Al have he no part of the minstralcye ;

For thefte and riot, they ben convertible,

Al conne he pleye on giterne or ribible.

Revel and trouthe, as in a low degree,

They been ful wrothe al day, as men may see

This joly prentis with his maister bood,

Til he were ny out of his prentishood,

Al were he snibbed bothe erly and late,

And somtyme lad with revel to Newgate ;

But atte laste his maister him bithoghte,

Up-on a day, whan he his paper soghte,

Of a proverbe that seith this same word,

‘ Wel bet is roten appel out of hord

Than that it rotie al the remenaunt.’

So fareth it by a riotous servaunt ;

It is wel lasse harm to lete him pace,

Than he shende alle the servants in the place.

Theriore his maister yaf him acquitance,

And bad him go with sorwe and with meschance ;

And thus this joly prentis hadde his leve.

Now lat him riote al the night or leve.

And for ther is no theef with-oute a louke,

That helpeth him to wasten and to souke

Of that he brybe can or borwe may,

Anon he sente his bed and his array

Un-to a compeer of his owne sort,

That lovede dys and revel and disport,

And hadde a wyf that heeld for countenance

A shoppe, and swyved for hir sustenance.

Of this Cokes tale maked Chaucer na more.