Search Menu

The Canterbury Tales

Original Text

Modern Text

Our counseil was nat longe for to seche;
Us thoughte it was noght worth to make it wys,
And graunted him withouten more avys,
And bad him seye his verdit, as him leste.
I didn’t take long for us to decide to do as he asked, and we told him to just tell us what to do.



‘Lordinges,’ quod he, ‘now herkneth for the beste;
But tak it not, I prey yow, in desdeyn;
This is the poynt, to speken short and pleyn,
That ech of yow, to shorte with your weye,
In this viage, shal telle tales tweye,
To Caunterbury-ward, I mene it so,
And hom-ward he shal tellen othere two,
Of aventures that whylom han bifalle.
And which of yow that bereth him best of alle,
That is to seyn, that telleth in this cas
Tales of best sentence and most solas,
Shal have a soper at our aller cost
Here in this place, sitting by this post,
Whan that we come agayn fro Caunterbury.
And for to make yow the more mery,
I wol my-selven gladly with yow ryde,
Right at myn owne cost, and be your gyde.
And who-so wol my Iugement withseye
Shal paye al that we spenden by the weye.
And if ye vouche-sauf that it be so,
Tel me anon, with-outen wordes mo,
And I wol erly shape me therfore.’
“Gentlemen,” he said, “listen carefully, and try to understand what I’m about to propose. I’ll make this short and sweet. I propose that each of you tell us two stories to help pass the time on the way to Canterbury, and then tell two more stories about the olden days on the way back. And whichever one of you tells the most informative or funny story will get a free dinner paid by the rest of us right here in my hotel when you all get back. And, to make sure you enjoy the journey, I’ll pay my own way to go with you and be your guide. I’ll also decide who tells the best story. And anyone who questions my judgment can pay the entire cost of the trip for everyone. Let me know if this sounds like a good idea to you, and I’ll go get ready.”