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The Canterbury Tales

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‘To speke of royal linage and richesse,
Though that she were a quene or a princesse,
Ech of yow bothe is worthy, doutelees,
To wedden whan tyme is, but nathelees
I speke as for my suster Emelye,
For whom ye have this stryf and Ielousye;
Ye woot yourself, she may not wedden two
At ones, though ye fighten evermo:
That oon of yow, al be him looth or leef,
He moot go pypen in an ivy-leef;
This is to seyn, she may nat now han bothe,
Al be ye never so Ielous, ne so wrothe.
And for-thy I yow putte in this degree,
That ech of yow shal have his destinee
As him is shape; and herkneth in what wyse;
Lo, heer your ende of that I shal devyse.
Theseus then said, “But it looks like we still have the matter of your lovesickness to solve, don’t we? Both of you are honorable and noble enough to marry any woman you please, even a queen or a princess. But you two happen to be in love with my own sister-in-law. You know that she can’t marry you both at the same time, now matter how badly you want her. One of you is simply going to have to let her go no matter how you feel about the matter. So, to resolve this matter, this is what I propose:









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My wil is this, for plat conclusioun,
With-outen any replicacioun,
If that yow lyketh, tak it for the beste,
That everich of yow shal gon wher him leste
Frely, with-outen raunson or daunger;
And this day fifty wykes, fer ne ner,
Everich of yow shal bringe an hundred knightes,
Armed for listes up at alle rightes,
Al redy to darreyne hir by bataille.
And this bihote I yow, with-outen faille,
Upon my trouthe, and as I am a knight,
That whether of yow bothe that hath might,
This is to seyn, that whether he or thou
May with his hundred, as I spak of now,
Sleen his contrarie, or out of listes dryve,
Him shal I yeve Emelya to wyve,
To whom that Fortune yeveth so fair a grace.
The listes shal I maken in this place,
And God so wisly on my soule rewe,
As I shal even Iuge been and trewe.
Ye shul non other ende with me maken,
That oon of yow ne shal be deed or taken.
And if yow thinketh this is wel y-sayd,
Seyeth your avys, and holdeth yow apayd.
This is your ende and your conclusioun.’
Both of you should think on the matter for a year. Go wherever you please, but both of you should return here in fifty weeks with a hundred knights each to participate in a great tournament that will decide which one of you will marry Emily. I’ll be the judge, and the outcome of the tournament will be final: Whoever’s team of knights manages to kill or defeat the other team will have Emily’s hand in marriage. We’ll hold the tournament here in Athens. What do you two think about my plan?

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