The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

  The Knight’s Tale Part Three

page The Knight’s Tale Part Three: Page 13

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The fyres brenne upon the auter clere,
Whyl Emelye was thus in hir preyere;
But sodeinly she saugh a sighte queynte,
For right anon oon of the fyres queynte,
And quiked agayn, and after that anon
That other fyr was queynt, and al agon;
And as it queynte, it made a whistelinge,
As doon thise wete brondes in hir brenninge,
And at the brondes ende out-ran anoon
460As it were blody dropes many oon;
For which so sore agast was Emelye,
That she was wel ny mad, and gan to crye,
For she ne wiste what it signifyed;
But only for the fere thus hath she cryed,
And weep, that it was pitee for to here.
And ther-with-al Diane gan appere,
With bowe in hond, right as an hunteresse,
And seyde: ‘Doghter, stint thyn hevinesse.
Among the goddes hye it is affermed,
470And by eterne word write and confermed,
Thou shalt ben wedded unto oon of tho
That han for thee so muchel care and wo;
But unto which of hem I may nat telle.
Farwel, for I ne may no lenger dwelle.
The fyres which that on myn auter brenne
Shul thee declaren, er that thou go henne,
Thyn aventure of love, as in this cas.’
And with that word, the arwes in the cas
Of the goddesse clateren faste and ringe,
480And forth she wente, and made a vanisshinge;
For which this Emelye astoned was,
And seyde, ‘What amounteth this, allas!
I putte me in thy proteccioun,
Diane, and in thy disposicioun.’
And hoom she gooth anon the nexte weye.
This is theffect, ther is namore to seye.
When Emily finished her prayer, she saw something very strange. One of the two fires burning on the altar flicked, went out, then sparked back to life. Then other fire did the same thing and snapped back to life, just like wet branches do when they burn. This scared Emily so much that she screamed and started crying because she didn’t know what was going on. She was so frightened that the goddess Diana, dressed as a hunter and with her bow in hand, appeared before Emily and said, “Stop crying, my child. The gods in the heavens have already decided that you’re going to marry either Arcite or Palamon, both of whom have suffered so much pain because of you. I’m sorry, but I’m not allowed to tell you which of them it will be. I’m also sorry that I can’t stay, but pay attention to the fires burning on the altar because they will tell you what the future holds if you interpret the signs correctly. And with a bang, Diana disappeared again. Emily was so shocked by what had just happened that she said, “God, what does this all mean? Diana, I give myself over to you. Do with me as you see fit.” And when she was done, she returned back to the palace.