The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

  The Pardoner’s Tale Page 10

page The Pardoner’s Tale: Page 10

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But, sirs, to yow it is no curteisye
To speken to an old man vileinye,
But he trespasse in worde, or elles in dede.
280In holy writ ye may your-self wel rede,
“Agayns an old man, hoor upon his heed,
Ye sholde aryse;” wherfor I yeve yow reed,
Ne dooth unto an old man noon harm now,
Na-more than ye wolde men dide to yow
In age, if that ye so longe abyde;
And God be with yow, wher ye go or ryde.
I moot go thider as I have to go.’
“Still, it isn’t very nice of you to speak to an old man the way you did, unless he’s done something really bad to you. Remember that it says ‘

Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head!

Leviticus 19:32

Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head!
’. In other words, respect your elders. Don’t do or say things to an old man that you wouldn’t want done or said to you. And may God go with you, wherever you go. As for me, I should continue on now.”
‘Nay, olde cherl, by God, thou shall nat so,’
Seyde this other hasardour anon;
290‘Thou partest nat so lightly, by seint Iohn!
Thou spak right now of thilke traitour Deeth,
That in this contree alle our frendes sleeth.
Have heer my trouthe, as thou art his aspye,
Tel wher he is, or thou shalt it abye,
By God, and by the holy sacrament!
For soothly thou art oon of his assent,
To sleen us yonge folk, thou false theef!’
“Not so fast, gramps,” one of the other hooligans said. “You’re not going anywhere, old man. We’re not going to let you get away that easily! You seem to know a lot about this bastard Death who’s been killing our friends around here. I’m thinking that you’re in cahoots with him, that you’re his spy, and that you’re trying to kill all the young people! By God and the Bible, you better tell me where Death is or you’ll regret it!
‘Now, sirs,’ quod he, ‘if that yow be so leef
To finde Deeth, turne up this croked wey,
300For in that grove I lafte him, by my fey,
Under a tree, and ther he wol abyde;
Nat for your boost he wol him no-thing hyde.
See ye that ook? right ther ye shul him finde.
God save yow, that boghte agayn mankinde,
And yow amende!’—thus seyde this olde man.
“Well, gentlemen,” the old man replied, “if you really want to find Death, then all you have to do is walk up this crooked path because I just left him over there in that grove of trees. See that oak tree? He’s right under that one. He isn’t going anywhere, and he’s certainly not going to run away from you. May God who saved mankind save you!”