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And everich of thise ryotoures ran,
Til he cam to that tree, and ther they founde
Of florins fyne of golde y-coyned rounde
Wel ny an eighte busshels, as hem thoughte.
310No lenger thanne after Deeth they soughte,
But ech of hem so glad was of that sighte,
For that the florins been so faire and brighte,
That doun they sette hem by this precious hord.
The worste of hem he spake the firste word.
The three scoundrels ran off in that direction until they came to the oak tree. Instead of finding Death, though, they discovered about eight bushels of gold florins. They were so awestruck by the shiny gold coins that they completely forgot about hunting and killing Death. They sat down next to the bags of gold for a while, until the worst of the three finally said:
‘Brethren,’ quod he, ‘tak kepe what I seye;
My wit is greet, though that I bourde and pleye.
This tresor hath fortune unto us yiven,
In mirthe and Iolitee our lyf to liven,
And lightly as it comth, so wol we spende.
320Ey! Goddes precious dignitee! who wende
To-day, that we sholde han so fair a grace?
But mighte this gold be caried fro this place
Hoom to myn hous, or elles unto youres—
For wel ye woot that al this gold is oures—
Than were we in heigh felicitee.
But trewely, by daye it may nat be;
Men wolde seyn that we were theves stronge,
And for our owene tresor doon us honge.
This tresor moste y-caried be by nighte
330As wysly and as slyly as it mighte.
Wherfore I rede that cut among us alle
Be drawe, and lat se wher the cut wol falle;
And he that hath the cut with herte blythe
Shal renne to the toune, and that ful swythe,
And bringe us breed and wyn ful prively.
And two of us shul kepen subtilly
This tresor wel; and, if he wol nat tarie,
Whan it is night, we wol this tresor carie
“My brothers, listen up. I’ve got an idea. I may goof off a lot, but I’m pretty sharp. Fortune has given us this treasure so that we can always live our lives in comfort and revelry. I’m sure we can find ways to spend all this! Who in God’s name would have thought that today would be so lucky for us? I say this gold is ours because we found it. And if we could carry all this money to my house—or one of your houses—we’d never have to worry about money again. We can’t move this money in broad daylight, though, because people would accuse us of stealing it and hang us for moving our own money. No, we’ll have to transport it at night and do it as carefully as possible so that no one will see. Now, two of us should stay here and guard the money, while the third goes to town and gets some bread and wine for us to eat until we can safely move the gold tonight. I think we should draw straws to see who should be the one to run to town and get the food.