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But sirs, o word forgat I in my tale,
I have relikes and pardon in my male,
As faire as any man in Engelond,
460Whiche were me yeven by the popes hond.
If any of yow wol, of devocioun,
Offren, and han myn absolucioun,
Cometh forth anon, and kneleth heer adoun,
And mekely receyveth my pardoun:
Or elles, taketh pardon as ye wende,
Al newe and fresh, at every tounes ende,
So that ye offren alwey newe and newe
Nobles and pens, which that be gode and trewe.
It is an honour to everich that is heer,
470That ye mowe have a suffisant pardoneer
Tassoille yow, in contree as ye ryde,
For aventures which that may bityde.
Peraventure ther may falle oon or two
Doun of his hors, and breke his nekke atwo.
Look which a seuretee is it to yow alle
That I am in your felaweship y-falle,
That may assoille yow, bothe more and lasse,
Whan that the soule shal fro the body passe,
I rede that our hoste heer shal biginne,
480For he is most envoluped in sinne.
Com forth, sir hoste, and offre first anon,
And thou shalt kisse the reliks everichon,
Ye, for a grote! unbokel anon thy purs.’
Oh! But I forgot to add one thing. I have right here in my bag some holy relics that are as good as any other relics in England. The pope himself gave them to me, actually. If any of you feels compelled by your faith to make an offering and see the relics, well then you can come right over here, kneel down, and humbly receive absolution from me. Or you’re more than welcome to offer up your shiny new coins to receive a pardon every so often along the way so that you’ll know you’ll be free of sin and guilt by the time we reach Canterbury. You should all be glad that you have me, an excellent pardoner, riding with you in case you need to be forgiven. I mean, maybe you’ll fall off your horse and break your neck or something and need to be pardoned before you die. Aren’t you just lucky that I’m here so that your soul won’t have any problem finding its way to heaven? I think that our Host here should be pardoned first because he runs a tavern, which is a veritable breeding ground for sin. Come here, sir Host, and be the first to make an offerning. I’ll even let you kiss all of my relics. That’s right, it’ll only cost you one silver coin. Take out your wallet, step up, and make an offering.