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From The Friar's Tale, lines 120-169:
The summoner meets a yeoman and they ride along
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Friar's Tale
lines 170-208: The yeoman reveals his true identity


170        "Now certes," quod this somonour, "so fare I.
I spare nat to taken, God it woot,
But if it be to hevy or to hoot.
What I may gete in conseil prively,
No maner conscience of that have I.
175Nere myn extorcioun, I myghte nat lyven,
Ne of swiche japes wol I nat be shryven.
Stomak ne conscience ne knowe I noon;
I shrewe thise shrifte-fadres everychoon.
Wel be we met, by God and by Seint Jame!
180But, leeve brother, tel me thanne thy name,"
Quod this somonour. In this meene while
This yeman gan a litel for to smyle.
170        "Now truly," said this summoner, "so do I.
I never spare to take a thing, knows God,
Unless it be too heavy or too hot.
What I get for myself, and privately,
No kind of conscience for such things have I.
175But for extortion, I could not well live,
Nor of such japes will I confession give.
Stomach nor any conscience have I, none;
A curse on father-confessors, every one.
Well are we met, by God and by Saint James!
180But, my dear brother, tell your name or names."
Thus said the summoner, and in meanwhile
The yeoman just a little began to smile.
       "Brother," quod he, "wiltow that I thee telle?
I am a feend; my dwellyng is in helle,
185And heere I ryde aboute my purchasyng,
To wite wher men wol yeve me any thyng.
My purchas is th'effect of al my rente.
Looke how thou rydest for the same entente,
To wynne good, thou rekkest nevere how;
190Right so fare I, for ryde wolde I now
Unto the worldes ende for a preye."
       "Brother," said he, "and will you that I tell?
I am a demon, my dwelling is in hell.
185But here I ride about in hope of gain
And that some little gift I may obtain.
My only income is what so is sent.
I see you ride with much the same intent
To win some wealth, you never care just how;
190Even so do I, for I would ride, right now,
Unto the world's end, all to get my prey."
       "A!" quod this somonour, "benedicite! sey ye?
I wende ye were a yeman trewely.
Ye han a mannes shap as wel as I;
195Han ye a figure thanne determinat
In helle, ther ye been in youre estat?"
       "Nay, certeinly," quod he, "ther have we noon;
But whan us liketh, we kan take us oon,
Or elles make yow seme we been shape
200Somtyme lyk a man, or lyk an ape,
Or lyk an angel kan I ryde or go.
It is no wonder thyng thogh it be so;
A lowsy jogelour kan deceyve thee,
And pardee, yet kan I moore craft than he."
205       "Why," quod this somonour, "ryde ye thanne or goon
In sondry shap, and nat alwey in oon?"
       "For we," quod he, "wol us swiche formes make
As moost able is oure preyes for to take."
       "Ah," cried he, "ben'cite! What do you say?
I took you for a yeoman certainly.
You have a human shape as well as I;
195Have you a figure then determinate
In hell, where you are in your proper state?"
"Nay," said he, "there of figure we have none;
But when it pleases us we can take one,
Or else we make you think we have a shape,
200Sometimes like man, or sometimes like an ape;
Or like an angel can I seem, you know.
It is no wondrous thing that this is so;
A lousy juggler can deceive, you see,
And by gad, I have yet more craft than he."
205       "Why," asked the summoner, "ride you then, or go,
In various shapes, and not in one, you know?"
       "Because," said he, "we will such figures make
As render likely that our prey we'll take."




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From The Friar's Tale, lines 209-239:
The demon's trade and practice
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