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From General Prologue, lines 812-823:
The agreement
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From The Canterbury Tales:
General Prologue
lines 824-860: Drawing of lots


       Amorwe, whan that day bigan to sprynge,
825Up roos oure Hoost, and was oure aller cok,
And gadrede us to gidre alle in a flok,
And forth we riden, a litel moore than paas
Unto the wateryng of Seint Thomas;
And there oure Hoost bigan his hors areste
830And seyde, "Lordynges, herkneth if yow leste.
Ye woot youre foreward, and I it yow recorde.
If even-song and morwe-song accorde,
Lat se now who shal telle the firste tale.
As evere mote I drynke wyn or ale,
835Whoso be rebel to my juggement
Shal paye for al that by the wey is spent.
Now draweth cut, er that we ferrer twynne,
He which that hath the shorteste shal bigynne.
Sire Knyght," quod he, "my mayster and my lord,
840Now draweth cut, for that is myn accord.
Cometh neer," quod he, "my lady Prioresse,
And ye, Sir Clerk, lat be youre shamefastnesse,
Ne studieth noght; ley hond to, every man!"
Anon to drawen every wight bigan,
845And shortly for to tellen as it was,
Were it by aventure, or sort, or cas,
The sothe is this, the cut fil to the Knyght,
Of which ful blithe and glad was every wyght.
And telle he moste his tale, as was resoun,
850By foreward and by composicioun,-
As ye han herd, what nedeth wordes mo?
And whan this goode man saugh that it was so,
As he that wys was and obedient
To kepe his foreward by his free assent,
855He seyde, "Syn I shal bigynne the game,
What, welcome be the cut, a Goddes name!
Now lat us ryde, and herkneth what I seye."
And with that word we ryden forth oure weye,
And he bigan with right a myrie cheere
860His tale anon, and seyde as ye may heere.
       Next morning, when the day began to spring,
825Up rose our host, and acting as our cock,
He gathered us together in a flock,
And forth we rode, a a little faster than pace,
Until we reached Saint Thomas' watering-place.
Our host then pulled his horse, began to ease
830And said: "Now, gentleman, listen if you please.
You know what you agreed, I'll remind thee.
If even-song and morning-song agree,
Let's here decide who first shall tell a tale.
And as I hope to drink more wine and ale,
835Whoso proves rebel to my very judgment
Shall pay for all that by the way is spent.
Come now, draw straws, before we further depart,
And he that draws the shortest has to start.
Sir knight," said he, "my master and my lord,
840You shall draw first as you have pledged your word.
Come near," said he, "my lady prioress:
And you, sir clerk, away with all your shyness,
Nor ponder more; out hands, draw, every man!"
At once to draw a straw each one began,
845And, to shorten up the story, as it was,
By chance or luck or whatsoever cause,
The truth is, that the cut fell to the knight,
Which all the others greeted with delight.
Thus tell his story first as was agreed,
850According to our promise pledged, indeed,
As you have heard. Why argue to and fro?
And when this good man saw that it was so,
Being a wise man and obedient
To pledged word, given by free assent,
855He said: "Since I must then begin the game,
Why, welcome be the cut, and in God's name!
Now let us ride, and listen to what I say."
And at that word we rode forth on our way;
And he began to speak, with words of cheer,
860His tale straightway, and said as you may hear.






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