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From The Man of Law's Tale, lines 785-805:
The king's return letter is falsified
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Man of Law's Tale
lines 806-840: The messenger returns to the king's court


       This messager, on morwe whan he wook,
Unto the Castel halt the nexte way,
And to the constable he the lettre took.
And whan that he this pitous lettre say,
810Ful ofte he seyde, "Allas and weylaway!"
"Lord Crist," quod he, "how may this world endure,
So ful of synne is many a creature?
       This messenger, the morrow, when he woke,
Unto the castle held the nearest way,
And to the constable the letter took;
And when he'd read and learned what it did say,
810Often he cried "Alas!" and "Welaway!
Lord Christ," said he, "how may this world endure?
So full of sin is many a bad creature.

       O myghty God, if that it be thy wille,
Sith thou art rightful juge, how may it be
815That thou wolt suffren innocentz to spille,
And wikked folk regnen in prosperitee?
O goode Custance, allas, so wo is me,
That I moot be thy tormentour, or deye
On shames deeth! Ther is noon oother weye!"
       O mighty God, and is it then your will?
Since you art righteous judge, how can it be
815That innocence may suffer so much ill
And wicked folk reign in prosperity?
O good Constance, alas! Ah, woe is me
That I must be your torturer, or die
A shameful death! There is no other way."

820        Wepen bothe yonge and olde in al that place,
Whan that the kyng this cursed lettre sente,
And Custance, with a deedly pale face,
The ferthe day toward the ship she wente;
But nathelees she taketh in good entente
825The wyl of Crist, and knelynge on the stronde,
She seyde, "Lord, ay welcome be thy sonde!
820       Wept both the young and old of all that place
Because the king this cursed letter sent,
And Constance, with a deathly pallid face,
Upon the fourth day to the ship she went.
Nevertheless, she took as good intent
825The will of Christ, and kneeling on the strand,
She said: "Lord, always welcome your command!

He that me kepte fro the false blame,
While I was on the lond amonges yow,
He kan me kepe from harm and eek fro shame
830In salte see, al thogh I se noght how.
As strong as evere he was, he is yet now;
In hym triste I, and in his mooder deere,
That is to me my seyl and eek my steere."
He that did keep me from all lying blame
The while I lived among you, sun and snow,
He can still guard me from all harm and shame
830Upon salt seas, albeit I see not how.
As strong as ever He was, so is He now.
In him I trust and in his Mother dear,
He is my sail, the star by which I steer."

Hir litel child lay wepyng in hir arm,
835And knelynge, pitously to hym she seyde,
"Pees, litel sone, I wol do thee noon harm."
With that hir coverchief on hir heed she breyde,
And over hise litel eyen she it leyde,
And in hir arm she lulleth it ful faste,
840And into hevene hir eyen up she caste.
Her little child lay crying in her arm,
835And kneeling, piteously to him she said:
"Peace, little son, I will do you no harm."
With that the kerchief took she from her braid,
And binding it across his eyes, she laid
Again her arm about and lulled him fast
840Asleep, and then to heaven her eyes up-cast.





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From The Man of Law's Tale, lines 841-861:
Constance asks virgin Mary for help
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