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- The Canterbury Tales - 110/183 -


Algate* burnt in this world should we be." *nevertheless To whom Cecilie answer'd boldely; "Men mighte dreade well and skilfully* *reasonably This life to lose, mine owen deare brother, If this were living only, and none other.

"But there is better life in other place, That never shall be loste, dread thee nought; Which Godde's Son us tolde through his grace That Father's Son which alle thinges wrought; And all that wrought is with a skilful* thought, *reasonable The Ghost,* that from the Father gan proceed, *Holy Spirit Hath souled* them, withouten any drede.** *endowed them with a soul **doubt By word and by miracle, high God's Son, When he was in this world, declared here. That there is other life where men may won."* *dwell To whom answer'd Tiburce, "O sister dear, Saidest thou not right now in this mannere, There was but one God, Lord in soothfastness,* *truth And now of three how may'st thou bear witness?"

"That shall I tell," quoth she, "ere that I go. Right as a man hath sapiences* three, *mental faculties Memory, engine,* and intellect also, *wit <11> So in one being of divinity Three persones there maye right well be." Then gan she him full busily to preach Of Christe's coming, and his paines teach,

And many pointes of his passion; How Godde's Son in this world was withhold* *employed To do mankinde plein* remission, *full That was y-bound in sin and cares cold.* *wretched <12> All this thing she unto Tiburce told, And after that Tiburce, in good intent, With Valerian to Pope Urban he went.

That thanked God, and with glad heart and light He christen'd him, and made him in that place Perfect in his learning, and Godde's knight. And after this Tiburce got such grace, That every day he saw in time and space Th' angel of God, and every manner boon* *request, favour That be God asked, it was sped* full anon. *granted, successful

It were full hard by order for to sayn How many wonders Jesus for them wrought, But at the last, to telle short and plain, The sergeants of the town of Rome them sought, And them before Almach the Prefect brought, Which them apposed,* and knew all their intent, *questioned And to th'image of Jupiter them sent.

And said, "Whoso will not do sacrifice, Swap* off his head, this is my sentence here." *strike Anon these martyrs, *that I you devise,* *of whom I tell you* One Maximus, that was an officere Of the prefect's, and his corniculere <13> Them hent,* and when he forth the saintes lad,** *seized **led Himself he wept for pity that he had.

When Maximus had heard the saintes lore,* *doctrine, teaching He got him of the tormentores* leave, *torturers And led them to his house withoute more; And with their preaching, ere that it were eve, They gonnen* from the tormentors to reave,** *began **wrest, root out And from Maxim', and from his folk each one, The false faith, to trow* in God alone. *believe

Cecilia came, when it was waxen night, With priestes, that them christen'd *all in fere;* *in a company* And afterward, when day was waxen light, Cecile them said with a full steadfast cheer,* *mien "Now, Christe's owen knightes lefe* and dear, *beloved Cast all away the workes of darkness, And arme you in armour of brightness.

Ye have forsooth y-done a great battaile, Your course is done, your faith have ye conserved; <14> O to the crown of life that may not fail; The rightful Judge, which that ye have served Shall give it you, as ye have it deserved." And when this thing was said, as I devise,* relate Men led them forth to do the sacrifice.

But when they were unto the place brought To telle shortly the conclusion, They would incense nor sacrifice right nought But on their knees they sette them adown, With humble heart and sad* devotion, *steadfast And loste both their heades in the place; Their soules wente to the King of grace.

This Maximus, that saw this thing betide, With piteous teares told it anon right, That he their soules saw to heaven glide With angels, full of clearness and of light Andt with his word converted many a wight. For which Almachius *did him to-beat* *see note <15>* With whip of lead, till he his life gan lete.* *quit

Cecile him took, and buried him anon By Tiburce and Valerian softely, Within their burying-place, under the stone. And after this Almachius hastily Bade his ministers fetchen openly Cecile, so that she might in his presence Do sacrifice, and Jupiter incense.* *burn incense to

But they, converted at her wise lore,* *teaching Wepte full sore, and gave full credence Unto her word, and cried more and more; "Christ, Godde's Son, withoute difference, Is very God, this is all our sentence,* *opinion That hath so good a servant him to serve Thus with one voice we trowe,* though we sterve.** *believe **die

Almachius, that heard of this doing, Bade fetch Cecilie, that he might her see; And alderfirst,* lo, this was his asking; *first of all "What manner woman arte thou?" quoth he, "I am a gentle woman born," quoth she. "I aske thee," quoth he,"though it thee grieve, Of thy religion and of thy believe."

"Ye have begun your question foolishly," Quoth she, "that wouldest two answers conclude In one demand? ye aske lewedly."* *ignorantly Almach answer'd to that similitude, "Of whence comes thine answering so rude?" "Of whence?" quoth she, when that she was freined,* *asked "Of conscience, and of good faith unfeigned."

Almachius saide; "Takest thou no heed Of my power?" and she him answer'd this; "Your might," quoth she, "full little is to dread; For every mortal manne's power is But like a bladder full of wind, y-wis;* *certainly For with a needle's point, when it is blow', May all the boast of it be laid full low."

"Full wrongfully begunnest thou," quoth he, "And yet in wrong is thy perseverance. Know'st thou not how our mighty princes free Have thus commanded and made ordinance, That every Christian wight shall have penance,* *punishment But if that he his Christendom withsay,* *deny And go all quit, if he will it renay?"* *renounce

"Your princes erren, as your nobley* doth," *nobility Quoth then Cecile, "and with a *wood sentence* *mad judgment* Ye make us guilty, and it is not sooth:* *true For ye that knowe well our innocence, Forasmuch as we do aye reverence To Christ, and for we bear a Christian name, Ye put on us a crime and eke a blame.

"But we that knowe thilke name so For virtuous, we may it not withsay." Almach answered, "Choose one of these two, Do sacrifice, or Christendom renay, That thou may'st now escape by that way." At which the holy blissful faire maid Gan for to laugh, and to the judge said;

"O judge, *confused in thy nicety,* *confounded in thy folly* Wouldest thou that I reny innocence? To make me a wicked wight," quoth she, "Lo, he dissimuleth* here in audience; *dissembles He stareth and woodeth* in his advertence."** *grows furious **thought To whom Almachius said, "Unsely* wretch, *unhappy Knowest thou not how far my might may stretch?

"Have not our mighty princes to me given Yea bothe power and eke authority To make folk to dien or to liven? Why speakest thou so proudly then to me?" "I speake not but steadfastly," quoth she, Not proudly, for I say, as for my side, We hate deadly* thilke vice of pride. *mortally

"And, if thou dreade not a sooth* to hear, *truth Then will I shew all openly by right, That thou hast made a full great leasing* here. *falsehood Thou say'st thy princes have thee given might Both for to slay and for to quick* a wight, -- *give life to Thou that may'st not but only life bereave; Thou hast none other power nor no leave.

"But thou may'st say, thy princes have thee maked Minister of death; for if thou speak of mo', Thou liest; for thy power is full naked." "Do away thy boldness," said Almachius tho,* *then "And sacrifice to our gods, ere thou go. I recke not what wrong that thou me proffer, For I can suffer it as a philosopher.

"But those wronges may I not endure, That thou speak'st of our goddes here," quoth he.


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