Friday, July 2, 2010

Canterbury Tale 1

There was once a poor widow who lived in a little cottage shaded by trees against sun and gale. She led a very patient, simple life with her two daughters by making the best of what the Lord could give. They had three cows and a sheep and enough room for them to cook and sleep ut she had no money for money for fancy food. Milk, brown bread, fried bacon, and egg were enough for them. They needed no doctor, for their medicine was thrift and peace and quiet.

The widow ran her little household with good sense. She had a fenced yard for poultry and there she kept a rooster called Chantecleer who had no equal everywhere. He could cheerfully crow so loud and strong that you could set your watch to its perfect timing.

His ruddy comb was like coral in hue, his bill, jet black and his legs and toes were blue. His nails were white as lilies and his burnished body flashed in its perfect mold.

This noble cock was lord to seven hens who followed and adored him. The fairest one of all these hens was named Pertelote. She was courteous, discreet and companionable that from that day when she was seven nights nights, she had truly smitten Chantecleer’s heart.

As each morning came to bring another day, Chantecleer and Pertelote would sing in sweetest tones, for in those days animals and birds could talk.

“My love..don’t ever leave me!”

One early morning, at dawn, the rooster who was sleeping on his perch next to his wife, began to shift and lurch. Upon hearing him shift and moan, Dame Pertolete was upset and said, “My dearest heart, what’s wrong with you?”

And he replied, “I just dreamed as I walked around the yard, a hungry hound pounced on me. It was red and yellow with black-tipped tail and ears. Its pointed snout backed up by two glowing eyes made me groan with fright.”

To this Dame Pertolete answered, “I swear to God above, now you have lost my heart and all my love. I cannot love a coward for no matter how we act, we woman want out husband’s hardy, wise, confident, tactful and sensible. What good’s a beard if a man’s heart is lacking? Don’t beat afraid of dreams for nothing in a dream is what it seems. Most dreams are the result of overeating.”

The excited Chantecleer beat his wings and bowed, then said, “I beg to differ, Madam. I can cite many cases where dreams come true. Just the other day, I read about a traveler who dreamed he saw a close friend stabbed and killed, and his belongings nabbed. This dream proved true and helped the lawmen catch and hang the killers.

“I also know about the two men who were about the board the ship. The night before, one dreamed of drowning. So, he decided to stay behind while the other just the same. The ship was lost at sea with all aboard.

“These stories, sweetheart, teach us not to make fun of other people’s dreams. Andromache, the mighty Hector’s wife, told him a dream that might have saved his life. She pleaded with him not to join the Trojan army but he went forth to battle and was slain.

“In short, I know that this vision I saw this night will bring me grief. But let us forget all omens and bad dreams for when I see the beauty of your face, your lovely eyes rimmed with scarlet red, suddenly all my dread is gone. For certainly, a woman is a man’s delight and all his bliss. Such a joy to me your bright eyes’ beam that I defy the warning of the dream.

With these words, he flew down from the beam and pecked for grain with all the others. How he crowed with merry voice for it was spring, the blissful season which causes birds to sing.

While Chantecleer was singing, a coal-black fox who had secretly lived in the grove for three years saw a chance to do his worst. Chantecleer cut short his cheerful song and raised a ruckus to alert his wife. He turned to go but the fox said, “Gentle Sir, good day! I am your loyal friend. I have no wish to harm you. I simply came to hear you sing. Your father was often in my house as an honored guest, And truly, I would like to please the son, who, I know, is his father’s equal in singing.

“Whenever your father sang, he closed both eyes, stood on tiptoe with his neck stretched out – as his merry crowing, echoed all around. Now kind sir, please, let us hear you sing like your father.”

Chantecleer was intrigued by the flattery. He stood on tiptoe, beat his wings, stretched his neck, closed both eyes and crowed, “Cockadoodledoo!”

Without much ado, the fox pounced upon the bird and dragged him off to the adjoining wood.

The lady hens, however were not mute. There was loud crying and lamentation from Pertolete and all the hens that show Chantecleer dragged by the fox.

“Stop! Thief! Help! Catch the fox,” they screamed.

Armed with sticks and rocks, the neighbors joined them. Boys, girls, dogs, hogs, geese, left what they were doing to follow the big noise. It seemed the heavens were to about to fall.

For all his fright, the rooster did not lose his voice. He said, “If I were you, I’d tell them off. Tell them, turn back, you bullies – go away for this rooster here is mine.”

The fox replied, “You’re absolutely right.”

But as he opened his mouth, his grip on the rooster came loose and gave the bird a chance to fly and settle high upon the nearest tree.

When the fox saw the bird was free, he said, O, Chantecleer, please pardon me. Please come down. Believe me when I say no harm was meant. If you come down, I’ll tell you my real intention.”

The rooster answered, “I’d truly be a dunce if I would let you fool me more than once. Your flattering talk and honeyed look cannot serve as a bait to catch me on your hook. Surely, he that closes both his eyes instead of watching what before him lies, deserves his fate.”

“True,” said the fox, “it’s my belief that he who babbles on when he should guard his tongue, deserves to see his fortunes marred.”

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