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Shal renne to the toune, and that full swythe,
And two of us shal kepen subtilly
This tresor wel; and, if he wol nat tarie,
from here to my house, or else to yours for you know well that all this gold is ours then we should be in great felicity. But truly, it can't be done by day; people would say that we were highwaymen, and would have us hanged because of our own treasure. It must be carried off at night, with as much thought and care as possible. Therefore I suggest that we all draw lots, and let us see where the lot will fall; and the one to whom the lot falls shall go blithely and quickly to town, and bring us bread and wine secretly. And two of us will take good care of the treasure; and if the other does not waste time, we will take the gold tonight by agreement wherever seems best." One of them held the straws in his hand, and bade them draw, and see how it would come out; and it fell to the youngest of them.
And forth toward the toun he wente anon.
That oon of hem spak thus un-to that other,
Thou woost wel that our felawe is agon;
And heer is gold, and that ful greet plentee,
That it departed were among us two,
Hadde I nat doon a freendes torn to thee?"
That other answerde, "I noot how that may be;
And immediately he set out for town.
As soon as he was gone, one said to the other: "Thou knowest well thou art my sworn brother; I am going to tell thee something now for thy profit. Thou knowest well that our companion is gone, and here is plenty of gold that is to be divided among us three. Nevertheless if I can manage it so that it be divided between us two, would I be doing thee a friend's turn?"
The other answered, "I don't know how that can be done; he knows that we two have the gold; what shall we do, what shall we say to him?"
"May it be a secret?" said the first scoundrel. "If so, I will tell you in a few words what we shall do, and I will. bring it about."
"I agree," said the other, "without hesitation, that, on my
That, by my trouthe, I wol thee nat biwreye."
"Now," quod the firste, "thou woost wel we be tweye,
And two of us shul strenger be than oon.
Look whan that he is set, and right anoon
Arys, as though thou woldest with him pleye;
Ful ofte in herte he rolleth up and doun
Have al this tresor to my-self allone,
word, I won't betray you."
"Now," said the first, "thou knowest that we are two, and two are stronger than one. As soon as he sits down, get up, as if thou wouldst fool with him; then I will thrust my dagger through his sides while thou strugglest with him as if in fun, and do thou the same with thy dagger. Then, my dear friend, all this gold shall be divided between thee and me; then may we satisfy all our desires, and play at dice whenever we choose." Thus these two villains agreed, as you have heard, to slay the third.
The youngest, the one who went to town, often he ponders the beauty of the bright new florins. "Oh, Lord," said he, "if only I might have all this treasure to myself alone, no man living under the throne of God would live as merrily
Of God, that sholde live so mery as I!"
Putte in his thought that he shold poyson beye,
And preyed him, that he him wolde selle
The pothecarie answerde, "And thou shalt have
In al this world ther nis no creature,
That ete or dronke hath of this confiture
Noght but the mountance of a corn of whete,
as I!" By and by the fiend, our enemy, put it into his thought to buy poison, with which he might slay his two companions; because the fiend found him leading such a life that he had permission to bring him to sorrow, for his settled intention was to slay them both and never to repent. Forth
he went he would wait no longer to an apothecary in the town, and asked for some poison with which he might kill his rats, and also there was a polecat in his yard that, as he said, had slain his capons, and he wanted vengeance, if possible, on vermin that destroyed his property by night.
The apothecary answered: "Thou shalt have a mixture. that, as I hope God may save my soul, in all the world no creature may eat or drink of it- even a bit as large as a grain of wheat-without losing his life right away. Yes,
Ye, sterve he shal, and that in lasse whyle
This cursed man hath in his hond y-hent
What nedeth it to sermone of it more?
"Now lat us sitte and drinke, and make us merie,
To take the botel ther the poyson was,
he will die in less time than thou canst travel a mile at a foot-pace, the poison is so strong and violent."
The cursed man took the box of poison, and ran to a man in the next street, and borrowed three large bottles from him; in two he poured his poison, the third he kept clean for his own He planned to spend the whole night in carrying the gold out of the place. Now when this rioter (the villain!) had filled his three large bottles with wine, he again repaired! to his comrades.
What's the use of preaching any more? For just as they planned, they slew him right away. When this was done, one said: "Now let us sit down and drink and make merry, and then we will bury his body." With that word he happened by chance to take up the bottle containing poison,