The Canterbury Tales in bite-sized chunks. Part 3
By John Welford
July 31, 2019 9:25am CST
Here are four more of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, each reduced to 100 words: Summoner’s Tale A friar visits Thomas and his wife, who have recently lost their child. Thomas is lying on a couch. He complains that they have paid money to many friars for prayers, without success, but the friar explains that they should have given their money to only one friar, namely himself. Thomas says that he has a special gift that the friar must reach for underneath him. This is an enormous fart. The pilgrims decide that a fart could be shared between friary members if delivered at the hub of a cartwheel with a friar at the end of each spoke. Clerk’s Tale Lord Walter marries Griselda, a poor village woman. When a daughter is born Walter takes her from Griselda and says that the baby will be killed, although this is not true. Four years later Griselda has a boy baby, but he is taken away when aged two and again Walter says he will be killed. Throughout, Griselda remains perfectly obedient to her husband. Later still, Walter says he will divorce Griselda and take a new wife, who is actually her daughter, now aged twelve. Griselda appeals to Walter not to treat her the same way, at which Walter comes clean. Merchant’s Tale Old man January has married young and pretty May. His young squire Damian fancies May and vice versa. Time passes. January, who has lost his sight, has a walled private garden but May makes a copy of the key to the gate and gives it to Damian. She suggests to Damian that he climb a pear tree in the garden when January takes May there. She offers to fetch a pear for January and has her wicked way with Damian. The god Pluto restores January’s sight, but goddess Proserpine ensures that January does not believe what he thinks he sees. Squire’s Tale At King Cambuskan’s birthday feast, a knight rides into his hall astride a magic brass horse, a gift from the King of Araby. The knight shows Cambuskan how it works. He also gives Princess Candace a magic ring that allows her to understand the speech of birds and to make herbal medicines. The next day Candace finds a wounded female falcon that tells a story of blighted love. She takes the falcon home and cures her. That is all we get, although the Squire implies that more magical adventures are in store for the king, his daughter and his sons.
1 person likes this