The Cook's Tale

PROLOGUE

The Reeve's tale pleased the London Cook as much 4325 As a back-scratching, his delight was such. "Ha! ha!" said he, "this miller, by Christ's passion, Got his comeuppance in the sharpest fashion For all that talk of lodging space with clerks. As Solomon well stated in his works, 4330 'Into your house not every man invite.' It's perilous to let one lodge at night, And well advised should every fellow be On whom he brings to share his privacy. I pray to God to give me woe and care 4335 If ever, since they named me Hodge of Ware, Have I heard of a miller better duped! To mean tricks in the dark they really stooped. But God forbid that here's where we conclude; And so, if here you'll grant that I include 4340 A tale, then I, who am a humble man, Will tell to you the best way that I can A funny thing that happened in our city." Our Host said, "Granted, Roger, but be witty In what you tell, see that it's of some use; 4345 From many a pastry you have drained the juice, And you have peddled many a Jack of Dover When twice already you had warmed it over. There's many a pilgrim wishes you Christ's curse; Your parsley has them feeling all the worse 4350 (They ate it with your stubble-nourished goose), For in your shop so many flies are loose. Now tell on, gentle Roger, by your name. And don't get mad, I pray, about a game; A man may speak the truth in fun or play." 4355 "You speak the truth," said Roger, "I must say. But 'true jest, bad jest'--Flemings say it daily; And therefore by your faith now, Harry Bailey, Do not get mad before we've parted, sir, Although my tale be of a hosteler. 4360 I will not tell it yet, but when I do (Before we part) you'll have what's owed to you." And so with that he laughed with merry cheer And told his tale, as you're about to hear.

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