Canterbury Tales: The Cock, the Hen, and the Fox (cont.)

This story is part of the Canterbury Tales unit. Story source: The Chaucer Story Book by Eva March Tappan (1908).

The Cock, the Hen, and the Fox (cont.)

"Madame," the cock replied, "I thank you for your learning. Cato was a wise man, but there has been many a man of greater wisdom than he who does not agree with him and who has learned by experience that dreams signify either joy or sorrow. One of the most famous authors that men read tells a story of two men . . .

~ ~ ~

There were two men who set off together on a pilgrimage. On the way they came to a little village so crowded that there was no room for them both in the same house. One chanced to find a comfortable lodging, but the other could do no better than to lie down in a stall with oxen all about him.

In the middle of the night, the man who was well lodged dreamed that his friend called to him and said, 'Help me, dear brother! Come to me quickly, or I shall be murdered here in an ox's stall.'

He woke with a start, and then he thought, 'How foolish to be troubled by a dream!' So he turned over and went to sleep again.

The same dream came to him a second time, and a second time he said, 'How foolish!' and went to sleep.

A third dream came, and this time the friend did not call for help, but said, 'I have been slain. Look at my gaping wounds. I was murdered for my money.'

Then point by point the man told in the dream how it had come about. At last he said, 'If you will get up early in the morning and go to the west gate of the town, you will see a cart full of rubbish. Don't be afraid to stop the cart, for my body will be hidden in the rubbish.'

This time the man did not say, 'How foolish!' and as soon as it was day, he went to the ox's stall and called for his friend.

The innkeeper said, 'Sir, your friend rose early and went out of town.'

Then the man went to the west gate, and there he saw a cart of rubbish, looking just as his friend had described it in the dream. At this he began to believe the dream must be true.

He cried aloud for vengeance. 'My murdered friend lies in this cart!' he declared fearlessly. 'You officers who ought to keep this town, I call upon you for vengeance and justice.'

Murder will out. It is such a loathsome thing that God will not suffer it to be concealed. The people gathered all around. They overturned the cart and, in the midst of the rubbish, they found the body of the murdered man. Then the officers of the town seized the carter and the innkeeper and tortured them till they confessed the crime, and straightway they were hanged.

~ ~ ~


"You can see by this that there is truth in dreams. And now in that same book, in the very next chapter beyond this, I read about two men . . .

~ ~ ~

There were two men who wanted to cross the sea to a distant country. They waited a long while, for the wind was contrary. At last it changed and blew just as they wished. They planned to start early in the morning and went to bed happy.

But while they were asleep, a wonderful thing happened, for one of them dreamed that a man stood by his bedside and said, 'If you sail to-morrow, you will be drowned.'

He started out of his sleep, called his friend, and told him of the dream. 'Let us put off the voyage for one day,' he said.

But his friend only laughed at him for being so foolish as to trust in dreams. 'No dream would ever frighten me,' he declared, 'so that I would give up my business for it. Dreams are only nonsense. People dream of all sorts of wild fancies that never were and never will be. I see, however, that you are bound to stay here and lose the wind. I pity you for your folly, and say farewell.'

He went on board the boat and started on his voyage, but before it was half done, something happened, I do not know what, save that the ship sprang a leak and went to the bottom, and the man was drowned.

~ ~ ~

"And now, dearest Partelote, you see that one ought not to be careless of dreams. But now let us not talk of this any more, for when I gaze into your lovely face and see the beautiful scarlet-red about your eyes, I forget all about my fears; I am so happy that I do not care a straw for any dreams or visions."


(800 words)












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