Canterbury Tales: The Promise of Dorigen (cont.)

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

The Promise of Dorigen (cont.)

Dorigen started and looked him full in the face. "I call my God to witness," she said gravely, "that Arviragus is my true and beloved husband, and never shall I leave him for any other," and she added solemnly, "Go and gaze upon those black and jagged rocks that have sent so many a good ship to her destruction and that threaten the safety of my dear husband, and know that when every one of those rocks has vanished, I will leave my Arviragus for you, and never before. Thrust this folly from your heart. What pleasure can it be to a man to love another man's wife?"

Then appeared Dorigen's friends who had been roaming about in the garden and had no idea what had been going on between her and Aurelius. The dancing and gayety lasted till the bright sun had gone below the horizon. Then they all went home merrily save Aurelius. When he had reached his home, he dropped upon his knees, and in the agony of his heart he called upon Phoebus Apollo to come to his aid and work a miracle for him that he might so win his lady.

"Gracious Apollo, god of the sun," he prayed, "help me, I beg. Grant that you will beseech your radiant sister Lucina, goddess of the moon, that she will bring so high a tide that it will flow over the loftiest rock on the coast of Brittany. Beg her, I entreat you, to go no faster than you in her course, then shall she be ever at the full, and there shall be high tide both night and day. If she refuses this prayer, then I beseech you to sink the rocks down to the realm of darkness where Lord Pluto dwells. Pity my pain, Lord Pheobus. Help me, and I will make barefoot pilgrimage to your temple at Delphos."

Time passed, and Arviragus came home with wealth and honors, and joyfully betook himself to his Dorigen. No words can express her gladness at having again her dearly beloved husband, and as for him, he felt more and more happy every day in the love of so devoted a wife.

As for Aurelius, Lord Pheobus had not answered his prayer, and he lay in suffering and longing for Dorigen all this while. No one knew of his pain except his brother. This brother wept and grieved with him, and lay awake night after night, trying to think of some way to help the luckless lover to win the lady.

Suddenly the thought of an old book that he had seen at Orleans in France when a student came into his mind. It was a book of magic, and it told of marvelous deeds that had been done, or that appeared to those looking on to have been done. His heart danced for joy, for he said to himself, "I do believe that there is a way for my brother to be cured. I have often heard that jugglers, coming into a hall of feasting, could make the feasters think that they saw within the hall a lake, and in the lake a barge floating up and down, or that they beheld a savage lion springing in at the door, or flowers growing up as if in a meadow, or a vine producing red and white grapes, or even a castle built of solid lime and stone."

He told all this to his brother, and then he said, "Now if I can find at Orleans some one of my old companions who knows magic, surely he can help us. It cannot be so very difficult to make it appear for a day or two as if there were no rocks on the coast of Brittany and as if ships were sailing up to the very shore."

Aurelius felt as hopeful as his brother. He started up from his bed, and the two set off for Orleans. When they were but two or three furlongs from the city, they met a young scholar walking alone who greeted them in Latin. Then he said, "I know why you have come to Orleans,; and he went on to tell them the whole story of Aurelius's sufferings and their hope that in Orleans they might find help. It was plain that he was a magician, and when he invited them to his house, they went with him most gladly.

At the magician's home there was much to see. Their host showed them parks full of wild deer, larger than any that the brothers had ever seen before. Then he let them watch a deer hunt, and with their own eyes they saw deer wounded and a hundred slain. Then they saw a beautiful winding river whereon were falconers with their hawks taking heron. And after this they saw a tournament, knights jousting on a plain.

After the tournament came a dance, and behold, one of the dancers was Dorigen. Aurelius was more than an onlooker here, for he, too, seemed to be joining the revelry. Oh, it was a marvelously delightful entertainment, but suddenly the magician clapped his hands. All the wonderful sights vanished. There in the quiet library sat the host and his two guests, and there they had been from the time that they entered the house, for all these wonderful sights had been brought before them by the power of magic.

(900 words)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments for Google accounts; you can also contact me at