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22. THE SECOND NUN’S TALE

Prologue

1 The ministre and the norice unto vices,
2 Which that men clepe in Englissh Ydelnesse,
3 That porter of the gate is of delices,
4 To eschue, and by hire contrarie hire oppresse —
5 That is to seyn, by leveful bisynesse —
6 Wel oghten we to doon al oure entente,
7 Lest that the feend thurgh ydelnesse us hente.
8 For he that with his thousand cordes slye
9 Continuelly us waiteth to biclappe,
10 Whan he may man in ydelnesse espye,
11 He kan so lightly cache hym in his trappe,
12 Til that a man be hent right by the lappe,
13 He nys nat war the feend hath hym in honde.
14 Wel oghte us werche and ydelnesse withstonde.
15 And though men dradden nevere for to dye,
16 Yet seen men wel by resoun, doutelees,
17 That ydelnesse is roten slogardye,
18 Of which ther nevere comth no good n’ encrees;
19 And syn that slouthe hire holdeth in a lees
20 Oonly to slepe, and for to ete and drynke,
21 And to devouren al that othere swynke,
22 And for to putte us fro swich ydelnesse,
23 That cause is of so greet confusioun,
24 I have heer doon my feithful bisynesse
25 After the legende in translacioun
26 Right of thy glorious lif and passioun,
27 Thou with thy gerland wroght with rose and lilie —
28 Thee meene I, mayde and martyr, Seint Cecilie.
29 And thow that flour of virgines art alle,
30 Of whom that Bernard list so wel to write,
31 To thee at my bigynnyng first I calle;
32 Thou confort of us wrecches, do me endite
33 Thy maydens deeth, that wan thurgh hire merite
34 The eterneel lyf and of the feend victorie,
35 As man may after reden in hire storie.
36 Thow Mayde and Mooder, doghter of thy Sone,
37 Thow welle of mercy, synful soules cure,
38 In whom that God for bountee chees to wone,
39 Thow humble, and heigh over every creature,
40 Thow nobledest so ferforth oure nature,
41 That no desdeyn the Makere hadde of kynde
42 His Sone in blood and flessh to clothe and wynde.
43 Withinne the cloistre blisful of thy sydis
44 Took mannes shap the eterneel love and pees,
45 That of the tryne compas lord and gyde is,
46 Whom erthe and see and hevene out of relees
47 Ay heryen; and thou, Virgine wemmelees,
48 Baar of thy body — and dweltest mayden pure —
49 The Creatour of every creature.
50 Assembled is in thee magnificence
51 With mercy, goodnesse, and with swich pitee
52 That thou, that art the sonne of excellence
53 Nat oonly helpest hem that preyen thee,
54 But often tyme of thy benygnytee
55 Ful frely, er that men thyn help biseche,
56 Thou goost biforn and art hir lyves leche.
57 Now help, thow meeke and blisful faire mayde,
58 Me, flemed wrecche, in this desert of galle;
59 Thynk on the womman Cananee, that sayde
60 That whelpes eten somme of the crommes alle
61 That from hir lordes table been yfalle;
62 And though that I, unworthy sone of Eve,
63 Be synful, yet accepte my bileve.
64 And, for that feith is deed withouten werkis,
65 So for to werken yif me wit and space,
66 That I be quit fro thennes that most derk is!
67 O thou, that art so fair and ful of grace,
68 Be myn advocat in that heighe place
69 Theras withouten ende is songe “Osanne,”
70 Thow Cristes mooder, doghter deere of Anne!
71 And of thy light my soule in prison lighte,
72 That troubled is by the contagioun
73 Of my body, and also by the wighte
74 Of erthely lust and fals affeccioun;
75 O havene of refut, O salvacioun
76 Of hem that been in sorwe and in distresse,
77 Now help, for to my werk I wol me dresse.
78 Yet preye I yow that reden that I write,
79 Foryeve me that I do no diligence
80 This ilke storie subtilly to endite,
81 For bothe have I the wordes and sentence
82 Of hym that at the seintes reverence
83 The storie wroot, and folwen hire legende,
84 And pray yow that ye wole my werk amende.
85 First wolde I yow the name of Seint Cecilie
86 Expowne, as men may in hir storie see.
87 It is to seye in Englissh “hevenes lilie,”
88 For pure chaastnesse of virginitee;
89 Or, for she whitnesse hadde of honestee,
90 And grene of conscience, and of good fame
91 The soote savour, “lilie” was hir name.
92 Or Cecilie is to seye “the wey to blynde,”
93 For she ensample was by good techynge;
94 Or elles Cecile, as I writen fynde,
95 Is joyned, by a manere conjoynynge
96 Of “hevene” and “Lia”; and heere, in figurynge,
97 The “hevene” is set for thoght of hoolynesse,
98 And “Lia” for hire lastynge bisynesse.
99 Cecile may eek be seyd in this manere,
100 “Wantynge of blyndnesse,” for hir grete light
101 Of sapience and for hire thewes cleere;
102 Or elles, loo, this maydens name bright
103 Of “hevene” and “leos” comth, for which by right
104 Men myghte hire wel “the hevene of peple” calle,
105 Ensample of goode and wise werkes alle.
106 For “leos” “peple” in Englissh is to seye,
107 And right as men may in the hevene see
108 The sonne and moone and sterres every weye,
109 Right so men goostly in this mayden free
110 Seyen of feith the magnanymytee,
111 And eek the cleernesse hool of sapience,
112 And sondry werkes, brighte of excellence.
113 And right so as thise philosophres write
114 That hevene is swift and round and eek brennynge,
115 Right so was faire Cecilie the white
116 Ful swift and bisy evere in good werkynge,
117 And round and hool in good perseverynge,
118 And brennynge evere in charite ful brighte.
119 Now have I yow declared what she highte.

The Tale

120 This mayden bright Cecilie, as hir lif seith,
121 Was comen of Romayns and of noble kynde,
122 And from hir cradel up fostred in the feith
123 Of Crist, and bar his gospel in hir mynde.
124 She nevere cessed, as I writen fynde,
125 Of hir preyere and God to love and drede,
126 Bisekynge hym to kepe hir maydenhede.
127 And whan this mayden sholde unto a man
128 Ywedded be, that was ful yong of age,
129 Which that ycleped was Valerian,
130 And day was comen of hir marriage,
131 She, ful devout and humble in hir corage,
132 Under hir robe of gold, that sat ful faire,
133 Hadde next hire flessh yclad hire in an haire.
134 And whil the organs maden melodie,
135 To God allone in herte thus sang she:
136 “O Lord, my soule and eek my body gye
137 Unwemmed, lest that I confounded be.”
138 And for his love that dyde upon a tree
139 Every seconde and thridde day she faste,
140 Ay biddynge in hire orisons ful faste.
141 The nyght cam, and to bedde moste she gon
142 With hire housbonde, as ofte is the manere,
143 And pryvely to hym she seyde anon,
144 “O sweete and wel biloved spouse deere,
145 Ther is a conseil, and ye wolde it heere,
146 Which that right fayn I wolde unto yow seye,
147 So that ye swere ye shul it nat biwreye.”
148 Valerian gan faste unto hire swere
149 That for no cas ne thyng that myghte be,
150 He sholde nevere mo biwreyen here;
151 And thanne at erst to hym thus seyde she:
152 “I have an aungel which that loveth me,
153 That with greet love, wher so I wake or sleepe,
154 Is redy ay my body for to kepe.
155 ” And if that he may feelen, out of drede,
156 That ye me touche, or love in vileynye,
157 He right anon wol sle yow with the dede,
158 And in youre yowthe thus ye shullen dye;
159 And if that ye in clene love me gye,
160 He wol yow loven as me, for youre clennesse,
161 And shewen yow his joye and his brightnesse.”
162 Valerian, corrected as God wolde,
163 Answerde agayn, “If I shal trusten thee,
164 Lat me that aungel se and hym biholde;
165 And if that it a verray angel bee,
166 Thanne wol I doon as thou hast prayed me;
167 And if thou love another man, for sothe
168 Right with this swerd thanne wol I sle yow bothe.”
169 Cecile answerde anon-right in this wise:
170 “If that yow list, the angel shul ye see,
171 So that ye trowe on Crist and yow baptize.
172 Gooth forth to Via Apia,” quod shee,
173 “That fro this toun ne stant but miles three,
174 And to the povre folkes that ther dwelle,
175 Sey hem right thus, as that I shal yow telle.
176 “Telle hem that I, Cecile, yow to hem sente
177 To shewen yow the goode Urban the olde,
178 For secree nedes and for good entente.
179 And whan that ye Seint Urban han biholde,
180 Telle hym the wordes whiche I to yow tolde;
181 And whan that he hath purged yow fro synne,
182 Thanne shul ye se that angel, er ye twynne.”
183 Valerian is to the place ygon,
184 And right as hym was taught by his lernynge,
185 He foond this hooly olde Urban anon
186 Among the seintes buryeles lotynge.
187 And he anon withouten tariynge
188 Dide his message; and whan that he it tolde,
189 Urban for joye his handes gan up holde.
190 The teeris from his eyen leet he falle.
191 ” Almyghty Lord, O Jhesu Crist,” quod he,
192 “Sower of chaast conseil, hierde of us alle,
193 The fruyt of thilke seed of chastitee
194 That thou hast sowe in Cecile, taak to thee!
195 Lo, lyk a bisy bee, withouten gile,
196 Thee serveth ay thyn owene thral Cecile.
197 “For thilke spouse that she took but now
198 Ful lyk a fiers leoun, she sendeth heere,
199 As meke as evere was any lomb, to yow!”
200 And with that word anon ther gan appeere
201 An oold man, clad in white clothes cleere,
202 That hadde a book with lettre of gold in honde,
203 And gan bifore Valerian to stonde.
204 Valerian as deed fil doun for drede
205 Whan he hym saugh, and he up hente hym tho,
206 And on his book right thus he gan to rede:
207 “O Lord, o feith, o God, withouten mo,
208 O Cristendom, and Fader of alle also,
209 Aboven alle and over alle everywhere.”
210 Thise wordes al with gold ywriten were.
211 Whan this was rad, thanne seyde this olde man,
212 “Leevestow this thyng or no? Sey ye or nay.”
213 “I leeve al this thyng,” quod Valerian,
214 “For sother thyng than this, I dar wel say,
215 Under the hevene no wight thynke may.”
216 Tho vanysshed this olde man, he nyste where,
217 And Pope Urban hym cristned right there.
218 Valerian gooth hoom and fynt Cecilie
219 Withinne his chambre with an angel stonde.
220 This angel hadde of roses and of lilie
221 Corones two, the which he bar in honde;
222 And first to Cecile, as I understonde,
223 He yaf that oon, and after gan he take
224 That oother to Valerian, hir make.
225 “With body clene and with unwemmed thoght
226 Kepeth ay wel thise corones,” quod he;
227 “Fro paradys to yow have I hem broght,
228 Ne nevere mo ne shal they roten bee,
229 Ne lese hir soote savour, trusteth me;
230 Ne nevere wight shal seen hem with his ye,
231 But he be chaast and hate vileynye.
232 ” And thow, Valerian, for thow so soone
233 Assentedest to good conseil also,
234 Sey what thee list, and thou shalt han thy boone.”
235 “I have a brother,” quod Valerian tho,
236 “That in this world I love no man so.
237 I pray yow that my brother may han grace
238 To knowe the trouthe, as I do in this place.”
239 The angel seyde, “God liketh thy requeste,
240 And bothe with the palm of martirdom
241 Ye shullen come unto his blisful feste.”
242 And with that word Tiburce his brother coom.
243 And whan that he the savour undernoom,
244 Which that the roses and the lilies caste,
245 Withinne his herte he gan to wondre faste,
246 And seyde, “I wondre, this tyme of the yeer,
247 Whennes that soote savour cometh so
248 Of rose and lilies that I smelle heer.
249 For though I hadde hem in myne handes two,
250 The savour myghte in me no depper go.
251 The sweete smel that in myn herte I fynde
252 Hath chaunged me al in another kynde.”
253 Valerian seyde: “Two corones han we,
254 Snow white and rose reed, that shynen cleere,
255 Whiche that thyne eyen han no myght to see;
256 And as thou smellest hem thurgh my preyere,
257 So shaltow seen hem, leeve brother deere,
258 If it so be thou wolt, withouten slouthe,
259 Bileve aright and knowen verray trouthe.”
260 Tiburce answerde, “Seistow this to me
261 In soothnesse, or in dreem I herkne this?”
262 “In dremes,” quod Valerian, “han we be
263 Unto this tyme, brother myn, ywis.
264 But now at erst in trouthe oure dwellyng is.”
265 “How woostow this?” quod Tiburce, “and in what wyse?”
266 Quod Valerian, “That shal I thee devyse.
267 “The aungel of God hath me the trouthe ytaught
268 Which thou shalt seen, if that thou wolt reneye
269 The ydoles and be clene, and elles naught.”
270 And of the myracle of thise corones tweye
271 Seint Ambrose in his preface list to seye;
272 Solempnely this noble doctour deere
273 Commendeth it, and seith in this manere:
274 “The palm of martirdom for to receyve,
275 Seinte Cecile, fulfild of Goddes yifte,
276 The world and eek hire chambre gan she weyve;
277 Witnesse Tyburces and [Valerians] shrifte,
278 To whiche God of his bountee wolde shifte
279 Corones two of floures wel smellynge,
280 And made his angel hem the corones brynge.
281 “The mayde hath broght thise men to blisse above;
282 The world hath wist what it is worth, certeyn,
283 Devocioun of chastitee to love.”
284 Tho shewed hym Cecile al open and pleyn
285 That alle ydoles nys but a thyng in veyn,
286 For they been dombe, and therto they been deve,
287 And charged hym his ydoles for to leve.
288 “Whoso that troweth nat this, a beest he is,”
289 Quod tho Tiburce, “if that I shal nat lye.”
290 And she gan kisse his brest, that herde this,
291 And was ful glad he koude trouthe espye.
292 “This day I take thee for myn allye,”
293 Seyde this blisful faire mayde deere,
294 And after that she seyde as ye may heere:
295 “Lo, right so as the love of Crist,” quod she,
296 “Made me thy brotheres wyf, right in that wise
297 Anon for myn allye heer take I thee,
298 Syn that thou wolt thyne ydoles despise.
299 Go with thy brother now, and thee baptise,
300 And make thee clene, so that thou mowe biholde
301 The angels face of which thy brother tolde.”
302 Tiburce answerde and seyde, “Brother deere,
303 First tel me whider I shal, and to what man?”
304 “To whom?” quod he, “com forth with right good cheere,
305 I wol thee lede unto the Pope Urban.”
306 “Til Urban? Brother myn Valerian,”
307 Quod tho Tiburce, “woltow me thider lede?
308 Me thynketh that it were a wonder dede.
309 “Ne menestow nat Urban,” quod he tho,
310 “That is so ofte dampned to be deed,
311 And woneth in halkes alwey to and fro,
312 And dar nat ones putte forth his heed?
313 Men sholde hym brennen in a fyr so reed
314 If he were founde, or that men myghte hym spye,
315 And we also, to bere hym compaignye;
316 ” And whil we seken thilke divinitee
317 That is yhid in hevene pryvely,
318 Algate ybrend in this world shul we be!”
319 To whom Cecile answerde boldely,
320 “Men myghten dreden wel and skilfully
321 This lyf to lese, myn owene deere brother,
322 If this were lyvynge oonly and noon oother.
323 “But ther is bettre lif in oother place,
324 That nevere shal be lost, ne drede thee noght,
325 Which Goddes Sone us tolde thurgh his grace.
326 That Fadres Sone hath alle thyng ywroght,
327 And al that wroght is with a skilful thoght;
328 The Goost, that fro the Fader gan procede,
329 Hath sowled hem, withouten any drede.
330 “By word and by myracle heigh Goddes Sone,
331 Whan he was in this world, declared heere
332 That ther was oother lyf ther men may wone.”
333 To whom answerde Tiburce, “O suster deere,
334 Ne seydestow right now in this manere,
335 Ther nys but o God, lord in soothfastnesse?
336 And now of three how maystow bere witnesse?”
337 “That shal I telle,” quod she, “er I go.
338 Right as a man hath sapiences three —
339 Memorie, engyn, and intellect also —
340 So in o beynge of divinitee,
341 Thre persones may ther right wel bee.”
342 Tho gan she hym ful bisily to preche
343 Of Cristes come, and of his peynes teche,
344 And manye pointes of his passioun;
345 How Goddes Sone in this world was withholde
346 To doon mankynde pleyn remissioun,
347 That was ybounde in synne and cares colde;
348 Al this thyng she unto Tiburce tolde.
349 And after this Tiburce in good entente
350 With Valerian to Pope Urban he wente,
351 That thanked God, and with glad herte and light
352 He cristned hym and made hym in that place
353 Parfit in his lernynge, Goddes knyght.
354 And after this Tiburce gat swich grace
355 That every day he saugh in tyme and space
356 The aungel of God; and every maner boone
357 That he God axed, it was sped ful soone.
358 It were ful hard by ordre for to seyn
359 How manye wondres Jhesus for hem wroghte;
360 But atte laste, to tellen short and pleyn,
361 The sergeantz of the toun of Rome hem soghte,
362 And hem biforn Almache, the prefect, broghte,
363 Which hem apposed, and knew al hire entente,
364 And to the ymage of Juppiter hem sente,
365 And seyde, “Whoso wol nat sacrifise,
366 Swape of his heed; this my sentence heer.”
367 Anon thise martirs that I yow devyse,
368 Oon Maximus, that was an officer
369 Of the prefectes, and his corniculer,
370 Hem hente, and whan he forth the seintes ladde,
371 Hymself he weep for pitee that he hadde.
372 Whan Maximus had herd the seintes loore,
373 He gat hym of the tormentoures leve,
374 And ladde hem to his hous withoute moore,
375 And with hir prechyng, er that it were eve,
376 They gonnen fro the tormentours to reve,
377 And fro Maxime, and fro his folk echone,
378 The false feith, to trowe in God allone.
379 Cecile cam, whan it was woxen nyght,
380 With preestes that hem cristned alle yfeere;
381 And afterward, whan day was woxen light,
382 Cecile hem seyde with a ful stedefast cheere,
383 “Now, Cristes owene knyghtes leeve and deere,
384 Cast alle awey the werkes of derknesse,
385 And armeth yow in armure of brightnesse.
386 “Ye han for sothe ydoon a greet bataille,
387 Youre cours is doon, youre feith han ye conserved.
388 Gooth to the corone of lif that may nat faille;
389 The rightful Juge, which that ye han served,
390 Shal yeve it yow, as ye han it deserved.”
391 And whan this thyng was seyd as I devyse,
392 Men ledde hem forth to doon the sacrefise.
393 But whan they weren to the place broght
394 To tellen shortly the conclusioun,
395 They nolde encense ne sacrifise right noght,
396 But on hir knees they setten hem adoun
397 With humble herte and sad devocioun,
398 And losten bothe hir hevedes in the place.
399 Hir soules wenten to the Kyng of grace.
400 This Maximus, that saugh this thyng bityde,
401 With pitous teeris tolde it anonright,
402 That he hir soules saugh to hevene glyde
403 With aungels ful of cleernesse and of light,
404 And with his word converted many a wight;
405 For which Almachius dide hym so bete
406 With whippe of leed til he his lif gan lete.
407 Cecile hym took and buryed hym anon
408 By Tiburce and Valerian softely
409 Withinne hire buriyng place, under the stoon;
410 And after this, Almachius hastily
411 Bad his ministres fecchen openly
412 Cecile, so that she myghte in his presence
413 Doon sacrifice and Juppiter encense.
414 But they, converted at hir wise loore,
415 Wepten ful soore, and yaven ful credence
416 Unto hire word, and cryden moore and moore,
417 “Crist, Goddes Sone, withouten difference,
418 Is verray God — this is al oure sentence —
419 That hath so good a servant hym to serve.
420 This with o voys we trowen, thogh we sterve!”
421 Almachius, that herde of this doynge,
422 Bad fecchen Cecile, that he myghte hire see,
423 And alderfirst, lo, this was his axynge.
424 “What maner womman artow?” tho quod he.
425 “I am a gentil womman born,” quod she.
426 “I axe thee,” quod he, “though it thee greeve,
427 Of thy religioun and of thy bileeve.”
428 “Ye han bigonne youre questioun folily,”
429 Quod she, “that wolden two answeres conclude
430 In o demande; ye axed lewedly.”
431 Almache answerde unto that similitude,
432 “Of whennes comth thyn answeryng so rude?”
433 “Of whennes?” quod she, whan that she was freyned,
434 “Of conscience and of good feith unfeyned.”
435 Almachius seyde, “Ne takestow noon heede
436 Of my power?” And she answerde hym this:
437 “Youre myght,” quod she, “ful litel is to dreede,
438 For every mortal mannes power nys
439 But lyk a bladdre ful of wynd, ywys.
440 For with a nedles poynt, whan it is blowe,
441 May al the boost of it be leyd ful lowe.”
442 “Ful wrongfully bigonne thow,” quod he,
443 ” And yet in wrong is thy perseveraunce.
444 Wostow nat how oure myghty princes free
445 Han thus comanded and maad ordinaunce
446 That every Cristen wight shal han penaunce
447 But if that he his Cristendom withseye,
448 And goon al quit, if he wole it reneye?”
449 “Yowre princes erren, as youre nobleye dooth,”
450 Quod tho Cecile, “and with a wood sentence
451 Ye make us gilty, and it is nat sooth.
452 For ye, that knowen wel oure innocence,
453 For as muche as we doon a reverence
454 To Crist, and for we bere a Cristen name,
455 Ye putte on us a cryme and eek a blame.
456 “But we that knowen thilke name so
457 For vertuous, we may it nat withseye.”
458 Almache answerde, “Chees oon of thise two:
459 Do sacrifice, or Cristendom reneye,
460 That thou mowe now escapen by that weye.”
461 At which the hooly blisful faire mayde
462 Gan for to laughe, and to the juge sayde:
463 “O juge, confus in thy nycetee,
464 Woltow that I reneye innocence,
465 To make me a wikked wight?” quod shee.
466 “Lo, he dissymuleth heere in audience;
467 He stareth, and woodeth in his advertence!”
468 To whom Almachius, “Unsely wrecche,
469 Ne woostow nat how fer my myght may strecche?
470 “Han noght oure myghty princes to me yiven,
471 Ye, bothe power and auctoritee
472 To maken folk to dyen or to lyven?
473 Why spekestow so proudly thanne to me?”
474 “I speke noght but stedfastly,” quod she;
475 “Nat proudly, for I seye, as for my syde,
476 We haten deedly thilke vice of pryde.
477 ” And if thou drede nat a sooth to heere,
478 Thanne wol I shewe al openly, by right,
479 That thou hast maad a ful gret lesyng heere.
480 Thou seyst thy princes han thee yeven myght
481 Bothe for to sleen and for to quyken a wight;
482 Thou, that ne mayst but oonly lyf bireve,
483 Thou hast noon oother power ne no leve.
484 “But thou mayst seyn thy princes han thee maked
485 Ministre of deeth; for if thou speke of mo,
486 Thou lyest, for thy power is ful naked.”
487 “Do wey thy booldnesse,” seyde Almachius tho,
488 ” And sacrifice to oure goddes er thou go!
489 I recche nat what wrong that thou me profre,
490 For I kan suffre it as a philosophre;
491 “But thilke wronges may I nat endure
492 That thou spekest of oure goddes heere,” quod he.
493 Cecile answerde, “O nyce creature!
494 Thou seydest no word syn thou spak to me
495 That I ne knew therwith thy nycetee
496 And that thou were in every maner wise
497 A lewed officer and a veyn justise.
498 “Ther lakketh no thyng to thyne outter yen
499 That thou n’ art blynd; for thyng that we seen alle
500 That it is stoon — that men may wel espyen —
501 That ilke stoon a god thow wolt it calle.
502 I rede thee, lat thyn hand upon it falle
503 And taste it wel, and stoon thou shalt it fynde,
504 Syn that thou seest nat with thyne eyen blynde.
505 “It is a shame that the peple shal
506 So scorne thee and laughe at thy folye,
507 For communly men woot it wel overal
508 That myghty God is in his hevenes hye;
509 And thise ymages, wel thou mayst espye,
510 To thee ne to hemself mowen noght profite,
511 For in effect they been nat worth a myte.”
512 Thise wordes and swiche othere seyde she,
513 And he weex wroth, and bad men sholde hir lede
514 Hom til hir hous, and “In hire hous,” quod he,
515 “Brenne hire right in a bath of flambes rede.”
516 And as he bad, right so was doon the dede;
517 For in a bath they gonne hire faste shetten,
518 And nyght and day greet fyr they under betten.
519 The longe nyght, and eek a day also,
520 For al the fyr and eek the bathes heete
521 She sat al coold and feelede no wo.
522 It made hire nat a drope for to sweete.
523 But in that bath hir lyf she moste lete,
524 For he Almachius, with ful wikke entente,
525 To sleen hire in the bath his sonde sente.
526 Thre strokes in the nekke he smoot hire tho,
527 The tormentour, but for no maner chaunce
528 He myghte noght smyte al hir nekke atwo;
529 And for ther was that tyme an ordinaunce
530 That no man sholde doon man swich penaunce
531 The ferthe strook to smyten, softe or soore,
532 This tormentour ne dorste do namoore,
533 But half deed, with hir nekke ycorven there,
534 He lefte hir lye, and on his wey he went.
535 The Cristen folk, which that aboute hire were,
536 With sheetes han the blood ful faire yhent.
537 Thre dayes lyved she in this torment,
538 And nevere cessed hem the feith to teche
539 That she hadde fostred; hem she gan to preche,
540 And hem she yaf hir moebles and hir thyng,
541 And to the Pope Urban bitook hem tho,
542 And seyde, “I axed this of hevene kyng,
543 To han respit thre dayes and namo
544 To recomende to yow, er that I go,
545 Thise soules, lo, and that I myghte do werche
546 Heere of myn hous perpetuelly a cherche.”
547 Seint Urban with his deknes prively
548 The body fette and buryed it by nyghte
549 Among his othere seintes honestly.
550 Hir hous the chirche of Seint Cecilie highte;
551 Seint Urban halwed it, as he wel myghte;
552 In which, into this day, in noble wyse,
553 Men doon to Crist and to his seint servyse.

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22. THE SECOND NUN’S TALE - GEOFFREY CHAUCER