Geoffrey Chaucer – The Canterbury Tales (The Cook's Tale)
A prentice whilom dwelt in our city,
And of a craft of victuallers was he:
Galliard he was, as goldfinch in the shaw,
Brown as a berry, a proper short fellaw:
With lockes black, combed full fetisly.
And dance he could so well and jollily,
That he was called Perkin Revellour.
He was as full of love and paramour,
As is the honeycomb of honey sweet;
Well was the wenche that with him might meet.
At every bridal would he sing and hop;
He better lov'd the tavern than the shop.
For when there any riding was in Cheap,
Out of the shoppe thither would he leap,
And, till that he had all the sight y-seen,
And danced well, he would not come again;
And gather'd him a meinie* of his sort,
To hop and sing, and make such disport:
And there they *sette steven* for to meet
To playen at the dice in such a street.
For in the towne was there no prentice
That fairer coulde cast a pair of dice
Than Perkin could; and thereto *he was free
Of his dispence, in place of privity.
That found his master well in his chaffare,
For oftentime he found his box full bare.
For, soothely, a prentice revellour,
That haunteth dice, riot, and paramour,
His master shall it in his shop abie*,
All* have he no part of the minstrelsy.
For theft and riot they be convertible,
All can they play on *gitern or ribible.
Revel and truth, as in a low degree,
They be full wroth* all day, as men may see.
This jolly prentice with his master bode,
Till he was nigh out of his prenticehood,
All were he snubbed* both early and late,
And sometimes led with revel to Newgate.
But at the last his master him bethought,
Upon a day when he his paper sought,
Of a proverb, that saith this same word;
Better is rotten apple out of hoard,
Than that it should rot all the remenant:
So fares it by a riotous servant;
It is well lesse harm to let him pace*,
Than he shend* all the servants in the place.
Therefore his master gave him a quittance,
And bade him go, with sorrow and mischance.
And thus this jolly prentice had his leve*:
Now let him riot all the night, or leave*.
And, for there is no thief without a louke,
That helpeth him to wasten and to souk
Of that he bribe* can, or borrow may,
Anon he sent his bed and his array
Unto a compere* of his owen sort,
That loved dice, and riot, and disport;
And had a wife, that held *for countenance
A shop, and swived* for her sustenance.
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