' Griselda,' he said,' I want to make my new wife as happy as possible. You must help me. You know my house and you looked after me well. You must leave your home and work for my new wife. Start now and make everything ready for her.'
'My lord, I'll be happy to help you and your new wife,' Griselda answered. And she began work immediately. She cleaned all the gold and silver, made the beds and washed the floors. She told the servants in the house to work hard. She worked harder than everyone.
Later that day, many people came to Walter's house to see his new wife. Griselda met them and led them to their places. Then Walter brought in a beautiful young girl. He turned to Griselda and asked her,' Do you like my new young wife ?'
'I've never seen anyone who is more beautiful,' she answered. ' I hope you'll be very happy together. I only ask one thing — be kind to her. I was poor when I came here. But she's a lady and it will be harder for her. She'll be very unhappy if you're unkind to her.'
Walter finally realized that Griselda really loved him. He said to himself, ' I've been very bad. I've hurt Griselda but she still loves me.'
He turned to her and cried,' Griselda! Griselda! Please forgive me! I'll never hurt you again or make you sad. Now I know that you'll always be true to me.' And he took her in his arms and kissed her again and again.
Walter told Griselda everything and then he brought the children to her. ' This is your daughter, my dear. I'm not really going to marry her. And this is our son. I sent them both to Bologna, to live with my sister. She looked after them well, and they've been safe and happy all these years.'
When Griselda saw her children, she cried with happiness. She put her arms round them and kissed them.
'Oh, thank you, my lord!' she said to Walter, with tears in her eyes. ' I can die happily now. I have both my children and your love!'
Then her ladies took her to her rooms, took off her old clothes, and dressed her in her beautiful rich clothes. She was Walter's wife again.
Walter and Griselda lived happily together for many years. Janicula, Griselda's old father, came to live with them. Their daughter married a rich, handsome man. And when Walter died, their son became a lord and was loved by all his people.
Well, that's the end of my story,' said the clerk. 'But in my opinion, Griselda was too patient. Husbands, don't test the patience of your wives like Walter did. I'm sure they won't all be as patient as poor Griselda!
'And I want to say something to the wives too. Don't be afraid of your husband. Your words will always win a fight, even against a big, strong man!'
What do women want most ?
Most of the pilgrims on their way to Canterbury were men. There were only a few women. One of them was the Wife of Bath. She was a large woman with a red face. She wore a big hat, and she rode on a very fat horse. She was rich and all her five husbands were dead!
The Wife of Bath was a happy woman and she loved to talk. This is her story about a knight at the time of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.
Long ago, there was a young knight who did a very bad thing. He broke the law that all the knights had to live by. When King Arthur heard this, he was very angry.
' This knight must die!' he shouted.
But the queen and her ladies were sad because they liked the young knight very much.
' Please, please,' they cried to King Arthur, ' don't end this young man's life. He'll never make the same mistake again.'
The king turned to the queen and said, 'All right, do what you like with him, my dear. But we must punish him because he's broken the law.'
The queen thought for a short time, and then she said to the knight,' You can live if you tell me the answer to this question: What does a woman want most in all the world? I'll give you a year and a day to find the answer. If you can't find the answer, then you'll die.'
The knight thanked the queen, but he rode away very sadly.
' The queen has asked me a very difficult question. How can I find the answer ?' he thought to himself.
As he rode through the country, the knight asked a lot of people the queen's question. He was given many different answers.
One man said, 'Ah, that's easy. Women like money more than anything.'
A woman answered, ' What do women want most in all the world? They want to be happy, of course.'
Another woman replied,' Fine clothes. That's what they want.'
Then the knight asked some children the same question.
A little girl said,' My mother's happy when she's cooking good food for us.'
And a little boy replied,' My mother likes having a new baby in the family.'
' Our mother's happy when she sees our father come home at night,' said two or three children.
Many of the answers seemed good, but they were all different. ' Nobody agrees,' thought the knight sadly.' How can I find the right answer to the queen's question ?'
After a year, the knight had to return to the queen and give her the answer to her question.
'What can I say?' he thought. 'I've tried so hard to find the right answer! But I know I'm going to die.'
But then he came to a great wood. In the trees he saw twenty-four beautiful ladies! They were all laughing and singing and dancing on the green grass.
'I've got enough time to ask these ladies the question,' he said to himself.
He turned his horse towards the ladies ... but where were they? He could only see one very ugly, old woman! When he came near her, she stood up. She smiled at him.
'Sir Knight, are you looking for something?' she asked. 'Tell me what it is. Perhaps I can help you. We old people are wise and we know many things.'
'You're right — perhaps you can help me,' answered the knight. 'I have to find the answer to a question or I'll die. The question is: What does a woman want most in all the world? If you can tell me, I'll give you a lot of money.'
' Give me your hand, sir,' replied the old woman.' I'll tell you the right answer if you promise me something. You have to do the first thing that I ask you.'
That sounded easy to the knight.' I promise,' he answered in an excited voice. Perhaps the old woman could really help him!
' Good, then your life's safe,' said the old woman.' Nobody — not even the queen — will say that your answer is wrong.'
Then she spoke very quietly into the knight's ear.' That's the answer to your question,' she said with a smile.
The knight smiled back at the old woman and thanked her with all his heart. Then they went together to meet the queen and all the lords and ladies.
Everyone heard that the young knight was coming. They were very excited, but a lot of people were worried about his answer.
' It was a very difficult question,' they said.' It will be terrible if he can't give the queen the right answer. He will die!'
The queen and her lords and ladies met the knight. The queen started to speak and everyone listened carefully.
' Now, Sir Knight, can you answer my question ? What does a woman want most in all the world ?' she asked in a clear voice.
The knight came up to the queen and fell on his knees in front of her. All the people around them heard his words.
'My lady, I know the right answer to your question. All women want to be the head of their house. They want their husbands to do what they say!'
When they heard this, everyone laughed and shouted, 'He must live! He must live! That's the right answer!'
The queen smiled at the knight. She was very pleased with his answer.
' You will be free, Sir Knight,' she said.' You can live!'
But suddenly the ugly old woman walked towards the queen and said,'Be good to me too, my lady. I said to this knight,"I'll tell you the right answer. But you must promise me something. You have to do the first thing that I ask you." And you agreed, didn't you ?' she said, turning to the knight.
'Yes, madam,' said the young knight. 'That's what I promised.'
' Well, I want you to marry me!' said the old woman. Her face looked very ugly when she said these terrible words.
The knight replied unhappily,' I made a promise to you, it's true. But I can't marry you!'
' I'm old, ugly and poor but I want to be your wife,' cried the old woman.' I want to win your love.'
' My love!' laughed the knight.' You can't really hope for that!'
The queen and all the people around her were laughing.
' The knight wants to die now!' they shouted. ' He doesn't want to marry this ugly old woman!'
But the queen looked at the knight and said,' You must marry her, Sir Knight. You promised.'
'Yes, I know,' answered the knight unhappily. 'I can't break my promise.'
There was no dancing or singing at the wedding. There were no fine clothes or good food. At the end of the day, the knight sadly carried away his new wife.
That night, the ugly old woman turned to the knight and said, 'Come here, my dear husband. Why are you looking so unhappy? What have I done wrong? Tell me, and I'll try to do better. I'll make you happy.'
' Do better ? You can't become a young woman and you can't make yourself beautiful!' answered the knight.
' Is that the only problem ?' she asked with a smile on her face.
' That's enough!' he answered.
'I'm not beautiful,' said the old woman,'but that's only on the outside. Faces become old but hearts are always young. A person with a good heart is better than someone who does bad things.'
Then the woman talked quietly to her husband for a long time. He was very surprised when he heard her words.
'You're very wise and good,' he said at last. 'You've taught me a lot about men and women, and about good and bad.'
' Is it better to have a beautiful wife who makes you unhappy ?' she asked.' Or an old and ugly wife who is kind to you ?'
'My lady, my love, and my dear wife,' said the knight softly, 'you're right. I'll always do what you tell me.'
She laughed.' Remember the answer to the question! Can I be the head of our home?'
' Yes, my love, of course you can,' said the knight.
Then she kissed him and said, 'Don't be angry. I'll be a good wife to you. And I'll be as beautiful as a queen!'
The knight started to kiss his wife, but he suddenly jumped back in surprise! There, in front of him, stood the most beautiful girl in the world! His wife wasn't really an ugly old woman. She was a fairy!
' I wanted to be sure that you are a true knight,' she said.' Now I know that you're a good person. Now I don't have to be an ugly old woman!'
The knight kissed his beautiful young wife and then they went to see the queen. Everybody was very surprised when they saw the young woman. They all danced and sang when they heard the story.
The knight and his wife lived happily together all their lives. And they always remembered the answer to the queen's question.
' That's the end of my story,' said the Wife of Bath to the other pilgrims. 'Please God, send us husbands who are young and loving! Men, do what your wives tell you to do! And give them a lot of money to spend!'
Three Men Look for Death
The pardoner told his story next. But first, he told the other pilgrims about his job.
' I speak to people in churches,' he said.' I always talk about the same thing. I tell people: " Love of money is a real problem. You do bad things, and bad things happen to you, because of it." And I sell pardons. I've got a lot of things that belonged to saints - bits of cloth and other old things. Well, they didn't really belong to saints, but people don't know that! If people buy these things, God will forgive them. And I make a lot of money. I don't like being poor. Oh no! I must have fine clothes and good food! The poor give me money and I have a good life. I sell them pardons and they're happy'
The pardoner was a very bad man but his story was very good. The pilgrims were surprised that a bad man could tell a good tale.
This is the story.
There were three young men who did many bad and stupid things.They drank too much and they did no work.
One morning, they were drinking when they heard a noise outside. People were carrying the body of a dead man.
They asked the boy who brought them more drink,' Whose body is that, boy ?'
'He was your friend,' answered the boy. 'He was killed last night while he was drinking here. He was killed by that quiet thief, Death. Death kills all the people in this country. He killed your friend and then went away. He's killed thousands and thousands of people. You should get ready to meet Death.'
'I'm not afraid to meet him!' cried one young man, and he quickly jumped up.'I'm going to find him! I'll look for him in every field and wood and town. Listen! Let's hold up our hands and promise to be brothers. Let's find Death and kill him!'
' I'll come with you,' said the second man.
'And me,' said the third. 'We'll kill this dangerous man, Death, before night comes.'
So the three men went to find Death. They walked a little way and saw an old man with a long white beard. He was wearing a lot of old clothes and carrying a stick. When he saw the three men, he spoke to them kindly.
' God be with you, rny young friends.'
But the men shouted at him,' You stupid old man! Why are you wearing all those clothes ?'
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