The Potboy's Prologue and Tale
A `Canterbury Tale' by Ivor Sukwell.
The story that follows is a `Canterbury Tale' that does not form part of the work written by Geoffrey Chaucer himself, but does, I hope, fit with the spirit of his great work. No explicit sex, but, hey, what are imaginations for?
It was fun to write, I hope it's fun to read.
On a May morning, when the sun was soft having been but not long risen, there came into the Tabard in Southwark a company of pilgrims, some twenty four in number, with intent to make to Canterbury, there to seek the holy, blissful martyr, St. Thomas, for his shrine there did many draw, be it to seek his aid, or no more than for the purpose of making holy pilgrimage, for all who seek the favour of God must first seek the favour of His saints.
The Host, a man of ample girth and good humour, by name of Harry Baily, did welcome all with open arms and beaming smile, for four and twenty pilgrims at such an hour would be in much need of bread and meat and ale, and nothing made my master, the Tabard's Host, smile wider than the prospect of money to be made.
He bid me make haste and make tables ready for he would hear no word of their departure before their fast had been broken properly, for, he said, pilgrims do not make good speed upon the road when their stomachs be empty, and he would have none say that Harry Baily did send such as pilgrims hungry on their way.
As I did hurry back and forth with plates of bread, of cheese and meat and many pots of small beer and some of stronger, for though it was but early morn, some there were who wanted not small beer; I did note many things, for though he be but fourteen years of age a potboy does soon see those that have no wish to pay for their sustenance.
Master Geoffrey did join all then, for he had risen late for he had gone late to bed with talking to Harry Baily and drinking wine late come from France; and he did talk with all and with listening close more I learned of these holy pilgrims, and did tell to Harry Baily the ones who would be like to seek their victuals for free.
A Reeve there was who made sure his lord lived within his means, though that lord's means were greater than he knew, or would have been were the Reeve's needs lesser. A Man of Medicine and another of Law and purses they had both that were full, but tied so tight that none could enter a finger there. Gold, it seemed, a way in could find but never out again, for those who practise both Medicine and Law have great need of gold their services to perform.
One there, a man with hair long and lank and breath most foul, did stare upon me in a manner that I have known men stare before, for though I look not like a maid there are those who would use me as such, and this I do not mind for it is the lot of a potboy that some should wish to use him so. Some, indeed, I have gone on my knees before and opened wide my mouth, lain even on my back and lifted high my legs, for that place admits entry and exit both. For the like of this Pardoner, for such he was, I would open not my mouth nor my hole, for he repulsed me much.
That he cast lewd looks upon me was seen by many: the Lady Eglantine, a Prioress in company with three holy Sisters, did purse their lips and shake their heads and look with disapproval upon me when I did serve them ale for they thought me to blame for his looks, for it is known that potboys may be lascivious creatures, their young blood inflamed by fumes of ale and wine.
My blood was inflamed not by such fumes nor by the Pardoner, for him I had marked as one who would pay not, and such I said to Harry Baily who let displeasure show upon his face.
A Parish Priest was there who whispered to me to be wary of the call of the Devil and the sins of the flesh and I confessed to him that I had no urging for such sins, for the Pardoner was a loathsome man and the Priest did pat me on the bottom and was pleased I was a wholesome lad, for he knew well the dangers of my trade, and he did give me a blessing there.
Such did please also the Prioress and her nuns for then they did smile upon me and scowled no more.
A brother did the Priest have, a plowman by trade, and for him I would have gone upon my knees most willingly for he was a strong and virile man, but he was interested only in the land and in the doing of good; and he did tell me that should the Pardoner make to force himself upon me then he would rip his stones from his body and feed them to the pigs, though he doubted if the pigs would eat them, or any of the food they fell upon, for there is a limit to what even a pig can swallow.
A knight there was, come freshly from a war, for he wore still his coat of mail and his surcoat was stained, and stained with more, it seemed, than mud and dirt. He must, I thought, be to Canterbury to beg the blessed martyr to intercede on his behalf for the souls of those he had but recently sent to God. With him there was another, not a knight, but a young man of some means for he was dressed well and in the latest fashion and showed a pleasing leg, but he noticed me not, though for him I would have gone upon my knees most willingly, aye, and upon my back too had he but asked.
A Goodwife there was, from in the west and somewhere near to Bath, a matron in her middle years with a ready smile and laugh. I felt a touch of pity for any rouncey that she sat upon, for truly she was not under-grown and needed plow horse more than rouncey. I did hear her tell Master Geoffrey that she had married, and buried, four, and now would seek a fifth and I did wonder if even one as strong and sturdy as the Plowman would last with her long. She did look long and much upon the young man of means, but should she catch him in her wiles I had no doubt he would be in his grave within the month, for he was too refined and delicate and would exhaust too quickly.
Dame Alice, for that is who she be, did call me to her table for she would have words with me, and Harry Baily bid me go, for all had broken well now their fast and would soon be on their way.
"Notice you not," she said to me, "The looks cast upon you?"
And of course I had and told her so and said I felt the Pardoner to be a loathsome man, and she did laugh long and loud so that others looked at us, for such loud mirth is not common when the sun has not long risen.
"Not that disgusting creature," she did splutter, "But the young man of means and good leg."
"Him I have seen you much look upon," I said, "But not him on me." And in saying this I had no shame, for bawdy talk is common enough and means little.
"He is not for the likes of me," she grinned, "For such as he will ride not upon any mare, but seek instead a long-legged colt that they may mount."
Her meaning I did understand and blushed a little, for true it is that I am long of leg and a colt indeed.
"Such is no more than just your fancy," I did say to her, "For I have not seen one glance he has bestowed upon me."
"Upon your front, no," she said with great seriousness, "But upon your back, many."
"And why just upon my back?" I asked, for this was banter of a teasing nature.
"Have no fear that he would gaze not long and longingly upon your front, but he must find excuse to do so."
"Not like is that to happen," I said and gave a wistful smile, for indeed the man was comely and should he wish to ride me I would willingly help him mount, "For you are now upon the road to Canterbury and I am at the Tabard still."
"That," she said, "May perchance not be so. Remember this; if a young man of means rises for a potboy, then the potboy may rise also; for when one such as that has found a colt to his liking he does not go seeking another in any haste."
And she did wink at me and I did blush much, for her meaning was all too plain.
Harry Baily did then announce his plan, and cunning it was for he knew that some there would pay not for breaking their fast.
"With you all I would come," he said, "And offer this: that upon our travel all should tell a tale, and at each day's end whoever it is that, by common consent, has told the best, shall sup at all our expense. And when we return here, to The Tabard, then those agreed to have told the worst four shall pay for the night's repast."
Harry Baily was no fool, I thought, for I knew now who the four would be, for it was four I had told him of.
"And Will, the potboy, shall accompany us," Dame Alice called, "For he is a good-humoured boy and there are more than me that would enjoy his company."
The young man did look up at that, and I would swear that there was a light in his eye, for he did, this time, look upon my face.
So with them to Canterbury, though it was not much to my liking, for most rode horses and I had but feet to travel on. Not alone in walking, for the Priest and his brother Plowman walked also, and they were company of a sort, though not the company I would have chosen. The Priest was a holy man and talked only holy things, and such things interest a boy of fourteen but little, for he is but little interested in keeping free from sin, for those who follow the Devil would seem to have more enjoyment in their lives than those who follow God.
Little chance there was for sin of any kind in company of twenty and four pilgrims with Harry Baily along as well; and Master Geoffrey who noted down all words he heard, though why he should do so I knew not.
Dame Alice it was that brought me some relief, for her rouncey, though it labored bravely with its heavy burden, could travel no faster than a bored boy can walk, and she did ride beside me often and gave me little peace, for I swear she would have me wed to the young man of means were such a thing possible.
"He looks still not upon me," I complained to her, "And my feet ache much."
"Some there are," she confided, "That are afeard to put a saddle on the colt they would ride, for fear that he should skit and run away."
"How hope they then to mount him?" For indeed I was beginning to weary of his lack of endeavour and wonder if Dame Alice was mistaken and he did, indeed, look for a foal of a different hue.
Dame Alice cast her eyes to heaven and wondered at the stupidity of men.
"Aye, and of the striplings too, for any maid younger than you would know what there was need to do."
"Maid I am not," I said most strongly, "Though you would have me one for him. Aye, I would have him use me well enough, though as the boy I am and not as a maid."
"It is the same, is it not?" Dame Alice asked, for she is an earthy matron and not always cloaks her words with talk of horses. "The hole may be different but still the mole seeks to burrow in there."
"Aye, but his mole hides deep in the dark. Little hope, I fear, of it braving the light enough to dig a fresh tunnel."
"Then you must woo him, fool. No man has a mole that will not poke out if the call is strong enough."
"And how is that to be done? I have no skill in wooing." And this was true, for never had I sought after maid, for that need, or folly, had not yet risen in me.
"With a clean face and sweet breath, and placing yourself where, with manners, he cannot continue to ignore. And when he ignores you not, a flutter of the eyes should do the trick. Never have I heard of a man who's mole stays hidden when eyelids are fluttered at him."
This I did, for I feared Dame Alice's displeasure more than I feared that of the young man, and on the second day he forced himself to notice me, which was not hard for I walked beside his horse as he was a little apart from the main body.
He looked upon me and smiled a little and I smiled back, for his was not a bold smile but more that of a man who thinks he risks much by smiling but does so regardless, though his smile be ready to hide quickly if it be not returned.
"Master Will," he said, though clear it was not easy for him to talk, "How like you this, our pilgrimage to Canterbury?"
I had not expected him to talk and say things I must answer, and knew not if now I should start to woo him, and so my mouth spoke for me without asking first my head.
"My feet like it little," I said, "And my purse, were I to have one, would like it less. Already I owe Harry Baily my share of last night's supper for the Monk, and, truly, he ate not sparingly."
"And how will that be paid?" he asked, "And your own supper too, and lodging."
"By work in The Tabard, for Harry Baily does employ me there, and with this pilgrimage twill be a month before he needs pay me again. My supper I earned by giving help in the kitchens of the inn we rested at, and a few crusts too for today. For sleeping with the horses they did not charge me."
It was true that my wallet was stuffed with bread, aye, meat and cheese too, but this I had not earned but rather freed from the confines of the pantry.
"And should my tale be amongst the worst, and much I fear it will be for I have no skill in story-telling, twill be a year or more before I see wages again."
"Now this cannot be," he said, and I thought he knew not Harry Baily for he would take back every groat spent, aye, and interest too, more than a Jew would charge. "Tonight you will sup with us and I will meet your bill. Aye, and the share of whoever it is that wins the supper."
Then he did look afeard of what he had said and hastened to say that this would only be if his offer did not offend me, for offence he did not mean to give.
I thought of Dame Alice and of a man afeard that a colt would run, and I gave her silent thanks and fluttered my eyes as she told me to, and said that I took no offence but it was not fitting I should accept such kindness for never could I repay him.
He did smile once more and said that never should I think he wished to be repaid and said that now he knew why Dame Alice had demanded I be taken with them, for I was a comely and a mannered boy and would indeed be company and comfort for more than just she.
He rode off then and when I told all this to Dame Alice later, she said he rode away because he was feared that if he did not so I would think perhaps his intentions were not honourable and that, thinking so, I would skit and run like a frightened colt.
"But I do not want his intentions to be honourable," I protested and Dame Alice sighed and told me I had much to learn.
"Because a man like he wants you in his bed, it means not that he has your dishonour in mind."
I understood her not, for why else would he want to bed me?
"Of course he wants to fuck you," and truly she used that word, "But he does not mean dishonour to you. He wants you as his boy and not as something to amuse him for an hour or two."
"Then, truly, he can have me in his bed and use my mouth and my arse both, for something in me longs to be his boy."
"Then we shall make it so," Dame Alice did declare, "And this night will be your last in a stable, that I warrant!"
At supper Dame Alice did cast her spell, though if she did so before the young man spoke I know not.
"It is not fitting that one amongst us should be on pilgrimage and suffer much for being so. A potboy has no money and came not with us from choice but because we did will it so; and I will not have it that he should work long months for no wage to pay back all he owes our Host. His food this night, and all for the rest of our journey, both to Canterbury and back, shall come from my purse, and, as he is of our company, with us shall he eat. I say it shall be so."
A silence there was, but as it affected the purses of none but he, no disagreement was voiced.
"Clever," Dame Alice whispered to me, "None now can talk of secret dishonour intended. This one you must hold fast, for you will surely rise with him."
Truly, I had risen several times thinking of him, but this was not the time to say of that to Dame Alice.
"I do object," Dame Alice rose to say, "For tonight you have given me the honour of taking supper for my tale, and tonight I will pay the share of the boy, for it was I that first wanted him brought with us."
"The Knight then rose and did thank Dame Alice for her generosity and turned then to the young man, his travelling companion;
"And you, Sir Henry, have shamed us all, for on a pilgrimage there is no master and no servant. All are equal, and hollow indeed would be our prayers at the shrine of the blessed martyr were we to permit one amongst us who has nothing to return with even less. Our thanks to you, Sir Henry, that you have reminded us of our Christian duty. Tomorrow's cost will be mine."
"And mine the next," Madam Eglantine did say. "My convent has passing wealth, and shame would it be indeed were we to forget our vows to give aid where aid is needed."
"And mine another," Harry Baily did declare, and no doubt in my mind there was that he foresaw great profit, for would not the returning band of happy pilgrims feast long and deep at The Tabard when they arrived, for who would not open then their purse for such a generous Host?
"No more," the young man I now knew to be Sir Henry, did say, "For this was no doing to share the cost, and one day at least I do insist on."
None there were who wished to deny him that, and there the matter ended, save that I did partake of victuals finer than my usual fare of stale bread and cheese.
Late into the evening, when wine had flowed, though I did drink but small beer, Dame Alice called me to her and clasped me to her ample bosom.
"Did I not tell you it was a colt he wanted?" she whispered loudly in my ear, for the noise of mirth was great around.
"Aye," I said, but sadly for sad I was, "But a colt of better bloodstock than I, I think. I knew not that he is a man of title, and such have no need of potboys."
"Such as he," Dame Alice did say, "Judge not a colt by its bloodlines alone, but by its features, its legs and its spirit; for from time to time even the drabbest of mares do throw a colt of exceptional quality. Leave all now to me. Save for one thing, and that must you do for yourself," and she gave a wink to me that I prayed fervently that none but I had seen. "On the morrow, when you rise," she said, "Brush not the straw from your hair. And forget not to limp."
On the morrow I did as dame Alice told me, for she was a woman I dared not disobey, and Sir Henry did look askance at my straw-matted hair and at the limp I was pretending.
"Where slept you the night?" he did ask, his brow furrowed.
"In the stables, my Lord," I did answer him, for now I knew him to be a titled man I must address him so, "And turned my ankle on some wood that had been left lying."
"You must clean your hair," he said and reached and softly pulled a straw or two from my hair, "For you look as though you have brought the stable with you."
I thanked him kindly and limped away, trying hard to remember if I limped upon the right or upon the left; and out of sight I did give myself a blow with wood upon the left, for if he later wished to see the ankle I had turned, a bruise at least was needed. No pretence then was needed for my ankle did hurt then and I limped without any such pretence.
When fast was broken and we made to start upon our way, Sir Henry rode to me and said,
"You cannot walk upon that foot, so you must ride with me." And he did pull me up upon his horse so that I sat astride it in front of him and he did put an arm around my waist that I did not fall.
Dame Alice did appear, leading her rouncey for she had not yet mounted, needing a block and two boys from the stable to help her do so, and she did enquire why I were mounted so.
"The boy has hurt his ankle, and walk he cannot," Sir Henry did explain, though he explained not the need for his arm around me for we were moving not.
"Let me see," the ample matron did say and had my foot exposed in the blink of an eye. Red it was and showing sign of a fearsome bruise to come, for I had been over-zealous with the blow upon it.
"Walk he cannot," she did declaim, and loud enough that others heard and Madam Eglantine, the Prioress did come, for her convent had a hospital, and she did agree that walk I could not and gave her blessing to Sir Henry for his gallant action in taking me upon his horse.
"Lean back upon his chest," Dame Alice instructed me, "That will be the greatest comfort for you both and Sir Henry will not need to hold you tight."
So I did and as we rode I felt my back upon Sir Henry's chest and his arm around my waist, and he did bid me hold the reigns and placed his hands on mine so I gave not false signals to his horse, and I did rise in very deed and cursed the pommel of his saddle in my mind for, because of it, I knew not if Sir Henry had risen also.
That night I slept not in the stables but in Sir Henry's chamber, for he would have it so; but I slept not in Sir Henry's bed, but upon the floor, and I did despair that indeed, he wanted me not, for I was but a potboy and he a man of some estate.
On the third day I must tell my tale and a great fear that was for I knew not what to tell, but Dame Alice did instruct me.
"A tale," she said, "Of romance and of faiery. A tale of a handsome young knight and a comely youth in distress. Let there be dragons and ogres and nameless things for it is set in faiery. Make it in France, in the land of Brittany, for all know that to be a land of faiery still. And have him be a knight of Arthur, for that will make him brave and bold as well as handsome. And look you often upon Sir Henry in the telling of it, so all will know you tell it in his honour."
"Would not that be too bold a thing?" I asked and Dame Alice did agree and said I should glance at him but once or twice, so he alone knew the story was for him.
So thus I did.
The Potboy's Tale
In the fair land of France lies the ancient Kingdom of Brittany, a Kingdom where faiery held sway still, for its coast was guarded well by black rocks and swirling seas and many who ventured there met their fates on the treacherous rocks and in the ever-hungry seas.
Few knights journeyed there from the great Arthur's other Kingdom in the land of the Corn Welsh, for though all were sworn by their vows as knights to give aid and succour to all in distress, small was the number who wished to risk their lives on the black rocks and swirling seas, for there were damsels enough in need of rescue and closer to home, though dragons and ogres were there none now in the land of the Corn Welsh, for all had fled now to Brittany, the ogres carried there on the backs of the dragons who flew with ease over the black rocks and swirling seas.
Knights who sought not for damsels in distress did search instead for the Holy Grail, but none were pure enough in heart and mind, and the Holy Grail eluded all who searched.
Some met their fate at the hands of the Greene Knight who swept their heads from their shoulders with a single swing of his mighty axe. Others perished in the desert wastelands of the Fisher King and none who went forth so did return to Arthur's castle in the far west.
One there was who tired of the search for damsels in distress and went not in search of the Holy Grail, for though his heart and mind were pure, he knew them to be not pure enough and that the Grail was not his to find.
Sir Harry of the Bridge he was, a young knight, handsome and bold, and of courage none had more. His name he earned in the land of the Welsh Welsh, which is not the land of the Corn Welsh, though their language be much the same, for his search for distressed damsels had carried him across the Severn Sea. A river he came to and a fair town beside it and on the other side an army of the Saxon people who would cross the river by the single bridge, for the waters ran too fast to swim or wade, and they would burn the town and do mischief to all who lived there. Thus there were many there in distress and amongst them damsels and he was sworn to save and rescue those and so he stood upon the bridge and held back the Saxon horde, killing many so the rapid river ran red with their blood.
Seeing they could not cross the river and do mischief to those that lived in the fair town, the Saxon horde did turn and look for another place, one guarded not by a knight of such valour, a warrior of such renown. In gratitude the people of the fair town did name him Sir Harry of the Bridge, and this name he kept, for it reminded him he had once done deed of valour and rescued damsels many.
Though he had rescued damsels many, Sir Harry of the Bridge did not have spirit that was high, for in that rescue he had slain dragons none and not an ogre seen. Dragons were there indeed in that land of the Welsh Welsh, but all were red and had long been protectors of the people there. Red dragons it was that had driven dragons of all other hues from that land, and none were left for valiant knight to slay and rescue fair maiden so, for no dragon of red would ever harm fair maid.
With heavy heart Sir Harry of the Bridge did turn to go and cross again the Severn Sea, but his path was crossed by a wizard there, for in that land are wizards many and all are named Merlin.
"If dragons and ogres you do seek," the wizard said to him, "It is to the land of Brittany that you must go, for still is that land a land of faiery, and damsels there are many in distress, aye, and fair youths also," and the wizard did give Sir Harry of the Bridge a wizard's wink, but Sir Harry understood it not for he knew not the winks of wizards.
"None can cross the swirling seas and be dashed not to death on the black rocks that guard the coast of Brittany," Sir Harry of the Bridge did sigh, "And no ship would I find that would take me there."
"No ship indeed," Merlin did say to him, "But in this you may sail in safety there for it will not sink in the swirling seas nor dash upon the black rocks."
Merlin did take from his pocket a walnut and opened it neatly so the shell did not crack or break, and when he had eaten the meat within he did lay one half of the shell upon the ground there, on the shore of the Severn Sea, and did say words of wizardry, and, lo, the walnut shell did grow until it was large enough to carry a man, and Sir Harry of the Bridge did look with wonder upon it.
"A coracle is it called," Merlin did dell him, "And all here use such to sail the Severn Sea. It will carry you over the swirling waters and dash not upon the black rocks that guard the coast of Brittany."
And so it was and Sir Harry of the Bridge did come in safety to the land of Brittany, and his horse also, though it were days before either knight or horse were stable enough upon their legs to walk or ride.
With heart light Sir Harry of the Bridge did then ride forth, and his armour shone in the sun and his lance glittered with points of light that twinkled at its tip, for this was the land of faiery and dragons and ogres were there many and many damsels there in need of rescue. He thought not then upon the fair youths that the wizard had spoken of for he had made no vow to rescue such and gave them no heed.
Damsels three did he rescue soon. The first from a nameless thing that had no form or shape that did turn to smoke when he lowered his lance and charged upon it. She he did return to her father, a man of no great cheer for thanks none he gave, and the maid herself seemed not overjoyed to be safe home.
An ogre then he found, a great thing, covered in fur and with a long snout, that did growl and slaver over a fair maid who cowered in fear before it. Sir Harry of the Bridge did then dismount, for well he knew that horses like not ogres and many a valiant knight has met his fate by staying ahorse when close to an ogre, been thrown then and helpless slain.
Ogres must be met on foot, with sword and shield, for ogres have sharp claws and each as long as a short sword, but though fearsome they are, they are clumsy too and Sir Harry of the Bridge did, with strokes deft, chop off the ogre's claws, then run him through. He would fain have lopped the beast's head from its shoulders, but such a sight was not one for fair maid to see, for there is much blood when an ogre is slain thus.
Once more he did take home fair maid and once more received no thanks, and he did think not much of the fathers in Brittany that they should care so little for the safety of their daughters.
A third maid he did from dragon rescue and that with cunning he did.
All the books do say a dragon must be killed with lance, and paintings are there many that show this to be so, and many and many a noble knight has met his fate for trying thus to do. For a dragon doth breathe fire and the favourite food of dragon is pot roasted knight. A fierce and steady flame upon a knight in shining armour and soon he be cooked right through, and when the armour has cooled the dragon takes cooked knight from his shell of steel and eats him then with relish.
Sir Harry of the Bridge had no mind to be pot roasted knight and did use cunning the dragon to slay. He did spy a cloud, a great black cloud that would much rain bring, and he sat upon his faithful horse, some paces further than a dragon's flame can reach, and did wait for the rain to fall.
No fear had he that the dragon would come to him, for that would be to leave the damsel in distress and she would run and hide. Nor would the dragon harm the maid, for dragons are there none who would take their sweet course before their main and long it was since this dragon had feasted on pot roast knight.
The cloud did come and the rain did fall, and it fell not in drops but in pails full, and all do know that water and fire do not live together and no longer could the dragon breathe fierce flame.
Then did Sir Harry of the Bridge lower his lance and charge and skewered the dragon there and rescued maid and took her to her father.
Again thanks had he none, and as he did ride away he did hear the father shouting at fair maid.
"Did she not know," the father bellowed, "That knights there were but few in the land of Brittany, and one has rescued her from distress and she come home a maid still! What manner of foolish wench was she?"
Sir Harry of the Bridge did understand not such words, but did ride forth, more distressed damsels to seek and rescue.
Then he did come upon an ogre that had trapped a youth. Loathsome indeed the ogre was, with hair long and lank and his breath did stink. But the youth was not a maid, nor was he fair, but a common boy, dirty of face with straw in his hair, and run he could not for he could hardly stand and when he tried to move he limped so that he did almost fall.
Sir Harry of the Bridge did turn his horse, for he had not vowed to rescue common boys from filthy ogres, but he did stop and ponder, for this was a land of faiery and in such lands all is not what it may seem.
Sir Harry of the Bridge did turn his horse again and rode now towards the injured boy, and though his face was dirty and straw was in his hair, he did take pity on the boy and determined that he would rescue him, for, in a land where all is not what it seems, who knew what the boy may be.
The loathsome, lank-haired ogre did see Sir Harry come and did snarl and breathe foul breath, but did release his hold upon the boy and did run as fast as his thin, ogre legs would carry him, for he had no spirit in him and would not fight a knight in shining armour that had come to rescue the boy he would have doubtless done dishonour to.
And Sir Harry of the Bridge did take the boy upon his horse and sat him before him and held him round the waist that he should not fall, and the boy did lean back against him as they rode.
He would take him home and to his father but the boy did say that he had no father, only a wondrous knight in shining armour that had rescued him from a loathsome ogre, and that he would fain serve that knight with all his heart, for truly he was a pure and noble knight.
Here endeth the Potboy's Tale