The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story The Manciple's Prologue Summary
When the pilgrims reach Bob-Up-and-Down, the Host points out that the Cook is drunk and about to fall off his horse, and tells the Cook to come forward and tell a tale in punishment for sleeping on the way. He asks the Cook if he is asleep, or drunk, or tired from having sex all night.
The Cook replies that he is so sleepy that he really just wants to go to bed.
The Manciple asks the Host to allow him to tell a tale instead, for he fears that the Cook is too drunk to do well. He describes the Cook's drunken appearance in great detail, saying that he looks dazed, his breath stinks, he yawns, and his horrible breath is infecting everyone. He tells the Cook he is really, really drunk.
The Cook takes offense at this and leans forward as if to hit the Manciple, but instead falls off his horse.
The pilgrims help put him back in his saddle.
The Host tells the Manciple that he, too, fears the Cook will tell his tale badly, and that the Cook has enough to do just to stay in his saddle. The Host fears that if the Cook falls again, no one will be able to put him back up because he is so heavy.
The Host also tells the Manciple that it is not right for him to tease the Cook in front of all the other pilgrims. The Manciple should beware, for, on another day, the Cook might get back at him by chiding him for dishonesty in his business practices.
The Manciple says he would rather not fight with the Cook. To make amends, he gives the Cook some of his good wine, which the Cook promptly drinks.
The Host laughs and says that the company should always carry wine with them, for it truly turns conflict into peace. He praises Bacchus, god of wine.
He asks the Manciple to tell his tale, and the Manciple begins.