The Canterbury Tales: The Reeve's Tale
by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales: The Reeve's Tale Wealth Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used the line numbering found on Librarius's online edition.
But specially I pray thee, hooste deere,
Get us some mete and drynke, and make us cheere,
And we wil payen trewely atte fulle.
With empty hand men may no haukes tulle;
Loo, heere oure silver, redy for to spende.
(277 – 281)
John emphasizes to Symkyn that he and Aleyn will pay good money for their food and lodging. He quotes a common saying, "With empty hand men may no haukes tulle" to show that he understands that the arrangement between himself and Symkyn will be a business deal; i.e, it will involve silver being laid out up front to "lure" the hawk, Symkyn.
Som esement has lawe yshapen us;
For, John, ther is a lawe that says thus,
That gif a man in a point be agreved,
That in another he shal be releved.
(325 – 328)
Aleyn proposes to sleep with Symkyn's daughter as "esement" (repayment) for the corn Symkyn has stolen from the clerks. It sounds misogynistic, or anti-feminist, to modern ears accustomed to thinking of women as people and not property. However, the tale has actually laid the groundwork for Aleyn's proposal at the beginning by talking about the dowries, or monetary values, attached to both Symkyn's wife and daughter.