Study Guide

The Canterbury Tales: the Man of Law's Tale Lines 484-532

By Chaucer, Geoffrey

Lines 484-532

Lines 484-497

  • Okay, we've got another question. We can accept that God saved Custance from getting stabbed at the feast, but who prevented her from drowning?
  • Um, that would be God, too.

Lines 498-504

  • Where did Custance get meat and drink? How did her food last for three years or more?
  • Christ helped her out here, too, if you're asking our Man of Law
  • After all, God was able to feed a crowd of five thousand with five loaves and two fishes, which was very miraculous to everyone. Why couldn't he feed one girl all alone in a boat?

Lines 505-532

  • Custance drifts on the ocean until the waves cast her up on the shore of Northumberland. Christ wants her to hang out there for a while, so her ship won't be doing any drifting.
  • The Constable of the local castle comes down to the shore to view the wreck. Inside the ship, he finds Custance and her treasure.
  • Custance begs for mercy. By which we mean she begs him to release her soul from her body and deliver her from her sadness. A.k.a. please kill her, won't you sir?
  • Somehow, even though she's speaking Latin and not, you know, whatever they speak in Northumbria, the Constable manages to understand her. But he doesn't oblige.
  • Instead, he takes her to land, where she kneels down and thanks God.
  • Apparently, the sea has done a bit of a number on our dear Custance, and she won't reveal who she is. In fact, she claims she has amnesia.
  • So the Constable and his wife take pity on her. And everyone she meets just loves her to pieces because she's so pleasing, diligent, and eager to serve.