The Canterbury Tales: the Man of Law's Tale Lines 535-602
By Chaucer, Geoffrey
The Constable and Dame Hermengyld, his wife, are pagans, as is everyone in that land.
Hermengyld loves Custance as much as her own life. And Custance spends so much time in tearful prayer that Jesus converts Dame Hermengyld to Christianity.
Apparently, all the Christians have fled to Wales from Northumbria. Why? Because the pagans from the north have conquered it.
But hey, there are still a few Christian Britons around. They privately worship Christ, much to the chagrin of all the so-called heathens.
There are a couple of these Christians near the castle. One of them is blind, but he can still see. How? His mind's eye, of course.
One day—a nice summer one—the Constable, his wife, and Custance are all out for a stroll by the sea.
They stumble upon the blind man, who cries out, "In the name of Christ, Dame Hermengyld, give me my sight again!"
Awkward. He just outed the Dame as a Christian to her oh so pagan husband. She's a bit freaked out that he'll kill her, but Custance steps in and convinces Dame to work Christ's will.
Needless to say, the Constable's a wee bit confused. He asks what's going on, to which Custance replies, "Sire, this is the power of Christ, who delivers people from the devil."
He's so convinced that he, too, hops on the Christianity train.
Oh, and by the way, this Constable is not lord of this land, but keeps it as a vassal of Alla, King of Northumberland, who is wise and worthy to be ruler of it. So keep that in mind.
Shmoopers, meet Satan. According to the Man of Law, he's always trying to beguile us. And Custance's perfection really has his knickers in a knot. He wants to get some sort of revenge on her for all her moral goodness.
So here's what he does: he causes a young knight who dwells in that town to love her so lustfully that he thinks he will die if he cannot have sex with her.
This knight then courts Custance to no avail. She's not about the sexy times, thank you very much.
Out of spite, the knight decides to kill her shamefully. Because this was the Middle Ages, and that was apparently a thing.
He waits until the Constable is away, and creeps one night into Hermengyld's chamber while she is sleeping.
Exhausted by waking often for prayers, Hermengyld and Custance are sleeping very deeply.
The knight creeps up to the bed and slits Hermengyld's throat, laying the bloody knife next to Custance.