Study Guide

The Canterbury Tales: the Man of Law's Tale Lines 603-658

By Chaucer, Geoffrey

Lines 603-658

Lines 603-630

  • Soon after this, the Constable arrives home, bringing with him King Alla. He takes one look at his dead wife and basically loses it.
  • It doesn't help that in the bed, he sees the bloody knife lying next to Custance...
  • ... who, by the way, is so consumed with grief that she can barely string to words together.
  • The Constable describes it all to King Alla, who gets the whole story of how Custance showed up in a rudderless boat a while back, etc. 
  • The king's heart is filled with pity at the misfortune of so good a creature as Custance (never mind the fact that she just woke up in bed with her bestie and a bloody knife).
  • Just as a lamb brought to the slaughter, so stands Custance before the king. The false knight, worker of this treachery, accuses Custance of the murder.
  • Nonetheless, there is great mourning among the people, who say they can not believe that Custance has done something so wicked. She's just too good.
  • For to them she has always seemed so virtuous and affectionate toward Hermengyld. Everyone in that household bears witness to this, except that jerky knight.
  • The King suspects the Knight of some suspicious motive, and decides to dig deeper into this situation to learn the truth.

Lines 631-658

  • Custance knows she needs a miracle here. The evidence is pretty damning after all. So what does she do? She prays, of course: "Immortal God, who saved Susannah from false accusations, and you, merciful Mary, if I am innocent of this crime, be my help or I shall die."
  • Nothing so far. Custance is being led to her execution, all alone, with no one to beg for help.
  • Dun dun dun...