Study Guide

The Canterbury Tales: the Man of Law's Tale Lines 708-756

By Chaucer, Geoffrey

Lines 708-756

Lines 708-728

  • Custance and Alla sleep together, because, according to our Man of Law, that's what wives do with their husbands. To which we say, um, what else is new?
  • Custance gets knocked up—it's a boy!—and Alla tells the bishop and the Constable to watch over his pregnant wife because he's got some fighting to do in Scotland. Enemies and stuff.
  • So Custance hangs out for nine months, and then bears a son. They name him Mauricius, which is pretty grandiose as names go.
  • Since Papa's out of town for the blessed event, the Constable sends a messenger to Scotland to deliver the good news and a cigar (okay, not the cigar).

Lines 729-742

  • Okay, but here's the thing: that messenger? He's got some ulterior motives.
  • So instead of heading straight to the king to tell him he's a dad, he instead rides to the mother and tells her instead. Then he hands over the letters.
  • Donegild's not sure what she wants to do with this information, but we're guessing it's nothing good. She tells the messenger to hang tight for the night and then she'll tell him what to do tomorrow.

Lines 743-756

  • The messenger drinks ale and wine, and his letters are stolen while he sleeps like a pig, as messengers are wont to do.
  • Donegild decides to have another false letter written up, which says that the queen has given birth to, um, well, a monster. This monster is supposedly so gross that no one will stay in the castle with it.
  • Harsh.