Study Guide

The Canterbury Tales: the Man of Law's Tale Lines 785-840

By Chaucer, Geoffrey

Lines 785-840

Lines 785-805

  • The messenger, ruiner that he is, brings the king's letter back to Donegild. Ugh.
  • Donegild intercepts the letter (after getting the messenger drunk again) and falsifies a new one to be sent back to the Constable.
  • The new letter, meant to look like it's from the king, states that the Constable shouldn't allow Custance to remain in his realm beyond three-and-a-quarter days. If she does, she's toast.
  • According to this falsified letter, the king wants Custance to be sent away in a ship, never to return.
  • Do we smell another rudderless boat in our future?

Lines 806-840

  • The next morning, the messenger wakes up from his drunken stupor, heads on back to the castle, and hands over the new counterfeit letter to the Constable.
  • Needless to say, when he reads it, the Constable is pretty upset. He doesn't want to send Custance off on a boat, but a Constable's gotta do what a Constable's gotta do.
  • On the fourth day, Custance heads for her ship, heeding the instructions of the letter. She's bummed, of course, but she stoically hops on board because this is Custance we're talking about.
  • She'll put her trust in God. She knows that he'll save her.
  • She tells her son, who's crying in her arms, to be at peace.
  • Then she takes her handkerchief off her head and covers his face, then rocks him to sleep in her arms, casting her eyes up to heaven.