A.M.'s Myth and Folklore Blog

Myth and Folklore ML-3043-996

Category: Week 13

Week 13 Story: “Finally”

The young man was sweating profusely in the searing heat, thanks in no small part to the heavy woolen suit he was wearing. Despite this, the skin of the man beside him in the bright, well-tailored red suit was completely dry, and he showed no signs of discomfort.

Ringing the doorbell of the modest single-story house, he felt little remorse — only a mild irritation and the continued sense of unease that had accompanied his every move since the man in the red suit had joined their little criminal outfit.

A small, fierce-eyed old woman answered the door, whose body’s slow speed was clearly an impediment to the pace and energy of her character.

“Yes?”

“Good afternoon, ma’am.” He handed her a card.

Barnes, Cullum, and Smith, Attorneys at Law.

She looked unamused.

“Yes?”

“Ma’am, my colleague and I are here today to serve a court summons related to your property here. Due to improper filings, ownership is being disputed; you are needed in court to advocate your case.”

“That’s impossible! Why… I don’t see how… And in my condition!”

“We would, of course, be happy to appear in court to represent you.”

“I see.”

“We would require only a small fee and a number of the necessary documents.”

Ah. I see.”

Her eyes gleamed with an unconstrained and righteous malice.

“You impudent, predatory shit! Devil take you, devil take your ‘colleague,’ and devil take your little card of lies!”

For the first time, the man in the red suit spoke:

“You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for someone to say that.”

And with a snap of his fingers he, the scammer, and the business card disappeared, never to be seen again.

Plyesxale Red Suit Men 2018 Slim Fit Three Piece Wedding ...
The sort of terrible red suit I’m imagining. (Really, it’s painful to look at.)
(Image source: Plyesxale Clothes.)

Author’s Note: This story fairly closely follows the source; my only real change was making the old woman realize that she was being duped and pulling it into a modern setting. (Since our legal system and that of old England share a great deal of structure and terminology, it wasn’t very far to go anyway.)

Source: “The Friar’s Tale: The Story of the Summoner” in The Chaucer Story Book by Eva March Tappan, via the course UnTextbook.

Week 13 Reading: Canterbury Tales Part B

Source: The Chaucer Story Book by Eva March Tappan, via the course UnTextbook.

  • For this week’s second set of reading notes, I’m focusing on the Yeoman’s tale about the “Priest who learned to be a philosopher.”
  • A goodly priest makes a small loan to a man in need, who, out of gratitude, decides to show the priest his “philosophy” — the alchemy of turning base metals to silver.
  • In secret they begin to work, the philosopher allowing the priest to complete the steps under his direction; as the priest began to set the coals over the crucible, the devious philosopher took from his robes a specially prepared coal that contained some silver shavings.
  • The philosopher then tells the priest that he is doing quite well, but that the coals are set slightly wrong. Noting that the priest is sweating profusely, he also offers the priest a rag with which to wipe his face. When the priests eyes were covered by the rag as he used it to wipe his brow, the philosopher placed the special coal deep within the pile right over the crucible.
  • They then drank and were merry as the coals burned, depositing the silver shavings in the crucible.
  • Eventually the ruse is completed and, by trick and covert deception, the priest finds himself with a “transmuted” silver piece and swears to learn the craft from the philosopher.
  • They go through the process again, this time the philosopher fooling the priest by stirring the coals with a sick that had silver shavings hidden in wax on its tip, so that the wax would melt and deposit the silver in the crucible.
  • They go together to a goldsmith to verify that the plates (which the philosopher had really taken from within his robes) are true silver, and indeed, the goldsmith says, they are.
  • The priest, overjoyed, asks what he can possibly pay to gain the recipe for the process. The deceitful philosopher, after creating a false sense of scarcity, settles on the “low” price of 40 pounds, which the priest quickly pays for fear of loosing the opportunity.
  • The philosopher leaves town, and when the poor priest next tries the recipe, it fails.
An ornate silver plate.
(Image from the collection “Enticz”.)

Week 13 Reading: Canterbury Tales Part A

Source: The Chaucer Story Book by Eva March Tappan, via the course UnTextbook.

  • For these reading notes, I’ve chosen to focus on the Friar’s Tale, “The Story of the Summoner.”
  • A summoner (a legal official with the duty of bringing people to court, often known for corruption and extortion) meets with a young bailiff on the road.
  • They converse and are friendly, and eventually the summoner asks how it is that the bailiff makes money from his profession. The bailiff answers that he takes everything he can from every man he meets, and the summoner, emboldened by this statement, agrees that he does the same. They swear an oath to go into this together.
  • Finally, the summoner asks the young yeoman what his name is, and the yeoman responds that he is a devil. The summoner decides that he is bound by his word, even if the fiend be “Satan himself.”
  • They go to harass an old woman, who the summoner falsely summons. He offers to her that, for a “modest” fee of 12 pence, he will appear in her stead, as she is too sick to move or appear before the court. When she responds that she has no such money in the world, he says instead he will take her new pan for the debt.
  • The woman curses him, wishing that the fiend (Devil) take the summoner, the pan, and all, and the Devil, who indeed is right there, obliges, taking the corrupt summoner and the pan to hell.
Gives a new meaning to “Hell’s Kitchen,” doesn’t it…
(Image from manufacturer product listing on Ebay.)
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