Who murdered their friend in "The Pardoner's Tale"?

In "The Pardoner's Tale," two scoundrels murder their friend in order to divide eight bushels of gold florins between themselves.

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In "The Pardoner's Tale," three young scoundrels set out to find Death and kill him. They make this decision after hearing about the untimely demise of a friend. The innkeeper who relates the story of their friend's passing maintains that Death has killed at least a thousand people during the plague; he was also reportedly responsible for the demise of everyone in a nearby village.

Most ominously, Death seems to delight in targeting and killing the young.

Upon hearing this, the three drunken scoundrels set out to find and dispatch Death. They head out and soon come across an old man. The dissolute youths tell the old man that they are looking for Death. When he hears this, he points the scoundrels to a nearby grove, where he insists that they will find Death resting under a tree.

The scoundrels set off, but instead of finding Death, they discover about eight bushels of gold florins. Ecstatic at their find, they soon forget about hunting down Death. Instead, they make plans to divide the fortune among themselves.

All three agree that they shouldn't move their new-found treasure until night falls. The youngest of the scoundrels is sent off to town to procure food and drink for everyone. While he's gone, his two friends plot to kill him upon his return and divide the fortune between themselves.

Meanwhile, the third scoundrel decides to poison his two friends who stayed behind with the treasure. He procures poison and pours it into two of the wine flasks he brings back. Meanwhile, he leaves a third flask (presumably for himself) free of poison. When he returns, his two friends put their wicked plan into action and kill him.

However, when the two surviving scoundrels sit down to feast, they discover that they have been tricked. Unfortunately, they drink the poisoned wine, and both die in great agony. Thus, instead of defeating Death, they fall prey to his machinations and are destroyed in the process.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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