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The Canterbury Tales

by Geoffrey Chaucer

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The Squire’s Tale Summary

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Last Updated November 9, 2022.

The Squire’s Introduction

The Host calls on the Squire to say something about love. The Squire assures him that he will speak as well as he can and tell his tale.

The Squire’s Tale

In Sarry there lives a Tartar king called Cambyuskan, who has two brave sons and a beautiful daughter named Canacee. At the king’s birthday feast, a strange knight appears bearing even stranger gifts. The knight rides a brass steed, carries a mirror, and wears a gold ring and a naked sword. The knight explains that these are gifts from the king of Araby and India. The steed will take Cambyuskan anywhere he wishes to go in one day and can even fly. The mirror will allow people to see the future and tell who is friend and who is foe. It can also show ladies like Canacee whether men are true or false.

The gold ring is a gift especially for Canacee, and it will allow her to understand bird speech and reply to the birds in their own language. It also provides knowledge of healing remedies. The sword will both wound and heal.

The people gather around the marvelous horse, speculating about what it could be. Some think it is a miraculous wonder from Fairyland. Others believe it to be some kind of nasty trick. They speculate about the mirror, sword, and ring as well, thinking of the old stories they have heard about such objects.

The party continues with feasting and dancing, and the knight shows Cambyuskan how to use the horse by turning a set of pegs. Then the horse mysteriously vanishes.

When Canacee wakes the next morning, she decides to take a walk in the forest wearing her ring. She can indeed understand the birds, and she comes across a falcon beating her wings, crying out pitifully, and stabbing herself with her beak. Canacee has compassion for the bird and catches the creature when she falls out of the tree.

The falcon tells her story. Her mate, whom she loves, has abandoned her for a kite, and the falcon no longer wants to live. Canacee takes the bird home and cares for her tenderly.

The Squire says that he will tell how the falcon receives her mate back and also relate the adventures of Cambyuskan and his sons, but he never does. His tale is cut off by the Franklin’s interruption. The Franklin praises the youth’s intelligence and story and wishes he had a son like him. His own son gambles too much and lacks virtue. The Host invites the Franklin to tell his tale.

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