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The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale (Part Three)

Sequitur Pars Tercia

I trowe men wolde deme it necligence, If I foryete to tellen the dispence 1025 Of Theseus, that gooth so bisily To maken up the lystes roially; That swich a noble theatre as it was, I dar wel seyen, in this world ther nas. The circuit a myle was aboute, 1030 Walled of stoon, and dyched al withoute. Round was the shap, in manere of compas, Ful of degrees the heighte of sixty pas, That whan a man was set on o degree, He lette nat his felawe for to see. 1035 Estward ther stood a gate of marbul whit, Westward, right swich another in the opposit; And shortly to concluden, swich a place Was noon in erthe, as in so litel space. For in the lond ther was no crafty man 1040 That geometrie or ars-metrike kan, Ne portreytour, ne kervere of ymages, That Theseus ne yaf him mete and wages, The theatre for to maken and devyse. And for to doon his ryte and sacrifise, 1045 He estward hath upon the gate above, In worshipe of Venus, goddesse of love, Doon make an auter and an oratorie. And on the gate westward, in memorie Of Mars, he maked hath right swich another, 1050 That coste largely of gold a fother. And northward, in a touret on the wal Of alabastre whit, and reed coral, An oratorie, riche for to see, In worshipe of Dyane, of chastitee, 1055 Hath Theseus doon wroght in noble wyse. But yet hadde I foryeten to devyse The noble kervyng and the portreitures, The shap, the contenaunce, and the figures, That weren in thise oratories thre. 1060 First in the temple of Venus maystow se Wroght on the wal, ful pitous to biholde, The broken slepes and the sikes colde, The sacred teeris and the waymentynge, The firy strokes, and the desirynge 1065 That loves servantz in this lyf enduren; The othes that her covenantz assuren; Plesaunce and Hope, Desir, Foolhardynesse, Beautee and Youthe, Bauderie, Richesse, Charmes and Force, Lesynges, Flaterye, 1070 Despense, Bisynesse, and Jalousye, That wered of yelewe gooldes a gerland, And a cokkow sittynge on hir hand; Festes, instrumentz, caroles, daunces, Lust and array, and alle the circumstaunces 1075 Of love, whiche that I rekned, and rekne shal, By ordre weren peynted on the wal, And mo than I kan make of mencioun; For soothly, al the mount of Citheroun, Ther Venus hath hir principal dwellynge, 1080 Was shewed on the wal in portreyynge, With al the gardyn and the lustynesse. Nat was foryeten the Porter Ydelnesse, Ne Narcisus the faire, of yore agon, Ne yet the folye of kyng Salamon, 1085 And eek the grete strengthe of Ercules - Th'enchauntementz of Medea and Circes - Ne of Turnus, with the hardy fiers corage, The riche Cresus, kaytyf in servage. Thus may ye seen, that wysdom ne richesse, 1090 Beautee ne sleighte, strengthe ne hardynesse, Ne may with Venus holde champartie, For as hir list, the world than may she gye. Lo, alle thise folk so caught were in hir las, Til they for wo ful ofte seyde "allas!" 1095 Suffiseth heere ensamples oon or two- And, though, I koude rekene a thousand mo. The statue of Venus, glorious for to se, Was naked, fletynge in the large see, And fro the navele doun al covered was 1100 With wawes grene, and brighte as any glas. A citole in hir right hand hadde she, And on hir heed, ful semely for to se, A rose gerland, fressh and wel smellynge; Above hir heed hir dowves flikerynge. 1105 Biforn hir stood hir sone Cupido, Upon his shuldres wynges hadde he two, And blynd he was, as it was often seene. A bowe he bar, and arwes brighte and kene. Why sholde I noght as wel eek telle yow al 1110 The portreiture, that was upon the wal Withinne the temple of myghty Mars the rede? Al peynted was the wal in lengthe and brede Lyk to the estres of the grisly place That highte the grete temple of Mars in Trace, 1115 In thilke colde frosty regioun Ther as Mars hath his sovereyn mansioun. First on the wal was peynted a forest In which ther dwelleth neither man ne best, With knotty, knarry, bareyne trees olde, 1120 Of stubbes sharpe and hidouse to biholde, In which ther ran a rumbel and a swough As though a storm sholde bresten every bough. And dounward from an hille, under a bente, Ther stood the temple of Mars Armypotente, 1125 Wroght al of burned steel, of which the entree Was long and streit, and gastly for to see, And therout came a rage and suche a veze, That it made al the gate for to rese. The northren lyght in at the dores shoon, 1130 For wyndowe on the wal ne was ther noon, Thurgh which men myghten any light discerne. The dore was al of adamant eterne, Yclenched overthwart and endelong With iren tough, and for to make it strong 1135 Every pyler, the temple to sustene, Was tonne-greet of iren bright and shene. Ther saugh I first the dirke ymaginyng Of Felonye, and al the compassyng, The crueel Ire, reed as any gleede, 1140 The pykepurs, and eek the pale Drede, The smylere with the knyf under the cloke, The shepne brennynge with the blake smoke, The tresoun of the mordrynge in the bedde, The open werre, with woundes al bibledde; 1145 Contek, with blody knyf and sharp manace, Al ful of chirkyng was that sory place. The sleere of hymself yet saugh I ther, His herte-blood hath bathed al his heer; The nayl ydryven in the shode anyght, 1150 The colde deeth, with mouth gapyng upright. Amyddes of the temple sat Meschaunce, With Disconfort and Sory Contenaunce. Yet saugh I Woodnesse laughynge in his rage, Armed Compleint, Outhees, and fiers Outrage; 1155 The careyne in the busk with throte ycorve, A thousand slayn, and nat of qualm ystorve, The tiraunt with the pray by force yraft, The toun destroyed, ther was nothyng laft. Yet saugh I brent the shippes hoppesteres, 1160 The hunte strangled with the wilde beres, The sowe freten the child right in the cradel, The cook yscalded, for al his longe ladel. Noght was foryeten by the infortune of Marte, The cartere overryden with his carte, 1165 Under the wheel ful lowe he lay adoun. Ther were also, of Martes divisioun, The barbour, and the bocher, and the smyth That forgeth sharpe swerdes on his styth. And al above, depeynted in a tour, 1170 Saugh I Conquest sittynge in greet honour, With the sharpe swerd over his heed Hangynge by a soutil twyned threed. Depeynted was the slaughtre of Julius, Of grete Nero, and of Antonius; 1175 Al be that thilke tyme they were unborn, Yet was hir deth depeynted ther-biforn By manasynge of Mars, right by figure; So was it shewed in that portreiture, As is depeynted in the sterres above 1180 Who shal be slayn or elles deed for love. Suffiseth oon ensample in stories olde, I may nat rekene hem alle though I wolde. The statue of Mars upon a carte stood Armed, and looked grym as he were wood, 1185 And over his heed ther shynen two figures Of sterres, that been cleped in scriptures That oon Puella, that oother Rubeus. This god of armes was arrayed thus: A wolf ther stood biforn hym at his feet, 1190 With eyen rede, and of a man he eet. With soutil pencel was depeynt this storie, In redoutynge of Mars and of his glorie. Now to the temple of Dyane the chaste As shortly as I kan I wol me haste, 1195 To telle yow al the descripsioun. Depeynted been the walles up and doun Of huntyng and of shamefast chastitee. Ther saugh I, how woful Calistopee Whan that Diane agreved was with here, 1200 Was turned from a womman til a bere, And after was she maad the loode-sterre. Thus was it peynted, I kan sey yow no ferre- Hir sone is eek a sterre, as men may see. Ther saugh I Dane, yturned til a tree, 1205 I mene nat the goddesse Diane, But Penneus doughter, which that highte Dane. Ther saugh I Attheon an hert ymaked, For vengeaunce that he saugh Diane al naked. I saugh how that hise houndes have hym caught 1210 And freeten hym, for that they knewe hym naught. Yet peynted was a litel forther moor How Atthalante hunted the wilde boor, And Meleagree, and many another mo, For which Dyane wroghte hym care and wo. 1215 Ther saugh I many another wonder storie, The which me list nat drawen to memorie. This goddesse on an hert ful hye seet, With smale houndes al aboute hir feet; And undernethe hir feet she hadde a moone, 1220 Wexynge it was, and sholde wanye soone. In gaude grene hir statue clothed was, With bowe in honde, and arwes in a cas. Hir eyen caste she ful lowe adoun, Ther Pluto hath his derke regioun. 1225 A womman travaillynge was hir biforn; But for hir child so longe was unborn Ful pitously Lucyna gan she calle, And seyde, "Help, for thou mayst best of alle!" Wel koude he peynten lyfly, that it wroghte, 1230 With many a floryn he the hewes boghte. Now been thise listes maad, and Theseus, That at his grete cost arrayed thus The temples, and the theatre every deel, Whan it was doon, hym lyked wonder weel.- 1235 But stynte I wole of Theseus a lite, And speke of Palamon and of Arcite. The day approcheth of hir retournynge, That everich sholde an hundred knyghtes brynge The bataille to darreyne, as I yow tolde. 1240 And til Atthenes, hir covenantz for to holde, Hath everich of hem broght an hundred knyghtes, Wel armed for the werre at alle rightes. And sikerly, ther trowed many a man, That nevere sithen, that the world bigan, 1245 As for to speke of knyghthod of hir hond, As fer as God hath maked see or lond, Nas of so fewe so noble a compaignye. For every wight that lovede chivalrye, And wolde, his thankes, han a passant name, 1250 Hath preyed that he myghte been of that game; And wel was hym that therto chosen was. For if ther fille tomorwe swich a cas Ye knowen wel, that every lusty knyght That loveth paramours, and hath his myght, 1255 Were it in Engelond or elles where, They wolde, hir thankes, wilnen to be there, To fighte for a lady, benedicitee! It were a lusty sighte for to see. And right so ferden they with Palamon, 1260 With hym ther wenten knyghtes many on. Som wol ben armed in an haubergeoun, In a bristplate, and in a light gypoun, And som wol have a paire plates large, And som wol have a Pruce sheeld, or a targe, 1265 Som wol ben armed on hir legges weel, And have an ax, and somme a mace of steel. Ther is no newe gyse, that it nas old; Armed were they, as I have yow told, Everych after his opinioun. 1270 Ther maistow seen comyng with Palamoun, Lygurge hym-self, the grete kyng of Trace. Blak was his berd, and manly was his face, The cercles of hise eyen in his heed, They gloweden bitwyxen yelow and reed, 1275 And lik a grifphon looked he aboute, With kempe heeris on hise browes stoute, Hise lymes grete, hise brawnes harde and stronge, Hise shuldres brode, hise armes rounde and longe; And as the gyse was in his contree, 1280 Ful hye upon a chaar of gold stood he, With foure white boles in the trays. In stede of cote-armure, over his harnays With nayles yelewe and brighte as any gold He hadde a beres skyn, col-blak, for old; 1285 His longe heer was kembd bihynde his bak, As any ravenes fethere it shoon for-blak. A wrethe of gold arm-greet, of huge wighte, Upon his heed, set ful of stones brighte, Of fyne rubyes and of dyamauntz. 1290 Aboute his chaar ther wenten white alauntz, Twenty and mo, as grete as any steer, To hunten at the leoun or the deer, And folwed hym, with mosel faste ybounde, Colored of gold, and tourettes fyled rounde. 1295 An hundred lordes hadde he in his route, Armed ful wel, with hertes stierne and stoute. With Arcita, in stories as men fynde, The grete Emetreus, the kyng of Inde, Upon a steede bay, trapped in steel, 1300 Covered in clooth of gold dyapred weel, Cam ridynge lyk the god of armes, Mars. His cote-armure was of clooth of Tars, Couched with perles white and rounde and grete. His sadel was of brend gold newe ybete; 1305 A mantelet upon his shuldre hangynge Bret-ful of rubyes rede, as fyr sparklynge. His crispe heer lyk rynges was yronne, And that was yelow, and glytered as the sonne. His nose was heigh, hise eyen bright citryn, 1310 Hise lippes rounde, his colour was sangwyn; A fewe frakenes in his face yspreynd, Bitwixen yelow and somdel blak ymeynd, And as a leoun he his looking caste. Of fyve and twenty yeer his age I caste; 1315 His berd was wel bigonne for to sprynge, His voys was as a trompe thonderynge. Upon his heed he wered of laurer grene A gerland, fressh and lusty for to sene. Upon his hand he bar for his deduyt 1320 An egle tame, as any lilye whyt. An hundred lordes hadde he with hym there, Al armed, save hir heddes, in al hir gere, Ful richely in alle maner thynges. For trusteth wel, that dukes, erles, kynges, 1325 Were gadered in this noble compaignye, For love, and for encrees of chivalrye. Aboute this kyng ther ran on every part Ful many a tame leoun and leopard, And in this wise thise lordes, alle and some 1330 Been on the sonday to the citee come, Aboute pryme, and in the toun alight. This Theseus, this duc, this worthy knyght, Whan he had broght hem into his citee, And inned hem, everich in his degree, 1335 He festeth hem, and dooth so greet labour To esen hem and doon hem al honour, That yet men wenen that no maner wit Of noon estaat ne koude amenden it. The mynstralcye, the service at the feeste, 1340 The grete yiftes to the mooste and leeste, The riche array of Theseus paleys, Ne who sat first ne last upon the deys, What ladyes fairest been, or best daunsynge, Or which of hem kan dauncen best and synge, 1345 Ne who moost felyngly speketh of love, What haukes sitten on the perche above, What houndes liggen in the floor adoun- Of al this make I now no mencioun; But, al th'effect, that thynketh me the beste, 1350 Now cometh the point, and herkneth if yow leste. The Sonday nyght, er day bigan to sprynge, Whan Palamon the larke herde synge, (Al though it nere nat day by houres two, Yet song the larke) and Palamon right tho. 1355 With hooly herte and with an heigh corage He roos, to wenden on his pilgrymage, Unto the blisful Citherea benigne, I mene Venus, honurable and digne. And in hir houre he walketh forth a pas 1360 Unto the lystes, ther hire temple was, And doun he kneleth, with ful humble cheere, And herte soor, and seyde in this manere. "Faireste of faire, O lady myn, Venus, Doughter to Jove, and spouse of Vulcanus, 1365 Thow glader of the Mount of Citheron, For thilke love thow haddest to Adoon, Have pitee of my bittre teeris smerte, And taak myn humble preyere at thyn herte. Allas, I ne have no langage to telle 1370 Th'effectes, ne the tormentz of myn helle! Myn herte may myne harmes nat biwreye, I am so confus that I kan noght seye. But 'Mercy, lady bright! that knowest weele My thought, and seest what harmes that I feele.' 1375 Considere al this, and rewe upon my soore, As wisly, as I shal for everemoore, Emforth my myght, thy trewe servant be, And holden werre alwey with chastitee. That make I myn avow, so ye me helpe. 1380 I kepe noght of armes for to yelpe, Ne I ne axe nat tomorwe to have victorie, Ne renoun in this cas, ne veyne glorie Of pris of armes blowen up and doun, But I wolde have fully possessioun 1385 Of Emelye, and dye in thy servyse. Fynd thow the manere how, and in what wyse- I recche nat, but it may bettre be To have victorie of hem, or they of me- So that I have my lady in myne armes. 1390 For though so be, that Mars is god of armes, Youre vertu is so greet in hevene above That if yow list, I shal wel have my love. Thy temple wol I worshipe everemo, And on thyn auter, where I ride or go, 1395 I wol doon sacrifice and fires beete. And if ye wol nat so, my lady sweete, Thanne preye I thee, tomorwe with a spere That Arcita me thurgh the herte bere. Thanne rekke I noght, whan I have lost my lyf, 1400 Though that Arcita wynne hir to his wyf. This is th'effect and ende of my preyere, Yif me my love, thow blisful lady deere!" Whan the orison was doon of Palamon, His sacrifice he dide, and that anon, 1405 Ful pitously with alle circumstaunces, Al telle I noght as now his observaunces. But atte laste, the statue of Venus shook, And made a signe wherby that he took That his preyere accepted was that day. 1410 For thogh the signe shewed a delay, Yet wiste he wel that graunted was his boone, And with glad herte he wente hym hoom ful soone. The thridde houre inequal, that Palamon Bigan to Venus temple for to gon, 1415 Up roos the sonne, and up roos Emelye, And to the temple of Dyane gan hye. Hir maydens that she thider with hir ladde, Ful redily with hem the fyr they ladde, Th'encens, the clothes, and the remenant al 1420 That to the sacrifice longen shal. The hornes fulle of meeth, as was the gyse, Ther lakked noght to doon hir sacrifise, Smokynge the temple, ful of clothes faire. This Emelye, with herte debonaire, 1425 Hir body wessh with water of a welle- But how she dide hir ryte I dar nat telle, But it be any thing in general; And yet it were a game to heeren al, To hym that meneth wel it were no charge, 1430 But it is good a man been at his large.- Hir brighte heer was kembd, untressed al, A coroune of a grene ook cerial Upon hir heed was set, ful fair and meete. Two fyres on the auter gan she beete, 1435 And dide hir thynges as men may biholde In Stace of Thebes, and thise bookes olde. Whan kyndled was the fyr, with pitous cheere Unto Dyane she spak as ye may heere. "O chaste goddesse of the wodes grene, 1440 To whom bothe hevene and erthe and see is sene, Queene of the regne of Pluto derk and lowe, Goddesse of maydens, that myn herte hast knowe Ful many a yeer, and woost what I desire, As keep me fro thy vengeaunce and thyn ire, 1445 That Attheon aboughte cruelly. Chaste goddesse, wel wostow that I Desire to ben a mayden al my lyf, Ne nevere wol I be no love ne wyf. I am, thow woost, yet of thy compaignye, 1450 A mayde, and love huntynge and venerye, And for to walken in the wodes wilde, And noght to ben a wyf, and be with childe. Noght wol I knowe the compaignye of man; Now helpe me, lady, sith ye may and kan, 1455 For tho thre formes that thou hast in thee. And Palamon, that hath swich love to me, And eek Arcite, that loveth me so soore, This grace I preye thee, withoute moore, As sende love and pees bitwixe hem two, 1460 And fro me turne awey hir hertes so, That al hir hoote love and hir desir, And al hir bisy torment and hir fir, Be queynt, or turned in another place. And if so be thou wolt do me no grace, 1465 And if my destynee be shapen so That I shal nedes have oon of hem two, As sende me hym that moost desireth me. Bihoold, goddesse, of clene chastitee, The bittre teeris that on my chekes falle. 1470 Syn thou art mayde and kepere of us alle, My maydenhede thou kepe and wel conserve, And whil I lyve a mayde, I wol thee serve." The fires brenne upon the auter cleere, Whil Emelye was thus in hir preyere; 1475 But sodeynly she saugh a sighte queynte, For right anon oon of the fyres queynte, And quyked agayn, and after that anon That oother fyr was queynt and al agon; And as it queynte, it made a whistelynge 1480 As doon thise wete brondes in hir brennynge; And at the brondes ende out ran anon As it were blody dropes many oon; For which so soore agast was Emelye That she was wel ny mad, and gan to crye; 1485 For she ne wiste what it signyfied. But oonly for the feere thus hath she cried, And weep that it was pitee for to heere. And therwithal Dyane gan appeere, With bowe in honde, right as an hunteresse, 1490 And seyde, "Doghter, stynt thyn hevynesse. Among the goddes hye it is affermed, And by eterne word writen and confermed, Thou shalt ben wedded unto oon of tho That han for thee so muchel care and wo. 1495 But unto which of hem I may nat telle, Farwel, for I ne may no lenger dwelle. The fires whiche that on myn auter brenne Shule thee declaren, er that thou go henne, Thyn aventure of love, as in this cas." 1500 And with that word, the arwes in the caas Of the goddesse clateren faste and rynge, And forth she wente, and made a vanysshynge, For which this Emelye astoned was, And seyde, "What amounteth this, allas! 1505 I putte me in thy proteccioun, Dyane, and in thy disposicioun!" And hoom she goth anon the nexte weye. This is th'effect, ther is namoore to seye. The nexte houre of Mars folwynge this 1510 Arcite unto the temple walked is Of fierse Mars, to doon his sacrifise With alle the rytes of his payen wyse. With pitous herte and heigh devocioun Right thus to Mars he seyde his orisoun. 1515 "O stronge god, that in the regnes colde Of Trace honoured art and lord yholde, And hast in every regne and every lond Of armes al the brydel in thyn hond, And hem fortunest as thee lyst devyse, 1520 Accepte of me my pitous sacrifise. If so be that my youthe may deserve, And that my myght be worthy for to serve Thy godhede, that I may been oon of thyne, Thanne preye I thee to rewe upon my pyne. 1525 For thilke peyne, and thilke hoote fir, In which thou whilom brendest for desir Whan that thow usedest the greet beautee Of faire yonge fresshe Venus free, And haddest hir in armes at thy wille- 1530 Although thee ones on a tyme mysfille Whan Vulcanus hadde caught thee in his las, And foond thee liggynge by his wyf, allas!- For thilke sorwe that was in thyn herte Have routhe as wel, upon my peynes smerte! 1535 I am yong and unkonnynge as thow woost, And, as I trowe, with love offended moost That evere was any lyves creature, For she that dooth me al this wo endure Ne reccheth nevere wher I synke or fleete. 1540 And wel I woot, er she me mercy heete, I moot with strengthe wynne hir in the place. And,. wel I woot, withouten help or grace Of thee, ne may my strengthe noght availle. Thanne help me, lord, tomorwe in my bataille 1545 For thilke fyr that whilom brente thee, As wel as thilke fyr now brenneth me! And do that I tomorwe have victorie, Myn be the travaille and thyn be the glorie! Thy sovereyn temple wol I moost honouren 1550 Of any place, and alwey moost labouren In thy plesaunce, and in thy craftes stronge, And in thy temple I wol my baner honge, And alle the armes of my compaignye; And evere-mo, unto that day I dye, 1555 Eterne fir I wol biforn thee fynde. And eek to this avow I wol me bynde; My beerd, myn heer, that hongeth long adoun, That nevere yet ne felte offensioun Of rasour, nor of shere, I wol thee yeve, 1560 And ben thy trewe servant whil I lyve. Now lord, have routhe upon my sorwes soore; Yif me victorie, I aske thee namoore!" The preyere stynt of Arcita the stronge; The rynges on the temple dore that honge, 1565 And eek the dores clatereden ful faste, Of which Arcita somwhat hym agaste. The fyres brenden upon the auter brighte, That it gan al the temple for to lighte, And sweete smel the ground anon up yaf, 1570 And Arcita anon his hand up haf, And moore encens into the fyr he caste, With othere rytes mo, and atte laste The statue of Mars bigan his hauberk rynge, And with that soun he herde a murmurynge, 1575 Ful lowe and dym, and seyde thus, "Victorie!" For which he yaf to Mars honour and glorie; And thus with joye and hope wel to fare, Arcite anon unto his in is fare, As fayn as fowel is of the brighte sonne. 1580 And right anon swich strif ther is bigonne For thilke grauntyng, in the hevene above Bitwixe Venus, the Goddesse of Love, And Mars the stierne God armypotente, That Jupiter was bisy it to stente; 1585 Til that the pale Saturnus the colde, That knew so manye of aventures olde, Foond in his olde experience an art That he ful soone hath plesed every part. As sooth is seyd, elde hath greet avantage; 1590 In elde is bothe wysdom and usage; Men may the olde atrenne, and noght atrede. Saturne anon, to stynten strif and drede, Al be it that it is agayn his kynde, Of al this strif he gan remedie fynde. 1595 "My deere doghter Venus," quod Saturne, "My cours, that hath so wyde for to turne, Hath moore power than woot any man. Myn is the drenchyng in the see so wan, Myn is the prison in the derke cote, 1600 Myn is the stranglyng and hangyng by the throte, The murmure, and the cherles rebellyng, The groynynge, and the pryvee empoysonyng. I do vengeance and pleyn correccioun, Whil I dwelle in the signe of the leoun. 1605 Myn is the ruyne of the hye halles, The fallynge of the toures and of the walles Upon the mynour, or the carpenter. I slow Sampsoun, shakynge the piler, And myne be the maladyes colde, 1610 The derke tresons, and the castes olde; My lookyng is the fader of pestilence. Now weep namoore, I shal doon diligence That Palamon, that is thyn owene knyght, Shal have his lady, as thou hast him hight. 1615 Though Mars shal helpe his knyght, yet nathelees Bitwixe yow ther moot be somtyme pees, Al be ye noght of o compleccioun- That causeth al day swich divisioun. I am thyn aiel, redy at thy wille, 1620 Weep now namoore, I wol thy lust fulfille." Now wol I stynten of the goddes above, Of Mars and of Venus, goddesse of Love, And telle yow, as pleynly as I kan, The grete effect for which that I bygan.

Explicit Tercia Pars

The Knight's Tale: Part Two | The Knight's Tale: Part Four

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