The Canterbury Tales

Why do the rioters set out to kill death?

The pardoners tale

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The three drunkards were in a tavern one night, and, hearing a bell ring, looked outside to see men carrying a corpse to its grave. One of them called to his slave to go and ask who the corpse was: he was told by a boy that the corpse was an old fellow whose heart was smashed in two by a secret thief called Death. This drunkard agreed, and discussed with his companions how this “Death” had indeed slain many people, of all ranks, of both sexes, that very year. The three then made a vow (by “Goddes digne bones”) to find Death and slay him.