The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Squire's Tale Summary

The Squire tells the tale of Cambyuskan, the king of Sarai in Tartary. Cambyuskan and his wife, Elpheta, have two sons and one daughter, Canacee. During a party for the king’s birthday, a strange knight rides into the hall. He offers the king four gifts: a brass horse that can transport a person anywhere in the world within twenty-four hours, a mirror that shows impending misfortunes and the character of friends and foes, a ring that allows the wearer to understand the language of any bird, and a sword whose edge will cut through any armor and whose flat will heal any wound caused by its edge.

Canacee is given the ring. The mirror and sword are locked in the tower. However, no one can move the horse until the knight explains how to make the horse move: by turning a pin in its ear. Then, everyone goes to sleep except Canacee, who cannot stop thinking about the mirror and the ring.

Early the next morning, Canacee is out walking with her maids when she finds an injured falcon, which cries out in anguish. Because she is wearing the ring that allows her to understand the speech of birds, Canacee understands what the bird is saying, and she picks it up to speak to it. The falcon tells her a story of a handsome tercelet (male falcon) who once loved the falcon, but who left her when he fell in love with a kite. Canacee digs up herbs to heal the injured bird, then puts it in a box to sleep by her bedside.

The narrator then leaves Canacee, promising to return to her story after telling how her father won his cities and how Cambalo won his wife. However, the tale cuts off only a few lines into its third part.

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