The General Prologue - The Reeve

The reeve he was a slender, choleric man,
Who shaved his beard as close as razor can.
His hair was cut round even with his ears;
His top was tonsured like a pulpiteer’s.
Long were his legs, and they were very lean,(5)
And like a staff, with no calf to be seen.
Well could he manage granary and bin,
No auditor could ever on him win.
He could foretell, by drought and by the rain,
The yielding of his seed and of his grain.(10)
His lord’s sheep and his oxen and his dairy,
His swine and horses, all his stores, his poultry,
Were wholly in this steward’s managing;
And, by agreement, he’d made reckoning
Since his young lord of age was twenty years;(15)
Yet no man ever found him in arrears.
There was no agent, hind, or herd who’d cheat
But he knew well his cunning and deceit;
They were afraid of him as of the death.
His cottage was a good one, on a heath;(20)
By green trees shaded with this dwelling-place.
Much better than his lord could he purchase.
Right rich he was in his own private right,
Seeing he’d pleased his lord, by day or night,
By giving him, or lending, of his goods,(25)
And so got thanked—but yet got coats and hoods.
In youth he’d learned a good trade, and had been
A carpenter, as fine as could be seen.
This steward sat a horse that well could trot,
And was all dapple-grey, and was named Scot.(30)
A long surcoat of blue did he parade,
And at his side he bore a rusty blade.
Of Norfolk was this reeve of whom I tell,
From near a town that men call Badeswell.
Bundled he was like friar from chin to croup,(35)
And ever he rode hindmost of our troop.