BOOK REVIEW - GEOFFREY CHAUCER – THE CANTERBURY TALES – THE PHYSICIAN’S TALE The saddest and possibly most horrible story in the collection of tales told by the travellers on the Canterbury pilgrimage trail. Virginnius, a noble, and well-respected knight, has a lovely fourteen-year-old daughter, who is naïve and innocent of the ways of the world. One day, the powerful town magistrate, who decides that he must own and possess the girl as his own, spots the girl. He knows that he cannot just seduce her or rape her, so he embarks on an elaborate plot to destroy her father’s reputation. The Magistrate enlists the help of a local crook, called Claudius, and has him make false claims that Virginnius stole the girl in her infancy to raise her as his own. The Magistrate naturally believes the evidence, and condemns Virginnius to death, and declares that the girl becomes his own adopted daughter for her own safety. Virginnius is unable to find a defence to save her and unable to live with the thought of her being a slave to the Magistrate, Virginnius kills his daughter by severing her head. He confesses to her murder, (a mercy killing) and the Judge condemns him to be executed, but by now the town’s people have wised up to the conspiracy and they force Claudius to confess his part in the affair. The Magistrate is cast into his own prison, where he takes his own life. Virginnius takes a surprisingly lenient stance on Claudius and allows him to go free. The story goes down well, though the Host now requests that it be followed by something with a softer mood. Others interject and request a story with some kind of a moral point to it. The Pardoner promises that he will deliver such a story, and retires to an inn to think it through first.