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The Reeve
605     The Reeve was old and choleric° and thin; 
His beard was shaven closely to the skin, 
His shorn hair came abruptly to a stop 
Above his ears, and he was docked° on top 
Just like a priest in front; his legs were lean, 
610  Like sticks they were, no calf was to be seen. 
He kept his bins and garners° very trim; 
No auditor could gain a point on him. 
And he could judge by watching drought and rain 
The yield he might expect from seed and grain. 
615  His master’s sheep, his animals and hens, 
Pigs, horses, dairies, stores, and cattle-pens 
Were wholly trusted to his government. 
He had been under contract to present 
The accounts, right from his master’s earliest years. 
620  No one had ever caught him in arrears.°
No bailiff,° serf, or herdsman dared to kick, 
He knew their dodges, knew their every trick; 
Feared like the plague he was, by those beneath. 
He had a lovely dwelling on a heath, 
625  Shadowed in green by trees above the sward.°
A better hand at bargains than his lord, 
He had grown rich and had a store of treasure 
Well tucked away, yet out it came to pleasure 
His lord with subtle loans or gifts of goods, 
630  To earn his thanks and even coats and hoods. 
When young he’d learnt a useful trade and still 
He was a carpenter of first-rate skill. 
The stallion-cob° he rode at a slow trot 
Was dapple-gray and bore the name of Scot. 
635  He wore an overcoat of bluish shade 
And rather long; he had a rusty blade 
Slung at his side. He came, as I heard tell, 
From Norfolk, near a place called Baldeswell. 
His coat was tucked under his belt and splayed. 
640  He rode the hindmost of our cavalcade

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