The Parson was a
really devout and good man. "A
there nowhere is."
His virtues and
charity made him beloved by all
flock, to whom he presented his teaching with patience and simplicity;
"but first he followed it himself."
Now, Chaucer is careful to tell us
that "Wide was his parish, and
houses far asunder, But he neglected
nought for rain or thunder;" and it is with his parochial visitations
that the Parson's puzzle actually dealt.
He produced a plan of part of
his parish, through which a small river ran that joined the sea some
hundreds of miles to the south.
I give a facsimile of the plan.
my worthy Pilgrims, is
a strange riddle,"
"Behold how at the branching of the river is an island.
doth stand my own poor parsonage, and ye may all see the whereabouts of
the village church.
Mark ye, also, that there be eight bridges and no
more over the river in my parish.
On my way to church it is my wont to
visit sundry of my flock, and in the doing thereof I do pass over every
one of the eight bridges once and no more.
any of ye find the path,
after this manner, from the house to the church, without going out of
Nay, nay, my friends, I do never cross the river in any boat,
neither by swimming nor wading, nor do I go underground like unto the
mole, nor fly in the air as doth the eagle; but only pass over by thridges."
There is a way in
which the Parson might have made this
Can the reader discover it?
At first it seems impossible, but
the conditions offer a loophole.