E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
in Chaucer, is Death and the Rioters. Three rioters in a tavern agreed to hunt down Death and kill him. As they went their way they met an old man, who told them that he had just left him sitting under a tree in the lane close by. Off posted the three rioters, but when they came to the tree they round a great treasure, which they agreed to divide equally. They cast lots which was to carry it home, and the lot fell to the youngest, who was sent to the village to buy food and wine. While he was gone the two who were left agreed to kill him, and so increase their share; but the third bought poison to put into the wine, in order to kill his two confrères. On his return with his stores, the two set upon him and slew him, then sat down to drink and be merry together; but, the wine being poisoned, all the three rioters found Death under the tree as the old man had said.