One of the Canterbury Tales.

After the Knight’s tale, which is universally deemed noble and worthy, the drunk Miller states that he will tell his story. Many of the other travelers try to dissuade him, saying his tale will be obscene due to his inebriation. None of them can stop him, however, and the Miller begins his tale. The Miller’s Tale is the story of a scholar tricking a carpenter and seducing his wife. In the beginning, we meet the three principal characters: the wily Scholar, the fairly dimwitted Carpenter, and his beautiful but unfaithful wife. The scholar is enamored of the carpenter’s wife, and while the carpenter is out of town he talks to her and seduces her. She is prudent, however, and insists on them waiting for a more opportune time to carry out their new-found lust. The carpenter, in a display of wit, hides in his room by himself for a few days. The carpenter is worried about him, and goes to his room to find him sitting upright. The scholar then convinces the carpenter that the second flood is nigh: he must build three wooden tubs and hang them from the rafters in order for him, his wife, and the scholar to survive. The carpenter goes home and tells his wife what the scholar related to him. She pretends to be frightened, and the carpenter is convinced: the tubs are built and stocked with food for the “journey.” Later, after the three are in their tubs and the carpenter is asleep, the scholar and the carpenter’s wife sneak off to bed. Unfortunately the local parish Clerk, who is likewise taken with the carpenter’s wife and who has been bothering her throughout the story, returns that night to ask for a kiss. The wife, playing a trick on the clerk, proffers her backside for him to kiss and in the dark, and the clerk doesn’t realize it until it is too late. Angry and seeking revenge, the clerk returns with a red-hot poker and asks for one last kiss. The scholar, eager to be in on the joke, offers his backside and is branded by the clerk. His subsequent screams wake the village, who hurry to investigate. When they arrive, the scholar tells them that the Carpenter had a stupid idea that the next flood was coming, and that he built the tubs to save himself. Everyone is so amused at the carpenter’s stupidity that no one believes his story, and the entire affair becomes a big joke.

This tale fits perfectly the form of a fabliau, being a tale of trickery and deception, as between the scholar and the carpenter (and the scholar and the clerk), as well as being a story of adultery, as between the scholar and the carpenter’s wife. Besides being only a fabliau, however, the story incorporates a good deal of humor, from the scholars dream to the clerk and his red-hot iron, to the carpenter’s fall and subsequent humiliation. The story, in fact, emphasizes the humor of the situation more so than the adultery and deception aspect. The tale has a high degree of absurdity, too, especially that the carpenter would accept the scholar’s dream as true. As an example of the practical joke, the story is excellent, redeeming it’s worst, slightly more obscene aspects. A theme for the story is hard to pin down, however, focusing primarily on the humour inherent in the story of adultery. Chaucer, or the Miller, perhaps wanted us to view the serious subject of adultery in a lighter sense, perhaps even to diminish it’s importance. All in all, the tale surpasses the reader’s expectations after the prologue to the story.

The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale

Heere bigynneth the Millere his Tale

Whilom ther was dwellynge at Oxenford A riche gnof, that gestes heeld to bord, And of his craft he was a carpenter. With hym ther was dwellynge a poure scoler, Hadde lerned art, but al his fantasye Was turned for to lerne astrologye, And koude a certeyn of conclusiouns, To demen by interrogaciouns, If that men asked hym in certain houres Whan that men sholde have droghte or elles shoures, Or if men asked hym what sholde bifalle Of every thyng; I may nat rekene hem alle. This clerk was cleped hende Nicholas. Of deerne love he koude and of solas; And therto he was sleigh and ful privee, And lyk a mayden meke for to see. A chambre hadde he in that hostelrye Allone, withouten any compaignye, Ful fetisly ydight with herbes swoote; And he hymself as sweete as is the roote Of lycorys, or any cetewale. His Almageste, and bookes grete and smale, His astrelabie, longynge for his art, His augrym stones layen faire apart, On shelves couched at his beddes heed; His presse ycovered with a faldyng reed And al above ther lay a gay sautrie, On which he made a-nyghtes melodie So swetely that all the chambre rong; And Angelus ad virginem he song; And after that he song the Kynges Noote. Ful often blessed was his myrie throte. And thus this sweete clerk his tyme spente After his freendes fyndyng and his rente. This carpenter hadde newe a wyf, Which that he lovede moore than his lyf; Of eighteteene yeer she was of age. Jalous he was, and heeld hire narwe in cage, For she was wylde and yong, and he was old, And demed hymself, been lik a cokewold. He knew nat Catoun, for his wit was rude, That bad man sholde wedde his simylitude. Men sholde wedden after hire estaat, For youth and elde is often at debaat. But sith that he was fallen in the snare, Her moste endure, as oother folk, his care. Fair was this yonge wyf, and therwithal As any wezele hir body gent and smal. A ceynt she werede, barred al of silk, A barmclooth as whit as morne milk Upon her lendes, ful of many a goore. Whit was hir smok, and broyden al bifoore And eek bihynde, on hir coler aboute, Of col-blak silk, withinne and eek withoute. The tapes of hir white voluper Were of the same suyte of his coler; Hir filet brood of silk, and set ful hye. And sikerly she hadde a likerous ye; Ful smale ypulled were hire browes two, And tho were bent and blake as any sloo. She was ful moore blisful on to see Than is the newe pere-jonette tree, And softer than the wolle is of a wether. And by hir girdel heeng a purs of lether, Tasseled with silk, and perled with latoun. In al this world, to seken up and doun, There nys no man so wys that koude thenche So gay a popelote or swich a wenche. Ful brighter was the shynyng of hir hewe Than in the Tour the noble yforged newe. But of hir song, it was as loude and yerne As any swalwe sittynge on a berne. Therto she koude skippe and make game, As any kyde or calf folwynge his dame. Hir mouth was sweete as bragot or the meeth, Or hoord of apples leyd in hey or heeth. Wynsynge she was, as is a joly colt, Long as a mast, and upright as a bolt. A brooch she baar upon hir lowe coler, As brood as is the boos of a bokeler. Hir shoes were laced on hir legges hye. She was a prymerole, a piggesnye, For any lord to leggen in his bedde, Or yet for any good yeman to wedde. Now, sire, and eft, sire, so bifel the cas, That on a day this hende Nicholas Fil with this yonge wyf to rage and pleye, Whil that her housbonde was at Oseneye, As clerkes ben ful subtile and ful queynte; And prively he caughte hire by the queynte, And seyde, "Ywis, but if ich have my wille, For deerne love of thee, lemman, I spille." And heeld hire harde by the haunchebones, And seyde, "Lemman, love me al atones, Or I wol dyen, also God me save!" And she sproong as a colt dooth in the trave, And with hir heed she wryed faste awey, And seyde, "I wol nat kisse thee, by my fey! Why, lat be," quod she, "lat be, Nicholas, Or I wol crie 'out harrow' and 'allas!' Do wey youre handes, for youre curteisye!" This Nicholas gan mercy for to crye, And spak so faire, and profred him so faste, That she hir love hym graunted atte laste, Ans swoor hir ooth, by seint Thomas of Kent, That she wol been at his comandement, Whan that she may hir leyser wel espie. "Myn housbonde is so ful of jalousie That but ye wayte wel and been privee, I woot right wel I nam but deed," quod she. "Ye moste been ful deerne, as in this cas." "Nay, therof care thee noght," quod Nicholas. "A clerk hadde litherly biset his whyle, But if he koude a carpenter bigyle." And thus they been accorded and ysworn To wayte a tyme, as I have told biforn. Whan Nicholas had doon thus everideel, And thakked hire aboute the lendes weel, He kiste hire sweete and taketh his sawtrie, And pleyeth faste, and maketh melodie. Thanne fil it thus, that to the paryssh chirche, Cristes owene werkes for to wirche, This goode wyf went on a haliday. Hir forheed shoon as bright as any day, So was it wasshen whan she leet hir werk. Now was ther of that chirche a parissh clerk, The which that was ycleped Absolon. Crul was his heer, and as the gold it shoon, And strouted as a fanne large and brode; Ful streight and evene lay his joly shode; His rode was reed, his eyen greye as goos. With Poules wyndow corven on his shoos, In hoses rede he wente fetisly. Yclad he was ful smal and proprely Al in a kirtel of a lyght waget; Ful faire and thikke been the poyntes set. And therupon he hadde a gay surplys As whit as is the blosme upon the rys. A myrie child he was, so God me save. Wel koude he laten blood and clippe and shave, And maken a chartre of lond or acquitaunce. In twenty manere koude he trippe and daunce After the scole of Oxenforde tho, And with his legges casten to and fro, And pleyen songes on a smal rubible; Therto he song som tyme a loud quynyble; And as wel koude he pleye on a giterne. In al the toun nas brewhous ne taverne That he ne visited with his solas, Ther any gaylard tappestere was. But sooth to seyn, he was somdeel squaymous Of fartyng, and of speche daungerous. This Absolon, that jolif was and gay, Gooth with a sencer on the haliday, Sensynge the wyves of the parisshe faste; And many a lovely look on hem caste, And namely on this carpenteris wyf. To looke on hire hym thoughte a myrie lyf, She was so propre and sweete and likerous. I dar wel seyn, if she hadde been a mous, And I the cat, he wolde hire hente anon. This parissh clerk, this joly Absolon, Hath in his herte swich a love-longynge That of no wyf took he noon offrynge; For curteisie, he seyde, he wolde noon. The moone, whan it was nyght, ful brighte shoon, And Absolon his gyterne hath ytake, For paramours he thoghte for to wake. And forth he gooth, jolif and amorous, Til he cam to the carpenters hous A litel after cokkes hadde ycrowe, And dressed hym up by a shot-wyndowe That was upon the carpenteris wall. He syngeth in his voys gentil and smal, 'Now, deere lady, if thy wille be, I praye yow that ye wole rewe on me,' Ful wel acordaunt to his gyternynge. This carpenter awook, and herde him synge, And spak unto his wyf, and seyde anon, "What! Alison! Herestow nat Absolon, That chaunteth thus under oure boures wal?" Ans she answerde hir housbonde therwithal, "Yis, God woot, John, I heere it every deel." This passeth forth; what wol ye bet than weel? Fro day to day this joly Absolon So woweth hire that hym is wo bigon. He waketh al the nyght and al the day; He kembeth his lokkes brode, and made hym gay; He woweth hire by meenes and brocage, And swoor he wolde been hir owene page; He syngeth, brokkynge as a nyghtyngale; He sente hire pyment, meeth, and spiced ale, And wafres, pipyng hoot out of the gleede; And, for she was of towne, he profred meede. For som folk wol ben wonnen for richesse, And somme for strokes, and somme for gentillesse. Somtyme, to shewe his lightnesse and maistrye, He pleyeth Herodes upon a scaffold hye. But what availleth hym as in the cas? She loveth so this hende Nicholas That Absolon may blowe the bukkes horn; He ne hadde for his labour but a scorn. And thus she maketh Absolon hire ape, And al his ernest turneth til a jape. Ful sooth is this proverbe, it is no lye, Men seyn right thus, 'Alwey the nye slye Maketh the ferre leeve to be looth.' For though that Absolon be wood or wrooth, By cause that he fer was from hire sight, This nye Nicholas stood in his light. Now ber thee wel, thou hende Nicholas, For Absolon may waille and synge 'allas.' And so bifel it on a Saturday, This carpenter was goon til Osenay; And hende Nicholas and Alison Acorded been to this conclusioun, That Nicholas shal shapen hym a wyle This sely jalous housbonde to bigyle; And if so be the game wente aright, She sholde slepen in his arm al nyght, For this was his desir and hire also. And right anon, withouten wordes mo, This Nicholas no lenger wolde tarie, But dooth ful softe unto his chambre carie Bothe mete and drynke for a day or tweye, And to hire housbonde bad hire for to seye, If that he axed after Nicholas, She sholde seye she nyste where he was, Of al that day she saugh hym nat with ye; She trowed that he was in maladye, For for no cry hir mayde koude hym calle, He nolde answere for thyng that myghte falle. This passeth forth al thilke Saterday, That Nicholas stille in his chambre lay, And eet and sleep, or dide what hym leste, Til Sonday, that the sonne gooth to reste. This sely carpenter hath greet merveyle Of Nicholas, or what thyng myghte hym eyle, And seyde, "I am adrad, by Seint Thomas, It stondeth nat aright with Nicholas. God shilde that he deyde sodeynly! This world is now ful tikel, sikerly. I saugh today a cors yborn to chirche That now, on Monday last, I saugh hym wirche. 'Go up,' quod he unto his knave anoon, "Clepe at his dore, or knokke with a stoon. Looke how it is, and tel me boldely." This knave gooth hym up ful sturdily, And at the chambre dore whil that he stood, He cride and knokked as that he were wood, "What! how! what do ye, maister Nicholay? How may ye slepen al the longe day?" But al for noghte, he herde nat a word. An hole he foond, ful lowe upon a bord, Ther as the cat was wont in for to crepe, And at that hole he looked in ful depe, And at the laste he hadde of hym a sight. This Nicholas sat evere capyng upright, As he had kiked on the newe moone. Adoun he gooth, and tolde his maister soone In what array he saugh this ilke man. This carpenter to blessen hym bigan, And seyde, "Help us, seinte Frydeswyde! A man woot litel what hym shal bityde. This man is falle, with his astromye, In som woodnesse or in som agonye, I thoghte ay wel how that it sholde be! Men sholde nat knowe of Goddes pryvetee. Ye, blessed be alwey a lewed man That noght but oonly his bileve kan! So ferde another clerk with astromye; He walked in the feeldes, for to prye Upon the sterres, what ther sholde bifalle, Til he was in a marle-pit yfalle; He saugh nat that. But yet, by seint Thomas, Me reweth soore of hende Nicholas. He shal be rated of his studiyng, If that I may, Jhesus, hevene kyng! Get me a staf, that I may underspore, Whil that thou, Robyn, hevest up the dore. He shal out of his studiyng, as I gesse" And to the chambre dore he gan hym dresse. His knave was a strong carl for the nones, And by the haspe he haaf it of atones; Into the floor the dore fil anon. This Nicholas sat ay as stille as stoon, And evere caped upward into the eir. This carpenter wende he were in despeir, And hente hym by the sholdres myghtily And shook him harde, and cride spitously, "What! Nicholay! what, how! what, looke adoun! Awak, and thenk on Christes passioun! I crouche thee from elves and fro wightes. Therwith the nyght-spel seyde he anon-rightes On foure halves of the hous aboute, And on the tresshfold of the dore withoute: "Jhesu Crist and seinte Benedight, Blesse this hous from every wikked wight, For nyghtes verye, the white pater-noster! Where wentestow, seinte Petres soster?" And atte laste this hende Nicholas Gan for to sike soore, and seyde, "Allas! Shal al the world be lost eftsoones now?" This carpenter answerde, "What seystow? What! Thynk on God, as we doon, men that swynke." This Nicholas answerde, "Fecche me drynke, And after wol I speke in pryvetee Of certeyn thyng that toucheth me and thee. I wol telle it noon oother man, certeyn." This carpenter gooth doun, and comth ageyn, And broghte of myghty ale a large quart; And whan that ech of hem had dronke his part, This Nicholas his dore faste shette, And doun the carpenter by hym he sette. He seyde "John, myn hooste, lief and deere, Thou shalt upon thy trouthe swere me heere That to no wight thou shalt this conseil wreye; For it is Cristes conseil that I seye, And if thou telle it man, thou art forlore; For this vengeaunce thou shalt han therfore, That if thou wreye me, thou shalt be wood." "Nay, Crist forbede it, for his hooly blood!" Quod tho this sely man, "I nam no labbe; Ne, though I seye, I nam nat lief to gabbe. Sey what thou wolt, I shal it nevere telle To child ne wyf, by hym that harwed helle!" "Now John," quod Nicholas, "I wol nat lye; I have yfounde in myn astrologye, As I have looked in the moone bright, That now a Monday next, at quarter nyght, Shal falle a reyn, and that so wilde and wood, That half so greet was nevere Noes flood. This world," he seyde, "in lasse than an hour Shal al be dreynt, so hidous is the shour. Thus shal mankynde drenche, and lese hir lyf." This carpenter answerde, "Allas, my wif! And shal she drenche? Allas, myn Alisoun!" For sorwe of this fil almoost adoun, And seyde, "Is ther no remedie in this cas?" "Why, yis, for Gode," quod hende Nicholas, "If thou wolt werken after loore and reed. Thou mayst nat werken after thyn owene heed; For thus seith Salomon, that was ful trewe, 'Werk al by conseil, and thou shalt not rewe.' And if thou werken wolt by good conseil, I undertake, withouten mast and seyl, Yet shal I saven hire and thee and me. Hastow nat herd hou saved was Noe, Whan that oure Lord hadde warned hym biforn That al the world with water sholde be lorn?" "Yis," quod this Carpenter, "ful yoore ago." "Hastou nat herd," quod Nicholas, "also The sorwe of Noe with his felawshipe, Er that he myghte gete his wyf to shipe? Hym hadde be levere, I dar wel undertake, At thilke tyme, than alle wetheres blake That she hadde had a ship hirself allone. And therfore, woostou what is best to doone? This asketh haste, and of an hastif thyng Men may nat preche or maken tariyng. "Anon go gete us faste into this in A knedyng-trogh, or ellis a kymelyn, For ech of us, but looke that they be large, In which we mowe swymme as in a barge, And han therinne vitaille suffisant But for a day - fy on the remenant! The water shal aslake and goon away Aboute pryme upon the nexte day. But Robyn may nat wite of this, thy knave, Ne eek thy mayde Gille I may nat save; Axe nat why, for though thou aske me, I wol nat tellen Goddes pryvetee. Suffiseth thee, but if thy wittes madde, To han as greet a grace as Noe hadde. Thy wyf shal I wel saven, out of doute. Go now thy wey, and speed thee heer-aboute. "But whan thou hast, for hire and thee and me, Ygeten us thise knedyng-tubbes three, Thanne shaltow hange hem in the roof ful hye, That no man of oure purveiaunce espye. And whan thou thus hast doon, as I have seyd, And hast oure vitaille faire in hem yleyd And eek an ax, to smyte the corde atwo, Whan that the water comth, that we may go, And breke an hole an heigh, upon the gable, Unto the gardyn-ward, over the stable, That we may frely passen forth oure way, Whan that the grete shour is goon away, Thanne shaltou swymme as myrie, I undertake, As dooth the white doke after hire drake. Thanne wol I clepe, 'How, Alison! how, John Be myrie, for the flood wol passe anon.' And thou wolt seyn, 'Hayl, maister Nicholay! Good morwe, I see thee wel, for it is day.' And thanne shul we be lordes al oure lyf Of al the world, as Noe and his wyf. "But of o thyng I warne thee ful right: Be wel avysed on that ilke nyght That we ben entred into shippes bord, That noon of us ne speke nat a word, Ne clepe, ne crie, but be in his preyere; For it is Goddes owene heeste deere. "Thy wyf and thou moote hange fer atwynne; For that bitwixe yow shal be no synne, Namoore in lookyng than ther shal in deede, This ordinance is seyd. Go, God thee speede! Tomorwe at nyght, whan men ben alle aslepe, Into oure knedyng-tubbes wol we crepe, And sitten there, abidyng Goddes grace. Go now thy wey, I have no lenger space To make of this no lenger sermonyng. Men seyn thus, 'sende the wise, and sey no thyng:' Thou art so wys, it needeth thee nat teche. Go, save oure lyf, and that I the biseche." This sely carpenter goth forth his wey. Ful ofte he seide 'Allas' and 'weylawey,' And to his wyf he tolde his pryvetee, And she was war, and knew it bet than he, What als his queynte cast was for to seye. But natheless she ferde as she wolde deye, And seyde, "Allas! go forth thy wey anon, Help us to scape, or we been dede echon! I am thy trewe, verray wedded wyf; Go, deere spouse, and help to save oure lyf." Lo, with a greet thyng is affeccioun! Men may dyen of ymaginacioun, So depe may impressioun be take. This sely carpenter bigynneth quake; Hym thynketh verraily that he may see Noees flood come walwynge as the see To drenchen Alisoun, his hony deere. He wepeth, weyleth, maketh sory cheere; He siketh with ful many a sory swogh; He gooth and geteth hym a knedyng-trogh, And after that a tubbe and a kymelyn, And pryvely he sente hem to his in, And heng hem in the roof in pryvetee. His owene hand he made laddres thre, To clymben by the ronges and the stalkes Unto the tubbes hangynge in the balkes, And hem vitailled, bothe trogh and tubbe, With breed and chese, and good ale in a jubbe, Suffisynge right ynogh as for a day. But er that he hadde maad al this array, He sente his knave, and eek his wenche also, Upon his nede to London for to go. And on the Monday, whan it drow to nyght, He shette his dore withoute candel-lyght, And dressed alle thyng as it sholde be. And shortly, up they clomben alle thre; They seten stille wel a furlong way. "Now, Pater-noster, clom!" seyde Nicholay, And "Clom," quod John, and "clom," seyde Alisoun. This carpenter seyde his devocioun, And stille he sit, and biddeth his preyere, Awaitynge on the reyn, if he it heere. The dede sleep, for wery bisynesse, Fil on this carpenter right, as I gesse, Aboute corfew-tyme, or litel moore; For travaille of his goost he groneth soore And eft he routeth, for his heed myslay. Doun of the laddre stalketh Nicholay, And Alisoun ful softe adoun she spedde; Withouten wordes mo they goon to bedde, Ther as the carpenter is wont to lye. Ther was the revel and the melodye; And thus lith Alison and Nicholas, In bisynesse of myrthe and of solas, Til that the belle of laudes gan to rynge, And freres in the chauncel gonne synge. This parissh clerk, this amorous Absolon, That is for love alwey so wo bigon, Upon the Monday was at Oseneye With compaignye, hym to disporte and pleye, And axed upon cas a cloisterer Ful prively after John the carpenter; And he drough hym apart out of the chirche, And seyde, "I noot, I saugh hym heere nat wirche Syn Saterday; I trowe that he be went For tymber, ther oure abott hath hym sent; For he is wont for tymber for to go, And dwellen at the grange a day or two; Or elles he is at his hous, certeyn. Where that he be, I kan nat soothly seyn." This Absolon ful joly was and light, And thoghte, "Now is tyme to wake al nyght; For sikirly I saugh hym nat stirynge Aboute his dore, syn day bigan to sprynge. So moot I thryve, I shal, at cokkes crowe, Ful pryvely knokken at his wyndowe That stant ful lowe upon his boures wal. To Alison now wol I tellen al My love-longynge, for yet I shal nat mysse That at the leeste wey I shal hire kisse. Som maner confort shal I have, parfay. My mouth hath icched al this longe day; That is a signe of kissyng atte leeste. Al nyght me mette eek I was at a feeste. Therfore I wol go slepe an houre or tweye, And al the nyght thanne wol I wake and pleye." Whan that the firste cok hathe crowe, anon Up rist this joly lovere Absolon, And hym arraieth gay, at poynt-devys. But first he cheweth greyn and lycorys, To smellen sweete, er he hadde kembd his heer. Under his tonge a trewe-love he beer, For therby wende he to ben gracious. He rometh to the carpenteres hous, And stille he stant under the shot-wyndowe - Unto his brest it raughte, it was so lowe - And softe he cougheth with a semy soun: "What do ye, hony-comb, sweete Alisoun, My faire bryd, my sweete cynamome? Awaketh, lemman myn, and speketh to me! Wel lithel thynken ye upon me wo, That for youre love I swete ther I go. No wonder is thogh that I swelte and swete; I moorne as dooth a lamb after the tete. Ywis, lemman, I have swich love-longynge, That lik a turtel trewe is my moornynge. I may nat ete na moore than a mayde." "Go fro the wyndow, Jakke fool," she sayde; "As help me God, it wol not be 'com pa me.' I love another - and elles I were to blame - Wel bet than thee, by Jhesu, Absolon. Go forth thy wey, or I wol caste a ston, And lat me slepe, a twenty devel wey!" "Allas," quod Absolon, "and weylawey, That trewe love was evere so yvel biset! Thanne kysse me, syn it may be no bet, For Jhesus love, and for the love of me." "Wiltow thanne go thy wey therwith?" quod she. "Ye, certes, lemman," quod Absolon. "Thanne make thee redy," quod she, "I come anon." And unto Nicholas she seyde stille, "Now hust, and thou shalt laughen al thy fille." This Absolon doun sette hym on his knees And seyde, "I am a lord at alle degrees; For after this I hope ther cometh moore. Lemman, thy grace, and sweete bryd, thyn oore!" The wyndow she undoth, and that in haste. "Have do," quod she, "com of, and speed the faste, Lest that oure neighebores thee espie." This Absolon gan wype his mouth ful drie. Derk was the nyght as pich, or as a cole, And at the wyndow out she putte hir hole, And Absolon, hym fil no bet ne wers, But with his mouth he kiste hir naked ers Ful savorly, er he were war of this. Abak he stirte, and thoughte it was amys, For wel he wiste a womman hath no berd. He felte a thyng al rough and long yherd, And seyde, "Fy! allas! what have I do?" "Tehee!" quod she, and clapte the wyndow to, And Absolon gooth forth a sory pas. "A berd! a berd!" quod hende Nicholas, "By Goddes corpus, this goth faire and weel." This sely Absolon herde every deel, And on his lippe he gan for anger byte, And to hymself he seyde, "I shall thee quyte." Who rubbeth now, who froteth now his lippes With dust, with sond, with straw, with clooth, with chippes, But Absolon, that seith ful ofte, "Allas!" My soule bitake I unto Sathanas, But me were levere than al this toun," quod he, "Of this despit awroken for to be. Allas," quod he, "allas, I ne hadde ybleynt!" His hoote love was coold and al yqueynt; For fro that tyme that he hadde kist her ers, Of paramours he sette nat a kers; For he was heeled of his maladie. Ful ofte paramours he gan deffie, And weep as dooth a child that is ybete. A softe paas he wente over the strete Until a smyth men cleped daun Gerveys, That in his forge smythed plough harneys; He sharpeth shaar and kultour bisily. This Absolon knokketh al esily, And seyde, "Undo, Gerveys, and that anon." "What, who artow?" "It am I, Absolon." "What, Absolon! For Cristes sweete tree, Why rise ye so rathe? Ey, benedicitee! What eyleth yow? Som gay gerl, God it woot, Hath broght yow thus upon the viritoot. By seinte Note, ye woot wel what I mene." This Absolon ne roghte nat a bene Of all his pley; no word agayn he yaf; He hadde moore tow on his distaf Than Gerveys knew, and seyde, "Freend so deere, That hoote kultour in the chymenee heere, As lene it me, I have therwith to doone, And I wol brynge it thee agayn ful soone." Gerveys answerde, "Certes, were it gold, Or in a poke nobles alle untold, Thou sholdest have, as I am trewe smyth. Ey, Cristes foo! What wol ye do therwith?" "Therof," quod Absolon, "be as be may. I shal wel telle it thee to-morwe day" - And caughte the kultour by the colde stele, Ful softe out at the dore he gan to stele, And wente unto the carpenteris wal. He cogheth first, and knokketh therwithal Upon the wyndowe, right as he dide er. This Alison answerde, "Who is ther That knokketh so? I warante it a theef." "Why, nay," quod he, "God woot, my sweete leef, I am thyn Absolon, my deerelyng. Of gold," quod he, "I have thee broght a ryng. My mooder yaf it me, so God me save; Ful fyn it is, and therto wel ygrave. This wol I yeve thee, if thou me kisse." This Nicholas was risen for to pisse, And thoughte he wolde amenden al the jape; He sholde kisse his ers er that he scape. And up the wyndowe dide he hastily, And out his ers he putteth pryvely Over the buttok, to the haunche-bon; And therwith spak this clerk, this Absolon, "Spek, sweete bryd, I noot nat where thou art." This Nicholas anon leet fle a fart, As greet as it had been a thonder-dent, That with the strook he was almoost yblent; And he was redy with his iren hoot, And Nicholas amydde the ers he smoot, Of gooth the skyn an hande brede aboute, The hoote kultour brende so his toute, And for the smert he wende for to dye. As he were wood, for wo he gan to crye, "Help! Water! Water! Help for Goddes herte!" This carpenter out of his slomber sterte, And herde oon crien 'water' as he were wood, And thoughte, "Allas, now comth Nowelis flood!" He sit hym up withouten wordes mo, And with his ax he smoot the corde atwo, And doun gooth al; he foond neither to selle, Ne breed ne ale, til he cam to the celle Upon the floor, and ther aswowne he lay. Up stirte hire Alison and Nicholay, And criden "Out" and "Harrow" in the strete. The neighebores, bothe smale and grete, In ronnen for to gauren on this man, That yet aswowne lay, bothe pale and wan, For with the fal he brosten hadde his arm. But stonde he moste unto his owene harm; For whan he spak, he was anon bore doun With hende Nicholas and Alisoun. They tolden every man that he was wood, He was agast so of Nowelis flood Thurgh fantasie, that of his vanytee He hadde yboght hym knedyng-tubbes thre, And hadde hem hanged in the roof above; And that he preyed hem, for Goddes love, To sitten in the roof, par compaignye. The folk gan laughen at his fantasye; Into the roof they kiken and they cape; And turned al his harm unto a jape. For what so that this carpenter answerde, It was for noght, no man his reson herde. With othes grete he was so sworn adoun That he was holde wood in al the toun; For every clerk anonright heeld with oother. They seyde, "The man is wood, my leeve brother"; And every wight gan laughen at this stryf. Thus swyved was this carpenteris wyf, For al his kepyng and his jalousye; And Absolon hath kist hir nether ye; And Nicholas is scalded in the towte. This tale is doon, and God save al the rowte!

Heere endeth the Millere his Tale.

The Miller's Prologue | The Reeve's Prologue

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