The Miller's Tale

Whilom ther was dwelling at Oxenforde
A riche gnof that gestes heeld to boorde,
And of his craft he was a carpenter.
With him ther was dwelling a poore scoler,
Hadde lerned art, but al his fantasye
Was turned for to lere astrologye,
And coude a certain of conclusiouns,
To deemen by interrogaciouns,
If that men axed him in certain houres
Whan that men sholde have droughte or elles showres,
Or if men axed him what shal bifalle
Of every thing--I may nat rekene hem alle.
This clerk was cleped hende Nicholas.
Of derne love he coude, and of solas,
And therto he was sly and ful privee,
And lik a maide meeke for to see.
A chambre hadde he in that hostelrye
Allone, withouten any compaignye,
Ful fetisly ydight with herbes swoote,
And he himself as sweete as is the roote
Of licoris or any setewale.
His Almageste and bookes grete and smale,
His astrelabye, longing for his art,
His augrim stones, layen faire apart
On shelves couched at his beddes heed;
His presse ycovered with a falding reed;
And al above ther lay a gay sautrye,
On which he made a-nightes melodye
So swetely that al the chambre roong,
And Angelus ad Virginem he soong,
And after that he soong the Kinges Note:
Ful often blessed was his merye throte.
And thus this sweete clerk his time spente
After his freendes finding and his rente.
This carpenter hadde wedded newe a wif
Which that he loved more than his lif.
Of eighteteene yeer she was of age;

Jalous he was, and heeld hire narwe in cage,
For she was wilde and yong, and he was old,
And deemed himself been lik a cokewold.
He knew nat Caton, for his wit was rude,
That bad men sholde wedde his similitude:

Men sholde wedden after hir estat,
For youthe and elde is often at debat.
But sith that he was fallen in the snare,
He moste endure, as other folk, his care.
Fair was this yonge wif, and therwithal
As any wesele hir body gent and smal.
A ceint she wered, barred al of silk;
A barmcloth as whit as morne milk
Upon hir lendes, ful of many a gore;
Whit was hir smok, and broiden al bifore
And eek bihinde, on hir coler aboute,
Of col-blak silk, withinne and eek withoute;
The tapes of hir white voluper
Were of the same suite of hir coler;
Hir filet brood of silk and set ful hye;
And sikerly she hadde a likerous yi;
Ful smale ypulled were hir browes two,
And tho were bent, and blake as any slo.
She was ful more blisful on to see
Than is the newe perejonette 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 seeken up and down,
Ther nis no man so wis that coude thenche
So gay a popelote or swich a wenche.
Ful brighter was the shining of hir hewe
Than in the Towr the noble yforged newe.
But of hir song, it was as loud and yerne
As any swalwe sitting on a berne.
Therto she coude skippe and make game
As any kide or calf folwing his dame.
Hir mouth was sweete as bragot or the meeth,
Or hoord of apples laid in hay or heeth.
Winsing she was as is a joly colt,
Long as a mast, and upright as a bolt.
A brooch she bar upon hir lowe coler
As brood as is the boos of a bokeler;
Hir shoes were laced on hir legges hye.
She was a primerole, a piggesnye,
For any lord to leggen in his bedde,
Or yit 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 wife to rage and playe,
Whil that hir housbonde was at Oseneye
(As clerkes been ful subtil and ful quainte),
And prively he caughte hire by the queinte,
And saide, "Ywis, but if ich have my wille,
For derne love of thee, lemman, I spille,"
And heeld hire harde by the haunche-bones,
And saide, "Lemman, love me al atones,
Or I wol dien, also God me save."
And she sproong as a colt dooth in a trave,
And with hir heed she wried faste away;
She saide, "I wol nat kisse thee, by my fay.
Why, lat be," quod she, "lat be, Nicholas!
Or I wol crye "Out, harrow, and allas!'
Do way youre handes, for your curteisye!"
This Nicholas gan mercy for to crye,
And spak so faire, and profred him so faste,
That she hir love him graunted atte laste,
And swoor hir ooth by Saint Thomas of Kent
That she wolde been at his comandement,
Whan that she may hir leiser wel espye.
"Myn housbonde is so ful of jalousye
That but ye waite wel and been privee
I woot right wel I nam but deed," quod she.
"Ye moste been ful derne as in this cas."
"Nay, therof care thee nought," quod Nicholas.
"A clerk hadde litherly biset his while,
But if he coude a carpenter bigile."
And thus they been accorded and ysworn
To waite a time, as I have told biforn.
Whan Nicholas hadde doon this everydeel,
And thakked hire upon the lendes weel,
He kiste hire sweete, and taketh his sautrye,
And playeth faste, and maketh melodye.
Thanne fil it thus, that to the parissh chirche,
Cristes owene werkes for to wirche,
This goode wif wente on an 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 straight and evene lay his joly shode.
His rode was reed, his yin greye as goos.
With Poules window corven on his shoos,
In hoses rede he wente fetisly.
Yclad he was ful smale and proprely,
Al in a kirtel of a light waget--
Ful faire and thikke been the pointes set--
And therupon he hadde a gay surplis,
As whit as is the blosme upon the ris.
A merye child he was, so God me save.
Wel coude he laten blood, and clippe, and shave,
And maken a chartre of land, or acquitaunce;
In twenty manere coude he trippe and daunce
After the scole of Oxenforde tho,
And with his legges casten to and fro,
And playen songes on smal rubible;
Therto he soong somtime a loud quinible,
And as wel coude he playe on a giterne:
In al the town nas brewhous ne taverne
That he ne visited with his solas,
Ther any gailard tappestere was.
But sooth to sayn, he was somdeel squaimous
Of farting, and of speeche daungerous.
This Absolon, that joly was and gay,
Gooth with a cencer on the haliday,
Cencing the wives of the parissh faste,
And many a lovely look on hem he caste,
And namely on this carpenteres wif:
To looke on hire him thoughte a merye lif.

She was so propre and sweete and likerous,
I dar wel sayn, if she hadde been a mous,
And he a cat, he wolde hire hente anoon.
This parissh clerk, this joly Absolon,
Hath in his herte swich a love-longinge
That of no wif ne took he noon offringe--
For curteisye he saide he wolde noon.
The moone, whan it was night, ful brighte shoon,
And Absolon his giterne hath ytake--
For paramours he thoughte for to wake--
And forth he gooth, jolif and amorous,
Til he cam to the carpenteres hous,
A litel after cokkes hadde ycrowe,
And dressed him up by a shot-windowe
That was upon the carpenteres wal.
He singeth in his vois gentil and smal,
"Now dere lady, if thy wille be,
I praye you that ye wol rewe on me,"
Ful wel accordant to his giterninge.
This carpenter awook and herde him singe,
And spak unto his wif, and saide anoon,
"What, Alison, heerestou nought Absolon
That chaunteth thus under oure bowres wal?"
And she answerde hir housbonde therwithal,
"Yis, God woot, John, I heere it everydeel."
This passeth forth. What wol ye bet than weel?
Fro day to day this joly Absolon
So woweth hire that him is wo-bigoon:
He waketh al the night and al the day;
He kembed his lokkes brode and made him gay;
He woweth hire by menes and brocage,
And swoor he wolde been hir owene page
He singeth, brokking as a nightingale;
He sente hire piment, meeth, and spiced ale,
And wafres piping hoot out of the gleede;
And for she was of towne, he profred meede--
For som folk wol be wonnen for richesse,
And som for strokes, and som for gentilesse.
Somtime to shewe his lightnesse and maistrye,
He playeth Herodes upon a scaffold hye.
But what availeth him as in this 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 hir ape,
And al his ernest turneth til a jape.
Ful sooth is this proverbe, it is no lie;
Men saith right thus: "Alway the nye slye
Maketh the ferre leve to be loth."
For though that Absolon be wood or wroth,
By cause that he fer was from hir sighte,
This nye Nicholas stood in his lighte.
Now beer thee wel, thou hende Nicholas,
For Absolon may waile and singe allas.
And so bifel it on a Saterday
This carpenter was goon til Oseney,
And hende Nicholas and Alisoun
Accorded been to this conclusioun,
That Nicholas shal shapen hem a wile
This sely jalous housbonde to bigile,
And if so be this game wente aright,
She sholden sleepen in his arm al night--
For this was his desir and hire also.
And right anoon, withouten wordes mo,
This Nicholas no lenger wolde tarye,
But dooth ful softe unto his chambre carye
Bothe mete and drinke for a day or twaye,
And to hir housbonde bad hire for to saye,
If that he axed after Nicholas,
She sholde saye she niste wher he was--
Of al that day she sawgh him nought with yi:
She trowed that he was in maladye,
For for no cry hir maide coude him calle,
He nolde answere for no thing that mighte falle.
This passeth forth al thilke Saterday
That Nicholas stille in his chambre lay,
And eet, and sleep, or dide what him leste,
Til Sonday that the sonne gooth to reste.
This sely carpenter hath greet mervaile
Of Nicholas, or what thing mighte him aile,
And saide, "I am adrad, by Saint Thomas,
It stondeth nat aright with Nicholas.
God shilde that he deide sodeinly!
This world is now ful tikel, sikerly:
I sawgh today a corps yborn to chirche
That now a Monday last I sawgh him 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 him 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 sleepen al the longe day?"
But al for nought: he herde nat a word.
An hole he foond ful lowe upon a boord,
Ther as the cat was wont in for to creepe,
And at that hole he looked in ful deepe,
And atte laste he hadde of him a sighte.
This Nicholas sat evere caping uprighte
As he hadde kiked on the newe moone.
Adown he gooth and tolde his maister soone
In what array he saw this ilke man.
This carpenter to blessen him bigan,
And saide, "Help us, Saint Frideswide!
A man woot litel what him shal bitide.
This man is falle, with his astromye,
In som woodnesse or in som agonye.
I thoughte ay wel how that it sholde be:
Men sholde nought knowe of Goddes privetee.
Ye, blessed be alway a lewed man
That nought but only his bileve can.
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 saw nat that. But yit, by Saint Thomas,
Me reweth sore for hende Nicholas.
He shal be rated of his studying,
If that I may, by Jesus, hevene king!
Get me a staf that I may underspore,
Whil that thou, Robin, hevest up the dore.
He shal out of his studying, as I gesse."
And to the chambre dore he gan him dresse.
His knave was a strong carl for the nones,
And by the haspe he haaf it up atones:
Into the floor the dore fil anoon.
This Nicholas sat ay as stille as stoon,
And evere caped up into the air.
This carpenter wende he were in despair,
And hente him by the shuldres mightily,
And shook him harde, and cride spitously,
"What, Nicholay, what, how! What! Looke adown!
Awaak and thenk on Cristes passioun!
I crouche thee from elves and fro wightes."
Therwith the nightspel saide he anoonrightes
On foure halves of the hous aboute,
And on the thresshfold on the dore withoute:
"Jesu Crist and Sainte Benedight,
Blesse this hous from every wikked wight!
For nightes nerye the White Pater Noster.
Where wentestou, thou Sainte Petres soster?
And at the laste this hende Nicholas
Gan for to sike sore, and saide, "Allas,
Shal al the world be lost eftsoones now?"
This carpenter answerde, "What saistou?
What, thenk on God as we doon, men that swinke."
This Nicholas answerde, "Fecche me drinke,
And after wol I speke in privetee
Of certain thing that toucheth me and thee.
I wol telle it noon other man, certain."
This carpenter gooth down and comth again,
And broughte of mighty ale a large quart,
And when that eech of hem hadde dronke his part,
This Nicholas his dore faste shette,
And down the carpenter by him he sette.
And saide, "John, myn hoste lief and dere,
Thou shalt upon thy trouthe swere me here
That to no wight thou shalt this conseil wraye;
For it is Cristes conseil that I saye,
And if thou telle it man, thou art forlore,
For this vengeance thou shalt have therfore,
That if thou wraye me, thou shalt be wood."
"Nay, Crist forbede it, for his holy blood,"
Quod tho this sely man. "I nam no labbe,
And though I saye, I nam nat lief to gabbe.
Say what thou wilt, I shal it nevere telle
To child ne wif, by him that harwed helle."
"Now John," quod Nicholas, "I wol nought lie.

I have yfounde in myn astrologye,
As I have looked in the moone bright,
That now a Monday next, at quarter night,
Shal falle a rain, and that so wilde and wood,
That half so greet was nevere Noees flood.
This world," he saide, "in lasse than an hour
Shal al be dreint, so hidous is the showr.
Thus shal mankinde drenche and lese hir lif."
This carpenter answerde, "Allas, my wif!
And shal she drenche? Allas, myn Alisoun!"
For sorwe of this he fil almost adown,
And saide, "Is there no remedye in this cas?"
"Why yis, for Gode," quod hende Nicholas,
"If thou wolt werken after lore and reed--
Thou maist nought werken after thyn owene heed;
For thus saith Salomon that was ful trewe,
"Werk al by conseil and thou shalt nought rewe.
And if thou werken wolt by good conseil,
I undertake, withouten mast or sail,
Yit shal I save hire and thee and me.
Hastou nat herd how saved was Noee
Whan that oure Lord hadde warned him biforn
That al the world with water sholde be lorn?"
"Yis," quod this carpenter, "ful yore ago."

"Hastou nat herd," quod Nicholas, "also
The sorwe of Noee with his felaweshipe?
Er that he mighte gete his wif to shipe,
Him hadde levere, I dar wel undertake,
At thilke time than alle his wetheres blake
That she hadde had a ship hirself allone.
And therfore woostou what is best to doone?
This axeth haste, and of an hastif thing
Men may nought preche or maken tarying.
Anoon go gete us faste into this in
A kneeding trough or elles a kimelin
For eech of us, but looke that they be large,
In whiche we mowen swimme as in a barge,
And han therinne vitaile suffisaunt
But for a day--fy on the remenaunt!
The water shal aslake and goon away
Aboute prime upon the nexte day.
But Robin may nat wite of this, thy knave,
Ne eek thy maide Gille I may nat save.
Axe nought why, for though thou axe me,
I wol nought tellen Goddes privetee.
Suffiseth thee, but if thy wittes madde,
To han as greet a grace as Noee hadde.
Thy wif shal I wel saven, out of doute.
Go now thy way, and speed thee heraboute.
But whan thou hast for hire and thee and me
Ygeten us thise kneeding-tubbes three,
Thanne shaltou hangen hem in the roof ful hye,
That no man of oure purveyance espye.
And whan thou thus hast doon as I have said,
And hast oure vitaile faire in hem ylaid,
And eek an ax to smite the corde atwo,
Whan that the water comth that we may go,
And broke an hole an heigh upon the gable
Unto the gardinward, over the stable,
That we may freely passen forth oure way,
Whan that the grete showr is goon away,
Thanne shaltou swimme as merye, I undertake,
As dooth the white doke after hir drake.
Thanne wol I clepe, "How, Alison? How, John?
Be merye, for the flood wol passe anoon.'
And thou wolt sayn, "Hail, maister Nicholay!
Good morwe, I see thee wel, for it is day!'
And thanne shal we be lordes al oure lif
Of al the world, as Noee and his wif.
But of oo thing I warne thee ful right:
Be wel avised on that ilke night
That we been entred into shippes boord
That noon of us ne speke nought a word,
Ne clepe, ne crye, but been in his prayere,
For it is Goddes owene heeste dere.
Thy wif and thou mote hange fer atwinne,
For that bitwixe you shal be no sinne--
Namore in looking than ther shal in deede.
This ordinance is said: go, God thee speede.
Tomorwe at night whan men been alle asleepe,
Into oure kneeding-tubbes wol we creepe,
And sitten there, abiding Goddes grace.
Go now thy way, I have no lenger space
To make of this no lenger sermoning.
Men sayn thus: "Send the wise and say no thing.'
Thou art so wis it needeth thee nat teche:
Go save oure lif, and that I thee biseeche."
This sely carpenter gooth forth his way:
Ful ofte he saide allas and wailaway,
And to his wif he tolde his privetee,
And she was war, and knew it bet than he,
What al this quainte cast was for to saye.
But nathelees she ferde as she wolde deye,
And saide, "Allas, go forth thy way anoon.
Help us to scape, or we been dede eechoon.
I am thy trewe verray wedded wif:
Go, dere spouse, and help to save oure lif."

Lo, which a greet thing is affeccioun!
Men may dien of imaginacioun,
So deepe may impression be take.
This sely carpenter biginneth quake;
Him thinketh verrailiche that he may see
Noees flood come walwing as the see
To drenchen Alison, his hony dere.
He weepeth, waileth, maketh sory cheere;
He siketh with ful many a sory swough,
And gooth and geteth him a kneeding-trough,
And after a tubbe and a kimelin,
And prively he sente hem to his in,
And heeng hem in the roof in privetee;
His owene hand he made laddres three,
To climben by the ronges and the stalkes
Unto the tubbes hanging in the balkes,
And hem vitailed, bothe trough and tubbe,
With breed and cheese and good ale in a jubbe,
Suffising right ynough as for a day.
But er that he hadde maad al this array,
He sente his knave, and eek his wenche also,
Upon his neede to London for to go.
And on the Monday whan it drow to nighte,
He shette his dore withouten candel-lighte,
And dressed alle thing as it sholde be,
And shortly up they clomben alle three.
They seten stille wel a furlong way.
"Now, Pater Noster, clum," saide Nicholay,
And "Clum" quod John, and "Clum" saide Alisoun.
This carpenter saide his devocioun,
And stille he sit and biddeth his prayere,
Awaiting on the rain, if he it heere.
The dede sleep, for wery bisinesse,
Fil on this carpenter right as I gesse
Aboute corfew time, or litel more.
For travailing of his gost he groneth sore,
And eft he routeth, for his heed mislay.
Down of the laddre stalketh Nicholay,
And Alison ful softe adown she spedde:
Withouten wordes mo they goon to bedde
Ther as the carpenter is wont to lie.
Ther was the revel and the melodye,
And thus lith Alison and Nicholas
In bisinesse of mirthe and of solas,
Til that the belle of Laudes gan to ringe,
And freres in the chauncel gonne singe.
This parissh clerk, this amorous Absolon,
That is for love alway so wo-bigoon,
Upon the Monday was at Oseneye,
With compaignye him to disporte and playe,
And axed upon caas a cloisterer
Ful prively after John the carpenter;
And he drow him apart out of the chirche,
And saide, "I noot: I sawgh him here nought wirche
Sith Saterday. I trowe that he be went
For timber ther oure abbot hath him sent.
For he is wont for timber for to go,
And dwellen atte grange a day or two.
Or elles he is at his hous, certain.
Where that he be I can nought soothly sayn."
This Absolon ful jolif was and light,
And thoughte, "Now is time to wake al night,
For sikerly, I sawgh him nought stiringe
Aboute his dore sin day bigan to springe.
So mote I thrive, I shal at cokkes crowe
Ful prively knokken at his windowe
That stant ful lowe upon his bowres wal.
To Alison now wol I tellen al
My love-longing, for yet I shal nat misse
That at the leeste way I shal hire kisse.
Som manere confort shal I have, parfay.
My mouth hath icched al this longe day:
That is a signe of kissing at the leeste.
Al night me mette eek I was at a feeste.
Therfore I wol go sleepe an hour or twaye,
And al the night thanne wol I wake and playe."
Whan that the firste cok hath crowe, anoon
Up rist this joly lovere Absolon,
And him arrayeth gay at point devis.
But first he cheweth grain and licoris,
To smellen sweete, er he hadde kembd his heer.
Under his tonge a trewe-love he beer,
For therby wende he to be gracious.
He rometh to the carpenteres hous,
And stille he stant under the shot-windowe--
Unto his brest it raughte, it was so lowe--
And ofte he cougheth with a semisoun.
"What do ye, hony-comb, sweete Alisoun,
My faire brid, my sweete cinamome?
Awaketh, lemman myn, and speketh to me.
Wel litel thinken ye upon my wo
That for your love I swete ther I go.
No wonder is though that I swelte and swete:
I moorne as doth a lamb after the tete.
Ywis, lemman, I have swich love-longinge,
That lik a turtle trewe is my moorninge:
I may nat ete namore than a maide."
"Go fro the windowe, Jakke fool," she saide.
"As help me God, it wol nat be com-pa-me.
I love another, and elles I were to blame,
Wel bet than thee, by Jesu, Absolon.
Go forth thy way or I wol caste a stoon,
And lat me sleepe, a twenty devele way."
"Allas," quod Absolon, "and wailaway,
That trewe love was evere so yvele biset.
Thanne kis me, sin that it may be no bet,
For Jesus love and for the love of me."
"Woltou thanne go thy way therwith?" quod she.
"Ye, certes, lemman," quod this Absolon.
"Thanne maak thee redy," quod she. "I come anoon."
And unto Nicholas she saide stille,
"Now hust, and thou shalt laughen al thy fille."
This Absolon down sette him on his knees,
And said, "I am a lord at alle degrees,
For after this I hope ther cometh more.
Lemman, thy grace, and sweete brid, thyn ore!"
The windowe she undooth, and that in haste,
"Have do," quod she, "come of and speed thee faste,
Lest that oure neighebores thee espye."
This Absolon gan wipe his mouth ful drye:

Derk was the night as pich or as the cole,
And at the windowe out she putte hir hole,
And Absolon, him fil no bet ne wers,
But with his mouth he kiste hir naked ers,
Ful savourly, er he were war of this.

Abak he sterte, and thoughte it was amis,
For wel he wiste a womman hath no beerd.
He felte a thing al rough and longe yherd,
And saide, "Fy, allas, what have I do?"
"Teehee," quod she, and clapte the windowe to.
And Absolon gooth forth a sory pas.
"A beerd, a beerd!" quod hende Nicholas,
"By Goddes corpus, this gooth faire and weel."
This sely Absolon herde everydeel,
And on his lippe he gan for anger bite,
And to himself he saide, "I shal thee quite."
Who rubbeth now, who froteth now his lippes
With dust, with sond, with straw, with cloth, with chippes,
But Absolon, that saith ful ofte allas?
"My soule bitake I unto Satanas,
But me were levere than all this town," quod he,
"Of this despit awroken for to be.
Allas," quod he, "allas I ne hadde ybleint!"
His hote love was cold and al yqueint,
For fro that time that he hadde kist hir ers
Of paramours he sette nought a kers,
For he was heled of his maladye.
Ful ofte paramours he gan defye,
And weep as dooth a child that is ybete.
A softe paas he wente over the streete
Until a smith men clepen daun Gervais,
That in his forge smithed plough harneis:
He sharpeth shaar and cultour bisily.
This Absolon knokketh al esily,
And saide, "Undo, Gervais, and that anoon."
"What, who artou?" "It am I, Absolon."
"What, Absolon? What, Cristes sweete tree!
Why rise ye so rathe? Ey, benedicite,
What aileth you? Som gay girl, God it woot,
Hath brought you thus upon the viritoot.
By Sainte Note, ye woot wel what I mene."
This Absolon ne roughte nat a bene
Of al his play. No word again he yaf:
He hadde more tow on his distaf
Than Gervais knew, and saide, "Freend so dere,
This hote cultour in the chimenee here,
As lene it me: I have therwith to doone.
I wol bringe it thee again ful soone."
Gervais answerde, "Certes, were it gold,
Or in a poke nobles alle untold,
Thou sholdest have, as I am trewe smith.
Ey, Cristes fo, what wol ye do therwith?"
"Therof," quod Absolon, "be as be may.
I shal wel telle it thee another day."
And caughte the cultour by the colde stele.
Ful softe out at the dore he gan to stele,
And wente unto the carpenteres wal:
He cougheth first and knokketh therwithal
Upon the windowe, right as he dide er.
This Alison answerde, "Who is ther
That knokketh so? I warante it a thief."
"Why, nay," quod he, "God woot, my sweete lief,
I am thyn Absolon, my dereling.
Of gold," quod he, "I have thee brought a ring--
My moder yaf it me, so God me save;
Ful fin it is and therto wel ygrave:
This wol I yiven 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 windowe dide he hastily,
And out his ers he putteth prively,
Over the buttok to the haunche-boon.
And therwith spak this clerk, this Absolon,
"Speek, sweete brid, I noot nought wher thou art."

This Nicholas anoon leet flee a fart
As greet as it hadde been a thonder-dent
That with the strook he was almost yblent,

And he was redy with his iren hoot,
And Nicholas amidde the ers he smoot:
Of gooth the skin an hande-brede aboute;
The hote cultour brende so his toute
That for the smert he wende for to die;
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 cryen "Water!" as he were wood,
And thoughte, "Allas, now cometh Noweles flood!"
He sette him up withoute wordes mo,
And with his ax he smoot the corde atwo,
And down gooth al: he foond neither to selle
Ne breed ne ale til he cam to the celle,
Upon the floor, and ther aswoune he lay.
Up sterte hire Alison and Nicholay,
And criden "Out" and "Harrow" in the streete.
The neighebores, bothe smale and grete,
In ronnen for to gauren on this man
That aswoune 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 anoon bore down
With hende Nicholas and Alisoun:
They tolden every man that he was wood--
He was agast so of Noweles flood,
Thurgh fantasye, that of his vanitee
He hadde ybought him kneeding-tubbes three,
And hadde hem hanged in the roof above,
And that he prayed 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 nought: no man his reson herde;
With othes grete he was so sworn adown,
That he was holden wood in al the town,
For every clerk anoonright heeld with other:
They saide, "The man was wood, my leve brother,"
And every wight gan laughen at this strif.
Thus swived was the carpenteres wif
For al his keeping and his jalousye,
And Absolon hath kist hir neither yi,
And Nicholas is scalded in the toute:
This tale is doon, and God save al the route!
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