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From The Miller's Tale, lines 289-330:
Nicolas locks himself up
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Miller's Tale
lines 331-387: John the carpenter finds Nicolas and questions him


      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,
335And 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.
340      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,
345I 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;
350He 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.
355He 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"
360And 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,
365And 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!
370Awak, 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:
375"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
380Gan 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,
385And after wol I speke in pryvetee
Of certeyn thyng that toucheth me and thee.
I wol telle it noon oother man, certeyn."
      But all for naught, he never heard a word;
A hole he found, low down upon a board,
Through which the house cat had been wont to creep;
And to that hole he stooped, and through did peep,
335And finally he ranged him in his sight.
This Nicholas sat gaping there, upright,
As if he'd looked too long at the new moon.
Downstairs he went and told his master soon
In what array he'd found this self-same man.
340      This carpenter to cross himself began,
And said: "Now help us, holy Frideswide!
Little a man can know what shall betide.
This man is fallen, with his astromy,
Into some madness or some agony;
345I always feared that somehow this would be!
Men should not meddle in God's privity.
Aye, blessed always be the ignorant man,
Whose creed is, all he ever has to scan!
So fared another clerk with astromy;
350He walked into the meadows for to pry
Into the stars, to learn what should befall,
Until into a clay-pit he did fall;
He saw not that. But yet, by Saint Thomas,
I'm sorry for this clever Nicholas.
355He shall be scolded for his studying,
If not too late, by Jesus, Heaven's King!
"Get me a staff, that I may pry before,
The while you, Robin, heave against the door.
We'll take him from this studying, I guess."
360And on the chamber door, then, he did press.
His servant was a stout lad, if a dunce,
And by the hasp he heaved it up at once;
Upon the floor that portal fell anon.
This Nicholas sat there as still as stone,
365Gazing, with gaping mouth, straight up in air.
This carpenter thought he was in despair,
And took him by the shoulders, mightily,
And shook him hard, and cried out, vigorously:
"What! Nicholay! Why how now! Come, look down!
370Awake, and think on Jesus' death and crown!
I cross you from all elves and magic wights!"
And then the night-spell said he out, by rights,
At the four corners of the house about,
And at the threshold of the door, without: -
375"O Jesus Christ and good Saint Benedict,
Protect this house from all that may afflict,
For the night hag the white Paternoster! -
Where hast thou gone, Saint Peter's sister?"
      And at the last this clever Nicholas
380Began to sigh full sore, and said: "Alas!
Shall all the world be lost so soon again?"
      This carpenter replied: "What say you, then?
What! Think on God, as we do, men that swink."
      This Nicholas replied: "Go fetch me drink;
385And afterward I'll tell you privately
A certain thing concerning you and me;
I'll tell it to no other man or men."



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From The Miller's Tale, lines 388-438:
Nicolas' story about Noah's flood
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