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From The Miller's Tale, lines 331-387:
John finds and questions Nicolas
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Miller's Tale
lines 388-438: Nicolas' story about Noah's flood


      This carpenter gooth doun, and comth ageyn,
And broghte of myghty ale a large quart;
390And 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
395That 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."
400"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!"
405      "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,
410That 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!
415And 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.
420Thou 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,
425Yet 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."
430      "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
435That 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.
      This carpenter went down and came again,
And brought of potent ale a brimming quart;
390And when each one of them had drunk his part,
Nicholas shut the door fast, and with that
He drew a seat and near the carpenter sat.
      He said: "Now, John, my good host, lief and dear,
You must upon your true faith swear, right here,
395That to no man will you this word betray;
For it is Christ's own word that I will say,
And if you tell a man, you're ruined quite;
This punishment shall come to you, of right,
That if you're traitor you'll go mad- and should!"
400"Nay, Christ forbid it, for His holy blood!"
Said then this simple man: "I am no blab,
Nor, though I say it, am I fond of gab.
Say what you will, I never will it tell
To child or wife, by Him that harried Hell!"
405      "Now, John," said Nicholas, "I will not lie;
But I've found out, from my astrology,
As I have looked upon the moon so bright,
That now, come Monday next, at nine of night,
Shall fall a rain so wildly mad as would
410Have been, by half, greater than Noah's flood.
This world," he said, "in less time than an hour,
Shall all be drowned, so terrible is this shower;
Thus shall all mankind drown and lose all life."
      This carpenter replied: "Alas, my wife!
415And shall she drown? Alas, my Alison!"
For grief of this he almost fell. Anon
He said: "Is there no remedy in this case?"
      "Why yes, good luck," said clever Nicholas,
"If you will work by counsel of the wise;
420You must not act on what your wits advise.
For so says Solomon, and it's all true,
'Work by advice and thou shalt never rue.'
And if you'll act as counselled and not fail,
I undertake, without a mast or sail,
425To save us all, aye you and her and me.
Haven't you heard of, Noah, how saved was he,
Because Our Lord had warned him how to keep
Out of the flood that covered earth so deep?"
      "Yes," said this carpenter, "long years ago."
430      "Have you not heard," asked Nicholas, "also
The sorrows of Noah and his fellowship
In getting his wife to go aboard the ship?
He would have rather, I dare undertake,
At that time, and for all the weather black,
435That she had one ship for herself alone.
Therefore, do you know what would best be done?
This thing needs haste, and of a hasty thing
Men must not preach nor do long tarrying.



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From The Miller's Tale, lines 439-492:
Nicolas advises the carpenter to prepare for the flood
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