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The Canterbury Tales

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630






This carpenter out of his slomber sterte,
And herde oon cryen ‘water’ as he were wood,
And thoghte, ‘Allas! now comth Nowelis flood!’
He sit him up with-outen wordes mo,
And with his ax he smoot the corde a-two,
And doun goth al; he fond neither to selle,
Ne breed ne ale, til he cam to the celle
Upon the floor; and ther aswowne he lay.
Nicholas’s screaming and cries for water woke up the carpenter, whose first thought was, “It’s coming! Noah’s flood is here!” He bolted upright in his bathtub, grabbed the axe, and cut the rope holding the tub up in the rafters. The tub crashed to the floor in less than a second, which knocked the carpenter out cold.


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650


Up sterte hir Alison, and Nicholay,
And cryden ‘out’ and ‘harrow’ in the strete.
The neighebores, bothe smale and grete,
In ronnen, for to gauren on this man,
That yet aswowne he lay, bothe pale and wan;
For with the fal he brosten hadde his arm;
But stonde he moste unto his owne 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 fantasye, that of his vanitee
He hadde y-boght him kneding-tubbes three,
And hadde hem hanged in the roof above;
And that he preyed hem, for Goddes love,
To sitten in the roof, par companye.
Alison and Nicholas jumped at the noise of the crash, and they dashed out into the street crying for help. The neighbors ran to the scene where they found the tub and the unconscious carpenter, who’d broken his arm in the fall. When he finally came to, he tried to explain to the neighbors what had happened, but Alison and Nicholas told everyone that John was crazy. They said that he’d imagined it all, and had tried to get them to help him hang three tubs to prepare for “Noel’s flood,” as he ignorantly called it. It was too bad for the carpenter, but he really couldn’t blame anyone but himself for his own foolishness.

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