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Whan that she may hire leiser wel espie.
Myn husbond is so ful of jalousie,
That but ye waiten wel, and be prive,
I wot right wel I n'am but ded, quod she.
Ye mosten be ful derne as in this cas.
Nay, therof care you not, quod Nicholas:
A clerk had litherly beset his while,
But if he coude a carpenter begile.
And thus they were accorded and ysworne
To waite a time, as I have said beforne.
Whan Nicholas had don thus every del,
And thacked hire about the lendes wel,
He kissed hire swete, and taketh his sautrie,
And plaieth fast, and maketh melodie.
Than fell it thus, that to the parish cherche
(Of Cristes owen werkes for to werche)
This good wif went upon holy day:
Hire forehed shone as bright as any day,
So was it washen, whan she lete hire werk.
Now was ther of that chirche a parish clerk, The which that was ycleped Absolon. Crulle was his here, and as the gold it shon, And strouted as a fanne large and brode; Ful streight and even lay his joly shode. His rode was red, his eyen grey as goos, With Poules windowes corven on his shoos. In hosen red he went ful fetisly. Yclad he was ful smal and proprely, All in a kirtel of a light waget ; Ful faire and thicke ben the pointes set. And therupon he had a gay surplise, As white as is the blosme upon the rise.
A mery child he was, so God me save; Wel coud he leten blod, and clippe, and shave,
And make a chartre of lond, and a quitance.
In twenty manere coud he trip and dance,
(After the scole of Oxenforde tho)
And with his legges casten to and fro;
And playen songes on a smal ribible;
Therto he song somtime a loud quinible.
And as wel coud he play on a giterne.
In all the toun n'as brewhous ne taverne,
That he ne visited with his solas,
Ther as that any gaillard tapstere was.
But soth to say he was somdel squaimous
Of farting, and of speche dangerous.
This Absolon, that joly was and gay,
Goth with a censer on the holy day,
Censing the wives of the parish faste;
And many a lovely loke he on hem caste,
And namely on this carpenteres wif:
To loke on hire him thought a mery lif.
She was so propre, and swete, and likerous.
I dare wel sain, if she had ben a mous,
And he a cat, he wolde hire hente anon.
This parish clerk, this joly Absolon,
Hath in his herte swiche a love-longing,
That of no wif toke he non offering;
For curtesie, he sayd, he n'olde non.
The moone at night ful clere and brighte shon,
And Absolon his giterne hath ytake,
For paramours he thoughte for to wake.
And forth he goth, jolif and amorous,
Til he came to the carpenteres hous,
A litel after the cockes had ycrow,
And dressed him up by a shot window,
That was upon the carpenteres wal.
He singeth in his vois gentil and smal;
Now, dere lady,-if thy wille be,
I pray you that ye—wol rewe on me;
Ful wel accordant to his giterning.
This carpenter awoke, and herd him sing,
And spake unto his wif, and said anon,
What, Alison, heres thou not Absolon,
That chanteth thus under our boures wal?
And she answerd hire husbond therwithal;
Yes, God wot, John, I here him every del.
This passeth forth; what wol ye bet than wel ?
Fro day to day this joly Absolon
So loveth hire, that him is wo-begon.
He waketh all the night, and all the day,
He kembeth his lockes brode, and made him gay,
He woeth hire by menes and brocage,
And swore he wolde ben hire owen page.
He singeth brokking as a nightingale.
He sent hire pinnes, methe, and spiced ale,
And wafres piping hot out of the glede:
And for she was of toun, he profered mede.
For som folk wol be wonnen for richesse,
And som for strokes, and som with gentillesse,
Somtime to shew his lightnesse and maistrie
He plaieth Herode on a skaffold hie.
But what availeth him as in this cas?
So loveth she this hendy Nicholas,
That Absolon may blow the buckes horne:
He ne had for his labour but a scorne.
And thus she maketh Absolon hire
And all his ernest tourneth to a jape.
Ful soth is this proverbe, it is no lie;
Men say right thus alway; the neighe slie
Maketh oft time the fer leef to be lothe.
For though that Absolon be wood or wrothe,
Because that he fer was from hire sight,
This neighe Nicholas stood in his light.
Now bere thee wel, thou hendy Nicholas, For Absolon may waile and sing alas.
And so befell that on a Saturday,
This carpenter was gon to Osenay,
And hendy Nicholas and Alison
Accorded ben to this conclusion,
That Nicholas shal shapen him a wile
This sely jalous husbond to begile;
And if so were the game went aright,
She shuld slepe in his armes alle night,
For this was hire desire and his also.
And right anon, withouten wordes mo,
This Nicholas no lenger wolde tarie,
But doth ful soft unto his chambre carie
Both mete and drinke for a day or twey.
And to hire husbond bad hire for to sey,
If that he axed after Nicholas,
She shulde say, she n’iste not wher he was;
Of all the day she saw him not with eye.
She trowed he was in som maladie,
For for no crie hire maiden coud him calle
He n'olde answer, for nothing that might falle,
Thus passeth forth all thilke Saturday,
That Nicholas still in his chambre lay,
And ete, and slept, and dide what him list
Til Sonday, that the sonne goth to rest.
This sely carpenter hath gret mervaile
Of Nicholas, or what thing might him aile,
And said; I am adrad by Seint Thomas
It stondeth not aright with Nicholas:
God shilde that he died sodenly.
This world is now ful tikel sikerly,
I saw to-day a corps yborne to cherche,
That now on Monday last I saw him werche.
Go up (quod he unto his knave) anon;
Clepe at his dore, or knocke with a ston:
Loke how it is, and tell me boldely.
This knave goth him up ful sturdely, ,
And at the chambre dore while that he stood,
He cried and knocked as that he were wood:
What how? what do ye, maister Nicholay?
How may ye slepen all the longe day?
But all for nought, he herde not a word.
An hole he found ful low upon the bord,
Ther as the cat was wont in for to crepe,
An at that hole he loked in ful depe,
And at the last he had of him a sight.
This Nicholas sat ever gaping upright,
As he had kyked on the newe mone.
Adoun he goth, and telleth his maister sone,
In what array he saw this ilke man.
This carpenter to blissen him began,
And said; Now helpe us Seinte Frideswide.
A man wote litel what shal him betide.
This man is fallen with his astronomie
In som woodnesse or in som agonie.
I thought ay wel how that it shulde be.
Men shulde not knowe of Goddes privetee.
Ya blessed be alway a lewed man,
That nought but only his beleve can.
So ferd another clerk with astronomie;
He walked in the feldes for to prie
Upon the sterres, what ther shuld befalle,
Till he was in a marlepit yfalle.
He saw not that. But yet by Seint Thomas
Me reweth sore of hendy Nicholas: