Geoffrey Chaucer ‘The Canterbury Tales – The Miller’s Tale’

Nicholas and Allison go on their tiptoes out from the attic to the bedroom, where they make love until morning. Meantime, Absolon happened to spend Monday at the same place called Osney near Oxford and he asked one of the friars whether the carpenter worked for them today. “No, I haven’t seen him all day”, answers the friar, “he may have gone home or to the grange for wood, the prior often sends him there”. Absolon thinks: “I haven’t seen the carpenter at his home in Oxford, it means he must have really gone to fetch wood, which in turn means Allison is tonight alone. That’s my chance!” So early in the morning before the sunrise he dresses himself neatly, combs his hair and chews grains of paradise (guinea pepper) and liquorice, the medieval equivalents of Tic Tacs, to make his breath sweet. Then, with a leave of true-love in his mouth for good luck he goes to Allison’s house and starts to beg her to let him in. The bedroom is on the ground floor, so the window is level with his breast. Allison tells him rather rudely that she loves another and he should go away. “But just one kiss!”, begs Absolon. “If I give you one kiss, will you go away and stop pestering me?”, asks Alison. After Absolon promises to do so, she opens the window saying “All right, one quick kiss before the neighbours notice”. Unfortunately, since it is still dark, Absolon doesn’t notice that what Allison gave him to kiss was not her mouth but her naked butt. He realizes that the moment when he feels her pubic hair and thinks “Wait a minute, women don’t have beards”. ‘”Teehee”, quod she.’ Allison slams the door shut, stifling together with Nicholas their laughter. ‘”A beerd, a beerd!”, quod hende Nicholas’, punning upon the medieval slang use of the word “beard” as “a trick”. Absolon walks sadly home,


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