The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale Lines 388-492 Summary
John brings Nicholas a quart of ale, which the two of them share.
After John sits down next to Nicholas, he closes the door and begins to speak.
Nicholas makes John swear not to tell anyone else what he is about to tell him.
John swears that he won't, and that he is not the type to betray secrets.
Nicholas tells John that, in studying astrology, he has discovered that the following Monday there would be a flood as big as the one God sent in Noah's time. In less than an hour of rain, everyone would drown.
John expresses sorrow over the possible death of Alisoun, and asks if there is no way to prevent it.
Nicholas says that there is, but to do it John must rely upon his counsel.
Nicholas recites a proverb by Solomon that incites all things to be worked by counsel and asks John if he remembers how God saved Noah.
John replies that he does remember the story of Noah.
Nicholas asks if John remembers what a hard time Noah had in getting his whole family on the ark, especially his wife.
Nicholas says that what they do, therefore, they must do quickly.
Nicholas advises John to obtain three large tubs for them to use as boats, and to stock these tubs with enough food and drink for a day, after which, he promises, the waters will retreat.
Nicholas makes John promise not to tell his servants, but says he can't tell him why this secrecy is necessary, and that John shouldn't ask about God's secrets.
Nicholas says if John follows his counsel, he and his wife will have as great a grace as Noah had – they will be saved from drowning in the flood.