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The Canterbury Tales: The Reeve's Tale

The Canterbury Tales: The Reeve's Tale


by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales: The Reeve's Tale Lines 170 – 212 Summary

  • "Aleyn, welcome," says Symkyn, "and John also. What's going on? What are you doing here?"
  • "Symond," says John, "by God, need has no equal. He that has no servant must serve himself, or be a fool, as clerk's say."
  • "Our manciple is so sick that I hope for his sake he dies soon – so badly does his head ache."
  • "Therefore I have come with Aleyn to grind our corn and carry it home again."
  • "I pray you serve us as quickly as you can."
  • "Certainly," says Symkyn, "It shall be done! What will you do while I'm grinding it?"
  • "By God, I'll stand right by the grinder," says John, "and watch how the corn goes in. I've never seen such a thing in my life – how the grinder moves to and fro."
  • Aleyn responds, "John, will you? Then I will stand beneath the grinder to watch the meal as it falls out into the trough; that will be my amusement."
  • "For John, certainly, I'm just like you: I've never seen such a thing in my life, not being a miller."
  • The miller smiles at their simplicity and thinks, "They're doing this so that no one can trick them. But with my thrift and craftiness, I'll cheat them yet, despite all the subtlety of their learning."
  • "The more strange tricks and strategies they concoct, the more I'll steal from them. Instead of flour, I'll give them bran."
  • "Even the most educated clerks are not the most street-smart of men, as the grey wolf once told the mare."
  • "I don't set much store by all their book-learning."
  • The miller goes out the door secretly when he sees his chance. He looks up and down until he finds the clerks' horse where it's bound behind the mill under an arbor.
  • Unseen, he strips the horse of its bridle.
  • When the horse is free and sees its chance, it runs toward the field, where wild mares frolic.
  • With a whinny he plunges forward through thick and thin.

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