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The Canterbury Tales: The Reeve's Tale
by Geoffrey Chaucer
Symkyn the Miller Timeline and Summary
The narrator introduces Symkyn as a proud miller who enjoys hunting, fishing, and fighting, and who cheats his customers. The narrator introduces us to Symkyn's family: his wife, the town parson's illegitimate daughter, their daughter, Malyne, and a baby still in the cradle. When John and Aleyn arrive at the mill and announce their intention to watch him grind their flour, Symkyn promises himself he will cheat them anyway. Symkyn releases John and Aleyn's horse when they aren't looking, causing them to have to spend the whole day chasing it. While John and Aleyn are busy catching their horse, Symkyn steals a bushel of flour from them and has his wife bake it into a cake. Symkyn agrees to let John and Aleyn spend the night with him and his family when it becomes too late for them to return to Cambridge that day. Symkyn prepares a bed for John and Aleyn in the family's shared sleeping quarters, then falls asleep, snoring loudly. Symkyn wakes up to Aleyn whispering that he has just had sex with his daughter. He rises in a rage, and attempts to beat Aleyn. Symkyn's wife mistakes him for one of the clerks, and hits him over the head with a staff. Symkyn is beaten unconscious by John and Aleyn.