by BG Gross
Play adaptation of Chaucer's Reeve's tale from the Canterbury Tales
|Story By: Geoffery
Adapted By: BG Gross
Narrator: When folk had laughed their fill at this nice pass of Absalom and clever Nicholas, all were filled with joy and quite gay except for one man that is to say. Oswald the Reeve had been offended by the miller’s tale. For the miller’s tale was about a carpenter of which Oswald was in profession.
Oswald: Your tale was aimed at me miller for I am a carpenter and you knew I was one. I am old and my hair so shows being white, but even though I am old I still have a lusty life. Four vices have people of my age those of: Boasting, lying, anger, and covetousness. Even though we are old lust will never fail us, but I will admit that I have always had juvenile urges sexually.
Host: Stop rambling on Reeve. Go ahead and tell your tale. We are already passing Deptford and Greenwich.
Oswald: Let me apologize in advance for my tail will be a dirty one. For as they say force must be met with force. As such I need have a dirty tale in response to the Miller’s.
Oswald: At Trumpington, not far from Cambridge Town, lived a miller. The miller he was as proud and gay as any man. He could fish and flute, drink, wrestle, and shoot. Proudly on his belt he wore many a blade of knife and cutlass. His face was round and nose turned up. He was an aggressive man saying that if any man laid hand on him he would make the beggar pay. He liked to steal from any man who brought him grain to mill. He would always take off a decent bit and keep it for himself. This man was known as Simpkin. Simpkin’s wife was the daughter of the town’s priest. With his wife came a large dowry for Simpkin, to keep him a blood ally to the church. His wife was bred in a nunnery for Simpkin demand his wife be smart and a virgin to keep up his estate of yeomanry. If anyone even attempted to flirt with his wife they would be killed with cutlass or dagger. Simpkin was a jealous man and wanted to seem dangerous at least to his wife. Especially since see was a female bastard child and of low standing as such. The two had a twenty year old daughter and a six month old boy. The daughter was stout and well developed. With nose tip-tilted and eyes blue as glass. With buttocks broad and round breasts full and high. When the manciple of the local college became ill the miller stole a hundredfold more grain than usual. The warden of the college was infuriated and cursed the miller, who became quiet about his bragging. Two of the college’s students decided to take the next batch of grain to the miller themselves. They claimed they could catch the miller at his game and rode off with the grain to the mill.
Alain: Good day miller. How are your wife and daughter?
Miller: Alain and John good to see you. What brings you to my mill?
John: Miller we are helping the manciple for he is very ill and cannot do his job. So we have come with our corn for you to mill to flour. Then we can head home so do it quick.
Miller: I’ll grind your corn, but what will you do while I am doing so.
John: I will stand by as you grind the corn. I am very interested as to how the process is done for I have never seen it before.
Alain: Then I will watch too. I am as bad a miller as you John.
Miller: But it takes a long time and you will become bored. (To himself) I will trick them yet. The more they try to trick me the more grain I will take from them, when I may take. The greatest college boy is not the wisest man.
Oswald: The miller snuck out the door. He headed towards the horse of the two college lads. He released the horse and shooed it to the fen where many female horses ran free. The miller then snuck back into the house and went back to work, with out the boys knowing he had left. After some time John went to check on the horse. He came running back to tell Alain what had happened.
John: Alain the horse is gone. It must have escaped. We must go catch it or the warden will kill us.
Oswald: The two hurried out forgetting about their corn and flour.
Alain: Which way did he go?
Wife: Your horse ran to the fen where there is many a wild mare. A curse on the hand that tied him down.
John: Alain you’re an idiot, how could you not have tied him tighter. You should have put the horse in the barn.
Oswald: The two students went to chase after the horse. When the miller saw that they were gone he stole half a bushel of their flour and told his wife to bake it into bread.
Miller: I think the students feared I would steal from them. But I a miller can match their brains. Look at them; they play like children after their horse. I doubt they will catch him any time soon.
Oswald: The two continued to chase their horse, but they could not catch him, he was too fast. When night finally came the boys managed to catch him in a ditch. They turned back towards the mill.
John: This stinks! This day will be the mockery of us. Our corn is stolen and we will be ridiculed at school.
Oswald: The two boys returned to the mill. Where the miller sat at the fire place for it was night.
Alain: Miller it is late and we need shelter and supper.
Miller: You can have it, if you pay.
John: Here is all our money, now may we stay.
Miller: Yes, but my house is small. If you want to stay you will have to rearrange the house to fit the two of you.
John: thank you miller you are a kind man. But still we need food and drink, which we will pay for.
Oswald: The miller sent his daughter to town. With the money she bought some ale, bread and roasted goose. The room was setup while she was gone with three beds. One for the miller and his wife, another for the two boys and one for the lone daughter. At the base of the miller’s bed was set the cradle of the baby for it was handy for rocking and for suck. The group ate and drank strong ale. They laughed and jeered until midnight came then they all went to sleep. The miller’s family all snored in chorus. All slept except Alain and John.
Alain: I can’t sleep. This sound is horrible. I can’t sleep in it I’ll get no rest. To get back at the miller I will sleep with his daughter it is only fair. Against my loss I’ll get some fun.
John: Alain, the miller is a dangerous man. Should he awake he’ll kill us both.
Alain: I count him not a fly.
Oswald: Towards the girl Alain crept. This wench lay on her back and soundly slept, until he’d come so near, ere she might spy. It was too late to struggle then or cry; and, to be brief, these two were soon as one. Now play, Alain! For I will speak of John. For 15 minutes John lay and wept.
John: This isn’t fair I was also cheated, but only Alain has something for his harm. I will have to find my own compensation. “Unhardy is unhappy,” as they say.
Oswald: So up went John to find the cradle. He found and moved it close to his bed. The wife got up to take a piss and returned searching for the cradle. She went to her bed and found no cradle.
Wife: I almost lost my way. I almost ended up in the students’ bed.
Oswald: she continued to search for the cradle until she found it at the base of John’s bed. She got into bed and lay right still, and would have gone to sleep, but presently this John the clerk did leap, and over on this goodwife did he lie. No such gay time she’d known in years gone by. He pricked her hard and deep, like one gone mad, and so a jolly life these two clerks had. The night passed until the rooster crowed. Alain grew weary in the grey dawning, for he had labored hard through all the night.
Alain: Farwell now Maudy sweet delight. It is now day and I must leave but forever yours I shall be.
Daughter: Sweetheart go and fare you well. But before you go I must tell you. My father stole some of your flour and baked it into bread. You’ll find it by the door. Bye my love.
Alain: (to himself) it is almost dawn. I must creep quietly back to John.
Oswald: Alain crept back to the bed but found a cradle at it.
Alain: (to himself) I almost went to the wrong bed. My head must be dizzy from my night’s work. For if the cradle is at this bed then it must be the miller’s and his wife’s.
Oswald: Alain wandered around the room until he found the bed he thought to be John’s.
Alain: John wake up so I can tell you a noble tale. I have, three times in this short night, no lack, swived that old miller’s daughter on her back.
Miller: You Scoundrel, you Trespassed? I’m going to kill you!
(Alain and miller wrestle for a while then fall on the wife.)
Wife: Help the devil is upon us. Help Simpkin for the students are fighting.
Oswald: The wife searched for a staff along the wall and found it quickly. She tried to find a target in the dark but could not. Finally she saw the white of the miller’s head thinking one of the students had worn a nightcap. She aimed for the white thing and hit the miller square on the head.
Miller: Help, Help, I die!
Oswald: The two students beat the miller and got dressed. They took the horse the flower and the bread and fled.
Oswald: Thus is the haughty miller soundly beat, and thus he’s lost his pay for grinding wheat, and paid for the two suppers, let me tell, of Alain and John, who’ve tricked him well, his wife is taken, also his daughter sweet; thus it befalls a miller who’s a cheat. And therefore in this proverb said with truth, “An evil end to evil man, forsooth.” The cheater shall himself well cheated be. And god, who sits on high in majesty, save all this company, both strong and frail! Thus I paid this miller with my tale.