The Canterbury Tales


The Reeve's Tale

The Miller’s tale featured a carpenter as the dupe, and the reeve decides to get his revenge by telling a story about a crooked miller. In his story, a miller named Symkyn is known for cheating his customers, but people avoid challenging him about these thefts because of his violent and volatile nature. Symkyn is married to the daughter of the town parson, and received a large dowry for marrying her. Symkyn grinds the corn and wheat for a school in Canterbury. When the school’s manciple falls ill, Symkyn begins cheating the school even more than he had been cheating it. This upsets two of the students at the school, Alayn and John. They ask their headmaster if they can be the ones to take the corn to the miller, thinking that together they can carefully watch Symkyn and avoid being cheated.

When they get to the mill, Alayn and John watch Symkyn grinding the corn. He realizes that they are trying to ensure that he does not cheat them, so Symkyn unties their horse and it wanders away. When the students go to look for their horse, Symkyn steals flour from them. Symkyn has his wife bake a cake with the stolen flour. The students find their horse, but night has fallen and they stay at Symkyn’s house. Alayn seduces Symkyn’s daughter Malyne. Likewise, John tricks Symkyn’s wife into his bed by moving a cradle at the foot of her bed to the foot of his bed. However, in the morning, the moved cradle leads Alayn to crawl into the wrong bed, where, thinking the miller is John, Alayn boasts about having sex with the Malyne all night. Symkyn jumps up and punches Alayn in the nose, then falls into the bed where John and his wife are asleep. Symkyn’s wife tries to help her...

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