580‘What, who artow?’ ‘It am I, Absolon.’
‘What, Absolon! for Cristes swete tree,
Why ryse ye so rathe, ey, benedicite!
What eyleth yow? som gay gerl, God it woot,
Hath broght yow thus upon the viritoot;
By sëynt Note, ye woot wel what I mene.’
|“Who’s there?” called out Gervase. “It’s me, Absalom,” he replied. “Absalom! What the devil are you doing up so early?” asked the blacksmith. “What’s the matter? You’re after a taste of some girl, now aren’t you? Yeah, you know what I mean!”|
This Absolon ne roghte nat a bene
Of al his pley, no word agayn he yaf;
He hadde more tow on his distaf
Than Gerveys knew, and seyde, ‘freend so dere,
590That hote culter in the chimenee here,
As lene it me, I have ther-with to done,
And I wol bringe it thee agayn ful sone.’
|Absalom didn’t say anything but let the joke slide. Mr. Gervase was more right than he could’ve possibly known. Instead, he said, “My friend, would you lend me that red hot iron poker in the fireplace over there? There’s something I need to use it for, but I’ll bring it back to you right away.”|
Gerveys answerde, ‘certes, were it gold,
Or in a poke nobles alle untold,
Thou sholdest have, as I am trewe smith;
Ey, Cristes foo! what wol ye do ther-with?’
|“Go right ahead,” Mr. Gervase answered. “I’d give you a bag full of money if you needed it, Absalom. I trust you. What in the world do you need a hot poker for, though?”|
‘Ther-of,’ quod Absolon, ‘be as be may;
I shal wel telle it thee to-morwe day’—
And caughte the culter by the colde stele.
600Ful softe out at the dore he gan to stele,
And wente unto the carpenteres wal.
He cogheth first, and knokketh ther-with-al
Upon the windowe, right as he dide er.
|“I’d rather not go into it right now,” Absalom said. “I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.” And with that he took the iron poker by its cool handle, left the blacksmith’s shop, and walked back across the street to the carpenter’s house. He cleared his throat, then knocked on the bedroom window, just as he’d done earlier.|