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This sely carpenter hath greet merveyle
Of Nicholas, or what thing mighte him eyle,
And seyde, ‘I am adrad, by seint Thomas,
240It stondeth nat aright with Nicholas.
God shilde that he deyde sodeynly!
This world is now ful tikel, sikerly;
I saugh to-day a cors y-born to chirche
That now, on Monday last, I saugh him wirche.
The foolish carpenter was pretty surprised that Nicholas’s door stayed closed all weekend, and he wondered what could have made him so sick. “By St. Thomas,” he said, “I’m pretty worried about Nicholas. God, I hope he isn’t dead in there! This world is full of uncertainty and doubt. Why, just today I passed a funeral procession for a guy I saw walking about town just last Monday.”
Go up,’ quod he unto his knave anoon,
‘Clepe at his dore, or knokke with a stoon,
Loke how it is, and tel me boldely.’
He called his servant, Robin, and said to him, “Go upstairs to Nicholas’s room and bang on his door with a rock until he opens it. Then come back down and tell me what’s going on.”
This knave gooth him up ful sturdily,
And at the chambre-dore, whyl that he stood,
250He cryde and knokked as that he were wood:—
‘What! how! what do ye, maister Nicholay?
How may ye slepen al the longe day?’
Robin did as he’d been told and knocked on Nicholas’s door like crazy. “Master Nicholas? Master Nicholas! Are you okay in there? Are you asleep? You haven’t been out all day!”
But al for noght, he herde nat a word;
An hole he fond, ful lowe upon a bord,
Ther as the cat was wont in for to crepe;
And at that hole he looked in ful depe,
And at the laste he hadde of him a sighte.
This Nicholas sat gaping ever up-righte,
As he had kyked on the newe mone.
260Adoun he gooth, and tolde his maister sone
In what array he saugh this ilke man.
Try as he might, though, he got no answer. He looked around and spotted a small hole in the bottom of the door that the cat used for creeping through. He knelt down and peered through it to see if he could spot Nicholas inside. And there he saw him, just sitting there, staring up at the ceiling with his mouth wide open as if he’d spotted a new moon. The servant ran back downstairs and told the carpenter exactly what he’d seen.