Wanting to do the naughty old Miller some justice, I wrote The Miller's Second Tale - a bawdy retelling of Rapunzel that's actually more in keeping with the Brothers Grimm's original version of the fairytale than the later, sanatised versions. For my alternative Rapunzel story I portrayed the long-locked maiden as a young village girl who is a little too free and easy with her virtue. Therefore Gothel, her mother, locks her away in a tower where she is wooed by a blacksmith's son in the guise of a knight. In this excerpt from The Miller's Second Tale, Gothel is made aware of her daughter's free and easy ways. As the Miller warned in his first tale, it isn't for those of a prudish disposition:
But soon the gossips’ tongues began to wag, Till finally an interfering hag Named Tabitha knocked smugly on the door Of Gothel’s home, and quod, “Your girl’s a whore Who preys upon those landed, gentile folk Who’ll part with gold or silver for a poke. A lack of parent counselling’s to blame And brings upon your kin eternal shame.” Such accusations mortified and shocked Rapunzel’s mum who took a swing and clocked Her nosy neighbour squarely in the eye. Quod Gothel, “Lest my fist again should fly, Inform me where Rapunzel doth reside, Or I’ll assume through spitefulness you’ve lied. And if my girl’s unsullied as the snow, No constable shall spare you from a blow Upon your jutting, stubble-stippled chin, For wilful allegation is a sin Consigning false accusers to the fire Of Satan’s ever-burning sulph’rous pyre.”
Reluctantly the tittle-tattling sow, To Gothel’s violent threats was forced to bow. So to the Reeve’s abode she led the way, Where in the barnyard, rolling in the hay, They found the wayward girl beneath the Reeve. Quod Gothel, “Sir, before your lunges thieve My daughter’s blessed gift I urge you pause, Or else your earthly sojourn’s end I’ll cause.” Thus interrupted ere he’d hit his mark, Extinguished was the Reeve’s lascivious spark. So, stuck for words and in the buff he fled, Afeared at Gothel’s hands he’d wind up dead, Whilst Tabitha made good her own escape And left the fuming dame alone to gape Upon her daughter’s nakedness and shame. “Oh wretched girl,” quod she, “I’ll hear no claim Of force or through coercion being bound. For I espied how willingly you ground Your pelvis ’gainst the Reeve’s empurpled pole, Whilst eagerly he strove to find his goal.”
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