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The Lost Canterbury Tale


Steven Trosper

< style="font-weight: bold;">                Deep in the basement of the English Building at Oxford University, hidden away for many years, an unpublished manuscript from Chaucer's CANTERBURY TALES was discovered.    There are two schools of thought as to why this tale was not included.   The first school holds, Chaucer, like all writers had squandered the Publishers's advance and waited until the last minute to write the book.   In the process of hurrying to get the manuscript to the publisher, by the due date, he simply failed to include it.    The other school holds this Tale is titled with a man's name.   While all the other Tales were titled as the teller's occupation; such as "THE MILLER'S TALE", "THE KNIGHT'S TALE", or "THE NUN'S TALE".  This Tale simply does not fit the format and was left out.   Here, for the first time, for your reading enjoyment is that lost Tale.   Translated into modern English.   A Tale of a man named Nigel who traps beaver in the Rocky Mountains.


                                                      NIGEL'S TALE

< style="font-weight: bold;">                "Upon reaching me twenty-first birthday, I came into an inheritance of eighty-eight pounds and six pence.   In the newest issue of HUNTER-TRADER-TRAPPER was an advertisement to trap beaver with Kit Carson and Jim Bridger in the Rocky Mountains.    Write them care of the Hawken Rifle Shop, in Saint Louis, Missouri-Ewe, Ess, Aye.
I left England headed for the Colonies aboard the H.M.S. BEAGLE.   I had many stimulating conversations with Mister Charles Darwin.   This was before he published his book, ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES.
                I came ashore at a place called Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.   There I met the Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur.   They were kind enough to fly me to Saint Louis, Missouri in their aeroplane.   As we flew into the city, we flew through the Arch.   I got directions to the Hawken Rifle Shop and there I met Kit Carson and Jim Bridger.
  They rode Mustangs, but told me we ought to have Broncos for the winter in the Rockies.  We rode the Mustangs hard to Detroit, Michigan to Henry Ford's ranch.   We picked out Broncos for each of us.   I picked a black Bronco and named him Midnight.   We rode our Broncos hard to the Rockies.
                I was given a map of where my trapline was and also four Helfrich 750 Eliminator and two Newhouse number 4 traps.   Also, I was given two four ounce jars of Lenon's Beaver lure.   Jim Bridger told me if I can not catch any beaver with Lenon's lure, it meant only one thing-there were no beaver around.   I got the six traps out and got back to base camp later in the afternoon.

                The next morning there was a foot of snow on the ground and I thought, "My, but winter sure does come quick to the shinin' mountains."   Me Bronco got through the snow with ease-just like Jim Bridger told me it would.

                I caught between four and six beaver everyday.   In fact, Jim Bridger and Kit Carson began to call me "Plenty of Beaver".   Which I liked better than what they first called me.   Because I had not proven meself they called me "Pork Eater".   Referring to the fact I was fed salt pork and not any Buffalo, or Antelope meat.   I had to prove I could hold me own.

                There were three Indian women whose job it was to skin, flesh, and dry the beaver furs.   I was bringing in so many beavers each day, the women called me "Slave Driver".   They were beginning to demand more pay.   Kit Carson told me the women's extra pay was going to come out of my take of the profits.

                One day in late January, I had just gotten back from checking me traps and Jim Bridger asked if I would be interested in trapping some coyote.   I told him I would have a go at it.   We rode our Broncos hard to Iowa to a ranch owned by a woman everyone called MsCat.   She with the pink boots.   MsCat had over a million acres of ranch land in Iowa and was having problems with coyotes killing her sheep.

                I was given a four ounce jar of Lenon's Coyote lure and five Helfrich 550 Eliminators.   I headed out to set for coyote.   We began to catch coyotes immediately.   The Indian women were not too pleased with having to skin the coyotes.   They said it made their hands hurt, so I was assigned to help them out.   I would come back from the ‘line with four or five coyotes each day.   Then I had to skin and flesh the coyotes I caught.   The women would stretch the pelts.

                When Spring came, we loaded up all the pelts and rode our Broncos hard to Saint Louie.   We sold our furs to Maas, Steffen Fur House.   I paid Jim Bridger and Kit Carson the rest of what I owned them and met the Wright Brothers.    As we flew out of Saint Louie, flying through the arch.

               When we got to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, The HMS BEAGLE was no where to be found.   I was stranded!    I mean, I enjoyed me stay in America, but I wished to go home.   A terrible feeling of homesickness overcame me; I felt blue.

                I happened to meet Paul Dobbins, who lived in North Carolina.   I told Paul about me predicament and he offered to let me have his ticket on the LUSITANIA.   Paul Dobbins  told me he had to appear at a Senate Committee investigating unfair trade practices in the trapping industry.  It seems Paul Dobbins had cornered the fox urine market and the committee was interested in his activities.

                He also told me the reason all the fox books written during the last fur boom seemed to be a repeat of all the others was because he wrote the book.   He sent the manuscript to various supply dealers with instructions to come up with a catchy title.   He also advised them to take several pictures of a dirt hole set.   Plus, if they should happen to catch a fox, take several pictures of the fox.   Some from the north, some from the south and also east and west of the fox.  Even take some of the pictures from near ground level.   This would give several pictures they could put in the book to make it look like they had caught several fox.

                Paul Dobbins also told me he was not interested in trappers catching fox, he wanted them to buy all the fox urine they could afford.   This is the reason all the books recommended the use of fox urine to hide human odor.   "It is all marketing.   Create a need and fill it."   Was how Paul Dobbins explained it to me.

                He told me he was moving toward selling fox urine to organic gardeners to keep rabbits out of their gardens.   They were willing to pay over seventeen dollars for eight ounces of the stuff.

               I mentioned it would have no effect on rabbits.   After all, they are in the same area foxes are.   Paul Dobbins said, "If the rubes, er, er, organic gardeners think it works, who is he to deny them the stuff?"

                I asked if he was worried about appearing before the Committee.   Paul Dobbins said, "If I can't pull the wool over a politician's eyes, then I have no business trapping fur-bearing animals."

                Paul Dobbins let me use his Pinto to get to New York City.   I rode the Pinto hard and stabled it at the place Paul Dobbins told me to.  He was going to take the train from Dee Cee, after he took care of the politicians, up to New York City to retrieve his Pinto.   I got to the gang plank with but fifteen minutes before departure.

                A couple of evenings later, in me Stateroom, I counted the money I was going home with.  It was ninety-eight pounds and six pence.   As you may remember, I started out with eighty-eight pounds and six pence.   I was going home with a profit of ten quid!    Not to mention the places I had seen.   The people I had met, and the adventures I had.

                You may remember a German U Boat, with but one torpedo hit the LUSITANIA and she sunk like a rock.   Here Nigel stopped talking.   The silence was unbearable and the Nun asked, What happened next?

                Nigel answered, "Why, I drowned.

                There was much knee slapping and hearty belly laughs.   Reaching Canterbury, everyone agreed Nigel's tale was the best one."