The young scholar Nicholas lives with an old man named John. Nicholas often sings and plays instruments in John's house.
John is married to Alisoun, a woman much younger than he is. He loves her very much, though does not care for him nearly as much as he does for her.
Alisoun instead loves Nicholas, though Absolon wishes to love her as well. Absolon has no clue why sh loves the brash Nicholas and not him, with his sweet and kind ways.
Alisoun and Nicholas plot to trick old John with his jealous ways. Nicholas convinces John that there will be a Flood that will wipe out the world. That the only way for them to survive is to hide in bathtubs until the flood arrives.
While Nicholas and Alisoun slip away to "wait for the flood", Absolon comes to Alisoun's window to woo her into giving him a kiss. When he kisses not her lips but her bum, he leaves and returns in anger with a hot iron. When he asks for another kiss, and Nicholas sticks his bum out, he shoves the hot iron onto it.
When he calls for water to relieve the burning, it wakes John and makes him think the flood is there. Though instead of landing in water when he cut his tub down, he crashed to the floor. Nicholas and Alisoun laugh and call him crazy, as do the rest of the town when hearing that he thought there would be a flood that would wipe out the world.