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Some told him riches, pompe, or state ;

Some rayment fine and brighte;
Some told him mirthe; some flatterye ,

And some a jollye knighte.


In letters all king Arthur wrote,

And seal'd them with his ringe :
But still his minde was helde in Joubte,

Each tolde a different thinge.


As ruthfulle he rode over a more,

He saw a ladye sette
Betweene an oke, and a greene holléye,

All clad in red* scarlette.

Her nose was crookt and turnd outwarde,

Her chin stoode all awrye ;
And where as sholde have been her mouthe,

Lo! there was set her eye:


Her haires, like serpents, clung aboute

Her cheekes of deadlye hewe :
A worse-form'd ladye than she was,

No man mote ever viewe.


To hail the king in seemelye sorte

This ladye was fulle faine :
But king Arthure all sore amaz’d,

No aunswere made againe.

* This was a common pbrase in our old writers; so Chaucer, in his Prologue to the Cant. Tales, says of the wife of Bath: Her hosen were of Jyne scarlet red.

What 105

What wight art thou, the ladye sayd,

That wilt not speake to mee;
Sir, I may chance to ease thy paine,

Though I bee foule to see.


If thou wilt ease my paine, he sayd,
And helpe me in my

Ask what thou wilt, thou grimme ladyè,

And it shall bee thy meede.

O sweare mee this upon the roode,

And promise on thy faye ;
And here the secrette I will telle,

That shall thy ransome paye.


King Arthur promis'd on his faye,

And sware upon the roode ; The secrette then the ladye told,

As lightlye well shee cou'de.


Now this shall be my paye, sir king,

And this my guerdon bee,
That some yong fair and courtlye knight,

Thou bringe to marrye mee.


Fast then pricked king Arthure

Ore hille, and dale, and downe :
And soone he founde the barone's bowre :

And soone the grimme baroùne.

He 130

He bare his clubbe upon his backe,

Hee stoode bothe stiffe and stronge ; And, when he had the letters reade,

Awaye the lettres flunge.

Nowe yielde thee, Arthur, and thy lands,

All forfeit unto mee;
For this is not thy paye, sir king,

Nor may thy ransome bee.


Yet hold thy hand, thou proud baròne,

I praye thee hold thy hand;
And give mee leave to speake once more

In reskewe of my land.


This morne, as I came over a more,

I saw a ladye sette
Betwene an oke, and a greene hollèye,

All clad in red scarlette.


Shee sayes, all women will have their wille,

This is their chief desyre;
Now yield, as thou art a barone true,

That I have payd mine hyre.


An earlye vengeaunce light on her!

The carlish baron swore:
Shee was my sister tolde thee this,

And shee's a mishapen whore.

But But here I will make mine avowe,

To do her as ill a turne :
For an ever I may that foule theefe gette,

In a fyre I will her burne.



HOMEWARDE pricked king Arthure,

And a wearye inan was hee;
And soone he mette queene Guenever,

That bride so bright of blee!


What newes ! what newes ! thou noble king,

Howe, Arthur, hast thou sped?
Where hast thou hung the carlish knighte?

And where bestow'd his head?


The carlish knight is safe for mee,

And free fro mortal harme:
On magieke grounde his castle stands,

And fenc'd with many a charme.

To bowe to him I was fulle faine,

And yielde mee to his hand: And but for a lothly ladye, there

I sholde have lost my land.



And nowe this fills my hearte with woe,

And sorrowe of my life ;
I swore a yonge and courtlye knight,
Sholde marry

her to his wife.


Then bespake him sir Gawaine,

That was ever a gentle knighte: That lothly ladye I will wed;

Therefore be merrye and lighte.


Nowe naye, nowe naye, good sir Gawaine ;

My sister's sonne yee bee ;
This lothlye ladye's all too grimme,

And all too foule for yee.


Her nose is crookt and turn'd outwarde ;
Her chin stands all

A worse form'd ladye than shee is

Was never seen with eye.

What though her chin stand all awrye,

And shee be foule to see :
I'll marry her, unkle, for thy sake,

And I'll thy ransome bee.


Nowe thankes, nowe thankes, good sir Gawaine ;

And a blessing thee betyde!
To-morrow wee'll have knights and squires,
And wee'll goe fetch thy bride.



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