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Some told him riches, pompe, or state ;
Some rayment fine and brighte;
And some a jollye knighte.
In letters all king Arthur wrote,
And seal'd them with his ringe :
Each tolde a different thinge.
As ruthfulle he rode over a more,
He saw a ladye sette
All clad in red* scarlette.
Her nose was crookt and turnd outwarde,
Her chin stoode all awrye ;
Lo! there was set her eye:
Her haires, like serpents, clung aboute
Her cheekes of deadlye hewe :
No man mote ever viewe.
To hail the king in seemelye sorte
This ladye was fulle faine :
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 wight art thou, the ladye sayd,
That wilt not speake to mee;
Though I bee foule to see.
If thou wilt ease my paine, he sayd,
And it shall bee thy meede.
O sweare mee this upon the roode,
And promise on thy faye ;
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,
Thou bringe to marrye mee.
Fast then pricked king Arthure
Ore hille, and dale, and downe :
And soone the grimme baroùne.
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;
Nor may thy ransome bee.
Yet hold thy hand, thou proud baròne,
I praye thee hold thy hand;
In reskewe of my land.
This morne, as I came over a more,
I saw a ladye sette
All clad in red scarlette.
Shee sayes, all women will have their wille,
This is their chief desyre;
That I have payd mine hyre.
An earlye vengeaunce light on her!
The carlish baron swore:
And shee's a mishapen whore.
But But here I will make mine avowe,
To do her as ill a turne :
In a fyre I will her burne.
PART THE SECONDE.
HOMEWARDE pricked king Arthure,
And a wearye inan was hee;
That bride so bright of blee!
What newes ! what newes ! thou noble king,
Howe, Arthur, hast thou sped?
And where bestow'd his head?
The carlish knight is safe for mee,
And free fro mortal harme:
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 ;
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 ;
And all too foule for yee.
Her nose is crookt and turn'd outwarde ;
Was never seen with eye.
What though her chin stand all awrye,
And shee be foule to see :
And I'll thy ransome bee.
Nowe thankes, nowe thankes, good sir Gawaine ;
And a blessing thee betyde!