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Unlesse thou sweare upon the rood,
And promise on thy faye,
Upon the new-yeare's daye:
And bringe me worde what thing it is
All women moste desyre: This is thy ransome, Arthur,
sayes, Ile have noe other hyre.
Ring Arthur then helåe up his hande,
And sware upon his faye,
And faste hee rode awaye.
And he rode east, and he rode west,
And did of all inquyre,
And what they most desyre
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:
Each tolde a different thinge.
As ruthfulle he rode over a more,
He saw a ladye sette
All clad in red 2 scarlette.
2 This was a common phrase in our old writers; so Chaucer, in his Prologue to the Cant. Tales, says of the Wife of Batb:
Her hosen were of fyne scarlet red.
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.
That wilt not speake to mee;
Though I bee foule to see.
And helpe me in my neede;
And it shall bee thy meede.
And promise on thy faye;
That shall thy ransome paye.
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
He bare his clubbe upon his backe,
Nowe yielde thee, Arthur, and thy lands,
For this is not thy paye, sir king,
Yet hold thy hand, thou proud baròne,
And give mee leave to speake once more
This morne, as I came over a more,
Betwene an oke, and a greene hollèye,
Shee sayes, all women will have their wille,
Now yield, as thou art a barone true,
An earlye vengeaunce light on her!
But here I will make mine avowe,
For an ever I may that foule theefe gette,
PART THE SECONDE.
HOMEWARDE pricked king Arthure,
What newes! what newes! thou noble king,
The carlish knight is safe for mee,
To bowe to him I was fulle faine,
And nowe this fills my hearte with woe,
I swore a yonge and courtlye knight,
Then bespake him sir Gawaine,
That was ever a gentle knighte: That lothly ladye I will wed;
Therefore be merrye and lighte.
Now naye, nowe naye, good sir Gawaine;
This lothlye ladye's all too grimme,
Her nose is crookt and turn'd outwarde;
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:
And I'll thy ransome bee.
Nowe thankes, nowe thankes, good sir Gawaine;
And a blessing thee betyde!
And wee'll goe fetch thy bride.
And wee'll have hawkes and wee'll have houndes,
To cover our intent;
As wee a hunting went.
Sir Lancelot, sir Stephen bolde,
They rode with them that daye; And foremoste of the companye
There rode the stewarde Kaye:
Soe did sir Banier and sir Bore,
And eke sir Garratte keene;
To the forest freshe and greene.
And when they came to the greene
forrèst, Beneathe a faire holley tree There sate that ladye in red scarlette
That unseemelye was to see.
Sir Kay beheld that lady's face,
And looked upon her sweere; Whoever kisses that ladye, he sayes,
Of his kisse he stands in feare.