Page images
PDF
EPUB

Joy and true prosperity go still with thee !'• The like fall unto thy share, most fair lady!'

BALLAD VI.

THE LADY’S FALL.

Mark well my heavy doleful tale,

You loyal lovers all ;
And heedfully bear in your breast

A gallant lady's fall.
Long was she woo’d, ere she was won

To taste a wedded life,
But folly wrought her overthrow,

Before she was a wife.

Too soon, alas ! she gave consent

To yield unto his will ;
Though he protested to be true,

And faithful to her still.
She felt her body alter'd quite,

Her bright hue waxed pale,
Her fair red cheeks turn'd colour white,

Her strength began to fail.

So that, with many a sorrowful sigh,

This beauteous maiden mild,
With grievous heart, perceiv'd herself

To have conceiv'd with child.
She kept it from her father's sight,

As close as close might be,

And so put on her silken gown,

None might her swelling see.

Unto her lover, secretly,

Her grief she did bewray,
And, walking with him hand in hand,

These words to him did say;
' Behold, (said she) a maid’s distress,

By love reduc'd to woe ; Behold I go with child by thee, ' But none thereof doth know.

• The little babe springs in my womb,

· To hear the father's voice ; · Let it not be a bastard callid,

Sith I made thee my choice : Come, come, my love, perform thy vow, • And wed me out of hand; O leave me not in this extreme, ' In grief always to stand !

[ocr errors]

Think on thy former promise made,

• Thy vows and oaths each one ; Remember with what bitter tears • To me thou mad'st thy moan. Convey me to some secret place,

• And marry me with speed ; • Or with thy rapier end my life,

· Ere further shame proceed.'

• Alas! my dearest love, (quoth he)

* My greatest joy on earth,

" Which way can I convey thee hence,

Without a sudden death ?
Thy friends they be of high degree,

"And I of mean estate ;
• Full hard it is to get thee forth

Out of thy father's gate.'

[ocr errors]

Oh! do not fear to save my fame,

For if thou taken be,
Myself will step between the swords,

And take the harm on me :
“ So shall I scape dishonour quite ;

And if I should be slain, " What could they say, but that true love,

· Had wrought a lady's bane?

[ocr errors]

. And fear not any further harm;

Myself will so devise, · That I will ride away with thee,

Unseen of mortal eyes : Disguised like some petty page,

"I'll meet thee in the dark; · And all alone I'll come to thee,

* Hard by my father's park.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

And there (quoth he) I'll meet thee,

- If God so lend me life, ' And this day month, without all fail, I will make thee

my

wife.'
Then, with a sweet and loving kiss,

They parted presently,
And at their parting, brinish tears

Stood in each other's eye.

At length the wish'd-for day was come,

On which this beauteous maid, With lovely eyes and strange attire,

For her true lover stay'd :
When any person she espied

Come riding o'er the plain,
She thought it was her own true love,

But all her hopes were vain.

Then did she weep and sore bewail

Her most unhappy state;
Then did she speak these woeful words,

When succourless she sate :
O false, forsworn, and faithless wretch,

Disloyal to thy love;
• Hast thou forgot thy promise made,

And wilt thou perjur'd prove ?

[ocr errors]

< And hast thou now forsaken me,

• In this my great distress, • To end my days in open shame,

Which thou might'st well redress? " Woe worth the time I did believe

That flattering tongue of thine; - Would God that I had never seen

• The tears of thy false eyne !

And thus, with many a sorrowful sigh,

Homewards she went again ;
No rest came in her watery eyes,

She felt such bitter pain.
In travail strong she fell that night,

With many a bitter throe ;

What woeful pangs she then did feel,

Doth each good woman know.

She called up her waiting-maid,

That lay at her bed's feet,
Who, musing at her mistress' woe,

Did straight begin to weep :-
Weep not (said she) but shut the door,

And windows round about;
• Let none bewail my wretched state,

' But keep all persons out.'

"O mistress, call your mother dear,

' Of women you have need,
' And of some skilful midwife's help,

That better you may speed.'—
Call not my mother, for thy life,

- Nor call the women here; · The midwife's help comes all too late,

My death I do not fear.'

With that the babe sprang in her womb,

No creature being nigh ; And with a sigh, which brake her heart,

This gallant dame did die. This living little infant young,

The mother being dead, Resign'd his new received breath

To him that had him made.

Next morning came her lover true,

Affrighted at this news ;
And he for sorrow slew himself,

Whom each one did accuse.

« PreviousContinue »