Page images
PDF
EPUB

Ranging the wood, did find her there, Round beset with sorrow; • Maid, (quoth he) good morrow,

• What hard hap hath brought you here??• Harder hap did never, · Chance to a maiden ever, . Here lies slain my brother dear.'

• Where might I be plac'd ?

· Gentle forester, tell me ; "Where might I procure

A service in my need ? " Pains I will not spare,

« But will do my duty ; • Ease me of my care,

Help my extreme need.' The forester, all amazed, On her beauty gazed,

Till his heart was set on fire; If, fair maid, (quoth he) - You will go

with

me,
• You shall have your heart's desire.'
He brought her to his mother,
And above all other

He set forth this maiden's praise ;
Long was his heart inflamed,
At length her love he gained,

So fortune did his glory raise.

Thus unknown he match'd

With the king's fair daughter; Children seven he had

Ere she to him was known 1;

But when he understood

She was a royal princess, By this means at last

He showed forth her fame;
He cloth'd his children then,
Not like to other men,

In party-colours strange to see,
The right side cloth of gold,
The left side to behold

Of woollen cloth still framed he :
Men thereat did wonder,
Golden fame did thunder

This strange deed in every place : The king of France came thither, Being pleasant weather,

In the woods the hart to chase.

The children there did stand,

As their mother willed, Where the royal king

Must of force come by ; Their mother richly clad

In fair crimson velvet ; Their father all in grey,

Most comely to the eye. When this famous king, Noting every thing,

Did ask how he durst be so bold To let his wife to wear, And deck his children there,

In costly robes of pearl and gold. The forester bold replied, And the cause descried,

And to the king he thus did say, Well may they, by their mother, * Wear rich clothes with other,

Being by birth a princess gay.'

The king, upon these words,

Most heedfully beheld them,
Till a crimson blush

His conceit did cross :
The more I look (quoth he)

Upon thy wife and children,
The more I call to mind

My daughter whom I lost,
I am that child (quoth she,
Falling on her knee,)

Pardon me, my sovereign liege.'
The king perceiving this,
His daughter dear did kiss,

Till joyful tears did stop his speech :
With his train he turned,
And with her sojourned ;

Straight he dub'd her husband knight;
He made him earl of Flanders,
One of his chief commanders ;

Thus was their sorrow put to flight.

BALLAD XII.

THE FAMOUS FLOWER OF SERVING-MEN :

OR,

THE LADY TURN'D SERVING-MAN.

You beauteous ladies, great and small,
I write unto you one and all ;
Whereby that you may understand
What I have suffer'd in this land.

I was by birth a lady fair,
My father's chief and only heir;
But when my good old father died,
Then I was made a young knight's bride.

And then my love built me a bower,
Bedeck'd with many a fragrant flower ;
A braver bower you ne'er did see,
Than my true love did build for me.

But there came thieves late in the night,
They robb'd my bower, and slew my knight;
And after that my knight was slain,
I could no longer there remain.

My servant, all from me did fly,
In th' midst of my extremity,
And left me by myself alone,
With a heart more cold than any stone.

Yet, though my heart was full of care,
Heaven would not suffer me to despair,
Wherefore in haste I chang'd my name
From fair Elise to Sweet William.

And therewithall I cut my hair,
And dress'd myself in man's attire,
My doublet, hose, and beaver hat,
And a golden band about my neck.

With a silver rapier by my side,
So like a gallant I did ride ;
The thing that I delighted on,
It was to be a serving-man.

Thus in my sumptuous man's array,
I bravely rode along the way;
And at the last it chanced so,
That I to the king's court did go.

Then to the king I bow'd full low,
My love and duty for to show ;
And so much favour I did crave,
That I a serving-man's place might have.

Stand up, brave youth, (the king replied,) Thy service shall not be denied ; . But tell me first what thou can'st do, • Thou shalt be fitted thereunto.

"Wilt thou be usher of my hall, * To wait upon my nobles all ?

Or wilt thou be tapster of my wine, "To wait on me when I do dine ?

« PreviousContinue »