Child's Ballads/29

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Child's Collected Ballads by Francis James Child
The Boy and the Mantle, no. 29
For more information, see Wikipedia: The Boy and the Mantle.

The Boy and the Mantle[edit]

IN the third day of May
to Carleile did come
A kind curteous child,
that cold much of wisdome.
A kirtle and a mantle
this child had vppon,
With brauches and ringes
full richelye bedone.
He had a sute of silke,
about his middle drawne;
Without he cold of curtesye,
he thought itt much shame.
‘God speed thee, King Arthur,
sitting att thy meate!
And the goodly Queene Gueneuer!
I cannott her forgett.
‘I tell you lords in this hall,
I hett you all heede,
Except you be the more surer,
is you for to dread.’
He plucked out of his potewer,
and longer wold not dwell,
He pulled forth a pretty mantle,
betweene two nut-shells.
‘Haue thou here, King Arthure,
haue thou heere of mee;
Giue itt to thy comely queene,
shapen as itt is alreadye.
‘Itt shall neuer become that wiffe
that hath once done amisse:’
Then euery knight in the kings court
began to care for his.
Forth came dame Gueneuer,
to the mantle shee her bed;
The ladye shee was new-fangle,
but yett shee was affrayd.
When shee had taken the mantle,
shee stoode as she had beene madd;
It was from the top to the toe
as sheeres had itt shread.
One while was itt gaule,
another while was itt greene;
another while was itt wadded;
ill itt did her beseeme.
Another while was it blacke,
and bore the worst hue;
‘By my troth,’ quoth King Arthur,
‘I thinke thou be not true.’
Shee threw downe the mantle,
that bright was of blee,
Fast with a rudd redd
to her chamber can shee flee.
Shee curst the weauer and the walker
that clothe that had wrought,
And bade a vengeance on his crowne
that hither hath itt brought.
‘I had rather be in a wood,
vnder a greene tree,
Then in King Arthurs court
shamed for to bee.’
Kay called forth his ladye,
and bade her come neere;
Saies, ‘Madam, and thou be guiltye,
I pray thee hold thee there.’
Forth came his ladye
shortlye and anon,
Boldlye to the mantle
then is shee gone.
When she had tane the mantle,
and cast it her about,
Then was shee bare
all aboue the buttocckes.
Then euery knight
that was in the kings court
Talked, laughed, and showted,
full oft att that sport.
Shee threw downe the mantle,
that bright was of blee,
Ffast with a red rudd
to her chamber can shee flee.
Forth came an old knight,
pattering ore a creede,
And he proferred to this little boy
twenty markes to his meede,
And all the time of the Christmasse
willinglye to feede;
For why, this mantle might
doe his wiffe some need.
When shee had tane the mantle,
of cloth that was made,
Shee had no more left on her
but a tassell and a threed:
Then euery knight in the kings court
bade euill might shee speed.
Shee threw downe the mantle,
that bright was of blee,
And fast with a redd rudd
to her chamber can shee flee.
Craddocke called forth his ladye,
and bade her come in;
Saith, ‘Winne this mantle, ladye,
with a litle dinne.
‘Winne this mantle, ladye,
and it shalbe thine
If thou neuer did amisse
since thou wast mine.’
Forth came Craddockes ladye
shortlye and anon,
But boldlye to the mantle
then is shee gone.
When shee had tane the mantle,
and cast itt her about,
Vpp att her great toe
itt began to crinkle and crowt;
Shee said, ‘Bowe downe, mantle,
and shame me not for nought.
‘Once I did amisse,
I tell you certainlye,
When I kist Craddockes mouth
vnder a greene tree,
When I kist Craddockes mouth
before he marryed mee.’
When shee had her shreeuen,
and her sines shee had tolde,
The mantle stoode about her
right as shee wold;
Seemelye of coulour,
glittering like gold;
Then euery knight in Arthurs court
did her behold.
Then spake dame Gueneuer
to Arthur our king:
‘She hath tane yonder mantle,
not with wright but with wronge!
‘See you not yonder woman
that maketh her selfe soe clene?
I haue seene tane out of her bedd
of men fiueteene;
‘Preists, clarkes, and wedded men,
from her by-deene;
Yett she taketh the mantle,
and maketh her-selfe cleane!’
Then spake the litle boy
that kept the mantle in hold;
Sayes ‘King, chasten thy wiffe;
of her words shee is to bold.
‘Shee is a bitch and a witch,
and a whore bold;
King, in thine owne hall
thou art a cuchold.’
The litle boy stoode
looking ouer a dore;
He was ware of a wyld bore,
wold haue werryed a man.
He pulld forth a wood kniffe,
fast thither that he ran;
He brought in the bores head,
and quitted him like a man.
He brought in the bores head,
and was wonderous bold;
He said there was neuer a cucholds kniffe
carue itt that cold.
Some rubbed their kniues
vppon a whetstone;
Some threw them vnder the table,
and said they had none.
King Arthur and the child
stood looking them vpon;
All their kniues edges
turned backe againe.
Craddoccke had a litle kniue
of iron and of steele;
He birtled the bores head
wonderous weele,
That euery knight in the kings court
had a morssell.
The litle boy had a horne,
of red gold that ronge;
He said, ’There was noe cuckolde
shall drinke of my horne,
But he shold itt sheede,
either behind or beforne.’
Some shedd on their shoulder,
and some on their knee;
He that cold not hitt his mouth
put it in his eye;
And he that was a cuckhold,
euery man might him see.
Craddoccke wan the horne
and the bores head;
His ladye wan the mantle
vnto her meede;
Euerye such a louely ladye,
God send her well to speede!