The Widow and Her Lover

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The Widow and Her Lover
by Aesop
Translated by William Caxton (1484)

Of the knyght and of the wydowe

The woman whiche lyueth in this world without reproche or blame is worthely to be gretely preysed / Wherof Esope reherceth suche a fable of a man and of a woman / whiche loued moche eche other / It happed thenne by the effors of Atropos or dethe / the whiche we al must suffre / that the sayd man deyde / And as men wold haue borne hym in to his graue / whiche was withoute the toune there to be buryed / his wyf made grete sorowe and wepte pyteously / And whanne he was buryed / she wold abyde stylle vpon the graue / and lete do make a lytyll lodge or hows therupon / and oute of this lodge she wold neuer departe for no prayer ne fayr word / neyther for ony yeftes ne for menaces of her parentes Now it befell in the toun that a mysdoer was condampned to be hanged / And to thende that he shold not be taken fro the galhows / hit was thenne commaunded that a knyght shold kepe hym / And as the knyght kepte hym / grete thurste took hym / And as he perceyued the lodge of the sayd woman he wente to her / and prayd her to gyue hym somme drynke / And she with good herte gaf hym to drynke / And the knyght dranke with grete appetyte / as he that had grete thurste / & whan he had dronke / he torned ageyne to the galhows ward / This knyght came another tyme to the woman for to comforte her / And thre tymes he dyd soo / And as he was thus goyng and comynge / doubtynge hym of no body / his hanged man was taken and had fro the galhows / And whanne the knyght was come ageyne to the galhows & sawe that he had loste his dede man / he was gretely abasshed & not without cause For hit was charged to hym vpon peyne to be hanged / yf he were take awey / This knyght thenne seynge his Iugement / tourned and went ageyne to the sayd woman / & cast hym at her feete / and laye before her as he had be dede / And she demaunded of hym / My frend / what wylt thow that I doo for the / Allas sayd he / I praye the that thow socoure and counceylle me now at my grete nede / For by cause I haue not kept wel my theef / whiche men haue rauysshed fro me / the kynge shalle make me to be put to dethe / And the woman sayd / Haue no drede my frend / For well I shalle fynde the manere wherby thow shalt be delyuerd / For we shall take my husbond / and shalle hange hym in stede of thy theef / Thenne beganne she to delue / and tooke oute of the erthe her husbond / and at nyght she hanged hym at the galhows in stede of the other / & sayd to the knyght / My ryght dere frend I pray the that this be kept wel secrete / For we doo hit theefly /

And thus the dede men haue somme / whiche make sorowe for them / but that sorowe is sone gone and passyd / And they whiche ben on lyue haue some whiche drede them / but theyr drede wantith and faylleth whan they ben dede