The Geste of Duke Jocelyn
Jeffery Farnol

Part 4 out of 5

But now the trumpets blew a fanfare, and forth rode divers gallant knights,
who, spurring rearing steeds, charged amain to gore, to smite and batter
each other with right good will while the concourse shouted, caps waved and
scarves and ribands fluttered.

But here, methinks, it booteth not to tell
Of every fierce encounter that befell;
How knight 'gainst knight drove fierce with pointless spear
And met with shock that echoed far and near;
Or how, though they with blunted swords did smite,
Sore battered was full many a luckless wight.
But as the day advanced and sun rose high
Full often rose the shout: "A Gui--A Gui!"
For many a proud (though bruised and breathless) lord,
Red Gui's tough lance smote reeling on the sward;
And ever as these plaudits shook the air,
Through vizored casque at Yolande he would stare.

And beholding all the beauty of her he smiled evilly and muttered to
himself, glancing from her to certain lusty men-at-arms who, lolling
'gainst the barriers, bore at back and breast his badge of the bloody hand.

But the fair Yolande heeded him none at all, sitting with eyes a-dream
and sighing ever and anon; insomuch that the Duchess, watching her slyly,
sighed amain also and presently spake:

"Indeed, and O verily, Yolande, meseemeth we do sigh and for ever sigh,
thou and I, like two poor, love-sick maids. How think'st thou?"

"Nay, O Benedicta, hearken! See, who rideth yonder?"

Now even as thus fair Yolanda spoke,
A horn's shrill note on all men's hearing broke,
And all eyes turned where rode a gallant knight,
In burnished armour sumptuously bedight.
His scarlet plumes 'bove gleaming helm a-dance,
His bannerole a-flutter from long lance,
His gaudy shield with new-popped blazon glowed:
Three stooping falcons that on field vert showed;
But close-shut vizor hid from all his face
As thus he rode at easy, ambling pace.

"Now as I live!" cried Benedicta. "By his device yon should be that foolish
knight Sir Palamon of Tong!"

"Aye, truly!" sighed Yolande. "Though he wear no motley hither rideth
indeed a very fool. And look, Benedicta--look! O, sure never rode knight in
like array--see how the very populace groweth dumb in its amaze!"

For now the crowd in wonderment grew mute,
To see this knight before him bare a lute,
While blooming roses his great helmet crowned,
They wreathed his sword, his mighty lance around.
Thus decked rode he in rosy pageantry,
And up the lists he ambled leisurely;
Till, all at once, from the astonied crowd
There brake a hum that swelled to laughter loud;
But on he rode, nor seemed to reck or heed,
Till 'neath the balcony he checked his steed.
Then, handing lance unto his tall esquire,
He sudden struck sweet chord upon his lyre,
And thus, serene, his lute he plucked until
The laughter died and all stood hushed and still;
Then, hollow in his helm, a clear voice rang,
As, through his lowered vizor, thus he sang:

"A gentle knight behold in me,
(Unless my blazon lie!)
For on my shield behold and see,
Upon field vert, gules falcons three,
Surcharged with heart ensanguiney,
To prove to one and all of ye,
A love-lorn knight am I."

But now cometh (and almost in haste) the haughty and right dignified Chief
Herald with pursuivants attendant, which latter having trumpeted amain,
the Herald challenged thus:

"Messire, by the device upon thy shield,
We know my Lord of Tong is in the field;
But pray thee now declare, pronounce, expound,
Why thus ye ride with foolish roses crowned?"

Whereto the Knight maketh answer forthwith:

"If foolish be these flowers I bear,
Then fool am I, I trow.
Yet, in my folly, fool doth swear,
These flowers to fool an emblem rare
Of one, to fool, more sweet, more fair,
E'en she that is beyond compare,
A flower perchance for fool to wear,
Who shall his foolish love declare
Till she, mayhap, fool's life may share,
Nor shall this fool of love despair,
Till foolish hie shall go.

"For life were empty, life were vain,
If true love come not nigh,
Though honours, fortune, all I gain,
Yet poorer I than poor remain,
If true-love from me fly;
So here I pray,
If that thou may,
Ah--never pass me by!"

Here the Chief Herald frowned, puffing his cheeks, and waved his ebony
staff authoritatively.

Quoth he: "Enough, Sir Knight! Here is no place for love! For inasmuch as

THE KNIGHT: Gentle Herald, I being here, here is Love, since I am lover,
therefore love-full, thus where I go goeth Love--

The Herald: Apprehend me, Sir Knight! For whereas love hath no part in--

The Knight: Noble Herald, Love hath every part within me and without, thus
I, from Love apart, have no part, and my love no part apart from my every
part; wherefore, for my part, and on my part, ne'er will I with Love part
for thy part and this to thee do I impart--

"Sweet Saints aid us!" The Chief Herald clasped his massy brow and gazed
with eye distraught. "Sir Knight--messire--my very good and noble Lord of
Tong--I grope! Here is that which hath a seeming ... thy so many parts
portend somewhat ... and yet ... I excogitate ... yet grope I still ...
impart, part ... thy part and its part ... so many parts ... and roses ...
and songs o' love ... a lute! O, thundering Mars, I ... Sound, trumpets!"

But the Duchess up-starting, silenced Herald and trumpeters with imperious

"Sir Knight of Tong," said she, "'tis told thou'rt of nimble tongue and a
maker of songs, so we bid thee sing if thy song be of Love--for Love is
a thing little known and seldom understood these days. Here be very many
noble knights wondrous learned in the smiting of buffets, but little else;
here be noble dames very apt at the play of eyes, the twining of fingers,
the languishment of sighs, that, seeking True-love, find but its shadow;
and here also grey beards that have forgot the very name of Love. So we bid
thee sing us of Love--True-love, what it is. Our ears attend thee!"

"Gracious lady," answered the Knight, "gladly do I obey. But Love is
mighty and I lowly, and may speak of Love but from mine own humility. And
though much might be said of Love since Love's empire is the universe and
Love immortal, yet will I strive to portray this mighty thing that is
True-love in few, poor words."

Then, plucking sweet melody from his lute, the Knight sang as here

"What is Love? 'Tis this, I say,
Flower that springeth in a day
Ne'er to die or fade away
Since True-love dieth never.

"Though youth, alas! too soon shall wane,
Though friend prove false and effort vain,
True-love all changeless doth remain
The same to-day and ever."

Now while the clarions rang out proclaiming Sir Palamon's defiance,
Benedicta looked on Yolande and Yolande on Benedicta:

"O, wonderful!" cried the Duchess. "My Lord of Tong hath found him manhood
and therewith a wisdom beyond most and singeth such love as methought only
angels knew and maids might vision in their dreams. Ah, Yolande--that
such a love could be ... e'en though he went ragged and poor in all but

"Benedicta," sighed Yolande, hands clasped on swelling bosom, "O Benedicta,
here is no foolish Lord of Tong ... and yet ... O, I am mad!"

"Why, then, 'tis sweet madness! So, my Yolande, let us be mad awhile
together ... thou--a Fool ... and I--a beggar-rogue!"

"Nay--alas, dear Benedicta! This were shame--"

"And forsooth is it shame doth swell thy heart, Yolande, light the glamour
in thine eyes and set thee a-tremble--e'en as I? Nay indeed, thou'rt
a-thrill with Folly ... and I, with Roguery. Loved Folly! Sweet Roguery! O
Yolande, let us fly from empty state, from this mockery of life and
learn the sweet joys of ... of beggary, and, crowned with poverty, clasp

MYSELF, myself interrupting:
By the way, my dear, you'll understand,
Though this is very fine,
Still, her Grace's counsel to Yolande
Must not be in your line!
Not that I'd have you wed for wealth,
Or many a beggar-man by stealth,
But I would have you, if you can--

GILL: Marry some strong, stern, silent man,
Named Mark, and with hair slightly gray by the ears!
Now he's just the sort who would bore me to tears.
If I for a husband feel ever inclined,
I shall choose quite an ordin'ry husband--the kind
With plenty of money and nothing to do,
With a nice, comfy house, and a motor or two--

MYSELF: That's all very fine, miss, but what would you do
If he, by some ill-chance, quite penniless grew?

GILL: Oh, why then--why, of course,
I should get a divorce--

MYSELF: A divorce? Gracious heaven! For goodness' sake--

GILL: 'Twould be the most dignified action to take!

MYSELF: Pray, what in the world of such things do you know?

GILL: Well, father, like you--each day older I grow.
But, instead of discussing poor me,
I think you would much nicer be
To get on with our Geste.

MYSELF: I obey your behest!

Said Yolande to the duchess, said she:

"Nay, my Benedicta, these be only dreams, but life is real and dreams a
very emptiness!"

"And is 't so, forsooth?" exclaimed the Duchess. "Then am I nought but a
duchess and lonely, thou a maid fearful of her own heart, and yon singer of
love only a very futile knight, Sir Palamon of Tong, nothing esteemed by
thee for wit or valour and little by his peers--see how his challengers do
throng. How think you?" But the lady Yolande sat very still and silent,
only she stared, great-eyed, where danced the scarlet plume.

And indeed many and divers were the knights who, beholding the blazon of
Tong, sent the bearer their defiance, eager to cope with him; and each
and every challenge Sir Palamon accepted by mouth of his tall esquire who
(vizor closed, even as his lord's) spake the Chief Herald in loud, merry
voice, thus:

"Sir Herald, whereas and forinasmuch as this, my Lord of Tong himself,
himself declaring fool, is so himself-like as to meet in combat each and
every of his challengers--themselves ten, my lord that is fool, himself
himself so declaring, now declareth by me that am no fool but only humble
esquire--messire, I say, doth his esquire require that I, the said
esquire, should on his part impart as followeth, namely and to wit: That
these ten gentle knights, the said challengers, shall forthwith of
themselves choose of themselves, themselves among themselves thereto
agreeing, which of themselves, among themselves of themselves so chosen,
shall first in combat adventure himself against my Lord of Tong himself.
And moreover, should Fortune my lord bless with victory, the nine
remaining shall among themselves choose, themselves agreeing, which of
themselves shall next, thus chosen of themselves, themselves represent in
single combat with this very noble, fool-like Lord of Tong, my master.
Furthermore, whereas and notwithstanding--"

"Hold, sir!" cried the Chief Herald, fingering harassed brow. "Pray thee
'bate--O, abate thy speechful fervour. Here forsooth and of truth is
notable saying--O, most infallibly--and yet perchance something discursive
and mayhap a little involved."

"Nay, Sir Herald," quoth the esquire, "if involved 'twill be resolved if
revolved, thus: Here be ten lords would fight one, and one--that is my lord
who is but one--ten fight one by one. But that ten, fighting one, may as
one fight, let it be agreed that of these ten one be chosen one to fight,
so shall one fight one and every one be satisfied--every one of these ten
fighting one, one by one. Thus shall ten be one, and one ten fight one by
one till one be discomfited. Shall we accord the matter simply, thus?"

"Sir," quoth the Chief Herald, gasping a little, "Amen!"

"O!" cried the Duchess, clapping her hands, "O Yolande, hark to this rare
esquire! Surely, I have heard yon cunning tongue ere this?"

But Yolande gazed ever where Sir Palamon, having taken his station, set
himself in array. For now, the ten knights having chosen one to represent
them, forth rode their champion resplendent in shining mail and green
surcoat with heralds before to proclaim his name and rank.

"Yolande," quoth the Duchess softly, "pray--pray this Lord of Tong may
tilt as bravely as he doth sing, for Sir Thomas of Thornydyke is a notable

The trumpets blew a fanfare and, levelling their pointless lances, both
knights gave spur, their great horses reared, broke into a gallop and
thundered towards each other.

But hard midway upon the green surcoat,
Sir Palamon's stout lance so truly smote,
That, 'neath the shock, the bold Sir Thomas reeled
And, losing stirrups, saddle, lance and shield,
Down, down upon the ling outstretched he fell
And, losing all, lost breath and speech as well.
Thus, silent all, the bold Sir Thomas lay,
Though much, and many things, he yearned to say,
Which things his squires and pages might surmise
From the expression of his fish-like eyes
E'en as they bore him from that doleful place;
While, near and far, from all the populace,
Rose shout on shout that echoed loud and long:
"Sir Palamon! Sir Palamon of Tong!"
So came these ten good knights, but, one by one,
They fell before this bold Sir Palamon,
Whose lance unerring smote now helm, now shield,
That many an one lay rolling on the field.
But each and all themselves did vanquished yield;
And loud and louder did the plaudits grow,
That one knight should so many overthrow.
Even Sir Gui, within his silken tent
Scowled black in ever-growing wonderment.

But the Knight of Tong, his gaudy shield a little battered, his fine
surcoat frayed and torn, leaped from his wearied steed and forthwith
mounted one held by his tall esquire, a mighty charger that tossed proud
head and champed his bit, pawing impatient hoof.

"Aha!" quoth the esquire, pointing to ten fair steeds held by ten fair
pages. "Oho, good brother, most puissant Knight of Tong, here is good and
rich booty--let us begone!"

"Nay," answered the Knight, tossing aside his blunt tilting-spear, "here is
an end to sportful dalliance--reach me my lance!"

"Ha, is't now the Red Gui's turn, brother? The Saints aid thee, in especial
two, that, being women, are yet no saints yet awhile--see how they watch
thee, sweet, gentle dames! Their prayers go with thee, methinks, brother,
and mine also, for the Red Gui is forsooth a valiant rogue!"

And now, mounted on the great black war-horse, the Knight of Tong rode up
the lists:

His scarlet plume 'bove shining helm a-dance,
His bannerole a-flutter from long lance,
Till he was come where, plain for all to spy,
Was hung the shield and blazon of Sir Gui,
With bends and bars in all their painted glory,
Surcharged with hand ensanguined--gules or gory.

Full upon this bloody hand smote the sharp point of Sir Palamon's lance;
whereupon the watching crowd surged and swayed and hummed expectant, since
here was to be no play with blunted weapons but a deadly encounter.

Up started Sir Gui and strode forth of his tent, grim-smiling and
confident. Quoth he:

"Ha, my Lord of Tong, thou'rt grown presumptuous and over-venturesome,
methinks. But since life thou dost hold so cheap prepare ye for death

So spake the Lord of Ells and, beckoning to his esquires, did on his great
tilting-helm and rode into the lists, whereon was mighty roar of welcome,
for, though much hated, he was esteemed mighty at arms, and the accepted
champion of the Duchy. So while the people thundered their acclaim the two
knights galloped to their stations and, reining about, faced each other
from either end of the lists,

And halted thus, their deadly spears they couched,
With helms stooped low, behind their shields they crouched;
Now rang the clarions; goading spurs struck deep,
The mighty chargers reared with furious leap
And, like two whirlwinds, met in full career,
To backward reel 'neath shock of splintering spear:
But, all unshaken, every eye might see
The bloody hand, the scarred gules falcons three.
Thrice thus they met, but at the fourth essay,
Rose sudden shout of wonder and dismay,
For, smitten sore through riven shield, Sir Gui
Thudded to earth there motionless to lie.

Thus Sir Gui, Lord of Ells and Seneschal of Raddemore, wounded and utterly
discomfited, was borne raging to his pavilion while the air rang with the
blare of trumpet and clarion in honour of the victor. Thereafter, since no
other knight thought it prudent to challenge him, Sir Palamon of Tong was
declared champion of the tournament, and was summoned by the Chief
Herald to receive the victor's crown. But even as he rode towards the
silk-curtained balcony, a distant trumpet shrilled defiance, and into the
lists galloped a solitary knight.

Well-armed was he in proud and war-like trim,
Of stature tall and wondrous long of limb;
'Neath red surcoat black was the mail he wore;
His glitt'ring shield a rampant leopard bore,
Beholding which the crowd cried in acclaim,
"Ho for Sir Agramore of Biename!"

But from rosy-red to pale, from pale to rosy-red flushed the Duchess
Benedicta, and clenching white teeth, she frowned upon Sir Agramore's
fierce and warlike figure. Quoth she:

"Oh, sure there is no man so vile or so unworthy in all Christendom as this
vile Lord of Biename!"

"Unless," said Yolande, frowning also, "unless it be my Lord Gui of Ells!"

"True, my Yolanda! Now, as thou dost hate Sir Gui so hate I Sir Agramore,
therefore pray we sweet maid, petition we the good Saints our valiant
singer shall serve my hated Sir Agramore as he did thy hated Sir Gui--may
he be bruised, may he be battered, may--"

"Oho, 'tis done, my sweeting! A-hee--a-hi, 'tis done!" croaked a voice, and
starting about, the Duchess beheld a bent and hag-like creature,

With long, sharp nose that showed beneath her hood,
A nose that curved as every witch's should,
And glittering eye, before whose baleful light,
The fair Yolande shrank back in sudden fright.

"Nay, my Yolande," cried the Duchess, "hast forgot old Mopsa, my foster-
mother, that, being a wise-woman, fools decry as witch, and my ten grave
and learned guardians have banished therefor? Hast forgot my loved and
faithful Mopsa that is truly the dearest, gentlest, wisest witch that e'er
witched rogue or fool? But O Mopsa, wise mother--would'st thou might
plague and bewitch in very truth yon base caitiff knight, Sir Agramore of

"'Tis done, loved daughter, 'tis done!" chuckled the Witch.

"He groaneth,
He moaneth,
He aileth,
He waileth,
Lying sighing,
Nigh to dying,
I know
'Tis so.
With bones right sore,
Both 'hind and fore,
Sir Agramore
Doth ache all o'er.

"He aileth sore yet waileth more--oho! I know, I have seen--in the chalk,
in the ink, in the smoke--I looked and saw

"Sir Agramore,
By bold outlaw,
Bethwacked most sore
As told before--"

"Nay, but, good Mopsa, how may this be? Sir Agramore rideth armed yonder,
plain to my sight."

"Child, I have told thee sooth," croaked the Witch. "Have patience, watch
and be silent, and shalt grow wise as old Mopsa--mayhap--in time.

"For, 'tis written in the chalk,
Sore is he and may not walk.
O, sing heart merrily!
I have seen within the smoke
Bones bethwacked by lusty stroke,
Within the ink I looked and saw,
Swathed in clouts, Sir Agramore;
Dread of him for thee is o'er,
By reason of a bold outlaw.
Sing, heart, and joyful be!"

"Go to, Mopsa, thou'rt mad!" quoth the Duchess. "For yonder is this hated
lord very strong and hale, and in well-being whiles thou dost rave! Truly
thou'rt run mad, methinks!"

But the old Witch only mumbled and mowed, and cracked her finger-bones as
is the custom of witches.

Meantime, Sir Agramore, checking his fiery charger and brandishing heavy
lance fiercely aloft, roared loud defiance:

"What ho! Ye knights, lords, esquires, and lovers of lusty blows, hither
come I with intent, sincere and hearty, to bicker with, fight, combat and
withstand all that will--each and every, a-horse or a-foot, with sword,
battleaxe or lance. Now all ye that love good blows--have at ye!"

Here ensued great clamour and a mighty blowing of trumpets that waxed yet
louder when it was proclaimed that Sir Palamon, as champion of the day, had
accepted Sir Agramore's haughty challenge.

And now all was hushed as these two doughty knights faced each other and,
as the trumpets brayed, charged furiously to meet with thunderous shock of
breaking lances and reeling horses that, rearing backwards, fell crashing
upon the torn and trampled grass. But their riders, leaping clear of
lashing hooves, drew their swords and, wasting no breath in words, beset
each other forthwith, smiting with right good will.

Sir Agramore's leopard shield was riven in twain by a single stroke, Sir
Palamon's scarlet plume was shorn away, but they fought only the fiercer
as, all untiring, the long blades whirled and flashed until their armour
rang, sparks flew, and the populace rocked and swayed and roared for very
joy. Once Sir Agramore was beaten to his knees, but rising, grasped his
sword in two hands and smote a mighty swashing blow, a direful stroke that
burst the lacing of Sir Palamon's great helm and sent it rolling on the
sward. But, beholding thus his adversary's face, Sir Agramore, crying in
sudden amaze, sprang back; for men all might see a visage framed in long,
black-curled hair, grey-eyed, but a face so direly scarred that none,
having seen it but once, might well forget.

"Par Dex!" panted Sir Agramore, lifting his vizor.

"Pertinax!" gasped Duke Jocelyn. "O Pertinax--thou loved and lovely
smiter--ne'er have I been so sore battered ere now!"

Hereupon all folk stared in hugeous wonderment to behold these two
champions drop their swords and leap to clasp and hug each other in mighty
arms, to pat each other's mailed shoulders and grasp each other's mailed
hands. Quoth Sir Pertinax:

"Lord, how came ye in this guise?"

"My Pertinax, whence stole ye that goodly armour?"

"Lord, oath made I to requite one Sir Agramore of Biename for certain felon
blow. Him sought I latterly therefore, and this day met him journeying
hither, and so, after some disputation, I left him lying by the way, nor
shall he need armour awhile, methinks--wherefore I took it and rode hither
seeking what might befall--"

But here, Sir Gui, all heedless of his wound, started up from his couch,
raising great outcry:

"Ha--roguery, roguery! Ho, there, seize me yon knave that beareth the
cognizance of Tong. Ha--treason, treason!" At this, others took up the cry
and divers among the throng, beholding Duke Jocelyn's scarred features,
made loud tumults: "The Fool! The Fool! 'Tis the Singing Motley! 'Tis the
rogue-Fool that broke prison--seize him! Seize him!" And many, together
with the soldiery, came running.

"Lord," quoth Sir Pertinax, catching up his sword, "here now is like to be
a notable, sweet affray!" But even as these twain turned to meet their many
assailants was thunder of hoofs, a loud, merry voice reached them, and they
saw Robin hard by who held two trampling chargers.

"Mount, brothers--mount!" he cried. "Mount, then spur we for the barriers!"
So they sprang to saddle and, spurring the rearing horses, galloped for
the barriers, all three, nor was there any who dare stay them or abide the
sweep of those long swords. Thus, leaping the barriers, they galloped away
and left behind roaring tumult and dire confusion.

And amid all this, hid by the silken curtains of her balcony, the Duchess
Benedicta uttered a joyous cry and, clasping Yolande in her arms, kissed
her rapturously.

"Yolande!" she cried, "O dear my friend, thou didst see--even as did I--a
sorry fool and a poor rogue-soldier at hand-strokes with each other--O wise
Fool! O knightly Rogue! Come, let us fly, Yolande, let us to the wild-wood
and, lost therein, love, True-love, methinks, shall find us. Nay--ask me
nothing, only hear this. Be thou to thine own heart true, be thou brave and
Shame shall fly thee since True-love out-faceth Shame! How say'st thou,
Mopsa, thou wise witch-mother?"

"Ah, sweet children!" croaked the Witch, touching each with claw-like hand
yet hand wondrous gentle. "True-love shall indeed find ye, hide where ye
will. For True-love, though blind, they say, hath eyes to see all that is
good and sweet and true. A poor man-at-arms in rusty mail may yet be true
man and a fool, for all his motley, wise. To love such seemeth great folly,
yet to the old, love is but folly. Nath'less, being old I do love ye, and
being wise I charge ye:

"Follow Folly and be wise,
In such folly wisdom lies;
Love's blind, they say, but Love hath eyes,
So follow Folly--follow!"

My daughter GILLIAN animadverteth:

GILL: "Stop! Your tournament, father, seems too long drawn out,
With quite too much combating and knocking about.

MYSELF: I hope you're wrong, my dear, although
Who knows? Perhaps, it may be so.

GILL: And such scrappy bits of love-making you write;
You seem to prefer much describing a fight.
All authors should write what their readers like best;
But authors are selfish, yes--even the best
And you are an author!

MYSELF: Alack, that is true,
And, among other things, I'm the author of you.

GILL: Then, being my author, it's plain as can be
That you are to blame if I'm naughty--not me.
But, father, our Geste, though quite corking in places,
Has too many fights and too little embraces.
You've made all our lovers so frightfully slow,
You ought to have married them pages ago.
The books that are nicest are always the sort
That, when you have read them, seem always too short!
If you make all your readers impatient like me,
They'll buy none of your books--and then where shall we be?
All people like reading of love when they can,
So write them a lot, father, that is the plan.
Go on to the love, then, for every one's sake,
And end with a wedding--

MYSELF: Your counsel I 'll take.
I can woo them and wed them in less than no time,
I can do it in prose, in blank verse, or in rhyme;
But since, my dear, you are for speed,
To end our Geste I will proceed.
In many ways it may be done,
As I have told you--here is one:

A short two years have elapsed and we find our hero Jocelyn tenderly
playing with a golden-haired prattler, his beloved son and heir, while his
beautiful spouse Yolande busied with her needle, smiles through happy

GILL: O, hush, father! Of course, that is simply absurd!
Such terrible piffle--

MYSELF: I object to that word!

GILL: Well, then, please try a little verse.

MYSELF: With pleasure:

"My own at last!" Duke Joc'lyn fondly cried,
And kissed Yolande, his blooming, blushing bride.
"My own!" he sighed. "My own--my very own!"
"Thine, love!" she murmured. "Thine and thine alone,
Thy very own for days and months and years--"

GILL: O, stop! I think that's even worse!

MYSELF: Beyond measure.

Then here's a style may be admired
Since brevity is so desired:

So he married her and she married him,
and everybody married each other
and lived happy ever after.

Or again, and thus, my daughter,
Versified it may be shorter:

So all was marriage, joy and laughter,
And each lived happy ever after.

If for High Romance you sigh,
Here's Romance that's over high:

Shy summer swooned to autumn's sun-burned arms,
Swoon, summer, swoon!
While roses bloomed and blushing sighed their pain,
Blush, roses, blush!

Filling the world with perfume languorous,
Sighing forth their souls in fragrant amorousness;
And fair Yolande, amid these bloomful languors,
Blushing as they, as languorous, as sweet,
Sighed in the arms that passioned her around:
O Jocelyn, O lord of my delight,
See how--

GILL: Stop, father, stop, I beg of you.
Such awful stuff will never do,
I suppose you must finish it in your own way--

MYSELF: I suppose that I shall, child, that is--if I may.

GILL: But father, wait--I must insist
Whatever else you do
It's time that somebody was kissed
It doesn't matter who--
I mean either Yolande the Fair
Or else the Duchess--I don't care.

MYSELF: In these next two Fyttes both shall kiss
And be well kissed, I promise this.
Two Fyttes of kisses I will make
One after t' other, for your sake.
Two Fyttes of love I will invent
And make them both quite different,
Which is a trying matter rather
And difficult for any father--
But then, as well you know, my Gillian,
You have a father in a million;
And Oh, methinks 'tis very plain
You ne'er shall meet his like again.


How Pertinax fell out with Robin and with Friar, Yet, in that very hour,
came by his heart's desire.

The sinking sun had set the West aflame, When our three riders to the
wild-wood came, Where a small wind 'mid sun-kissed branches played, And
deep'ning shadows a soft twilight made; Where, save for leafy stirrings,
all was still, Lulled by the murmur of a bubbling rill That flowed
o'ershadowed by a mighty oak, Its massy bole deep-cleft by lightning
stroke. Here Robin checked his steed. "Good friends," quoth he,

My daughter Gillian suggesteth:

Gill: That's rather good,
But, still, I should
In prose prefer the rest;
For if this fytte
Has love in it,
Prose is for love the best.
All ord'nary lovers, as every one knows,
Make love to each other much better in prose.
If, at last, our Sir Pertinax means to propose,
Why then--just to please me,
Father, prose let it be.

Myself: Very well, I agree!

Then said Robin, quoth he:
"Good friends, here are we safe!" And, checking his steed within this
pleasant shade, he dismounted.

"Safe, quotha?" said Sir Pertinax, scowling back over shoulder. "Not so!
Surely we are close pursued--hark! Yonder be horsemen riding at speed--ha,
we are beset!"

"Content you, sir!" answered Robin. "Think you I would leave behind good
booty? Yonder come ten noble coursers laden with ten goodly armours the
same won a-jousting to-day by this right wondrous Fool, my good gossip--"

"Thy gossip, forsooth!" snorted Sir Pertinax. "But tell me, presumptuous
fellow, how shall these ten steeds come a-galloping hither!"

"Marry, on this wise, Sir Simple Innocence--these steeds do gallop for
sufficient reason, namely--they are to gallop bidden being ridden,
bestridden and chidden by whip and spur applied by certain trusty men o' my
company, which men go habited, decked, dressed, clad, guised and disguised
as smug, sleek citizens, Sir Innocent Simplicity--"

"Par Dex!" exclaimed Sir Pertinax, scowling. "And who 'rt thou, sirrah,
with men at thy beck and call?"

"Behold!" said Robin, unhelming. "Behold the king of all masterless rogues,
and thy fellow gallow's-bird, Sir High Mightiness!"

"Ha, is 't thou?" cried Sir Pertinax. "Now a plague on thy kingdom and thee
for an unhanged, thieving rogue--"

"E'en as thyself," nodded Robin, "thou that flaunted thy unlovely carcass
in stolen armour."

"Ha!" roared Sir Pertinax, clapping hand on sword. "A pest--a murrain! This
to me, thou dog's-meat? Malediction! Now will I crack thy numbskull for a
pestilent malapert--"

"Nay, Sir Grim-and-gory," laughed Robin, "rather will I now use thee as
thou would'st ha' served me on a day but for this generous and kindly Fool,
my good comrade!" And speaking, Robin sprang nimbly to the great oak tree
and thrusting long arm within the jagged fissure that gaped therein drew
forth a hunting-horn and winded it loud and shrill. And presently was a
stir, a rustle amid the surrounding brushwood and all about them were
outlaws, wild men and fierce of aspect, and each and every grasped long-bow
with arrow on string and every arrow was aimed at scowling Sir Pertinax.

"Per Dex!" quoth he, "and is this death, then?"

"Verily!" nodded Robin, "an I do speak the word."

"So be it--speak!" growled Sir Pertinax. "Come, Death--I fear thee not!"
And out flashed his long sword; but even then it was twisted from his
grasp and Lobkyn Lollo, tossing the great blade aloft and, catching it
very neatly, laughed and spake:

"Five times, five times ten
Are we, all lusty men.
An hundred twice and fifty deaths are we,
So, an Rob speak, dead thou 'lt as often be."

"Nay, hold a while, sweet lads!" laughed Robin, "the surly rogue shall sing
for his life and our good pleasaunce."

"Sing?" roared Sir Pertinax. "I sing! I? Ha, dare ye bid me so, base dog?
Sing, forsooth? By Og and Gog! By the Seven Champions and all the fiends,
rather will I die!" And here, being defenceless, Sir Pertinax clenched
mighty fists and swore until he lacked for breath.

Then spake Jocelyn, gentle-voiced.

"Sing, Pertinax," quoth he.

"Ha--never! Not for all the--"

"I do command thee, Pertinax. As Robin once sang for his life, now must
thou sing for thine. Song for song, 't is but just! Sing, Pertinax!"

"Nay," groaned the proud knight, "I had rather drink water and chew grass
like a rabbit. Moreover I ha' no gift o' song--"

"Do thy best!" quoth Robin.

"I'm harsh o' voice--knave!"

"Then croak--rogue!" quoth Robin.

"No song have I--vermin!"

"Make one--carrion! But sing thou shalt though thy song be no better than
hog-song which is grunt. Howbeit sing thou must!"

Hereupon Sir Pertinax gnashed his teeth and glaring balefully on Robin
lifted hoarse voice and burst forth into fierce song:

"Thou base outlaw,
Vile clapper-claw,
Since I must sing a stave,
Then, here and now,
I do avow
Thou art a scurvy knave!
Thy hang-dog air
Doth plain declare
Thou 'rt very scurvy knave.

"Rogues breed apace
In each vile place,
But this I will avow,
Where e'er rogues be
No man may see
A viler rogue than thou,

Since it were vain
To meet again
A rogue more vile than thou.

"As rogue thou art,
In every part,

"Hold there--hold!" cried Robin, stopping his ears. "Thy voice is unlovely
as thy look and thy song as ill as thy voice, so do we forgive thee the
rest. Ha' done thy bellowing and begone--"

"Ha--not so!" quoth Sir Pertinax. "For troth I do sing better than
methought possible, and my rhyming is none so ill! So will I rhyme thy
every knavish part and sing song till song and rhyme be ended. Have at thee
again, base fellow!

Since rogue thou art
In every part--part--

Ha, plague on't, hast put me out, rogue! I was about to hang thy every
roguish part in rhyme, but my rhymes halt by reason o' thee, rogue."

"Forsooth!" laughed Robin. "Thus stickest thou, for thy part, at my every
part, the which is well since I am man of parts. Thus then rhyme thou
rhymes upon thyself therefore; thus, thyself rhyming rhymes of thee, thou
shalt thyself, rhyming of thyself, thyself pleasure thereby, thou thus
rhyming of thee, and thee, thou. Thus thy thee and thou shall be well
accorded. How think'st thou?"

But Sir Pertinax, astride his charger that cropped joyously at sweet,
cool grass, sat chin on fist, lost in the throes of composition, nothing
heeding, even when came the ten steeds with the ten suits of armour.

Now these ten horses bare eleven riders, tall, lusty fellows all, save one
shrouded in hood and cloak and whom Jocelyn viewed with quick, keen eyes.
And thus he presently whispered Robin who, laughing slyly, made signal to
his followers, whereupon, by ones and twos they stole silently away until
there none remained save only Sir Pertinax who, wrestling with his muse,
stared aloft under knitted brows, all unknowing, and presently brake out
singing on this wise:

"All men may see
A man in me,
A man who feareth no man,
Thus, fearless, I
No danger fly--"

"Except it be a woman!" sang a soft, sweet voice hard by, in pretty
mockery. Hereat Sir Pertinax started so violently that his mail clashed and
he stared about him eager-eyed but, finding himself quite alone, sighed and
fell to reverie.

"A woman?" said he aloud. "'Except it be a woman--'"

THE VOICE: Aye--a woman, O craven soldier!

SIR PERTINAX: Why here is strange echo methinks and speaketh--with her

THE VOICE: 'O voice so soft and full of sweet allure!'

SIR PERTINAX: O voice beloved that might my dolour cure!

THE VOICE: O craven soldier! O most timid wooer! SIR PERTINAX: Craven am I,
yet lover--'t is most sure.

THE VOICE: But thou 'rt a man--at least meseemeth so.

SIR PERTINAX: And, being man, myself unworthy know,
Yet must I love and my beloved seek
And, finding her, no words of love dare speak.
For this my love beyond all words doth reach,
And I'm slow-tongued and lack the trick of speech.
Nor hope have I that she should stoop to bless,
A man so full of all unworthiness.
So am I dumb--

THE VOICE: And yet dost speak indeed,
Such words, methinks, as any maid might heed.

"Ha, think ye so in verity, sweet voice!" cried Sir Pertinax, and springing
lightly to earth, strode forward on eager feet. And lo! from behind a
certain tree stepped one who, letting fall shrouding cloak and hood, stood
there a maid, dark-haired and darkly bright of eye, very shapely and fair
to see in her simple tire. And beholding her thus, the tender curve of
scarlet lips, the flutter of slender hands, the languorous bewitchment of
her eyes, Sir Pertinax halted.

My daughter GILLIAN interpolateth:


What, again? Father, that will never do.
Don't make him halt again, I beg of you.
Sir Pertinax has halted much too long,
To make him do it here would be quite


My child, I wish you would not interrupt
My halting muse in manner so abrupt--


But here 's a chance at last to let them kiss,
And now you make him halt!

MYSELF: Exactly, miss!

Sir Pertinax halted and bowed his head abashed.

My daughter GILLIAN persisteth:


Well, father, while he halts, then tell me,
Just what you mean by that line where you
'The languorous bewitchment of her eyes'?


My child, no child should authors catechise,
Especially, poor fellow, if, like me,
Father and author both at once is he.
Wise authors all such questions strictly ban,
And never answer--even if they can.
If of our good knight's wooing you would
Keep stilly tongue and hearken well, my

Sir Pertinax halted and bowed his head, abashed by her beauty.

"Melissa!" he whispered, "O Melissa!" and so stood mute.

"O Pertinax!" she sighed. "Art dumb at sight of me? O Pertinax, and

"All have I forgot save only thy loveliness, Melissa!"

"Methinks such--forgetfulness becometh thee well. Say on!"

"Ah, Melissa, I--do love thee."

"Why this I knew when thou didst sit a-fishing!" "But, indeed, then I
dreamed not of loving thee or any maid."

"Because thou art but a man."

"Verily, and being man, now came I seeking thee for Love's sweet sake yet,
finding thee, know not how to speak thee. Alas, I do fear I am but sorry

"Alas, Pertinax, I do fear thou art! Yet thou shalt learn, perchance.
How--art dumb again, canst speak me no more?"

"Nought--save only this, thou art beyond all maids fair, Melissa!"

"Why, I do think thou'lt make a wooer some day mayhap, by study diligent.
'T will take long time and yet--I would not have thee learn too soon! And
hast thought of me? A little?"

"I have borne thee ever within my heart."

"And wherefore wilt love maid so lowly?"

"For that thou art thyself and thyself--Melissa. And O, I love thy voice!"

"My voice? And what more?"

"Thine eyes. Thy little, pretty feet. Thy scarlet mouth. Thy gentle, small
hands. Thy hair. All of thee!"

"O," she murmured a little breathlessly, "if thou dost so love me--woo
me--a little!"

"Alas!" he sighed, "I know not how."

"Hast ne'er wooed maid ere this, big soldier?"


"Thou poor Pertinax! How empty--how drear thy life. For this do I pity thee
with pity kin to love--"

"Love?" he whispered. "Ah, Melissa, couldst e'en learn to love one so
unlovely, so rude, so rough and unmannered as I?"

"Never!" she sighed, "O, never--unless thou teach me?"

"Would indeed I might, Melissa. Ah, teach me how I may teach thee to love
one so unworthy as Pertinax!"

Now hearkening to his harsh voice grown soft and tremulous, beholding the
truth in his honest eyes, Melissa smiled, wondrous tender, and reaching out
took hold upon his two hands.

"Kneel!" she commanded. "Kneel here upon the grass as I do kneel. Now, lay
by thy cumbrous helmet. Now fold thy great, strong hands. Now bow thy tall,
grim head and say in sweet, soft accents low and reverent: 'Melissa, I do
love thee heart and soul, thee only do I love and thee only will I love now
and for ever. So aid me, Love, amen!'" Then, closing his eyes, Sir Pertinax
bowed reverent head, and, humbly folding his hands, spake as she bade him.
Thereafter opening his eyes, he saw her watching him through gathering
tears, and leaning near, he reached out eager arms, yet touched her not.
Quoth he: "O maid beloved, what is thy sorrow?"

"'Tis joy--joy, and thou--thou art so strong and fierce yet so gentle and
simple of heart! O, may I prove worthy thy love--"

"Worthy? Of my love?" he stammered. "But O Melissa, I am but he thou didst
name harsh of tongue."

"Aye, I did!" she sobbed.

"Hard of heart, flinty of soul, rude, unmannered and unlovely."

"Aye--I did and--loved thee the while!" she whispered. "So now do I pray
that I prove worthy."

"Worthy? Thou? O my sweet maid--thou that art kin to the holy angels, thou
so high and far removed 'bove me that I do tremble and--fear to touch

"Nay, fear me not, Pertinax," she sighed, "for though indeed I am all this,
yet maid am I also and by times--very human. So Pertinax, thou great,
fearless man-at-arms, lay by thy so great fears a while--I do beseech
thee." Then Sir Pertinax, beholding the tender passion of her eyes, forgot
his fear in glad wonderment and, reaching out hands that trembled for all
their strength, drew her to his close embracement.

And thus, kneeling together upon the sun-dappled sward, they forgot all
things in this joyous world save only their love and the glory of it. And
when they had kissed each other--

* * * * *

My daughter GILLIAN remonstrateth:

GILL: But, wait, they haven't yet, you know!

MYSELF: Indeed, they have, I've just said so.

GILL: Then, father, please to tell me this:
How can a person say a kiss?
And so, since kisses can't be said,
Please make them do it now instead.

Thus, cradled in his strong arms, she questioned him tenderly:

"Dost mind how, upon a day, my Pertinax, didst ask of me the amulet I bore
within my bosom?"

"Aye," he answered, "and sure 'tis charm of potent magic whose spell
brought us out of the dungeon at Canalise--the which is great matter for
wonder! But 'tis for thy dear sake I do cherish it--"

"Bear you it yet?"

"Here upon my heart."

"And if I should ask it of thee again--wouldst render it back to me?"

"Never!" quoth he. "Never, until with it I give thee myself also!"

But presently she stirred in his embrace for upon the air was an
approaching clamour, voices, laughter and the ring of mail.

"Come away!" whispered Melissa, upspringing to her feet. "Come, let thou
and Love and I hide until these disturbers be gone and the sweet world hold
but us three again."

Now, as they stood, hand in hand, deep hidden 'mid the green, they beheld
six merry woodland rogues who led an ambling ass whereon rode a friar
portly and perspiring albeit he had a jovial eye. And as he rode he spake
his captors thus in voice full-toned and deep:

"Have a care, gentle rogues and brethren, hurry not this ambulant animal
unduly, poor, much-enduring beast. Behold the pensive pendulation of these
auriculars so forlornly a-dangle! Here is ass that doth out-patience all
asses, both four and two-legged. Here is meek ass of leisured soul loving
not haste--a very pensive perambulator. So hurry not the ass, my brothers,
for these several and distinct reasons or arguments. Firstly, dearly
beloved, because I love haste no more than the ass; secondly, brethren, 't
is property of Holy Church which is above all argument; and, thirdly, 't
is bestridden by one Friar John, my very self, and I am forsooth weighty
argument. Fourthly, beloved, 'tis an ass that--ha! O sweet vision for eyes
human or divine! Do I see thee in very truth, thou damsel of disobedience,
dear dame of discord, sweet, witching, wilful lady--is it thou in very
truth, most loved daughter, or wraith conjured of thy magic and my
perfervid imaginations--speak!"

"'T is I myself, Reverend Father!" laughed Melissa. "O my dear, good Friar
John, methinks the kind Saints have brought thee to my need."

"Saints, quotha!" exclaimed the Friar, rolling merry eye towards his
several captors. "Call ye these--Saints? Long have I sought thee, thou
naughty maid, and to-day in my quest these brawny 'saints' beset me with
bow and quarterstaff and me constrained hither--but my blessing on them
since they have brought me to thee. And now, sweet child and daughter,
whiles the news yet runneth hot-foot or, like bird unseen, wingeth from lip
to lip, I thy ghostly father have rare good news for thee--"

"Nay, Friar John, I will guess thy tidings: Sir Agramore of Biename lieth
sorry and sore of a cudgelling."

"How!" cried the Friar. "Thou dost know--so soon?"

"Verily, Reverend Father, nor have I or my worthy guardians aught to fear
of him hereafter. And now have I right wondrous news for thee, news that
none may guess. List, dear Friar John, thou the wisest and best loved of
all my guardians ten; to-day ye are absolved henceforth all care of your
wilful ward since to-day she passeth from the guardianship of ye ten to the
keeping of one. Come forth, Pertinax, thou only one beloved of me for no
reason but that thou art thou and I am I--as is ever the sweet, mad way of
True-love--come forth, my dear-loved, poor soldier!" Out from the trees
strode Pertinax but, beholding his face, Friar John scowled and, viewing
his rich surcoat and goodly armour, fell to perspiring wonder and amaze.

"Now by the sweet Saint Amphibalus!" quoth he. "Surely these be the arms of
Sir Agramore, dread Lord of Biename?"

"Most true, dear Friar John," answered Melissa, "and by this same token Sir
Agramore lieth sore bruised e'en now."

"Aha!" quoth the Friar, mopping moist brow. "'T is well--'t is very well,
so shall these two ears of mine, with eighteen others of lesser account,
scathless go and all by reason of this good, tall fellow. Howbeit, I do
know this same fellow for fellow of none account, and no fit mate for thee,
noble daughter, love or no. A fierce, brawling, tatterdemalion this, that
erstwhile tramped in company with long-legged ribald--a froward jesting
fellow. Wherefore this fellow, though fellow serviceable, no fellow is for
thee and for these sufficing reasons. Firstly--"

"Ha--enough!" quoth Sir Pertinax, chin out-thrust. "'Fellow' me no more,

"Firstly," continued Friar John, "because this out-at-elbows fellow is a

"'Rogue,' in thy teeth, Churchman!" growled Sir Pertinax.

"Secondly," continued Friar John, nothing abashed, "because this
rogue-fellow is a runagate roysterer, a nameless knave, a highway-haunter,
a filching flick-o'-the-gibbet and a--"

"Friar," snorted Sir Pertinax, "thou 'rt but a very fat man scant o'
breath, moreover thou 'rt a friar, so needs must I leave thee alive to make
pestilent the air yet a little until thou chokest of an epithet. Meantime
perform now one gracious act in thy so graceless life and wed me with this
forest maiden."

"Forest maiden, forsooth!" cried Friar John. "O Saints! O Martyrs! Forest
maid, quotha! And wed her--and unto thee, presumptuous malapert! Ho,
begone, thy base blood and nameless rank forbid--"

"Hold there, shaveling!" quoth Sir Pertinax, scowling. "Now mark me this!
Though I, being very man, do know myself all unworthy maid so sweet and
peerless, yet, and she stoop to wed me, then will I make her lady proud and
dame of divers goodly manors and castles, of village and hamlet, pit and
gallows, sac and soc, with powers the high, the middle and the low and
with ten-score lances in her train. For though in humble guise I went, no
nameless rogue am I, but Knight of Shene, Lord of Westover, Framling,
Bracton and Deepdene--"

"How!" cried Melissa, pouting rosy lip and frowning a little. "O Pertinax,
art indeed a great lord?"

"Why, sooth--forsooth and indeed," he stammered, "I do fear I am."

"Then thou 'rt no poor, distressful, ragged, outlaw-soldier?"

"Alack--no!" he groaned, regardful of her frown.

"Then basely hast thou tricked me--O cruel!"

"Nay, Melissa--hear me!" he cried, and, forgetful of friar and gaping
outlaws, he clasped her fast 'prisoned 'gainst his heart. "Thee do I love,
dear maid, 'bove rank, or fame, or riches, or aught this world may offer.
So, an thou wouldst have me ragged and destitute and outlaw, all this will
I be for thy sweet sake since life were nought without thee, O maid I do so
love--how say'st thou?"

"I say to thee, Pertinax, that thy so great love hath loosed thy tongue at
last, Love hath touched thy lips with eloquence beyond all artifice since
now, methinks, it is thy very soul doth speak me. And who shall resist such
wooing? Surely not I that do--love thee beyond telling. So take me, my
lord, thy right hand in mine, the talisman in thy left--so! Now, my
Pertinax, speak thy heart's wish."

"Friar," quoth Sir Pertinax, holding aloft the Crystal Heart, "as her love
is mine and mine hers, wed and unite us in our love--by the magic of this
jewel I do command thee!"

Here, beholding the talisman, Friar John gasped and stared round-eyed and

"By Holy Rood!" he whispered, "'t is indeed the Crystal Heart!"

"And O!" sighed Melissa, "O Friar John, thou dost mind the saying:

"'He that taketh Crystal Heart,
Taketh all and every part!'"

"Aye, truly--truly!" nodded the Friar.

"'And by night, or eke by day,
The Crystal Heart all must obey!'"

So saying he got him down from the ass and, for all his corpulence, louted
full low.

"Sir Knight of Shene," quoth he, "by reason of this jewel potential thou
dost bear, now must I perforce obey thy behest and wed thee unto this
our gracious lady Benedicta, Duchess of Ambremont, Canalise, Tissingors,
Fordyngstoke and divers other towns, villages and--"

"Duchess--a duchess?" exclaimed Sir Pertinax. "Duchess say'st thou--this,
the Duchess Benedicta! O Melissa--thou--thou--a duchess!"

"Sooth and forsooth," sighed she in pretty mockery, "I do fear I am!"

"Then thou 'rt no humble maid, distressful and forlorn, Melissa?"

"Yea, Pertinax--all this am I indeed unless thou love me, and loving me,
wed me, and wedding me love me the better therefor, and loving me ever the
better, thou may'st learn a little some day how a woman may love a man."

"Par Dex!" mumbled Sir Pertinax, kissing her rosy finger-tips, "be thou
duchess or witch-maid o' the wood, I do love thee heart and soul, body and
mind, now and for ever, Melissa."

Then Friar John, beholding the radiant joy of their faces, reached forth
his hands in blessing.

"Kneel ye, my children!" he sighed. "For here methinks is true-love such
as brighteneth this world all too seldom. So here, within the forest, the
which is surely God's cathedral, this your love shall be sanctified unto
you and the world be the better therefor! Kneel ye, my children!"

And thus, kneeling upon the flower-sprent turf hand in hand and with heads
reverently bowed, they were wed, while the six outlaws stared in silent awe
and the meek ass cropped the grass busily.

"O Pertinax," sighed the Duchess as they rose, "so greatly happy am I that
I will others shall be happy likewise; let us make this indeed a day of
gladness. I pray thee sound the bugle that hangeth within the great oak,

So Sir Pertinax took the horn and sounded thereon a mighty blast, loud and
long and joyous. And presently came the outlaws, thronging in from all
directions, until the sunny glade was full of their wild company, while
in the green beyond pike-head twinkled and sword-blades glittered; and
foremost was Robin with Lobkyn Lollo beside him.

"Robin," said the Duchess, beckoning him near with white, imperious
finger, "Robin a' Green, thou whose tongue is quick and ready as thy hand,
hast ever been gentle to the weak and helpless as I do know, in especial
to two women that sought thy protection of late."

"Why, verily, lady, I mind them well," nodded Robin, "and one was a maid
passing fair and one an ancient dame exceeding wise. To aid such is ever a
man's joy--or should be."

"Knew ye who and what this maid was, Robin?"

"Aye, lady, I knew her then as now for that proud and noble lady the
Duchess Benedicta."

"And yet, Robin, knowing this and having me in thy power didst suffer me to
go without let or hindrance or single penny of ransom?"

"My lady Duchess," answered Robin, glancing round upon his wild company,
"we be outlaws, 't is true, and rogues--mayhap, yet are we men and thou a
lady passing fair, wherefore--though I knew thee for the Duchess Benedicta,
thou wert safe with us since we war not with women and harm no maids be
they of high or low degree!"

"Spoke like a very knight!" exclaimed the Duchess. "How think'st thou, my

"Par Dex!" quoth Sir Pertinax. "Aye, by Our Lady of Shene Chapel within the
Wood I swear it--thou 'rt a man, Robin! So now do I sue pardon of thee for
my song o' rogues since no rogue art thou. And thou didst aid and shield
her--this my wife that is the very eyes of me! So, by my troth, my good
friend art thou henceforth, Rob o' the Green!"

"Nay, my lord," answered Robin slyly, "for I am but Robin, and outlaw, and
thou art the Duke!"

"Forsooth--and so I am!" exclaimed Sir Pertinax. "Ha--yet am I still a man,
and therefore--"

"Wait, my lord!" said Benedicta. "Robin, give me thy sword!" So she took
the weapon and motioning Robin to his knees, set the blade across his
shoulder. "Robin a' Green," said she, "since thou art knightly of word and
deed, knight shalt thou be in very truth. Sir Robin a' Forest I make thee
and warden over this our forest country. Rise up, Sir Robert." Then up
sprang Robin, bright-eyed and flushed of cheek.

"Dear my lady," cried he, "since knight hast made me, thy knight will I be
henceforth in life or in death--" But here his voice was lost in the
joyous acclamations of his followers who shouted amain until the Duchess
quelled them with lifted hand.

"Ye men of the wild-wood," said she, looking round upon them gentle-eyed,
"all ye that be homeless and desolate, lying without the law, this day joy
hath found me, for this is my wedding-morn. And as I am happy I would see
ye happy also. Therefore upon this glad day do we make proclamation, my
Lord Duke and I--this day we lift from you each and every, the ban of
outlawry--free men are ye to go and come as ye list--free men one and all
and good citizens henceforth I pray!" Now here was silence awhile, then a
hoarse murmur, swelling to a jubilant shout until the sunny woodland rang
with the joy of it, near and far.

"And now, Sir Robert," laughed the Duchess, "pray you where is this noble
Fool, this gentle Motley, this most rare singer of songs and breaker of
lances? Bid him to us."

"Ha--the Fool!" exclaimed Sir Pertinax, starting.

"My lady," answered Robin, "true, he was here, but when I sought him, a
while since, there was Sir Palamon's armour he had worn, but himself gone

"Gone--gone say'st thou?" cried Sir Pertinax, glancing about. "Then needs
must I go seek him--"

"And wherefore, my lord?" cried the Duchess.

"'T is my--my duty, Melissa!" stammered Sir Pertinax. "He is my--my friend
and--sworn brother-in-arms!"

"And am I not thy wife, Pertinax?"

"Aye, most dearly loved, and I, thy husband--and yet--needs must I seek
this Fool, Melissa."

"O Pertinax--wilt leave me?"

"Leave thee?" groaned Sir Pertinax. "Aye--for a while! Leave thee?
Aye--though it break my heart needs must I! He, my--brother-in-arms. My
duty calleth--"

"And what of thy duty to me?"

Now as Sir Pertinax wrung his hands in an agony of indecision, rose a
whisper of sweet sound, the murmur of softly-plucked lute-strings, and into
the glade, cock's-comb aflaunt and ass's ears a-dangle Duke Jocelyn strode
and sang as he came a song he had made on a time, a familiar air:

"Good Pertinax, why griev'st thou so?
Free of all duty thou dost go,
Save that which thou to Love dost owe,
My noble Pertinax."

"And love from heaven hath stooped thus low To me!" quoth Pertinax.

But here came Robin with certain of his men leading a snow-white palfrey
richly caparisoned.

"Right noble lady," said he, "behold here a goodly, fair jennet to thy
gracious acceptance."

"And indeed--'t is rare, pretty beast!" exclaimed Benedicta. "But Robin,
Robin, O Sir Robert, whence had you this?"

"Lady, upon a time I was an outlaw and lived as outlaws may, taking such
things as Fate bestowed, and, lady:

"Fate is a wind
To outlaws kind:

But now since we be free-men all, I and my fellows, fain would we march
hence in thy train to thy honour and our joyance. Wilt grant us this boon,

"Freely, for 'tis rare good thought, Robin! Surely never rode duke and
duchess so attended. How the townsfolk shall throng and stare to see our
wild following, and my worthy guardians gape and pluck their beards for
very amaze! How think you, good Friar John?"

"Why, verily, daughter, I, that am chiefest of thy wardens ten, do think it
wise measure; as for thy other guardians let them pluck and gape until they

"In especial Greg'ry Bax,
Who both beard and wisdom lacks.

I say 'tis wise, good measure, for these that were outlaws be sturdy
fellows with many friends in town and village, so shall this thy day of
union be for them re-union, and they joy with thee."

Now being mounted the Duchess rode where stood Jocelyn, and looked down on
him merry-eyed.

"Sir Fool," said she, "who thou art I know not, but I have hunted in
Brocelaunde ere now, and I have eyes. And as thou 'rt friend to my dear
lord, friend art thou of mine, so do we give thee joyous welcome to our
duchy. And, being thy friend, I pray thou may'st find that wonder of
wonders the which hideth but to be found, and once found, shall make wise
Fool wiser."

"Sweet friend and lady," answered Jocelyn, "surely man so unlovely as I may
not know this wonder for his very own until it first seek him. Is 't not
so? Let now thy woman's heart counsel me."

"How, Sir Wise Folly, have I not heard thee preach boldness in love ere

"Aye--for others!" sighed Jocelyn. "But for myself--I fear--behold this
motley! This scarred face!"

"Why as to thy motley it becometh thee well--"

"Aye, but my face? O, 't is a hideous face!"

"O Fool!" sighed Benedicta, "know'st thou not that True-love's eyes possess
a magic whereby all loved things become fair and beauteous. So take
courage, noble Motley, and may thy desires be crowned--even as our own."

"Gramercy, thou sweet and gentle lady. Happiness companion thee alway and
Love sing ever within thee. Now for ye twain is love's springtime, a season
of sweet promise, may each promise find fulfilment and so farewell."

"Why then, Sir Fool, an thou wilt tarry here in the good greenwood a
while, may Love guide thee. Now here is my counsel: Follow where thy heart
commandeth and--fear not! And now, Sir Robert a' Forest, form thy company,
and since this is a day of gladness let them sing as they march."

"In sooth, dear my lady, that will we!" cried Robin. "There is song o'
spring and gladness I made that hath oft been our solace, and moreover it
beginneth and endeth with jolly chorus well beknown to all. Ho, pikes
to van and rear! Bows to the flanks--fall in! Now trusty friends o' the
greenwood, free-men all, henceforth--now march we back to hearth and home
and love, so sing ye--sing!"

Hereupon from the ragged, close-ordered ranks burst a shout that swelled
to rolling chorus; and these the words:

The Men: Sing high, sing low, sing merrily--hey!
And cheerily let us sing,
While youth is youth then youth is gay
And youth shall have his fling.

Robin: The merry merle on leafy spray,
The lark on fluttering wing
Do pipe a joyous roundelay,
To greet the blithesome spring.

Hence, hence cold Age, black Care--away!
Cold Age black Care doth bring;
When back is bowed and head is grey,
Black Care doth clasp and cling.

Black Care doth rosy Pleasure stay,
Age ageth everything;
'T is farewell sport and holiday,
On flowery mead and ling.

If Death must come, then come he may,
And wed with death-cold ring,
Yet ere our youth and strength decay,
Blithe Joy shall be our king.
The Men: Sing high, sing low, sing merrily--hey!
And cheerily we will sing.

So they marched blithely away, a right joyous company, flashing back the
sunset glory from bright headpiece and sword-blade, while Jocelyn stood
watching wistful-eyed until they were lost amid the green, until all sounds
of their going grew to a hush mingling with the whisper of leaves and
murmurous gurgle of the brook; and ever the shadows deepened about him, a
purple solitude of misty trees and tangled thickets, depth on depth, fading
to a glimmering mystery.

Suddenly amid these glooming shadows a shadow moved, and forth into the
darkling glade, mighty club on mighty shoulder, stepped Lobkyn Lollo the
Dwarf, and his eyes were pensive and he sighed gustily.

"Alack!" quoth he:

"So here's an end of outlawry,
And all along o' lady,
Yet still an outlaw I will be
Shut in o' shaws so shady.
And yet it is great shame, I trow,
That our good friends should freemen go
And leave us lonely to our woe,
And all along o' lady.

"And plague upon this love, I say,
For stealing thus thy friend away,
And since fast caught and wed is he
Thy friend henceforth is lost to thee,
And thou, poor Fool, dost mope and sigh,
And so a plague on love! say I."

"Nay, good Lobkyn, what know you of love?" Answered LOBKYN:

"Marry, enough o' love know I
To steal away if love be nigh.

"For love's an ill as light as air,
Yet heavy as a stone;
O, love is joy and love is care,
A song and eke a groan.

"Love is a sickness, I surmise,
Taketh a man first by the eyes,
And stealing thence into his heart,
There gripeth him with bitter smart.
Alas, poor soul,
What bitter dole,
Doth plague his every part!

"From heart to liver next it goes,
And fills him full o' windy woes,
And, being full o' gusty pain,
He groaneth oft, and sighs amain,
Poor soul is he
In verity,
And for his freedom sighs in vain."

"Miscall not love, Lobkyn, for sure True-love is
every man's birthright."


"Why then, methinks there's many a wight
That cheated is of his birthright,
As, item first, here's Lobkyn Lollo
To prove thine argument quite hollow.
Dare I at maid to cast mine eye,
She mocketh me, and off doth fly,

And all because I'm humped o' back,
And something to my stature lack.
Thus, though I'm stronger man than three,
No maid may love the likes o' me.
Next, there's thyself--a Fool, I swear,
At fight or song beyond compare.
But--thou 'rt unlovely o' thy look,
And this no maid will ever brook.
So thou and I, for weal or woe,
To our lives' end unloved must go.
But think ye that I grieve or sigh?
Not so! A plague on love, say I!"

Now here Jocelyn sighed amain and, sitting beneath a tree, fell to sad and
wistful thinking.

"Aye, verily," he repeated, "I am 'unlovely of my

Quoth Lobkyn heartily:

"In very sooth,
Fool, that's the truth!"

"Alas!" sighed Jocelyn, "'And this no maid
will ever brook!'"

Answered Lobkyn:

"And there dost speak, wise Fool, again,
A truth right manifest and plain,
Since fairest maids have bat-like eyes,
And see no more than outward lies.
And seeing thus, they nothing see
Of worthiness in you or me.
And so, since love doth pass us by,
The plague o' plagues on love, say I!"

"Nath'less," cried the Duke, leaping to his feet. "I will put Love to the
test--aye, this very hour!"

Lobkyn: Wilt go, good Motley? Pray thee where?

Jocelyn: To one beyond all ladies fair.

Lobkyn: Then dost thou need a friend about thee
To cheer and comfort when she flout thee.
So, an thou wilt a-wooing wend,
I'll follow thee like trusty friend.
In love or fight thou shalt not lack
A sturdy arm to 'fend thy back.
I'll follow thee in light or dark,
Through good or ill--Saints shield us!

And Lobkyn started about, club poised for swift action, for, out-stealing
from the shadows crept strange and dismal sound, a thin wail that sank to
awful groaning rumble, and so died away.

"O!" whispered Lobkyn:

"Pray, Fool, pray with all thy might,
Here's goblin foul or woodland sprite
Come for to steal our souls away,
So on thy knees quick, Fool, and pray!"

But, as these dismal sounds brake forth again, Jocelyn stole forward,
quarter-staff gripped in ready hand; thus, coming nigh the great oak, he
espied a dim, huddled form thereby and, creeping nearer, stared in wonder
to behold Mopsa, the old witch, striving might and main to wind the great

"What, good Witch!" quoth he, "here methinks is that beyond all thy spells
to achieve."

"O Fool," she panted, "kind Fool, sound me this horn, for I'm old and scant
o' breath. Wind it shrill and loud, good Motley, the rallying-note, for
there is ill work afoot this night. Sound me shrewd blast, therefore."

"Nay, 't were labour in vain, Witch; there be no outlaws hereabout, free
men are they henceforth and gone, each and every."

"Out alas--alas!" cried the old woman, wringing her hands. "Then woe is me
for the fair lady Yolande."

"Ha! What of her, good Witch? Threateneth danger? Speak!"

"Aye, Fool, danger most dire! My Lord Gui yet liveth, and this night divers
of his men shall bear her away where he lieth raging for her in his black
castle of Ells--"

"Now by heaven's light!" swore Jocelyn, his eyes fierce and keen, "this
night shall Fool be crowned of Love or sleep with kindly Death."

"Stay, Fool, thy foes be a many! Wilt cope with them alone?"

"Nay!" cried a voice:

"Not so, grandam
For here I am!"

and Lobkyn stepped forward.

"Aha, my pretty poppet! Loved duck, my downy chick--what wouldst?"

"Fight, grandam,
Smite, grandam,
Sweet, blood-begetting blows.
Where Fool goeth
Well Fool knoweth
Lobkyn likewise goes."

"Why, then, my bantling--loved babe, fight thy fiercest, for these be
wicked men and 't will be an evil fray. And she is sweet and good, so,
Lobkyn, be thy strongest--"

Saith Lobkyn:

"Aye that will I,
Or may I die.
By this good kiss
I vow thee this.

"And here is signal, Fool, shall shew
Each where the other chance to go.

"Croak like a frog,
Bark like a dog,
Grunt like a hog,
I'll know thee.

"Hoot like an owl,
Like grey wolf howl,
Or like bear growl,
'T will shew thee--"

"Then come, trusty Lob, and my thanks to thee!" cried Jocelyn, catching up
his quarter-staff. "But haste ye, for I would be hence ere the moon get
high. Come!"

So Duke Jocelyn strode away with Lobkyn Lollo at his heels; now as they
went, the moon began to rise.


Which being the last Fytte of our Geste I hope may please my daughter best.

"O, Wind of Night, soft-creeping,
Sweet charge I give to thee,
Steal where my love lies sleeping
And bear her dreams of me;
And in her dream,
Love, let me seem
All she would have me be.

"Kind sleep! By thee we may attain
To joys long hoped and sought in vain,
By thee we all may find again
Our lost divinity.

"So, Night-wind, softly creeping,
This charge I give to thee,
Go where my love lies sleeping
And bear her dreams of me."

Hearkening to this singing Yolande shivered, yet not with cold, and casting
a cloak about her loveliness came and leaned forth into the warm, still
glamour of the night, and saw where stood Jocelyn tall and shapely in the
moonlight, but with hateful cock's-comb a-flaunt and ass's ears grotesquely
a-dangle; wherefore she sighed and frowned upon him, saying nothing.

"Yolande?" he questioned. "O my lady, and wilt frown upon my singing?"

Answered she, leaning dimpled chin upon white fist and frowning yet:

"Nay, not--not thy--singing."

"Is 't then this cap o' Folly--my ass's ears, Yolande? Then away with them!
So shalt jester become very man as thou art very maid!" Forthwith he thrust
back his cock's-comb and so stood gazing up at her wide-eyed.

But she, beholding thus his scarred face, shivered again, shrinking a
little, whereupon Jocelyn bowed his head, hiding his features in his long,
black-curling hair.

"Alas, my lady!" he said, "doth my ill face offend thee? This would I put
off also for thy sake an it might be, but since this I may not do, close
thou thine eyes a while and hear me speak. For now do I tell thee, Yolande,
that I--e'en I that am poor jester--am yet a man loving thee with man's
love. I that am one with face thus hatefully scarred do seek thee in thy
beauty to my love--"

"Presumptuous Fool, how darest thou speak me thus?" she whispered.

"For that great love dareth greatly, Yolande."

"And what of thy lord? How of Duke Jocelyn, thy master?"

"He is but man, lady, even as I. Moreover for thee he existeth not since
thou hast ne'er beheld him--to thy knowing."

"Nay, then--what of this?" she questioned, drawing the jewelled picture
from her bosom.

"'T is but what it is, lady, a poor thing of paint!"

"But sheweth face of noble beauty, Fool!"

"Aye, nobly painted, Yolande! A thing of daubed colours, seeing naught of
thy beauty, speaking thee no word of love, whiles here stand I, a sorry
Fool of beauty none, yet therewithal a man to woo thee to my love--"

"Thy love? Ah, wilt so betray thy lord's trust?"

"Blithely, Yolande! For thee I would betray my very self."

"And thyself art Fool faithless to thy lord, a rhyming jester, a sorry
thing for scorn or laughter--and yet--thy shameful habit shames thee not,
and thy foolish songs hold naught of idle folly! And thou--thou art the
same I saw 'mid gloom of dungeon sing brave song in thy chains! Thou art he
that overthrew so many in the lists! O Joconde, my world is upside down by
reason of thee."

"And thou, Yolande, didst stoop to me within my dungeon! And thou didst
pray for me, Yolande, and now--now within this sweet night thou dost lean
down to me through the glory of thy hair--to me in my very lowliness! And
so it is I love thee, Yolande, love thee as none shall ever love thee, for
man am I with heart to worship thee, tongue to woo thee, eyes to behold thy
beauties, and arms to clasp thee. So am I richer than yon painted duke that
needs must woo thee with my lips. And could I but win thee to love--ah,
Yolande, could I, despite these foolish trappings, this blemished face, see
Love look on me from thine eyes, O--then--"


"Then should Fool, by love exalted, change to man indeed and I--mount up to
heaven--thus!" So saying, Jocelyn began to climb by gnarled ivy and carven
buttress. And ever as he mounted she watched him through the silken curtain
of her hair, wide of eye and with hands tight-clasped.

"Ah, Joconde!" she whispered, "'t is madness--madness! Ah, Joconde!" But
swift he came and swung himself upon the balcony beside her and reached out
his arms in mute supplication, viewing her wistfully but with scarred face
transfigured by smile ineffably tender, and when he spoke his voice was
hushed and reverent.

"I am here, Yolande, because methought to read within thy look the wonder
of all wonders. But, O my lady, because I am but what I am, fain would I
hear thee speak it also."

"Joconde," said she in breathless voice, "wouldst shame me--?"

"Shame?" he cried. "Shame? Can there be aught of shame in true love? Or is
it that my ass's ears do shame thee, my cock's-comb and garments pied shame
the worship of this foolish heart, and I, a Fool, worshipping thee, shame
thee by such worship? Then--on, cock's-comb! Ring out, silly bells! Fool's
love doth end in folly! Off love--on folly--a Fool can but love and die."

"Stay, Joconde; ah, how may I tell thee--? Why dost thou start and fumble
with thy dagger?"

"Heard you aught, lady?"

"I heard an owl hoot in the shadows yonder, no more."

"True, lady, but now shall this owl croak like a frog--hearken! Aha--and
now shall frog bark like dog--"

"And what meaneth this?"

"That thou, proud lady, must this night choose betwixt knightly rogue and
motley Fool--here be two evils with yet a difference--"

"Here is strange, wild talk, Fool!"

"Here shall be wild doings anon, lady, methinks. Hush thee and listen!"

A jangle of bridle-chains, a sound of voices loud and rough, and a tread of
heavy feet that, breaking rudely upon the gentle-brooding night, drove the
colour from Yolande's soft cheek and hushed her voice to broken whisper:

"Heaven shield us, what now, Joconde?"

"Wolves, lady, wolves that come to raven--see yonder!" Even as he spake
they espied armed men who, bold and assured by reason of the solitude,
moved in the garden below; and on back and breast of each was the sign of
the Bloody Hand.

"My Lord Gui's followers! Alas, Joconde, these mean thee ill--here is death
for thee!" Now as she spake, Jocelyn thrilled to the touch of her hand upon
his arm, a hand that trembled and stole to clasp his. "Alas, Joconde, they
have tracked thee hither to slay thee--"

"And were this so, wouldst fly with me, Yolande? Wouldst trust thy beauties
to a Fool's keeping?"

"Nay, nay, this were madness, Joconde; rather will I hide thee--aye, where
none shall dare seek thee--come!"

"Yolande," he questioned, "Yolande, wilt trust thyself to Love and me?"
But seeing how she shrank away, his eager arms fell and he bowed his head.
"Nay, I am answered," quoth he, "even while thine eyes look love, thy body
abhorreth Fool's embrace--I am answered. Nay, 't is enough, trouble not for
words--ha, methinks it is too late, the wolves be hard upon us--hark ye to
their baying!"

And now was sudden uproar, a raving clamour of fierce shouts, and a
thundering of blows upon the great door below.

"Yolande--ha, Yolande, yield thee! Open! Open!"

"Ah--mercy of God! Is it me they seek?" she whispered.

"Thee, Yolande! To bear thee to their lord's embraces--"

"Rather will I die!" she cried, and snatched the dagger from his girdle.

"Not so!" quoth he, wresting the weapon from her grasp. "Rather shalt thou
live a while--for thou art mine--mine to-night, Yolande--come!" And
he clasped her in fierce arms. "Nay, strive not lest I kiss thee to
submission, for thou art mine, though it be for one brief hour and death
the next!" So, as she struggled for the dagger, he kissed her on mouth and
eyes and hair until she lay all unresisting in his embrace; while ever and
anon above the thunder of blows the night clamoured with the fierce shout:

"Open--open! Yolande, ha, Yolande!"

"There is death--and worse!" she panted. "Loose me!"

"Stay," he laughed, "here thou 'rt in thy rightful place at last--upon my
heart, Yolande. Now whither shall I bear thee? Where lieth safety?"

"Loose me!" she commanded.

"Never! Hark, there yields the good door at last!"

"Then here will we die!"

"So be it, Yolande! A sweet death thus, heart to heart and lip to lip!"

"O Fool--I hate thee!"

"Howbeit, Yolande--I love thee!"

"Yolande! Ha--Yolande!"

The cry was louder now and so near that she shivered and, hiding her face,
spake below her breath:

"The turret-stair--behind the arras of my bed!"

Swiftly, lightly he bore her down the winding stair and by divers
passage-ways until, thrusting open a narrow door, he found himself within
the garden and, keeping ever amid the darkest shadows, hasted on to the
postern hard by the lily-pool.

And now Yolande felt herself swung to lofty saddle, heard Jocelyn's warning
shout drowned in a roar of voices and loud-trampling hoofs as the great
horse reared, heard a fierce laugh and, looking up, saw the face above her
grim and keen-eyed beneath its foolish cock's-comb as his vicious steel
flashed to right and left, and ever as he smote he mocked and laughed:

"Ha--well smitten, Lob! Oho, here Folly rides with pointed jest keen and
two-edged--make way, knaves--make way for Folly--"

The snorting charger, wheeled by strong hand, broke free, whereon rose an
uproar of shouts and cries that sank to a meaningless babble swept backward
on the rush of wind. Away, away they sped, through moonlight and shadow,
with fast-beating hoofs that rang on paved walk, that thudded on soft
grass, that trampled the tender flowers; and Yolande, swaying to the mighty
arm that clasped her, saw the fierce, scarred face bent above her with eyes
that gleamed under scowling brows and mouth grim-smiling; and shivering,
she looked no more.

On they sped with loosened rein, o'er grassy mead, through ferny hollows,
o'erleaping chattering rill that babbled to the moon, 'mid swaying reeds
and whispering sedge, past crouching bush and stately tree, and so at last
they reached the woods. By shadowy brake and thicket, through pools of
radiant moonlight, through leafy, whispering glooms they held their way,
across broad glade and clearing, on and on until all noise of pursuit was
lost and nought was to hear save the sounds of their going.

Thus rode they, and with never a word betwixt them, deep and deeper into
the wild until the moon was down and darkness shut them in; wherefore
Jocelyn drew rein and sat a while to listen. He heard the good steed,
deep-breathing, snuff at dewy grass; a stir and rustle all about him; the
drowsy call of a bird afar; the soft ripple of water hard by and, over all,
the deep hush of the wild-wood. Then upon this hush stole a whisper:

"O, 'tis very dark!"

He: Dark, Lady? Why so 'tis, and yet 'tis natural, for 'tis night,
wherefore 'tis the bright god Phoebus is otherwhere, and Dian, sly-sweet
goddess, hath stole her light from heaven, wherefore 'tis 'tis dark, lady.

She: Where are we?

He: The sweet Saints know that, lady--not I!

She (_scornfully_): Verily, thou art no saint--

He: Not yet, lady, not yet--witness these ass's ears.

She: True, thou 'rt very Fool!

He: In very truth, lady, and thou art lost with this same Fool, so art thou
in very woeful case. As for me, a lost fool is no matter, wherefore Fool
for himself grieveth no whit. But for thee--alas! Thou art a proud lady of
high degree, very nice of thy dainty person, soft and delicate of body, so
shall the greensward prove for thee uneasy couch, I judge, and thou sleep

She: Sleep? No thought have I of sleep! Ride on, therefore. Why tarry we

He: Lady, for three sufficing reasons--our foes pursue not, I'm a-weary,
and 'tis very dark--

She: No matter! Ride on, I do command thee.

He: Aye, but whither?

She: I care not so thou leave this place; 'tis an evil place!

He: Why,'tis good place, very well secluded and with stream hard by that
bubbleth. So here will we bide till dawn. Suffer me to aid thee down.

She: Touch me not! Never think I fear thee though I am alone.

He: Alone? Nay, thou 'rt with me, that is--I am with thee and thou art with
a Fool. So is Fool care-full Fool since Fool hath care of thee. Suffer me
now to aid thee down since here will we wait the day. Come, my arm about
thee so, thy hand in mine--

She (_angrily_): O Fool most base--most vile--

He: Nay, hush thee, hush! and listen to yon blithesome, bubblesome,


Back to Full Books