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Unto his house a jolly shepherd went,
To whom our prince did bear a great good will;
And therefore he a courtier was benamed ;
And as a courtier was with cheer received ;
And so she was, and all with good intent:
To such an end as he might be abused; Yet, like a coward, fearing stranger's pride, He made the simple wretch his wrath abide.
With chumpish looks, hard words, and secret nips,
Grumbling at her when she his kindness sought, Asking her how she tasted courtiers' lips,
He forc'd her to think that she never thought. In fine, he made her guess there was some sweet In that which he so fear'd that she should meet.
When once this enter'd was in woman's heart,
And that it had inflam'd a new desire, There rested then to play a woman's part;
Fuel to seek, and not to quench the fire. But (for his jealous eye she well did find) She studied cunning how the same to blind.
And thus she did. One day to him she came,
And, though against his will, on him she leaned, And out gan cry," Ah, well-away for shame!
“ If you help not, our wedlock will be stained !" The good man, starting, ask'd what did her move? She sigh’d, and said the bad guest sought her love.
He, little looking that she should complain
Of that, whereto he fear'd she was inclin’d; Bussing her oft, and in his heart full fain,
He did demand what remedy to find; How they might get that guest from them to wend, And yet, the prince that loved him not offend.
“ Husband," quoth she," go to him by and by,
“ And tell him you do find I do him love: “ And therefore pray him, that of courtesy
“ He will absent himself, lest he should move “ A young girl's heart to that were shame for both:
Whereto you know his honest heart were loth,
“ Thus shall you show that him you do not doubt,
“ And as for me, sweet husband, I must bear!” Glad was the man when he had heard her out,
And did the same, although with mickle fear; For fear he did, lest he the young man might In choler put, with whom he would not fight.
The courtly shepherd, much aghast at this,
Not seeing erst such token in the wife, Though full of scorn, would not his duty miss,
Knowing that ill becomes a household strife, Did go his way; but sojourn'd near thereby, That yet the ground thereof he might espy.
The wife, thus having settled husband's brain,
Who would have sworn his spouse Diana was, Watched when she a farther point might gain,
Which little time did fitly bring to pass : For to the court her man was call'd by name, Whither he needs must go for fear of blame.
Three days before that he must sure depart,
She written had, but in a hand disguised, A letter such, which might from either part
Seem to proceed, so well it was devised; She seal'd it first, then she the sealing brake, And to her jealous husband did it take.
With weeping eyes (her eyes she taught to weep)
She told him that the courtier had it sent: “Alas," quoth she, “ thus women's shame doth
The good man read, on both sides, the content: It title had “ unto my only love:” Subscription was, “ yours most, if you will prove."
Th' epistle self such kind of words it had :
“My sweetest joy! the comfort of my sprite, “ So may thy flocks increase, thy dear heart glad,
“So may each thing, e'en as thou wishest, light, “ As thou wilt deign to read, and gently read, “This mourning ink, in which my heart doth bleed.
“ Long have I loved, alas thou worthy art !
“ Long have I loved, alas love craveth love; “ Long have I loved thyself, alas my heart “ Doth break, now tongue unto thy name doth
move! “ And think not that thy answer answer is, “ But that it is my doom of bale or bliss.
“ The jealous wretch must now to court be gone :
“ Ne can he fail, for prince hath for him sent: Now is the time we may be here alone, “ And give a long desire a sweet content.
« Thus shall you both reward a lover true,
And this was all, and this the husband read
With chafe enough, till she him pacified ; Desiring that no grief in him be bred,
Now that he had her words so truly tried : But that he would to him the letter show, That with his fault he might her goodness know.
That straight was done; with many a boistrous
threat That to the king he would his sin declare; But now the courtier gan to smell the feat,
And, with some words that shewed little care, He staid until the good man was departed; Then gave he him the blow that never smarted.
Thus may you see the jealous wretch was made
The pandar of the thing he most did fear: Take care, therefore, how you ensue that trade :
Lest the same marks of jealousy you bear : For sure, no jealousy can that prevent, Whereto two parties once be full content,