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Joy and true prosperity go still with thee !'• The like fall unto thy share, most fair lady!'
THE LADY’S FALL.
Mark well my heavy doleful tale,
You loyal lovers all ;
A gallant lady's fall.
To taste a wedded life,
Before she was a wife.
Too soon, alas ! she gave consent
To yield unto his will ;
And faithful to her still.
Her bright hue waxed pale,
Her strength began to fail.
So that, with many a sorrowful sigh,
This beauteous maiden mild,
To have conceiv'd with child.
As close as close might be,
And so put on her silken gown,
None might her swelling see.
Unto her lover, secretly,
Her grief she did bewray,
These words to him did say;
By love reduc'd to woe ; Behold I go with child by thee, ' But none thereof doth know.
• The little babe springs in my womb,
· To hear the father's voice ; · Let it not be a bastard callid,
Sith I made thee my choice : Come, come, my love, perform thy vow, • And wed me out of hand; O leave me not in this extreme, ' In grief always to stand !
• Think on thy former promise made,
• Thy vows and oaths each one ; Remember with what bitter tears • To me thou mad'st thy moan. Convey me to some secret place,
• And marry me with speed ; • Or with thy rapier end my life,
· Ere further shame proceed.'
• Alas! my dearest love, (quoth he)
* My greatest joy on earth,
" Which way can I convey thee hence,
Without a sudden death ?
"And I of mean estate ;
Out of thy father's gate.'
Oh! do not fear to save my fame,
For if thou taken be,
And take the harm on me :
And if I should be slain, " What could they say, but that true love,
· Had wrought a lady's bane?
. And fear not any further harm;
Myself will so devise, · That I will ride away with thee,
Unseen of mortal eyes : Disguised like some petty page,
"I'll meet thee in the dark; · And all alone I'll come to thee,
* Hard by my father's park.'
And there (quoth he) I'll meet thee,
- If God so lend me life, ' And this day month, without all fail, I will make thee
They parted presently,
Stood in each other's eye.
At length the wish'd-for day was come,
On which this beauteous maid, With lovely eyes and strange attire,
For her true lover stay'd :
Come riding o'er the plain,
But all her hopes were vain.
Then did she weep and sore bewail
Her most unhappy state;
When succourless she sate :
Disloyal to thy love;
• And wilt thou perjur'd prove ?
< And hast thou now forsaken me,
• In this my great distress, • To end my days in open shame,
Which thou might'st well redress? " Woe worth the time I did believe
That flattering tongue of thine; - Would God that I had never seen
• The tears of thy false eyne !
And thus, with many a sorrowful sigh,
Homewards she went again ;
She felt such bitter pain.
With many a bitter throe ;
What woeful pangs she then did feel,
Doth each good woman know.
She called up her waiting-maid,
That lay at her bed's feet,
Did straight begin to weep :-
And windows round about;
' But keep all persons out.'
"O mistress, call your mother dear,
' Of women you have need,
That better you may speed.'—
- Nor call the women here; · The midwife's help comes all too late,
My death I do not fear.'
With that the babe sprang in her womb,
No creature being nigh ; And with a sigh, which brake her heart,
This gallant dame did die. This living little infant young,
The mother being dead, Resign'd his new received breath
To him that had him made.
Next morning came her lover true,
Affrighted at this news ;
Whom each one did accuse.