"The water it is deep," she said, 65 "As it is wondrous dun; But it is sic as a saikless maid And a leal true knight may swim."
The knight spurred on his tall black steed, The lady spurred on her brown; 70 And fast they rade unto the flood, And fast they baith swam down.
"The water weets my tae," she said, "The water weets my knee; And hold up my bridle reins, sir knight, 75 For the sake of Our Ladye."
"If I would help thee now," he said, "It were a deadly sin; For I've sworn neir to trust a fair may's word, Till the water weets her chin." 80
"O the water weets my waist," she said, "Sae does it weet my skin; And my aching heart rins round about, The burn maks sic a din.
"The water is waxing deeper still, 85 Sae does it wax mair wide; And aye the farther that we ride on, Farther off is the other side.
"O help me now, thou false, false knight, Have pity on my youth; 90 For now the water jawes owre my head, And it gurgles in my mouth."
The knight turned right and round about, All in the middle stream, And he stretched out his head to that lady, 95 But loudly she did scream.
"O this is hallow-morn," he said, "And it is your bridal day; But sad would be that gay wedding, If bridegroom and bride were away. 100
"And ride on, ride on, proud Margaret!
Till the water comes o'er your bree; For the bride maun ride deep, and deeper yet, Wha rides this ford wi' me.
"Turn round, turn round, proud Margaret! 105 Turn ye round, and look on me; Thou hast killed a true knight under trust, And his ghost now links on with thee."
FRAGMENT OF THE BALLAD OF KING ARTHUR AND THE KING OF CORNWALL.
Printed from the celebrated Percy MS. in Madden's _Syr Gawayne_, p. 275.
The editor has added the following note.
"It has no title, and the first line has been cut away by the ignorant binder to whom the volume was intrusted, but both are supplied from the notice given of the ballad in the Dissertation prefixed to vol.
iii. of the _Reliques_, p. xxxvii. Dr. Percy has added in the margin of the MS. these words: "To the best of my remembrance, this was the first line, before the binder cut it." The poem is very imperfect, owing to the leaves having been half torn away to light fires (!) as the Bishop tells us, but I am bound to add, previous to its coming into his possession. The story is so singular, that it is to be hoped an earlier and complete copy of it may yet be recovered. On no account perhaps is it more remarkable, than the fact of its close imitation of the famous _gabs_ made by Charlemagne and his companions at the court of King Hugon, which are first met with in a romance of the twelfth century, published by M. Michel from a MS. in the British Museum, 12mo., London, 1836, and transferred at a later period to the prose romance of _Galien Rethore_, printed by Verard, fol., 1500, and often afterwards. In the absence of other evidence, it is to be presumed that the author of the ballad borrowed from the printed work, substituting Arthur for Charlemagne, Gawayne for Oliver, Tristram for Roland, etc., and embellishing his story by converting King Hugon's spy into a "lodly feend," by whose agency the _gabs_ are accomplished.
It is further worthy of notice, that the writer seems to regard Arthur as the sovereign of Little Britain, and alludes to an intrigue between the King of Cornwall and Queen Guenever, which is nowhere, as far as I recollect, hinted at in the romances of the Round Table."
"Come here my cozen, Gawain, so gay; My sisters sonne be yee; For you shall see one of the fairest Round Tables, That ever you see with your eye."
Then bespake [the] Lady Queen Guenever, 5 And these were the words said shee: "I know where a Round Table is, thou noble king, Is worth thy Round Table and other such three.
"The trestle that stands under this Round Table," she said, "Lowe downe to the mould, 10 It is worth thy Round Table, thou worthy king, Thy halls, and all thy gold.
"The place where this Round Table stands in, It is worth thy castle, thy gold, thy fee; And all good Litle Britaine,"-- 15 "Where may that table be, lady?" quoth hee,
"Or where may all that goodly building be?"
"You shall it seeke," shee sayd, "till you it find, For you shall never gett more of me."
Then bespake him noble King Arthur, 20 These were the words said hee; "Ile make mine avow to God, And alsoe to the Trinity,
"Ile never sleepe one night, there as I doe another, Till that Round Table I see; 25 Sir Marramiles and Sir Tristeram, Fellowes that ye shall bee.
"Weele be clad in palmers weede, Five palmers we will bee; There is noe outlandish man will us abide, 30 Nor will us come nye."
Then they rived east and they rived west,[L32]
In many a strange country.
Then they travelled[L34] a litle further, They saw a battle new sett; 35 "Now, by my faith," saies noble King Arthur,
[_Half a page is here torn away._]
But when he came that castle to, And to the palace gate, Soe ready was ther a proud porter, And met him soone therat. 40
Shooes of gold the porter had on, And all his other rayment was unto the same; "Now, by my faith," saies noble King Arthur, "Yonder is a minion swaine."
Then bespake noble King Arthur, 45 These were the words says hee: "Come hither, thou proud porter, I pray thee come hither to me.
"I have two poor rings of my finger, The better[L50] of them Ile give to thee; 50 [To] tell who may be lord of this castle," he saies, "Or who is lord in this cuntry?"
"Cornewall King," the porter sayes, "There is none soe rich as hee; Neither in Christendome, nor yet in heathennest, 55 None hath soe much gold as he."
And then bespake him noble King Arthur, These were the words sayes hee: "I have two poore rings of my finger, The better of them Ile give thee, 60 If thou wilt greete him well, Cornewall King, And greete him well from me.
"Pray him for one nights lodging, and two meales meate, For his love that dyed uppon a tree; A bue[L65] ghesting, and two meales meate, 65 For his love that dyed uppon a tree.
"A bue[L67] ghesting, and two meales meate, For his love that was of virgin borne, And in the morning that we may scape away, Either without scath or scorne." 70
Then forth is gone[L71] this proud porter, As fast as he cold hye; And when he came befor Cornewall King, He kneeled downe on his knee.
Sayes, "I have beene porter, man, at thy gate, 75
[_Half a page is wanting._]
... our Lady was borne, Then thought Cornewall King these palmers had beene in Britt.
Then bespake him Cornewall King, These were the words he said there: "Did you ever know a comely King, 80 His name was King Arthur?"
And then bespake him noble King Arthur, These were the words said hee: "I doe not know that comly King, But once my selfe I did him see." 85 Then bespake Cornwall King againe, These were the words said he.
Sayes, "Seven yeere I was clad and fed, In Litle Brittaine, in a bower; I had a daughter by King Arthurs wife, 90 It now is called my flower; For King Arthur, that kindly cockward, Hath none such in his bower.
"For I durst sweare, and save my othe, That same lady soe bright, 95 That a man that were laid on his death-bed Wold open his eyes on her to have sight."
"Now, by my faith," sayes noble King Arthur, "And thats a full faire wight!"
And then bespoke Cornewall [King] againe, 100 And these were the words he said:[L101]