The Eldridge knighte, he pricked his steed; Syr Cauline bold abode: Then either shooke his trustye speare, 100 And the timber these two children bare Soe soone in sunder slode.
Then tooke they out theyr two good swordes, And layden on full faste, Till helme and hawberke, mail and sheelde, 105 They all were well-nye brast.
The Eldridge knight was mickle of might, And stiffe in stower did stande; But Syr Cauline with an aukeward stroke He smote off his right-hand; 110 That soone he, with paine and lacke of bloud, Fell downe on that lay-land.
Then up Syr Cauline lift his brande All over his head so hye: "And here I sweare by the holy roode, 115 Nowe, caytiffe, thou shalt dye."
Then up and came that ladye brighte, Faste ringing of her hande: "For the maydens love, that most you love, Withhold that deadlye brande: 120
"For the maydens love that most you love, Now smyte no more I praye; And aye whatever thou wilt, my lord, He shall thy hests obaye."
"Now sweare to mee, thou Eldridge knighte, 125 And here on this lay-land, That thou wilt believe on Christ his laye, And therto plight thy hand:
"And that thou never on Eldridge [hill] come To sporte, gamon, or playe; 130 And that thou here give up thy armes Until thy dying daye."
The Eldridge knighte gave up his armes, With many a sorrowfulle sighe; And sware to obey Syr Caulines hest, 135 Till the tyme that he shold dye.
And he then up, and the Eldridge knighte Sett him in his saddle anone; And the Eldridge knighte and his ladye, To theyr castle are they gone. 140
Then he tooke up the bloudy hand, That was so large of bone, And on it he founde five ringes of gold, Of knightes that had be slone.
Then he tooke up the Eldridge sworde, 145 As hard as any flint; And he tooke off those ringes five, As bright as fyre and brent.
Home then pricked Syr Cauline, As light as leafe on tree; 150 I-wys he neither stint ne blanne, Till he his ladye see.
Then downe he knelt upon his knee, Before that lady gay: "O ladye, I have bin on the Eldridge hills; 155 These tokens I bring away."
"Now welcome, welcome, Syr Cauline, Thrice welcome unto mee, For now I perceive thou art a true knighte, Of valour bolde and free." 160
"O ladye, I am thy own true knighte, Thy hests for to obaye; And mought I hope to winne thy love!"-- No more his tonge colde say.
The ladye blushed scarlette redde, 165 And fette a gentill sighe: "Alas! syr knight, how may this bee, For my degree's soe highe?
"But sith thou hast hight, thou comely youth, To be my batchilere, 170 Ile promise, if thee I may not wedde, I will have none other fere."
Then shee held forthe her liley-white hand Towards that knighte so free; He gave to it one gentill kisse, 175 His heart was brought from bale to blisse, The teares sterte from his ee.
"But keep my counsayl, Syr Cauline, Ne let no man it knowe; For, and ever my father sholde it ken, 180 I wot he wolde us sloe."
From that daye forthe, that ladye fayre Lovde Syr Cauline the knighte; From that daye forthe, he only joyde Whan shee was in his sight. 185
Yea, and oftentimes they mette Within a fayre arboure, Where they, in love and sweet daliaunce, Past manye a pleasaunt houre.
92, MS. For if.
94, No inserted.
THE SECOND PART.
Everye white will have its blacke, And everye sweete its sowre: This founde the Ladye Christabelle In an untimely howre.
For so it befelle, as Syr Cauline 5 Was with that ladye faire, The kinge, her father, walked forthe To take the evenyng aire:
And into the arboure as he went To rest his wearye feet, 10 He found his daughter and Syr Cauline There sette in daliaunce sweet.
The kinge hee sterted forthe, i-wys, And an angrye man was hee: "Nowe, traytoure, thou shalt hange or drawe 15 And rewe shall thy ladie."
Then forthe Syr Cauline he was ledde, And throwne in dungeon deepe: And the ladye into a towre so hye, There left to wayle and weepe. 20
The queene she was Syr Caulines friend, And to the kinge sayd shee: "I praye you save Syr Caulines life, And let him banisht bee."
"Now, dame, that traitor shall be sent 25 Across the salt sea fome: But here I will make thee a band, If ever he come within this land, A foule deathe is his doome."
All woe-begone was that gentil knight 30 To parte from his ladye; And many a time he sighed sore, And cast a wistfulle eye: "Faire Christabelle, from thee to parte, Farre lever had I dye." 35
Fair Christabelle, that ladye bright, Was had forthe of the towre; But ever shee droopeth in her minde, As, nipt by an ungentle winde, Doth some faire lillye flowre. 40
And ever shee doth lament and weepe, To tint her lover soe: "Syr Cauline, thou little think'st on mee, But I will still be true."
Manye a kinge, and manye a duke, 45 And lorde of high degree, Did sue to that fayre ladye of love; But never shee wolde them nee.
When manye a daye was past and gone, Ne comforte she colde finde, 50 The kynge proclaimed a tourneament, To cheere his daughters mind.
And there came lords, and there came knights, Fro manye a farre countrye, To break a spere for theyr ladyes love, 55 Before that faire ladye.
And many a ladye there was sette, In purple and in palle; But faire Christabelle, soe woe-begone, Was the fayrest of them all. 60
Then manye a knighte was mickle of might, Before his ladye gaye; But a stranger wight, whom no man knewe, He wan the prize eche daye.
His acton it was all of blacke, 65 His hewberke and his sheelde; Ne noe man wist whence he did come, Ne noe man knewe where he did gone, When they came out the feelde.[L69]
And now three days were prestlye past 70 In feates of chivalrye, When lo, upon the fourth morninge, A sorrowfulle sight they see:
A hugye giaunt stiffe and starke, All foule of limbe and lere, 75 Two goggling eyen like fire farden, A mouthe from eare to eare.
Before him came a dwarffe full lowe, That waited on his knee; And at his backe five heads he bare, 80 All wan and pale of blee.
"Sir," quoth the dwarffe, and louted lowe, "Behold that hend Soldain!
Behold these heads I beare with me!
They are kings which he hath slain. 85
"The Eldridge knight is his own cousine, Whom a knight of thine hath shent; And hee is come to avenge his wrong: And to thee, all thy knightes among, Defiance here hath sent. 90
"But yette he will appease his wrath, Thy daughters love to winne; And, but thou yeelde him that fayre mayd, Thy halls and towers must brenne.
"Thy head, syr king, must goe with mee, 95 Or else thy daughter deere: Or else within these lists soe broad, Thou must finde him a peere."