"If that thou wilt marry with me," quoth the knight, "I'll make thee a lady with joy and delight; 50 My heart is enthralled in thy fair beauty, Then grant me thy favour, my pretty Bessee."
The gentleman said, "Come marry with me, In silks and in velvets my Bessee shall be; My heart lies distracted, oh hear me!" quoth he, 55 "And grant me thy love, my dear pretty Bessee."
"Let me be thy husband," the merchant did say, "Thou shalt live in London most gallant and gay; My ships shall bring home rich jewels for thee, And I will for ever love pretty Bessee." 60
Then Bessee she sighed, and thus she did say; "My father and mother I mean to obey; First get their goodwill, and be faithful to me, And you shall enjoy your dear pretty Bessee."
To every one of them that answer she made; 65 Therefore unto her they joyfully said, "This thing to fulfill we all now agree; But where dwells thy father, my pretty Bessee?"
"My father," quoth she, "is soon to be seen; The silly blind beggar of Bednall Green, 70 That daily sits begging for charity, He is the kind father of pretty Bessee.
"His marks and his token are knowen full well; He always is led by a dog and a bell; A poor silly old man, God knoweth, is he, 75 Yet he is the true father of pretty Bessee."
"Nay, nay," quoth the merchant, "thou art not for me;"
"She," quoth the innholder, "my wife shall not be;"
"I loathe," said the gentleman, "a beggars degree, Therefore, now farewell, my pretty Bessee." 80
"Why then," quoth the knight, "happ better or worse, I weigh not true love by the weight of the purse, And beauty is beauty in every degree; Then welcome to me, my dear pretty Bessee.
"With thee to thy father forthwith I will go." 85 "Nay, forbear," quoth his kinsman, "it must not be so: A poor beggars daughter a lady sha'nt be; Then take thy adieu of thy pretty Bessee."
As soon then as it was break of the day, The knight had from Rumford stole Bessee away; 90 The young men of Rumford, so sick as may be,[L91]
Rode after to fetch again pretty Bessee.
As swift as the wind to ride they were seen, Until they came near unto Bednall Green, And as the knight lighted most courteously, 95 They fought against him for pretty Bessee.
But rescue came presently over the plain, Or else the knight there for his love had been slain; The fray being ended, they straightway did see His kinsman come railing at pretty Bessee. 100
Then bespoke the Blind Beggar, "Altho' I be poor, Rail not against my child at my own door; Though she be not decked in velvet and pearl, Yet I will drop angels with thee for my girl;
"And then if my gold should better her birth, 105 And equal the gold you lay on the earth, Then neither rail you, nor grudge you to see The Blind Beggars daughter a lady to be.
"But first, I will hear, and have it well known, The gold that you drop it shall be all you own;" 110 "With that," they replied, "contented we be;"
"Then heres," quoth the beggar, "for pretty Bessee."
With that an angel he dropped on the ground, And dropped, in angels, full three thousand pound; And oftentimes it proved most plain, 115 For the gentlemans one, the beggar dropped twain.
So that the whole place wherein they did sit With gold was covered every whit; The gentleman having dropt all his store, Said, "Beggar, your hand hold, for I have no more. 120
"Thou hast fulfilled thy promise aright;"
"Then marry my girl," quoth he to the knight; "And then," quoth he, "I will throw you down, An hundred pound more to buy her a gown."
The gentlemen all, who his treasure had seen, 125 Admired the Beggar of Bednall Green.
And those that had been her suitors before, Their tender flesh for anger they tore.
Thus was the fair Bessee matched to a knight, And made a lady in others despite: 130 A fairer lady there never was seen Than the Blind Beggars daughter of Bednall Green.
But of her sumptuous marriage and feast, And what fine lords and ladies there prest, The second part shall set forth to your sight, 135 With marvellous pleasure, and wished for delight.
6. And seeing.
91. Percy has _thicke_.
Of a blind beggars daughter so bright,[L1]
That late was betrothed to a young knight, All the whole discourse therof you did see, But now comes the wedding of pretty Bessee.
It was in a gallant palace most brave, 5 Adorned with all the cost they could have, This wedding it was kept most sumptuously, And all for the love of pretty Bessee.
And all kind of dainties and delicates sweet Was brought to their banquet, as it was thought meet; 10 Partridge, and plover, and venison most free, Against the brave wedding of pretty Bessee.
The wedding thro' England was spread by report, So that a great number thereto did resort, Of nobles and gentles of every degree, 15 And all for the fame of pretty Bessee.
To church then away went this gallant young knight, His bride followed after, an angel most bright, With troops of ladies, the like was ne'er seen, As went with sweet Bessee of Bednall Green. 20
This wedding being solemnized then, With music performed by skilfullest men, The nobles and gentles sat down at that tide,[L23]
Each one beholding the beautiful bride.
But after the sumptuous dinner was done, 25 To talk and to reason a number begun, And of the Blind Beggars daughter most bright, And what with his daughter he gave to the knight.
Then spoke the nobles, "Much marvel have we This jolly blind beggar we cannot yet see!" 30 "My lords," quoth the bride, "my father so base Is loathe with his presence these states to disgrace."
"The praise of a woman in question to bring, Before her own face, is a flattering thing; But we think thy fathers baseness," quoth they, 35 "Might by thy beauty be clean put away."
They no sooner this pleasant word spoke, But in comes the beggar in a silken cloak, A velvet cap and a feather had he, And now a musician, forsooth, he would be. 40
And being led in, from catching of harm, He had a dainty lute under his arm; Said, "Please you to hear any music of me, A song I will give you of pretty Bessee."
With that his lute he twanged straightway, 45 And thereon began most sweetly to play, And after a lesson was played two or three, He strained out this song most delicately:--
_"A beggars daughter did dwell on a green, Who for her beauty might well be a queen,[L50] 50 A blythe bonny lass, and dainty was she, And many one called her pretty Bessee._
_"Her father he had no goods nor no lands, But begged for a penny all day with his hands, And yet for her marriage gave thousands three, 55 Yet still he hath somewhat for pretty Bessee._
_"And here if any one do her disdain, Her father is ready with might and with main, To prove she is come of noble degree, Therefore let none flout at my pretty Bessee."_ 60
With that the lords and the company round With a hearty laughter were ready to swound; At last said the lords, "Full well we may see, The bride and the bridegroom's beholden to thee."
With that the fair bride all blushing did rise, 65 With chrystal water all in her bright eyes; "Pardon my father, brave nobles," quoth she, "That through blind affection thus doats upon me."
"If this be thy father," the nobles did say, "Well may he be proud of this happy day, 70 Yet by his countenance well may we see, His birth with his fortune could never agree.
"And therefore, blind beggar, we pray thee bewray, And look that the truth to us thou dost say,[L74]
Thy birth and thy parentage what it may be, 75 E'en for the love thou bearest to pretty Bessee."
"Then give me leave, ye gentles each one, A song more to sing and then I'll begone; And if that I do not win good report, Then do not give me one groat for my sport:-- 80