Lyghtly let in thyne owne husbande, Wyllyam of Cloudesle."
"Alas!" then sayde fayre Alyce, 45 And syghed wonderous sore, "Thys place hath ben besette for you, Thys half yere and more."
"Now am I here," sayde Cloudesle, "I woulde that I in were:--[L50] 50 Now feche us meate and drynke ynoughe, And let us make good chere."
She fetched him meat and drynke plenty, Lyke a true wedded wyfe, And pleased hym wyth that she had, 55 Whome she loved as her lyfe.
There lay an old wyfe in that place, A lytle besyde the fyre, Whych Wyllyam had found, of cherytye, More then seven yere. 60
Up she rose and walked full styll, Evel mote she spede therefoore,[L62]
For she had not set no fote on ground In seven yere before.
She went unto the justice hall, 65 As fast as she could hye; "Thys nyght is come unto this town Wyllyam of Cloudesle."
Thereof the iustice was full fayne, And so was the shirife also; 70 "Thou shalt not travaile hether, dame, for nought,[L71]
Thy meed thou shalt have or thou go."
They gave to her a ryght good goune, Of scarlat it was, as I heard sayne;[L74]
She toke the gyft and home she wente, 75 And couched her downe agayne.
They rysed the towne of mery Carlel, In all the hast that they can, And came thronging to Wyllyames house, As fast as they myght gone. 80
Theyr they besette that good yeman, Round about on every syde, Wyllyam hearde great noyse of folkes, That heytherward they hyed.
Alyce opened a shot-wyndow,[L85] 85 And loked all about, She was ware of the justice and shirife bothe, Wyth a full great route.[L88]
"Alas! treason," cry'd Aleyce.
"Ever wo may thou be! 90 Go into my chambre, my husband," she sayd,[L91]
"Swete Wyllyam of Cloudesle."
He toke hys sweard and hys bucler, Hys bow and hy[s] chyldren thre, And wente into hys strongest chamber, 95 Where he thought surest to be.
Fayre Alice folowed him as a lover true, With a pollaxe in her hande; "He shal be dead that here cometh in Thys dore, whyle I may stand." 100
Cloudesle bent a wel good bowe, That was of trusty tre, He smot the justise on the brest, That hys arrowe brest in thre.
"God's curse on his hartt," saide William, 105 "Thys day thy cote dyd on; If it had ben no better then myne, It had gone nere thy bone."
"Yelde the, Cloudesle," sayd the justise, "And thy bowe and thy arrowes the fro:" 110 "Gods curse on hys hart," sayde fair Alice, "That my husband councelleth so."
"Set fyre on the house," saide the sherife, "Syth it wyll no better be, And brenne we therin William," he saide, 115 "Hys wyfe and chyldren thre."
They fyred the house in many a place, The fyre flew up on hye; "Alas!" then cryed fayr Alice, "I se we here shall dy." 120
William openyd hys backe wyndow, That was in hys chambre on hye,[L122]
And wyth shetes let hys wyfe downe, And hys chyldren thre.
"Have here my treasure," sayde William, 125 "My wyfe and my chyldren thre, For Christes love do them no harme, But wreke you all on me."
Wyllyam shot so wonderous well, Tyll hys arrowes were all ygo,[L130] 130 And the fyre so fast upon hym fell, That hys bowstryng brent in two.
The spercles brent and fell hym on, Good Wyllyam of Cloudesle!
But than wax he a wofull man, 135 And sayde, "thys is a cowardes death to me.
"Leuer I had," sayde Wyllyam, "With my sworde in the route to renne, Then here among myne ennemyes wode, Thus cruelly to bren." 140
He toke hys sweard and hys buckler, And among them all he ran; Where the people were most in prece, He smot downe many a man.
There myght no man stand hys stroke, 145 So fersly on them he ran; Then they threw wyndowes and dores on him, And so toke that good yeman.
There they hym bounde both hande and fote, And in depe dongeon hym cast; 150 "Now, Cloudesle," sayd the hye justice, "Thou shalt be hanged in hast."
"One vow shal I make," sayd the sherife, "A payre of newe galowes shall I for the make, And the gates of Caerlel shal be shutte, 155 There shall no man come in therat.
"Then shall not helpe Clim of the Cloughe, Nor yet shall Adam Bell, Though they came with a thousand mo, Nor all the devels in hell." 160
Early in the mornyng the justice uprose, To the gates first gan he gon, And commaundede to be shut full cloce Lightile everychone.
Then went he to the market place, 165 As fast as he coulde hye; A payre of new gallous there did he up set, Besyde the pyllory.
A lytle boy stod them amonge, And asked what meaned that gallow tre; 170 They sayde, "to hange a good yeaman, Called Wyllyam of Cloudesle."
That lytle boye was the towne swyne-heard, And kept fayre Alyce swyne,[L174]
Oft he had seene Cloudesle in the wodde, 175 And geuen hym there to dyne.
He went out att a creves in the wall, And lightly to the wood dyd gone; There met he with these wight yonge men, Shortly and anone. 180
"Alas!" then sayde that lytle boye, "Ye tary here all to longe; Cloudesle is taken and dampned to death, All readye for to honge."
"Alas!" then sayde good Adam Bell, 185 "That ever we see thys daye!
He myght her with us have dwelled, So ofte as we dyd him praye!
"He myght have taryed in grene foreste, Under the shadowes sheene, 190 And have kepte both hym and us in reaste, Out of trouble and teene!"
Adam bent a ryght good bow, A great hart sone had he slayne; "Take that, chylde," he sayde, "to thy dynner, 195 And bryng me myne arrowe agayne."
"Now go we hence," sayed these wight yong men, "Tary we no lenger here; We shall hym borowe, by gods grace, Though we bye it full dere." 200
To Caerlel went these good yemen,[L201]
On a mery mornyng of Maye: Here is a fyt of Cloudesli, And another is for to saye.
6, as hath.
8, as I.
10, 11. Clym of the Clough means, as Percy says, Clement of the valley; and Cloudesle, suggests Ritson, seems to be the same with Clodsley.