“God speed thee, brave King Arthur,

Thus feasting in thy bower, And Guenever, thy goodly queen,

That fair and peerless flower.

“Ye gallant lords and lordlings,

I wish you all take heed, Lest what ye deem a blooming rose

Should prove a cankered weed.”

Then straightway from his bosom

A little wand he drew; And with it eke a mantle,

Of wondrous shape and hue.

“Now have thou here, King Arthur,

Have this here of me,
And give unto thy comely queen,

All shapen as you see.

“No wife it shall become,

That once hath been to blame." Then every knight in Arthur's court

Sly glanced at his dame.

And first came Lady Guenever,

The mantle she must try.
This dame she was new-fangled, *

And of a roving eye.

When she had taken the mantle,

And all with it was clad,
From top to toe it shivered down,

As though with shears beshred.

One while it was too long,

Another while too short,
And wrinkled on her shoulders,

In most unseemly sort.

* New-fangled, - fond of novelty.

Now green, now red it seemed,

Then all of sable hue; “Beshrew me,” quoth King Arthur,

I think thou be'st not true!”

Down she threw the mantle,

No longer would she stay; But, storming like a fury,

To her chamber flung away.

She cursed the rascal weaver,

That had the mantle wrought; And doubly cursed the froward imp

Who thither had it brought.

“I had rather live in deserts,

Beneath the greenwood tree, Than here, base king, among thy grooms,

The sport of them and thee.”

Sir Kay called forth his lady,

And bade her to come near : “Yet dame, if thou be guilty,

I pray thee now forbear.”

This lady, pertly giggling,

With forward step came on, And boldly to the little boy

With fearless face is gone.

When she had taken the mantle,

With purpose for to wear, It shrunk up to her shoulder,

And left her back all bare.

Then every merry knight,

That was in Arthur's court, Gibed and laughed and flouted, To see that pleasant sport.

Down she threw the mantle,

No longer bold or gay, But, with a face all pale and wan,

To her chamber slunk away.

Then forth came an old knight

A pattering o'er his creed, And proffered to the little boy

Five nobles to his meed:

“ And all the time of Christmas

Plum-porridge shall be thine, If thou wilt let my lady fair

Within the mantle shine."

A saint his lady seemed,

With step demure and slow, And gravely to the mantle

With mincing face doth go.

When she the same had taken

That was so fine and thin, It shrivelled all about her,

And showed her dainty skin.

Ah! little did her mincing,

Or his long prayers bestead; She had no more hung on her

Than a tassel and a thread.

Down she threw the mantle,

With terror and dismay, And with a face of scarlet

To her chamber hied away.

Sir Cradock called his lady,

And bade her to come near: “Come win this mantle, lady,

And do me credit here:

“Come win this mantle, lady,

For now it shall be thine,
If thou hast never done amiss,

Since first I made thee mine."

The lady, gently blushing,

With modest grace came on ;
And now to try the wondrous charm

Courageously is gone.

When she had ta'en the mantle,

And put it on her back,
About the hem it seemed

To wrinkle and to crack.

“Lie still,” she cried, “O mantle!

And shame me not for naught;
I'll freely own whate'er amiss

Or blameful I have wrought

“ Once I kissed Sir Cradock

Beneath the greenwood tree;
Once I kissed Sir Cradock's mouth,

Before he married me.”

When she had thus her shriven,

And her worst fault had told,
The mantle soon became her,

Right comely as it should.

Most rich and fair of color,

Like gold it glittering shone,
And much the knights in Arthur's court

Admired her every one.

The ballad goes on to tell of two more trials of a similar kind, made by means of a boar's head and a drinking-horn, in both of which the result was equally favorable with the first to Sir Cradock and his lady. It then concludes as follows:

Thus boar's head, horn, and mantle

Were this fair couple's meed;
And all such constant lovers,
God send them well to speed.

Percy's Reliques.

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