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29: The Boy and the Mantle

 29.1	IN the third day of May
 	to Carleile did come
 	A kind curteous child,
 	that cold much of wisdome.
 29.2	A kirtle and a mantle
 	this child had vppon,
 	With brauches and ringes
 	full richelye bedone.
 29.3	He had a sute of silke,
 	about his middle drawne;
 	Without he cold of curtesye,
 	he thought itt much shame.
 29.4	‘God speed thee, King Arthur,
 	sitting att thy meate!
 	And the goodly Queene Gueneuer!
 	I cannott her forgett.
 29.5	‘I tell you lords in this hall,
 	I hett you all heede,
 	Except you be the more surer,
 	is you for to dread.’
 29.6	He plucked out of his potewer,
 	and longer wold not dwell,
 	He pulled forth a pretty mantle,
 	betweene two nut-shells.
 29.7	‘Haue thou here, King Arthure,
 	haue thou heere of mee;
 	Giue itt to thy comely queene,
 	shapen as itt is alreadye.
 29.8	‘Itt shall neuer become that wiffe
 that	hath once done amisse:’
 	Then euery knight in the kings court
 	began to care for his.
 29.9	Forth came dame Gueneuer,
 	to the mantle shee her bed;
 	The ladye shee was new-fangle,
 	but yett shee was affrayd.
 29.10	When shee had taken the mantle,
 	shee stoode as she had beene madd;
 	It was from the top to the toe
 	as sheeres had itt shread.
 29.11	One while was itt gaule,
 	another while was itt greene;
 	another while was itt wadded;
 	ill itt did her beseeme.
 29.12	Another while was it blacke,
 	and bore the worst hue;
 	‘By my troth,’ quoth King Arthur,
 	‘I thinke thou be not true.’
 29.13	Shee threw downe the mantle,
 that	bright was of blee,
 	Fast with a rudd redd
 	to her chamber can shee flee.
 29.14	Shee curst the weauer and the walker
 	that clothe that had wrought,
 	And bade a vengeance on his crowne
 that	hither hath itt brought.
 29.15	‘I had rather be in a wood,
 	vnder a greene tree,
 	Then in King Arthurs court
 	shamed for to bee.’
 29.16	Kay called forth his ladye,
 	and bade her come neere;
 	Saies, ‘Madam, and thou be guiltye,
 	I pray thee hold thee there.’
 29.17	Forth came his ladye
 	shortlye and anon,
 	Boldlye to the mantle
 	then is shee gone.
 29.18	When she had tane the mantle,
 	and cast it her about,
 	Then was shee bare
 	all aboue the buttocckes.
 29.19	Then euery knight
 that	was in the kings court
 	Talked, laughed, and showted,
 	full oft att that sport.
 29.20	Shee threw downe the mantle,
 that	bright was of blee,
 	Ffast with a red rudd
 	to her chamber can shee flee.
 29.21	Forth came an old knight,
 	pattering ore a creede,
 	And he proferred to this little boy
 	twenty markes to his meede,
 29.22	And all the time of the Christmasse
 	willinglye to feede;
 	For why, this mantle might
 	doe his wiffe some need.
 29.23	When shee had tane the mantle,
 	of cloth that was made,
 	Shee had no more left on her
 	but a tassell and a threed:
 	Then euery knight in the kings court
 	bade euill might shee speed.
 29.24	Shee threw downe the mantle,
 that	bright was of blee,
 	And fast with a redd rudd
 	to her chamber can shee flee.
 29.25	Craddocke called forth his ladye,
 	and bade her come in;
 	Saith, ‘Winne this mantle, ladye,
 	with a litle dinne.
 29.26	‘Winne this mantle, ladye,
 	and it shalbe thine
 	If thou neuer did amisse
 	since thou wast mine.’
 29.27	Forth came Craddockes ladye
 	shortlye and anon,
 	But boldlye to the mantle
 	then is shee gone.
 29.28	When shee had tane the mantle,
 	and cast itt her about,
 	Vpp att her great toe
 	itt began to crinkle and crowt;
 	Shee said, ‘Bowe downe, mantle,
 	and shame me not for nought.
 29.29	‘Once I did amisse,
 	I tell you certainlye,
 	When I kist Craddockes mouth
 	vnder a greene tree,
 	When I kist Craddockes mouth
 	before he marryed mee.’
 29.30	When shee had her shreeuen,
 	and her sines shee had tolde,
 	The mantle stoode about her
 	right as shee wold;
 29.31	Seemelye of coulour,
 	glittering like gold;
 	Then euery knight in Arthurs court
 	did her behold.
 29.32	Then spake dame Gueneuer
 	to Arthur our king:
 	‘She hath tane yonder mantle,
 	not with wright but with wronge!
 29.33	‘See you not yonder woman
 that	maketh her selfe soe clene?
 	I haue seene tane out of her bedd
 	of men fiueteene;
 29.34	‘Preists, clarkes, and wedded men,
 	from her by-deene;
 	Yett she taketh the mantle,
 	and maketh her-selfe cleane!’
 29.35	Then spake the litle boy
 that	kept the mantle in hold;
 	Sayes ‘King, chasten thy wiffe;
 	of her words shee is to bold.
 29.36	‘Shee is a bitch and a witch,
 	and a whore bold;
 	King, in thine owne hall
 	thou art a cuchold.’
 29.37	The litle boy stoode
 	looking ouer a dore;
 	He was ware of a wyld bore,
 	wold haue werryed a man.
 29.38	He pulld forth a wood kniffe,
 	fast thither that he ran;
 	He brought in the bores head,
 	and quitted him like a man.
 29.39	He brought in the bores head,
 	and was wonderous bold;
 	He said there was neuer a cucholds kniffe
 	carue itt that cold.
 29.40	Some rubbed their kniues
 	vppon a whetstone;
 	Some threw them vnder the table,
 	and said they had none.
 29.41	King Arthur and the child
 	stood looking them vpon;
 	All their kniues edges
 	turned backe againe.
 29.42	Craddoccke had a litle kniue
 	of iron and of steele;
 	He birtled the bores head
 	wonderous weele,
 That	euery knight in the kings court
 	had a morssell.
 29.43	The litle boy had a horne,
 	of red gold that ronge;
 	He said, ’There was noe cuckolde
 	shall drinke of my horne,
 	But he shold itt sheede,
 	either behind or beforne.’
 29.44	Some shedd on their shoulder,
 	and some on their knee;
 	He that cold not hitt his mouth
 	put it in his eye;
 	And he that was a cuckhold,
 	euery man might him see.
 29.45	Craddoccke wan the horne
 	and the bores head;
 	His ladye wan the mantle
 	vnto her meede;
 	Euerye such a louely ladye,
 	God send her well to speede!

Next: 30. King Arthur and King Cornwall