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A merchant of London, whose wealth was not small, 45
He was the third suiter, and proper withall :
Her masters own sonne the fourth man must bee,
Who swore he would dye for pretty Bessee.
• And, if thou wilt marry with mee,' quoth the knight, 'Ile make thee a ladye with joy and delight; 50 My hart 's so inthralled by thy bewtie, That soone I shall dye for prettye Bessee.'
The gentleman sayd, 'Come, marry with mee,
As fine as a ladye my Bessy shal bee:
My life is distressed: O heare me, quoth hee;
And grant me thy love, my prettye Bessee.'
*Let me bee thy husband,' the merchant cold say, • Thou shalt live in London both gallant and gay; My shippès shall bring home rych jewells for thee, And I will for ever love pretty Bessee.'
Then Bessy shee sighed, and thus shee did say,
My father and mother I meane to obey;
First gett their good will, and be faithfull to mee,
And you shall enjoye your prettye Bessee.'
To every one this answer shee made,
Wherfore unto her they joyfullye sayd,
*This thing to fulfill wee all doe agree;
But where dwells thy father, my prettye Bessee?'
*My father,' shee said, “is soone to be seene:
The seely blind beggar of Bednall-greene,
That daylye sits begging for charitie,
He is the good father of pretty Bessee.
His markes and his tokens are knowen very well;
He alwayes is led with a dogg and a bell:
A seely olde man, God knoweth, is hee,
75 Yett hee is the father of pretty Bessee.'
"Nay then,' quoth the merchant, 'thou art not for mee :' •Nor,' quoth the innholder, “my wiffe thou shalt bee;' 'I lothe,' sayd the gentle, “a beggars degree, And therefore, adewe, my pretty Bessee!'
• Why then,' quoth the knight, 'hap better or worse,
I waighe not true love by the waight of the pursse,
And bewtye is bewtye in every degree;
Then welcome unto me, my pretty Bessee.
With thee to thy father forthwith I will goe.'
'Nay soft,' quoth his kinsmen, ‘it must not be soe;
A poor beggars daughter noe ladye shal bee,
Then take thy adew of pretty Bessee.'
But soone after this, by breake of the day
The knight had from Rumford stole Bessy away. 90
The younge men of Rumford, as thickè might bee,
Rode after to feitch againe pretty Bessee.
As swifte as the winde to ryde they were seene,
Untill they came neare unto Bednall-greene;
And as the knight lighted most courteouslie,
They all fought against him for pretty Bessee.
But rescew came speedilye over the plaine,
Or else the young knight for his love had been slaine.
This fray being ended, then straitway he see
His kinsmen come rayling at pretty Bessee.
Then spake the blind beggar, ‘ Although I bee poore, Yett rayle not against my child at my own doore: Though shee be not decked in velvett and pearle, Yett will I dropp angells with you for my girle.
And then, if my gold may better her birthe,
And equall the gold that you lay on the earth,
Then neyther rayle nor grudge you to see
The blind beggars daughter a lady to bee.
But first you shall promise, and have itt well knowne,
The gold that you drop shall all be your owne. 110
With that they replyed, “ Contented bee wee.
* Then here's,' quoth the beggar, ‘for pretty Bessee.'
With that an angell he cast on the ground,
And dropped in angels full three thousand 1 pound;
And oftentimes itt was proved most plaine, 116
For the gentlemens one the beggar dropt twayne;
Soe that the place, wherin they did sitt,
With gold it was coverèd every whitt.
The gentlemen then having dropt all their store,
Sayd, ' Now, beggar, hold, for wee have noe more. 120
Thou hast fulfilled thy promise arright.'
*Then marry, quoth he, 'my girle to this knight;
And heere,' added hee, ‘I will now throwe you downe
A hundred pounds more to buy her a gowne.'
The gentlemen all, that this treasure had seene,
Admired the beggar of Bednall-greene:
And all those, that were her suitors before,
Their fleshe for very anger they tore.
1 In the Editor's folio MS. it is 6001.
Thus was faire Bessè matched to the knight,
And then made a ladye in others despite: 130
A fairer ladye there never was seene,
Than the blind beggars daughter of Bednall-greene.
But of their sumptuous marriage and feast,
What brave lords and knights thither were prest,
The second fitt1 shall set forth to your sight - 135
With marveilous pleasure, and wished delight.
PART THE SECOND.
Off a blind beggars daughter most bright,
That late was betrothèd unto a younge knight;
All the discourse therof you did see;
But now comes the wedding of pretty Bessee,
Within a gorgeous palace most brave,
Adorned with all the cost they cold have,
This wedding was kept most sumptuouslìe,
And all for the creditt of pretty Bessee.
All kind of dainties, and delicates sweete
Were bought for the banquet, as it was most meete; 10
Partridge, and plover, and venison most free,
Against the brave wedding of pretty Bessee.
This marriage through England was spread by report,
Soe that a great number therto did resort
Of nobles and gentles in every degree;
16 And all for the fame of prettye Bessee,
To church then went this gallant younge knight;
His bride followed after, an angell most bright,
With troopès of ladyes, the like nere was seene
As went with sweete Bessy of Bednall-greene.
This marryàge being solèmpnized then,
With musicke performed by the skilfullest men,
The nobles and gentles sate downe at that tyde,
Each one admiring the beautifull bryde.
Now, after the sumptuous dinner was done, 25
To talke, and to reason a number begunn:
They talkt of the blind beggars daughter most bright,
And what with his daughter he gave to the knight.
Then spake the nobles, “Much marveil have wee,
This jolly blind beggar wee cannot here see.' 30
‘My lords, quoth the bride, 'my father's so base,
He is loth with his presence these states to disgrace.'
• The prayse of a woman in questyon to bringe
Before her own face, were a flattering thinge;
But wee thinke thy father's baseness,' quoth they, 36
•Might by thy bewtye be cleane put awaye.
They had noe sooner these pleasant words spoke,
But in comes the beggar cladd in a silke cloke;
A faire velvet capp, and a fether had hee,
And now a musicyan forsooth he wold bee.
He had a daintye lute under his arme,
He touched the strings, which made such a charme,
Saies, . Please you to heare any musicke of mee,
Ile singe you a song of pretty Bessee.'
With that his lute he twangèd straightway,
And thereon begann most sweetlye to play;