Page images


80. In this estat ther passed ben foure yere
Er she with childe was, but, as God wold,
A knave childe she bare by this Waltere
Ful gracious, and fair for to behold:

And whan that folk it to his fader told,
Not only he, but all his contree mery

Was for this childe, and God they thonke and hery.

81. Whan it was two yere old, and from the brest
Departed of his norice, on a day

This markis caughte yet another lest
To tempte his wif yet ofter, if he may.
O! nedeles was she tempted in assay.
But wedded men ne connen no mesure,
Whan that they finde a patient creature.

82. Wif, quod this markis, ye han herd or this
My peple sikely beren our mariage,
And namely sin my sone yboren is,
Now is it werse than ever in al our age:
The murmur sleth myn herte and my corage,
For to myn eres cometh the vois so smerte,
That it wel nie destroyed hath myn herte.

83. Now say they thus, whan Walter is agon,
Than shal the blood of Janicle succede,
And ben our lord, for other han we non:
Swiche wordes sayn my peple, it is no drede.
Wel ought I of swiche murmur taken hede,
For certainly I drede al swiche sentence,
Though they not plainen in myn audience.

84. I wolde live in pees, if that I might:
Wherfore I am disposed utterly,
As I his suster served er by night,
Right so thinke I to serve him prively.
This warne I you, that ye not sodenly
Out of yourself for no wo shuld outraie,
Beth patient, and therof I you praie.

85. I have, quod she, sayd thus and ever shal,
I wol no thing, ne n'ill no thing certain,
But as you list: not greveth me at al,
Though that my doughter and my sone be slain
At your commandement: that is to sain,
I have not had no part of children twein,
But first sikenesse, and after wo and peine.

86. Ye ben my lord, doth with your owen thing
Right as you list, asketh no rede of me:
For as I left at home al my clothing

Whan I came first to you, right so (quod she)
Left I my will and al my libertee,

And toke your clothing: wherfore I you prey,
Doth your plesance, I wol youre lust obey.

87. And certes, if I hadde prescience

Your will to know, er ye your lust me told,
I wold it do withouten negligence:

But now I wote your lust, and what ye wold,
All your plesance ferme and stable I hold,
For wist I that my deth might do you ese,
Right gladly wold I dien, you to plese.

88. Deth may not maken no comparisoun

Unto your love. And whan this markis sa
The constance of his wif, he cast adoun
His eyen two, and wondreth how she may
In patience suffer al this array :
And forth he goth with drery contenance,
But to his herte it was ful gret plesance.

89. This ugly sergeant in the same wise

That he hire doughter caughte, right so he
(Or werse, if men can any werse devise)
Hath hent hire sone, that ful was of beautee:
And ever in on so patient was she,
That she no chere made of hevinesse,
But kist hire sone and after gan it blesse.

90. Save this she praied him, if that he might, Hire litel sone he wold in erthe grave,

His tendre limmes, delicat to sight,

Fro foules and fro bestes for to save.
But she non answer of him mighte have,
He went his way, as him no thing ne rought,
But to Boloigne he tendrely it brought.

91. This markis wondreth ever lenger the more
Upon hire patience, and if that he
Ne hadde sothly knowen therbefore,
That parfitly hire children loved she,
He wold han wend that of som subtiltee
And of malice, or for cruel corage,
That she had suffred this with sad visage.

92. But wel he knew, that next himself, certain
She loved hire children best in every wise.
But now of women wold I asken fayn,
If thise assaies mighten not suffise;
What coud a sturdy husbond more devise
To preve hire wif hood, and hire steadfastnesse,
And he continuing ever in sturdinesse ?

93. But ther ben folk of swiche condition,

That, whan they han a certain purpos take,
They can not stint of hir intention,
But, right as they were bounden to a stake,
They wol not of hir firste purpos slake:
Right so this markis fully hath purposed
To tempt his wif, as he was first disposed.

94. He waiteth, if by word or contenance
That she to him was changed of corage:
But never coud he finden variance,
She was ay on in herte and in visage,
And ay the further that she was in age,
The more trewe (if that it were possible)
She was to him in love, and more penible.

95. For which it semed thus, that of hem two Ther was but o will; for as Walter lest, The same lust was hire plesance also;

And God be thanked, all fell for the best.
She shewed wel, for no worldly unrest
A wif, as of hireself, no thing ne sholde
Wille in effect, but as hire husbond wolde.

96. The sclandre of Walter wonder wide spradde,
That of a cruel herte he wikkedly,

For he a poure woman wedded hadde,
Hath murdred both his children prively:
Swich murmur was among hem comunly.
No wonder is: for to the peples ere
Ther came no word, but that they murdred were.

97. For which ther as his peple therbefore

Had loved him wel, the sclandre of his diffame
Made hem that they him hateden therfore :
To ben a murdrour is an hateful name.
But natheles, for ernest ne for game,
He of his cruel purpos n'olde stente,
To tempt his wif was sette all his entente.

98. Whan that his doughter twelf yere was of age,
He to the court of Rome, in subtil wise
Enformed of his will, sent his message,
Commanding him, swiche billes to devise,
As to his cruel purpos may suffise,
How that the pope, as for his peples rest,
Bade him to wed another, if him lest.

99. I say he bade, they shulden contrefete
The popes bulles, making mention
That he hath leve his firste wif to lete,
As by the popes dispensation,

To stinten rancour and dissension

Betwix his peple and him: thus spake the bull,
The which they han publisshed at the full.

100. The rude peple, as no wonder is,

Wenden ful wel, that it ben right so:
But whan thise tidings came to Grisildis,
I deme that hire herte was ful of wo;

But she ylike sad for evermo
Disposed was, this humble creature,
The adversitee of fortune al to endure;

101. Abiding ever his lust and his plesance,
To whom that she was yeven, herte and al,
As to hire veray worldly suffisance.
But shortly if this storie tell I shal,
This markis writen hath in special
A lettre, in which he sheweth his entente,
And secretly he to Boloigne it sente,

102. To the erl of Panik, which that hadde tho Wedded his suster, prayed he specially

To bringen home agein his children two
In honourable estat al openly:

But o thing he him prayed utterly,

That he to no wight, though men wold enquere,
Shulde not tell whos children that they were,

103. But say, the maiden shuld ywedded be
Unto the markis of Saluces anon.
And as this erl was prayed, so did he,
For at day sette he on his way is gon
Toward Saluces, and lordes many on
In rich arraie, this maiden for to gide,
Hire yonge brother riding hire beside.

104. Arraied was toward hire mariage

This fresshe maideu, ful of gemmes clere,
Hire brother, which that seven yere was of age,
Arraied eke ful fresh in his manere:

And thus in gret noblesse and with glad chere
Toward Saluces shaping hir journay
Fro day to day they riden in hir way.


105. Among al this, after his wicked usage, This markis yet his wif to tempten more To the utterest prefe of hire corage,

« PreviousContinue »