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And faide hem she wol bring him inne,
That she shal him to deth winne
All only of his owne graunt
Through strength of verray covenaunt
Withoute blame of any wight.
Anone The sende for this knight
And of her sone she alleide
The deth and thus to him she faide :
Florent, how so ever thou be to wite
Of Branchus deth, men shal respite
As now to take vengement,
Be so thou stonde in jugement
Upon certein condicion,
That thou unto a question
Which I shall axe shalt answere.
And over this thou shalt eke swere,
That if thou of the sothe faile,
There shal non other thinge availe,
That thou ne shalt thy deth receive,
And for men shal the nought deceive
That thou therof might ben avised,
Thou shalt have day and time aflised
And leve saufly for to wende,
Be so that at thy daies ende
Thou come ayein with thin avise.
This knight, which worthy was and wise,
This lady praieth, that he may wit
And have it under seales writ,
What question it sholde be
For which he shall in that degre
Stonde of his life in jeopartie.
With that she feigneth compaignie
And faith: Florent, on love it hongeth
All that to min axinge longeth,
What all women most defire
This woll I axe, and in thempire
Where thou hast moste knowleching
Take counseil of this axinge.
Florent this thing hath undertake,
The day was set and time take,
Under his seale he wrote his othe
In such a wise, and forth he gothe
Home to his emes courte ayein,
To whom his aventure plein
He tolde, of that is him befalle.
And upon that they weren alle
The wisest of the londe assent,
But netheles of one affent
They might nought accorde plat,
One faide this, an other that
After the disposition
Of natural complexion
To some woman it is plesaunce,
That to another is grevaunce.
But suche a thinge in speciall
Whiche to hem alle in generall
Is most plesaunt and most desired
Above all other and most conspired,
Suche o thing conne they nought finde
By constellation ne kinde.
And thus Florent withoute cure
Mot stonde upon his aventure
And is al shape unto the lere,
And as in defaulte of his answere
This knight hath lever for to deie
Than breke his trouth and for to lie
In place where he was swore,
And shapeth him gone ayein therfore.
Whan time cam he toke his leve
That lenger wolde he nought beleve
And praieth his eme he be nought wroth,
For that is a point of his oth,
He faith, that no man shal him wreke,
Though afterward men here speke
That he peraventure deie.
And thus he went forth his weie
Alone as a knight aventurous
And in his thought was curious
To wit, what was best to do.
And as he rode alone so
And cam nigh there he wolde be,
In a forest there under a tree
He sigh where sat a creature,
A lothly womannissh figure,
That for to speke of flesshe and bone
So foule yet sigh he never none.
This knight behelde her redily,
And as he wolde have passed by
She cleped him and bad abide.
And he his hors heved aside,
Tho torned and to her he rode
And there he hoved and abode
To wit what the wolde mene.
And she began him to bemene
And said : Florent, by thy name
Thou hast on honde such a game
That but thou be the better avised
Thy deth is shapen and devised,
That al the world ne may the fave,
But if that thou my counseil have.
Florent whan he this tale herde,
Unto this olde wight answerde
And of her counseil he her praide.
And she ayein to him thus faide :
Florent, if I for the so shape,
That thou through me thy deth escape
And take worship of thy dede,
What shall I have to my mede ?
What thing, quod he, that thou wolde axe.
I bid never a better taxe,
Quod she, but first, or thou be sped,
Thou shalt me leve suche a wed,
That I woll have thy trouth on honde,
That thou shalt be min husebonde.
Nay, faith Florent, that may nought be.
Ride thanne forth thy way, quod The,
And if thou go withoute rede,
Thou shalt be sekerlich dede.
Florent behight her good inough
Of londe, of rent, of parke, of plough,
But all that compteth she at nought.
Tho fell this knight in mochel thought,
Now goth he forth, now cometh ayein,
He wot nought what is best to sain
And thought as he rode to and fro,
That chese he mote one of the two
Or for to take her to his wife
Or elles for to lese his life.
And than he caste his avauntage,
That she was of so great an age
That she may live but a while,
And thought to put her in an ile,
Where that no man her shulde knowe
Til she with deth were overthrowe.
And thus this yonge lusty knight
Unto this olde lothly wight
Tho said: if that none other chaunce
May make my deliveraunce
But only thilke same speche
Which as thou saist thou shalt me teche,
Have here min honde, I shal the wedde.
And thus his trouth he leith to wedde.
With that she frounceth up the browe:
This covenaunt woll I allowe,
She faith, if any other thing
But that thou haste of my teching
Fro deth thy body may respite,
I woll the of thy trouth acquite
And elles by none other waie.
Now herken me what I shall faie :