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The Boy and the Mantle (Child No. 29)

The Boy and the Mantle (Child No. 29)

Sunday, Jul 02, 2017 by Francis James Child *

The Boy and the Mantle

IN the third day of May
to Carleile did come
A kind curteous child,
that cold much of wisdome.


A kirtle and a mantle
this child had vppon,
With brauches and ringes
full richelye bedone.

Trouble reading the King's English with antiquated spelling? I'll try to clean it up a bit to clarify the telling ...

The Boy And The Mantle

IN the third day of May to Carlisle did come
A kind and curteous child, who could show great wisdom.

A girdle and a mantle, this child had on,
With broaches and rings, very richly done.

He had a suit of silk, about his middle drawn;
So that he could not bow down, to his great shame.

"God speed, King Arthur, as you sit to eat!
And to the good Queen Gwenevere! I cannot her forget.

"I tell you lords in this hall, I call you all to heed,
Except you be assured, there is something here to dread."

He plucked from his bag, and longer would not dwell,
He pulled forth a pretty mantle, between two nut-shells.

"Have thou here, King Arthur, have thou here of me;
Give it to thy pretty Queen, shaped as it is already.

"It shall never flatter that wife who has once done amiss!"
Then, every knight in the kings court began to care for this.

Forth came lady Gwenevere to the mantle, from her bed;
She was not superstitious, yet she was afraid.

When she had taken the mantle, she stood as she had been asked;
From top to bottom the mantle was shear, as if shredded.

At once it appeared gold, then again green,
Then it was badly wrinkled; ill-fitting on her it seemed.

Then it became all black and bore the worst hue;
"By my troth," quoth King Arthur, "I think you've been untrue!"

She cast away the mantle, that was now again brightly colored,
And ran red-faced to her room!

She cursed the weaver and the tailor who had made that cloth,
And swore vengeance on the head of him who'd brought it to court.

"I had rather be homeless, living in the woods
Than in King Arthur's court shamed for all to see."

Sir Kaye then called forth his own lady and bid her come near;
Says, "Madam, if guilt may be found in you, stay put right there."

His lady came forth quickly; considered, then boldly went to the mantle.

When she had taken the mantle and wrapped it around herself,
She appeared naked so that her buttocks were seen by all present!

Then every knight that was in the king's court
Began talking, laughing and shouting at the sport of this!

She cast away the mantle, that was now again brightly colored,
And ran red-faced to her room!

Forth came an old knight, muttering over a creed,
And he gave to this little boy money for his mead,
And a Christmas promise, the boy to feed,
If his wife might try the mantle indeed.

When she had taken the mantle of cloth that was made,
She had no more left on her but a tassell and a thread:
Then every knight in the king's court bid evil toward her.

She cast away the mantle, that was now again brightly colored,
And ran red-faced to her room!

Sir Craddock then called forth his own lady, and bid her come in;
Saying, "Win this mantle, lady, with little noise.
Win this mantle, lady, and it shall be thine
If thou never did amiss since thou wast mine."

Forth came Craddock's lady quickly,
And by and by she went boldly to the mantle.

When she had taken the mantle, and wrapped it around herself,
It began to pull up at her big toe;
She said, "Bow down, mantle, and bring me no shame!
Once I did amiss, I tell you certainly,
When I kissed Craddock's mouth under a green tree,
When I kissed Craddock in the woods before he married me."

When she'd made this confession and her sins she had told,
The mantle stood about her just as right as she would;
Seemly of color and glittering like gold;
Then every knight in Arthur's court beheld her.

Then up spoke Gwenevere to Arthur our king:
"She has won this mantle, not with right but with wrong!

"See you not this woman who makes herself so clean?
I have seen taken out of her bed, of men, fifteen!

"Priests, clerks, and married men have consorted with her;
Yet she takes the mantle, and makes herself clean!"

Then says the little boy who kept the mantle in hold;
Says, "King, chasten thy wife; of her words she is too bold.

"She is a bitch and a witch, and a whore much too bold;
King, in thine own hall thou art a cuckold."

The little boy stood looking out the door;
He spied a wild boar of the sort that would have worried a grown man.

He pulled forth a wooden knife, and out the door he ran,
He brought in the boar's head, and quit himself like a man.

He brought in the boar's head, and was wondrous bold;
He said there was never a cuckold's knife could carve the head of this boar.

Some then sharpened their knives upon a whetstone;
Some hid them under the table, and said they had none.

King Arthur and the child stood looking at them;
All their knives edges turned dull at the boar's head.

Craddocck had a little knife of iron and of steel;
He carved up the boar's head wondrously well,
So that every knight in the king's court had a morsel.

Also the little boy had a horn of red gold that rang;
He said "No cuckold shall be able to drink from my horn,
But he'll spill the drink, either behind or before."

Some spilled on their shoulder, and some on their knee;
He who could not hit his mouth would put it in his eye;
And he who was a cuckhold, every man could freely see.

Sir Craddocck won the horn and the boar's head;
His lady won the mantle and her meade;
Ever so lovely a lady, may she go with all godspeed!


He had a sute of silke,
about his middle drawne;
Without he cold of curtesye,
he thought itt much shame.


"God speed thee, King Arthur,
sitting att thy meate!
And the goodly Queene Gueneuer!
I cannott her forgett.


"I tell you lords in this hall,
I hett you all heede,
Except you be the more surer,
is you for to dread."


He plucked out of his potewer,
and longer wold not dwell,
He pulled forth a pretty mantle,
betweene two nut-shells.


"Haue thou here, King Arthure,
haue thou heere of mee;
Giue itt to thy comely queene,
shapen as itt is alreadye.

"Itt shall neuer become that wiffe
that hath once done amisse:"
Then euery knight in the kings court
began to care for his.


Forth came dame Gueneuer,
to the mantle shee her bed;
The ladye shee was new-fangle,
but yett shee was affrayd.


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.


One while was itt gaule,
another while was itt greene;
another while was itt wadded;
ill itt did her beseeme.


Another while was it blacke,
and bore the worst hue;
"By my troth," quoth King Arthur,
"I thinke thou be not true."


Shee threw downe the mantle,
that bright was of blee,
Fast with a rudd redd
to her chamber can shee flee.


Shee curst the weauer and the walker
that clothe that had wrought,
And bade a vengeance on his crowne
that hither hath itt brought.


"I had rather be in a wood,
vnder a greene tree,
Then in King Arthurs court
shamed for to bee."


Kay called forth his ladye,
and bade her come neere;
Saies, "Madam, and thou be guiltye,
I pray thee hold thee there."


Forth came his ladye
shortlye and anon,
Boldlye to the mantle
then is shee gone.


When she had tane the mantle,
and cast it her about,
Then was shee bare
all aboue the buttocckes.


Then euery knight
that was in the kings court
Talked, laughed, and showted,
full oft att that sport.


Shee threw downe the mantle,
that bright was of blee,
Ffast with a red rudd
to her chamber can shee flee.


Forth came an old knight,
pattering ore a creede,
And he proferred to this little boy
twenty markes to his meede,


And all the time of the Christmasse
willinglye to feede;
For why, this mantle might
doe his wiffe some need.


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.


Shee threw downe the mantle,
that bright was of blee,
And fast with a redd rudd
to her chamber can shee flee.


Craddocke called forth his ladye,
and bade her come in;
Saith, "Winne this mantle, ladye,
with a litle dinne.


"Winne this mantle, ladye,
and it shalbe thine
If thou neuer did amisse
since thou wast mine."


Forth came Craddockes ladye
shortlye and anon,
But boldlye to the mantle
then is shee gone.


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.


"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."


When shee had her shreeuen,
and her sines shee had tolde,
The mantle stoode about her
right as shee wold;


Seemelye of coulour,
glittering like gold;
Then euery knight in Arthurs court
did her behold.


Then spake dame Gueneuer
to Arthur our king:
"She hath tane yonder mantle,
not with wright but with wronge!


"See you not yonder woman
that maketh her selfe soe clene?
I haue seene tane out of her bedd
of men fiueteene;


"Preists, clarkes, and wedded men,
from her by-deene;
Yett she taketh the mantle,
and maketh her-selfe cleane!"


Then spake the litle boy
that kept the mantle in hold;
Sayes "King, chasten thy wiffe;
of her words shee is to bold.


"Shee is a bitch and a witch,
and a whore bold;
King, in thine owne hall
thou art a cuchold."


The litle boy stoode
looking ouer a dore;
He was ware of a wyld bore,
wold haue werryed a man.


He pulld forth a wood kniffe,
fast thither that he ran;
He brought in the bores head,
and quitted him like a man.


He brought in the bores head,
and was wonderous bold;
He said there was neuer a cucholds kniffe
carue itt that cold.


Some rubbed their kniues
vppon a whetstone;
Some threw them vnder the table,
and said they had none.


King Arthur and the child
stood looking them vpon;
All their kniues edges
turned backe againe.


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.
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."


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.


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!

* Originally published Sunday, May 21, 2017, last updated on Sunday, Jul 02, 2017

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