A lord of note came to a fountain fair
To quench his thirst and view the bustling town.
A grizzled abbot and a blacksmith there
Accompanied a farmer dressed in brown,
Who had produced a skin of wine: "I told,"
He said, "my wife I would return before
The sun sank and the evening fog enrolled,
But half an hour pasta little less or more
Can't hurt. She shouts? What of it? One more cause
For reveling whilst I cancome, let us shirk!
I'll 'scape her wrath and tarry; good sirs, pause
And with me drain this. That's my kind of work!"
The lord refused: " 'Twould shame me to partake
And you, to vow then vow so lightly break.
Pray let me tell you of a boisterous knight
Whose lady's admiration drew near dead:
She loathed his boozing, brawling appetites;
She would afford him neither crust not bread.
Disconsolate, he pledged a year's travail
In which he'd spill no drop of wine or blood,
And if his careless nature should prevail
He'd take a tonsure, forsaking his knighthood.
With chainéd sword he set forth; nothing more
No goods or gold; no fat and clinking purse.
("That man deserved to fish on Heaven's shore!"
the abbot said. The blacksmith: "What a curse!")
Yet when he bade her well 'fore he would roam
still they claimed the lady not at home."
"Upon the road he met from time to time
a peasant boy, a taunting beardless knave
who claimed the knight no man, and "No" a crime
when pled in face of drink or combat brave.
Yet though the insults needled deep, our friend
would steel himself and give the same reply:
'And dash my hopes of making true amends?
Dishonor's worse than gorily to die.'"
("A goodly man," the farmer said, impressed.)
"At this the boy removed his cap to show
No peasant this, but his own lady fair!
'I came in secret,' said she, 'you must know,
to test your mettleto see if you would dare
to break your promise and, over me, choose vice.
Yet worthy of my hand to wed thou art!'
So, men," the lord concluded, "this advice:
Swear lightly not, lest breaking break your heart.
My own brave lady waits at home for me;
I hasten back, as every night I do."
The others' eyes popped as he took his leave:
For on his hip hung a swordcould it be true?
held in its sheath with chains that clinked and swayed!
This company had heard the truth that day.