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The Boy and the Mantle

From Hales and Furnival. Bishop Percy's Folio Manuscript, II, pp. 304-11. Child ballad #29.
[See note below on the magic mantle.]


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

a kirtle & Mantle 
  tis Child had vponn,
with brauches and ringes,
 full richelye bedone.

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!
& the goodlye Queene Gueneuer!
  I cannot her fforgett.

"I tell you Lords in this hall,
  I hett you all heate,
except you be the more surer
  is you for to dread.

he plucked out of his potewer,
  & longer wold not dwell,
he pulled forth a pretty mantle
  betweene 2 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 wiffe.

forth came dame Gueneuer;
  to the mantle shee her biled: [hied?
the Ladye shee was new fangle,
  but yett shee was affrayd.

when she had taken the Mantle,
  shee stoode as she had beene madd;
it was from the top to the toe
  as sheeres had it shread.

one while was it gaule, [red]
  another while it was greene,
another while was itt wadded,-
  ill itt did her beseeme,-

another while was it blacke
  & bore the worst hue.
"by my troth," quoth King Arthur,
"I thinke thou be not true."

shee threw down the mantle
  that bright was of blee. [color]
fast with a rudd redd       [complexion]
  to her chamber can shee flee;

shee curst the weaner & the walker
  that clothe that had wrought,
& bad a vengeance on his crowne
  that hither hath itt brought;

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

Kay called forth his ladye,
  & bad her come neere;
saies, "madam, & thou be guiltye,
  I pray thee hold thee thee."

forth came his Ladye
  shortlye & anon;
boldlye to the Mantle
  then is shee gone.

when shee had tane the Mantle
  & cast it her about,
then was shee bare
  all aboue the Buttocckes.

then euery Kinght
  that was in the Kings court
talked, laughed, & 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,
& he proferred to this little boy   
  20 markes to his meede,

& all the time of the Christmasse
  willinglye to ffeede;
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 & a threed.
then euery Knight in the Kings court
  bad "euill might shee speed."

she threw downe the Mantle
  that bright was of blee,
& fast with a redd ruud
  to her chamber can she flee.

Craddocke called forth his Ladye,
  & bade her come in;
saith, "winne this mantle, Ladye,
  with a little dinne:

"winne this mantle Ladye,
  & it shalbe thine
if thou neuer did amisse
  since thou was maine."

forth came Craddockes Ladye
  shortlye & anon,
but boldlye to the Mantle
  then is shee gone.
when shee had tane the mantle
  & cast itt her about,
vpp att her great toe
  itt began to crinkle & crowt;
she said "bowe downe, Mantle,
  & 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 shreenen, [confessed]
  & 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 cleare?
I haue seene tane out of her bedd
  of men fiueteeene,

"Preists, Clarkes, & wedded men
  from her by-deene!
yett shee taketh the mantle
  & maketh her-selfe cleane!"

then spake the little boy
  that kept the mantle in hold;
says "King! Chasten thy wife!
  of her words shee is to bold.
"shee is a bitch & a witch,
  & a whore bold!
King, in thine owne hall
  thou at a Cuckold!"

A litle boy stoode [The little..]
  looking ouer a dore;
he was ware of a wyld bore [boar]
  wold haue werryed a man.

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

he brought in the bores head,
  and was wonderous bold:
He said, "there was nauer a Cucholds kniffe
  carue itt that cold."

some rubbed their kniues
  vponn a whetstone;
some threw them vnder the table,
  & said they had none.

King Arthur & the Child
  stood looking them vpon;
all their kniues edges
  turned backe againe.

Craddocke had a litle kniue
  of Iron & of steele;
he birtled the bores head
  wonderous weele,
that euery Kinght in the Kings court
  had a morssell.

the litle boy had a horne
  of red gold that rouge;
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
  & some on their knee;
he that cold not hitt his mouth
  put it in his eye;
& he that was a Cuckold,
  euery man might him see.

Craddocke wan the horne
  & the bores head;
his ladye wan the mantle
  vnto her meede.
Euerye such a louely Ladye,
  God send her well to speede!

mantell Trgau Eurfron - the mantle that fitted only a faithful
wife, one of 'The Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain',
in mnay MSS from c 1460. See Bromwich, Jarman, and Roberts, 'The
Arthur of the Welsh'.