To hem, and saved hem out of meschance,
So sent he might and vigour to Custance.

Forth goth hire ship thurghout the narwe mouth Of Jubaltare and Septe, driving alway, Somtime West, and somtime North and South, And somtime Est, ful many a wery day: Til Cristes moder (blessed be she ay) Hath shapen thurgh hire endeles goodnesse To make an end of all hire hevinesse. Now let us stint of Custance but a throw, And speke we of the Romane emperour, That out of Surrie hath by lettres knowe The slaughter of cristen folk, and dishonour Don to his doughter by a false traitour, I mene the cursed wicked Soudannesse, That at the fest let sleen both more and lesse. For which this emperour hath sent anon His senatour, with real ordinance, And other lordes, God wote, many on, On Surriens to taken high vengeance: They brennen, sleen, and bring hem to meschance Ful many a day: but shortly this is th'ende, Homward to Rome they shapen hem to wende. This senatour repaireth with victorie To Rome ward, sayling ful really, And met the ship driving, as saith the storie, In which Custance sitteth ful pitously: Nothing ne knew he what she was, ne why She was in swiche array, ne she wil sey Of hire estat, though that she shulde dey. He bringeth hire to Rome, and to his wif He yaf hire, and hire yonge sone also:

And with the senatour she lad hire lif.
Thus can our lady bringen out of wo
Woful Custance, and many another mo:
And longe time dwelled she in that place,
In holy werkes ever, as was hire grace.

The senatoures wif hire aunte was,

But for all that she knew hire never the more:
I wol no longer tarien in this cas,

But to king Alla, which I spake of yore,
That for his wif wepeth and siketh sore,
I wol returne, and let I wol Custance
Under the senatoures governance.

King Alla, which that had his moder slain,
Upon a day fell in swiche repentance,
That if I shortly tellen shal and plain,
To Rome he cometh to receive his penance,
And putte him in the popes ordinance
In high and low, and Jesu Crist besought,
Foryeve his wicked werkes that he had wrought.

The fame anon thurghout the toun is born,
How Alla king shal come on pilgrimage,
By herbergeours that wenten him beforn,
For which the senatour, as was usage,
Rode him againe, and many of his linage,
As wel to shewen his high magnificence,
As to don any king a reverence.

Gret chere doth this noble senatour
To king Alla, and he to him also;
Everich of hem doth other gret honour;
And so befell, that in a day or two
This senatour is to king Alla go
To fest, and shortly, if I shal not lie,
Custances sone went in his compagnie.

Som men wold sain at requeste of Custance This senatour hath lad this child to feste: I may not tellen every circumstance, Be as be may, ther was he at the leste: But soth is this, that at his mothers heste Beforn Alla, during the metes space,

The child stood, loking in the kinges face.

This Alla king hath of this child gret wonder, And to the senatour he said anon,

Whos is that faire child that stondeth yonder?
I n'ot, quod he, by God and by Seint John;
A moder he hath, but fader hath he non,
That I of wote: but shortly in a stound
He told Alla how that this child was found.

But God wot, quod this senatour also,
So vertuous a liver in all my lif

Ne saw I never, as she, ne herd of mo
Of worldly woman, maiden, widewe or wif:
I dare wel sayn hire hadde lever a knif
Thurghout hire brest, than ben a woman wikke,
Ther is no man coude bring hire to that prikke.
Now was this child as like unto Custance
As possible is a creature to be:

This Alla hath the face in remembrance
Of dame Custance, and theron mused he,
If that the childes moder were aught she
That is his wif, and prively he sighte,
And sped him fro the table that he mighte.
Parfay, thought he, fantome is in min hed.
I ought to deme of skilful jugement,
That in the salte see my wif is ded.
And afterward he made his argument;
What wot I, if that Crist have hider sent

My wif by see, as wel as he hire lent
To my contree, fro thennes that she went?

And after noon home with the senatour
Goth Alla, for to see this wonder chance.
This senatour doth Alla gret honour,
And hastily he sent after Custance:

But trusteth wel, hire luste not to dance.
Whan that she wiste wherfore was that sonde,
Unnethe upon hire feet she mighte stonde.

Whan Alla saw his wif, faire he hire grette, And wept, that it was routhe for to see, For at the firste look he on hire sette He knew wel veraily that it was she: And she for sorwe, as domb stant as a tree: So was hire herte shette in hire distresse, Whan she remembered his unkindenesse.

Twies she swouneth in his owen sight, He wepeth and him excuseth pitously: Now God, quod he, and all his halwes bright So wisly on my soule as have mercy, That of youre harme as gilteles am I, As is Maurice my sone, so like your face, Elles the fend me fetche out of this place.

Long was the sobbing and the bitter peine, Or that hir woful hertes mighten cese, Gret was the pitee for to here hem pleine, Thurgh whiche pleintes gan hir wo encrese. I pray you all my labour to relese, I may not tell hir wo until to-morwe, I am so wery for to speke of sorwe.

But finally, whan that the soth is wist, That Alla gilteles was of hire wo,

I trow an hundred times han they kist,

And swiche a blisse is ther betwix hem two,
That save the joye that lasteth evermo,

Ther is non like, that any creature

Hath seen or shal, while that the world may dure.

Tho praied she hire husbond mekely
In releef of hire longe pitous pine,
That he wold pray hire fader specially,
That of his magestee he wold encline
To vouchesauf som day with him to dine:
She praied him eke, he shulde by no way
Unto hire fader no word of hire say.

Som men wold sayn, how that the child Maurice
Doth this message until this emperour:
But as I gesse, Alla was not so nice,
To him that is so soveraine of honour,
As he that is of cristen folk the flour,
Send any child, but it is bet to deme
He went himself, and so it may wel seme.
This emperour hath granted gentilly
To come to dinner, as he him besoughte:
And wel rede I, he loked besily

Upon this child, and on his doughter thought.
Alla goth to his inne, and as him ought
Arraied for this feste in every wise,
As ferforth as his conning may suffice.

The morwe came, and Alla gan him dresse,
And eke his wif, this emperour to mete:
And forth they ride in joye and in gladnesse,
And whan she saw hire fader in the strete,
She light adoun and falleth him to fete.,
Fader, quod she, your yonge child Custance
Is now ful clene out of
your remembrance.

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