To me by any other man:
If my flowers other fade or fall,
Then doth my wife me wrong withal,

As many a woman can.'
The steward thought: “By Goddes might
That shall I preve this same night,

Whether thou bliss or ban."
And into his chamber he gan gone,
And took treasure full good wone,

And forth he sped him than.
But he ne stint at no stone
Till he unto the wright's house come

That ilkè same night.
He met the wife about the gate:
About the neck he gan her take,

And said: “My deare wight,
All the good that is mine
I will thee give to be thine,

To lie by thee all night.”
She said : “Sir, let be thy fare :
My husband wol weet withouten mair

And I him did that unright.
I would not he might it weet
For all the good that I might gete,

So Jesus mut me speed :
For, and any man lay me by,
My husband would it weet truly,— .
It is withouten


The steward said : “For him that is? wrought:
Thereof, dame, dread thee nought

With me to do that deed :
Have here of me twenty mark
Of gold and silver stiff and stark;

This treasure shall be thy meed."
“Sir, and I grant that to you,
Let no man weet but we two now.”

He said : “Nay, withouten dread.”
The steward thought : “Sickerly,
Women beth both quaint and sly.”

The money he gan her bede :
He thought well to have be sped,
And of his errand he was onredd 2

Or he were fro hem ygone. 1 The text gives “ys” [is]. With this word, the meaning of the sentence appears to be: “The transaction will turn to his advantage too (considering the pay that you will receive): or perhaps, “He is safely provided for." But I suspect we ought to read “ us" : in that case, the clause would be a simple adjuration—“For the sake of Him [God] who made us!” 2 Cheerless, anxious ?

Up the staires she him led,
Till he saw the wrighte's bed :

Of treasure rought he none.
He went and stumbled at a stone :
Into the cellar he fill soon,

Down to the bare floor.
The lord said : “ What devil art thou ?
And thou haddest fall on me now,

Thou hadst hurt me full sore !”.
The steward stert and stared about,
If he might ower get out

At holè less or mair.
The lord said : “Welcome, and sit betime;
For thou shalt help to dight this line,

For all thy fierce fare.” 2
The steward looked on the knight :-
He said : “Sir, for Goddes might,

My lord, what do you here?”
He said : “Fellow, withouten oath,
For o errand we come both :

The sooth wol I not lete.” 3
Tho came the wife them unto,
And said : “Sirs, what do you two ?

Will ye not learn to sweat?”
Than said the lord her unto :
'Damè, your line is ydo :

Now would I fain eat :
And I have made it all ilike, -
Full clear, and nothing thick :

Methinketh it great pain.”
The steward said : “Withouten doubt,
And ever I may win out,

I will break her brain !"
"Fellow, let be, and say not so ;
For thou shalt work or ever thou go,-

Thy words thou turn again.
Fain thou shalt be so to do,
And thy good-will put thereto:

As a man buxom and bayn,4
Thou shalt rubbe, reel, and spin,
And thou wolt any meat win,-

That I give to God a gift !” 1 Dress, prepare.

2 Goings-on, project. 3 I will not disguise the truth,

4 Alert.


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The steward said : “ Then have I wonder !
Rather would I die for hunger

Without hosel or shrift !”
The lord said : “So have I hele,
Thou wilt work, if thou hunger well,

What work that thee be brought.”
The lord sat, and did his work :
The steward drew into the derk;

Great sorrow was in his thought.
The lord said : “ Dame, here is your
Have it in God's blessing and mine ;

I hold it well ywrought.”
Meat and drink she gave him in.
“ The steward,” she said, “wol he not spin ?

Will he do right nought ?”
The lord said : “By sweet Sen John,
Of this meatshall he have none

That ye have me hidder brought !”
The lord eat and dranke fast :
The steward hungered at the last,

For he gave him nought.
The steward sat all in a study
His lord had forgot courtesy.
Tho said the steward : “Give me some.”
The lord said : “Sorrow have the morsel or sop
That shall come into thy throat !

Not so much as a crumb !
But thou wilt help to dight this line,
Much hunger it shall be thine,

Though thou make much moan !”.
Up he rose, and went thereto :
6 Better is me thus to do,

While it must needs be done.”
The steward he gan fast to knock :
The wise threw him a swingling-stock,

His meat therewith to win.
She brought a swingle at the last :
“Good sirs,” she said, "swingle on fast;

For nothing that ye blyn.”
She gave him a stock to sit upon,
And said : “Sirs, this work must needs be done,

All that that is herein.”
The steward took up a stick to say :-
See, see, swingle better if ye may :

It will be the better to spin.” 1 Printed in my original “Sey, seye." I am not clear as to the sense of

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Were the lord never so great,
Yet was he fain to work for his meat,

Though he were never so sad :
But the steward, that was so stout,
Was fain to swingle the scales out;

Thereof he was not glad.
The lord's meynè 1 that were at home
Wist not where he was become :

They were full sore adrad.
The proctor of the parish-church right
Came and looked on the wright ;

He looked as he were mad.
Fast the proctor gan him frayn:
“Where hadst thou this garland gayn?

It is ever like-new.”
The wright gan say : “Fellow,-
With my wife, if thou wilt. know:

That dare me not rue :
For, all the while my wife true is,
My garland wol hold hue, I wis,

And never fall nor fade ;
And, if my wife take a paramour,
Than wol my garland vade the floure, -

That dare I lay mine head.”
The proctor thought : In good fay,
That shall I weet this same day,

Whether it may so be.”
To the wrighte's house he went :
He greet the wife with fair intent :

She said : Sir, welcome be ye.”
“Ah dame ! my love is on you fast,
Sith the time I saw you last !


pray you it may so be
That ye would grant me of your grace
To play with you in some privy place,

Or else to death mut me!”
Fast the proctor gan to pray;
And ever to him she said : “Nay,

That wol I not do. these three lines. The steward, it seems, "took up, a stick to say:" but why or what “to say " I can't make out, nor (for certain) whether he "took up a stick” for some flax-dressing purpose, or perhaps in exasperation at the preachments of the wright's wife. Then the two following lines seem to be spoken by that lady : who, with bantering and ruthless calmness, persists in ignoring every aspect of the transaction save the simple matter of business-efficient workmanlike flax-dressing. 1 Household, dependents.

2 Ask.

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Hadst thou done that deed with me,
My spouse by his garland might see ;

That should turn me to woe.
The proctor said : “By heaven King,
If he say to thee anything,

He shall have sorrow unsought :
Twenty mark I wol thee give;
It wol thee helpe well to live :

The money here have I brought.”
Now hath she the treasure ta’en ;
And up the staire be they gane-

(What helpeth it to lie ?)
The wife went to the stair beside ;
The proctor went a little too wide:

He fell down by and by.
When he into the cellar fell,
He went to have sunk into hell ;

He was in heart full sorry.
The steward looked on the knight,
And said : “Proctor, for Goddes might,

Come and sit us by.”
The proctor began to stare,
For he was he wist never where:

But well he knew the knight,
And the steward that swingled the line.
He said : “Sirs, for Goddes pine,

What do ye here this night ?”
The steward said : “God give thee care !
Thou camest to look how we fare.

Now help this line were dight !” He stood still in a great thought ; What to answer he wist nought.

“By Mary full of might,” The proctor said, “What do ye in this inn, For to beat this wife's line?

For Jesus' love full of might,” The proctor said right as he thought, “For me it shall be evil-wrought,

And I may see aright!
For I learned never in lond
For to have a swingle in hond,

By day nor be night.”
The steward said : “As good as thou
We hold us that be here now,
And let preve it be sight :

1 Weened.

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