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And al so certain, as we know eche on
That we shul die, as uncertain we all
Ben of that day whan deth shal on us fall.
Accepteth than of us the trewe entent,
That never yet refuseden your hest,
And we wol, lord, if that ye wol assent,
Chese you a wife in short time at the mest,
Borne of the gentillest and of the best
Of all this lond, so that it oughte seme
Honour to God and you, as we can deme.
Deliver us out of all this besy drede,
And take a wif, for highe Goddes sake:
For if it so befell, as God forbede,
That thurgh your deth your linage shulde slake,
And that a strange successour shuld take
Your heritage, o! wo were us on live:
Wherfore we pray you hastily to wive.
Hir meke praiere and hir pitous chere
Made the markis for to han pitee.
Ye wol, quod he, min owen peple dere,
To that I never er thought constrainen me.
I me rejoyced of my libertee,
That selden time is found in mariage;
Ther I was free, I moste ben in servage.
But natheles I see your trewe entent,
And trust upon your wit, and have don ́ay:
Wherfore of my free will I wol assent
To wedden me, as sone as ever I may.
But ther as ye han profred me to-day
To chesen me a wif, I you relese
That chois, and pray you of that profer cese.
For God it wot, that children often ben
Unlike hir worthy eldres hem before,
Bountee cometh al of God, not of the stren,
Of which they ben ygendred and ybore:
I trust in Goddes bountee, and therfore
My mariage, and min estat, and rest
I him betake, he may don as him lest.
Let me alone in chesing of my wif,
That charge upon my bak I wol endure:
But I you pray, and charge upon your lif,
That what wif that I take, ye me assure
To worship hire while that hire lif may dure,
In word and werk both here and elles where,
As she an emperoures doughter were.
And forthermore this shuln ye swere, that ye
Again my chois shul never grutch ne strive.
For sith I shal forgo my libertee
At your request, as ever mote I thrive,
Ther as min herte is set, ther wol I wive:
And but ye wol assent in swiche manere,
I pray you speke no more of this matere.
With hertly will they sworen and assenten
To all this thing, ther saide not o wight nay:
Beseching him of grace, or that they wenten,
That he wold granten hem a certain day
Of his spousaile, as sone as ever he may,
For yet alway the peple somwhat dred,
Lest that this markis wolde no wif wed.
He granted hem a day, swiche as him lest, On which he wold be wedded sikerly, And said he did all this at hir request; And they with humble herte ful buxumly Kneling upon hir knees ful reverently Him thonken all, and thus they han an end Of hir entente, and home agen they wend.
And hereupon he to his officeres Commandeth for the feste to purvay. And to his privee knightes and squieres Swiche charge he yave, as him list on hem lay; And they to his commandement obey, And eche of hem doth al his diligence To do unto the feste al reverence.
Nought fer fro thilke paleis honourable,
Wher as this markis shope his mariage,
Ther stood a thorpe, of sighte delitable,
In which that poure folk of that village
Hadden hir bestes and hir herbergage,
And of hir labour toke hir sustenance,
After that the erthe yave hem habundance.
Among this poure folk ther dwelt a man,
Which that was holden pourest of hem all;
But highe God somtime senden can
His grace unto a litel oxes stall:
Janicola men of that thorpe him call.
A doughter had he, faire ynough to sight,
And Grisildis this yonge maiden hight.
But for to speke of vertuous beautee,
Than was she on the fairest under sonne;
Ful pourely yfostred up was she:
No likerous lust was in hire herte yronne;
Wel ofter of the well than of the tonne
She dranke, and for she wolde vertue plese,
She knew wel labour, but non idel ese.
But though this mayden tendre were of age,
Yet in the brest of hire virginitee
Ther was enclosed sad and ripe corage:
And in gret reverence and charitee
Hire olde poure fader fostred she:
A few sheep spinning on the feld she kept,
She wolde not ben idel til she slept.
And whan she homward came, she wolde bring Wortes and other herbes times oft,
The which she shred and sethe for hire living,
And made hire bed ful hard, and nothing soft:
And ay she kept hire fadres lif on loft
With every obeisance and diligence,
That child may don to fadres reverence.
Upon Grisilde, this poure creature,
Ful often sithe this markis sette his eye,
As he on hunting rode paraventure:
And whan it fell that he might hire espie,
He not with wanton loking of folie
His eyen cast on hire, but in sad wise
Upon hire chere he wold him oft avise,
Commending in his herte hire womanhede,
And eke hire vertue, passing any wight
Of so yong age, as wel in chere as dede.
For though the peple have no gret insight
In vertue, he considered ful right
Hire bountee, and disposed that he wold
Wedde hire only, if ever he wedden shold.
The day of wedding came, but no wight can Tellen what woman that it shulde be, For which mervaille wondred many a man, And saiden, whan they were in privetee, Wol not our lord yet leve his vanitee? Wol he not wedde? alas, alas the while! Why wol he thus himself and us begile?
But natheles this markis hath do make
Of gemmes, sette in gold and in asure,
Broches and ringes, for Grisildes sake,
And of hire clothing toke he the mesure
Of a maiden like unto hire stature,
And eke of other ornamentes all,
That unto swiche a wedding shulde fall.
The time of underne of the same day
Approcheth, that this wedding shulde be,
And all the paleis put was in array,
Both halle and chambres, eche in his degree,
Houses of office stuffed with plentee
Ther mayst thou see of deinteous vitaille,
That may be found, as fer as lasteth Itaille.
This real markis richely arraide,
Lordes and ladies in his compagnie,
The which unto the feste weren praide,
And of his retenue the bachelerie,
With many a soun of sondry melodie,
Unto the village, of the which I told,
In this array the righte way they hold.
Grisilde of this (God wot) ful innocent,
That for hire shapen was all this array,
To fetchen water at a welle is went,
And cometh home as sone as ever she
For wel she had herd say, that thilke day
The markis shulde wedde, and, if she might,
She wolde fayn han seen som of that sight.
She thought, I wol with other maidens stond,
That ben my felawes, in our dore, and see
The markisesse, and therto wol I fond
To don at home, as sone as it may be,