Page images

Of nobles and gentles in every degree, And all for the fame of pretty Bessie. To church then went this gallant young knight,

sbright, His bride followed after, a lady most With troops of fair ladies; the like ne’er was seen,

[Green. As went with sweet Bessie of Bethnal This marriage being solemnized then, With music performed by the skilful

est men, The nobles and gentles sat down at

that tide, Each one admiring the beautiful bride. Now, after the sumptuous dinner was

done, To talk and to reason a number begun; They talked of the blind beggar's

daughter most bright, And what with his daughter he gave

to the knight.

Then spake the nobles, “ Much marvel have we

[see.” This jolly blind beggar we cannot here “My lords,” said the bride, “my fa

ther's so base, He is loath with his presence these

states to disgrace. “The praise of a woman in question to

bring, Before her own face, were a flattering

thing; But we think thy father's baseness,”

said they, “ Might by thy beauty be clean put

away.” They had no sooner these pleasant

words spoke, But in comes the beggar clad in a silk

cloak; A fair velvet cap and a feather had he, And now a musician forsooth he would



He had a dainty lute under his arm, He touched the strings, which made

such a charm, Said, “ Please you to hear any music

of me, I'll sing you a song of pretty Bessie.” With that his lute he touched straight

way, And thereon began most sweetly to

play; And after that lessons were played two

or three, He strained out this song most deli

cately :“ A poor beggar's daughter did dwell

on a green, Who for her fairness might well be a

queen ; A blithe, bonny lassie, and a dainty

was she, And many one called her Pretty Bessie.

“ Her father he had no goods nor no

land, But begged for a penny all day with

his hand; And yet to her marriage he gave

thousands three, And still he hath somewhat for pretty

Bessie. “ And if any one here her birth do

disdain, Her father is ready, with might and

with main, To prove she is come of noble degree, Therefore never flout at pretty Bessie.” With that the lords and the company

round With hearty laughter were ready to

swound; At last said the lords, “Full well we

may see The bride and the beggar's beholden

to thee.”

On this the bride all blushing did rise, The pearly drops standing within her

fair eyes: “Oh, pardon my father, brave nobles,”

said she, “ That through blind affection thus

doteth on me.” “ If this be thy father,” the nobles did

say, “ Well may he be proud of this happy

day! Yet by his countenance well may we see,

[agree. His birth and his fortune did never “ And therefore, blind man, we pray

thee take care (And look that the truth thou to us

do declare), Thy birth and thy parentage, what

may it be, For the love that thou bearest to

pretty Bessie.”

« PreviousContinue »