No: 208; variant: 208F
- THE king has written a broad letter,
And seald it with his hand,
And sent it on to Lord Arnwaters,
To read and understand.
- Now he has sent it by no boy,
No boy, nor yet a slave,
But one of England’s fairest knights,
The one that he would have.
- When first he on the letter lookd,
Then he began to smile;
But ere he read it to an end,
The tears did trickling fall.
- He calld upon his saddle-groom
To saddle his milk-white steed,
‘For I unto London must go,
For me there is much need.’
- Out then speaks his gay lady,
In child-bed where she lay:
‘Make your will, make your will, my knight,
For fear ye rue the day.’
- ‘I’ll leave unto my eldest son
My houses and my lands;
I’ll leave unto my youngest son
Full forty thousand pounds.
- ‘I’ll leave unto my gay lady,
And to my loving wife,
The second part of my estate,
To maintain a lady’s life.’
- He kissd her on the pillow soft,
In child-bed where she lay,
And bade farewell, neer to return,
Unto his lady gay.
- He put his foot in the stirup,
His nose began to bleed;
The ring from ‘s finger burst in two
When he mounted on his steed.
- He had not rode a mile or two
Till his horse stumbled down;
‘A token good,’ said Lord Arnwaters,
‘I’ll never reach London town.’
- But when into Westminster Hall,
Amongst the nobles all,
‘A traitor, a traitor, Lord Arnwaters,
A traitor,’ they did him call.
- ‘A traitor? a traitor how call ye me?
And a traitor how can I be
For keeping seven thousand valiant men
To fight for brave Jamie?’
- Up then came a brave old man,
With a broad ax in his hand:
‘Your life, your life, Lord Arnwaters,
Your life’s at my command.’
- ‘My life, my life, my brave old man,
My life I’ll give to thee,
And the coat of green that’s on my back
You shall have for your fee.
- ‘There’s fifty pounds in one pocket,
Pray deal’t among the poor;
There’s fifty and four in the other pocket,
Pray deal’t from door to door.
- ‘There’s one thing more I have to say,
This day before I die;
To beg the lords and nobles all
To be kind to my lady.’