It’s up in yon chamber well bedight
Of the castle of Invercloyd,
A maiden sits with a grim sir knight
Seated on either side.
“I come to thee by a father’s right,
To issue my last command,
That thou concede to this gallant knight,
What his noble nature will requite,
The guerdon of thy hand.”
“And here, upon my bended knee,”
Sir Bullstrode blandly said,
“I pray thee, in knightly courtesie,
The grace thy sire hath pled.”
“Oh yes! a guerdon let it remain,
I give thee free consent;
But I have a mind, and will maintain,
This knight shall only my favour gain
In knightly tournament.”
“What meaneth the wench?” the father cried,
With a fire-flaught in his eye,
“What other knight would’st thou invite
Sir Bullstrode to defy?
Is he a lover? I grant no parle,
For I am resolved to know,
And wish, by my sword, no better a quarrel;
And be he a ceorl, or be he an earl,
He goes to shades below.”
“No lover is he, my father dear,
My champion who shall be;
A stranger knight shall for me fight,
And shall my fate decree.”
“Well done! well done!” cried Sir Bullstrode,
“That goeth with my gree;
May the carrion crow be then abroad,
All hungry to feed upon carrion food,
That day he fights with me.”
“But let this contract,” said the maid,
“Be written on parchment skin,
And signed, and sealed, and witnessed,
That surety I may find.”
Again the father knit his brow,
Yet could not he complain,
Because Sir Bullstrode wished it so,
That all the world might come to know
His honour he could maintain.
It’s up in yon chamber tapestried,
Sits the Lady Katharine;
She smiled at a woman’s art applied
Her own true love to win.
And lo! who comes in a tearful way,
But her pretty tire-woman,
“Hey! hey! what now? good lack-a-day!
Such cheeks so pale, and lips like clay;
What ails maid Lilian?”
“Oh it is, it is, young mistress mine,
All about this valiant knight,
Who came to me all drunk with wine,
At the dead hour of the night.
He seized me struggling to get free,
And swore by the goat of Jove,
He would me fee, if I would be,
La! my lady! I fear to tell it to thee,
His left-hand lady-love.”
“Ho! ho! my maid, a pretty scene!
A brute of noble parts!
But ’tis easier to turn a bull by each horn,
Than rule two women’s hearts.
No harems have we in western land,
Where a woman’s soul is free,
To rule weak man by her high command,
And rouse by a wave of her wizard wand
The fire of his chivalrie.”