The Oxford Book of Ballads - online book

A Selection Of The Best English Lyric Ballads Chosen & Edited by Arthur Quiller-Couch

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Soon after Christmas the King chanced to ride by Tarn Wadling, in the forest of Inglewood, when he was met by a fierce baron armed with a club, who offered him choice between fighting and ransom. For ransom, the King must return on New Year's Day—
' And bring me word what thing it is
That a woman will most desire; This shalbe thy ransome, Arthur,' he saves,
' For I'le have noe other hier.'
v King Arthur then held up his hand,
According thene as was the law; He tooke his leave of the baron there,
And homward can he draw.
And when he came to merry Carleile,
To his chamber he is gone, And ther came to him his cozen Sir Gawaine,
As he did make his mone.
And there came to him his cozen Sir Gawaine,
That was a curteous knight; ""Why sigh you soe sore, unckle Arthur,' he said,
' Or who hath done thee unright ?'—
' O peace, O peace, thou gentle Gawaine,
That faire may thee beffall! For if thou knew my sighing sos deepe.
Thou wo'ld not mervaile att all.
Tarn Wadling] The place—near Hesketh in Cumberland, on the road from Carlisle to Penrith—keeps its name to this day. But the tarn has been drained and its site is now a pasture for sheep.
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