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TIEIGNS OF JAMES I. AND CHARLES I. 351
And I'll tell you a story, a story so merry, Concerning the Abbot of Canterbury ; How for his housekeeping, and high renown, The king he sent for him to fair London town.
An hundred men, the king did hear say, The abbot did keep in his house every day ; And fifty gold chains, without any doubt, In velvet coats waited the lord abbot about.
The first is to tell him there in that stead, With his crown of gold so fair on his head, Among all his liegemen so noble of birth, To within one penny of what he is worth.
The second, to tell him, without any doubt, How soon he may ride this whole world about: And at the third question I must not shrink, But tell him there truly what he does think."
" Now cheer up, Bire abbot, did you never hear
That a fool he may learn a wise man wit? fcend me horse, and serving men, and your
apparel, And I'll ride to London to answer your quarrel.
Nay frown not, if it hath been told unto me I am like your lotdship, as ever may be; And if you will only but lend me your gown, There's none that shall know us at fair London town."
"Nowhorses and serving-men thou shalthave, With sumptuous array most gallant andhrave; With crozier, and mitre, and rochet, and cope, Fit to appear 'fore our father the pope."
" Now welcome, sire abbot, the king he did say, 'Tis well thou'rt come back to keep to thy day; For and if thou canst answer my questions
three, Thy life and thy living both saved shall be.
And first, when thou seest me here in this stead, With my crown of gold so fair on my head, Among all my liegemen so noble of birth, Tell me to one penny what I am worth."
"For thirty pence our Saviour was sold Among the false Jews, as I have been told; And twenty-nine is the worth of thee, Fori think thou art one penny wbrser than he."
The king he laughed, and swore by St. Bittel, " I did not think I had been worth so little! ŚNow, secondly tell me, without any doubt, How soon I may*ride this whole world about."
" You must rise with the sun, and ride with
the same, Until the next morning he riseth again ; And then your grace need not make any doubt, But in twenty-four hours you'll ride it about."
The king he laughed, and swore by St. Jone, " I did not think it could be gone so soon ! ŚNow from the third question thou must not
shrink, But tell me here truly what I do think."
How now, father abbot, I hear it of thee, Thou keepest a far better house than me; And from thy housekeeping and high renown, I fear thou work'st treason against my crown.
My liege, quo' the abbot, I would it were known, I never spend nothing but what is my own ; And I trust that your grace will do me no dere, For spending of my own true-gotten gear.
Yes, yes, father abbot, thy fault it is high, And now for the same thou needest must die; For, except thou canst answer me questions
three, Thy head shall be smitten from off thy body.
And first, quo' the king, when I'm in this stead, With my crown of gold so fair on my head, Among all my liegemen so noble of birth, Thou must tell me to one penny what I am worth.
And, secondly, tell mc, without any doubt, How soon I may ride the whole world about. And at the third question thou must not shrink, But tell me here truly what I do think.
O, these are hard questions for my shallow wit, And I cannot answer your grace as yet: But if you will give ine but three weeks space, I'll do my endeavour to answer your grace.
Now three weeks' space to thee will I give, And that is the longest time thou hast to live; For if thou dost not answer my questions three, Thy lands and thy livings are forfeit to me.
Away rode the abbot all sad at that word, And he rode to Cambridge and Oxenford ; But never a doctor there was so wise,. That could with his learning an answer devise.
Then home rode the abbot of comfort so cold, And lie met his shepherd a going to fold : " How now, my lord abbot, you are welcome home, [John?"
What news do you bring us from good King
"Sad news, sad news, shepherd, I must give; That I have but three days longer to live ; For if I do not answer him questions three, My head will be smitten from off my body.