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of the trial, and died almost insolvent. By
Lord Mardall's influence I received an
appointment from the East India Company, and
afterwards a commission in their irregular


I PERCEIVE a general fear on the part of this
pleasant company, that I am going to burst
into black-letter, and beguile the time by
being as dry as ashes. No, there is no such
fear, you can assure me? I am glad to hear
it; but I thought there was.

At any rate, both to relieve your minds
and to place myself beyond suspicion, I will
say at once that my story is a ballad. It was
taken down, as I am going to repeat it,
seventy-one years ago, by the mother of the
person who communicated it to M. Villemarque
when he was making his collection of Breton
Ballards. It is slightly confirmed by the
chronicles and Ecclesiastical Acts of the time;
but no more of them or you really will
suspect me. It runs, according to my version,

Sole child of her house, a lovely maid,
In the lordly halls of Rohan played.

Played till thirteen, when her sire was bent
To see her wed; and she gave consent.

And many a lord of high degree
Came suing her chosen knight to be;

But amongst them all there pleased her none
Save the noble Count Mathieu alone;

Lord of the Castle of Tongoli,
A princely knight of Italy.

To him so courteous, true and brave,
Her heart the maiden freely gave.

Three years since the day they first were wed
In peace and in bliss away had sped,

When tidings came on the winds abroad,
That all were to take the cross of God.

Then spake the Count like a noble knight:
"Aye first in birth should be first in fight!

"And, since to this Paynim war I must,
Dear cousin, I leave thee here in trust.

"My wife and my child I leave to thee;
Guard them, good clerk, as thy life for me!"

Early next morn, from his castle gate,
As rode forth the knight in bannered state,

Down the marble steps, all full of fears,
The lady hied her with moans and tears

The loving, sweet lady, sobbing wild
And laid on her breast her baby child.

She ran to her lord with a breathless speed,
As backward she reined his fiery steed;

She caught and she clasped him round the knee;
She wept and she prayed him piteously:

"Oh stay with me, stay! my lord, my love!
Go not, I beg, by the saints above;

"Leave me not here alone, I pray,
To weep on your baby's face alway!"

The knight was touched with her sad despair,
And fondly gazed on her face so fair;

And stretched out his hand, and stooping low,
Raised her up straight to his saddle-bow;

And held her pressed to his bosom then,
And kissed her o'er and o'er again.

"Come, dry these tears, my little Joan;
A single year, it will soon be fiown!"

His baby dear in his arms he took,
And looked on him with a proud, fond look:

"My boy, when thou'rt a man," said he,
"Wilt ride to the wars along with me?"

Then away he spurred across the plain,
And old and young they wept amain;

Both rich and poor, wept every one;
But that same clerkah! he wept none.


The treacherous clerk one morning tide,
With artful speeches the lady plied:

"Lo! ended now is that single year,
And ended too is the war I hear;

"But yet, thy lord to return to thee,
Would seem in no haste at all to be.

"Now, ask of your heart, my lady dear,
Is there no other might please it here?

"Need wives still keep themselves unwed,
E'en though their husband should not be dead?"

"Silence! thou wretched clerk!" cried she,
"Thy heart is filled full of sin, I see.

"When my lord returns, if I whisper him,
Thou know'st he'll tear thee limb from limb."

As soon as the clerk thus answered she,
He stole to the kennel secretly.

He called to the hound so swift and true,
The hound that his lord loved best, he knew

It came to his callleapt up in play:
One gash in the throat, and dead it lay.

As trickled the blood from out the throat,
He dipped in that red ink and wrote:

A letter he wrote with a liar's heed,
And sent it straight to the camp with speed.

And these were the words the letter bore:
"Dear lord your wife she is fretting sore.

"Fretting and grieving, your wife so dear,
For a sad mischance befallen here.

"Chasing the doe on the mountain-side,
Thy beautiful greyhound burst and died.''

The Count so guileless then answer made,
And thus to his faithless cousin said:

"Now bid my own little wife, I pray,
To fret not for this mischance one day.

"My hound is deadwell! money have I
Another, when I come back, to buy.

"Yet she'd better not hunt agen,
For hunters are oft but wildish men."

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