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Author: Anonymous
Editor: David Bevington
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The Tale of Gamelyn

The Tale of Gamelyn (Selections)


[In Fitt (Canto) 1, a wealthy knight named Sir John of Boundes (cf. Sir John of Bordeaux in Thomas Lodge's Rosalind and Sir Rowland de Boyes in AYL) dies, bequeathing his goods and lands to his three sons. The eldest, John (cf. Saladin in Lodge and Oliver in AYL) beguiles the youngest, Gamelyn (cf. Lodge's Rosader and AYL's Orlando), of his birthright, reducing him to the status a wretched dependent, poorly clothed and fed. Gamelyn endures all this patiently for a time.]

1Gamelyne stood on a day in his brotheres yerde,
And byganne with his hond to handel his berde.
He thought on his landes that lay unsowe,
And his fare okes that doune were ydrawe;
5His parkes were broken and his deer reved;
Of alle his good stedes noon was hym byleved;
His hous were unhilled and ful evell dight.
Tho thought Gamelyne it went not aright.
Afterward come his brother walking thare,
10And seide to Gamelyne, "Is our mete yare?"
Tho wrathed him Gamelyne and swore by Goddys boke:
"Thow schalt go bake thi self. I wil not be thi coke!"
"What, brother Gamelyne? Howe answerst thou nowe?
Thou spekest nevere such a worde as thou dost nowe."
15"By feithe," seide Gamelyne, "now me thenketh nede;
Of al the harmes that I have I toke never yit hede.
My parkes bene broken and my dere reved;
Of myn armes ne my stedes nought is byleved;
Alle that my fader me byquathe al goth to shame,
20And therfor have thou Goddes curs, brother, be thi name!"
Than spake his brother, that rape was and rees:
"Stond stille, gadlynge, and holde thi pees.
Thou shalt be fayn to have thi mete and thi wede.
What spekest thow, gadelinge, of londe or of lede?"
25Than seide Gamelyne, the child so yinge,
"Cristes curs mote he have that me clepeth gadelinge!
I am no wors gadeling ne no wors wight,
But born of a lady and gete of a knyght."
Ne dorst he not to Gamelyn never a foot goo,
30But cleped to hym his men and seide to hem thoo,
"Goth and beteth this boye and reveth hym his witte,
And lat him lerne another tyme to answere me bette."
Than seide the childe, yonge Gamelyne,
"Cristes curs mote thou have, brother art thou myne!
35And if I shal algates be beten anoon,
Cristes curs mote thou have but thou be that oon!"
And anon his brother in that grete hete
Made his men to fette staves Gamelyn to bete.
Whan every of hem had a staf ynomen,
40Gamelyn was werre whan he segh hem comen.
Whan Gamelyne segh hem comen, he loked overall,
And was ware of a pestel stode under the wall.
Gamelyn was light, and thider gan he lepe,
And droof alle his brotheres men right sone on an hepe,
45And loked as a wilde lyon, and leide on good wone.
And whan his brother segh that he byganne to gon,
He fley up into a loft and shette the door fast.
Thus Gamelyn with his pestel made hem al agast.
Some for Gamelyns love, and some for eye,
50Alle they droughen hem to halves whan he gan to pleye.
"What now!" seyde Gamelyne. "Evel mot ye the!
Wil ye bygynne contecte and so sone flee?"
Gamelyn sought his brother whider he was flowe,
And seghe where he loked out a wyndowe.
55"Brother," sayde Gamelyne "com a litel nere,
And I wil teche thee a play at the bokelere."
His brother him answerde and seide, "By Seint Richere,
The while that pestel is in thine honde I wil come no nere.
Brother, I will make thi pees, I swer by Cristes oore;
60Cast away the pestel and wrethe the no more."
"I most nede," seide Gamelyn, "wreth me at onys,
For thou wold make thi men to breke my bonys.
Ne had I hadde mayn and myght in myn armes
To han hem fro me, thei wold have done me harmes."
65"Gamelyn," seide his brother, "be thou not wroth,
For to sene the han harme me were right loth.
I ne did it not, brother, but for a fondinge,
For to loken wher thou art stronge and art so yenge."
"Come adoune than to me and graunt me my bone.
70Of oon thing I wil the axe and we shal saught sone."
Doune than come his brother that fikel was and felle,
And was swith sore afeerd of the pestelle.
He seide, "Brother Gamelyn, axe me thi bone ,
And loke thou me blame but I it graunte sone."
75Than seide Gamelyn "Brother, iwys,
And we shul be at one, thou most graunte me this:
Alle that my fader me byquath whilst he was alyve,
Thow most do me it have, if we shul not strive."
"That shalt thou have, Gamelyn, I swere be Cristes oore,
80Al that thi fadere the byquathe, though thou wolde have more;
Thy londe that lith ley, wel it shal be sawe,
And thine houses reised up that bene leide ful lawe."
Thus seide the knyght to Gamelyn with mouthe,
And thought on falsnes as he wel couthe.
85The knyght thought on tresoun and Gamelyn on noon,
And wente and kissed his brother. And whan thei were at oon,
Alas, yonge Gamelyne no thinge he ne wist
With such false tresoun his brother him kist!

Fitt 2
90Lytheneth, and listeneth, and holdeth your tonge,
And ye shul here talking of Gamelyn the yonge.
Ther was there bisiden cride a wrastelinge,
And therfore ther was sette a ramme and a ringe;
And Gamelyn was in wille to wende therto,
95Forto preven his myght, what he coude doo.
"Brothere," seide Gamelyn, "by Seint Richere,
Thow most lene me tonyght a litel coursere
That is fresshe for the spore on forto ride;
I moste on an erande a litel here beside."
100"By God!" seide his brothere. "Of stedes in my stalle
Goo and chese the the best; spare noon of hem alle
Of stedes and of coursers that stoden hem byside;
And telle me, good brother, whider thou wilt ride."
"Here beside, brother, is cried a wrastelinge,
105And therfore shal be sette a ram and a ringe.
Moche worschip it were, brother, to us alle,
Might I the ram and the ringe bringe home to this halle."
A stede ther was sadeled smertly and skete.
Gamelyn did a peire spores fast on his fete.
110He sette his foote in the stirop the stede he bistrode,
And towardes the wrastelinge the yonge childe rode.
Whan Gamelyn the yonge was riden out atte gate,
The fals knyght his brother loked yit after thate,
And bysought Jesu Crist, that is hevene kinge,
115He myghte breke his necke in the wrestelinge.
As sone as Gamelyn come ther the place was,
He lighte doune of his stede and stood on the gras,
And ther he herde a frankeleyn "Weiloway" singe,
And bygonne bitterly his hondes forto wringe.
120"Good man," seide Gamelyn, "whi mast thou this fare?
Is ther no man that may you helpen out of care?"
"Allas!" seide this frankeleyn, "that ever was I bore!
For twey stalworth sones, I wene,that I have lore.
A champion is in the place that hath wrought me sorowe,
125For he hath sclayn my two sones but if God hem borowe.
I will yeve ten pound, by Jesu Christ, and more,
With the nones I fonde a man wolde handel hym sore."
"Good man," seide Gamelyn, "wilt thou wele doon,
Holde my hors the whiles my man drowe of my shoon,
130And helpe my man to kepe my clothes and my stede,
And I wil to place gon to loke if I may spede."
"By God," seide the frankleyn, "it shal be doon;
I wil myself be thi man to drowe of thi shoon,
And wende thou into place, Jesu Crist the spede,
135And drede not of thi clothes ne of thi good stede."
Barefoot and ungirt, Gamelyn inne came.
Alle that were in the place hede of him nam,
Howe he durst aventure him to doon his myght
That was so doghty a champion in wrasteling and in fight.
140Up stert the champioun rapely anon,
And toward yonge Gamelyn byganne to gon,
And seide, "Who is thi fadere and who is thi sire?
For sothe thou art a grete fool that thou come hire!"
Gamelyn answerde the champioun tho:
145"Thowe knewe wel my fadere while he myght goo,
The whiles he was alyve, by Seynt Martyn!
Sir John of Boundes was his name, and I am Gamelyne."
"Felawe," sayde the champion, "so mot I thrive,
I knewe wel thi fadere the whiles he was alyve;
150And thi silf, Gamelyn, I wil that thou it here;
While thou were a yonge boy, a moche shrewe thou were."
Than seide Gamelyn, and swore by Cristes ore:
"Now I am older wexe thou shalt finde me a more!"
"By God," seide the champion "welcome mote thou be!
155Come thow onys in myn honde thou shalt nevere the."
It was wel within the nyght, and the mone shone,
Whan Gamelyn and the champioun togider gon gone.
The champion cast turnes to Gamelyne, that was prest,
And Gamelyn stode and bad hym doon his best.
160Than seide Gamelyn to the champioun:
"Thowe art fast aboute to bringe me adoun;
Now I have proved mony tornes of thine,
Thow most," he seide, "oon or two of myne."
Gamelyn to the champioun yede smertely anoon;
165Of all the turnes that he couthe he shewed him but oon,
And cast him on the lift side, that thre ribbes to-brake,
And therto his owne arme, that yaf a grete crake.
Than seide Gamelyn smertly anon,
"Shal it bi hold for a cast or ellis for non?"
170"By God!" seide the champion, "whedere it be,
He that cometh ones in thi honde shal he never the!"
Than seide the frankeleyn that had the sones there,
"Blessed be thou, Gamelyn, that ever thou bore were!"
The frankleyn seide to the champioun on hym stode hym noon eye,
175"This is yonge Gamelyne that taught the this pleye."
Agein answerd the champioun that liketh no thing wel,
"He is alther maister and his pley is right felle.
Sithen I wrasteled first it is goon yore,
But I was nevere in my lif handeled so sore."
180Gamelyn stode in the place anon without serk,
And seide, "Yif ther be moo, lat hem come to werk;
The champion that pyned him to worch sore,
It semeth by his countenance that he wil no more."
Gamelyn in the place stode stille as stone
185For to abide wrastelinge, but ther come none;
Ther was noon with Gamelyn that wold wrastel more,
For he handeled the champioun so wonderly sore.
Two gentile men that yemed the place
Come to Gamelyn -- God yeve him goode grace! --
190And seide to him, "Do on thi hosen and thi shoon.
For soth at this tyme this fare is doon."
And than seide Gamelyn, "so mot I wel fare,
I have not yete halvendele sold my ware."
Thoo seide the champioun, "so broke I my swere,
195He is a fool that therof bieth thou selleth it so dere."
Tho seide the frankeleyne that was in moche care,
"Felawe," he saide, "whi lackest thou this ware?
By Seynt Jame of Gales, that mony man hath sought,
Yit is it to good chepe that thou hast bought."
200Thoo that wardeynes were of that wrastelinge
Come and brought Gamelyn the ramme and the rynge,
And Gamelyn bithought him it was a faire thinge,
And wente with moche joye home in the mornynge.
His brother see wher he came with the grete route,
205And bad shitt the gate and holde hym withoute.
The porter of his lord was soor agaast,
And stert anoon to the gate and lokked it fast.

[Subsequently, Gamelyn forces his way into John's household and feasts everyone for seven days and nights on his brother's stores. Beguiled by John into allowing himself to be bound hand and foot, Gamelyn frees himself with the aid of the servant Adam Spencer and lays about him among the priors, abbots, monks and other dignitaries who support John, causing many fatalities. Gamelyn and Adam evade the sheriff and a posse sent to arrest them by escaping into the woods. There they encounter a band of young outlaws, are introduced to the outlaw king, and are given food and drink in their necessity. Gamelyn is quickly appointed king of the outlaws, with the full consent of the previous master outlaw. When Gamelyn's false brother, now sheriff, formally declares Gamelyn to be an outlaw, Gamelyn's response is to proceed at once to a session of the shire court in the moot or assembly hall, where he defies his brother and is cast into prison. Another brother, Sir Ote, comoes to the rescue. When the sheriff refuses to heed Sir Ote's demand that Gamelyn be set free, Sir Ote offers himself as surety for Gamelyn's release until the next sitting of the court. Gamelyn, now released, repairs to the forest and to his band of outlaw followers. With their support he returns to the shire court in time to rescue Sir Ote from hanging. Gamelyn overthrows the presiding justice, take his place in the seat of justice, and presides over a hearing in which the justice and the sheriff are condemned and hanged for having attempted to execute Sir Ote. The twelve members of the jury are also hanged. Ultimately Gamelyn and Ote are reconciled to the king of the country. Ote is named justice, and Gamelyn chief justice of the king's forest. Gamelyn wins back all his lands, is named Ote's heir, and marries a wife "good and faire" with whom he lives in marital bliss until the day of his death.]