Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 2/The lay of the lady and the hound
THE LAY OF THE LADY AND THE HOUND.
Listen, fair knights, to a minstrel’s word,—
Trust to your horse and your good broadsword,
Trust to your hawk and your bold bloodhound,
But trust no woman that ever was found.
Sir Dinas had prick’d over hill and plain,
At his castle gate he slack’d the rein;
To his trusty squire his bridle threw,
And his bugle-horn he loudly blew.
Soon as the seneschal old he spied,
He ask’d for the health of his fairy bride;
The aged vassal made no reply,
But he tore his hair and he wiped his eye.
The knight was mute, but his heart was sore,
As he hurriedly strode through the long corridor;
Until in her chamber he stood, and alone:—
The bower was there, but the bird was flown.
Then he sprang on his horse at a single bound,
And whistled amain for his bold bloodhound;
But “Alas!” said the vassal, “in vain you call,
My lady’s gone off with the dogs and all.”
Sir Dinas set spurs to his steed, and away,—
From evening’s close to the break of day
He slack’d not a moment his desperate course:
’Twas a weary night for the noble horse;
Till, just as the morrow to dawn began,
Who should he see but his false leman,
Riding along ’neath the greenwood tree
With a stranger knight right lovingly.
That knight was bold, and that knight was strong,
His sword was sharp, and his spear was long;
But he found himself ere he could utter a prayer
With his helm on the ground and his spurs in the air.
Down from the saddle Sir Dinas sprung,
O’er the foeman’s throat his poniard hung;
But ere it was dimm’d in his heart’s best blood,
A hoary friar between them stood.
“Now hold your hand,” quoth the palmer gray,
“And read me aright the cause of the fray;
For though youth hath strength, by the will of Heaven
To the hoary head is wisdom given.”
Sir Dinas bow’d to the holy man,
And in reverend guise his tale began.
“Now out and alas! Sir Knight,” said he,
“That good blood should be shed for a bad ladye;
“Blood cannot end what lust began,
Nor restore the heart of a false leman.
Let her choose her mate; and, whoe’er he be,
I wish him small joy of her company.”
Sir Dinas swore, with a faltering voice,
To hold and abide by the lady’s choice.
Then up arose that lady bright,
And gave her hand to the stranger knight.
A woeful man was Sir Dinas then,
The scorn of a woman, the jest of men;
He said not a word, but his cheek was pale,
And the strong man shook in his coat of mail.
Then he heavily clomb on his courser’s back,
And set his face on the homeward track.
The heart in his breast seem’d turn’d to stone,
As he rode through the lone wood all alone;
Till he heard a sound, and he felt a bound,
And he look’d, and he saw that his noble hound
Had left lady’s whistle, and coaxing word,
To follow the path of his lonely lord.
The lady had lain in a silken bed,
She was deck’d in the spoils for which Dinas bled,
She was fed on the daintiest cates, I wot,—
But she fled from her lord, and she loved him not.
The hound was bred under a sterner law:
His couch had been of the mouldy straw,
His food the crumbs from the board that fell,—
But he clove to his lord, and he loved him well.
Then lithe and listen, and hearken all
To the words that the minstrel’s lips let fall,—
Trust, gallants, trust to your bold bloodhound,
But to never a lady that walks the ground.