Back to top

The Tale of Gamelyn


1 For I am as light of foot as you, even if you swore it to the contrary


1 Fitt titles and numbers are not marked in the Petworth manuscript, but spaces in the manuscript and the formulaic Lithes and listeneth opening (and its variants) make it clear where a new fitt begins; there are six.

3 The name appears to be spelt in the manuscript Bonndes, but in line 348 ybounde is written in just the same way, and this should be taken as a sign of the ambiguity possible in these minim-based letters (in much the same way Arveragus in Chaucer's Franklin's Tale appears to be spelt Arneragus throughout the excellent Hengwrt manuscript).
The name should mean of the boundaries or of the borders, which is not very informative, especially since it is obscure where this story is set.

14 Sir John's land was held in purchas or fee simple as he had gathered it in his lifetime, not inherited it. Though line 58 refers to a portion he had inherited from his father, it was not all entailed to the eldest son, and the father could divide it among the three sons, though this was itself against the contemporary practice of primogeniture; hence the reaction of the advisers in line 43.

38 The name Gamelyn is held to mean son of the old man, from OE gamol, old man. According to line 356 Gamelyn has been oppressed by his brother for sixteen years before he comes to manhood. This would suggest he is very young as the poem starts, adding point to Sir John's description of him in this line as my yonge sone.

42 Before londes the letters hon are crossed out.

45 It seems that the advisers decide to split the land into two as a compromise between Sir John's proposal for a tripartite division and their own preference for keeping it all together.

53 St. Martin of Tours was a Roman cavalry officer in fourth-century France who became a highly influential Christian leader; he is an appropriate person for a knight to swear by, perhaps especially as Sir John divides his possessions, since he was famous for parting his cloak with a beggar.

56 Sir John speaks his own dying will, to divide the property into three. This takes effect, though the eldest brother subverts it.

57 A ploughland was the amount of land that could be worked throughout the year by eight oxen, so this is a handsome bequest.

82 Gamelyn handles his beard in a sign that he has come to maturity; this is also a sign of thoughtfulness.

90 The eldest brother is obviously treating Gamelyn as a kitchen servant, a frequent feature of this "male Cinderella" story; cf. the placement of Sir Gareth in King Arthur's kitchen in Malory's Tale of Sir Gareth.

92 Gamelyn uses the impolite second person singular to express his feelings, and so outrages his brother: they were evidently not on the level of intimacy which would have made the thou form natural.

102 gadlynge is a rude term for a youth, which may also imply illegitimacy. This is how Gamelyn takes it in line 108.

116 Sands notes (1966, p. 160) that Gamelyn means "Unless you be the one (that is, dare to be the one to beat me)."

122 A pestle could, in a large kitchen, be a sizeable club; Gamelyn, being treated like a servant, has no conventional weapons at hand.

127 The loft where the brother takes refuge would be a floor above the shared hall; there would probably be a ladder that could be drawn up. This is almost certainly the same place as the solere where he takes refuge later (line 349) and possibly also the torret (line 327).

130 MS thei is corrected by the scribe to he.

137 Skeat suggested (1884, pp. 38-39) that this refers to St. Richard of Chichester (also mentioned, it seems, in the Gest, line 362), and seen as a "pattern of brotherly love"; the saint is invoked again in line 614.

146 The letter w is deleted before me.

165 MS: anon. This reading is unique to Petworth and is most unlikely to be original: to make sense of it would require dropping And at the start of the next line. It is better to assume the scribe has misread the quite precise on noon, found in the other MSS and parallel to on tresoun earlier in the line.

197 A franklin ranks below a knight, so Gamelyn shows his nobility by helping him. There is some resemblance hereabouts to the action in the Gest when the knight helps a yeoman at a rural sport festival, lines 536-67. Some feel the franklin's sons are dead (Scattergood, 1994, p. 160), but this is a version of the knightly rescue of those oppressed by an ogre. At line 204 the franklin fears he has lost his sons but if God hem borowe, and at 251, after Gamelyn has defeated the champion, the franklin has his sons again. There is some resemblance to the uncompleted story of the knight's son in the Gest (lines 105-12).

230 If Gamelyn was very young when his father died (see note to line 38), how did the champion know of him in this way? There seems an inconsistency in the chronology.

251 The MS has thre crossed out before there.

267 MS: that is inserted above the line. The word is absent in most MSS, but a few amplify to there were that. Only Petworth has the single relative pronoun as an afterthought, which suggests that it might have been an editor's insertion in its exemplar.

272 By saying "I have not sold half my goods," Gamelyn uses a mercantile metaphor to suggest "I have hardly started yet." The champion and the franklin continue in the same metaphor in lines 274 and 276.

273 The verb broke or brouke (line 332) means use or enjoy, and in company with a part of the body makes a bland oath like "As I live and breathe" (also see lines 295, 563).

277 The shrine of St. James the Apostle was at Santiago di Compostella in Galicia, North-Western Spain, a major focus of medieval pilgrimage. Skeat felt this line (repeated at line 760) derived from A Poem on the Times of Edward II, which had some other verbal similarities to Gamelyn (1884, pp. xii-iii), but the connections are all very general and, like this line, in common usage.

296 MS has a corrected by the scribe before smote.

319 catour. The word means caterer, but the scribe writes it with a capital C; this may be influenced by the classical figure Cato, but the abbreviation for our is also very clear, so this is probably an instance of the casual capitalization characteristic of medieval manuscripts.

327 torret. See the note on loft, line 127.

333 MS: a is corrected by the scribe before was.

336 God and good day was a familiar farewell.

364 The eldest brother, having appropriated the property that their father willed to Gamelyn on his death-bed, now offers to make Gamelyn his heir, and Gamelyn apparently accepts.

369 MS: Gamelyn seyde. It is necessary to insert he after seyde: the Petworth scribe has not realized that a speech begins with Gamelyn, but most of the MSS have seyde he.

392 Two (the first of its occurrences in this line). MS: Tho.

404 my. MS: thy.

407 Adam transfers loyalty to Gamelyn not blindly, but with a due sense of return from such an action. Some have felt this is mean-minded of Adam, but it rather represents the processes of "bastard feudalism" at work, and there is no suggestion in the poem that Adam is anything other than a true supporter of Gamelyn.

426 his. MS: his his.

445 Gamelyn speaks ironically: "If we shall anyway absolve them of their sin," i.e., "take vengeance." The priestly metaphor is recurrent in this scene, see lines 499, 512, 519, 529.

447 The reference is either generally to "holy love" or specifically to St. Charity, reputed to be the daughter of St. Sophia, whose other daughters were St. Faith and St. Hope.

453 The MS has me the, but, as the is the object of the first verb warne and me is the object of the second verb bringe, syntactic logic requires that they appear in the reverse order, and the text is so emended.
MS: bondes. The rhyme requires bendes, which is in most other manuscripts.

460 gestes. MS: gettes.

478 "But may they always prosper, who cause you much grief" -- a positively phrased form of curse on Gamelyn.

481 "All who give you security, may evil befall them" -- the reverse of the wish in line 478.

499 spreyeth. MS: spreyneth. Most MSS have some form of spreyneth or sprengeth, which Skeat translates as "sprinkle" (1884, p. 43). It seems most likely that the original read spreyeth, but the religious irony of the passage was not picked up by an early scribe who, assuming a nasal abbreviation, wrote spreyneth in the spirit of physical combat. In an attempt to restore the irony perceived because a spire can be a club, or an asperge for sprinkling holy water, scribal emendation to spreyngeth occurred.

520 armes. MS: arnes.

528 bet. MS: bet haue be. Most MSS have better and all of them lack haue be. This seems the one instance where Petworth is more wordy than other MSS, and it seems necessary to emend on these grounds.

529 Religious irony continues: Gamelyn is giving the holy men "orders" in the form of attention to their tonsures, with his own forceful way of laying on of hands.

533 MS: brast. This is linguistically acceptable, but can be emended to barst to improve the rhyme.

563 So brouke I my chyn. "As I may use my chin": a vague form of oath like "As I live and breathe."

594 An idiom to describe a bad hangover.

605 her. MS: he.

606 Tho. MS: To.

647 Gamelyn says, "If you brought five with you, you would be twelve," mocking the comfort they are (foolishly) taking in numbers.

655 Skeat feels this "evidently refers to an English outlaw, such as Robin Hood" (1884, p. 45).

661 "I will venture so I might have food" -- ironic understatement by Adam.

696 The MS has ca'd before made. Most other MSS have cried and made, which makes for a long line. It may be the Petworth scribe was here reading an emended manuscript, and started to write an excised ca'd and or called and. There seems no reason to follow the other MSS, and ca'd is omitted.
A man was pronounced "wolfshead" to indicate that as an outlaw his life was worth no more than a wolf's: anyone could hunt him. His land was also forfeited, in this case to his elder brother, who is also the sheriff, so confirming his appropriation of Gamelyn's property.

699 Harley 7334 and some MSS influenced by it read To telle hym tydinges how the wynde was wente, a characteristic scribal inflation against the condensed clarity of the Petworth line.

704 tyddyngges. MS reads tyddyngge, though a small final flourish may suggest a plural abbreviation.

709 Daniel notes that wif is an uninflected plural (1967, p. 140) and refers to the wives of the husbondes, that is, farmers, householders, stewards and so on. Several manuscripts emended to both husbonde and wif to clarify that Gamelyn is not being described as married at this point; he will marry in the last lines of the poem.

710 nexte shyre. The next county where his brother has jurisdiction.

724 foote. MS: fotte.

735 MS: cours, with the u subpuncted for correction.

775 had he no cors means that like Robin Hood he was universally popular.

777 Gamelyn was especially feared by clerics in orders. This feature is shared with the Robin Hood tradition, but also with Chaucer, Langland, and other contemporary satirists, who, like the author of Gamelyn, have no criticism of parish priests, but much of the "regular" clergy.

782 The eldest brother is now bribing the jurors to bring in a result favorable to him: this was a common corrupt practice in the period.

784 This line, like 799-800, and perhaps 767-68, seems a reference to the traditional greenwood opening of the Robin Hood ballads, particularly in the use of the word shawes.

800 men. MS: mon.

807-10 These lines are the most striking example in the poem of the "awkward verbal repetition" (Scattergood, 1994, p. 160) which apparently relates to oral performance. Some manuscripts drop lines 807-08, but they clearly belong to the poem in its original form.

853 stede. MS has sete which has been erroneously carried on from line 851. The logical reading in this collocation, which also gives good rhyme, is stede.

863 sherrive. MS: sherrve.

875 shirreve. MS: sirreve.

889 Gamelyn has won his land and his lede (line 891) through the king's generosity, not through the fulfilment of his father's will. That he becomes Sir Ote's heir in line 893 (as he became their brother's in line 364) seems another way of avoiding the implications of the planned breach of primogeniture. For a discussion see Introduction, p. 185.





















































































































































































Fitt 1

Lithes and listneth     and harkeneth aright,
And ye shul here     of a doughty knyght;
Sire John of Boundes     was his name,
He coude of norture     and of mochel game.
Thre sones the knyght had     and with his body he wan,
The eldest was a moche schrewe     and sone bygan.
His brether loved wel her fader     and of hym were agast,
The eldest deserved his faders curs     and had it atte last.
The good knight his fadere lyved so yore,
That deth was comen hym to     and handled hym ful sore.
The good knyght cared sore     sik ther he lay,
How his children shuld lyven     after his day.
He had bene wide where     but non husbonde he was,
Al the londe that he had     it was purchas.
Fayn he wold it were dressed     amonge hem alle,
That eche of hem had his parte     as it myght falle.
Thoo sente he in to contrey     after wise knyghtes
To helpen delen his londes     and dressen hem to-rightes.
He sent hem word by letters     thei shul hie blyve,
If thei wolle speke with hym     whilst he was alyve.

Whan the knyghtes harden     sik that he lay,
Had thei no rest     neither nyght ne day,
Til thei come to hym     ther he lay stille
On his dethes bedde     to abide goddys wille.
Than seide the good knyght     seke ther he lay,
"Lordes, I you warne     for soth, without nay,
I may no lenger lyven     here in this stounde;
For thorgh goddis wille     deth droueth me to grounde."
Ther nas noon of hem alle     that herd hym aright,
That thei ne had routh     of that ilk knyght,
And seide, "Sir, for goddes love     dismay you nought;
God may don boote of bale     that is now ywrought."
Than speke the good knyght     sik ther he lay,
"Boote of bale God may sende     I wote it is no nay;
But I beseche you knyghtes     for the love of me,
Goth and dresseth my londes     amonge my sones thre.
And for the love of God     deleth not amyss,
And forgeteth not Gamelyne     my yonge sone that is.
Taketh hede to that oon     as wel as to that other;
Seelde ye seen eny hier     helpen his brother."

Thoo lete thei the knyght lyen     that was not in hele,
And wenten into counselle     his londes for to dele;
For to delen hem alle to on     that was her thought.
And for Gamelyn was yongest     he shuld have nought.
All the londe that ther was     thei dalten it in two,
And lete Gamelyne the yonge     without londe goo,
And eche of hem seide     to other ful loude,
His bretheren myght yeve him londe     whan he good cowde.
And whan thei had deled     the londe at her wille,
They commen to the knyght     ther he lay stille,
And tolde him anoon     how thei had wrought;
And the knight ther he lay     liked it right nought.

Than seide the knyght,     "Be Seint Martyne,
For al that ye han done     yit is the londe myne;
For Goddis love, neighbours     stondeth alle stille,
And I wil delen my londe     after myn owne wille.
John, myne eldest sone     shal have plowes fyve,
That was my faders heritage     whan he was alyve;
And my myddelest sone     fyve plowes of londe,
That I halpe forto gete     with my right honde;
And al myn other purchace     of londes and ledes
That I biquethe Gamelyne     and alle my good stedes.
And I biseche you, good men     that lawe conne of londe,
For Gamelynes love     that my quest stonde."
Thus dalt the knyght     his londe by his day,
Right on his deth bed     sik ther he lay;
And sone afterward     he lay stoon stille,
And deide whan tyme come     as it was Cristes wille.

Anoon as he was dede     and under gras grave,
Sone the elder brother     giled the yonge knave;
He toke into his honde     his londe and his lede,
And Gamelyne him selven     to clothe and to fede.
He clothed him and fedde him     evell and eke wroth,
And lete his londes forfare     and his houses bothe,
His parkes and his wodes     and did no thing welle;
And sithen he it abought     on his owne felle.
So longe was Gamelyne     in his brothers halle,
For the strengest, of good will     they douted hym alle;
Ther was noon therinne     neither yonge ne olde,
That wolde wroth Gamelyne     were he never so bolde.

Gamelyne 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;
His 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,
And 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."
"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,
And 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?"
Than 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,
But 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!
And 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,
Gamelyn 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
And 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,
Alle 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.
"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;
Cast 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."
"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
Of 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."
Than 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!
Al 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.
The 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

Lytheneth, 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,
Forto 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."
"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,
And 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.
He 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,
He 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.
"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,
For 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,
And 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,
And 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.
Up 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,
"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;
And 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!
Come 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.
Than 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,
Of 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?"
"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,
"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."

Gamelyn 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,
For 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! --
And 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,
He 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."
Thoo 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,
And 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.

Fitt 3

Now lithenes and listneth     both yonge and olde,
And ye schul here gamen     of Gamelyn the bolde.
Gamelyn come to the gate     forto have come inne,
And it was shette faste     with a stronge pynne;
Than seide Gamelyn,     "Porter, undo the yate,
For good menys sones     stonden ther ate."
Than answerd the porter     and swore by Goddys berd,
"Thow ne shalt, Gamelyne,     come into this yerde."
"Thow lixt," seide Gamelyne     "so broke I my chyne!"
He smote the wikett with his foote     and breke awaie the pyne.
The porter seie thoo     it myght no better be,
He sette foote on erth     and bygan to flee.
"By my feye," seide Gamelyn     "that travaile is ylore,
For I am of fote as light as thou     if thou haddest it swore."1
Gamelyn overtoke the porter     and his tene wrake,
And girt him in the nek     that the boon to-brake,
And toke hym by that oon arme     and threwe hym in a welle,
Seven fadme it was depe     as I have herde telle.

Whan Gamelyn the yonge      thus had plaied his playe,
Alle that in the yerde were      drowen hem awaye;
Thei dredden him ful sore      for werk that he wrought,
And for the faire company      that he thider brought.
Gamelyn yede to the gate      and lete it up wide;
He lete inne alle     that gone wolde or ride,
And seide, "Ye be welcome     without eny greve,
For we wil be maisters here and axe no man leve.
Yusterday I lefte,"     seide yonge Gamelyne,
"In my brothers seler     fyve tonne of wyne;
I wil not this company     partyn atwynne,
And ye wil done after me     while sope is therinne;
And if my brother gruche     or make foule chere,
Either for spence of mete and drink     that we spende here,
I am oure catour     and bere oure alther purs,
He shal have for his grucchinge     Seint Maries curs.
My brother is a nigon,     I swere be Cristes oore,
And we wil spende largely     that he hath spared yore;
And who that make grucchinge     that we here dwelle,
He shal to the porter     into the drowe-welle."

Seven daies and seven nyghtes     Gamelyn helde his feest,
With moche solace was ther noon cheest;
In a litel torret     his brother lay steke,
And see hem waast his good     and dorst no worde speke.
Erly on a mornynge     on the eight day,
The gestes come to Gamelyn     and wolde gone her way.
"Lordes," seide Gamelyn,     "will ye so hie?
Al the wyne is not yit dronke     so brouke I myn ye."
Gamelyn in his herte     was ful woo,
Whan his gestes toke her leve     fro hym for to go;
He wolde thei had dwelled lenger     and thei seide nay,
But bytaught Gamelyn,     "God and good day."
Thus made Gamelyn his feest     and brought wel to ende,
And after his gestes     toke leve to wende.

Fitt 4

Lithen and listen     and holde your tunge,
And ye shal here game     of Gamelyn the yonge;
Harkeneth, lordingges     and listeneth aright,
Whan alle gestis were goon     how Gamelyn was dight.
Alle the while that Gamelyn     heeld his mangerye,
His brothere thought on hym be wroke     with his trecherye.
Whan Gamylyns gestes     were riden and goon,
Gamelyn stood anon allone     frend had he noon;
Tho aftere felle sone     within a litel stounde,
Gamelyn was taken     and ful hard ybounde.
Forth come the fals knyght     out of the solere,
To Gamelyn his brother     he yede ful nere,
And saide to Gamelyn,     "Who made the so bold
For to stroien the stoor     of myn household?"
"Brother," seide Gamelyn,     "wreth the right nought,
For it is many day gon     sith it was bought;
For, brother, thou hast had     by Seint Richere,
Of fiftene plowes of londe     this sixtene yere,
And of alle the beestes     thou hast forth bredde,
That my fader me byquath     on his dethes bedde;
Of al this sixtene yere     I yeve the the prowe,
For the mete and the drink     that we han spended nowe."
Than seide the fals knyght     (evel mote he thee!)
"Harken, brothere Gamelyn     what I wil yeve the;
For of my body, brother     here geten have I none,
I wil make the myn here     I swere by Seint John."
"Par fay!" seide Gamelyn     "and if it so be,
And thou thenk as thou seist     God yeelde it the!"

Nothinge wiste Gamelyn     of his brother gile;
Therfore he hym bygiled     in a litel while.
"Gamelyn," seyde he,     "oon thing I the telle;
Thoo thou threwe my porter     in the drowe-welle,
I swore in that wrethe     and in that grete moote,
That thou shuldest be bounde     bothe honde and fote;
This most be fulfilled      my men to dote,
For to holden myn avowe     as I the bihote."

"Brother," seide Gamelyn,     "as mote I thee!
Thou shalt not be forswore     for the love of me."
Tho maden thei Gamelyn     to sitte and not stonde,
To thei had hym bounde     both fote and honde.
The fals knyght his brother     of Gamelyn was agast,
And sente efter fetters     to fetter hym fast.
His brother made lesingges     on him ther he stode,
And tolde hem that commen inne     that Gamelyn was wode.
Gamelyn stode to a post     bounden in the halle,
Thoo that commen inne     loked on hym alle.
Ever stode Gamelyn     even upright!
But mete and drink had he noon     neither day ne nyght.
Than seide Gamelyn,     "Brother, be myn hals,
Now have I aspied     thou art a party fals;
Had I wist the tresoun     that thou hast yfounde,
I wold have yeve strokes     or I had be bounde!"

Gamelyn stode bounde     stille as eny stone;
Two daies and two nyghtes     mete had he none.
Than seide Gamelyn     that stood ybounde stronge,
"Adam Spencere me thenketh     I faste to longe;
Adam Spencere     now I biseche the,
For the moche love     my fadere loved the,
If thou may come to the keys     lese me out of bonde,
And I wil part with the     of my free londe."
Than seide Adam     that was the spencere,
"I have served thi brother     this sixtene yere,
Yif I lete the gone     out of his boure,
He wold saye afterwardes     I were a traitour."
"Adam," seide Gamelyn,     "so brouke I myn hals!
Thow schalt finde my brother     at the last fals;
Therfore brother Adam     lose me out of bondes,
And I wil parte with the     of my free londes."
"Up such forward,"     seide Adam, "ywis,
I wil do therto     al that in me is."
"Adam," seide Gamelyn     "as mote I the,
I wil holde the covenaunt     and thou wil me."

Anoon as Adams lord     to bed was goon,
Adam toke the kayes     and lete Gamelyn out anoon;
He unlocked Gamelyn     both hondes and fete,
In hope of avauncement     that he hym byhete.
Than seide Gamelyn,     "Thonked be Goddis sonde!
Nowe I am lose     both fote and honde;
Had I nowe eten     and dronken aright,
Ther is noon in this hous     shuld bynde me this nyght."
Adam toke Gamelyn     as stille as eny stone,
And ladde him into the spence raply anon,
And sette him to sopere     right in a privey styde,
He bad him do gladly     and so he dide.

Anoon as Gamelyn     had eten wel and fyne,
And therto y-dronken wel     of the rede wyne,
"Adam," seide Gamelyn,     "what is nowe thi rede?
Or I go to my brother     and gerd of his heed?"
"Gamelyn," seide Adam,     "it shal not be so.
I can teche the a rede     that is worth the twoo.
I wote wel for soth     that this is no nay,
We shul have a mangerye     right on Sonday;
Abbotes and priours     mony here shul be,
And other men of holy chirch     as I telle the;
Thou shal stonde up by the post     as thou were bounde fast,
And I shal leve hem unloke     that away thou may hem cast.
Whan that thei han eten     and wasshen her handes,
Thow shalt biseche hem alle     to bringe the oute of bondes;
And if thei willen borowe the     that were good game,
Than were thou out of prisoun     and out of blame;
And if ecche of hem     saye to us nay,
I shal do another     I swere by this day!
Thow shalt have a good staf     and I wil have another,
And Cristes curs haf that on     that failleth that other!"

"Ye for God," seide Gamelyn     "I say it for me,
If I faille on my side     evel mot I thee!
If we shul algate     assoile hem of her synne,
Warne me, brother Adam,     whan we shul bygynne."
"Gamelyn," seid Adam,     "by Seinte Charité,
I wil warne the biforn     whan it shal be;
Whan I winke on the     loke for to gone,
And caste away thi fetters     and come to me anone."
"Adam," seide Gamelyn, "blessed be thi bonys!
That is a good counseill     yeven for the nonys;
Yif thei warne the me     to bringe out of bendes,
I wil sette good strokes     right on her lendes."

Whan the Sonday was comen     and folk to the feest,
Faire thei were welcomed     both leest and mest;
And ever as thei     at the haldore come inne,
They casten her yen     on yonge Gamelyn.
The fals knyght his brother     ful of trecherye,
Al the gestes that ther were     at the mangerye,
Of Gamelyn his brother     he tolde hem with mouthe
Al the harme and the shame     that he telle couthe.
Whan they were yserved     of messes two or thre,
Than seide Gamelyn,     "How serve ye me?
It is not wel served     by God that alle made!
That I sitte fastinge     and other men make glade."

The fals knyght his brother     ther as he stode,
Told to all the gestes     that Gamelyn was wode;
And Gamelyn stode stille     and answerde nought,
But Adames wordes     he helde in his thought.
Thoo Gamelyn gan speke     doolfully withalle
To the grete lordes     that seton in the halle:
"Lordes," he seide     "for Cristes passioun,
Helpe to bringe Gamelyn     out of prisoun."
Than seide an abbot,     sorowe on his cheke,
"He shal have Cristes curs     and Seinte Maries eke,
That the out of prison     beggeth or borowe,
And ever worth him wel     that doth the moche sorowe."
After that abbot     than speke another,
"I wold thine hede were of     though thou were my brother!
Alle that the borowe     foule mot hem falle!"
Thus thei seiden alle     that were in the halle.

Than seide a priour,     evel mote he threve!
"It is grete sorwe and care     boy that thou art alyve."
"Ow!" seide Gamelyn,     "so brouke I my bone!
Now have I spied     that frendes have I none
Cursed mote he worth     both flesshe and blood,
That ever doth priour     or abbot eny good!"

Adam the spencere     took up the clothe,
And loked on Gamelyn     and segh that he was wrothe;
Adam on the pantry     litel he thought,
And two good staves     to the halle door he brought,
Adam loked on Gamelyn     and he was warre anoon,
And cast away the fetters     and bygan to goon;
Whan he come to Adam     he took that on staf,
And bygan to worch     and good strokes yaf.
Gamelyn come into the halle     and the spencer bothe,
And loked hem aboute     as thei hadden be wrothe;
Gamelyn spreyeth holy watere     with an oken spire,
That some that stode upright     felle in the fire.
Ther was no lewe man     that in the halle stode,
That wolde do Gamelyn     enything but goode,
But stoden bisides and lete hem both wirche,
For thei had no rewthe     of men of holy chirche;
Abbot or priour,     monk or chanoun,
That Gamelyn overtoke     anoon they yeden doun
Ther was noon of alle     that with his staf mette,
That he ne made hem overthrowe     to quyte hem his dette.

"Gamelyn," seide Adam,     "for Seinte Charité,
Pay good lyveré     for the love of me,
And I wil kepe the door     so ever here I masse!
Er they bene assoilled     ther shal non passe."
"Doute the not," seide Gamelyn     "whil we ben ifere,
Kepe thow wel the door     and I wil wirche here;
Bystere the, good Adam,     and lete none fle,
And we shul telle largely     how mony that ther be."
"Gamelyn," seide Adam,     "do hem but goode;
Thei bene men of holy churche     drowe of hem no blode
Save wel the crownes     and do hem no harmes,
But breke both her legges     and sithen her armes."

Thus Gamelyn and Adam     wroughte ryght faste,
And pleide with the monkes     and made hem agaste.
Thidere thei come ridinge     joly with swaynes,
And home ayein thei were ladde     in cartes and waynes.
Tho thei hadden al ydo     than seide a grey frere,
"Allas! sire abbot     what did we nowe here?
Whan that we comen hidere     it was a colde rede,
Us had be bet at home     with water and breed."
While Gamelyn made orders     of monke and frere,
Evere stood his brother     and made foule chere;
Gamelyn up with his staf     that he wel knewe,
And girt him in the nek     that he overthrewe;
A litel above the girdel     the rigge-boon he barst;
And sette him in the fetters     theras he sat arst.
"Sitte ther, brother," seide Gamelyn,
"For to colen thi body     as I did myn."
As swith as thei had wroken hem     on her foon,
Thei asked water     and wasshen anon,
What some for her love     and some for her awe,
Alle the servantes served hem     on the beste lawe.
The sherreve was thennes     but fyve myle,
And alle was tolde him     in a lytel while,
Howe Gamelyn and Adam     had ydo a sorye rees,
Boundon and wounded men     ayeinst the kingges pees;
Tho bygan sone     strif for to wake,
And the shereff about     Gamelyn forto take.

Fitt 5

Now lithen and listen     so God geve you good fyne!
And ye shul here good game     of yonge Gamelyne.
Four and twenty yonge men that helde hem ful bolde,
Come to the shiref     and seide that thei wolde
Gamelyn and Adam     fette by her fay;
The sheref gave hem leve soth for to say;
Thei hiden fast     wold thei not lynne,
To thei come to the gate     there Gamelyn was inne.
They knocked on the gate     the porter was nyghe,
And loked out atte an hool     as man that was scleghe.
The porter hadde bihold hem     a litel while,
He loved wel Gamelyn     and was dradde of gyle,
And lete the wikett stonde ful stille,
And asked hem without     what was her wille.
For all the grete company     speke but oon,
"Undo the gate, porter     and lat us in goon."     
Than seide the porter     "So brouke I my chyn,
Ye shul saie youre erand     er ye come inne."

"Sey to Gamelyn and Adam     if theire wil be,
We wil speke with hem     two wordes or thre."
"Felawe," seide the porter     "stonde ther stille,
And I wil wende to Gamelyn     to wete his wille."
Inne went the porter     to Gamelyn anoon,
And saide, "Sir, I warne you     here ben comen youre foon;
The shireves men     bene at the gate,
Forto take you both     ye shul not scape."
"Porter," seide Gamelyn,     "so mote I the!
I wil alowe thi wordes     whan I my tyme se.
Go ageyn to the gate     and dwelle with hem a while,
And thou shalt se     right sone porter, a gile."

"Adam," seide Gamelyn,     "hast the to goon;
We han foo men mony     and frendes never oon;
It bene the shireves men     that hider bene comen,
Thei ben swore togidere     that we shal be nomen."
"Gamelyn," seide Adam,     "hye the right blyve,
And if I faile the this day     evel mot I thrive!
And we shul so welcome     the shyreves men,
That some of hem shal make     her beddes in the fenne."
At a postern gate     Gamelyn out went,
And a good cartstaf     in his hondes hent;
Adam hent sone     another grete staff
For to helpen Gamelyne     and good strokes yaf.
Adam felled tweyn     and Gamelyn thre,
The other sette fete on erthe     and bygan to flee.
"What" seide Adam,     "so evere here I masse!
I have right good wyne     drynk er ye passe!"
"Nay, by God!" seide thei,     "thi drink is not goode,
It wolde make a mannys brayn     to lyen on his hode."

Gamelyn stode stille     and loked hym aboute,
And seide "The shyref cometh     with a grete route."
"Adam," seyde Gamelyn     "what bene now thi redes?
Here cometh the sheref     and wil have our hedes."
Adam seide to Gamelyn     "My rede is now this,
Abide we no lenger     lest we fare amys:
I rede we to wode gon     er we be founde,
Better is ther louse     than in the toune bounde."
Adam toke by the honde     yonge Gamelyn;
And every of hem dronk     a draught of wyn,
And after token her cours     and wenten her way;
Tho fonde the scherreve     nyst but non aye.
The shirrive light doune     and went into halle,
And fonde the lord fetred     faste withalle.
The shirreve unfetred hym     right sone anoon,
And sente aftere a leche     to hele his rigge boon.

Lat we now the fals knyght lye in hys care,
And talke we of Gamelyn     and of his fare.
Gamelyn into the wode     stalked stille,
And Adam Spensere     liked right ille;
Adam swore to Gamelyn,     "By Seint Richere,
Now I see it is mery     to be a spencere,
Yit lever me were     kayes to bere,
Than walken in this wilde wode     my clothes to tere."
"Adam," seide Gamelyn,     "dismay the right nought;
Mony good mannys child     in care is brought."
As thei stode talkinge     bothen in fere,
Adam herd talking of men     and right nyghe hem thei were.
Tho Gamelyn under wode     loked aright,
Sevene score of yonge men     he seye wel ydight;
Alle satte at the mete     compas aboute.
"Adam," seide Gamelyn,     "now have I no doute,
Aftere bale cometh bote     thorgh Goddis myght;
Me think of mete and drynk     I have a sight."
Adam loked thoo     under wode bough,
And whan he segh mete     was glad ynogh;
For he hoped to God     to have his dele,
And he was sore alonged     after a mele.

As he seide that worde     the mayster outlawe
Saugh Adam and Gamelyn     under the wode shawe.
"Yonge men," seide the maistere     "by the good Rode,
I am ware of gestes     God send us goode;
Yond ben twoo yonge men     wel ydight,
And parenture ther ben mo     whoso loked right.
Ariseth up, yonge men     and fette hem to me;
It is good that we weten     what men thei be."
Up ther sterten sevene     from the dynere,
And metten with Gamelyn     and Adam Spencere.
Whan thei were nyghe hem     than seide that oon,
"Yeeldeth up, yonge men     your bowes and your floon."
Than seide Gamelyn     that yong was of elde,
"Moche sorwe mote thei have     that to you hem yelde!
I curs noon other     but right mysilve;
Thoo ye fette to you fyve     than be ye twelve!"
Whan they harde by his word that myght was in his arme,
Ther was noon of hem     that wolde do hym harme,
But seide to Gamelyn     myldely and stille,
"Cometh afore our maister     and seith to hym your wille."
"Yong men," seide Gamelyn,     "be your lewté,
What man is youre maister     that ye with be?"
Alle thei answerd     without lesing,
"Our maister is crowned     of outlawe king."     
"Adam," seide Gamelyn,     "go we in Cristes name;
He may neither mete ne drink     warne us for shame.
If that he be hende     and come of gentil blood,
He wil yeve us mete and drink     and do us som gode."
"By Seint Jame!" seide Adam,     "what harme that I gete,
I wil aventure me     that I had mete."

Gamelyn and Adam     went forth in fere,
And thei grette the maister     that thei fond there.
Than seide the maister     king of outlawes,
"What seche ye, yonge men,     under the wode shawes?"
Gamelyn answerde the king     with his croune,
"He most nedes walk in feeld     that may not in toune.
Sire, we walk not here     no harme to doo,
But yif we mete a deer     to shete therto,
As men that bene hungry     and mow no mete fynde,
And bene harde bystad     under wode lynde."
Of Gamelyns wordes     the maister had reuthe,
And seide, "Ye shul have ynow     have God my trouth!"
He bad hem sitte doun     for to take rest;
And bad hem ete and drink     and that of the best.
As they eten and dronken     wel and fyne,
Than seide on to another,     "This is Gamelyne."
Tho was the maistere outlaw     into counseile nome,
And tolde howe it was Gamelyn     that thider was come.
Anon as he herd     how it was byfalle,
He made him maister     under hym over hem alle.
Withinne the thridde weke     hym come tydinge,
To the maistere outlawe     that was her kinge,
That he shuld come home     his pees was made;
And of that good tydinge     he was ful glade.
Thoo seide he to his yonge men     soth forto telle,
"Me bene comen tydinges     I may no lenger dwelle."
Tho was Gamelyn anoon     withoute taryinge,
Made maister outlawe     and crowned her kinge.

Whan Gamelyn was crowned     king of outlawes,
And walked had a while     under the wode shawes,
The fals knyght his brother     was sherif and sire,
And lete his brother endite     for hate and for ire.
Thoo were his boond men sory     and no thing glade,
Whan Gamelyn her lord      wolfeshede was made;
And sente out of his men     wher thei might hym fynde,
For to go seke Gamelyne     under the wode lynde,
To telle hym tydinge     the wynde was wente,
And al his good reved     and al his men shente.
Whan thei had hym founden     on knees thei hem setten,
And adoune with here hodes     and her lord gretten;
"Sire, wreth you not     for the good Rode,
For we han brought you tyddyngges     but thei be not gode.
Now is thi brother sherreve     and hath the bayly,
And hath endited the     and wolfesheed doth the crye."
"Allas!" seide Gamelyn,     "that ever I was so sclak
That I ne had broke his nek     whan I his rigge brak!
Goth, greteth wel     myn husbondes and wif,
I wil be at the nexte shyre     have God my lif!"
Gamelyn come redy to the nexte shire,
And ther was his brother     both lord and sire.
Gamelyn boldely come into     the mote halle,
And putte adoun his hode     amonge tho lordes alle;
"God save you, lordinggs     that here be!
But broke bak sherreve     evel mote thou thee!
Whi hast thou don me     that shame and vilenye,
For to lat endite me     and wolfeshede do me crye?"
Thoo thoghte the fals knyght forto bene awreke,
And lette Gamelyn     most he no thinge speke;
Might ther be no grace     but Gamelyn atte last
Was cast in prison     and fettred faste.

Gamelyn hath a brothere     that highte Sir Ote,
Als good an knyght and hende     as might gon on foote.
Anoon yede a massager to that good knyght
And tolde him altogidere     how Gamelyn was dight.
Anoon whan Sire Ote herd     howe Gamelyn was dight,
He was right sory     and no thing light,
And lete sadel a stede     and the way name,
And to his tweyne bretheren     right sone he came.
"Sire," seide Sire Ote     to the sherreve thoo,
"We bene but three bretheren     shul we never be mo;
And thou hast prisoned     the best of us alle;
Such another brother     evel mote hym byfalle!"
"Sire Ote," seide the fals knyght,     "lat be thi cors;
By God, for thi wordes     he shal fare the wors;
To the kingges prisoun     he is ynome,
And ther he shal abide     to the justice come."
"Par de!" seide Sir Ote,     "better it shal be;
I bid hym to maynprise     that thou graunte me
To the next sitting     of delyveraunce,
And lat than Gamelyn     stonde to his chaunce."
"Brother, in such a forward     I take him to the;
And by thine fader soule     that the bigate and me,
But he be redy      whan the justice sitte,
Thou shalt bere the juggement     for al thi grete witte."
"I graunte wel," seide Sir Ote,     "that it so be.
Lat delyver him anoon     and take hym to me."

Tho was Gamelyn delyvered     to Sire Ote, his brother;
And that nyght dwelled     the oon with the other.
On the morowe seide Gamelyn     to Sire Ote the hende,
"Brother," he seide,     "I mote forsoth from you wende
To loke howe my yonge men     leden her liff,
Whedere thei lyven in joie     or ellis in striff."
"By God" seyde Sire Ote,     "that is a colde rede,
Nowe I se that alle the carke     schal fal on my hede;
For whan the justice sitte     and thou be not yfounde,
I shal anoon be take     and in thi stede ibounde."
"Brother," seide Gamelyn,     "dismay you nought,
For by saint Jame in Gales     that mony men hath sought,
Yif that God almyghty     holde my lif and witte,
I wil be redy     whan the justice sitte."
Than seide Sir Ote to Gamelyn,     "God shilde the fro shame;
Come whan thou seest tyme     and bringe us out of blame."

Fitt 6

Litheneth, and listeneth     and holde you stille,
And ye shul here how Gamelyn     had al his wille.
Gamelyn went     under the wode-ris,
And fonde ther pleying     yenge men of pris.
Tho was yonge Gamelyn     right glad ynoughe,
Whan he fonde his men     under wode boughe.
Gamelyn and his men     talkeden in fere,
And thei hadde good game     her maister to here;
His men tolde him of aventures     that they had founde,
And Gamelyn tolde hem agein     howe he was fast bounde.
While Gamelyn was outlawe     had he no cors;
There was no man     that for him ferde the wors,
But abbots and priours,     monk and chanoun;
On hem left he nought     whan he myghte hem nome.

While Gamelyn and his men     made merthes ryve,
The fals knyght his brother     evel mot he thryve!
For he was fast aboute     both day and other,
For to hiren the quest     to hongen his brother.
Gamelyn stode on a day     and byheeld
The wodes and the shawes     and the wild feeld,
He thoughte on his brothere     how he hym byhette
That he wolde be redy     whan the justice sette;
He thought wel he wold     without delay,
Come tofore the justice     to kepen his day,
And saide to his yonge men,     "Dighteth you yare,
For whan the justice     sitte we most be thare,
For I am under borowe     til that I come,
And my brother for me     to prison shal be nome."
"By Seint Jame!" seide his yonge men,     "and thou rede therto,
Ordeyn how it shal be     and it shal be do."

While Gamelyn was comyng     ther the justice satte,
The fals knyght his brother     forgate he not that,
To hire the men of the quest     to hangen his brother;
Thoughe thei had not that oon     thei wolde have that other
Tho come Gamelyn     from under the wode-ris,
And brought with hym     yonge men of pris
"I see wel," seide Gamelyn,     "the justice is sette;
Go aforn, Adam,     and loke how it spette."
Adam went into the halle     and loked al aboute,
He segh there stonde lordes     grete and stoute,
And Sir Ote his brother     fetred ful fast;
Thoo went Adam out of halle     as he were agast.
Adam seide to Gamelyn     and to his felawes alle,
"Sir Ote stont fetered     in the mote halle."
"Yonge men," seide Gamelyn,     "this ye heeren alle:
Sir Ote stont fetered     in the mote halle.
If God geve us grace     well forto doo,
He shal it abigge     that it broughte therto."
Than seide Adam     that lockes had hore,
"Cristes curs mote he have     that hym bonde so sore!
And thou wilt, Gamelyn,     do after my rede,
Ther is noon in the halle     shal bere awey his hede."
"Adam," seide Gamelyn,     "we wil not do soo,
We wil slee the giltif     and lat the other go.
I wil into the halle     and with the justice speke;
Of hem that bene giltif     I wil ben awreke.
Lat no skape at the door     take, yonge men, yeme;
For I wil be justice this day     domes to deme.
God spede me this day     at my newe werk!
Adam, com with me     for thou shalt be my clerk."
His men answereden hym     and bad don his best,
"And if thou to us have nede     thou shalt finde us prest;
We wil stonde with the     while that we may dure;
And but we worchen manly     pay us none hure."
"Yonge men," seid Gamelyn,     "so mot I wel the!
A trusty maister     ye shal fynde me."

Right there the justice     satte in the halle,
Inne went Gamelyn     amonges hem alle.
Gamelyn lete unfetter     his brother out of bende.
Than seide Sire Ote     his brother that was hende,
"Thow haddest almost, Gamelyn,     dwelled to longe,
For the quest is out on me     that I shulde honge."
"Brother," seide Gamelyn,     "so God yeve me good rest!
This day shul thei be honged     that ben on the quest;
And the justice both     that is the juge man,
And the sherreve also     thorgh hym it bigan.
Than seide Gamelyn     to the justise,
"Now is thi power don,     the most nedes rise;
Thow hast yeven domes     that bene evel dight,
I will sitten in thi sete     and dressen hem aright."
The justice satte stille     and roos not anon;
And Gamelyn cleved     his chekebon;
Gamelyn toke him in his armes     and no more spake,
But threwe hym over the barre     and his arme brake.
Dorst noon to Gamelyn     seie but goode,
Forfeerd of the company     that without stoode.

Gamelyn sette him doun     in the justise sete,
And Sire Ote his brother by him     and Adam at his fete.
Whan Gamelyn was sette     in the justise stede,
Herken of a bourde     that Gamelyn dede.
He lete fetter the justise     and his fals brother,
And did hem com to the barre     that on with that other.
Whan Gamelyn had thus ydon     had he no rest,
Til he had enquered     who was on his quest
Forto demen his brother     Sir Ote for to honge;
Er he wist what thei were     hym thought ful longe.
But as sone as Gamelyn     wist where thei were,
He did hem everechon     fetter in fere,
And bringgen hem to the barre     and setten in rewe;
"By my feith!" seide the justise,     "the sherrive is a shrewe!"
Than seide Gamelyn     to the justise,
"Thou hast yove domes     of the worst assise;
And the twelve sesoures that weren on the quest,
Thei shul be honged this day     so have I good rest!"
Than seide the sheref     to yonge Gamelyn,
"Lord, I crie thee mercie     brother art thou myn."
"Therfor," seide Gamelyn,     "have thou Cristes curs,
For and thow were maister     I shuld have wors."

For to make shorte tale     and not to longe,
He ordeyned hym a quest     of his men stronge;
The justice and the shirreve     both honged hie,
To weyven with the ropes     and the winde drye;
And the twelve sisours     (sorwe have that rekke!)
Alle thei were honged     fast by the nekke.
Thus endeth the fals knyght     with his trecherye,
That ever had lad his lif     in falsenesse and folye.
He was honged by the nek     and not by the purs,
That was the mede that he had     for his faders curs.

Sire Ote was eldest     and Gamelyn was yenge,
Wenten to her frendes     and passed to the kinge;
Thei maden pees with the king      of the best sise.
The king loved wel Sir Ote     and made hym justise.
And after, the king made Gamelyn     in est and in west,
The cheef justice     of his free forest;
Alle his wight yonge men     the king foryaf her gilt,
And sithen in good office     the king hath hem pilt,
Thus wane Gamelyn his land     and his lede,
And wreke him on his enemyes     and quytte hem her mede;
And Sire Ote his brother     made him his heire,
And sithen wedded Gamelyn     a wif good and faire;
They lyved togidere     the while that Crist wolde,
And sithen was Gamelyn     graven under molde.
And so shull we alle     may ther no man fle:
God bring us to that joye     that ever shal be!

List and listen and harken closely; (see note)
hear; brave
(see note)
He knew about breeding and sport
wicked rascal; [to show it]
brothers; their

tormented him bitterly

far and wide; farmer
(see note)
Eagerly; divided; them

Then; the shire
divide; evenly divide
quickly hasten

When; heard

truly, without denial

pity; same

remedy of evil

I know there is no denying it


(see note)

Seldom you see any heir

divide; (see note)
their intent
(see note)

divided; their


(see note)

delay all action
(see note)
(see note)



As soon as
beguiled; boy

badly and also ill
go to ruin

after; paid for; skin

of their own accord; feared


(see note)
pulled down
broken into; stolen
unroofed; repaired

food ready; (see note)
(see note)

it seems to me necessary
I never took notice
weapons and horses; left

who was quick to anger
churl (lowborn, bastard); (see note)
fool; tenants
may; calls

beat; rob

must in any case
(see note)
everyone; taken
aware; saw

club-shaped grinde; (see note)
he leapt
drove; heap
a good number
flew up; shut; (see note)
terrified them all
for awe (of him)
sides; fight; (see note)

may ye prosper ill!

buckler (small round shield)
(see note)

peace; grace
anger yourself

If I had not had power

loath; (see note)
except for a test
see whether
be reconciled

was deceitful and cruel
very much
ask; request

If; reconciled


untilled; sown

knew how to
(see note)

announced a wrestling match
[the usual prizes]
desirous to go

lend; swift horse



quickly and swiftly
put on


woe is me!; (see note)

make; behavior

two; know; lost

slain; pledge



pull off; shoes

took heed of him

quickly and at once


mischievous fellow; (see note)
grown; greater (rogue)
once; thrive

holds; ready

very eager

threw; crushed
gave; crack

considered; throw


(see note)

who was displeased
of all; cruel
a long time


demeanor; wishes


had charge of; (see note)
Put on
this fair is over

by half; (see note)
idiom: as I use my neck; (see note)

(see note)
Those; umpires

ordered to be shut
closed it quickly



by God's beard
lie; as I may use my chin
latch; (see note)
saw then

that effort is lost

anger avenged

fathoms (i.e., 42 feet deep)




cellar; barrels of wine
part from each other
If; any mouthful of liquid
caterer; dearest purse; (see note)
niggard (miser); honor

drawing well

merriment; quarreling
turret; hidden; (see note)
saw; waste

and would depart
hurry off
if I thus can use my eye
(see note)

(see note)

afterward; asked permission to leave


to be avenged

happened; time

solar (upper room)
went very close

waste the supplies
anger you
since it was paid for


may he have ill luck!

heir; (see note)
"By my faith!"

knew; guile

(see note)
anger; hostile assembly

vow as I promised you

as I may prosper

fetters; shackle
told lies about

Those who

discovered; partly
known; invented
given blows; before

food; (see note)

release; bonds
officer in charge of provisions


as I use my neck!
false; (see note)

Upon that agreement; certainly; (see note)

as I hope to thrive
if thou will do also with me

As soon as

advancement; promised
God's Providence

pantry; quickly
secret place


Shall I go; strike off; (see note)

plan; that's worth two (of yours)
know; denying

as if; tightly

go bail for you

I shall try another course

absolve; (see note)

(see note)

wink at you

given for the occasion
forbid you; bonds; (see note)

both high and low
hall door
their eyes

at the banquet; (see note)


fasting (i.e., starving)


dolefully indeed


(see note)

head were cut off
(see note)

so profits my petition!
Cursed may he be
may do

saw; angry
did not think at all
aware at once
work; gave

as if; angry
(see note)

ignorant (i.e., layman)

aside; work

paid them

pay a liberal allowance (of blows)
guard; as sure as I hear Mass
Before they have been absolved
Fear you not; together
Stir thyself
count fully
do them only good

Respect their tonsures
then their; (see note)


farm wagons

bad advice
better off; (see note)
(see note)
acted distraught

struck; fell down
waist; backbone he broke; (see note)
shackles; where he sat before

soon; avenged themselves; foes
asked for; washed
because of fear
thence; only

made a grievous attack
against the king's peace
Then; at once
went about


considered themselves

fetch; their faith
hurried; tarry
Until; where
close at hand

fearful of guile
small door or window; fastened up

(see note)

if it be their will

go; know


as I may thrive
praise; see a chance

get ready to go
many foes; not one

hasten you quickly

them; fen (mud)
rear gate
tongue or shaft of a cart; seized

knocked down two

(see note)



(see note)
Then; nest; eggs; (see note)
dismounted from his horse

doctor; backbone

walked cautiously
was not pleased

I would rather; keys

don't be alarmed
near them

well armed
food; in a circle
after evil comes good

sorely longing for

thicket in the woods
aware of guests
Yonder; well armed
fetch them


(see note)


(see note)


food; (see note)


may no food find
beset; in the forest

Then; taken


third week; tidings came to him
who was their king


had; indicted
(see note)

changed; (see note)
robbed; badly treated

drew down their hoods
(see note)
power (of the sheriff)


the people of my estates; (see note)
(see note)

hall of justice


Then; avenged
hindered; not allowed to speak

was called
As; courteous; (see note)

not at all happy
had saddled; took


curse; (see note)
because of; worse
"By God!"
I demand bail for him
legal hearing

agreement; commit


Have him freed; give

see; lead their

bad plan

taken; place

Galicia, Spain


forest branches

their; hear

curse (public criticism); (see note)

Except; (see note)

abundant joy
evil may he thrive!
very busy
bribe; inquest; (see note)

groves; (see note)

Make yourself ready


bribe; inquest

excellence; (see note)

before; what is happening


as if he were terrified
(see note)

to succeed
pay for
who had gray hair

If; plan


escape; take . . . heed
to hand down verdicts

Unless; wages

had unfettered; bonds


finished, you must
verdicts; unjustly given
arrange them correctly




place; (see note)
Listen; jest
had fettered
made; bar of justice

found out; jury

Until he knew who

had; fettered together
row; (see note)

given judgments; worst court of law


high; (see note)
To swing on
misery to anyone who cares!




bold; (see note)
after; put
won (back); tenants
avenged; reward

buried under earth


Go to Robyn and Gandelyn: Introduction