The Northern Way

Song and Legend From the Middle Ages

French Literature

Page 12

Marks a hundred thousand told,

Not so blithe of hear he were.

Rich array he bade them bear:

They made ready for his wear.

He put on a hauberk lined,

Helmet on his head did bind,

Girt his sword with hilt pure gold,

Mounted on his charger bold;

Spear and buckler then he took;

At his two feet cast a look:

They trod in the stirrups trim.

Wondrous proud he carried him.

His dear love he thought upon,

And his good horse spurred anon,

Who right eagerly went on.

Through the gate he rode straighway,

Into the fray.

Aucassin was greatly successful, but on his return his father would not keep his promise, and shut him up in prison.

Sec. 12.----Aucassin was put in prison, as you have listened and heard, and Nicolette on the other hand, was in the chamber. it was in the summer-time, in the month of May, when the days are warm, long, and bright, and the nights still and cloudless. Nicolette lay one night on her bed and saw the moon shine bright though a window, and heard the nightingale sing in the garden, and then she bethought her of Aucassin, her friend, whom she loved so much. She began to consider of the Count Garin of Beaucaire, who hated her to death; and she thought to herself that she would remain there no longer; since if she were betrayed, and the Count Garlin knew it, he would make her to die an evil death. She perceived that the old woman who was with her was asleep. She got up, and put on a gown which she had, of cloth-of-silk and very good; and she took bedclothes and towels, and tied one to another, and made a rope as long as she could, and tied it to the pillar of the window, and let herself down into the garden; and she took her dress in one hand before and in the other behind, and tucked it up, because of the dew which she saw thick on the grass, and she went away down in the garden.

Her hair was golden and in little curls, and her eyes blue-gray and laughing, and her face oval, and her nose high and well set, and her lips vermeil, so as is no rose nor cherry in summertime, and her teeth white and small, and her bosom was firm, and heaved her dress as if it had been two walnuts; and atween the sides she was so slender that you could have clasped her in your two hands; and the daisy blossoms which she broke off with the toes of her feet, which lay fallen over on the bend of her foot, were right black against her feet and her legs, so very white was the maiden.

She came to the postern door, and unfastened it, and went out through the streets of Beaucaire, keeping in the shadow, for the moon shone very bright; and she went on till she came to the tower where her lover was. The tower was shored up here and there, and she crouched down by one of the pillars, and wrapped herself in her mantle; and she thrust her head into a chink in the tower, which was old and ruinous, and heard Aucassin within weeping and making great ado, and lamenting for his sweet friend whom he loved so much. And when she had listened enough to him she began to speak.

After telling each their love, Nicolette was obliged to flee. She went to a great forest and talked with the herd-boys.

Sec. 19---Nicolette, bright-favored maid,

To the herds her farewell bade,

And her journey straight addressed

Right amid the green forest,

Down a path of olden day;

Till she reached an open way

Where seven roads fork, that go out

Through the region round about.

Then the thought within her grew,

She will try her lover true,

If he love her as he said:

She took many a lily head,

With the bushy kermes-oak shoot,

And of leafy boughs to boot,

And a bower so fair made she,---

Daintier I did never see!

By the ruth of heaven she aware,

Should Ancassin come by there,

And not rest a little space,

For her love's sake, in that place,

He should ne'er her lover be,

Nor his love she.

Aucassin escapes, comes to the forest, finds his lover, and they agree to go away together.

Sec. 27---Aucassin, the fair, the blond,

Gentle knight and lover fond,

Rode from out the thick forest;

In his arms his love was pressed,

On the saddlebow before;

And he kissed her o'er and o'er,

Eyes and brows and lips and chin.

Then to him did she begin;

"Aucassin, fair lover sweet,

To what country shall we fleet?"

"Sweet my love, what should I know?

Little care I where we go,

In the greenwood or away,

So I am with thee alway."

Hill and vale they fleeted by,

Town and fortress fenced high,

Till they came at dawn of day

Where the sea before them lay;

There they lighted on the sand,

Beside the strand.

They have many adventures are again seperated. Nicolette is carried to Carthage. She finally escapes and makes her way in disguise of Beaucaire where Aucassin was.

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