Fair Ellen of Radcliffe

There was a lord of worthy fame,
And a hunting he would ride,
Attended by a noble traine
Of gentrye by his side.

And while he did in chase remaine,
To see both sport and playe,
His ladye went,
as she did feigne,
Unto the church to praye.

This lord he had a daughter deare,
Whose beauty shone so bright,
She was beloved both far and neare
Of many a lord and knight.

Fair Ellen was this damsel call’d,
A creature faire was she;
She was her father’s only joye,
As you shall after see.

Therefore her cruel stepmother
Did envye her so much,
That daye by daye she sought her life,
Her malice it was such.

She bargain’d with the master-cook,
To take her life awaye;
And, taking of her daughter’s book,
She thus to her did saye:—

Go home, sweet daughter,
I thee praye,
Go hasten presentlie;
And tell unto the master-cook
These wordes that I tell thee:

And bid him dresse to dinner straight
That fair and milk-white doe,
That in the parke doth shine so bright
There’s none so faire to showe.

This ladye, fearing of no harme,
Obey’d her mother’s will;
And presentlye she hasted home,
Her pleasure to fulfil.

She streight into the kitchen went,
Her message for to tell;
And there she spied the master-cook,
Who did with malice swell.

Nowe, master-cook, it must be soe,
Do that which I thee tell:
You needes must dresse the milk-white doe
Which you do knowe full well.

Then streight his cruell bloodye hands
He on the ladye layd,
Who quivering and shaking stands,
While thus to her he sayd:—

Thou art the doe that I must dresse,
See here, behold my knife;
For it is pointed, presently
To ridd thee of thy life.

Oh then, cried out the scullion-boye,
As loud as loud might bee,
Oh save her life, good master-cook,
And make your pyes of mee!

For pitye’s sake, do not destroye
My ladye with your knife;
You know shee is her father’s joye,
For Christe’s sake, save her life.

I will not save her life, he sayd,
Nor make my pyes of thee;
Yet, if thou dost this deed bewraye,
Thy butcher I will bee.

Now when this lord he did come home
For to’sit downe and eat,
He called for his daughter deare
To come and carve his meat.

Now sit you downe, his ladye say’d,
Oh sit you down to meat;
Into some nunnery she is gone,
Your daughter deare forget.

Then solemnlye he made a vowe
Before the companie,
That he would neither eat nor drinke
Until he did her see.

Oh then bespake the scullion-boye,
With a loud voice so hye—
If now you will your daughter see,
My lord, cut up that pye:

Wherein her flesh is minced small,
And parched with the fire;
All caused by her stepmother,
Who did her death desire.

And cursed bee the master-cook,
Oh cursed may he bee!
I proffer’d him my own heart’s blood,
From death to set her free.

Then all in blacke this lord did mourne,
And, for his daughter’s sake,
He judged her cruell stepmother
To be burnt at a stake.

Likewise he judged the master-cook
In boiling lead to stand;
And made the simple scullion-boye
The heire of all his land.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.