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HAVELOK THE DANE, by                    
First Line: "godard took the maids that day, / as it were with them to play"
Last Line: "with thine eyes this shalt thou see, / with him queen, and lady be!'"

(After the death of Havelok's father, Godard seizes the kingdom, kills
Havelok's sisters, and orders Havelok himself to be drowned.)

GODARD took the maids that day,
As it were with them to play,
As his mood had sportive been --
(Hunger made them black and green)
Of the twain the throat he slits,
Hacked them both, I trow, to bits;
Sorrowful the sight that day
By the wall the children lay
Dead, and weltering in their blood.
Havelok saw, as nigh he stood,
Sorrowful was he that stead,
Well might he know mickle dread,
At his heart he saw a knife
Raised to rob him of his life.
Knelt the little lad that day
To that Judas quoth straightway:
"Lord, now mercy show to me,
Homage here I offer free,
I will Denmark to ye give
If so be ye let me live,
Here, on book, I'll freely swear
That I never more will bear
'Gainst ye, lord, nor shield nor arm,
Spear nor sword that may ye harm;
Lord, have mercy now on me
This day Denmark will I flee,
Never to return again --
And I'll swear that Birkabeyne
Ne'er in life begat a son!"
When the devil heard, anon,
He his deed did somewhat rue,
And the dripping knife withdrew
Wet with guileless children's blood --
'T was a miracle right good
That the lad he did not slay
But for ruth withheld that day;
Tho' he were full fain that stead
The child Havelok had been dead,
Yet since, foul fiend tho' he were,
He was loth such deed to dare,
He thought then, as Havelok stood
Staring, as one well nigh wood:
"If alive I let him go
He may work me mickle woe,
Peace with me he ne'er will make
But will watch my life to take.
An he were no more alive,
And my bairns should live and thrive,
Lord and sovereign after me
Of all Denmark should they be.
So God help me he shall die
For no better rede have I,
Men shall cast him in the sea
In its wave he drowned shall be,
Round his neck an anchor good
That he float not on the flood."
Then straightway he bade them go
Fetch a fisher, who should do
All his will, and when he came
Spake he to him at that same:
"Grim, thou know'st thou art my thrall,
An thou doest my will withal,
That which I demand of thee,
On the morn I'll make thee free,
And with goods will wealthy make --
Now this boy I bid thee take,
Lead him forth with thee to-night,
When the moon doth give her light,
On the sea, -- drown him therein,
On my head shall be the sin."
Grim the child hath bound full fast,
Tightly that the bonds might last,
For of full strong line were made;
Then was Havelok sore dismayed,
Never had he known such woe!
Christ, Who made the lame to go,
And the dumb hath caused to speak
Vengeance now on Godard wreak!
Grim the boy full fast hath bound,
With an old cloth wrapped him round,
Took of filthy rags a clout,
Gagged him that he ne'er cry out
Wheresoe'er he should him lead --
Then, when he had done that deed,
As the traitor to him spake
Bidding him the boy to take,
And to drown him in the sea,
This he promised faithfully.
In a sack so foul and black
Soon he took him on his back,
To his hut the boy he bare,
Gave him to Dame Leve's care;
Quoth: "This boy guard well, my wife,
E'en as thou wouldst guard my life,
I must drown him in the sea,
And for that freedman shall be,
Gold and fee we'll have enow,
Thus my lord hath sworn, I trow."
When his wife she heard, straightway,
From her seat she rose that day,
Threw the boy so hard adown
That well nigh he cracked his crown
'Gainst a stone that lay full nigh --
"Wellaway!" might Havelok cry:
"That King's son I be to-day,
Better had I been their prey
Eagle, Griffin, Wolf, or Bear,
Lion, or She-wolf, beasts that tear!"
There he lay till middle night --
Then Grim bade them bring him light,
He would clothe him, little loath --
"Now bethink thee of the oath
That I sware unto my lord,
Never will I break my word,
I will bear him to the sea,
Well dost know it so must be,
Drowned shall he be therein --
Now rise up, and go within,
Blow the fire, a candle take."
As the clothes she'ld ready make
For his use, the embers blow,
Lo! therein a light did glow,
E'en as bright as it were day
Round the boy, who sleeping lay;
From his mouth it forth did stream
Bright it was as sunlight beam,
And the dwelling did it light
E'en as taper, burning bright.
"Jesu Christ!" Leve cried in fear,
"What this light? How came it here?
Stir up, Grim, and look and see,
What dost think the light can be?"

To the boy he straight did go,
Right good will had he thereto,
Loosed the gag, the lad unbound,
And right soon on him they found,
As his shirt they turned down there,
On his neck the king's mark fair,
Very bright and fair to see --
Quoth Grim: "Godwot, this is he
To whom Denmark shall belong,
He shall be a ruler strong,
He shall hold one day in hand
All Denmark and Engelland,
Godard shall he harm that day,
Hang him high, or, living, flay,
Or alive, burn him anon,
Mercy shall he show him none!"
Thus quoth Grim, and sore did greet,
Down he fell at Havelok's feet,
Praying: "Lord, have mercy here,
On me, and my wife so dear;
Lord, we own us bound to thee,
Thralls, and servants both are we.
Lord, we'll cherish thee, and feed,
Till that thou canst ride on steed,
Till the day that thou canst wield
Knightly helm, and spear and shield,
That foul traitor Godard, he
Naught shall know, I swear it thee,
And none other, lord, save thou
Makest me free man, I trow,
Thro' thee, lord, will I be free --
I will watch and care for thee,
And by thee be freed alway --"

Havelok, he was glad that day,
Up he sat, and craved for bread,
Quoth: "Now am I well nigh dead,
What with hunger, and the bands
Thou did'st fasten on my hands,
And the gag, which, at the last
In my mouth thou madest fast,
Therewith was I squeezed so tight,
Thou hadst strangled me outright!"
"Godwot," quoth Leve, "it pleaseth me
Thou wouldst eat, I'll fetch for thee
Milk and butter, cheese, and bread,
Pasties, pancakes, for thee spread,
With such food we shall thee feed
Lord, in this thy mickle need.
Sooth 't is, as men say and swear,
Whom God helps, is harmed ne'er!"

When the dame had brought the meat,
Havelok, he began to eat
Greedily, tho' blithe that tide
He might not his hunger hide;
A whole loaf he ate, and more,
For he needs must hunger sore,
Since for full three days, I ween,
Never meat the lad had seen.
Then, when he was fully fed,
Grim, he made a right fair bed,
Did his clothes off, laid him low,
Quoth: "Sleep, Son, 't is better so,
Sleep thou sound, and dread thee naught,
Thou from bale to bliss art brought."
Soon as dawned the light of day
Grim, he went upon his way,
To that traitor, false Godard,
Who of Denmark was the steward,
Quoth to him: "Lord, I have done
All thou badest me anon,
Drowned the boy in salt sea flood,
Round his neck an anchor good.
Verily, that boy is dead,
Never more he eateth bread,
He lies drowned in the sea --
Give me gold and other fee,
That henceforth I rich may be,
With thy charter make me free.
Such the promise thou didst make
When I lately with thee spake."
Godard stood, and looked at him
With a piercing glance and grim,
Quoth: "Thou fain wouldst be an Earl?
Get thee home, thou dirty churl,
Go thy way, and evermore
Be the thrall thou wast before.
Other meed thou shalt have none --
With but little thou hadst gone
To the gallows, God me speed
Thou hast done a wicked deed,
Here too long thou well mayst stay,
Get thee quickly hence away!"

With all haste then, Grim, he ran
From that wicked, traitorous man,
Thought: "What were it best to do?
An he knew, he'll take us two
Hang us high on gallows-tree,
Better 't were the land to flee
So we both may save our life,
And my children, and my wife."
Grim, he sold his corn, I trow,
Fleecy sheep, and horned cow,
Horse, and swine, and goat withal,
Geese, and hens, he sold them all;
All that he of worth might hold
And could sell, that same he sold,
Turned it into money there --
Then his ship he fits with care,
Tarred and pitched it so that she
Safe on sand or creek might be;
Fixed therein a goodly mast,
Cables strong to hold it fast,
Right good oars, and right good sail,
The ship lacked for ne'er a nail
Nor for aught a man might do --
When he had prepared it so
Havelok on board led he
With his wife, and his sons three,
And his daughters, maidens fair --
To the oar he bent him there,
Drew him out on the high sea
Where he deemed he best might flee.
But within a little while,
When he scarce had rowed a mile
Rose a wind from out the North,
Bise men call it, drave them forth,
Drave them to the English land
Which was later in his hand,
Havelok, as men call his name --
But he first must suffer shame,
Mickle grief and care, I wis,
But at last it all was his
E'en as I will tell ye here
An ye lend to me your ear.
Grim the Humber did ascend,
E'en to Lindesey, the North end,
There his ship ground on the sand,
Grim, he drave it to the land.
There he made a little cote
For himself, and for his boat;
There the land he thought to take
A small house of earth to make,
So that they therein might dwell
In that haven harbour well.
And since Grim that place did own
By his name it soon was known,
Grimsby, men the town do call
Who speak of it, one and all,
And so men shall call it aye
Betwixt now and Judgment Day.

Grim, he was a fisher good,
Skilful he upon the flood,
Many fish therein he took
Both with net, and eke with hook,
Sturgeon did he catch, and whale,
Turbot, salmon, without fail,
Soles and eels, the sooth to tell --
Oftentimes he sped full well,
Cod and porpoise took he there,
Herrings too, and mackerel fair,
Plaice, and halibut, and thornback.
Baskets good he did not lack,
Four, I trow, he made him there
That he and his sons might bear
Fish for sale or for exchange --
There was never town or grange
Where he went not with his ware;
And he came back never bare,
But of bread or victuals, store
In his shirt or cloak he bore,
In his sack were beans or corn,
Ne'er his toil was vainly borne.
When 't was lampreys he had ta'en
Well he knew the way again
To Lincoln town, that borough true,
Oft he passed it thro' and thro'
Till his fish he all had sold
And the pence for it was told.
Then his home he gladsome sought,
For ofttimes with him he brought
Cakes and simnels, shaped as horn,
Full his bags with meat and corn,
Flesh of neat, and sheep, and swine,
Hemp wherewith to twist his line,
And strong rope to fix the net
Which in sea full oft he set.

Thus hath Grim a fair life led,
With his folk right well he fed,
Winters twelve, I trow, and more --
Havelok knew he laboured sore
For his meat, while still he lay,
Thought: "No child am I to-day,
But well-grown, and I could eat
More than ever Grim may get;
I eat more, by God alive,
Than Grim and his children five!
It may not for long be so,
Godwot, I with them will go,
I will learn to get some good,
I will toil for this, my food,
'T is no shame to toil alway, --
Eat and drink that man well may
Who for all has toiled full long;
Thus to lie at home were wrong,
God reward him, I ne'er may,
Who hath fed me to this day,
Glad I'll bear a basket now,
It shall harm me naught, I trow,
E'en tho' great the burden be
As a net, yea, verily,
No more will I idle stay
But to-morrow go my way."

On the morn, with light of day,
Up he gat, nor longer lay,
Did a basket on his back
With fish piled up in a stack,
Yea, as much alone he bare
As the four, mine oath I'll swear!
Well he bare it, sold it well,
All the silver down did tell,
Of the monies he brought back
Not a farthing there did lack;
Thus he gat him forth each day
And no longer idle lay.
So his trade he learned full well --
On the land a famine fell
Both of corn and bread also;
Grim, he wist not what to do,
How his house-hold might be fed --
He for Havelok was in dread,
Strong he was, and much he ate,
More than ever Grim might get.
On the sea no fish he caught,
Ling nor hornback home he brought,
Nay, nor other fish to feed
This his household in their need.
Havelok wrought him mickle care
Pondering how he might fare,
These, his children vexed him naught,
Havelok was all his thought.
Grim quoth: "Havelok, son so dear,
Death, I think me, draweth near,
Hunger presseth us too strong,
Food hath failed us over long,
Better now to go thy way
Than with us o'er-long to stay,
Till it were too late to go --
'Thou right well the road dost know
Unto Lincoln, that good town,
Oft hast paced it up and down;
My life is but worth a sloe,
It were well thou thither go,
Many good men dwell therein,
With them thou thy bread mayst win,
Woe is me! too naked thou,
Of my sail I'll make, I trow,
Coat that thou mayst round thee fold
Son, that thou mayst take no cold."

Shears he taketh from the nail,
Made a garment of the sail,
Havelok wrapped it round him there;
Neither hose nor shoes he ware,
Other weed had none that day,
Barefoot did he go his way.
In the town he was full woe,
Had no friend to whom to go,
Two days, fasting, went his way
None his work with food would pay.
The third day he heard men call:
"Porters, Porters, come ye all!"
All the poor men at that cry
Swift as sparks from embers fly,
Havelok smote down nine or ten,
In the dust he laid them then,
Came he straightway to the cook
Meat for the Earl's table took,
That he at the bridge did buy,
Let the porters lowly lie,
And the meat to castle bare --
Farthing cake they gave him there.

The next day good heed he took,
Lay in wait for the Earl's cook,
On the bridge he stood that tide,
Fishes many lay beside,
For the Earl of Cornewall
Bought he meat, and loud did call:
"Porters, Porters, hither hie!"
Havelok hearkened joyfully,
When he "Porters!" heard him call
Down he smote the others all,
Who that day betwixt them stood,
Sixteen lads, so stout and good;
To the cook he made a leap
Thrust them down all in a heap,
With his basket reached his side
Gathered up the fish that tide.
Well a cart-load did he bear,
Sounds, and salmon, plaices fair,
Lampreys great he took and eels,
Spared he neither toes nor heels.
To the castle came again
Where his burden men have ta'en.
Then when men had helped him down,
Ta'en the load from off his crown,
The cook eyed him well, I trow,
Thought him stalwart man enow,
Quoth: "Now wilt thou stay with me?
I will feed thee willingly,
Well art worth thy hire alway
And the food I'll to thee pay!"
"Godwot," quoth he, "gentle sire
Here I pray none other hire,
Food enow give thou to me,
Water, Fire, I'll fetch for thee,
Blow the fire, and right well make,
Sticks I know well how to break,
And a fire to kindle here
That shall burn both bright and clear.
I can cleave wood passing well;
How to skin an eel can tell;
Dishes can I wash also,
All you will I well may do."
Quoth the cook: "'T is well, anon,
Go thou yonder, sit thou down,
And good bread I'll give thee free,
Broth in kettle make for thee,
Sit thee down, thy fill mayst eat,
Woe to those who grudge thee meat!"

Havelok sat him down anon,
Stayed as still as any stone
Till meat was before him set;
A fair meal did Havelok get.
When he ate his will that day
To the well he went straightway,
Drew a tub of water there,
Bade no man to help him bear,
But with his own hands alone
In the kitchen set it down.
He could carry water there,
He the meat from bridge would bear;
Turf and peat he carried all,
Bare the wood from bridge withal;
All that ever men might use
Havelok carries, draws, or hews,
No more rest he takes than he
Should a beast of burden be.
Of all men was he most meek,
Ever smiling, blithe did speak,
Glad and joyous he that tide
Knew full well his grief to hide.
Never was there child so small,
Who was fain to sport withal,
But with him would Havelok play;
Bairns he met upon his way
Readily he did their will,
Gave them all of sport their fill.
All men loved him, quiet and bold,
Knights and children, young and old,
Well-beloved of all was he
Both of high and low degree.
Far and wide of him they speak
How he was both strong, and meek;
"God ne'er wrought a man more fair,
Yet he goeth well night bare!"
For of clothing naught had he
But a loose robe, ill to see,
Soiled it was, and all unclean,
Not a fir-twig worth, I ween.
But his plight the cook did rue,
Clothes he bought him, all brand new,
Hose and shoes he bought anon,
Bade him swiftly put them on,
When new clad, and hosed, and shod,
None so fair was made by God!
Of all men who trod the earth
And of women had their birth,
Never man had ruled, to wit,
Over kingdom, who so fit
King or kaiser for to be,
To all seeming, than was he!
For when all together came
There, at Lincoln, for their game,
And the Earl's men stood him by,
Havelok, by the shoulder high,
Towered above the tallest there --
If to wrestle one would dare
Havelok him to ground soon cast,
Stood above him like a mast;
And as he was broad and long
So was he both stout and strong,
None in England was his peer
Or for strength could come him near.
Gentle was he too, as strong,
Tho' a man oft did him wrong
Ill for ill he ne'er repaid
Nor a hand upon him laid.
As a maiden pure and clean,
Ne'er in game or woodland green
Would he with a woman play,
Cast such things, as straw, away.
In that time the English land
All lay in Earl Godrich's hand,
To the town he bade them fare,
Many an Earl and baron there,
And all men, who at that tide
Lived in England far and wide,
To all men he summons sent
To attend this parliament.
Nor of champions was there lack
With their men, both brown and black,
And it fell out that these men,
Some among them, nine or ten,
Midst themselves began to play --
Strong and weak were there that day,
Less and more together fell,
All who in the burg did dwell;
Champions, and lads so strong,
Bondsmen with their goads so long,
As they gat them from the plough,
'T was a gathering great, I trow.
Never stable-knave should be,
Tho' his horse in hand had he,
But he came to see that play.
At their feet a tree, it lay,
They began to put the stone
Those strong lads, yea, many a one,
Mickle was that stone and great,
Even as a neat its weight,
He a stalwart man should be
Who should lift it to his knee;
There was neither clerk nor priest
Who could raise it to his breast.
The champions the test they dare,
With the barons came they there,
And that man whose throw went past
By an inch another's cast,
Were he young, or were he old,
Men did him for champion hold.
Staring, there they stood around;
Lords and champions, on that ground
Make a great debate, I wot,
Which shall be the better shot.
Havelok stood and watched the sport,
But of putting knew he naught,
Never yet he saw them play
"Put the Stone" before that day.
Then his master bade him go
See what he therein might do,
Tho' his master had him bade
Of the task was he afraid;
Thither goeth he anon,
Catcheth up the heavy stone,
Wherewith he should put that day --
At the first put did it lay
Over all that came before
A good twelve-foot cast, and more.
The champions who saw that throw
Shoved each other, laughing low,
No more would they put that day,
Quoth: "Now all too long we stay."
Men might not this marvel hide,
Loud thereof they spake that tide
How that Havelok threw the stone
Far beyond them, everyone;
How that he was fair and tall,
Very strong, and white withal.
Thro' the land of him they speak
How he was both strong and meek;
In the castle, high in hall,
Thereof spake the nobles all,
So that Godrich right well heard
Tales of Havelok, every word;
How he tall and strong should be,
Strong of hand, and fair and free.
Then thought Godrich: "Thro' this knave
England in my power I'll have,
I, and my son after me,
So I will that it shall be.
Athelwold, he made me swear,
On the Holy Mass-gear there,
That I would his daughter give
To the tallest who should live,
Best and fairest, strongest aye,
That I soothly sware that day.
Where shall I find one so tall
As this Havelok? Skilled withal --
Tho' I sent to search thro' Ynde
One so strong I may not find,
Yea, with him my quest is sped
With Goldboro shall he wed."
This he thought of treachery,
Of treason, and of felony,
For he deemed that Havelok, he,
Naught but a churl's son should be,
Ne'er should hold of English land
E'en a furrow in his hand
Tho' he wed the rightful heir
Who was good as she was fair.
Havelok he deemed a thrall,
Therefore thought he should have all
England, that the maid's should be --
Worse than Sathanas was he,
He, whose power on earth Christ shook --
Well might he be hanged on hook!

Goldboro he hither bade --
(Very fair and sweet that maid)
And to Lincoln did her bring;
All the bells for her did ring,
Mickle joy he made that day --
Natheless, traitor he, alway!
Said, for lord he 'ld give her there
One who was of men most fair;
Then she answered him anon,
Sware by Christ, and by Saint John,
That with no man would she wed,
None should bring her to his bed,
Save a king, or a king's heir
Tho' he were of men most fair.

Godrich Earl, he waxed full wroth
When he heard her swear such oath,
Quoth: "What, Maiden, wouldst thou be
Queen and Lady over me?
With a vagabond shalt wive
And no other King alive!
Thou shalt wed with my cook's knave,
Ne'er another lord shalt have;
Woe to him who other lot
Gives thee while I live, I wot,
With the morn I shall thee wed
Willy-nilly, to his bed!"
Goldboro wept sore that stead,
Fain were she she had been dead;
On the morn, at dawning hour
Rang the bell from the church tower,
Judas sent for Havelok -- (he
Worse than Sathanas should be)
Quoth: "Say, Master, wilt a wife?"
"Nay," quoth Havelok, "by my life!
With a wife I naught may do,
Find her food, nor clothes, nor shoe,
Where should I a woman bring?
Of mine own I have no thing,
Neither house nor hut have I,
Stick nor twig, or green or dry,
Neither bread nor victuals own,
But an old coat, that alone,
For these clothes that cover me
Are the cook's, his knave I be!"
Up sprang Godrich, beat him well,
Hard and strong the blows they fell,
Quoth: "Save thou that maiden take
Whom I think thy wife to make,
Thou shalt hang on gallows high,
Or I will put out thine eye!"
Havelok was adread that day,
Quoth, he would his word obey;
For the maid he sent full soon,
Fairest woman 'neath the moon,
Swift he spake to her withal,
That foul traitor, wicked thrall:
"Save that thou take this man's hand
I will drive thee from the land,
Or shalt haste to gallows tree,
In a fire thou burnt shall be!"
Much she feared his threats that day,
Durst not say the spousals nay,
For altho' she liked it ill
Yet she deemed it were God's Will,
For that God, Who grows the corn,
Willed her to be woman born.
Then when he for dread did swear
He would wed and feed her there,
And she sware she would him hold,
Then were pence in plenty told,
Mickle monies on the book --
Thus he gave, and thus she took.
They were wedded fast that day --
And the Marriage Mass did say,
All pertaining to a Clerk,
The Archbishop good, of York,
For the parliament he came
Sent by God, as at that same.

By God's law they wed have been,
And the folk the deed have seen --
Sore dismay doth Havelok know,
Wist not what they best might do,
Should they bide, or go their way?
There, he would no long-time stay,
Godrich hated them he saw --
(Food he, for the Devil's maw)
And if he to dwell there sought,
(This, I trow, was Havelok's thought)
To his wife men might do shame,
Or else bring upon him blame,
Liever he if dead he were --
Other rede he took him there,
That from thence they both would flee,
Seek to Grim and his sons three,
There he deemed they best might speed,
Both to clothe them and to feed.
Foot to ground they set straightway,
Other rede had none that day,
Took the right road at that same
Till they safe to Grimsby came.
When he came there, Grim was dead,
Nor with him might speak that stead,
But his children were alive,
Sons and daughters, all the five,
And to welcome him were fain
When they knew he came again;
Greeted him with gladness mickle,
Ne'er, I trow, he found them fickle!
On their knees fell speedily,
Greeting Havelok heartily,
Quoth: "Dear Lord, art welcome here,
Welcome too thy Lady dear,
Blessed be the day ye both
Each to other sware your troth,
Well is us that now we live,
Thine we are, to sell or give,
Thine we are, to give or sell,
So that thou wilt with us dwell.
Lord, we here possess much good,
Horses, cattle, ships on flood,
Gold and silver, mickle store
That was Grim's, our sire, of yore;
Gold and silver, other fee
He hath bid us hold for thee;
We have sheep, and we have swine,
Dwell here, Lord, and all is thine!
Thou art lord and thou art sire,
We thy servants at thine hire.
These, our sisters, will fulfil
All that is thy Lady's will,
They her clothes will wash and wring,
Water for her hands will bring,
Spread the couch for her and thee,
For our lady shall she be!"
Thus rejoicing do they make,
Fetch the sticks, and swiftly break,
Make the fire to burn so bright,
Goose nor hen they spare that night,
Neither duck, nor yet the drake,
Food in plenty ready make.
For good meat they did not fail,
Wine they drew for them, and ale,
Of good heart did they rejoice,
"Wassail" bade, with gladsome voice.

On that night Goldboro lay
Sad at heart, and sorrowing aye,
Deemed she was betrayed by Fate
With a low-born man to mate.
Thro' the dark she saw a light
Very fair, and very bright,
Yea, so bright it shone, I ween,
As a blazing fire had been.
Looked she North, and looked she South,
Lo! it came from out his mouth,
Who beside her lay in bed --
'T was no wonder she had dread,
Thought: "What may this marvel mean?
He is high-born, so I ween,
He is high-born, or is dead!"
On his neck, in gold so red,
Lo! a Cross, and in her ear
She an angel's voice doth hear.

"Goldboro, let thy mourning be,
Havelok, who hath wedded thee,
Is a King's son, and King's heir
As that Cross betokens fair.
More it showeth, in his thrall
Denmark, yea, and England all;
Sovereign he, both strong and true
O'er England, and Denmark too,
With thine eyes this shalt thou see,
With him Queen, and Lady be!"

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