Part V. In which the foster brother telleth the tale of the earl.
“When lived our count, ‘twas o’er a vasty land
That from this hall he held his righteous sway.
It fell a neighbouring earl sought the hand
Of her, his only daughter. But his way
Of proudly wooing vexed her day by day,
And never would her father ‘gainst her will
To any earl on earth give her away.
That he should hawk and yet the dove not kill
With leaping flames of rage this suitor’s heart did fill.
Her father dead, he came, and all afire
Demanded he should see her then and hear
Her acquiescence to his proud desire.
Into the upper hall they brought him, where,
He asked and she denied, though pierced with fear.
Grasping her wrists, he kicked her round the room
And not her cries, nor aged nurse’s tears
Could stop his blows as he pronounced her doom;
With him her bed would be, or cold within the tomb.
He loosed his horse from ‘neath the courtyard tree,
And galloped in anger through the iron gate.
I saw him turn at the woods periphery
And looking at these walls, with jarring hate
He cursed: “Like ranging wolves their lusts to sate
Who gut a living doe and tear from bone
Her flesh away, I’ll rend this maid’s estates.
Her house cannot long stand when lands are gone.”
And so he’s warred, and now this castle stands alone.
The countess sits as shipwrecked on a rock.
To sweep her off, the waves are rolling ‘round
And by the rain, and wind, her cries are mocked
For no friend in this storm comes near. The sound
Of roiling waters drowns her calls. And drowned
Are all who first to aid her did appear.
This day just I and brothers twelve are found
To keep this one remaining fortress here
But food is dear – this night the thirteen brothers fear.