One of my forthcoming pieces is about a set of verses I have spent five years tracking through various manuscript collections, including some very tattered assemblages of loose sheets with odd notations. Among them I discovered some tantalizing stanzas. Though I have not found anything quite like them elsewhere, I am tempted to try my hand at finishing the ballad they appear to belong to:

The dame called her scriveyn near,
and said the gome vntil,
“Use yr best yr fairest hand
to write my lord this bille.”

He wroot it with the quill of goose,
he wroot with quill of swanne;
ever the lady shook her head
& said sche wd haue nane.

He wroot it in the light of moon,
he wroot in light of sunne;
ever the lady shook her head
& said again he mun.

He took in hand a quill of doue,
and wroot in lettres fine;
again the lady shook her head
& [indecipherable] line.

At last he laid his ink aside,
& dropped his weary head.
& then there came a little man
dressed in green and red.

“What will ye gie me, Thomas True,
what will ye gie for mine,
if I write this bille for you
in letters true and fine?”

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