ABEL I would fain know what I should do To serve my lord God to his pleasing. Therefore, Cain, brother, let us now go Unto our father without tarrying, Following him in virtue and in nurture 5 To come to his high joy celestial, Remembering to be clean and pure. For in misrule might we quickly fall Against heaven's king. Let us now do our diligence 10 To come to our father's presence. Good brother, pass we hence To know for our living. CAIN As to my father, let us go see To know what shall be his talking! 15 And yet I hold it but vanity To go to him for any speaking, To learn of his law. For if I have goods enough and plenty I can be merry! So might be thee! 20 If my father I never see, I give thereof not a straw. ABEL Right sovereign father, seemly, sad and sure, Ever we thank you in heart, body and thought, And always shall while our life may endure, 25 As inwardly, in heart, it can be sought Both my brother and I. Father, I fall before your knee To know how we should ruled be Of gods that fail both him and me 30 I would fain know, truly. ADAM My sons, you are, to speak naturally, The first fruits of human engendering, Before whom, save your mother and I Were never none of man's nature. 35 And yet were we all of another portraiture As ye have me oft heard say truly. Wherefore, sons, if ye will live sad and sure, First, I you counsel most singularly God for to love and dread. 40 And such goods as God hath you sent, The first fruit offer to him in sacrifice burnt, Him ever beseeching with meek intent In all your works to save and speed. ABEL Gramercy, father, for your good doctrine, 45 For as you us teach, so shall we do. And, as for me, through God's grace divine I will, forthwith, apply me thereto. CAIN And though I be loth, I will now also Unto your council, father, me incline. 50 And yet I say now to you both two I had rather go home, well for to dine. ADAM Now God grant good sacrifice to you both two. He vouchsafe to accept you and all mine And give you now grace to please him so 55 That you may come to that bliss that he is in With ghostly grace, That all your here leaving May be to his pleasing And at your hence parting 60 To come to good place. ABEL says Almighty God, and God full of might By whom all things are made of nought, To thee my heart is ready dight For upon thee is all my thought. 65 O sovereign lord, reigning in eternity With all the meekness that I can or may This lamb shall I offer it up to thee. Accept it, blessed lord, I thee pray. My gift is but simple, this is no nay, 70 But my will is good and ever shall be Thee to serve and worship, both night and day. And, thereto, thy grace grant thou me Through thy great mercy Which, in lamb's likeness 75 Thou shalt for mans' wickedness Once be offered in painfulness And die full dolefully For, truly, Lord, thou art most worthy The best to have in each degree. 80 Both best and worst full certainly, All is had through grace of thee. The best sheep, full heartily Amongst my flock that I can see, I tithe it to God, of great mercy, 85 And better would, if better might be. Even here is my offering, I tithe to thee with right good will. Of the best thou sentest me until., Now gracious God on heaven's hill 90 Accept now my tithing. CAIN Amongst all fools that go on ground I hold that thou be one of the most! To tithe the best, that is not sound, And keep the worst that is near lost. 95 But I, more wisely, shall work this stand, To tithe the worst and make no boast. Of all my corn that may be found In all my fields both croft and cost, I shall look on every side. 100 Here I tithe this shrivelled sheaf. Let God take it, or else it leave. Though it be to me great reproof I care not at this tide. ABEL Now Cain, brother, thou dost full ill. 105 For God thee sent both best and worst. Therefore thou show to him good will And tithe to God always the best. CAIN In faith, thou showest now a feeble skill! It would me hinder and do me grief! 110 What, were God the better, thou tell me still To give him always my best sheaf And keep myself the worst. He will neither eat nor drink, For he doth neither sweat nor swink! 115 Thou showest a feeble reason, I think. Thou art as mad as a beast, I guess. ABEL Yet I think my wit is good! To God evermore some love to show, Of whom we have our daily food 120 Our sustenance as well you know. CAIN Yet I think your wits are mad And thy words I here eschew! I will never the more change my mood For no words that thou dost show. 125 I say I will tithe the worst! ABEL Now God that sits in heaven above On whom is set all my whole love This wicked will from thee he shove As it pleaseth him best. 130
Here the tithes of Abel burn and Cain says of this occurrence
CAIN Hark Abel, brother, what marvel is this? Thy tithing burns as fire full bright. It is to me great wonder, iwis. I trow this is now a strange sight. ABEL God's will, forsooth, it is 135 That my tithing with fire is lit. For of the best were my tithes. And of the worst thou chose to plight. A bad thing thou before him spread. Of the best was my tithing, 140 Of the worst was thy offering. Therefore, God almighty, heaven's king Allowed right not thy deed. CAIN What, thou stinking wretch, and is it so? Doth God thee love and hateth me? 145 Thou shalt be dead, I shall thee slay! Thy lord, thy God, shalt thou never see, Tithing more shalt thou never do. With this jaw bone I shall slay thee. Thy death is now, thy days are gone 150 Out of my hands shalt thou not flee. With this stroke, I thee kill! Now this boy is slain and dead. Of him I shall never more have dread. He shall hereafter never eat bread. 155 With this grass, I shall him hide. GOD Cain come forth and answer me Answer my question anon right Thy brother Abel, where is he now? Have done now and answer me full straight. 160 CAIN My brother's keeper, who made me? Since when was I his keeping knight? I can not tell where that he be, To keep him was I never dight. I know not where he is. 165 GOD Ah cursed Cain, thou art untrue! And for thy deed thou shalt sore rue. Thy brother's blood that thou slew Asks vengeance of this miss. Thou shalt be cursed on the ground 170 Unprofitable wheresoever thou go Both vain and empty and nothing sound. It shall go wrong, whatever thou do. CAIN Alas, in woe now am I wound. Accursed of God as man without kind. 175 Of any man, if I be found, He shall me slay. I have no friend, Alas and well away. GOD Of what man that thou be slain He shall have seven fold more pain. 180 It were better he be seen Alive neither by day nor light. CAIN Alas, alas, whither may I go? I dare never look a man in the face. I am wounded as a wretch in woe. 185 And cursed of God for my disgrace. Unprofitable and vain, also, In field and town in street and stage, I may never make mirths more. I know never whither to take passage. 190 I dare not here abide. Now will I go, wend my way With sore sighing and wellaway To look where that I best may From man's sight me hide. 195
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