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For then he had been negatyff, and undo for ay.
For they were grete seviliouns, and usid probat law,
Where evirmore affirmatyf shuld preve his own saw.
Wherfor they wer so querelouse of all myght com in mynd,
Though it wer nevir in dede y-do; such matere they wold
2070 To benym a man his good, through som manir gile. For the blynd man wist right wele, he shuld have lost his
whyle, To make his pleynt on Beryn, and suyd oppon his good, For shippis, and eke marchaundise, in a balaunce stode ; Therfor he made his chalenge his yen for to have, Or els he shuld for them fyne, yf he wold them have, And ligg for them in hostage, tyll the fynaunce cam. This was all the sotilté of the blynd man. Beryn stode all muet, and no word he spak. “Beryn,” quod Evander, “lest thow be y-take
2080 In defaute of answere, thou myghtist be condempnyd, Be right wele avysed, sith thou art examenyd.” “Sir,” seyd Beryn, “it wold litill availe, To answere thus aloon, without good counsail. And also ferthermore, full litill I shuld be levid, Whatevir I answerd, thus stonyd and reprevid; And eke my wit doith faille, and no wondir is. Wherfor I wold prey yow, of yowr gentilnes, To graunt me dey tyll to morowe I might be avysid To answere forth, wyth othir that on me been surmysid.” “Deperdeux,” quod the steward, “I graunt well it be so.” 2091 Beryn toke his leve, and hopid to pas
But as sone as Beryn was on his hors ryding,
He met a woman and a child wyth sad chere comyng,
That toke hym by the reyn, and held hym wondir fast,
And seid, “Sir, voidith nat, yit vailith nat to haste;
Ye mow in no wyse scape, ye must nedis abyde ;
For though ye list to know me nat, yit lien by your side
I have ful many a tyme, I can nat tell yow
lome. Come tofore the steward, ther shall ye
dome, 2100 Of thing that I shall put on yow, and no word for to ly; To leve me thus aloon it is your villany. Alas! the day and tyme that evir I was your make! Much have I endurid this too yere, for your
sake. But now it shall be know who is in the wronge.” Beryn was all abashid, the pepill so thik thronge About hym in eche syde; for ought that he couth peyn, He must to the steward of fyne fors ageyn. Now shull ye here how sotillich this woman gan hir tale, In presence of the steward ; with colour wan, and pale, 2110 Petously she gan to tell, and said, “Sir, to yow Full oft I have compleyned, in what manere and how My childis fathir left me by my self aloon, Wythout help, or comforte, as grete as I myght goon, Wyth my son here and his, that shame it is to tell The
penury that I have y-had, that afors sell
I must nedis myne aray, wher me list or lothe,
Or els I must have beggit for to fynd us both.
For there was nevir woman I leve, as I ges,
For lak of hede of lyvelode, that lyvid in more distres, 2120
my self for oft tyme, for lak of mete and drink.
And yit I trow no creature was feyner for to swinke
My lyff to sustene ; but as I mut nede,
Above all othir chingis, to his child take hede,
That wondir is, and mervaile, that I am alyve ;
For the sokyng of his child, right, as it were a knyve,
It ran into my hert, so low I was of mode
That well I woot in certen, without percell of my blode,
His child I have y-norishid, and that is by me seen ;
For my rede colour is turnid into grene.
And he that cause is of all, here he stondith by me;
To pay for the fosteryng me thinkith it is tyme.
And sith he is my husbond, and hath on me no rowith,
Let hym make amendis in saving of his trowith.
And yf he to any word onys can say nay,
Lo! here my gage, al redy to preve all that I sey.”
The stewarde toke the gage, and spak in soft wyse,
“Of this petouse compleynt a mannys hert may grise ;
For I know in percell hir tale is nat all lese,
For many a tyme and oft, this woman that here is
Hath y-be tofore me, and pleynid of bir greffe ;
But wythout a party hir cause myght nat presse.
Now thou art here present that she plenyth on,
Make thy defence now, Beryn, as wele as thow con.”
Beryn stode al muet, and no word he spak.
“ Beryn," quod the steward,“ doist thow sclepe, or wake?
Sey onys oon or othir ; is it soth, or nay,
As she hath declarid ? tell on, saunce delay."
“Lord God !" quod Beryn, “what shuld it me availe,
Among so many wise, without right good counsaill, 2160
To tell eny tale ? full litil as I ges.
Wherfor I wold prey you, of your gentilnes,
Graunt me day tyl to morowe to answer forth with othir.”
“I graunt wele," quod the steward, “but for fathir and
mothir, Thow getist no lenger tyme, pleynly I the tell.”
Beryn toke his leve, his hert gan to swell For pure verrey anguysh; and no mervaill was; And who is that nold, and he wer in such case ? For al his trist and hope in eny worldlich thing Was cleen from hym passid, save sorowe and myslykyng. For body, good, and catell, and lyff, he set at nought, 2161
So was his hert y-woundit for angir and for thought.
Beryn passyd softly, and to his hors gan go ;
And when he was without the gatis, he lokid to and fro,
And could noon othir countenaunce, but to his page he seyd,
« Preciouse God in heven ! how falsly am I betrayed ?
I trow no man alyve stont in wers plight.
And all is for my synne, and for my yong delite ;
And pryncipally, above all thyng, for grete unkyndnes
That I did to my mothir ; for litill hede i-wis
I toke of hir, this know I wele, whils she was alyve :
Therfor al this turment is sent to me so ryve.
For ther was nevir woman kynder to hir child
Than she was ; and ther ageyns nevir thing so wyld,
Ne so evil thewid, as I was myself;
Therfor sorowe and happs environ me by eche helve,
That I note whithir ryde, nethir up ne down,
Ther been so many devillis dwellyng in this town,
And so ful of gile and trechery also,
That well I woot in certeyn they woll me ondo.
2180 Now wold to God in hevyn, what is my best rede ?”. He toke his hors to his page, and thus to hym he sayd, “Lede my hors to ship-ward, and take it some man ; And I woll go on foot as pryvely as I can, And assay, yf I may, in eny manere wise, Escape unarrested more in such manner wise.” The child toke his maistirs hors, and laft hym there aloon, Walking forth on foot, making oft his moon; And in his most musing, I can nat sey how lome, He wishid nakid as he was bore he had be in Room. And no mervaill was it, as the case stode ; For he drad more to lese his eyen, than he did his shippis,
or his good. Now yee that listith to dwell and here of aventure,
How petously dame Fortune, Beryn to inure,
Turnyth hir whele about in the wers side ;
With hap of sorowe, and anguyssh, she gynyth for to ride.
Beryn passid toward the strond, ther his shippis were ;
But yee mow ondirstond, his hert was ful of fere :
Yet nethirles he sat hym down softly on a stall,
Semyryfe for sorowe, and lenyd to the wall,
For turment that he had, so wery he was, and feynt ;
And to God above thus he made his pleynt :
“Glorious God in heven ! that al thing madist of nought;
Why sufferist thow these cursid men to stroy me for nought?
And knowest well myn innocent, that I have no gilt
Of al that they pursu me, or on me is pilt.”
And in the meen, whils that Beryn thus gan pleyn,
A cachepoll stode besidis, his name was Machaign,
And herd all the wordis, and knew also tofore
How Beryn was turmented, both with las and more.
It was y-sprong through the town, so was he full ensensid,
How he hym would engyne, as he had propensid ;
And had araid hym sotillich, as man of contemplacioune,
In a mantell wyth the list, with fals dissimulacioune,
And a staff in his honde, as thoughe he febill were ;
And drow hym toward Beryn, and seid in this manere ;
“The high God of heven, that al thing made of nought,
Bles yow, gentill sir, for many an hevy thought
Me thinkith that ye have, and no wondir is ;
But, good sir, dismay yow nat, but levith yowr hevines, 2220
And yf ye list to tell me somewhat of your distres,
I hope to God Almighty in party it redres
Through my pore counsaill, and so I have many oon ;
For I have peté on yow, be God, and by Seint Jon !
And eke pryvy hevines doith ech man apeir,
Sodeynly, or he be ware, and fall in dispeir.