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And who be in that plage, that man is incurabill ;
For consequent comyth aftir sekenes abominabill ;
And therfor, sir, diskeverith yowe, and be nothing adrad.”
“Graunt mercy, sir,” quod Beryn, “ye seme trew and sad ;
But o thing lyith in myn hert, I note to whom to trust ; 2231
For tho that dyned me to dey ordeyned me to arest."
“A! sir, be yow that man ? of yow I have y-herd.
Gentill sir, doutith nat, ne be nothing aferd
Of me, for I shall counsell yow as well as I can ;
For trewlich in the ceté dwellith many a fals man,
And usyn litil els but falshode, wrong, and wyle,
And how they might straungers with trechery begile.
ye shul do right wisely somewhat be my counsail. 2240
Speke with the steward, that may you most availl ;
For ther is a comyn byword, yf ye it herd havith,
Wele setith he his peny, that the pound savith.
The steward is a covetouse man, that long hath desirid
A knyff I have in kepeing, wherwith his hert i-wirid
Shall be yow to help, in covenaunte that yee
Shall give me fyve mark, your treu frend to be.
The knyff is feir, I tell yow; yit nevir tofore this day
Myght the steward have it for aught he coud prey ;
The wich he shuld gyve hym, the betir for to spede,
And behote hym twenty pound to help yow in
your And yf he grauntith, trustith wele, ye stond in good plight, For betir is, then lese all, the las the more quyt. And I woll go wyth yow straight to his plase, And knele down, and speke first, to amend yowr case, And sey yee be my cosin, the betir shul ye spede ; And when that I have all y-told, the knyff to hym yee bede.”
Beryn thankid hym hertlich, and on hym gan trust, With hond in hond ensurid, and all for the best ; Beryn thought noon othir, al that it othir was.
Machaign hym comfortid, talkyng of their case,
And passid forth stylly toward the steward blyve,
Beryn and Machaign ; but Beryn bare the knyff,
And trust much in his felawe to have some help.
But or they departid were, they had no cause to yelp
Of no maner comfort, as ye shull here anoon.
For as sone as Machaigne tofore the steward com,
He fill plat to the erth, a grevous pleynt and an huge
He made, and seyd, “Sir steward, now be a trew juge
Ageyns this fals treytour, that stondith me besyde;
Let take of hym gode hede, els he woll nat abide. 2:270
Now mercy God, steward, for yee have herd me yore
For my fathir, Melan, pleyn to you ful sore,
That with seven dromedarys, as I have told yow lome,
With marchandise chargit, went to-ward Rome ;
And it is seven yere ago, and a litill more,
Of hym, or of his gooddis, that I herd les or more.
And yit I have enquerid, as bysely as I couthe,
And met nevir man yit that me coud tell with mowth
Any tyding of hym, onto this same day;
But now I know too much, alass! I
wel sey." When Beryn herd these wordis, he kist down his hede ; “ Allas !” he thought in hert, "alas! what is my rede ?” And would fayn have voidit, and out-ward gan to stapp. But Machaigne arose, and sesid by the lapp; “Thow shalt nat void,” he seid ; “my tale is nat y-do ; For, be trowith of my body, yf thou scapidist so, I shuld nevir have mery whils I wer on lyve.” And set hond fast on Beryns othir scleve, And seid, “Good sir steward, my tale to the end I pray ye wold here ; for wend how men wend, There may no man hele murthir, but it will out last; The same knyff my fathir bere, when he of contré past,
Let serch wele this felon, ther ye shul hym find ;
I know the knyff wele i-nough, it is nat out of my mynd ;
The cotelere dwellith in this toun that made the same knyff;
And for to preve the trowith, he shall be here as blyve.”
Beryn swat for angir, his hert was full of fere ;
He toke the knyff to the steward, or he serchid where.
The steward onto Beryn, “My frend, lo!" quoth he,
" And thow think the well about, this is foule plee ;
I can know noon othir, but thow must, or thow go,
Yeld the body of Melan and his good also.
Now be well avysid ageyn to morrowe day;
Then shalt thou have thy jugement; ther is no more to say."
When Beryn fro the steward thus departid was,
And was without the gate, he lokid oppon the plase,
And cursid it wondir bitterly in a fervent ire,
And wishid many tymes it had been a feir.
“For I trowe that man of lyve was nevir wors betrayid
Then I am; and therwithal my hert is cleen dismayid. 2310
For here I have no frendship, but am all counselles ;
And they been falsher then Judas, and eke mercyles.
A, Lord God in hevyn ! that my hert is woo !
And yit suyrly I mervel nat though that it be so ;
For yit in all my lyve, sithe I ought understode,
Had I nevir wyl for to lern good ;
Foly I hauntid it evir, ther myght no man me let;
And now he hath y-paid me, he is cleen out of my dett.
For whils I had tyme, wysdom I myght have lernyd ;
But I drow me to foly and wold nat be governed,
But had al myne own wyll and of no man aferd ;
For I was nevir chastisid ; but now myne own yerd
Betith me to sore, the strokis been to hard,
For these devillis of this town takith but litil reward
To sclee my body to have my good; the day is set tomorrowe.
Now wold to God I wer in grave ! for it wer end of sorowe.
I was i-wis to much a fole ; for hate I had to Rame,
I wold forsake myn heritage ; therfor sorowe and shame
Is oppon me fall, and right wele deservid ;
For I toke none maner hede, when my mothir stervid, 2380
And disobeyid my fathir, and set him at naught also ;
What wondir is it than though that I have woo ?
Fortune and eke wisdom have werrid with me evir,
And I with them in all my lyf, for fortune was me levir
Then eny wit or governaunce for them too I did hate ;
And though I wold be at oon, now it is to late.
O myghtfull God in heven! wher was evir man
That wrought hymself more foly than I myself did than ?
Acursid be the tyme that I out of Rome went,
That was my fathirs right heir, of lyvelode, and of rent,
And al the ryall lordship that he hath in the town.
Had I had wit and grace, and hold me low and boun,
It wer my kynd now among my baronage,
To hauk, and to hunt, and eke to pley and rage
With feir freshe ladies, and daunce when me list.
But now it is to late to speke of had I wist.
But I fare like the man that for to swele his flyes
He stert into the bern, and aftir stre he hies,
And goith about the wallis with a brennyng wase,
Tyll it was at last that the leem and blase
Entrid into the chynys, where the weate was,
And kissid so the eevse, that brent was all the plase ;
But first in the begynnyng, tyll feer smote in the raftris,
He toke no manere kepe, and thought of nothing aftir
What perell there myght fall, ne more did I, y-wis,
That wold forsake myn honour, for the unkyndnes
Of Rame, that was my stepmothir ; for yf I shall nat ly,
They beth soure, wherfor the more wisely
I shuld have wrought, had I had wit, and suffrid for a tyme,
And aftir come to purpose wel i-nowghe of myne.
But evil avengit he is deol, that for a litil mode,
And angir to his neybour, sellith away his good,
And goith hymself a beggyng aftir in breff tyme,
He mut be countid a lewd man in all manere ryme.
So have I wrought and wers; for I dout of my lyve,
How that it shal stond, for plukking of my
The knyff that was me take, as ye have herd tofore;
And yit it grevith mine hert also much more
Of myn own pepill, that no disese aservid.
I wote wel aftir pleding, ryght nought woll be reservyd
To sustene their lyvis, I trow ryght nought or lite, 2371
And peraventur lightly stond in wors plight.
Of me it is no fors, though I be thus arayed,
But it is dole and peté that they shull be betrayid,
That hath nought aservid, but for my gilt aloon.”
And when that Beryn in this wise had y-made his mone, A crepill he saw comyng with grete spede and haste, Oppon a stilt ondir his kne bound wondir fast, And crouch under his armys, with hondis al forskramyd. “ Alas !” quoth this Beryn, “shall I be more examenyd ?" And gan to turn aside onto the see stronde ;
2381 And the crippill aftir, and wan oppon hym londe. Tho began Beryn to drede in-wardlich sore, And thought thus in his hert, “Shall I be comberid more ? And it wer Goddis wyll my sorowe for to cese, Me thinkith I have i-nowghe ;” the cripill began to preche And bad y-raught nere hond Beryn by the scleve. Beryn turnyd, as an hare, and gan to ren blyve ; But the cripill knew betir the pathis, smale and grete, Then Beryn, so tofore hym he was, and gan hym mete. 2890 When Beryn saw it vaylid naught to renne, ne to lepe,