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What for dole and anguyssh, no word myght he speke;
But stode still amasid, and starid fast about.
The cripill began to speke, “Sir, to drede or to dout
Of me wold ye right light, and ye knew myne hert;
So where ye like, well or ill, fro me shall ye nat part,
Tyl I have tretid with yow, and yee with me also,
Of all your soden happis, your myscheff, and your wo.
For by the tyme that I have knowlech of your case,
Your rennyng and your trotting into an esy pas 2400
I shall turn or that we twyn, so ye aftir
Woll do, and as I rede yow ; for ye wer a fole
When ye cam first alonde, ye had met with me;
For I wold have ensensid yow all the iniquité
Of these fals merchandis, that dwellen in this town,
And outid all your chaffare without gruch or groun.
For had ye dwellid within your shippis, and nat go them
Then had ye been undaungerid, and quyt of all their wrong
On yow that ben surmysid through fals suggestioune.”
Beryn gan to sigh, unneth he might soune,
Saf o word or tweyn, and mercy was the first,
Preying with all his herte, that he myght have his rest,
And be no more enpledit, but pas fro hym quyte.
“ Good sir,” quoth Beryn,“ doith me no more dispite,
And suffir me to pas, and have on me routhe;
And I suyr yow faithfully, have here my trowith,
To morowe when I have pledit, and eny thing be laft
Of ship or merchaundise, afore the ship or baft,
I woll shew yow all i-fere, and opyn every chest,
And put it in your grace, to do what ye
lest.” And in the meen while that Beryn gan to clapp, The crypill nyghid hym nere and nere, and hent hym by
And as sone as Beryn knew that he was in honde,
He unlacyd his mantell, for drede of some command,
And pryvelich ovir his shuldris let hym down glide ;
And had levir lese his mantell then abide.
The cripill all perceyvid, and hent him by the scleve
Of his nethir surcote ; “Alas! now mut I strive,”
Thought Beryn by himself; “now I am y-hent,
There helpith naught save strengith ;" therwith the scleve
Beryn gan to scappe, he sparid for no cost.
“Alas !” thought this cripill, “ this man wol be lost,
And be ondo for evir, but he counsell have ;
I-wis, thoughe he be lewde, my contremen to save ;
Yit will I my besines do, and peyn that I may,
Sith he is of Room, for that is my contray.”
This cripill was an hundrit yere ful of age;
With a long thik berd, and a trew visage
He had ; and manly and july was he;
And Geffrey was his name, y-know in that contré.
“Alas !” thought this Geffrey,“this man hath grete drede 2440
Of me, that by my power wold help hym in his nede.
I-wis, though he be nyce, untaught, and unwise,
I woll nat for his foly leve myne enpryse.”
And lept aftir Beryn, and that in right good spede.
Beryn was so sore agast, he toke no maner hede
To look onys bak-ward, tyll he to the watir cam ;
Then lokid he behynd, and saw sir clekam
Commaund wondir fast, with staff and with his stilt ;
“Alas !” thought Beryn,“ I now am y-spilt ;
For I may no ferthir, without I wold me droune ;
I note, wich were the betir, or go ageyn to toune.”
Geffrey was so nygh com, that Beryn myght nat file. “Good sir,” quoth this Geffrey, “why do yee void me?
For, by heven quene, that bare Crist in hir barme!
But right as to myself, I wol yow no more harm.
Sittith down here by me oppon this see stronde ;
And yf ye drede any thing, clepe yowr men to londe ;
And let them be here with us all our speche tyme.
For I woll nat feyn oon word, as makers doon to ryme,
But counsell yow as prudentlyas God woll send me grace;
Take comfort to yow, and herk a litill spase.”
And when that Beryn had y-herd his tale to the end,
And how goodly as Geffrey spak, as he were his frende ;
None obstant his drede, yet part of sapience
Stremyd into his hert, for his eloquence ;
And seyd,“ God me counsaill, for his high mercy !
For I have herd this same dey men as sotilly
Speke, and of your semblant, and in such manere,
And byhete me frendship out-ward by their chere,
But in-ward it was contrary their intellectioune ;
Wherfor the blame is les, though I suspectioune
Have of yowr wordis, lest othir be yowr entent ;
For I note whom to trust, by God omnipotent.
Yit nethirles, yf your will is to com into the ship with me,
I woll somwhat do by your rede, how so it evir be.”
“Then,” quoth Geffrey, “if it be so that I in yowr powere
Entir into your shippis, and yow help in yowr mystere,
That yee ageyn yowr adversaryes shull have the betir syde,
And gyve yow such counsell to bate down their pride, 2480
And that yee wynne in every pleynt, al so much or more
As they purpose to have of yow; if they be down y-bore,
And ye have amendis for their iniquité,
And I yow bring to this end, what shall my guerdon be ?”
“In verrey soth,” quoth Beryn; “ if I yow may trust,
I woll quyte yow trowly, I make yow
bebest.” “In feith then,” quoth Geffray, “ I woll with yow wende.”
“What is yowr name," seid Beryn," though my frende ?”
“ Gefferey,” he said ; “ but in these marchis I was nat bore ;
But I have dwellid in this ceté yeeris heretofore 2490
Ful many, and turmented wers then wer yee;
And endurid for my trowith much adversité.
For, I wold in no wise suffir their falshedes ;
For in all the world so corrupt of their dedis
Been noon men alyve, I myght ryght well avow ;
For they set all their wittis in wrong, all that they mowe.
Wherfor full many a tyme, the grettist of them and I,
Have stonden in altercatioune, for their trechery.
For I had in valewe in trew marchaundise
A thousand poundes, all have they take in such maner wise.
So ferforth to save my blode no longer myght I dryve dure ;
For drede of wors, thus thought I myself to disfigure; 2502
And have among them twelve yere go right in this plighte,
And evir have had in memory how I myght them quyte;
And so I hope now, as sotill as they be,
With my wit engine them, and help yow and me.
My lymes been both hole and sound ; me nedith stilt, ne
He cast asyde them both, and lepe oppon an huche,
And down ageynes ; and walkid to and fro,
Up and down, within the ship ; and shewed his hondis tho,
Stretching forth his fingris, in sight and all about, 2511
Without knot, or knor, or eny sign of goute ;
And dyght them efft ageyns right disfetirly,
Som to ride ech othir, and som awe-ward wry.
Geffrey was right myghty, and wele his age did bere ;
For natur was more substantiall, when tho dayis wer,
Then now in our tyme ; for all thing doith waste,
Saff vile and cursid lyving, that growith all to faste.
What shuld I tell more ? but Geffrey sat hym down,
And Beryn hym besydis ; the Romeyans gan to rown,
And marvelled much in Geffrey, of his disgisenes,
and Beryn had anothir thought, and spak of his distres.
“Now, Geffrey,” seid this Beryn, “and I durst trust in yowe,
That and ye knewe eny man that is alyve anowe,
That had of discrecioune so much influence,
To make my party good to morowe in my defence,
And delivir me of sorowe, as ye behote have,
I wold become his legeman, as God my soul save.”
“That wer to much," quoth Geffrey, “ that wol I yow relese ;
But I desire of othir thing to have yowr promes,
That and I bryng yowr enmyes into such a traunce,
To make for yowr wrongis to you right high fenaunce,
And so declare for you, that with you pas such dome,
That yee oppon your feith bryng me at Rome,
Yf God wol send yow wethir, and
to Quod Beryn, “But I grant yow, I wer lewder than an asse. But or I fullich trust yow, holdith me excusid ; I woll go counsell with my men, lest they it refusid.” Beryn drew asyde, and spak with his meyné; And expressid every word, in what plight and degré That he stode, from poynt to poynt, and of his fals arestis. His meyné were astonyd, and starid forth as bestis. “Spekith som word,” quod Beryn,“ sith I am betrayd ; Yee have y-herd what Geffrey to me hath sayd." These Romeyns stode alle still, o word ne cowd they meve, And eke it passid their wittis ; then Beryn gan releve, And to Geffrey eft ageyn, and mercy hym besought; “Help me, sir," quod Beryn, “for his love that us bought, Dying on the rood !” and wept full tendirly; “For but ye help,” quod Beryn, “ther is no re
remedy ; For comfort, nethir counsaill, of my men have I noon ; Help me, as God yow help, and els I am undoon !”