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coste is evyl to fynde, therof hym had be better to have holde his pees, for he had stolen it. Male quesisti et male perdidisti. Hit is ryght that it be evil loste, that is evil wonne ; who shal blame Reynart, yf he have taken fro a theef stolen good, hit is reson. Who that understandeth the lawe and can discerne the right, and that he be of hye burthe as myn eme Reynart is, whiche knoweth wel how he shal
stolen good, ye, al had he Courtoys hanged whan he fonde hym with the menowr, he had not moche mysdon ne trespaced, sauf ayenst the crowne, that he had don justyse wythout leve ; wherfore for the honour of the kynge he dyde it not, all hath he but lytyl thanke. What skathed it hym that he is thus complayned on? Myn eme is a gentil and a trewe man, he
suffre no falshede, he doth nothyng but by his prestes counseyl, and I saye yow, syth that my lorde the kynge hath do proclamed his pees, he never thoughte to hurte ony man, for he eteth no more than ones a day, he lyveth as a recluse, he chastiseth his body and wereth a sherte of heer ; hit is more than a yere that he hath eten no flesshe, as I yesterday herd saye of them that cam fro hym; he hath lefte and geven over his Castel Maleperduys, and hath bylded a cluse, theryn dwelleth he, and hunteth no more, ne desyreth no wynnynge, but he lyveth by almesse and taketh nothyng but suche as men gyve hym for charyte, and doth grete penance for his synnes, and he is woxen moche pale and lene of prayeng and wakyng, for he wolde be fayn wyth God. Thus as Grymbert bis eme stode and preched thise
wordes, so sawe they comen doun the hylle to hem Chauntecler the cock, and brought on a biere a deed henne, of whom Reynart had byten the heed of, and that muste be shewed to the kynge to have knowleche therof.
HOWE THE COCKE COMPLAYNED ON REYKART.
CHAUNTECLER cam forth, and smote pyteously his handes and his fetheris, and on eche side of the byer wenten tweyne sorouful hennes, that one was called Cantart, and that other goode henne Crayant; they were two the fayrest hennes that were bytwene Holland and Arderne. Thise hennes bare eche of them a brennyng tapre whyche was longe and strayte. Thise two hennes were Coppens susters, and they cryed so pitously, alas and weleaway, for the deth of her dere suster Coppen. Two yonge hennes bare the byere, whiche kakled so hevyly, and wepte so lowde, for the deth of Coppen their moder that it was ferre herde. Thus cam they to gydre to fore the kynge, and Chauntecleer tho seyde : Mercyful lord, my lord the kynge, plese it yow to here our complaynte, and abhorren the grete scathe that Reynart hath don to me and my children that hiere stonden. It was so that in the begynnyng of appryl whan the weder is fayr, and that I as hardy and prowde, bycause of the grete lynage that I am comen of, and also hadde, for I had viij fayr sones
and seven fayr daughters whiche my wyf had hatched, and they were alle stronge and fatte, and wente in a yerde whiche was walled round aboute, in whiche was a shadde where in were six grete dogges, whiche had to tore and plucked many a beestis skyn, in suche wyse as my chyldren were not aferd.
On whom Reynart the theef had grete envye, by cause they were so sure that he cowde none get of them, how wel oftymes hath this fel theef goon rounde aboute this wal, and hath leyde for us, in suche wyse that the dogges have be sette on hym and have hunted hym away.
And once they leep on hym upon the banke, and that cost hym somewhat for his thefte. I saw that his skyn smoked, nevertheles he wente his waye, God amende it.
Thus were we quyte of Reynart a longe whyle; atte laste cam he in lyknes of an heremyte, and brought to me a lettre for to rede, sealed wyth the kynges seal, in whyche stode wreton, that the kynge had made pees over al in his royame, and that alle maner beestis and fowlles shold doo none harme ner scathe to ony other; yet, sayd he to me more, that he was a cloysterer, or a closyd recluse becomen, and that he wolde receyve grete penance for his synnes, he shewd me his slavyne, and pylche, and an heren sherte ther under, and thenne sayd he, syr Chaunteclere, after thys tyme be no more aferd of me, ne take no hede, for I now wil ete no more flesshe, I am forthon so olde, that I wolde fayn remembre my sowle; I will now go forth, for I have yete to saye my sexte, none, and my evensonge, to God I bytake yow. Tho wente Reynart thens sayeng
his Credo, and leyde hym under an hawthorn. Thenne was I glad and mery, and also toke none hede, and wente to my chyldren, and clucked hem togydre, and wente wythout the wal for to walke, wherof is moche harme comen to us, for Reynart laye under a busshe and cam krepyng bitwene us and the yate, so that he caght one of my chyldren, and leyd hym in his male, wherof we have had grete harme, for syth he hath tasted of hym, ther myght never hunter ne hounde save ne kepe hym from us, he hath wayted by nyghte and daye in suche wyse, that he hath stolen so many of my chyldren, that of xv. I have but foure ; in suche wyse hath this theef forslongen them ; and yet yesterday was Coppen my daughter that hier lyeth upon the byer with the houndes rescowed. This complayne I to yow gracious kynge, have pyte on myn grete and unresonable damage and losse of my fayre chyldren.
HOW THE KYNG SPACK TOUCHYNG THIS COMPLAYNT.
THENNE spack the kynge: Syre Dasse, here ye this wel of the recluse your eme? he hath fasted and prayde, that yf I lyve a yere he shal abye it ; nowe hearke Chauntecler, your playnt is ynough, your doughter that lyeth here dede, we wyl gyve to her the dethes right, we may kepe her no lenger, we wil betake her to God, we wylle syngen here vygylie, and brynge her worshipfully on erthe, and thenne we wille speke wyth
thise lordes, and take counseyl, how we may do ryght and justyse of thys grete murdre, and brynge this fals theef to the lawe. Tho begonne they Placebo Domino, with the verses that to longen whiche yf I shold saye, were me to longe. Whan this vigilye was don, and the commendacion, she was leyde in the pytte, and ther upon was leyde a marble stone polyshed as clere as ony glas and theron was hewen in grete lettres in this wyse: Coppe, Chauntekler's doughter, whom Reynart the foxe hath byten, lyeth hier under buryed; complayne ye her for, she is shamefully comen to her deth.
After this, the kynge sente for his lordes and wysest of his counseyl for to take advys, how this grete murdre and trespaas shold be punyshyd on Reynart the foxe. Ther was concluded and apoynted for the beste, that Reynart shold be sent for, and that he lefte not for ony cause, but he came into the kynges court, for to here wat shold be sayd to hym, and that Bruyn the bere shold do the message. The kynge thought that alle this was good, and said to Brune the bere : Syr Brune, I wyl that ye doo this message, but, see wel to for your self, for Reynart is a shrewe, and felle, and knoweth so many wyles, that he shal lye and flatre, and shal thynke how he may begyle, deceyve, and brynge yow to some mockerye. Tho sayd Brune, what good lord late it allone, deceyveth me the foxe, so have I ylle lerned my casus, I trowe he shal come to late to mocque me. Thus departed Brune meryly fro thens, but it is to drede that he cam not so meryly agayn.