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HOW YSEGRYM PROFERD HIS GLOVE TO THE FOXE FOR TO FYGHT
The wulf sayd, I may wel forbere your mockes and your scornes, and also your felle venymous wordes, strong theef that ye ar. Ye saide that I was almost dede for hungre when ye helpe me in my
nede. That is falsely lyed, for it was but a boon that ye gaf to me, ye had eten away alle the flessh that was theron. And ye mocke
saye that I am hongry here where I stande ; that toucheth my worship to nygh. What many a spyty worde have ye brought forth wyth false lesyngis; and that I have conspyred the kynges deth fro the tresour that ye have seid to hym is in Hulsterlo. And
have also my wyf shamed and sklandred that ye shal never recovre it, and I shold ever be disworshipped therby, yf I avenggd it not. I have forborn yow longe, but now ye shal not escape me. I can not make herof greet preef ; but I saye here to fore my lord, and to fore alle them that ben here, that thou art a false traytour and a morderar
and that shal I prove and make good on thy body wythin lystes in the felde, and that body ayenst body, and thenne shal our stryf have an ende. And therto I caste to the my glove ; and take thou it up. I shal have right of the or deye therfore.
Reynard the foxe thought how come I on this campyng, we ben not bothe lyke. I shal not wel come stonde ayenst this stronge theef ; all my proof is now come to an ende.
HOWE THE FOXE TOKE VP THE GLOVE.
AND HOW THE KYNGE
SETTE TO THEM DAYE AND FELDE FOR TO COME
AND DOO THEYR BATTAYLLE.
Yet, thought the foxe, I have good avauntage. The clawes of his fore feet ben of, and his feet ben yet sore therof; whan for my sake he was vnshoed. He shal be somwhat the weyker. Thenne, said the foxe, Who that saith that I am a traytour or a morderar, I saie he lieth falsely, and that art thou specyally, Ysegrym. Thou bryngest me there as I wolde be. This have I ofte desyred. Lo! here is my plegge, that alle thy wordes ben falls ; and that I shal defende me, and make good that thou lyest.
The kynge receyvyd the plegges, and amytted the bateyll, and asked borowes of them bothe, that on the morn they shold come and parforme theyr batayll, and doo as they ought to doo. Then the bere and catte were borowes for the wulf; and for the foxe were borowys Grymbert the dasse, and Byteluys.
HOW RUKENAWE THE SHE APE COUNSEYLLED THE FOXE HOW HE
SHOLDE BYHAUE HYM IN THE FELDE AYENST THE WULF.
The she ape saide to the foxe, Reyner, nevew, see that
ye take hede in your batayll ; be colde and wyse. Your eme taught me ones a prayer that is of moche vertue to hym that shal fyghte ; and a grete maister, and a wyse clerk, and was abbot of Boudelo, that
taughted hym. He saide, Who that sayde deuoutly this prayer fastyng, shal not that day be overcomen in batayl, ne in fyghting. Therfore, dere neuew, be not aferd, I shal rede it over yow to-morow; thenne
may ye be sure ynough of the wulf. Hit is bettre to fyghte than to have the necke asondre. I thanke
dere aunte, said the foxe. The quarel that I have is rightful, therfore I hope I shal spede wel ; and that shal gretely be myne helpe.
Alle his lygnage abede by hym al the nyght, and helpe hym to dryve a way the tyme.
Dame Rukenawe the she ape, his aunte, thoughte alway on his prouffyt and fordele ; and she dyde alle his heer fro the heed to the tayl be shorn of smothe; and she annoyted alle his body wyth oyle of olyve. And thenne was his body al so glat and slyper, that the wulf sholde have none holde on hym. And he was rounde and fatte also on his body. And she said to hym, Dere cosyn, ye muste now drynke moche, that to-morrow ye may the better when ye come to the felde. And whan nede is and tyme, so shal ye fil your rowhe tayll
, and smyte the wulf therwyth in his berde. And yf ye myght hytte hym therwyth in his eyen, thenne shal ye byneme hym his syght, that shold moche hyndre hym. But ellis, hold alway your tayl faste bytwene your legges that he catch you not therby; and holde down your eris lyeng plat after your heed that he holde you not therby. And see wisely to yourself; and at begynnyng flee fro his strokes, and let hym sprynge and renne after you, and renne to fore where
as moste dust is; and styre it wyth your feet, that it may flee in his eyen and that shal moche hyndre his syght. And whyle he rubbeth his eyen take your auantage, and smyte and byte hym there as ye may most hurte hym; and alleway to hytte hym wyth your tayll ful in bis visage, and that shal make hym so woo that he shal not wyte where he is. And late hym renne after
yow for to make hym wery; yet his feet ben sore of that ye made hym to lose his shooes, and though he be greet he hath no herte. Neuew, certaynly this is my counseyll.
The connyng goth to fore strengthe, therfore see for your self, and sette your self wysely atte defence, that ye and we alle may have worship therof; I wold be sory yf ye myshapped. I shal teche you the wordes that your eme Mertyn taught me, that ye may overcome your enemye, as I hope yow shal doo wythout doubt.
Therwyth she leyde her hand vpon his heed, and saide these wordes, Blaerde Shay Alphenio, Kasbue Gorsons alsbuifrio. Neuew, now be ye sure fro alle myschief and drede ; and I counseyle yow that ye reste yow a lytyl, for it is by the daye ye shal be the better dysposed. We shal awake you al in tyme.
Aunte, said the foxe, I am now glad. God thanke you, ye have don to me suche good. I can never deserve it fully agayn. Me thynketh ther may no thynge hurte me, syth that ye have said thyse holy wordes over me.
Tho wente he and leyd hym down ynder a tre in the
grasse and slepte tyl the sonne was rysen ; tho cam the otter and waked hym, and bad hym aryse, and gaf hym a good yong doke, and said, Dere cosyn, I have this nyght made many a leep in the water er I coude gette
fatte doke. I have taken it fro a fowler. Take and ete it.
Reynart sayde, This is good hansele, yf I refused this I were a fool. I thanke you, cosyn, that ye remembre
Yf I lyve, I shal rewarde yow. The foxe ete the doke with oute sawce or breed ; it sauourd liym wel, and wente wel in. And he dranke therto iiij grete draughtis of water, thenne wente he to the bataylle warde, and alle they that louyd hym wente wyth hym.
HOWE THE FOXE CAM IN TO THE FELDE, AND HOW THEY
Whan the kynge sawe Reynart thus shorn and oyled he said to him, Ey foxe, how wel can ye see for your self ? He wondred therof he was fowle to loke on. But the foxe saide not one worde, but kneled down lowe to therthe vnto the kynge and to the quene, and stryked hym forth in to the felde.
The wulf was ther redy and spack many a proud word. The rulers and kepars of the felde was the lupaert and the losse. They brought forth the booke, on whiche sware the wulf that the foxe was a traytour and a morderar, and none myght be falser than he was;