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ye were vii.
and that he wold preue on his body and make it good. Reynart the foxe sware that he lyed as a false knave and a cursyd theef, and that he wold doo good on his body. Whan this was don, the govenours of the felde bad them doo theyr deuoyr. Thenne romed they alle the felde, sauf Dame Rukenawe the she ape ; she abode by the foxe, and bad hym remembre wel the wordes that she had sayd to hym. She said, See wel too; whan
ye were wyse ynough to goo by nyght wythout lanterne, or mone shyne, where ye wyste to wynne ony goode. Ye ben named emong the peple wyse and subtyl, payne your self to werke soo that ye wynne the
have ever honour and worship, and al we that ben your frendys.
He answerd, My derest aunte, I knowe it wel. I shal doo my beste, and thynke on your counseyl. I hope so to doo that alle my lignage shal have worship therby, and myn enemyes shame and confusion. She sayde, God graunte it yow.
HOW THE FOXE AND THE WULF FOUGHTEN TO GYDRE.
Therwyth she wente out of the felde, and let them tweyne goo to gydre. The wulf trade forth to the foxe in grete wrath, and opened his fore feet, and supposed to have taken the foxe in hem; but the foxe
fro hym lyghtly; for he was lyghter to fote than he. The wulf sprange after and hunted the foxe sore. Theyr frendes stode without the lystes and lokcd vpon hem.
The wulf strode wyder than Reynard dyde, and ofte overtoke hym, and lyfte vp his foot and wende to haue smyten hym, but the foxe sawe to, and smote hym wyth his rowhe tayle al in his visage. Tho wende the wulf to have ben plat blynde. Thenne muste he reste for to make clene his eyen.
Reyner thoughte on his fordele, and stode above the wynde skrabbing and casting wyth his feet the duste, that it flewe the wulfis eyen ful. The wulf was sore blynded therwyth, in suche wyse that he muste leve the rennyng after hym, for the sonde cleuyd vnder his eyen that it smarted so sore that he muste rubbe and wasshe it a way.
Tho cam Reyner in a grete angre, and bote hym thre grete woundes on his heed wyth his teeth, and said, What is that, syr wulf ? hath one there byten yow ? how is it wyth yow? I wyl al otherwyse on yow yet. Abyde I shal brynge yow somme newe thyng. Ye have stole many a lambe, and destroyed many a symple beest; and now falsely have appeled me and brought me in this trouble. Al this shal I now auenge on the. I am chosen to reward the for thyn old synnes, for good wyl no longer suffre the in thy grete rauyn and shrewdnes. I shal now assoylle the, and that shal be good for thy sowle. Take paciently this penaunce, for thou shalt lyue no lenger. The helle shal be thy purgatorye. Thy lyf is now in my mercy; but, and yf thou wilt knele down and aske me forgyfnes, and knowleche the to be overcomen yet, though thou be evyl, yet I wyl spare the, for my con
science counselleth me I shold not gladly slee no
Isegryn wende wyth thyse mockyng and spytous wordes to have goon out of his wytte ; and that dered hym so moche that he wyste not what to saye buff ne baff, he was so angry in his herte. The woundes that Reynart had given hym bledde, and smerted sore ; and he thought how he myghte best auenge
it. Wyth grete angre he lyft vp his foot and smote the foxe on the heed, so grete a stroke, that he fyl to the ground. Tho sterte the wulf to, and wende to have take hym; but the foxe was lyght and wyly, and roose lyghtly vp and mette wyth hym fiersly, and there began a felle bataylle whiche dured longe. The wulf had grete spyte on the foxe, as it wel semed. He sprange after hym x times eche after other, and wold fayn have had hym faste, but his skyn was so slyper and fatte of the oyle, that alway he escaped fro hym. O! so subtyl and snelle was the foxe, that many tymes, whan the wulf wende wel to be sure of him, he sterte thenne bytwene his legges, and vndre his bely, and thenne torned he agayn and gaf the wulf a stroke wyth his tayl in his eyen, that Isegryn wende he shold haue loste his syght; and this dyde he often tymes.
And alway, whan he had so smyten hym, thenne wold he goo aboue the wynde and reyse the duste, that it made his eyen ful of stufs.
Isegrym was wo begon, and thought he was at an afterdele. Yet was his strengthe and myght moche
more than the foxes. Reynard had many a sore stroke of hym whan he raught hym. The gaf eche other many a stroke and many a byte whan they sawe theyr auauntage ; and eche of hem dyde his best to destroye that other. I wold I myght see suche a bataylle : that one was wyly and that other was stronge ; that one faught wyth strengthe and that other wyth subtylte.
The wulf was angry that the foxe endured so longe ayenst hym. Yf his formest feet had ben hole the foxe had not endured so longe ; but the sores were so open that he myght not wel renne, and the foxe myght better of and on than he. And also he swange his tayl ofte vnder his eyen, and made hym that hym thoughte that his
out. Atte laste he sayd to hym self, I wyl make an ende of this bataylle. How longe shal this caytyf dure thus ayenst me. I am so grete, I shold, yf I laye vpon hym, presse hym to deth. Hit is to me a grete shame that I spare hym so longe. Men shal mocke and poynte me wyth fyngres to my shame, and rebuke, for I am yet on the werst syde. I am sore wounded. I blede sore, and he drowneth me, and caste so moche dust and sande in myne eyen that hastely I shal not
Yf I suffre hym ony longre, I wyl sette it in auenture, and seen what shal come therof.
Wyth that, he smote wyth his foot Reynard on the heed, that he fyll down to the ground; and er he cowde aryse, he caught hym in his feet and laye vpon hym as he wold haue pressed hym to deth.
'Tho began the foxe to be aferd, and so were alle
his frendi s, whan theysawe hym lye vnder ; and on that other syde alle Yseyryms frendes were ioyeful and glad. The foxe defended hym faste wyth his clawes, as he laye vpward wyth his feet ; and gaf hym many a clope. The wulf durste not wyth his feet doo hym moche harme, but wyth his teeth snatched at hym as he wold have byten hym.
Whan the foxe sawe that he shold be byten, and was in grete drede, he smote the wulf in the heed wyth his formest clawes, and tare the skynne of bytwene his browes and hys eeris ; and that one of his eyen henge out; whiche dyde him moche payne. He howlyd ; he wepte; he cryde lowde; and made a pyteous noyse; for the blode ranne down as it had ben a streme.
HOWE THE FOXE PEYNG VNDER THE WULF WYTH FLATERYNG
WORDES GLOSED HYM, THAT THE FOXE CAM
TO HIS ABOUE AGAYN.
The wulf wyped his eyen. The foxe was glad whan he sawe that. He wrastled so sore, that he sprang on his feet whyles he rubbed his eyen. The wulf was not wel plesyd therwyth alle ; and smote after hym er he escaped, and caught hym in his armes, and helde hym faste, notwythstandyng that he bledde.
Reynard was woo thenne. There wrastled they longe and sore.
The wulf wexe so angry that he forgat al his smarte and payne, and threw the foxe al plat vnder hym, whiche cam hym euyl to passe ; for his one hand