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by whiche he deffended hym sterte in the fallying in to Ysegryms throte, and thenne was he aferd to lese his hand.
The wulf sayd tho to the foxe, Now chese whether ye wyl yelde yow as ouercome, or ellis I shal certaynly slee yow, the skateryng of the dust, thy mockyng, ne thy deffence, ne alle thy false wylys, may not now helpe the; thou mayeste not escape me. Thou hast here to fore don me so moche harme and shame, and now I haue lost myne one eye, and therto sore wounded.
Whan Reynard herde that it stode so rowme, that he shold chese to knowleche hym ouercomen, and yelde hym, or ellis to take the deth, he thought the choys was worth ten marke, and that he muste saye that one, or that other, he had anon concluded what he wold saie, and began to saye to hym, wyth fayr wordes in this wyse: Dere eme, I wyl gladly become your man wyth alle my good, and I wyl goo for you to the holy graue, and shal gete pardon and wynnyng for your cloistre, of all the chyrches that ben in the Holy Lande, whiche shal moche prouffyte to your sowle, and your elders' ' sowles also. I trowe ther was neuer suche a prouffre prouffred to ony kynge. And I shal serue you lyke as I shold serue our holy fader the pope. I shal holde of you al that I haue, and euer ben your seruaunt, and forth I shal make that al my lignage shal do in lyke wyse. Thenne shal ye be a lorde aboue all lordes ; who shold thenne dare doo ony thyng ayenst you ? and furthermore, what someuer I take of polaylle, ghees, partrych, or plouyer, fysshe, or flesshe, or what someuer
it be, therof shalye fyrst haue the choys, and your wyf, and your chyldren, er ony come in my body. Therto I wyl alway abyde by you, that where ye be ther shal no hurte ne scathe come to yow. Ye be strong, and I am wyly ; late vs abyde to gydre, that one wyth the counseyl, and that other wyth the dede, then may ther nothyng mysfalle to us warde, and we ben so nygh of kynne eche to other, that of right shold be no angre bytwene vs.
I wold not haue foughten ayenst you yf I myght haue escaped; but ye appeled me fyrst vnto fyghte; tho muste I doo, that I not doo wold gladly. And in this bataylle I haue ben curtoys to yow; I haue not yet shewde the utterist of my myght on yow, lyke as I wold haue doon yf ye had ben a straunger to me;
for the neuew ought to
the It is good reson, and it ought so to bee. Dere eme, so haue I now doo, and that maye ye marke wel, whan I ran to fore yow; myn herte wold not consente therto, for I myght haue hurte yow moche more than I dyde, but I thought it neuer; for I haue not hurte you, ne don yow so moche harm that may hyndre yow, sauf only that myshappe that is fallen on your eye. Ach! therfore I am sory, and suffre moche sorrow in my herte. I wold wel, dere eme, that it had not happed yow, but that it had fallen on me, so that ye therwyth had ben plesyd ; how be it that ye shal haue therby a grete auauntage, for whan ye here after shal slepe, ye nede not to shette but one wyndowe where another muste shette two. My wyf and my chyldren and my lignage shal falle doun to your feet, to fore the kynge, and to fore all them that ye wyl desyre, and praye yow humbly, that ye wyl suffre
Reynart, your neuew lyue, and also I shal knoweleche ofte to haue trespaced ayenst yow, and what lesynges I haue lyed vpon yow. How myght ony lord haue more honour than I proffre yow? I wold for no good do this to another; therfore I pray yow to be plesyd here
I wote wel, yf ye wolde, ye myght now slee me, but and ye so don had, what had ye wonne. So muste ye euer after this tyme kepe yow fro
frendes and lignage. Therfore he is wyse that can, in his angre, mesure hym self, and not be ouer hasty; and to see wel what may falle or happe afterward to hym, what man that in his angre can wel aduyse hym, certaynly he is wyse. Men fynde many fooles that in hete hasten hem so moche, that after they repente hem, and thenne it is to late. But, dere eme, I trowe that ye be to wyse so to doo. Hit is better to haue prys, honour, reste, and pees, and many frendes that be redy to helpe hym, than to haue shame, hurte, vnreste, and also many enemyes lyeng in a wayte to doo hym harme. Also it is lityl worship to hym that hath ouercomen a man thenne to slee hym, it is a grete shame; not for my lyf, though I were deed, that were a lytyll hurte.
Isegrym the wulf said, Ay, theef, how fayn woldest thou be losed and dyscharged fro me, that here I wel by thy wordes. Were thou now fro me on thy free feet, thou woldest not sette by me an egge shelle. Though thou promysedest to me alle the world of fyn rede gold, I wold not late the escape. I sette lytyl by the, and alle thy frendes and lignage. Alle that thou
hast here said is but lesyngis and fayned falsenes; wenest thou thus to deceyue me. It is longe syth that I knewe the. I am no byrde to be locked ne take by chaf. I know wel ynowh good corn. O how woldest thou mocke me yf I lete the thus escape ? thou myghtest wel haue said this to one that knewe the not, but to me, thou losest thy flateryng and swete floytyng, for I vnderstande to wel thy subtyl lyeng talys ; thow hast so ofte deceyued me that me behoueth now to take good hede of the; thow false stynkyng knaue, thow saist that thou hast spared me in this batayl ; loke hetherward to me, is not myn one eye out, and therto hast thou wounded mein xx. places in my heed; thou woldest not suffre me so longe to reste as to take ones my breeth. I were ouer moche a fool yf I shold now spare the, or be mercyful to the, so many a confusion and shame thou hast don to me; and that also that toucheth me most of alle, that thou hast disworshiped and sklaundred Erswyn, my wyf, whom I loue as wel as my self, and falsely deceyuedest her, whiche shal neuer out of my herte, for as ofte as it cometh to myn mynde, all myn angre and hate that I haue to the reneweth.
In the mene wylle that Ysegrym was thus spekyng, the foxe bithought hym how he myght helpe lym self, and stak his other hond after bytwene his legges, and grepe the wulf fast, and he wronge hem so sore that for woo and payne he muste crye lowde, and howle. Thenne the foxe drewe his other honde out of his mouth. The wulf had so moche payne and anguyssh of the sore wryngyng that the foxe dowed and wronge that he spytte blood.
HOW YSEGRYM THE WULF WAS QUERCOMEN, AND HOW THE BATAYL WAS TAKEN VP AND FYNYSSHED, AND HOW
THE FOXE HAD THE WORSHIP.
This payne dyde hym more sorow and woo than his eye dyde, that so sore bledde, and also it made hym to ouerthrowe alle in a swowne, for he had so moche bledde, and also the threstyng that he suffred made hym so faynt, that he had lost his myght.
Thenne Reynard the foxe lepe vpon hym wyth al his myght, and caught hym by the legges, and drewe hym forth thurgh the felde, that they all myght see it, and he stack and smote hym sore.
Thenne were Ysegrym's frendes al ful of sorowe, and wente al wepyng vnto theyr lord the kynge, and prayde hym that he wold doo sece the batayll, and take it vp in to his handes.
The kynge graunted it, and thenne wente the kepars of the felde, the lupaerd and the lossem, and saide to the foxe, and to the wulf, Our lord, the kynge, wil speke wyth yow, and wyl that this batayl be ended ; he wil take it in to his hand; he desyreth that ye wyl gyue your stryf vnto hym, for yf ony of yow here were slayn, it shold be grete shame on bothe sydes. For ye haue as moche worship of this felde as ye maye haue. And they sayde to the foxe, Alle the beestis gyue to yow the prys,
that haue seen this bataylle. The foxe said, Therof I thanke hem, and what that shal plese my lord to command, that shal I not gaynsaye. I desire no better, but to haue wonne the felde.