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HOW THE KYNG FORGAF THE FOXE ALLE THYNGIS, AND MADE
HYM SOUERAYN AND GRETTEST OUER AL
The kynge sayde, Reynard, ye be one of them that oweth me homage, whiche I wyl that ye allway so doo. And also I wylle that erly and late ye be of my counseyl, and one of my justyses. See wel to that ye not mysdoo, ne trespace no more. I sete yow agayn in alle your myght and power, lyke as ye were to fore, and see that
ye further alle matters to the beste righte, for whan ye sette your wytte and counseyl to vertue and goodnesse, thenne may not our court be wythout your aduyse and counseyl, for here is non that is lyke to yow in sharp and bye counseyll, ne subtyller in fyndyng a remedye for a meschief. And thynke ye on thexample that ye yourself haue tolde ; and that ye haunte rightwysnes, and be to me trewe. I will fro hensforth werke and doo by your aduyse and counseyll; he lyueth not that yf he mysdede yow, but I shold sharply aduenge and wreke it on hym. Ye shall oueralle speke and saye my wordes, and in alle my lande shall
be, aboue alle other souerayne, and my bayle ; that offyce I gyue yow: ye may wel occupye it wyth worship.
Alle Reynardis frendis and lignage thanketh the kynge heyly. The kynge sayde, I wolde doo more for your sake than ye wene; I praye yow alle that ye remembre hym that he be trewe.
Dame Rukenawe thenne sayd, Yes sykerly, my lord, that shal he euer be. And thynke ye not the contrary ; for yf he were otherwyse, he were not of our kynne ne lignage, and I wold euer myssake hym, and wold ever hyndre hym to my power.
Reynart the foxe thanked the kynge with fayr curtoys wordes, and sayd, Dere lorde, I am not worthy to haue the wership that ye doo to me; I shal thynke theron, and be trewe to you also longe as I lyue, and shal gyue you as holsom counseyl as shal be expedient to your good grace. Here wyth he departed wyth his frendes fro the kynge.
Now herke how Isegrym the wulf dyde. Bruyn the bere, Thybert the catte, and Erswynde and her chyldren, wyth their lignage, drewen the wulf out of the felde, and leyde hym vpon a lyter of heye, and couerd hym warm, and loked to his woundes, which were wel xxv.; and ther cam wyse maistres and surgyens, whiche bonde them, and weeshe hem. He was so seke and feble, that he had lost his felynge; but they rubbed and wryued hym vnder his temples and eyen, that he sprange out of his swoune and cryde so lowde, that alle they were aferde: they had wende that he had been wood.
But the maistres gaf hym a drynke that comforted his herte, and made hym to slepe. They comforted hys wyf, and tolde to her that ther was no deth wounde, ne paryl of his lyf. Thenne the court brake vp, and the beestis departed to theyr places and homes that they cam froo.
HOW THE FOXE WYTH HIS FRENDIS AND LIGNAGE DEPARTED
NOBLY FRO THE KYNGE, AND WENTE TO HIS
REYNART the foxe toke his leue honestly of the kynge and of the quene, and they bad hym he shold not tarye longe, but shortly retorne to them agayn. He answerd and said, Dere kynge and quene, alway at your commandement I shal be redy. Yf ye nede ony thynge, whiche God forbede, I wold alway be redy wyth my body, and my good to helpe yow, and also al my frendes and lignage in lyke wyse shal obeye your commandement and desire. Ye haue hyely deseruyd it, God quyte it yow and yeue you grace longe to lyue; and I desyre your lycence and leue to goo home to my wyf and chyldren ; and yf your good grace wil ony thyng, late me haue knowleche of it, and ye shal fynde me alway redy. Thus departed the foxe wyth fayr wordes fro the kynge.
Now who that coude sette hym in Reynardis crafte, and coude behaue hym in flateryng and lyenge, as he dyde, he shold, I trowe, be herde, both wyth the lordes spyrytuel and temporel. Ther ben many, and also the moste parte that crepe after his waye and his hole. The name that was gyuen to hym abydeth alway stylle wyth hym. He hath lefte many of his crafte in this world, whiche alwaye wexe and become myghty, for who that wyl not vse Reynardis crafte now, is nought
worth in the world now in ony estate that is of myght. But yf he can crepe in Reynardis nette, and hath ben his scoler, thenne may ye dwelle with vs. For thenne knoweth he wel the way how he may aryse, and is sette vp aboue of euery man.
Ther is in the world moche seed left of the foxe, whiche now oueral groweth and cometh sore vp; though they haue no rede berdes, yet ther ben founden mo foxes now than euer were here to fore. The rightwys people ben al loste, trouthe and rightwysnes ben exyled, and fordriuen, and for them ben abyden wyth vs couetyse, falshede, hate, and enuye. Thyse regne now moche in euery contre, for is it in the popes court, the emperours, the kynges, dukes, or ony other lordes where some euer it be, eche man laboureth to put other out fro his worship, offyce, and power, for to make hym sylf to clymme hye with lyes, wyth flateryng, wyth symonye, wyth money, or wyth strengthe and force.
Ther is none thyng byloued ne knowen in the court now a days but money ; the money is better byloued than God, for men doo moche more therfore; for who someuer bryngeth money shal be wel receyuyd, and shal haue alle his desyre, is it of lordes or of ladyes, or ony other. That money doth moche harme. Money bryngeth many in shame and drede of his lyf, and bryngeth false wytnes ayenst true peple for to gete money. Hit causeth vnclennes of lyuyng, lyeng, and lecherye.
Now clerkes goon to Rome, to Parys, and to many another place, for to lerne Reynardis crafte. Is he clerke, is he laye man, eueriche of them tredeth in the
foxes path, and seketh his hole. The world is of suche condycion now, that euery man seketh hym self in alle maters. I wote not what ende shal come to vs herof. All wyse men may sorowe vel herfore, I fere that for the grete falsenes, thefte, robberye, and murdre, that is now vsed so moche and comonly, and also the vnshamfast lecherye and avoultry bosted and blowen a brood with the auauntyng of the same, that wythout grete repentaunce, and penaunce therfore, that God will take vengeaunce and punyshe vs sore therfore ; whom I humbly beseche, and to whom nothyng is hyd, that he wylle gyue vs grace to make amendes to hym therfore, and that we maye rewle vs to his playsyr.
And herwyth wil I leue: for what haue I to wryte of thise mysdedis? I haue ynowh to doo with myn owne self, and so it were better that I helde my pees, and suffre ; and the beste that I can doo for to amende my self now in this tyme, and so I counseyle euery man to doo here in this present lyf, and that shal be moste our prouffyt. For after this lyf cometh no tyme that we may occupye to our auantage for to amende vs, for thenne shal euery man answere for hym self, and bere his owen burthen.
Reynardis frendes and lignage to the nombre of xl., haue taken also theyr leue of the kynge, and wente alle to gydre wyth the foxe, whiche was right glad that he had so wel sped, and that he stode so wel in the kynges grace. He thought that he had no shame, but that he was so grete with the kyng, that he myght helpe and further his frendes, and hyndre his enemyes,