« PreviousContinue »
hymself ranne al moder naked. Mertynet was the first that cam to Tybert, the preest toke to Locken his wyf an offryng candel, and bad her lyght it atte fyer and he smote Tybert with a grete staf. Ther receyued Tybert many a grete stroke over all his body; Mertynet was so angry that he smote the catte an eye out, the naked prest lyfte vp and shold have gyven a grete stroke to Tybert, but Tybert that sawe that he muste deye, sprange bytwene the prestes legges wyth his clawes and with his teeth, so that that leep becam yl to the preest and to his grete shame.
Whan dame Julocke knewe that, she sware by her faders sowle, that she wolde it had cost her alle thoffryng of a hole yere, that the preest had not had that harme, hurte, and shame, and that it had not happed and said, In the develes name was the grynne there sette, see Mertynet lyef sone: this is a grete shame and a grete hurte, though he be heled herof. The foxe stode wythoute to fore the hole and herde alle thyse wordes, and lawhed so sore that he vnnethe coude stonde; he spack thus al softly, dame Julock be al stylle, and lete your grete sorowe synke. He shal doo wel ynowh, ther is in the world many a chapel in whiche is rongen but one belle. Thus scorned and mocked the foxe the prestes wyf dame Julock, that was ful of sorowe. The preest fyl doun a swoune, they toke hym vp and brought hym agayne to bedde. Tho wente the foxe agayn in to his borugh ward, and lefte Tybert the catte in grete drede and jeopardye, for the foxe wiste none other but that the catte was
nygh deed ; but when the catte sawe them al besy aboute the preest, tho began he to byte and gnawe the grinne in the myddel a sondre, and sprange out of the hool and wente rollyng and wentlyng towards the kyngs court: or he cam theder it was fayr day and the sonne began to ryse. And he cam to the court as a poure wyght; he had caught harme atte prestes hows by the helpe and counseyl of the foxe, his body was al to beten, and blynde on the one eye. Whan the kynge wyste this, that Tybert was thus arayed, he was sore angry and menaced Reynart the theef sore, and anone gadred his counseyl to wyte what they wold avyse hym, how he myght bringe the foxe to the lawe, and how he sholde be fette. Tho spack sir Grymbart, whiche was the foxes suster sone, and saide, Ye lordes, thowgh myn eme were twyes so bad and shrewessh, yet is there remedye ynough, late hym be don to as to a free man whan he shal be judged, he muste be warned the thirde tyme for al, and yf he come not thanne he is thenne gylty in alle the trespaces that ben legd ayenst hym and his, or complayned on. Grymbert, who wolde ye that sholde goo and daye hym to come, who wil aventure for hym his eeris, hys eye, or his lyf, whiche is so fel a beest. I trowe ther is none here so moche a fool. Grymbart spack, so helpe me God I am so moche a fool, that I wil do this message my self to Reynart, yf ye wille commande me.
HOW GRYMBERT THE DASSE BROUGHT THE FOXE TO LAWE TO
FORE THE KYNGE.
go forth Grymbart and see wel to fore yow, Reynart is so felle and fals and so subtyl, that ye nede wel to loke aboute yow, and to beware of hym. Grimbert said, he shold see wel to. Thus wente Grymbart to Maleperduys ward, and whan he cam theder, he fonde Reynart the foxe at home, and dame Ermelyn his wyf laye by her whelpis in a derke corner. Tho spack Grymberd and salewed his eme, and his aunte, and saide to Reynart, Eme, beware that your
absence hurte yow not in suche maters as be leyde and complayned on yow, but yf ye thynke it good, it is hye
ye come wyth me to the court. holdyng yow fro it can doo yow no good, there is moche thynge complayned over yow, and this is the thirde warnyng, and I telle you for trouth yf ye abyde to morow al day, ther may no mercy helpe you, ye shal see that wythin thre dayes that your hows shal be byseged al aboute, and ther shal be made to fore it galowes and racke, I saie you truly ye shal not thenne escape, neyther with wyf ne wyth chylde. The kynge shal take alle your livys fro yow, therfore it is beste that ye goo wyth me to the court, your subtyl wyse counseyl shal paraventure avaylle you, ther ben gretter aventures falle er this, for it may happe ye shal goo quyte of all the complayntes that ben complayned on you, and alle your enemyes shal abyde in the shame, ye have oftymes
don more and gretter thinges than this. Reynart the foxe answered, Ye saye soth, I trowe it is beste that I goo wyth you for ther lacketh my counseyl, paraventure the kynge shal be mercyful to me yf I maye come to speke wyth hym, and see hym under his eyen, though I had don moche more harme, the court may not stonde without
me, that shal the kynge wel understande. Though some be so felle to me ward, yet it goth not to the herte, alle the counseyl shal conclude moche by me, where grete courtes ben gadred of kynges or of grete lordes, where as nedeth subtyl counseyl, ther muste Regnart fynde the subtyl meanes. They maye wel speke and saye theyr advys but the myne is beste, and that goth to fore alle other. In the courte ben many that have sworen to doo me the werst they can: and that causeth me a parte to be hevy in my herte, for many maye doo more than one allone that shal hurte me, nevertheless, nevew, it is better that I goo with yow to the court, and answere for myself, than to sette me, my wyf, and my chyldren in a venture for to be loste : aryse up, late us goo hens, he is over myghty for me, I muste doo as he wylle, I can not bettre it, I shal take it paciently and suffre it. Reynert saide to his wyf, dame Ermelyn I betake yow my chyldren that ye see wel to hem, and specyally to Reynkyn, my yongest sone. He belyketh me so wel I hope he shal folowe my stappes, and ther is Rosel a passyng fayr theef. I love hem as wel as any may love his chyldren. Yf God gyve me grace that I may escape, I shal whan I come agayn thank yow wyth fair
wordes. Thus toke Reynart leue of his wyf. A gods, how sorouful abode Ermelyn wyth her smale whelpis, for the vytayller, and he that sorowed for Maleperduys has goon
way. And the hows not pourveyed ne vitaylled.
HOW REYNARD SHROF HYM.
Whan Reynart and Grymbert had goon a whyle togydre, tho saide Reynart, Grete cosyn, now am I in grete fere, for I goo in drede and ieopardye of my lyf. I have so moche repentaunce for my synnes that I wil shryve me dere cosyn to yow, here is none other preest to gete, yf I were shryven of my synnes, my soule shold be the clerer. Grymbert ansuerde, Eem, wil ye shryve you, then muste ye promyse first to leve your steelyng and rovynge. Reynart saide that wyst he wel. Now herke, dere cosyn, what I shal saye. Confiteor tibi, pater, of alle the misdedes that I have don, and gladly will receyve penance for them. Grymberte sayde, What saye ye? wylle ye shryve you? thenne saye it in English, that I may understande yow. Reynard sayde, I have trespaced ayenst alle the bestis that lyve, in especyal ayenst Bruyn the bere, myne eem, whom I mayde his crowne al blody; and taughte Tybert the catte to catche myes, for I made her leepe in a grenne wher she was al to beten; also I have