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comen to the court, ther was none so poure nor so feble of kynne and frendes, but that he made hym redy for to complayne on Reynart the foxe. Reynart loke as he had not ben aferd, and helde hym better than he was, for he wente forth proudly with his neueu thurgh the hyest streete of the courte, right as he had ben the kynges sone, and as he had not trespaced to ony man the value of an heer, and wente in the mydel of the place stondyng to fore Noble the kynge, and sayde, God gyue you grete honour and worship, there was neuer kyng that euer had a trewer seruant than I haue ben to your good grace and yet am. Neuertheles, dere lorde, I knowe wel that ther bin many in this courte that wolde destroy me yf ye
wold byleve them ; but nay, God thanke yow, hit is not fyttyng to youre crowne to byleve thise false deceyvars and lyars lyghtly. To God mote it be complayned how that thise false lyars and flaterers now a dayes in the lordes courtes ben moste herde and belevyd, the shrewes and false deceyvers ben borne vp for to doo to good men alle the harme and scath they maye. Oure Lorde God shal ones rewarde them their hyre. The kynge sayde, Pees, Reynard, false theef and traytour, how wel can ye brynge forth fayer talis; and alle shalle not helpe yow a strawe, wene ye wyth such flateryng wordes to be my frende, ye have so ofte servyd me soo as ye now shal wel knowe. The pees that I have comanded and sworne, that have ye wel holden, haue ye. Chauntecler coude no lenger be stylle, but cryde, Alas ! what have I by this pees loste.
Be stylle Chaunteclere, holde your mouth, late me answere this fowle theef, Thow shrewd felle theef, saide the kynge, thou saist that thou louest me welt; that hast thou shewd wel on my messagers these
poure felaws, Tibert the cat, and Bruyn the bere, whiche yet ben al blody, whiche chyde not, ne saye not moche, but that shal this day coste the thy lyf. In nomine Patris, Cristi, filii, sayd the foxe, dere lord, and myghty kyng, yf Bruynes crowne be blody, what is that to me; whan he ete hony at Lantferts hows in the vyllage, and dyde hym hurte and scathe, there was he beten therfore; yf he had willyd, he is so stronge of lymmes, he myght wel haue be auengid er he sprang in to the water. Tho cam Tybert the catte, whom I recyued frendly; yf he wente out without my counseyl for to stele myes to a prestes hows, and the prest dyde hym harme, sholde I abye that? thenne myght I say I were not happy. Not so my liege lorde, ye maye doo what ye wille, thowh my mater be cleer and good, ye may siede me, or roste, hange or make me blynde, I may not escape you ; we stonde alle vnder your correccion. Ye be myghty and stronge, I am feble, and my helpe is but smal. Yf ye put me to the deth, hit were a smal vengeance.
Whiles they thus spak, sprange vp Bellyn the rame, and his eme Dame Olewey, and saide, My lord the kynge, here our complaynt ; Bruyn the bere stode up wyth al his lygnage and his felaws: Tibert the catte, Isegrym the wulf, Kywart the hare, and Panther the boore, the camel and Brunel the
ghoos, the kyde and ghoot, Boudewyn the asse, Borre the bulle, Hamel the oxe, and the wesel, Chantecler the cock, Pertelot with alle theyre children, alle thise made grete rumour and noyse, and cam forth openly to fore their lorde the kynge ; and made that the foxe was taken and arested.
HOW THE FOXE WAS ARESTED, AND JUDGED TO DETH.
HERE vpon was a parliament, and they desired that Reynart sholde ben deed, and what somme euer they saden ayenst the foxe, he answerde to eche to them. Neuer herde man of suche playntis of wyse counseyl, and subtyl inuencions: and on that other syde, the foxe made his excuse so wel and formably theron, that they that herde it wondred therof. They that herde and sawe it, may telle it forth for trouthe. I shal short the mater, and telle yow forth of the foxe. The kynge and the counseyl herde the witnessis of the complayntes of Reynarts mysdedes ; hit wente with hem as it ofte doth, the feblest hath the worst. They gafe sentence and juged that the foxe sholde be dede and hanged by the necke ; tho lyste not he to pleye alle his flateryng, wordes and deceytes coude not helpe hym. The jugement was gyven and that muste be don. Grymbert his neueu, and many of his lignage myght not fynde in their hertes to see hym dye, but token leue soroufully, and romed the court. The kynge bithoughte hym and marked how many a yong
ling departed from thens al wepyng, which were nyghe of his kynne, and sayde to hymself, Hier behoueth other counseyl herto ; though Reynart be a shrewe, ther be many good of his lignage. Tybert the catte sayde, sir Bruyn and Sir Isegrym, how be ye thus slowe, it is almost euen, hier ben many busshes and hedges, yf he escaped from vs and were delyuerd out of this paryl, he is so subtyl and so wyly and can so many deceytes, that he shold neuer be taken agayn. Shal we hange hym ? now stonde ye al thus, er the galewis can be made redy it shal be nyght.
Isegrym bethought hym tho and seyde, hierby is a gybet or galewis, and wyth that worde he sighed, and the catte espyed that and sayed, Isegrym, ye be aferd, ys it ayenst your wylle? Thynke ye not that he hymself wente and laboured that bothe your brethern were hanged ? were ye good and wyse, ye sholde thanke hym, and ye sholde not ther with so longe tarye.
HOW THE FOXE WAS LEDDE TO THE GALEWIS.
ISEGRYM balked and sayde, ye make moche a doo, sir Tybert; hadde we an halter whiche were mete for his necke and stronge ynough, we shold sone make an ende. Reynart the foxe, whiche longe had not spoken, saide to Isegrym, Short my payne. Tyberte hath a stronge corde whiche caught hym in the prestes hous, whan he bote the preste. He can clyme wel and is
swift, late hym bere vp the lyne. Isegrym and Bruyn, thys becometh yow wel, that ye thus doo to your
I am sory that I lyue thus longe : haste you, ye be sette therto ; it is euyl doo that ye tarye thus longe : goo to fore Bruyn ande lede me; Isegrym, folowe faste, and see wel to and beware that Reynart go not away. Tho, sayd Bruyn, it is the best counseil that I euer yet herde, that Reynart there seith.
Isegrym commanded anon and badde his kyn and frendes, that they shold see to Reynart that he escaped not, for he is so wyly and fals. They helden hym by the feet, by the berde, and so kepte hym that he escaped not from hem. The foxe herde alle thyse wordes, whiche touchid hym nygh, yet spak he and sayde, Och dere Eme, me thynketh ye payne your self sore, for to doo to me hurte and scathe ; yf I durste I wolde praye you of mercy, thaugh my hurte and sorow is playsant to you. I wote wel yf myn aunte your wyf bethought her wel of olde ferners, she wolde not suffre that I shold haue ony harme ; but now I am he, that now ye wille doo on me what it shal plese yow; ye, Bruyn and Thibert, God gyue you shames deth, but ye doo to me your werst, I wote wherto I shal, I maye deye but ones, I wolde that I were dede alredy. I sawe my fader deye; he had sone donne. Isegrym sayde, Lete
for ye curse vs bi cause we lengthe the tyme, euyl mote he fare yf we abyde ony lenger. He wente forth wyth grete enuye on that one side, and Bruyn stoode on the other syde, and so lede they hym forth to the galowes warde. Tybert ranne with a good wil