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HOW THE LYON, KYNGE OF ALLE BESTIS, SENTE OUT HIS
MANDEMENTIS THAT ALLE BEESTIS SHOLDE COME
TO HIS FEEST AND COURT.
It was aboute the tyme of Penthecoste or Whytsontyde, that the wodes comynly be lusty and gladsom, and the trees clad with levys and blossome, and the ground with herbes and flowris swete smellyng, and also the fowles and byrdes syngen melodyously in theyr armonye, that the lyon, the noble kynge of all beestis wolde in the holydayes of thys feest holde an open court at Stade, whyche he dyde to knowe over alle in his land, and commanded by strayte commyssyons and maundements that euery beest shold come thyder, in suche wyse that alle the beestis grete and smale cam to the courte, sauf Reynard the Foxe, for he knewe hymself fawty and gylty in many thynges ayenst many beestis that thyder sholde comen, that he durste not aventure to goo thyder. Whan the kynge of alle beestis had assembled alle his court, ther was none of them alle but that he had complayned sore on Reynart the Foxe.
THE FIRST COMPLAYNT MADE ISEGRYM THE WULF
IsEgrym the wulf, wyth his lynage and frendes, cam and stode to fore the kynge, and sayde : Hye and
mighty prynce, my lord the kynge, I beseche yow that thurgh your grete myght, ryght, and mercy, that ye wyl have pyte on the grete trespas, and the unresonable mysdedes that Reynart the Foxe hath don to me and to my wyf, that is to wete, he is comen in to my hows ayenst the wylle of my wyf, and there he hath bespattered my chyldren where as they laye, in as they therof ben
blynde. Wherupon was a day sette, and was juged that Reygnart shold come and have excused hym hicrof, and have sworen on the holy sayntes, that he was not gylty therof, and whan the book with the sayntes was brought forth, tho had Reygnart bythought hym other wyse, and wente his waye agayn in to his hole, as he had nought sette therby, and, dere kynge, this knowen wel many
of the bestes that now be comen hyther to your court, and yet hath he trespaced to me in many other thinges, he is not lyvynge that coude telle alle that I now leve untolde. But the shame and vylonye that he hath don to my wyf, that shall I never lyde ne suffre it unavenge but that he shal make to me large amendes.
THE COMPLAYNT OF COURTOYS THE HOUNDE.
WAN thyse wordes were spoken so stode there a lytyl hounde and was named Courtoys, and complayned to the kynge, how that in the colde wynter, in the
harde froste, he had ben sore forwynterd, in such wyse as he had kepte no more mete than a puddyng, whych puddyng Reygnard the Foxe had taken away from hym.
Tho spak Thybert the Catte. With this so cam Tybert the Catte wyth an irous moed, and sprang in emonge them and sayde : My lord the kyng, I here hier that Reggnart is sore complayned on, and hier is none but that he hath ynowh to doo to clere hym self; that Courtoys hier complayneth of, that is passyd many yeres goon, how be it that I complayne not, that pudyng was myne, for I hadde wonne it by nyghte in a mylle. The myllar laye and slepe, yf Courtoys had ony parte hieron, that cam by me to. Thenne spak Panther. Thynke ye Tybert that it were good that Reynard sholde not be complayned on, he is a very murderer, a rover, and a theef. He loveth no man so wel, not our lord the kyng here that he wel wold that he shuld lese good and worshyp, so that he myght wynne as moche as a legge of a fat henne. I shal telle yow what I sawe hym do yesterday, to Cuwart the hare that hier standeth in the kynges pees and saufgarde. He promysed to Cuwart the hare, and sayde, he wold teche hym his Credo, and make hym a good chapelayn; he made hym goo sytte bytwene his legges, and sange, and cryde lowde, Credo, Credo. My way laye therby there that I herde this songe. Tho wente I ner and fonde Maister Reynar that had lefte that he fyrst redde and songe, and bygan to playe his olde playe, for he had caught Kywaert by the
throte, and had I not that tyme comen, he sholde have taken his lyf from hym, like as ye hiere may see on Kywaert the Hare the fresse wounde yet; forsothe my lord the kynge, yf ye suffre this unpunysshyd and lete hym go quyte that hath thus broken your peas, and wyl do no right after the sentence and jugement of your men, your children many yeris herafter shal be myspreysed and blamed therfore. Sykerly, Panther, sayd Isegrym, ye saye trouthe, hit were good that right and justyse were don, for them that wolde fayne lyve in peas.
HOW GRYMBART THE DASSE, THE FOXES SUSTERS SONE, SPACK
FOR REYNART, AND ANSWERD TOFORE THE KYNGE.
Tho spack Grymbart the dasse, and was Reynart's sister sone, wyth an angry moed. Sir Isegrym, that is evyl sayd ; it is a comyn proverbe, an enemyes mouth, sayth seeld wel. What leye ye, and wyte ye myn eme Reynart? I wold that ye wolde aventure that who of yow tweyne had moste trespaced to other sholde hange by the necke as a theef on a tree. But and yf he were as wel in this court, and as wel wyth the kynge, as ye be, it shold not be thought in hym, that it were ynowh, that ye shold come and aske hym forgyvnes, ye have byten and nypte myn uncle wyth your felle and sharp teeth many mo tymes than I can telle, yet wil I telle some poyntes that I wel knowe.
Knowe not ye how ye mysdeled on the plays whiche he threwe doun fro the carre, whan ye folowed after fro ferre. And ye ete the good plays allone, and gaf hym no more than the grate or bones, whyche ye myght not ete your self. In lyke wyse dyde ye to hym also of the fatte vlycche of bacon, whiche savourd so wel, that ye allone ete in your bely, and whan myn eme askyd his parte, tho answerd ye hym agayne in scorne, Reynart, fayr yonglyng, I shal gladly gyve you your part, but, myn eme gate ne had nought, ne was not the better, notwithstandyng he had wonnen the flycche of bacon wyth grete drede, for the man cam and threw hym in a sacke, that he scarsely cam out wyth his lyf. Suche maner thynges hath Reynart many tymes suffred thurgh Ysegrym.
O ye lordes, thynke ye that this is good, yet is ther more, he complayneth how that Reynart myn eme hath moche trespaced to hym by cause of his wyf. But that is wel seven yer to fore er he wedded her, and she was sone heled therof. Hierof by ryght shold be no complaynt: were Isegrym wyse he shold have lefte that: he doth to hym self no worshyp thus to sklaundre his wyf: she playneth not.
Now maketh Kywaert the hare a complaynt also, that thynketh me a vyseuase, yf he rede ne lerned a right his lesson, sholde not Reynard his maister bete hym therfore? yf the scolers were not beten, ne smyten and reprised of their truantrye, they shold never lerne.
Now complayneth Courtoys, that he with payne had gotten a puddyng in the wynter, at such tyme as the