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to fore, and bare the corde, and his throte was yet sore of the grynne, and his croppe dyde hym woo of the stryke that he was take in, that happed by the counseil of the foxe, and that thought he now to quyte.
Tybert, Isegrym, and Bruyn, wente hastely wyth Reinert to the place there as the felons ben wonte to be put to deth. Nobel the kynge, and the quene, and alle that were in the court, folowed after for to see the ende of Reynart. The foxe was in grete drede yf hym myshapped, and bethought hym ofte, how he myghte saue hym fro the deth, and tho thre, that so sore desireden hys deth how he myght deceyue them, and brynge them to shame ; and how he myght brynge the kynge wyth lesyngis for to holde wyth hym ayenst hem. This was alle that he studyed, how he myght putte away his sorowe wyth wylys; and thought thus, though the kynge and many one be vpon me angry, it is no wonder, for I have wel deseruid it; neuertheles, I hope for to be yet his best frende, and yet shal I neuer do them good. How strong that the kynge be, and how wyse that his counseil be, yf I may brouke my wordes,
knowe so many an inuencion, I shal come to myn above, as fer as they wolde comen to the galewes. Tho saide Ysegrym, Sir Bruyn thynke now on your rede crowne whiche by Reynarts mene ye caughte; we haue now the tyme that we may wel rewarde hym. Tybert clyme vp hastyly and bynde the corde faste to the lynde, and make a rydynge knotte or a strope, ye be the lyghtyst. Ye shal this day see your wylle of hym. Bruyn see wel to that he escape
not, and holde faste; I will helpe that the ladder be sette vp, that he may goo vpwart theron. Bruyn saide, Do, I shall helpe hym wel. The foxe sayde, now may my herte be wel heuy for grete drede ; for I see the deth to fore myn eyen,
not escape. My lorde the kynge, and dere quene, and forth alle ye that here stande, er I departe fro this worlde, I pray you of a bone, that I may to fore
alle make my confession openly, and telle my defaultes also clerly, that
my sowle be not acombred, and also that no man hereafter, bere no blame for my thefte, ne for my treson ; my deth shal be to me the esyer,
praye ye alle to God that he haue mercy on my sowle.
HOW THE FOXE MADE OPENLY HIS CONFESSION TO FORE THE
KYNGE, AND TO FORE AL THEM THAT WOLD HERE IT.
All they that stoden there, had pyte when Reynart saide the wordes ; and said it was but a lytel requeste yf the kynge wolde grante it hym; and they prayde the kynge to graunte it hym. The kynge gaf hym leue. Reynart vas wel glad, and hoped that it myght falle better, and said, thus, Now helpe, Spiritus Domini, for I see hier no man, but I have trespaced vnto. Neuertheles yet was I, vnto the tyme that I was wened fro the tete, one the beste chylde that coude onwher be founden. I wente tho and pleyde wyth the lambees by cause I herde hem gladly blete; I was so long,
wyth hem, that at the laste I bote one, there lerned I fyrst to lapen of the bloode: hit sauourd wel; me thought it right good. And after I began to taste of the flessh therof, I was lycourous, so that after that I wente to the gheet in to the wode, there herde I the kyddes blete, and I slewe of them tweyne. I began to wexe hardy. After I slew hennes, polayl, and ghees, where euer I fonde hem. Thus worden my teeth al blody. After this I wexe so felle, and so wroth, that what somme euer I founde that I myght ouer, I slowe alle. Ther after cam I by Isegrym now in the wynter, where he hydde hym ynder a tree, and rekened to me that he was myn Eme. Whenne I herde hym thenne rekene allyance, we becomen felaws, which I may wel repente; we promysed eche to other to be trewe, and to vse good felawship, and began to wandre to gyder: he stal the grete thyngs, and I the smalle, and all was comyn bytwene vs; yet he made it so, that he had the beste dele, I gate not half my parte. Whan that Ysegrym gate a calf, a ramme, or a weder, thenne grimmed he, and was angry on me, and droof me fro hym, and helde my part and his to, so good is he. Yet this was of the leste: but, whan it so lucked, that we toke an oxe or a cowe, thenne cam therto his wyf wyth vij children, so that vnto me myght vnnethe come one of the smallest rybbes; and yet had they eten alle the flessh therof, ther with all muste I be content. Not for that I had so grete nede, for I have so grette scatte, and good, of syluer and of gold, that seuen waynes shold not conne carye it away. Whan the
kynge herde hym speke of this grete good and riches, se he brenned in the desyre and couetyse therof, and sayde, Reynart, where is the rychesse becomen, tell me that.
The foxe saide, My lorde I shal telle you. The rychesse was stolen, and had it not be stolen, it shold haue cost you your lyfe, and you shold haue ben murdered, whiche God forbede, and shold haue ben the gretest hurte of the worlde. Whan the quene herde that she was sore aferde, and cryde lowde, Alas! and wele away, Reynart what saye ye? I coniure you by the longe way that your soule shal goo, that ye telle vs openly the trouthe herof, as moche as ye knowe of this grete murdre, that sholde haue be doon on my lorde, that we alle may here it. Now herkene how the foxe shal flatre the kynge and quene, and shal wynne bothe their good willes and loue; and shal hyndre them that laboure for his deth; he shal vnbynde his packe and lye, and by flaterye and fayr wordes, shal brynge forth so his maters, that it shal be supposed for trouthe. In a syrrowful contenance spak the foxe to the quene, I am in suche caas now, that I muste nedes deye; and hadde ye me not so sore conjured, I will not jeoparde my sowle; and yf I so dyde, I shold goo therfore in to the payne of helle. I wil saye nothyng, but that I wil make it good; for pytously he shold haue ben murthred of his owen folke; neuertheles they that were most pryncypal in this feat, were of my next kyne, whom gladly I wold not bewraye, yf the sorow were not of the helle. The kynge was heuy of
herte and saide, Reynart, saiste thou to me the trouthe? Ye, said the foxe, See ye not how it standeth with me?
ye that I wil dampne my sowle? what shold it auaylle me, yf I now saide other wise than trouthe: my deth is so nyghe, ther may nether prayer ne good helpe me. Tho trembled the foxe by dyssymlyyng, as he had ben aferde. The quene had pyte on hym, and prayde the kyng to haue mercy on hym, in eschewyng of more harme ; and that he sholde doo the peple holde their peas, and gyue the foxe audience, and here what he shold say. Tho commanded the kynge openly, that eche of them shold be stylle, and suffre the foxe to saye vnberisped what that he wolde. Thenne saide the foxe, Be ye now alle stylle, syth it is the kynges wille, and I shal telle you openly this treson; and therin I wil spare noman that I knowe gylty.
HOW THE FOXE BROUGHT THEM IN DAUNGER, THAT WOLDE HAUE BROUGHT HYM TO DETH, AND HOW HE GATE THE GRACE
OF THE KYNG.
Now harkene how the foxe began. In the begynnyng he appeled Grymbert his dere cosyn, which euer had holpen hym in his nede; he dyde so, bycause his wordes sholde be the better byleued, and that he forthon myght the better lye on his enemyes. Thus began he firste, and said, My lord, my fader had founden kyng Ermeryks tresour doluen in a pytte ; and whan he had