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ben sorowful to departe and fayned as he had wepte, right as he hadde yamerde in his herte, but yf he had ony sorow, it was by cause al the other, that were there, were not in the same plyght as the wulf and bere were brought in by hym. Neuertheles he stood and prayd them alle to praye for hym, lyke as he wold praye for them. The foxe thought that he taryed longe, and wold fayn haue departed, for he knewe hymself gylty. The kynge saide, Reynart I am sory ye be so hasty, and wil no lenger tarye. Nay my lorde, it is tyme, for we ought not spare to doo wel. I praye you to gyue me leue to departe, I muste doo my pylgremage. The kynge sayd, God be wyth yow ! and commanded alle them of the court to go, and conueyne Reynart on his way. Sauf the wulf and the bere, whyche fast laye bounden, ther was none that durst be sory therfore; and yf ye had seen Reynart how personably he wente wyth his male, and palster on his sholder, and the shoes on his feet, ye shold haue laughed. He wente and shewde hym outeward wysely; but he laughed in his herte, that alle they brought hym forth, whiche had a lytyl to fore been with hym so wrooth; and also the kynge, whiche so moche hated him, he had made hym suche a fool, that he brought hym to his owne entente, he was a pylgrym of deux aas. My lord the kyng, sayd the foxe, I pray you to retorne agayn; I wil not that ye goo ony ferther with me; ye myght haue harme therby; ye haue there two morderars arestyd, yf they escaped you, ye myght be hurt by them. I pray God
kepe you fro mysaventure. Wyth these wordes he stode up on his afterfeet, and prayde alle the beestys grete and smal, that wolde be parteners of his pardon, that they shold praye for hym ; they sayde that they alle wolde remembre him.
Then departed he fro the kynge so hevyly, that many of them ermed.
Thenne saide he to Kyward the hare, and to Bellyn the ramme, meryly, Dere frendes, shal we now departe ? Ye wil, and God will, accompanye me ferther; ye two made me never angry ; ye be good for to walke wyth, courtoys, frendly, and not complayned on of ony beeste; ye be of good condicions, and goostly of your lyuyng; ye lyue both as I dyde, whan I was a recluse ; yf ye haue leeuis and gras, ye be plesyd; ye retche not of brede, of flesshe, ne suche maner mete. With such flateryng wordes hath Reynard thise two flatred, that they wente wyth hym tyl they camen to fore his hows Maleperduys.
HOW KYWART THE HARE WAS SLAYN BY THE FOXE.
WHAN the foxe was come to fore the yate of his hows, he sayde to Bellyn the ramme, Cosyn ye shal abide here withoute, I and Kywart wille goo in, for I wille praye Kywart to helpe me to take my leue of Ermelyn, my wif, and to comforte her and my chyldren. Bellyn sayde, I praye hym to comforte them wel.
I muste goo
Wyth suche flateryng wordes brought he the hare in to his hole in an euyl hour. There founde they dame Ermelyn, lyeng on the grounde, with her yonglyngis, whiche had sorowed moche for drede of Reynart's deth; but whan she sawe hym come she was glad. But whan she sawe his male and palster, and espyed his shoes, she meruailled and sayd, Dere Reyner, how haue ye spedd ? He sayd, I was arestid in the court, but the kynge lete me gow. a pilgremage. Bruyn the bere, and Ysegrym the wulf, they be plegge for me; I thanke the kynge, he hath gyuen to vs Kywart hier for to doo with hym what we wyl. The kynge saide hym self, that Kywart was the first that on vs complayned; and by the fayth that I owe yow, I am right wroth on Kywart.
Whan Kywart herde thise wordes, he was sore aferde. He wold haue fledde, but he might not, for the foxe stode bytwene hym and the yate, and he caught hym by the necke. Tho cryed the hare, Helpe Bellyn, helpe! where be ye? this pilgryme sleeth me. But that crye was sone doon, for the foxe had anon byten his throte a two. Tho sayd he, Late vs go ete this good fatte hare. The yonge whelpes cam also. Thus helde they a grete feste, for Kywart had a good fatte body. Ermelyn ete the flessh and dranke the blood; she thanked ofte the kynge that he had made them so mery. The foxe saide, Ete as moche as ye maye, he wil paye for it, yf we will feche it.
She sayd, Reynart I trowe ye moche: telle me the trouthe, how ye be departed thens. Dame, I haue so flaterid the
the kinge and the quene, that I suppose the frendship bytwene vs shal be right thynne whan he shal knowe of this; he shal be angry; and hastely seke me for to hange me by myne necke.
Therfore late vs departe, and stele secretly a way in somme other foreste, where we may lyue wythoute fere and drede ; and there that we may lyue vij yere and more and fynde vs not. There is plenty of good mete of partrychs, wododekkis, and moche other wilde fowle, dame ; and yf ye wil come with me thyder, ther ben swete welles and fayr clere rennyng brokes. Lord God, how swete eyer, is there; there may we be in pees, and ease, and lyue in grete welthe, for the kynge hath lete me gon, by cause I tolde hym that ther was grete tresour in Krekenpyt; but there shal he fynde nothyng, though he sought euer. This shal sore angre hym, whan he knoweth that he is thus deceyuid ; what trowe ye how many a grete lesynge, muste I lye, er I coude escape from hym. It was harde that I escaped out of pryson ; I was neuer in gretter paryl, ne nerrer my deth. But how it euer goo, I shal by my wille neuer more come in the kynges daunger: I haue now goten my thombe out of his mouth; that thanke I my subtylyte.
Dame Ermelyne saide, Reynart, I counseyle that we goo not into another foreste, where we sholde be strange, and elenge; we haue here al that we desyre: and ye be here lorde of our neyghbours: wherfore shalle we leue this place, and auenture vs in a worse : we may abyde her sure ynough. If the kynge wold
doo vs ony harme, or besiege vs, here ben so many by or side holes, in suche wyse, as we shal escape
fro hym: in abydyng here, we may not doo amys; we knowe alle bypathes ouer alle ; and er he take vs with myght, he muste haue moche helpe therto. But that ye
goo ouer see, and abide there, that is the thyng that toucheth me moste. Nay, dame, care not therfore ; how more forsworn how more forlorn. I wente ones with a good man, that said to me, that a bydwogen oth, or oth sworn by force, was none oth. Though I wente on this pilgremage, it shold not auaylle me a cattes tayl. I wil abyde here, and folowe your conseyl. Yf the kyng hunte after me, I shal kepe me as wel as I maye ; yf he be me to myghty; yet I hope wyth subtylte to begyle hym. I shal vnbynde my sack, yf he wil seeke harm he shal fynde harme.
Now was Bellyn the ramme angry, that Kywart, his felawe, was so longe in the hole; and called lowed, Come out, Kywarte, in the deuels name! how longe shal Reynart kepe you there. Haste
late ys goo.
Whan Reynard herde this, he wente out, and saide softly to Bellyn the ramme, Lief Bellyn, wherfore be ye angry? Kywart speketh wyth his dere aunte; me thynketh ye ought not to be dysplesid therfore. He bad me saye to yow, ye myght wel go to fore, and he shal come after : he is lighter of fote than ye, he muste tarye a whyle wyth his aunte, and her chyldren ; they wepe, and crye, by cause I shal