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goo fro them. Bellyn sayde, What dyde Kyward ? me thoughte he cryed after helpe. The foxe answerd, What saye ye Bellyne? wene ye that he shold haue
Now herke what he thenne dyde; whan he were comen in to myn hows; and Ermelyn, my wyf, vnderstode that I sholde goo ouer see, she fyl doun in a swoun. Thenne sayde the ramme, In fayth I vnderstode that Kywart had ben in grete daunger. The foxe sayde, Nay, truly or Kyward shold haue ony harme in my hows, I had leuer that my wyf and chyldren sholde suffre moche hurte!
HOWE THE FOXE SENTE THE HEED OF KYWART THE IIARE TO
THE KYNGE, BY BELLYN THE RAMME.
The foxe saide, Bellyn, remembre ye not that yesterday the kynge and his counseyl commanded me, that er I shold departe out of this lande, I shold sende to hym two lettres. Dere cosyn, I pray you to bere them: they be redy wreton. The ramme sayde, I wote neuer yf I wiste that your endythyng and wrytyng were good, ye myght pareuenture so moche praye me that I wold bere them, yf I had ony thyng to bere them in. Reynard saide, ye shal not fayle to haue somwhat to bere them in. Rather than they shold be vnborn, I shal rather gyue yow my male, that I bere, and put the kynges lettres therin, and hange them aboute your necke. Ye shal haue of the kynge
grete thanke therfore and be right welcomen to hym. Ther vpon Bellyn promysed hym to bere thise lettres.
Tho retorned Reynart in to his hows, and toke the male and put therin Kywarts heed ; and brought it to Bellyn for to brynge him in daunger ; and henge it on his necke ; and chargyd hym not for to loke in the male, yf he wolde haue the kyngis frendship: and yf ye wil that the kynge take you into his grace, and loue you ; saye that ye your self haue made the lettre and endited it ; and haue gyuen the counseyl that it is so wel made and wreton. Ye shal haue grete thank, therfore. Bellyn the ramme was glad herof, and thought he sholde haue grete thank, and saide, Reynard, I wote wel that ye now doo for me. I shal be in the court gretly preysed, whan it is knowen that I can so wel endyte and make a lettre, thaugh I can not make it: ofte tymes it happeth, that God suffreth somme to haue worship; and thanke of the labouris, and connyng of other men ; and so it shal bifalle me now. Now what counseyle ye, Reyner ? shal Kywaert the hare come wyth me to the court ? Nay, sayd the foxe, he shal anone folowe yow ; he may not yet come, for he muste speke wyth his aunte.
Now goo ye forth to fore, I shal shewe to Kywart secrete thyngis whiche ben not yet knowen. Bellyn sayd, Fare wel, Reynart ! and wente hym forth to the court ; and he ran, and hasted so faste, that he cam to fore mydday to the court ; and founde the kynge in his palays wyth his barons.
The kynge meruaylled whan he saw hym brynge
the male agayn, whiche was made of the beres skyn. The kynge saide, Saye on, Bellyn, fro whens come ye? where is the foxe ? how is it that he hath not the male with hym ? Bellyn sayd, My lord, I shal saye yow al that I know. I accompayned Reynard vnto his hows ; and whan he was redy ; he asked me yf that I wold for your saacke bere two lettres to yow. I saide for to do you playsir and worship, I wold gladly bere to yow vij: tho brought he to me this male, wherein the lettres be ; whiche ben endyted by my connyng, and I gaf counseyl of the makyng of them. I trowe ye sawe neuer lettres better, ne craftelyer made, ne endyted. The kynge commanded anon, Bokart his secretarye, to rede the lettres ; for he vnderstode al maner langages. Tybert the catte, and he, toke the male of Bellyns necke ; and Bellyn hath so ferre sayd, and confessyd; that he therfore was dampned.
The clerke Bokart undyde the male ; and drewe out Kywarts heed; and said, Alas! what lettres ben these? certaynly, my lord, this is Kywarts heed. Alas, sayde the kynge, that euer I beleuid so the foxe. There myght men see grete heuynesse of the kynge, and of
The kyng was so angry, that he helde longe doun his heed ; and atte last after many thoughtes he made a grete crye ; that alle the bestys were aferde of the noyse. Tho spack, Sir Firapeel, the lupaerd, whiche was sybbe somwhat to the kynge, and saide : Sire kyng, how make ye suche a noyse ; ye make sorow ynough thaugh the quene were deed. Late this sorowe goo ; and make good chere: it is grete shame ; be ye
not a lorde and kynge of this londe. Is it not alle vnder yow, that here is. The kynge sayde, Sir Firapeel, how shold I suffre this: one false shrewe and deceyuar hath betrayed me, and brought me so ferre, that have I forwrought, and angred my frendes, the stoute Bruyn the bere, and Y segrym the wulf; whiche sore me repenteth: and this goth ayenst my worship, thai I haue done amys ayenst my beste barons; and that I trusted and beleuid so moche the fals horeson the foxe; and my wyf is cause therof: she prayde me so moche, that I herde her prayer, and that me repenteth ; thaugh it be to late. What thawh, sir kyng, said the lupaerd, yf ther be ony thyng mysdon, it shal be amended: we shal gyue to Bruyn, the bere, to Y segrym the wulf, and to Erswyn his wyf, for the pece of his skynne, and for their shoes, for to haue good pees, Bellyn the ramme ; for he hath confessyd hym self, that he gaf counseyl, and consentyd to Kywardes deth ; it is reson, that he abye it. And we alle shal goo feeche Reynard and we shal areste hym, and hange hym by the necke, without lawe or jugement: and ther with alle shal be contente.
HOW BELLYN THE RAMME AND ALLE HIS LIGNAGE WERE GYVEN
IN THE HANDES OF YSEGRYM AND BRUYN,
AND HOW HE WAS SLAYN.
The kynge saide, I wil do it gladly. Firapeel, the lupaerd, wente tho to the pryson, and vnbonde them
firste: and thenne, he sayde, Ye sires, I brynge to you a faste pardon, and my lordes loue, and frendship; it repenteth hym, and is sory, that he euer hath don, spoken, or trespaced, ayenst you: and therfore ye shal haue a good appoyntement. And also amendes he shal gyue to you ; Bellyn the ramme, and alle his lignage, fro now forthon to domesdaye, in suche wyse that wheresomeuer ye fynde them in fele or in wode, that ye may frely byte, and ete them, wythout ony forfayte. And also the kynge graunteth to yow that ye maye hunte, and do the werst that ye can to Reynard, and alle his lygnage, wythoute mysdoyng. This fayr grete pryuelage wylle the kynge graunt to you, euer to holde of hym. And the kynge wille, that ye swere to hym, neuer to mysdoo, but doo hym homage, and feawte : I counseil yow to doo this ; for ye may doo it honorably
Thus was the pees made by Fyrapel, the lupaerd, frendly and wel. And that coste Bellyn the ramme his tabart, and also his lyf. And the wulfis lignage holde thise preuilegis of the kynge ; and in to thys daye, they deuoure and ete Bellyns lignage, where that they may fynde them. This debate was begonne in an euyl tyme ; for the pees coude neuer syth be made betwene them. The kynge dyde forthwyth his courte and feste, lengthe xij. dayes lenger for loue of the bere, and the wulf. So glad was he of the makyng
of the pees.