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HOW THE KYNGE HELDE HIS FEESTE, AND HOW LAPREEL THE
CONY COMPLAYNED VNTO THE KYNGE VPON
REYNART THE FOXE.
To this grete feste cam al maner of bestis: for the kynge dyde to crye this feste ouer alle in that londe. Ther was the moste joye, and myrthe, that euer was seen emonge beestis. Ther was daunsed manerly the houe daunce with shalmouse, trompettis, and alle maner of menestraylsye. The kynge dyde do ordeyne, so moche mete, that euerych fonde ynough. And ther was no beest in al his lande so grete ne so lytyl but he was there: and ther were many fowles and byrdes also: and alle they that desired the kynges frendship were there, sauyng Reynard the foxe, the rede false pilgrym, whiche laye in a wayte to doo harme ; and thoughte it was not good for hym to be there. Mete and drinke flowed there. Ther weere playes, and esbatemens. The feest was ful of melodye. One myght haue luste to see suche a feeste ; and right as the feeste had dured viij dayes, a boute mydday, cam in the cony, Lapreel, to fore the kynge, where he satte on the table, with the quene ; and sayde, al heuyly, that all they herde hym that were there, My lorde, haue pyte on my complaynt, whiche is of grete force, and murdre, that Reynard the foxe wold haue don to me. Yester morow as I cam rennyng by his borugh at Maleperdhuys he stode byfore his dore without lyke a pylgryme. I supposed to haue passed by hym peasi
bly, toward this feste, and whan he sawe me come, he came ayenst me, sayeng his bedes ; I salewed hym; but he spack not one worde ; but he raught out his right foot and dubbed me in the necke betwene myn eeris, that I had wende I sholde haue loste
heed. But, God be thanked ! I was so lyght, that I sprange fro hym. Wyth moche payne cam I of his clawes. He grymmed, as he had ben angry, bycause he helde me no faster. Tho I escaped from hym, I loste myn one ere, and I had foure grete holes in my heed, of his sharpe nayles, that the blood sprange out ; and that I was nyhe al a swoun ; but for the grete fere of my lyf I sprange and ran so faste fro hym, that he coude not ouertake me. See my lord, thise grete woundes, that he hath made to me, with his sharpe long nayles. I praye you, to haue pite of me, and that
wil punysshe this false traytour, and morderar ; or ellis shal ther no man goo, and comen, ouer the heth in saefte, whyles he haunteth his false and shrewde rewle.
HOW CORBANT THE ROKE COMPLAYNED ON THE FOXE FOR THE
DETH OF HIS WYF.
Ryght as the cony had made an ende of his complant, cam in Corbant the roke, flowen in the place to fore the kynge; and sayde, Dere lorde, here me : I brynge you hier, a piteous complaynt: I wente to day by the morow wyth Sharpebek my wyf for to playe vpon the heth, and there laye Reynart the foxe doun
on the grounde, lyke a dede keytyf. His
eyen stared and his tonge henge longe out of his mouth, lyke an hounde had ben deed. We tasted and felte his bely, but we fonde theron no lyf. Tho wente my wyf and herkened, and leyde her ere to fore his mouth, for to wite yf he drewe his breeth: whiche mysfylle her euyl, for the false felle foxe awayted wel his tyme, and whan he sawe her so nygh hym, he caught her by the heed and boote it of.
Ther was I in grete sorowe ,and cryde lowde, Alas! alas ! what is there happed. Then stode he hastely vp, and raught so couetously after me, that for feere of deth I trembled and flewh vpon a tree therby, and sawe fro ferre how the false keytyf ete and slonked her in, so hungerly that he lefte neyther flessh ne bone, no more but a fewe fethers; the smal fethers he slange them in wyth the flessh: he was so hungry he wolde wel haue eten tweyne. Tho wente he his strete. Tho flewh I doun wyth grete sorow, and gadred up the fetheris for to shewe them to you here. I wolde not be agayn in suche peryl and fere as I was there, for a thousand marke of the fynest gold that ever came out of Arabye. My lord the kyng, see hier this pyteous werke, these ben the fetheres of Sharpbecke, my wyf. My lord, yf ye wil haue worship, ye muste do herfore justyce, and avenge you, in such wise as men may fere and holde of yow: for yf ye suffre thus your sauf conduyt to be broken, ye your self shal not goo peasibly in the hye way: for tho lordes that do not justyce, and suffre that the lawe be not executed vpon the theeuis,
merderars, and them that mysdoo, they be parteners to fore God, of alle theyr mysdedes and trespaces, and eueryche thenne wylle be a lord hym self. Dere lorde, see wel to for to kepe your
HOW THE KYNGE WAS SORE ANGRY OF THISE COMPLAYNTES.
NOBLE, the kyng was sore meuyd and angry whan he had herde thise complayntes of the cony, and of the roek. He was so ferdful to loke on, that his eyen glymmerd as fyre, he brayed as lowde as a bulle, in suche wise that alle the court quake for feere. At the laste he sayde, cryeng, By my crowne, and by the trouthe that I owe to my wyf, I shal so awreke and auenge this trespaces, that it shal be longe spoken of after that my sauf conduyt and my commandement is thus broken. I was ouer nyce that I beleiued so lyghtly the false shrewe. His false flateryng speche deceyved me. He tolde me he wolde go to Rome, and for thens ouer see to the Holy Londe. I gaf hym male and palster, and made of hym a pylgrym, and mente al trouth. O what false touches can he! How can he stuffe the sleue wyth flockes ! But this caused my wyf; it was al by her counseyl; I am not the fyrst that haue ben deceyued by wymmen's counseyl, by whiche many a grete hurte hath byfallen. I pray and comande alle them that hold of me, and desire my frendship, be they here, or where someuer they be, that they wyth theyr
coonseyl and dedes, helpe me tauenge this ouer grete trespaas, that we and owris may abyde in honour and worship, and this false theef in shame, that he no more trespace ayenst our saufgarde. I wil my sell, in my persone, helpe therto al that I
maye. Ysegrym the wulf, and Bruyn the bere, herde wel the kynges wordes, and hoped wel to be auengid on Reynard the foxe, but they durste not speke one word. The kynge was so sore meuyde that none durste wel speke. Atte laste the quene spak, Sire, Pour Dieu, ne croyes mye toutes choses que on vous dye, et ne jures pas legierment. A man of worship shold not lyghtly bileue, ne swere gretly, vnto the tyme he knewe the mater clerly; and also, we ought by right here that other partye speke; ther ben many that complayne on other, and ben in the defaute them self. Audi alteram partem ; here that other partye. I haue truly holden the foxe for good, and vpon that, that he mente no falshede, I helped hym that I myghte; but how somever it cometh or gooth, is he euyl or good, me thynketh for your worship, that ye sholde not procede ayenst hym ouer hastely, that were not good ne honeste; for he may not escape fro you. Ye maye prysone hym, or slee hym, he muste obeye your jugement.
Thenne saide Fyrapel, the lupaerd, My lord, me thynketh my lady here hath saide to you trouthe, and gyuen yow good counseyl, do ye wel and folowe her, and take aduyse of your wyse counseyl, and yf he be founden gylty in the trespaces that now to yow be shewd, late hym be sore punysshid accordyng to his trespaces.