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And yf he come not hyther, er this feste be ended, and excuse hym, as he ought of right to doo, thenne doo as the counseyl shall aduyse yow. But and yf he were twyes as moche false and ylle as he is, I wolde not counseylle that he sholde be done to more than right.
Isegrym, the wulf, saide, Sir Fyrapal, all we agree to the same as ferre as it pleseth my lord the kynge, it can not be beter. But though Reynart were now here, and he cleryd hym of double as many playntes, yet shold I brynge forth ayenst him that he had forfayted his lyf; but I wyl now be stylle and say not, by cause he is not presente, and yet above alle this, he hath tolde the kynge of certayn tresure lyeng in Krekenpyt, in Hulsterlo. Ther was never lyed a greter lesyng, ther wyth he hath vs alle begyled, and hath sore hyndred me and the bere, I dar leye my lyf theron that he sayd not therof a trewe worde. Now robbeth he, and steleth vpon the heth, all that gooth forth by his hows. Neuertheles, Sir Firapel, what that pleseth the kynge and yow, that muste wel be don. But and yf he wolde haue comen hyther, he myght haue ben here, for he had knowleche by the kynge's messager.
The kynge sayde, We wyl none otherwyse sende for hym, but I commande alle them that owe me seruyse, and wylle my honour and worshippe, that they make them redy to the warre at the ende of vj. dayes; all them that ben archers, and haue bowes, gonnes, bombardes, horsemen, and footemen, that alle thise be redy to besiege Maleperduys; I shal destroye Reynart the
foxe yf I be a kynge. Ye lordes, and sires, what saye ye hereto? wille ye doo this wyth a good wyl ?
And they sayd and cryed alle, Ye, me lorde, whan that ye wylle, we shall alle goo with yow.
HOW GRYMBERT THE DASSE WARNED THE FOXE THAT THE
KYNGE WAS WROTI WITH HYM AND WOLD SLEE HYM.
ALLE thise wordes herde Grymbert the dasse, whiche was his brother sone; he was sory and angry yf it myght haue proufyted. He ranne thenne the hye way to Maleperduys ward, he spared nether busshe ne hawe, but he hasted so sore, that he swette. rowed in hym self, for Reynart his rede eme; and as he went he saide to hymself, Alas! in what daunger be ye comen in. Where shal ye become ? shal I see you brought fro lyf to deth, or elles exyled out of the lands? Truly I may be wel sorouful, for ye be the heed of alle our lygnage; ye be wyse of counseyl ; ye be redy to helpe your frendes whan they haue nede; ye can so wel shewe your resons, that where ye speke ye wynne alle. With suche maner wayllyng and pytous wordes cam Grymbert to Maleperduys, and fonde Reynart his eme there standyng, whiche had goten two pygeons, as they cam first out of her neste to assaye yf they coude flee, and bicause the fethers on her wyngis were to shorte, they fylle doun to the ground, and as Reynart was gon out to seche his mete, he espyed them, and caught hem, and was comen home with hem.
And whan he sawe Grymbert comyng, he taryd and said, Welcome, my best beloued neuew, that I knowe in al my kynrede, ye haue ronne faste, ye ben al be swette; haue ye ony newe tydings ? Alas, said he, Lyef eme it standeth euyl wyth yow. Ye haue loste both lyf and good. The kynge hath sworn that he shal gyue you a shameful deth ; he hath commanded alle his folke withyn vj dayes for to be here; archers, fotemen, horsemen, and peple in waynes. And he hath gunnes, bombardes, tentes, and pauyllyons. And also he hath do laaden torches. See to fore yow, for ye haue nede. Ysegrym and Bruyn ben better now wyth the kynge than I am wyth yow. Alle that they wille, is doon; Isegrym hath don him to vnderstande that ye be a theef, and a morderar: he hath grete enuye to yow. Lapreel the cony, and Corbant the roek haue made a grete complaynt also. I sorow moche for your lyf, that for drede I am alle seke.
Puf, said the foxe, dere neuew is ther nothyng ellis, be ye so sore aferd herof. Make good chere hardely. Though the kynge hym self and alle that ben in the court had sworn my deth, yet shal I be exalted above them alle. They may alle faste jangle, clatre, and geue counseyl, but the courte may not prospere weythoute me, and my wyles and subtylte.
HOW REYNART THE FOXE CAM ANOTHER TYME TO THE COURTE.
DERE neuew late all these thynges passe, and come
here in, and see what I shall gyue you, a good payre of fatte pygeons. I loue no mete better ; they ben good to dygeste. They may almost be swolowen in al hool, the bones ben half blode, I ete them wyth that other. I fele my self other whole encombred in my stomak, therefore ete I gladly lyght mete. My wyf Ermelyn shall receyue vs frendly. But telle her nothyng of this thynge ; for she sholde take it ouer heuyly : she is tendre of herte : she myght for fere falle in somme sekenes. A lytyl thynge gooth sore to ber herte ; and to morow erly I wil goo with you to the courte, and yf I may come to speche, and may
be herd, I shal so answere, that I shal touche somme nygh ynowh. Neuew, wyl not ye stande by me, as a frende ought to doo to another.
Yes truly dere eme, said Grymbert, and alle my good is at your commandement. God thanke you, neuew, said the foxe, that is wel said : yf I may lyue I shall quyte it yow. Eme, said Grymbert, ye may wel come to fore alle the lordes, and excuse yow; ther shal none areste yow, ne holde as longe as ye be in your
wordes. The quene and the lupaerd have gotenn that.
Then said the foxe, therfor I am glad. Thenne I carre not for the beste of the man heer. I shal wel saue my
self. They spake no more herof ; but wente forth in to the burgh ; and fonde Ermelyn there sittyng by her yonglyngs, whiche aroose up anon and receyuid them frendly. Grymbert salewed his ante and the chyldre wyth frendly wordes. Then ij pigeons were made ready for theyr soper, whiche Reynard had
taken : eche of them take his part as ferre as it wolde stratche. Yfeche of hem had had one more, ther sholde but lytyl haue ben lefte over. The foxe saide, Lief neuewe, how lyke ye my chyldren Rosel and Reynerdyn, they shal do worship to alle our lygnage. They begynne alredy to do wel. That one catcheth wel a chyken, and that other a pullet ; they conne wel also duke in the water after lapwynches and dokeys. I wolde ofte sende them for prouande, but I wil fyrst teche them how they shal kepe them fro the grynnes, fro the hunters, and fro the houndes. Yf they were so ferre comen that they were wyse,
durse wel truste to them, that they shold wel vytaylle vs in many good diuerses metes, that we now lacke. And they lyke and folowe me wel ; for they playe alle grymmyng, and where they hate, they loke frendly and meryly ; for therby, they brynge them under their feet, and byte the throte asondre. This is the nature of the foxe. They be swyfte in their takynge, whiche pleseth me wel. Eme, said Grymbert, ye may be glad that ye haue suche wyse chyldren. And I am glad of them also, bycause they be of my kynne. Grymbert, said the foxe, ye haue swethe and be wery, it were hye tyme that ye were at your reste. Eme, yf it plese you, it thynketh me good. Tho laye they down on a lytier made of strawe, the foxe, hys wyf and hys chyldren wente alle to slepe. But the foxe was al heuy, and laye, sighed, and sorowed, how he might beste excuse hymself.
On the morow erly, he ruymed his castel, and wente