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with Grymbert. But he toke leue first of dame Ermelyn his wyf, and of his chyldren, and sayde : Thynke not longe, I must goo to the court wyth Grymbert my cosyn; yf I tarye somewhat be not aferde ; and yf ye here ony ylle tydyngs, take it alway for the beste ; and see wel to your self, and kepe our castel wel. I shal doo yonder the beste I can, after that I see how it gooth.
Alas, Reyner, said she, how haue ye now thus taken vpon yow for to go to the court agayn. The last tyme that ye were there, ye were in grete jeopardye of your lyf: and ye sayde, ye wold neuer come there
Dame, said the foxe, Thauenture of the world is wonderly, it goth other whyle by wenyng. Many one weneth to have a thing whiche he must forgoo. I muste nedes now go thyder. Be content, it is al wythoute dreade ; I hope to come at al ther lengest within fyue dayes agayn.
Here wyth he departed, and wente with Grymbert to the court ward.
And when they were vpon the heeth, thenne sayde Reyner : Neuew, syth I was laste shryuen, I haue don many shrewde tornes. I wolde ye wold here me now, of alle that I have trespaced in. I made the bere to haue a grete wonde for the male whiche was cutte out of his skynne. And also, I made the wulf and his wyf to lese her shoon. I peased the kynge with grete lesyngis, and bare hym on honde that the wulf and the bere wold haue betrayed hym and wolde haue slayn him. So I made the kynge right wrath with them, where they deseruyd it not. Also, I tolde to
the kynge, that ther was grete tresour in Hulsterlo, of whiche he was neuer the better, ne richer, for I lyed al that I sayde. I ledde Bellyn the ramme, and Kywart the hare, with me, and slewe Kyward, and sente to the kynge, by Bellyn, Kywarts heed in skorn. And I dowed the cony bytwene his eers that almost I benaame his lyf from hym, for he escaped agenst my wyl : he was to me ouer swyft. The roeke may wel complayne, for I swolowed in dame Sharpbeck his wyf. And also, I haue forgoten on thyng, the laste tyme that I was shreuen to you, which I haue syth bethought me, and it was of grete deceyte that I dyde whiche I now wyll telle yow.
I cam wyth the wulf, walkynge bytwene Houthulst and Eluerdynage, there sawe we goo a rede mare ; and she had a black colte or a fool of iiij monethis olde, which
was good and fatte. Isegrym was almost storuen for hunger, and prayd me goo to the mare and wyte of her yf she wold selle her fool. I ran faste to the mare, and axed that of her. She sayd she wold selle it for money. I demanded of her how she wold selle it. She sayde it is wreton in my hyndre foot : yf ye conne rede, and be a clerk, ye may come see and rede it. Tho wyst I wel where she wold be, and I saide, Nay for sothe I can not rede ; and also I desyre not to bye your chylde. Isegrym hath sente me hether ; and wold fayn knowe the prys therof. The mare saide, Late hym come thenne hymself, and I shal late hym haue knowleche. I sayde, I shal, and hastely wente to Ysegrym and saide, Eme, wil ye etc
your bely ful of this colte ? so goo faste to the mare, for she taryeth after yow. She hath do wryte the pris of her colte vnder her fote, she wolde that I shold haue redde it ; but I can not one lettre, whiche me sore repenteth, for I wente neuer to scole. Eme, wylle ye bye that colte ? conne ye rede, so maye ye
Oy neuew, that can I wel, what sholde me lette; I can wel Frenshe, Latyn, Englissh and Duche ; I haue goon to scole at Oxenford. I haue also wyth olde and auncyent doctours, ben in the audyence, and herde plees, and also haue gyuen sentence. I am lycensyd in bothe lawes : what maner wrytyng that ony man can deuyse, I can rede it as perfyghtly as my name. I wyl goo to her, and shal anon vnderstonde the prys. And bad me to tarye for hym; and he ranne to the mare, and axed of her, how she wolde selle her fole, or kepe it.
She sayde the somme of the money standeth wreton after on my fote. He saide, late me rede it. She saide, Doo; and lyfte vp her foot whiche was newe shood wyth yron, and vj. stronge nayles, and she smote hym wythout myssyng on his heed, that he fyl doun as he had ben deed ; a man shold wel haue ryden a myle er he aroos.
The mare trotted a way wyth her colte, and she leet Isegrym lyeng shrewdly hurte, and wounded. He laye and bledde as an hound. I wente tho to hym and sayde, Sir Ysegrym, dere eme, how is it now wyth yow? Haue ye eten ynowh of the colte ? Is your bely
ful? Why gyue ye me no part? I dyde your erande. Haue ye slepte your dyner ? I pray yow telle me what was wreton vnder the mares fote, what was it, prose, or ryme, metre or verse, I wold fayn know it. I trowe it was cantum, for I herde you synge me thought fro ferre, for ye were so wyse, that no man coude rede it better than ye.
Alas, Reynart ! alas! said the wulf, I pray yow to leue your mockyng. I am so foule arayed, and sore hurte, that an herte of stone myght haue pyte of me. The mare wyth her longe legge had an yron foote, I wende the nayles therof had ben lettres, and she hytte me at the fyrst stroke vj. grete woundes in my heed, that almost it is clouen. Suche maner lettres shal I neuer more desire to rede.
Dere eme, is that trouthe that ye telle me? I haue herof grete meruaylle. I heelde you for one of the wysest clerkes that now lyue. Now I here wel, it is treue that I long syth haue redde and herde, that the beste clerkes ben not the wysest men. The laye peple otherwhyl wexe wyse. The cause that thise clerkes ben not the wysest, is that they studye so moche in the connyng and science, that they therin doole.
Thus brought I Isegrym in this grete laste and harme, that he vnneth byhelde his lyf. Lyef neuew, now haue I tolde you alle
my synnes that I remembre. What so euer falle at the court, I wote neuer how it shal stonde with me there. I am not now so sore aferd, for I am clere from synne, I wyl gladly come to mercy, and receyue penance by your counseyl.
Grymbert sayde, The trespaces ben grete, neuertheles who that is deed muste abide deed, and therfore I wyl forgyue it you altogydre, with the fere that ye shal suffre therfore, er ye shal conne excuse you of the deth ; and hier vpon I wyl assoylle you. But the moste hyndre that ye shal haue shal be that ye sente Kywart's heed to the court, and that ye blynded the kynge wyth suttle lyes. Eme, that was right euyl doon.
The foxe sayde, What lyef neuew? Who that wyl goo thurgh the world this to here, and that to see, and that other to telle, truly it may not clerly be done. How shold ony man handle hony, but yf he lycked his fyngres. I am oftymes rored and prycked in science as to loue God above all thynge, and myn euen Crysten as my self, as is to God wel acceptable, and accordyng to his lawe. But how wene ye that reson wythin forth fyghteth ayenst the outeward wylle, than stonde I alle stylle in my self, that me thynketh I haue loste alle my wittes, and wote not what me eyleth, I am thenne in suche a thought. I haue now alle lefte my synnes, and hate alle thynge that is not good, and clymme in hye contemplacion aboue his commandements; but this specyal grace haue I whan I am alone, but in a short whyle after, whan the warld cometh in me, thenne fynde I in my waye so many stones, and the fotespores that thyse loos prelates and riche preestys goo in, that I am anone taken agayn. Thenne cometh the world and wyl haue this ; and the flesshe wyl lyue plesantly, whiche leye to fore me so many thinges that I thenne lose alle my good thoughtis and