The Baldwin Library
i <\- i^T c
THE FOX MADE KNIGHT.
Frontispiece. page 173.
REYNARD THE FOX
THE CRAFTY COURTIER
IN WORDS OF ONE SYLLABLE
SAMUEL PHILLIPS DJY
WITH COLOURED ILLUSTRATIONS
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS
BROADWAY, LUDGATE HILL
GLASGOW AND NEW YORK
HOW THE LI-ON HELD A GREAT FEAST AT HIS COURT, AND HOW
IS-GRIM THE WOLF AND HIS WIFE, CUR-TISE THE HOUND, AND
CHAN-TI-CLEER THE COCK, TOLD THEIR TALES OF REY-NARD
THE FOX, AND WHAT THE KING SAID 9
How BRU-IN THE BEAR SPED WITH REY-NARD THE FOX 21
HOW THE KING SENT TI-BERT THE CAT FOR REY-NARD THE FOX 33
How GRIM-BARD THE BROCK WAS SENT TO CALL THE FOX TO COURT;
HOW THE FOX CAME TO THE COURT, AND HOW HE WAS TO DIE 41
How REY-NARD THE FOX SPOKE TO TIE KING OF HIS GREAT HOARD 55
How REY-NARD THE FOX, BY THE KING'S GRACE, GOT PRAISE
FROM ALL BEASTS, AND HOW HE TOOK OFF THE WOLF'S SHOES 67
HOw KAY-WARD THE HARE WAS SLAIN BY REY-NARD THE FOX,
AND HOW THE RAM BROUGHT THE NEWS TO THE KING 74
HOW THE BEAR AND WOLF GOT HOLD OF BEL-LIN THE RAM AND
HIS RACE; AND HOW FRESH PLAINTS WERE MADE OF THE FOX. 82
How GRIM-BARD THE BROCK MET AND SPOKE WITH REY-NARP
THE FOX 89
How REY-NARD THE FOX DID PLEAD HIS CAUSE IN THE KING'S
SIGHT, AND OF WHAT THE KING SAID TO HIM 98
How DAME RUKE-NAW DID PLEAD FOR THE FOX WITH THE KING,
AND OF WHAT SHE TOLD HIM .. IO7
How REY-NARD THE FOX MET THE CHARGE OF KAY-WARD'S
DEATH; AND HOW HE TOLD OF LOST GEMS 119
OF WHAT MORE REY-NARD THE FOX SAID TO THE KING; AND
HOW THE CHARGE OF KAY-WARD'S DEATH BROKE DOWN 131
How IS-GRIM THE WOLF ONCE MORE MADE PLAINT OF THE FOX;
AND OF REY-NARD'S PLEA 137
CHAPTER XV. PAGE
How THE WOLF SPOKE TO THE FOX, AND FLUNG HIS GLOVE AT
HIM; AND HOW REY-NARD TOOK UP THE GAGE 153
How THE FOX AND THE WOLF FOUGHT, AND HOW REY-NARD
WON THE BAY *161
HOW THE FOX GOT THE KING'S GRACE; AND HOW HE HAD A
HIGH POST IN THE STATE THRUST ON HIM 170
THE SHIFTS OF REYNARDINE.
How REY-NARD-INE LEFT MAL-E-PAR-DUS, LOST ALL HIS WEALTH,
AND HOW HE TOOK TO HEAL THE SICK 179
How REY-NARD-INE GAVE THE LEO-PARD A DRUG TO KILL HIM;
AND HOW HE GOT TO BE A THRALL TO THE LYNX 194
HOw REY-NARD-INE WAS THE MEANS OF THE LYNX'S DEATH 206
HOw REY-NARD-INE WAS CAUGHT AND PUT TO DEATH 214
THE rude but quaint apologue of "Reynard the
Fox is, perhaps, one of the most marvellous
books in any language. It appears to have been
originally written in old Dutch nearly six centuries
ago but who the author was is not known. In-
deed Germany, France, Belgium, and Holland
contend for the authorship. Few books have had
a wider circulation, or have been translated into so
The first English version was produced by the
celebrated Caxton in 1481, in the twenty-first year
of the reign of Edward IV., and is still one of
the greatest curiosities left us by our earliest typo-
grapher. It was made, some say, from the old
Dutch Reynaert die Vos," which was printed by
Cheraert de Leen; but it is more probable that
Caxton translated from a manuscript, of which there
were several extant. So rare and valuable is this
book that the last copy was exposed to public
auction, and brought the sum of One hundred and
eziglty-four founds sixteen shillings. An edition
corresponding with Caxton's was printed in the
year 1550. The only copy in existence is treasured
in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.
Socrates, it is said, turned into poetry the
renowned "Fables" of /Esop. The like has been
done with Reynard the Fox" by Goethe, who
gives us the force and spirit of the original work,
which he fitly terms a German Odyssey." The
oldest manuscript of this rare romance is in rhyme,
and is supposed to have been written in the
beginning of the thirteenth century. Of course, it
possesses great value from its antiquity, and is
safely deposited in the public library of Stuttgard.
The popularity of Reynard the Fox" at one
time was unbounded. Even good Churchmen were
more desirous of having representations from this
fable in their chambers than images of the saints
in their churches. Like what were called Miracle
Plays," the Procession Renert" used to be fre-
quently exhibited. Philip le Bel, to mortify Pope
Boniface VIII., with whom he was on ill terms,
caused this piece to be solemnly represented, in
which a "mummer" clothed in the skin of a fox,
over which was a priest's robes, performed mass,
and directly afterwards ran after and devoured the
While turning the book into words of one syllable,
I have endeavoured, as far as it was practicable, to
preserve the terseness of expression, the quaintness
of style, and the rustic colloquialisms, which are so
characteristic of Reynard the Fox." Although
specially meant for the young, the book is no less
intended for those of riper years, as showing how
rich in monosyllables is our noble English tongue-
which is destined to be the language of the civilised
world-and how such words can admit of being
artistically combined so as to convey ideas even
of a complicated nature with perspicacity and pre-
I think I cannot do better than close these
introductory remarks by reproducing (in modern
spelling) the final sentences which Caxton appends
to his edition:-
May it be by this book, that who that will
read this matter, though it be of japes and bourdes,
yet-he may find therein many a good wisdom
and learning, by which he may come to virtue
and worship. There is no good man blamed herein;
it is spoken generally. Let every man take his
own part as it belongeth and behoveth, and he
that findeth himself guilty in any dole or part thereof,
let him better and amend himself. And he that is
good, verily I pray God keep him therein. And if
anything be said or written herein, that may grieve
or displease any man, blame not me, but the Fox.
For they be his words and not mine."
S. P. D.
THE RARE ROMANCE
REYNARD THE FOX.
HOW THE LI-ON HELD A GREAT FEAST AT HIS COURT, AND HOW
IS-GRIM THE WOLF AND HIS WIFE, CUR-TISE THE HOUND, AND
CHAN-TI-CLEER THE COCK, TOLD THEIR TALES OF REY-NARD
THE FOX, AND WHAT THE KING SAID.
AT the time of a high feast, held in the
spring of the year, when hill and dell, wood
and wold, were gay and bright, when each
tree and shrub shone in green and white
bloom, when the fields wore a robe rich with
fresh and fair hues, and when birds sang
sweet songs as they sprang from bough to
bough, the Li-on, proud King of Beasts, made
up his mind to hold great court at his seat
of Sand-den. He had his will made known
through all his realm, and none of his liege
to The Rare Romance of
serfs were to stay at home if they did not
wish to risk the King's ire. Hence all beasts,
both great and small, came in crowds from
hill and dale and wood, to the King's leet.
But Rey-nard the Fox gave no heed to the
call. He had for long done such hurt and
harm to not a few beasts-some high in
rank-that he felt not quite safe should he
join the rest and face the King. Had he
done so, he must have thought his life of
no worth, which was not the case.
Now, when all the beasts from wold and
wood met in grave court in view of the King,
the Fox had but few friends. Each foe made
a charge, so that this sly rogue grew more
black in their thoughts. Of these, Is-grim
the Wolf was the chief. He had a train
of blood friends, who felt joy in his sight,
and proud of his speech to the King, which
was in this wise:-" My dread lord, most
low in mien, I urge and beg of you, great
as you are and good, that you will deign to
feel for the wrongs which that wretch the
Fox hath done to me, my wife, my cubs, and
our whole race. Know, if it please you, sire,
Reynard the Fox. 11
that he slunk to my house; when there, he
got in a rage, and while my young ones were
laid in their soft couch, so ill did he treat
them, that they lost their sight. When the
day came to hear the case, and the Fox was
put to the proof, so sure was he of his guilt,
that he ran and hid in his hole, in scorn of
your Crown and laws. Such, my dread lord,
is known to the chief beasts of your Court.
But this is not all. He hath done much
more to grieve and gall me; more than time
would let me tell, or you, sire, could hear.
I am loth to curb my just ire; I wish' him
to change his course; and I hope that you
will feel for me."
When Is-grim the Wolf had thus said
what he felt, a small Hound, Cur-tise, told
his tale to the King. He said that in a
cold time of the year, when the frost was
thick and keen, and no food was to be had
in the shape of prey, and, worst of all, with
naught but a piece of cake to keep life in
him, the Fox took it from him by stealth.
At once, and ere these words were well
out of the Hound's mouth, in sprang Ti-bert
12 The Rare Romance of
the Cat, with a face of fire. He fell down
in view of the King, and said :-" My lord, I
must own that the Fox is here made to seem
worse than he is. Were the bad deeds of
the whole tribe of beasts made known, each
one would find it hard to clear his breast
or put in a fair plea. As to what the Hound
said, the theft was done some years since,
and, though I do not mind it now, yet was
the cake mine, and not his; for I got it
one night from a mill, while the watch was
When the Lynx heard these words of the
Cat, he stood forth, and said :-"Do you
think, Ti-bert, it were just that the Fox
should not have his crimes brought home to
his door? Why, the whole world knows he
is a thief and sheds blood, and that he is
void of love for aught that has life. Nor
does the King share a place in his heart; for
he would let him lose rank and fame did he
but gain so much as the leg of a fat hen. I
shall just tell you what I saw him do but a
few hours since to Kay-ward the Hare, who
now stands in the King's sight. He told the
Reynard the Fox. 13
Hare he would teach him to sing a song;
so he made him sit down, twist his legs, and
shout out the words, 'I trust you I trust
you !' I heard the song as I got near to
the spot where they both were. When I
came more close to them I found the Fox
had left his first note, and was bent on his
old wiles. He had then caught the Hare,
with a firm grip, by the throat, and had I
not been near, his death was sure. Oh, good
King, if you fail to mete out pain for this
crime, let the Fox go free, and not put just
laws in force, each proud prince of your
house shall, in years to come, have to bear
the brunt of his vile deeds, which will bring
a blur on your fair shield."
"Ay, Sir Lynx," said the Wolf, "you say
true; it is but right that those who wish to
live in peace should be dealt with in a right
Then spoke Grim-bard the Brock (who
was near of kin to the Fox), warm with rage:
" Wolf, you are vile; for, to use a trite
phrase, 'He who has foul thoughts does not
speak well !' What can you lay to the
14 T/he Rare Romance of
charge of my friend? I wish ye would make
up your minds that which of you had done
the most wrong might be strung up as a
rogue! I tell you that were the Fox here in
Court, and as much in the King's good will
as you are, it would be your turn to sue for
grace. You have oft torn him with your
rank teeth-more oft than I can count; yet
I can call to mind some of your acts.
You well know how you did cheat him
with the plaice which he flung down from the
cart, when you shrank back through fear.
With greed you ate the fine fish, and gave
him but the bones that you had left. The
like you did with the fat flitch: you ate it up;
and when one of my clan did crave a share,
you spoke, in scorn,' Fair young man, thou
shalt have part.' Yet he got it not, though
he won the flitch with risk to his life, for he
was caught in a trap by the man whose it
was, and to get free was put to his wits' end.
These, and as grave wrongs, hath the Wolf
done to the Fox, and I pray the Court to
judge if such are to be borne.
Now comes Kay-ward the Hare with his
Reynard the Fox. 15
griefs, which to me seem of no weight; for,
if he will learn to read and get through his
task ill, who will blame him who guides the
dunce if he use the rod ? If they who go to
school be not whipt they will not learn.
Then, the last charge was made by Cur-
tise the Hound, who said that he, with great
toil, had found some cake late in the year,
when food was hard to get. I think he had
best have held his tongue, as he has shown
he stole it, for goods ill got do not thrive.
Who can blame the Fox for such an act?
He but took from a thief. It is meet that
he who knows the law should act up to it;
nay, did he kill the Hound, he did but trench
on the King's rights, out of a due love for
which he put not the law in force, though he
get no thanks for this. Pshaw! How do
these tales hurt him? My near and dear
friend comes of good blood, and is a true
Fox. Nor can I hear lies. Since the King
had peace made known through the land,
Rey-nard likes to hurt none, for he eats but
once a day, and lives like a monk. It is a
year since he ate flesh, as I am told by those
16 The Rare Romance of
who have but just left him. He has gone
from his fort, and now dwells in a mean
crib, far out of the way. He hath sworn
not to hunt; while his wealth he hath got
rid of in doits to the poor. He lives but by
alms, and the gifts of good men."
Ere the Brock (one of the Fox's clan)
had quite done his speech, they saw stout
Chan-ti-cleer the Cock strut down the hill
with a dead hen on a bier, who had lost
her head by a freak of the Fox. This head
was brought to the King.
The Cock went first. As if in deep grief,
he smote his feet with his wings. On each
side of the bier were two hens, sad of mien-
two of the best that could be found. Each
held a tall, bright wax light. Two young
hens bore the bier, who gave such vent to
their grief for the death of their dam, that
the hills gave forth the wild wail. When
they came in the King's sight, the Cock
knelt down, and spoke thus :
Great King, deign to hear our words,
and right the wrongs which the Fox hath
'done to me and to my chicks, who now stand
T-lE~ C'U~iK'JS ADU T U I:
Reynard the Fox. 17
here in tears. In the first spring month,
when the sky was fair, I was in the height
of my pride and glee, from the sense of my
high birth, and the joy of a sire who could
boast of a large stock, strong and fat. We
did strut to and fro in a yard made safe by
tall walls, where six stout dogs did guard us,
so that we had no cause for fear. But that
fiend the Fox did oft clear the walls, and
sneak his way to the yard, when the dogs
were let loose on him to drive him off. Once
they caught him and made him smoke for it,
as his skin did show, so that he kept off for
a long while. At length he came once more,
in the guise of a monk, and brought a note
with the King's seal on it. By this I learnt
that you, sire, had peace made known through
your Realm, so that no more wrong should
be done by beast or bird. 'Sir Chan-ti-cleer,'
he said, 'do not fear me from this time forth,
for I have made a vow not to eat flesh more.
I am now old, and think but of my end.'
He then went his way. At this I was most
glad, and did cluck my chicks to me, told
them the good news, and went out of the
18 The Rare Romance of
yard with them. But the false Fox, who
had hid by a bush, got in front of me and
the gate, and soon did pounce on one of my
young ones, and, to my great grief, ran off
with it; nay, so much doth he crave our
sweet flesh that the hounds and they who
hunt with them fail to scare him from us.
Night and day he lies in wait to seize us, so
that out of a brood close on a score, he has
left me but four. A few hours since she
who lies here dead was torn from his claws
by a pack of hounds. This, my lord, is my
sad tale; and I crave of you, the source of
might and right, to feel for me, and mete
out just pain for the death of my fair chicks."
Then spoke the King: Sir Grim-bard,
hear you this of one of your kin who apes
the monk? He did fast with some view, I'll
be bound. Now, heed what I say: if I live,
he shall rue it. As for you, Chan-ti-cleer,
your tale is heard, and what is just shall be
done. We will speak with our lords how
to right your wrongs, and how best to deal
with him who must own to the crimes you
lay to his charge."
Reynard the Fox. 19
Then they sang a dirge, laid the corpse in
the grave, and put on the top a stone slab,
smooth and sheen as glass, on which were
cut these words, in large form: Here lies
Chan-ti-cleer's child, Cop-pie, whom Rey-nard
the Fox hath slain. Mourn, ye who read
this; for her death was most swift and sad."
So the King sent for his lords of State,
to judge of the mode in which the vile
Fox should be dealt with. They all took
the same view of the case; and it was made
known that the Fox should come forth to the
Court, to say what he list to the grave charge,
and that Bru-in the Bear should serve him
with the King's writ.
When the King had the Bear brought to
him, Sir Bru-in," said he, "it is our will
that you take these words from us; yet have
great heed. The Fox is full of craft, and
knows how to fawn, put on a false face, and
trap you. He hath a fund of tricks, and
if you use not your wits, he will mock
you, though you be the most wise in the
"My liege," said the Bear, let me but
20 The Rare Romance of
get sight of the Fox. I am not quite such
a one as to be made his dupe, knave as
Thus, full of joy, the Bear set out, and
if he comes back in such high glee, we shall
hear how he will brag.
Reynard the Fox. 21
HOW BRU-IN THE BEAR SPED WITH REY-NARD THE FOX.
THE next day, as soon as the sun shone forth,
Bru-in the Bear set out in quest of Rey-nard
the Fox. He thought in his heart that he
was more than a match for this sly rogue.
As he went through a dark thick wood, where
Rey-nard had a path of his own to use in case
of need, he saw a high hill, which he must
needs climb to get to the house. Now
Rey-nard had not a few seats, but none
was so fine as this. While here he felt safe
and at his ease.
When Bru-in got to this fort, he found
the gates shut. Then did he knock hard
and shout with a will: Sir Rey-nard, are
you at home? I am Bru-in, one of your
own kin, whom the King hath sent to call
you to the Court to say aught that can be
said to the foul tales told of you. The King
hath made a vow that, should you fail to
heed his will, your life will not be safe, while
22 The Rare Romance of
you will lose your goods and good name to
boot. I pray then, my fair friend, that you
will this once be led by me, and go with me
to the Court."
Rey-nard, as was his wont, lay close by
the gate, to catch the sun's warmth. As he
heard these words he went and hid in one
of his holes, for, be it known, the place is
full of dank and dark rooms through which
he could pass, as through a maze, in case of
need. There he thought how he might hit
on a plot that would shame the Bear, whom
he knew bore him no good will, while it
would add to his own fame. At length he
came forth and said: Dear Bru-in, one of
my own kin, I do so much like to see you.
Pray do not take it ill of me that I did not
make more speed. He that hath sent you
this long and lone way hath done you no
good. Your toil and risk are far more than
the gain. Had you not come, I should of
my own free will have soon been at the Court;
yet am I glad that you are here, for at this
time your wise words may be of use to me.
But, my dear friend, could not the King have
Reynard the Fox 23
found one less high in rank for this slight
work? I wish for your sake we were both
now at the Court, for I fear I shall prove a
sore grief to you as I go on; sooth to say,
since I have not had flesh, the new meats
I felt loath to take have put me quite out of
My dear friend," said the Bear, "what
meat is this, pray, which makes you so ill ?"
"In truth," quoth the Fox, "what good
will it serve for you to know? It was mean
food, at the best; we poor folk are not lords,
as you well know; we eat not from choice,
while some eat to please their taste-it was
bees' comb, large and full, and so good, that
sheer want made me gulp it with greed."
"Ah I" said Bru-in, bees' comb And
do you speak in so light a way of this?
Why, it is meat fit for the best king in the
world. Fair Rey-nard, help me but to a
share, and whilst I live I will do as you list;
your slave will I be from this time forth."
Sure, my dear friend," quoth the Fox,
" you do but jest."
Jest I said the Bear, ill fare my heart,
24 The Rare Romance of
then, for I pledge my troth, that for one lick
of it you shall make me more in love with
you than all your clan."
Nay," said the Fox, if what you say
be true, I will bring you where so much is
to be had, that ten of you shall have more
than your fill."
"Not ten of us," said the Bear, "that is
not the case; for had I all such rare food
to be found from Greece to Spain, I could
in a short time eat it up. I need none to
Well, then, my dear friend," said the
Fox, "there dwells hard by a man who tills
the fields, whose name is Lan-fert. He owns
so much comb that you could not get through
it in eight years; and the whole of this shall
Bru-in, mad for the prize, made a vow that
for one good meal of it he would prove
Rey-nard's firm friend, and would stop the
mouths of all his foes. A smile sat on
the face of the Fox, as he knew he did but
gull the Bear, to whom he said, If you
want eight tons, my friend, you shall have it."
'I'ile BEAR .AND1' HE SWEETS.
Reynard the Fox. 25
These words made the Bear so glad that
he did laugh till he could not stand.
Well," thought the Fox, there is luck
in this; now I will lead him where he shall
laugh at the wrong side of his mouth."
Then said he, "Friend, we must lose no
time, and I will do for you that which I
would not for one more of my kin."
The Bear gave him meet thanks, and
so off they went, Bru-in full of faith in the
Fox that he would give him as much comb
as he could eat. At last they got to Lan-fert's
house, the mere sight of which made the
Bear's heart jump for joy.
Now Lan-fert was a hale, stout man, who
had skill in the use of the saw and plane.
He had brought to his yard a large oak,
which he cleft in twain, and then drove in
a wedge or two, so as to leave a wide gap.
At this the Fox was glad, and, with a
smile on his face, he said to the Bear:
"See now, dear friend, this stanch tree;
there is much sweet food hid in it. Try if
you can reach to where it lies. But take
care how you get to it, and do not eat too
26 The Rare Romance of
much; for, though the comb be rich and
good, yet too large a meal is bad, and may
hurt you, which I would not for the world.
No harm can come to you, but it must tend
to my loss of caste."
"Take no thought for me, my friend Rey-
nard," quoth the Bear; "do not think I am
such a fool as to let my wants tempt me to
glut my maw. I can set bounds to my
"It is true, my good friend; I was too
bold. I pray you get in, and you shall at
once find what you seek."
The Bear with all haste thrust his head
in the cleft right up to his neck. When the
Fox saw the scrape Bru-in was in, he drew
each wedge out of the tree, so that the Bear
could not stir an inch. Poor Bru-in then
tore with his claws, and made such a fierce
noise, that Lan-fert came out of his house,
with a sharp hook in his hand; whilst the
Bear, caught in the snare laid for him, did
roar and howl with all his strength. The
Fox, who was not far off, saw the man,
and said in jest to the Bear, Is the comb
Reynard the Fox. 27
good, my friend ? I pray you do not eat too
much. Nice things are apt to make one
sick, you know; and it may cause you to be
late for the Court, should you err in this
way; when Lan-fert comes he will give you
some drink to wash it down." When these
words were said, he set off for his own
As soon as Lan-fert found the Bear fast
in the tree, he ran to his friends, who came
with him to his yard ; For," said he, "a
Bear is fast caught there." When the fact
got known, all the folk of the town, young
and old, man and boy, maid and dame, came
in haste to the spot, some with goads, some
with rakes, some with staves, and some with
what they could first lay hands on. So large
a host put Bru-in in sore fright; and so
great was the stir and din, that he did pull
and drag with might and main, till he got
his head clear out, glad to get free with the
loss of his ears and skin. In sooth, a beast
so torn and foul could not be found; for the
blood stuck in grim clots on his face and
paws; and, shorn of skin and claws, he was
28 The Rare Romance of
a sad sight to gaze at-far more like a ghoul
than a Bear. So bad was he that he could
not stir, and to make things worse, both his
eyes were out.
While in this strait, Lan-fert and his
friends laid on him with hard thumps.
One and all fell on the poor beast. There
was Hough-lin with the bow legs, who held
a thick bat, and Lu-dolf with the long nose,
who had a steel rod; then there was Ber-tolf
with the long arms, and Bur-kin, and A-ble-
quack, and the Fri-ar with his staff, and Dame
Jul-lock. Lan-fert and tall Ot-tram hurt him
more than all the rest; the first with his
sharp hook, the last with his bent staff (at
the end of which was a load of lead), with
which he was wont to play at ball. All these
struck the Bear so hard that he could not
stand much more and live.
The poor Bear could but sit and groan as
he felt their blows, of which Lan-fert's were
the worst, till, as he woke from his swoon,
he gave a quick jump, which brought him in
the midst of a deep stream close by. To
gain the tide he had to clear the heads of a
Reynard the Fox. 29
group of old dames, some of whom, by the
force of the Bear's spring, got a cold bath for
their pains. One of these was Dame Jul-
lock. Then her spouse, when he saw how
she did float like a sea-gull, gave the Bear
no more thwacks, but cried out in dread-
"Help I Oh, help I Dame Jul-lock is in the
flood !" So soon as this cry was heard, all
left the Bear to help Dame Jul-lock out of
her scrape; while the Bear swam off as fast
as he could, full of joy that he had got free
with his life; yet did he curse, with warmth
of heart and strength of words, the comb
which did tempt, and the Fox who did lure
him with his glib tongue.
He swam some three miles down the
stream, and grew so faint, that he went on
the bank to rest; when, from loss of blood,
which ran down his cheeks, he gave dire
groans, as though his last hour had come.
In the mean-time, the Fox, in his route
home, stole a fat hen, and slunk through a
duct not known, that no one might see him;
and so he came down to the stream. He felt
quite gay, as he thought that the Bear was
30 The Rare Romance of
slain; which made him muse thus:" My
fate is as I could wish; for the worst foe 1
had in Court is dead, and all men will think
that my hands are free from blood." But as
he spoke these words he cast his eyes on the
flood, and spied Bru-in the Bear at rest on
the bank. This sight struck his heart with
grief, so he did rail at Lan-fert (he who
could use so well the saw and plane), and
said: Dull ass that thou art! what fool
would have lost such prime game, so fat,
and so fine to eat, and which was brought to
thy hand; no man but would have been
proud of the good luck that thou hast let
scape thee." In this way gave he vent to
his spleen, till he came to where the Bear
lay, then he said in a mock tone of voice-
I hope I see you well ?"
"Oh, thou foul red wretch!" quoth the
Bear, "what a face of brass is thine!"
But the Fox went on with his speech, and
Dear friend-a sept of my own-I trust
you will call to mind all the things that took
place at Lan-fert's, and that you paid for the
Reynard the Fox. 31
comb; if you did not, it will look bad, and
blast your fame; so to ward off so great an
ill, I will pay for it out of my own purse.
The comb was sweet, in troth, and I know
of a great deal more at the same price. But,
dear friend, what a strange sort of coif you
wear on your head; in fact, it is quite a new
style. Why, when you did shave your crown
you gave your ears a crop, too I and you have
lost the tuft off your head; and you have
no gloves I Fie, my friend you should not
go out with bare hands; it does not suit
one of your rank. They tell me you can
sing 'Stay thine hand' with much zest."
These taunts made Bru-in mad with rage.
As soon as he could move, the Bear once
more sought the stream and swam to the far
side, where he thought how best he could
get to the Court. He could not walk, but he
must needs go; so at last, through dint of
sheer will, he lay down on his side and did
roll on the road. By this means he made
now half a mile, and then half a mile; so
that in the end he found his way to the
Court. As he came in view, the lords were
32 The Rare Romance of
struck with the strange sight, and the no less
strange mode in which he went on his way.
When the King knew him he grew wild
"It is," quoth he, "Sir Bru-in, whom I
sent forth from this Court. What vile foes
have put you in this plight ?"
Oh, my dread liege," said Bru-in, "see
how I am at death's door; I pray you,
blame the Fox for this; for shame and grief
have come to me through him."
Then," quoth the King, by my Crown,
I swear I will sate my ire, and make that
base imp quake."
At once the King sent for his best lords
of State to learn in what way they should act
in the case of the Fox. It was then thought
that once more Rey-nard should be sent for
to put in a plea, and that this time, Ti-bert
the Cat-a knight so grave and wise-should
make known the Court's will. At this the
King was right glad at heart.
Reynard the Fox. 33
HOW THE KING SENT TI-BERT THE CAT FOR REY-NARD THE FOX.
THEN the King sent for Sir Ti-bert the Cat,
to whom he thus spoke:-" Sir Ti-bert, you
shall go to Rey-nard, and urge him once more
to haste and let the Court hear what he has
got to say; it may be that he is not so bad as
he seems. Let him know that if he fail in
this I will treat him and his kin in such a
way that, for all time to come, they who would
scorn my will, and do such deeds as are laid
to his charge, will fear to take the risk."
Then said Ti-bert the Cat: I pray you,
my liege lord, send some one of more weight.
I am small and weak, and if Sir Bru-in, who
is so strong and great, could not bring him,
how can I hope to do so?"
To which the King said: It is for that
you are wise, and not for your strength, Sir
Ti-bert, that I thus make use of you. Art
and skill may hit a mark, while rude strength
would strive in vain to reach it."
34 The Rare Romance of
"Well," said the Cat, "since it is your
will, sire, it must be done; I pray my luck may
not be so bad as my faint heart doth fear."
So Ti-bert made haste and set out for the
house of the Fox. While on his way he saw
a crow in full flight near to him, to whom he
spoke: Hail, grave bird; turn thy wings
and fly on my right hand." But the bird
took the wrong course, and flew on the left
side. At this the Cat grew sad, for he was a
seer, and could tell of things to come by the
flight of birds. Though he well knew that
the sign meant no good, still did he hope
for the best, and went on to the house, where
he found the Fox on his legs right in front
of the gates which led to the fort.
Health to thee, my dear friend Rey-nard,"
said Ti-bert; "the King, by me, calls you
hence to Court; and if you fail, or make slow
speed, a sharp and quick death must, of a
truth, be yours."
Then said the Fox: Right glad am I to
see you here, dear Ti-bert, who art one of my
own kin; your wish shall be my will, and
may the King have long life, and days of
Reynard the Fox. 35
bliss void of pain! Let me beg of you to
rest with me this night, and take such cheer
as my house can give; in the morn, as soon
as you like to start, we will both set out for
the Court. A few days since I had with me
that shrewd knight, Sir Bru-in the Bear, who
did look on me in so cruel a way that I should
not, for the wealth of the world, risk my life
with him; but, my dear Ti-bert, with you I
would go, had I a host of ills."
Quoth Ti-bert, "You speak like a brave
knight, as thou art; but I think it best to
set out now, for the moon shines as bright
Nay, dear guest," said the Fox, "let us
take day for our route; the night is full of
risk, and gives me cause for dread."
"Well," said the Cat, "if such be your
will, let it be so: what shall we eat?"
Rey-nard said, Of a truth my store is
small; the best I have is some bees' comb,
both good and sweet; what think you of
Quoth Ti-bert, "It is meat not much to
my mind, which I eat but at rare times. One
36 The Rare Romance of
mouse would be more to me than all the
comb the globe could yield."
"A mouse!" said Rey-nard: "Why, my
dear friend, there dwells a .man hard by who
hath a barn near his grange so full of mice
that I think half the wains in the town would
not hold them."
Oh, good Rey-nard," quoth the Cat, do
but lead me there, and make me your slave
from this time forth."
"Why," said the Fox, do you love mice
so much as all that ?"
More than I can tell," said Ti-bert.
"A mouse is more to me than game, or the
best dish laid for kings. Do lead the way,
and tell me how I can serve you. Had you
slain my sire, my dam, and all my kin, I
would bear you no ill will."
Then said Rey-nard, "Sure you do but
No, by my life," said the Cat.
"Well, then," quoth the Fox, "if what
you say be true, which I doubt not, I will
give you as much as you can eat."
It is not so," said the Cat.
Reynard the Fox. 37
"Come with me, then," quoth the Fox,
"and I will lead you at once to the spot."
Thus off they went in full speed to the
barn (which had a mud wall for a fence),
where but a night since the Fox had made off
with a fat hen. This theft put the man who
kept the barn in a rage, so that he had set a
snare in front of the hole to catch the Fox
when next he came. This the Fox well knew,
and hence he said to the Cat, Sir Ti-bert,
creep in at this hole, and it shall not be long
ere you clutch more mice than you can eat.
Hark! you may hear how they squeak; when
you can eat no more, come when you list. I
will wait for you at this hole, and at break of
day both of us will go to the Court. But,
good Ti-bert, stay not too long, for I know
my wife doth think I shall be back soon."
Then said the Cat, "Will it be safe for
me to go in at this hole?"
"Why, my dear friend," said the Fox, I
have not seen you show fear till now. You
start at your own thoughts."
At this taunt the Cat felt shame, when he
spring in at the hole, but was at once caught
38 The Rare Romance of
by the neck. He tried in vain to get free,
and when he gave a leap back the noose ran
close, and he could not well gain breath,
which made him whine and shriek for help.
Rey-nard stood in front of the hole, and heard
all; he was glad and full of joy, and thus did
mock his poor dupe: My own dear Ti-bert,
do you love mice? I hope, for your sake,
they will be well fed. If the wight who
owns the barn knew how you did feast, he
would bring you sauce at once. I think you
sing at your meat. Is that what they do at
Court ? If it be so, I would Is-grim the Wolf
were close to you, that all my friends may
feast at the same time."
All this while the poor Cat was fast
bound, and did mew in so shrill and loud a
tone, as to wake the man of the house, who
made all those in the grange jump out of
bed by his cries of The Fox is caught! the
Fox is caught !" Then he got up, gave his
wife a lamp to light, and came first to Ti-bert,
whom he smote with a thick stick. All his
kin were soon at the spot, so that the Cat got
smart blows. At length Sir Ti-bert thought
Reynard the Fox. 39
his death was nigh, so at a bound he sprang
on the man, and stuck his teeth and claws
fast and deep in his foe, which made him
roar for aid. When his wife heard his cries,
she too did call on her son Mar-tin to come
All this time Rey-nard stood not far from
the hole, and saw and heard all that went on,
which made him laugh till he well nigh burst.
But the poor man fell down in a swoon, so
that each one left the Cat to give him aid.
The Fox now slunk off, and went home
to his house, as he thought the Cat was
past all hope. But Ti-bert, when he saw his
fierce foes had left him, made good use of his
time and sprang out of the hole, when he
went on, in just the same way as the Bear, to
the King's Court.
Ere he got to the Court the sun had sunk
in the sky, and the hour was late. He came
in so sad a plight, that his flesh was soft, his
bones were out of place, one of his eyes was
gone, and his skin was torn.
When the King saw Ti-bert in such a state
of grime and gore, he got in a great rage, and
40 The Rare Romance of
once more spoke with the lords of his Court
as to how the Fox should be dealt with for
the crimes laid to his charge.
While the Court sat, Grim-bard the Brock,
Reynard's near of kin, spoke thus: My
good lords, though my friend were twice as
bad as these plaints make him, there is a cure
for such ills: it is fit you do what is just to a
beast of rank; he must have a call three
times, and then, if he spurn it, let his peers
rule that what has been laid to his charge is
Then the King did ask of the Brock,
"Whom he thought the best knight to put
the law in force, or who would be so bold as
to risk his life with one so vile as the Fox ?"
My liege," said Grim-bard, "if it please
you, I am that bold and brave man who dare
let my sly friend the Fox know the King's
will, if you but tell me that such is your
Reynard the Fox. 41
HOW GRIM-BARD THE BROCK WAS SENT TO CALL THE FOX TO
COURT; HOW THE FOX CAME TO THE COURT, AND HOW HE
WAS TO DIE.
THEN said the King, Go, Grim-bard, for
such is my will; yet take heed of Rey-nard,
for he is sharp and sly."
When the Brock gave the King due
thanks, he took his leave, and went straight
to the house of the Fox, where he found
Rey-nard and Er-me-line his wife at play
with their whelps. He first did greet his
aunt and her spouse, and then said: "Take
heed, fair friend, that you cause not the
crimes laid to your charge to do you more
wrong by the way you act; it is high time
that you go to Court, as to spurn the
King's call in this way will make it worse
for you in the end. Not a few plaints are
made of you, and this is the third call you
have had. Your own good sense must tell
you that if you act in the like way once more,
there is left to you and yours not a ray of
42 The Rare Romance of
hope; for, in less than three days, your fort
will be blown down, your kin made slaves,
and you will meet with a dread death, so as to
warn those who plot bad deeds of what their
fate would be. I pray you, then, my dear
good friend, to act in a wise way, as is your
wont, and go at once with me to the Court."
Rey-nard felt the force of these words, and
said: My best friend, you speak the truth.
I will go with you; not to say aught as to
the crimes laid on my head, but that I know
the Court stands in need of my help. If I
but speak with the King I feel sure he will
not hurt me, though my crimes were ten times
more than they are, for the Court wants my
aid; it durst not stand if it shirks me, and
that the King shall know ere long. That I
have a host of foes there is no doubt; yet
it grieves me not, for I shall prove that I
am free from taint, and so balk their plot
to crush me. In high points of State craft,
Rey-nard is more than a match for those who
wish him ill. I left the Court, as some felt I
had too much weight there, for I was not low
in the King's thoughts, Now, I dread not the
Reynard the Fox. 43
worst their weak minds can hatch, though a
host of foes may do one harm. Still, my
friend, I will go with you to the Court, and
not risk that my wife and young ones should
come to grief. The King is great, and though
he do me wrong, yet will I bear it like a
Then said Rey-nard to his wife, "Take
care of our young ones, most of all of my
dear boy, Rey-ni-kin, for he hath much of
my love, and will, I trust, walk in my steps.
Ros-sell, too, is a boy in whom I have high
hope, and I love him well. Take you great
care of them; and if I come back safe and
sound, and a free man, doubt not but that
I shall bear in mind what you have done."
When he took leave, Er-me-line wept, and
their brood set up a wild howl, for their lord
and sire had gone, and the house was left
with none to guard it.
When Rey-nard and Grim-bard had gone
a good way from the fort, Rey-nard came
to a dead halt, and thus spoke to his guide :
" Dear friend, blame me not if my heart be
full of care, for I feel as if my life were
44 The Rare Romance of
not safe. I have done much wrong to all
beasts; more still to Bru-in, who comes of
the same stock. Through my means he was
made black and blue from blows; Ti-bert
the Cat I had caught in a snare, and it
is no fault of mine that he is not dead.
I have done grave harm to Chan-ti-cleer
and his large brood, on some of whom I
did feast well; nay, the King and Queen,
through my glib tongue, have been hurt, for
I have told lies of them. But this is not
all. Is-grim, the Wolf, I got caught in a
snare, and spoke to him as if he was one
of my own kin, though not a drop of his
blood runs in my veins. I have made him
tie his foot to the rope of a bell to teach
him to ring, as it were; but the peal had
well 'nigh cost him his life, so ill did the
mob of the town treat him. Then I taught
him to catch fish; but for this, too, he got
thwacks so hard that he feels the stripes to
this day. Once I led him to steal a ham at
a priest's house, where he did gorge so that
he could not get out where he got in, when
I set all the folk of the place on him. Next
Reynard the Fox. 45
I ran to where a squire was at lunch, who
had a plump fowl on his plate. This I took
hold of and made off with as fast as my legs
would let me, while the squire ran to seize
the thief, and cried out in a gruff voice the
while, 'Kill the fox! kill the fox!' All
the folk came in his wake, when I led them
to the spot where Is-grim was. There, though
I did not will it, I let the fowl drop, and
then sprang to a hole and got out of harm's
way. When the squire saw Is-grim he
cried out, 'Strike, friends, strike I here is the
wolf, see that he does not get free.' Then
the crowd came with clubs and staves, and
gave the Wolf sound blows, so that he fell
down as if he were dead, when they took
him by the heels and flung him in a ditch,
where he lay all night; but how he got thence
I trow not. Then I led him to a place where
I told him he would find eight cocks and
hens set on a perch, all hale and fat. Hard
by the barn stood a trap, to which we got by
dint of pains. I told him if he could creep
in at that door he would find the fowls.
Then Is-grim gave a loud laugh, made his
46 The Rare Romance of
way to the door, just thrust his head in, and
when he did grope for a while, said, 'Rey-
nard, you mock me, for I find naught.'
'Then,' quoth I, 'my own near of kin, they
have gone in a short way; those which were
wont to perch there I did eat some time since.'
At this the Wolf made a stride, when I gave
him a push which threw him down; his fall
made such a noise, that those who slept in the
house woke up, and when they found who
was the cause of the din, they beat him till
he was half dead. Thus, through me, the
Wolf has had great risks of his life, more
than I can now call to mind. I will say more
by and by. And now as I have told you
most of my bad deeds, say what I can do to
be set right in the world's sight, and to purge
my own soul."
Now Grim-bard was wise, and knew much
lore. He tore a branch from a tree and said :
My dear Rey-nard, you shall three times
strike your body with this rod, then lay it
on the ground and jump three times clear
of it, but you must not bend your legs or
fall; then shall you take it up and kiss it
THE FOX ON HIS WAY TO COURT,
Reynard the Fox. 47
in a mild way, to show how meek you are;
which done, all your faults shall be thought
of no more, and you shall be clear of them."
At this the Fox was glad, and then Grim-bard
said to him, See that from this time forth
you give up your bad ways, your theft, and
your plans to break up the State."
The Fox said he would do this, and so
they went off to the Court.
But as they sped on their course they
came to a spot where stood a house for nuns,
a short way from the road. Close by the
wall a lot of geese and fowl fed; and as both
beasts gave free scope to their tongues, the
Fox led Grim-bard out of the right path to
that place. When Rey-nard found that a fat
young hen had left the rest of the flock, he
sprang and caught her by the wings, but the
fowl got free. Grim-bard saw this, and said,
"You wretch of a beast, how weak of will
you are! I dare not trust you more! What
is it you mean? For such a poor prize you
would spoil all you have done." To which
the Fox said, "I pray you heed not this act
of mine, for I scarce knew what I did. I
48 The Rare Romance of
will take care now, and not let my eyes rove
in quest of prey."
Then they went past a small bridge, but
the Fox still set his eyes on the fowl; nor
could he well help it, for what was bred
in his bones still came out in his flesh.
But the Brock could not curb his ire, and
so he said, Fie, you play false with me.
Why do you still turn such a sly eye on
the fowl ?"
Quoth the Fox, My dear friend, you do
me wrong, and know not what I mean. I
but thought with grief of the times I have
made a rich feast of the like good things."
"Well," said Grim-bard, "it may be so;
but each wild glance of yours makes me
think you fool me to the top of my bent."
Now by this time they had got on the
main road, and soon came in sight of the
Court; which as soon as the Fox saw his
heart smote him, for he well knew how black
and stark were his crimes.
When it was known that Rey-nard the
Fox, who was in Grim-bard's keep, was near
the Court, all those to whom he had done
Reynard hke Fox. 49
wrong made haste to charge him with
his foul deeds. Rey-nard's heart beat high,
but he strove to keep a calm face. His
walk was light and proud, so as to lead one
to think he was the King's son, and quite
free from taint. When he came in front of
the chair of State, in which the King sat, he
thus spoke: My liege, may your fame spread
to the ends of the earth, and no king have
such might as thou dost wield. I have been,
and still am, true to you, and so will die.
But, my lord, I know there are some at this
Court who seek my life. They try, sire, to
gain your ear; but you scorn their mean spite.
In these days the courts of kings have tools
who fawn, as well as fools who cause mirth;
yet, with you it is not so, nor shall they
reap aught but shame for their pains."
But the King cut short his speech, and
said, Peace, wretch Rey-nard, I know you
well; but your craft and your soft words shall
both fail you now. Think you, can I be
caught by thy bland tones? Not this time,
at least. Thou black fiend, with what face
canst thou say that you love me, when I see
50 The Rare Romance of
proofs of thy lies in all those poor beasts,
whose wounds yet gape at thee?"
My dread lord," said the Fox, if Bru-in's
crown be grim with gore, am I the cause?
If he would not do your will, but wait to
filch comb from a grange, where he got his
wounds, how am I to blame ? If so, why did
he not smite me at the time, and not wait for
the law to do it? He is strong, while I am
weak. As for Ti-bert the Cat, whom I met as a
friend, if he, by no force on my part, seek out
barns to catch mice, and there lose his eyes, is
this a fault of mine? Oh! my dread liege, you
will do what you list, plead as I might, yet will
I bear that death to which you may doom me."
As he thus spoke, Bel-lin the Ram came
forth, and his Ewe, Ose-way, to ask the King
to hear their charge. With them came Bru-in
the Bear, and all his kin; and Ti-bert the Cat,
Kay-ward the Hare, and Bru-el the Goose, and
Bald-win the Ass, and Bor-tel the Bull, and
Ham-mel the Ox, and the Lynx, the Boar,
and the Cam-el, the Colt, the Kid, and the
Wea-sel, and Chan-ti-cleer the Cock, and
Part-let his Hen, with the whole of her brood.
Reynard the Fox. 51
All these cried out with one voice, that the
Fox hath done them great hurt and harm,
which so smote the King's heart, that the
Fox was brought to the bar to hear what he
had to say why the law should not be put in
force. Yet, though the Fox made a speech
full of art and tact, which made the law lords
stare, the proofs were so strong, and his foes
so great, that he might as well have held his
peace. The Court said that he should hang
by the neck till he was dead.
When he heard his doom he hung down
his head; while Grim-bard the Brock, and
those of his near kin, who could not bear to
see him die, took leave of the King, and
went off with sad hearts and wet eyes.
As soon as the King saw that a host of
brave hearts had left the Court so full of grief,
he said in his own mind, "It needs that I
take great heed how I act; though Rey-nard
hath faults, he hath some good in him, and
his friends are not few; it is best to be wise
than too brave."
While the King thought thus, the Cat
said to the Bear-
g2 The Rare Romance of
"Sir Bru-in, and you, Sir Is-grim, why are
you so slow? Night is near, and the law is
not yet put in force. The rogue may steal a
a march on us; and, if so, as there is more
than one close hedge hard by, with all our art
we shall not catch him. If you mean to hang
him, do so at once, for it will be dark night
ere the tree is set up."
Is-grim said, "The means are nigh at
hand." And with that he gave a deep sigh.
The Cat took note of this and said: Do
you then fear the work, Sir Is-grim, or is the
task not quite to your mind ? But think it was
through the Fox that the sons of your own
sire met with the same fate. Now, if you have
one grain of sense left, you would hang him
for that, and not stand and waste your time."
Quoth Is-grim, in a gruff tone, "Your
spleen clouds your mind as a fog shuts out
the sun. If we had but a rope that would
fit his neck we would soon get rid of him."
Rey-nard, who for some time spoke not a
word, now let loose his lips.
"I pray you," said he, "let my pain be
short. Sir Ti-bert hath a strong cord, which
Reynard the Fox. 53
did well nigh choke him at the monk's house.
He can climb well, too. Let him hang me,
for it is not right in Is-grim or Bru-in to act
thus with one so near of kin to them. Bru-in,
go on and lead the way; Is-grim, you can
make up the rear."
You say well," quoth Bru-in.
So they went forth as a guard, while the
Fox was held by the neck. When Rey-nard
felt their grasp he shook with fear. "Yet,"
said he, "why do you, who are of my own
kith and kin, try so hard to do me harm?
Well I know that if Is-grim's wife, my aunt,
knew of my plight, she would not, for the
sake of the love she bore me of old, see me
led in this vile way. But I am the slave of
your will, and can bear your worst acts. As
for Bru-in and Ti-bert, they will yet grieve for
this. I know the worst. Death can come
but once. I saw my sire die, and he went off
fast; hence I fear not death."
So Is-grim and Bru-in, one on each side,
led the Fox to the rack, while Ti-bert, to
whom he had done much wrong, ran in front
with the rope. When they came to the set
54 The Rare Romance of
place, the King and Queen, and all the high
lords took their seats to see the Fox die.
Then Rey-nard, full of grief, thought how
he might get off, and in what way to bring
the King to his side, so he did muse thus:-
" Though the King and the chief knights
hate me, as they ought, for I have not sought
to gain their good will, still I hope to live
to be their best friend." While his thoughts
ran in this strain, the Wolf said, Sir Bru-in,
now bear your wrongs in mind. Let what is
just be done, for the day we both long for has
come. Ti-bert, mount you in haste, bring the
rope to the tree, and see that the noose will run,
for this hour you shall have your will of our
joint foe. And now, good Sir Bru-in, take
heed lest he get off, whilst I raise these steps."
When all things were got right the Fox
said:-" My dread lord the King, and you,
my liege Queen, and you, my lords, who come
to see me die, I pray now grant me this boon,
that I might make bare my heart, and clear
my breast, so that in years hence no man
can blame me for my faults; which done, my
death will be one of ease and peace."
Reynard the Fox. 55
HOW REY-NARD THE FOX SPOKE TO THE KING OF HIS GREAT
ALL the beasts now felt grief that the Fox
was in so dire a scrape, so they did pray the
King to grant him his wish. This was done,
and then the Fox spoke :
"I see no one here to whom I have not
done wrong of some sort; yet I was not born
with this bad trait. In my youth I was
thought mild and coy. I staid with the
lambs all the day long, and was glad to
course on green meads with them, and to
hear them bleat. But whilst in my play I
bit one, and the taste of the blood was so
sweet that I still crave it. This greed drew
me to woods where I found goats, when I
slew a kid, which made me so bold that I
went from bad to worse, and took the lives of
geese, hens, and what I could clutch; for all
was fish that came to my net. Once, late in
the year, I met with Is-grim, as he lay hid in
the trunk of an old tree, when he told me we
56 The Rare Romance of
were bound by ties of blood, and did trace
my race in so plain a way that we were firm
friends from that time forth, which I may
well rue to this day, for then we set out to
steal and take life. He stole the great things;
I, the small. He took the life of knights; I,
those of mean state; but, in all our joint
acts, he had the chief part. When he got a
sheep or a calf, his greed was so great that he
would scarce give me the bones to pick; nay,
when he had an ox or a cow, not till his wife
and whole brood-and he had one for each
day of the week-had their fill would he
think of me, and then the bare bones but fell
to my share 1 This I say, not that I was in
want, for it is well known I have more plate,
gems, and coin, than half a score carts would
hold, but just to show how he dealt with me,
and what a bad heart is his."
When the King heard him speak of his
hoard, his pulse beat quick, and he said, Rey-
nard, where is that vast wealth of yours?"
To which the Fox said, My lord, I am
proud to tell you. True it is I stole the
hoard; but, were it not for this, it had cost
Reynard the Fox. 57
you your life, which I pray, for the sake of
your Realm, may long be safe."
When the Queen heard this, she shook
with fright, and said, "What is that you
speak of, Rey-nard?"
The Fox, with a face full of grief, then
said, O, my liege Queen, how glad would I
be to die now if you would but spare me this,
for the tears of those who love me would drop
on my bier. But, good Queen, I will make a
clean breast of it, and breathe not a word but
what I can prove. It is true the King would
have lost his life by those he rules, some of
them my own kin, and whom I feel loath to
charge with so foul a crime, did not my love
for the Throne urge it. The weal of the
State is more dear to me than the strong
ties of blood."
The King grew grave at the news of this
plot, and said, Can what you state be true?"
Quoth the Fox, "Ah, my dread lord, you
see how I stand, and that there is not much
sand left to run in my poor glass; think you,
can I lie?" And then a sad shade came on
his face, so that the Queen felt for his state,
58 The Rare Romance of
and by her wish the King made all the beasts
hold their peace till the Fox told all he knew.
Then spoke he in this wise:-
May it please my liege, I will let you
hear the whole plot, and I trust you will not
spare one of those who got it up. Know,
then, my lord, that my sire, by a stroke of
luck, while at work on his farm, found King
Er-men-rich's hoard-a large mass of wealth.
When he got this, he grew so proud that he
held in scorn all the beasts of the woods who,
up to that time, were his close friends. At
length he sent Ti-bert the Cat to the woods of
Ar-denne to see Bru-in the Bear, who was told
how my sire did love him well, and would
make him king. Bru-in said he would wear
the crown if he got it, and with this view
came to Flan-ders, where he did feast like a
prince; then he sent Grim-bard, who is of
my own stock, for Is-grim the Wolf, and for
Ti-bert the Cat, and these five went to a place
near Ghent, where they spoke of their scheme
for the space of a whole night. There and
then (from the fact of my sire's wealth) a plan
was laid to slay the King, place Bru-in in the
Reynard the Fox. 59
chair of state at Aix-la-Cha-pelle, and to set
the crown on his head; and that, should your
heirs and Court help you to hold your rights,
then my sire should hire a troop of slaves to
drive them out of the woods.
Now for a strange tale. Once my friend
Grim-bard drank too much wine, when he told
this foul plot to dame Slo-pard his wife; but
on her life she was not to let it pass her lips.
But she told it, as a firm friend, to my wife;
who, like all her frail sex, as soon as she met
with me let the cat out of the bag, but made
me vow I should keep it hid, for she had
sworn by the Three Kings of Co-logne, not to
let a soul know of it. My heart now was like
lead, cold and dull in my breast. I brought
to mind the tale of the frogs, who, while free
from the yoke of kings, did pray to Ju-pi-ter
for one to rule them, and he sent them a
stork which did eat and plague them so that
they once more sought his help. But it was
too late; for such as do not like to be free
must not mourn if they are made slaves.
Then, thought I, such might be the case
with us. I felt grief for the King, though
60 The Rare Romance of
it was of slight use. I knew the Bear's lust
for rule, and that, so proud is he, if the
State were in his hands none could save it.
Then I knew, my dread lord, that you were
great and good and kind, and that it would
be a fell sight to see a rough Bear on the
Throne of a Lion, for no beast that roams
the woods is more mean than he.
"Then strove I to bring to naught my
sire's plot to rob you of your Crown. As
his wealth might be the means of this base
act, I sought where to find it. Night and
day did I watch in the fields and woods,
and kept a close eye on my sire's steps.
Once, while I lay flat on the ground, I saw
him creep out of a hole and look to see if
all was clear. He then put sand in the
place, and did rub the print of his feet with
his tail to make the ground smooth, so as
to hide it from view. Then he went off.
But I soon found where his hoard lay; nor
did I rest till I got in the cave and made
sure of my luck. I then took Er-me-line,
my wife, to help me; and we did not cease
to toil till it was put far from his reach.
Reynard the Fox. 61
In the mean-time Is-grim the Wolf went
with my sire through the Realm, and said
he should give to all who would hail him
as king a full year's pay. The bait took; and
they soon got troops to fight, if need be.
Then they went to Bru-in and told him
what risks they had run, and how their lives
were sought by droves of men with red coats,
who rode sleek beasts, and had fleet hounds
with them that did pant for their blood.
Bru-in was shown the roll of names; a host
of which the clan of the Bear, the Fox, the
Cat, and the Brock made up the chief part.
But when my sire went to his cave and
saw that his hoard was gone, he first felt
grief at his loss; then he went mad; and, as
all hope had fled, he put a rope round his
neck and tied it to a graff of the next tree
he came to, where he hung till he was dead.
Thus by my art did I spoil the plot to
strip you, my liege, of your Crown, and rob
the State of its King. For this I am to yield
up my life. Those foul beasts, Bru-in and
Is-grim, who sought your life, are now high
lords of your Court, whose words go far with
62 The Rare Romance of
you; they tread on me, and are glad of my
death, though for your sake I have lost my
sire. 0, my lord, what can one do more for
his King than lose his own blood ?"
When the Fox had thus said, the King
and Queen led him from where he stood,
as they thought he would tell them where
his wealth lay. But quoth the Fox, "0
my lord, shall I make my foes mine heirs?
Shall those beasts who would take my life
and plot to rob you of your Crown seize my
wealth ? That would be the worst pang of all."
Then spoke the Queen: Fear not, Rey-
nard, the King shall spare thy life; and, more
than this, he will free you, and you shall be
made one of the first lords of his Court."
Quoth the Fox, Dear Queen, if the King
but act thus, and have faith in me, no king
was, or will be, so rich as I will make him."
Then the King did chide the Queen, and
said, Dame, you want me to trust the Fox.
Know you not, that his chief traits are to lie
and cheat and steal ?"
The Queen said to this: My dear lord,
you may trust him this time, for he is not
Reynard the Fox. 63
what he has been; grief has made a change in
him. Why, he spares not his own sire; nay,
nor Grim-bard, who is so near of kin to him.
Had he not told the truth he might with
ease have laid this high crime on those he
did not love !"
"Well, dame," said the King, "You shall
for this once rule me, and the Fox shall be
set free; yet let me tell you, should he not
give up his modes of life, and that but a slight
charge be made by one beast whom he may
wrong or harm, I will drive his whole race,
root and branch, out of my Realm."
When the King spoke thus, gloom sat on
the Fox's face, while he was glad at heart; so
he said, "My dread lord, it were a sad shame
in me should I speak lies, and to your face."
Then the King in due form did clear the
Fox of all his crimes. So he fell down at
the feet of the King and Queen, gave them
his best thanks for the grace shown to him,
and said that no king or queen in the world
would be so rich as they. From that time
forth the Fox had more weight in Court than
all the beasts.
64 The Rare Romance of
The Fox now said to the King: "My
good lord, you must know that at the west
end of Flan-ders there is a wood known by
the name of Hus-ter-loe, near to which runs
the brook Cre-ken-pit. It is a wild so vast
that all the year round no one comes nigh the
place. Here have I hid this wealth, to which
spot I would that you, sire, and your Queen
would go, for there is none else whom I could
trust. When my lord gets there, you shall
see two birch trees close to a pit. You shall
go in, and there you shall find the hoard-coin
and gems for the most part-and the rich
crown of King Er-men-rich, which Bru-in the
Bear would have worn, had his plot not been
found out. There, too, shall you find rare
stones that glow like the sun, and when you
clasp them in your hands, think of the love
that Rey-nard bears you."
Quoth the King, Sir Rey-nard, you must
of a truth dig up this hoard, for sure I am I
shall not find it. I have heard of Par-is,
Lon-don, Aix-la-Cha-pelle, and Co-logne, but
Cre-ken-pit I do not know; hence I fear you
mean to trick me."
Reynard the Fox. 65
At these words a blush sat on the Fox's
face, and he said, Does my lord doubt of my
faith? Nay, then, I will prove my words."
With that he bade Kay-ward the Hare come
forth. When he was told, by the love he
bore the King and Queen, to speak the
truth, the Hare said-
"I will speak the truth in all things,
though I were sure to die for the same."
Quoth the Fox, Know you not where
is Cre-ken-pit ?"
"Yes," said the Hare, "I have known it
these twelve years. It is in the wood Hus-
ter-loe, a vast wild, where Sire Si-mo-ny the
monk made false coin, on which he and his
whole guild did feast."
"Well," said the Fox, I have done with
you now; you may go hence." So the Hare
went his way. Then said the Fox, My
liege lord, what say you now to this proof;
or can you doubt me more ?"
The King said, "No, Reynard; and I
pray you let this pass. Let us at once seek
the pit where the hoard lies hid."
The Fox said, "Ah, my lord, think you
66 The Rare Romance of
would I not set out with joy, could I but
act as I please? Just hear what I have to
say, though it may cause you to think the
worse of me. When Is-grim the Wolf would
fain turn monk, the meat that was meant for
six of his guild was less than he could eat.
He told me this, and I felt for him, as he
was one of my own kin, so I saw it were
best he should run off, which he did. Now
I stand with the Pope's ban on my head,
and at break of dawn must wend my way
to Rome; from thence I mean to cross the
seas to Pal-es-tine, and will not come back
till I have done so much good that I may be
a fit knight to wait on my liege lord."
When the King heard this he said, "In
such case I dare not have you at Court; and
hence I will take Kay-ward the Hare, and
some one else with me to Cre-ken-pit. I but
ask you, Rey-nard, not to stay too long."
My lord," said the Fox, I will not rest
night nor day till I am in my own land."
"I like the course you take," said the
King. Go your way, and may all good be
Reynard the Fox. 67
HOW REY-NARD THE FOX, BY THE KING'S GRACE, GOT PRAISE
FROM ALL BEASTS, AND HOW HE TOOK OFF THE WOLF'S
THEN the King sat on his high throne, made
of square blocks of white stone, and said that
each beast that heard him should speak not a
word, but take the place fit for his birth or
rank. The Fox was the sole lord put next
to the King and Queen. Then said the
King: Hear, all peers, knights, squires, and
you of still less name, this Rey-nard is now
made one of the prime lords of my Court.
'Tis true his crimes hath well nigh done for,
and gave the law hard hold of him, but he
hath this day done such good to the State we
rule, that both the Queen and I felt bound
to show him the best proof of our grace.
Hence, say we, that for things best known to
us, we did grant him his life, let him go free,
clear him of his crimes, and give him back
his goods which by the law he hath lost.
Now, I tell all of you, if you prize your lives,
68 The Rare Romance of
that you fail not, from this hour, to greet
Rey-nard, his wife, and all his house, with
such state as is meet, when and where you
may see them, by day or night, and that
none of you dare to pain my ears with more
tales of him. That he is staid now, and
means well, I know for a fact. At the hour
of Prime he goes on to Rome, where he will
buy what will cleanse him from his sins I
then, to make up for what he hath done ill,
he will set out for the Ho-ly Land."
When Ti-sel-len the Ra-ven heard this, he
flew to Bru-in, Is-grim, and Ti-bert, and said:
"You poor gulls! how low you have come;
Rey-nard is now at Court; he holds the first
post, and is the chief friend of the King.
He is free, while you are caught in the trap
he set for you."
Quoth Is-grim, "It is not so, Ti-sel-len;
nor can such a thing come to pass."
"Do not lay such false balm to your
heart," said the Ra-ven, for it is as true as
that I now speak it."
Then went the Wolf and Bear to the
King. Not so the Cat, who was so full of
Reynard the Fox. 69
fear at the news that he would not think of
the hurt his foe had done him; aye, and
would take one more risk, were he, as in old
times, the stanch friend of the Fox. But
Is-grim, with great pomp and pride, came
near to the Throne, and with sharp words
spoke so ill of the Fox, and grew so rude,
that both the Bear and he were bound fast,
so that they could not stir an inch. The
chief cause of this lay in the charge the Fox
had made, that they did plot to break up the
When the Fox had by guile thus caught
his foes in a snare, he got leave of the Queen
to have so much of the Bear's skin as would
make him a large scrip, for use on his way to
Rome. Still he was in dire need of a strong
pair of shoes, to keep his feet from the stones
on the road; so he said to the Queen, "Dread
dame, I am your poor friend, and may it
please your Grace to know that Sir Is-grim
wears a pair of shoes that will last long,
which, if you deign to give me, I will pray
for you all the way. Mine aunt Hers-win,
too, hath shoes which if you but get for me,
70 The Rare Romance of
I should be bound to you by strong ties; nor
would it do her a wrong, for she walks out
but at rare times."
The Queen said, No doubt, Rey-nard,
you will want such shoes, for your road is
strewn with stones and hard grit, and you
must needs have great toil; hence, you shall
have from each of them a pair to guard your
Then was Is-grim caught hold of, and the
skin torn from his front feet in so cruel a
way as to lay bare his nerves; and the same
was done to dame Hers-win, save that the
skin was had from off her hind feet, which,
when the Fox saw, he said, to mock her,
" Dear aunt, how much I thank you for this
kind gift! I vow you shall share in the gains
which I shall bring from Rome by the help
of your shoes."
Then Hers-win gave a gasp-for she
thought she would choke with rage and
pain-and said, "Sir Rey-nard, you have
your ends now; but I hope you will one day
find the ripe fruit of your bad deeds."
But Is-grim and Bru-in lay mute, for they
Reynard the Fox. 71
felt the keen smart of their wounds too much
to let them speak.
Ere Rey-nard set out, he put oil on his
shoes, and made them fit as well and as close
to his feet as they did on those of Is-grim
and Hers-win. He then went to the King
and Queen, and said, My grand lord, and
my bland Queen, your poor friend bows low
in your sight; I pray thee give me my mail
and staff,.and with such forms as are due to
one like me."
Then the King sent for Bel-lin the Ram,
and told him to hang round Rey-nard's neck
the mail made of the Bear's skin, and to
place the staff in his right paw. When in
this gear, he gave a sad glance at the King,
as if he were loath to leave, though, truth to
tell, grief and he would not go the same road
long. Then he took leave of the lords, and
left the Court; for, as he knew what a knave
he was, he felt on thorns till he was gone.
So the King said to him, "It grieves me,
Rey-nard, that we must part so soon."
Quoth the Fox, There is no cure for it,
my liege, that I know of; nor ought I to be
72 The Rare Romance of
slow in an act so full of praise, and which'
will ease my soul."
Then the King gave strict word to all his
Court, save the Bear and Wolf, to go with
Rey-nard a part of the way. Those who had
seen the brisk and brave look the Fox put on,
and how well his staff and mail did look, and
how his shoes did fit, could not but laugh at
his strange guise. But the Fox put on grave
airs, whilst his heart was full of glee. He felt
proud to find his foes his slaves, as it were,
for the nonce, and the King, whom he made
a fool of by his tricks, walk with him, as if
he, too, were a prince of the blood.
They had not gone far when the Fox
said, I beg, my lord, that you will not move
one step more, but think of the risk you run
on this lone road. You have left two base
beasts in chains at your Court, and should
they get free by some means, you know
not what may take place. It may cost you
Then he stood on his hind legs, and
took quick leave of the King, in a sad way;
when he at once spoke to Kay-ward the
Reynard the Fox. 73
Hare, and Bel-lin the Ram, in this strain:
" My best friends, shall we part so soon ?
Do not leave me yet, I pray you. At no time
have I had cause to think ill of you. I like
your bland words and staid ways, for you are
mild, kind, and wise, just as I was when I
first put on a monk's cowl. More than this,
you set bounds to your greed; and if you
have some green leaves, or a few blades of
grass, feel as glad as if you had all the bread
and fish in the world."
The poor beasts, struck with his fair
speech, and too dull to grasp its drift, were
led to go on with him.
74 The Rare Romance of
HOW KAY-WARD THE HARE WAS SLAIN BY REY-NARD THE FOX,
AND HOW THE RAM BROUGHT THE NEWS TO THE KING.
THUS these three went on the road, and all
was well for a time. But when Rey-nard got
to the gates of his own house, he said to
Bel-lin the Ram, "My dear sir, I pray you
stay here for a short time, as I have some
slight work to do at home which I should
like Kay-ward to see."
"All right," said the Ram; so the Fox
and the Hare went through the gates of Rey-
nard's house. Er-me-line sat on the ground,
with her young ones near her, much cast
down for the loss of her lord; but when she
saw him safe once more, her joy was too
great for tongue to tell. When his staff,
his mail, and his shoes, met her eye, she
grew pale, and said, Dear spouse, what luck
has been yours ?" Then he told her all that
took place at Court; how he was bound and
brought nigh to the brink of the grave; then
set free; how he was now on his way to
t f fi
THE FOX'S FEAST.
T'HE FOX'S FEAST.
Reynard the Fox. 75
Rome; and how the King gave Kay-ward to
him to treat as he list, as the Hare was the
first to make a charge to his hurt.
When Kay-ward heard these words he
took fright, and would have fled had not the
Fox sprung to the gate to stop him, and
caught him fast. On this the Hare sought
help from Bel-lin; but the Fox gave his neck
a squeeze, and he was dead in a trice; which
done, he and his wife and their whelps made
a feast of him.
But Er-me-line said, I fear, Rey-nard, you
trick me; tell me, as you love me, how you
sped at the Court, and if all you say be true."
Then he told her in what bland speech he
spoke to the King and Queen; how he did
fawn on them, spur their pride, and trick
them by the lure of wealth that he had not,
but which he said should be theirs; so that
when his guile should be found out the King
would try all means to take his life. "And
hence, wife," said he, "it is well that we
should quit this place in quick time, and get
to some far off copse, where we may rest
more at ease, live on the best game, and have
76 The Rare Romance of
the rare boon of clear springs, fresh streams,
cool shades, and pure air. Now, as I have
got my hand out of the Li-on's mouth, trust
me I will give him a wide berth, and not
come nigh his claws."
Yet," said Er-me-line, I have no wish to
go to a strange home. I like to stay where I
am, for I have got all I want, and you know
it is bad to give up what is sure for what may
prove a vague whim, a mere bag of wind.
More than this, we are safe here; and should
the King storm the walls of the house with
his best guns, and all his troops to boot, we
shall not be cut off from aid. Why, then,
should we flee from here, and cross rough
and wide seas to a strange land ?"
"Well, dame," quoth the Fox, "grieve no
more; first thoughts are not the best. I now
think the route I mean to take will serve me
much, and hence we shall stay where we are.
If the King hunt me, I will use my craft to
fight his strength; and in this I think I shall
be a match for him."
All this while stood Bel-lin the Ram at
the gate, wroth with the Fox and the Hare
Reynard the Fox. 77
that they should keep him there so long; so
he gave a shout, which, when Rey-nard heard,
he came forth, and said, Good Bel-lin, think
not I slight you, for I meant not to be rude,
as this would ill suit one brought up at
Court. Let me tell you, Kay-ward is with his
fond aunt in close speech, and he told me to
say that, if you would walk on, he would
soon come up to you, for he is more fleet of
foot than you are; nor, by my faith, will his
aunt part with him at once, for she and our
young ones are sad and loath to let me leave
Ay," said Bel-lin, "but have I not heard
Kay-ward cry for help?"
"What! How can you think he could
meet with hurt in my house? I will tell you
how it was he made that noise. When my
wife heard of my plans, she fell down in a
swoon. Kay-ward saw this, so he gave a
scream, and said, Bel-lin, come and aid
my aunt; she will die! she will die!'"
Then quoth the Ram, in a grave tone of
voice, I thought it was Kay-ward who was
in need of help."
78 The Rare Romance of
"It was your too much care of him," said
the Fox, "made you think so; but bear in
mind, Bel-lin, that the King told me that, ere
I left the Realm, I should write two notes to
him. Here they are; I beg you will now
bear them to our liege lord."
Said the Ram, "With joy shall I do as
you bid; but I have got no case in which to
The Fox said, You shall have my mail,
and can with ease slip it round your neck.
Full well I know that what I send will cause
the King to thank you, and give you good
cheer, for the news is of much weight, and
has to do with grave things of State."
So the Fox took the bag, put in it the head
of Kay-ward, and brought it to the Ram, with
the charge that if he did wish the King to be
his friend, he would not dare look to see what
it held till the King had got it in his hands;
and that he might still more gain the King's
good will, he told him to say it was he who
wrote the scroll, "which," quoth he, "will so
please the King that he will be sure to heap
good things on you."
Reynard the Fox. 79
The Ram was most glad to get such
shrewd hints from Rey-nard, so he gave him
thanks, and said, "What you have done for
me shall one day be made up to you. It will
raise me in the King's mind when he thinks I
can write so well; for I know there are a host
of folk in these days who know no more
than I do that get on well at Court by false
means, and who, in like way, trade on the
worth of men of high gifts. Yet ought I not
to take Kay-ward the Hare with me?"
By no means," said the Fox, let him set
out when you are gone. I know his aunt
will not part with her pet, and I have a few
words to say in his ear which I must not hold
back from him."
This said, Bel-lin took leave of the Fox and
went on to the Court, where he got just at
noon, and found that the King and his lords
The King did stare when he saw the Ram
walk in with the mail made of the Bear's
skin, and said, "Whence dost thou come,
Bel-lin, and where is the Fox that thou hast
his sack with you ?"
80 The Rare Romance of
Quoth Bel-lin, My lord, I went with the
Fox to his house, staid at the gate, and in a
short time he came to me and said I should
take a scroll of great pith to the King. He
gave it to me shut up in this bag, which
scroll I did write, and I doubt not that the
style will please my liege lord."
The King said, Pass the mail to
Boc-art," whose post it was to read all things
that had to do with the Realm, and who was
a knight of much lore, and knew all tongues.
So he and Ti-bert the Cat took the mail off
Bel-lin's neck, and when they did loose the
ties they found in lieu of the scroll the head
of Kay-ward the Hare.
Cut to the heart, they said in a loud voice,
"Woe, woe, what a scroll is this! My dread
lord, there is naught here but the head of
poor Kay-ward, who must have met his death
by foul means."
When the King saw the head, he said
with wry looks, Ah, woe is me, that I should
have put faith in this vile Fox!" Then, full
of grief and shame, he held down his head for
some time, as did the Queen in like way.
Reynard the Fox. 81
Then spoke Sir Fy-ra-pel, the Leo-pard:
"Why is my lord thus cast down? Is not
this whole Realm yours?"
The King said, I have been made a fool
of by a vile wretch, who did cause me to
wrong my best friends and serfs, and some of
the most wise lords of my Court, the stout
Bru-in and brave Is-grim, whose hurt blurs
the fame I thought was mine. Yet it was
not my will; my Queen felt for the Fox in
his dire grief, and did work on me till she
made me act in a way that I shall mourn
whilst I live."
Nay," said the Leo-pard, "say not so,
sire. You can make up for this wrong by
gifts, which will be found the best salve for
all sores. The Bear hath lost his skin, and
the Wolf and Dame Hers-win have lost their
shoes; but you can give them, in lieu of
these things, the flesh and store of Bel-lin
the Ram, who did aid in this foul crime.
As for Rey-nard, we will storm his fort,
seize, and then hang him by the law of
arms; we shall not try him this time, nor
shall he have shrift of priest."
82 The Re R Romance of
HOW THE BEAR AND WOLF GOT HOLD OF BEL-LIN THE RAM AND
HIS RACE, AND HOW FRESH PLAINTS WERE MADE OF THE
THE King said he thought the Leo-pard's
plan a good one; so Fy-ra-pel went at once to
the fort where the Bear and the Wolf were
pent, and thus spoke to them: My lords,
I am told by the King to loose your chains
and set you free. More than this, he sends
his love, and doth grieve for your wrongs;
to make up in a slight way for which he
grants you Bel-lin the Ram, his bucks and
ewes, and his whole race, with all their goods,
to have and to hold from this time forth, by
you and your heirs in such wise, that when
you may find them in fell or wold, on glead
or mead, on dale or mount, you may hunt
and wound, kill and eat them."
Thus did the Leo-pard cause these lords
and the King to be on good terms once more.
The rights they then got are held to this day;
nor has a truce been made by the Wolf with
Reynrad the Fox. 83
the kin of the Ram. Then Bel-lin the Ram
was slain by the Bear and the Wolf, while
the King gave a feast, which was held for
twelve days, to show his joy at the pact that
The news spread through all the land
that this grand feast would be held, so that
all kinds of wild beasts came to it ;a-nd there
was more joy and mirth at this time: than was
wont to take place at such feasts. There was
song and dance, and gay sounds from drums
and fifes, from lutes and harps, with masks
and sports of all kinds. There was so much
meat that the garth of the Court was full of
it, and each beast had his fill of good cheer.
No beast in the land, great or small; no fowl
or bird that was at peace with the King, who
was not there, save the Fox, who lay in wait
for prey, and thought it best to hide his
On the eighth day of the feast came
Lap-rel the Rab-bit to the King and Queen,
and while they sat at meat, said in sad tones,
but so loud that all who were there heard
him: My lord, list to what I have to tell you,
84 The Rare Romance of
which is of great force. But a day since I
came by the Fox's house at Ma-le-par-dus.
He stood in front of the gates and had on a
monk's hood. I thought I should pass his
door in peace, as my mind was bent on this
feast. When he saw me he came to meet
me, and told his beads at the same time.
I bade him good day," but he spoke not a
word; while he flung out his right foot and
gave me a blow in the eyes with all his
strength, which made me reel. I now feel
pain from his claws. I had just that share of
life left to get free from him, though he was
wroth that he could not hold me. Still, I
have lost one ear, and have four great cuts
in my head from his sharp nails, so that the
blood flows forth. My life was at stake, and
would have been lost, had not fright made me
spring from him and run so fast that he
could not reach me. Now, my lord, I pray
you to look on my wounds, and to make this
vile beast, who is no friend of the State, smart
for his crimes. No beast is safe while he is
let ramp and prowl at large."
Just at this time came in Cor-bant the
Reynard the Fox. 85
Rook, who flew to his place in the Court, and
thus spoke: Great King, I bear with me a
sad tale. This morn I went with my wife,
Sharp-beak, to play on the heath, and there
lay Rey-nard the Fox, as though he were
dead. His eyes were half out of his head,
his mouth did gape wide, and his tongue hung
out like that of a dead hound. For some
time we stood to watch the strange sight, and
then went and felt what I took to be his
corpse. Then my poor wife-dear soul as
she is !-put her ear near to his mouth to try
if he drew breath; but at once the foul Fox,
who kept sharp watch and bode his time,
when he saw her so nigh him, gave a fierce
snap, caught her by the head, and bit it off.
Then was my grief great, so I said, 'Woe is
me what a fate is mine !' On this the wretch
made a dart at me, with such hot ire in his
eyes, that I was glad to fly to a tree, where
I staid in dread while I saw him eat my
dear wife, so that he left not flesh or bone,
but the plumes. In sooth, he would have
made a meal of me had he caught me, for it
takes much to glut him. At length he slunk
86 The Rare Romance of
off, when I flew from my perch on the tree
and caught up the plumes, which I now bring
to you. I would not, sire, be in such fear,
and run such risk once more for the best gold
that comes from the East. Now I pray you
will be just, and stay the Fox's course, for if
not, you and your lords will scarce be safe
while the law is set at naught."
When the King heard from the Rab-bit
and the Rook what dire deeds the Fox had
done, his eyes shot fire, while his roars made
the whole Court quake for fear. At length
he said, By my Crown, I will not stay my
hand till I have glut my ire. His lies and
glib tongue shall take me in no more. He
told me he would go to Rome, and from
thence cross seas to the Ho-ly Land; and I
gave him mail and staff, and all things else
he did ask. But it was not I, it was the
Queen who did this; nor am I the first dupe
that hath been led from the right path by
that frail sex. I here vow I will so wreak
my ire on the Fox for the slight he has cast
on my Crown and name, that while the good
shall look on with joy, the bad shall wail
Reynard the Fox. 87
with fear." Then he said that all the beasts
of the Court should aid him by their wise
words to put his will in force.
Now Is-grim the Wolf and Bru-in the
Bear were glad at heart at this vow of the
King, but they held their peace and spoke
not a word. But the Queen, with a deep bow,
thus said: Sire, a wise man will put faith in
naught, nor make a vow to take a course, till
he knows all the ins and the outs of it; nor
should he lend both ears to strange tales, but
keep one free, so as to be just to each side,
pro and con. For my part I may have been
wrong, but I have strong grounds for what I
did. Rey-nard may or may not have done the
deeds laid to his charge; you may bind him
or you may slay him; but still the King
durst not act save in due form of law."
To these words of the Queen, Sir Fy-ra-pel
the Leo-pard rose and said: "My lord, the
Queen hath laid down the best course, and I
see not how you can well act save in so wise
a way. Let the Fox get the last call to Court;
and if he come not ere the close of this feast,
to clear his fame if he can, or to claim your
88 The Rare Romance of
grace, then shall you treat him as seems best
Then spoke Is-grim the Wolf, "Sir
Fy-ra-pel, I take it there is not one here who
does not think well of your plan, and view it
as the best to act on, if so be that it suits the
will of my lord the King. As to the hoard
which the Fox hath told the King lies hid at
Cre-ken-pit in Hus-ter-loe, so black a lie has
not come from the mouth of beast since the
world was made. By it he meant to wrong
both me and the Bear, and get free from his
bonds, to go on the same course of theft and
Then quoth the King, By my troth I
will call him no more. Now I crave that all
who owe me love, and wish to see my Throne
firm, come here in my sight at the end of six
days, with bows, guns, pikes, and spears, on
foot or on colts, for I mean at once to lay
siege to Ma-le-par-dus and to cut off Rey-nard
and his race, large and small, from the face of
the earth. If he will seek harm, he shall find
harm, as I am your King."
Reynard the Fox. 89
HOW GRIM-BARD THE BROCK MET AND SPOKE WITH REY-NARD
WHEN Grim-bard the Brock heard these
words he felt pain of heart, and stole from
the rest of the lords, when he ran with all
speed through bush and brake, pale and rail,
till he got to Ma-le-par-dus. As he went, he
said in his mind, "Ah, Rey-nard, my near of
kin, there is but one step more and thy
doom is sure. Well, I ween, may I grieve
for thee, since thou art wise and shrewd, and
a friend to thy friends when they stand in
need of thy help; for with thy smooth tongue
thou canst charm and lure all beasts; but I
fear it boots not now, as the die is cast."
With such sad strains as these came Grim-
bard to the Fox's house.
When he got there he saw his friend
Rey-nard, who stood at the gates, and who
said to him, "I am so glad to see you, my
best friend that I love so well, more than all
90 The Rare Romance of
my kin. What's in the wind now? Tell me
how runs the news at Court."
Oh," said Grim-bard, most ill with you,
I grieve to say. Your life is not worth the
least coin in the Realm, while your good
name, wealth, and lands are lost for all time.
The King is up in arms, and means to storm
this place. Is-grim and Bru-in now lead the
King, and he loves them much; so it is high
time that you use your wits, for they have
told all you did to them, and that you are a
thief, and shed blood. More than this,
La-prel the Rab-bit, and Cor-bant the Rook,
have each made a charge to your grief, so
that I see no means by which you can flee
from a death of pain and shame."
"Tush," said the Fox, "let no care for
me put you in such a fright; but let us cheer
up, for though the King and all his Court
plot my death, and though they all prate and
rate and tire their poor brains with their wise
words and deep plots, yet but for my wit,
and the craft I bring to my aid, the Court
and the State could not last. Of that there is
no doubt; so, my dear friend, come let us go
Reynard the Fox. 91
in and feast. I have a brace of fat snipe for
you. Come, I say, my wife Er-me-line will
greet you well; but by all means tell her not
how I stand, for she is of weak nerve; hence
it may give her a start and make her ill. As
soon as we have had our slight meal, I will
go with you to the Court; and if I can but
get to speak with the King I shall gall some
of them and touch them to the quick."
"This you can place full trust in," said
the Brock, that you shall come and plead in
Court, for none shall dare to stop your mouth
or put you in chains. This grace the Queen
and the Leo-pard have had for you of the
"I am glad of that," said the Fox, nor
care I then a pin's point for their worst
spite; I'll root them in the earth with a spell
that I have at my tongue's end."
This said, they went to Ma-le-par-dus, and
found Er-me-line with her young ones at her
feet. She got up at once and did greet the
Brock, who made a low bow to her in turn.
Soon the brace of snipe were set forth, when
each took his part. Then said the Fox,