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THE HISTORY OF REYNARD THE
FOX HIS FRIENDS AND HIS
ENEMIES. HIS CRIMES HAIR-
BREADTH ESCAPES AND FINAL
TRIUMPH. A* METRICAL VERSION
OF THE OLD ENGLISH TRANS-
LATION WITH GLOSSARIAL* NOTES
IN VERSE BY F S ELLIS* WITH
DEVICES BY- WALTER* CRANE
DAVID NUTT, 270, STRAND
CHISWICK PRESS :-CHARLES WHITTINGHAM AND CO.
TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE, LONDON.
CONCERNING THE STORY OF REYNARD
SINCE the author printed his version of Reynard the
Fox" in 1894, he has so often been asked, "What is
the origin of the story ? that he determined whenever the
book was re-written it should be accompanied by a full and
complete dissertation on the literary history of Reynard,
and thereto evoked the aid of one of the chief authorities
on the subject. But when the account came to be fully
set out, which should trace Reynard back to the beginning
of his literary life, verily the story appeared to have as
many obscure corners, twistings and turnings, complications,
intricacies, and doubtful passages, as were to be found in
his own stronghold of Malperdy, whereof we shall hear
It has therefore been deemed advisable to put no more
introduction to a book, the prime object of which is the
amusement of the reader, than may be readily apprehended,
and as lightly digested as were Reynard's two pigeons in
Suffice it to say here that scholars who have made a
special study of the subject are agreed as to the extreme
antiquity of stories and apologues concerning the subtlety
and wiliness of the Fox, an antiquity, greater perhaps than
that of literature itself.
That the origin of the story is Indo-European seems to
be allowed on all hands, but whether France or Germany
can lay the better claim to the building up of the legends
in Europe is still a moot point.
The history of the text upon which the present version is
founded, is shortly this: About the year 1250 an author
named Willem put together the story in Flemish verse from
the various legends and tales then current. A little more than
a hundred years later, about 1375, it was re-written, and a
second part or sequel added, by an author whose name is
unknown. This was subsequently turned into Dutch prose,
and ultimately printed at Gouda in Holland by Gerard Leeu
in 1479. Scholars have decided that Caxton did not make
use of this edition for his translation, but of some manu-
script or printed version which is no longer extant. The
variations, however, between Caxton's original and the
Gouda edition of 1479 are of no great moment. Upon the
edition printed by Caxton in 1481 and worthily reproduced
at the Kelmscott Press in 1892 the present version is
Those who desire to study the subject in all its fullness
and detail, must be content to await the learned treatise on
the literary genesis and evolution of Reynard promised by
Professor Logeman by way of introduction to his projected
critical edition of Caxton's translation.
The author is desirous that the version now printed
should be considered as altogether superseding that which
he published in 1894.
THE MATTERS RELATED IN THE
I. How the Lion, King Nobel, sent out his mandement that The King
all beasts should come to his Court 3 holds court.
II. The first complaint, made by Isegrym the Wolf against The Wolf
Reynard 4 complains.
III. The complaint of Courtoys the Hound 5 Courtoys' ill
IV. How Grymbert the Dachs, Reynard's sister's son, spake The Dachs
up for him .. 7 explains.
V. How Chanticlere complained on Reynard I The Cock
VI. How the King spake touching this complaint 16 The King's
VII. How Bruin the Bear was sped of Reynard the Fox 18 The Bear's
VIII. How Bruin ate the honey 22 The Bear's
IX. The complaint of the Bear upon the Fox 35 The Bear's
X. How the King sent Tybert the Cat to the Fox, and how Tybert's
he sped therein 36 hard days.
XI. How Grymbert the Dachs spake yet once again for Rey- Dachs' redes
nard 46 avail.
XII. How Reynard was shriven of his sins on his way to the Reynard
Court 50 shrift prays.
XIII. How the Fox came to the Court, and how he excused him Reynard at
before the King 58 Court.
Reynard's XIV. How the Fox was arrested and judged to death .62
Fox days XV. How the Fox was led to the gallows 64
Old sins XVI. How Reynard made his confession openly before the
confessed. King, and all those who would hear it 68
The Fox XVII. How the Fox cozened the King, persuading him that
well goes. the Wolf and the Bear were his foes, and how he gat
grace of the King 74
The Wolf's XVIII. How the Fox gave his thanks to the King, and told of
dread care. the hiding-place of a great treasure 89
The Wolf's XIX. How the Wolf and the Bear were arrested by the
lost shoes. labour of Reynard Ioo
Reynard's XX. How Isegrym and Ersewyn must suffer their shoes to
far fare. be plucked off, and how they were done on to Rey-
Cuwaert's XXI. How Cuwaert the Hare was slain by the Fox II
Bellyn runs XXII. How the Fox sent the head of Cuwaert the Hare to the
post. King, by the hands of Bellyn the Ram 119
The Ram's XXIII. How Bellyn and all his lineage were given into the
checkmate, hands of Isegrym and Bruin, and how he was slain. 125
Joy rules the XXIV. How the King held high feast, and how Lapreel the
host. Coney complained unto the King of Reynard the Fox 127
The Rook's XXV. How Corbant the Rook complained on the Fox for
great woe. the death of Sharpbecke his wife 130
King Nobel XXVI. How the King was wrathful at these complaints. .132
Grymbert's XXVII. How Grymbert the Dachs warned Reynard that the
fears grow. King was wroth with him, and would slay him 138
The Fox XXVIII. How Reynard came another time to the Court 142
The Fox XXIX. How the Fox excused him before the King, and how
speaks fair. the King answered upon Reynard's excuse 159
Dame Ruke- XXX. How Dame Rukenawe answered for the Fox to the
nawe's rede. King .. 176
Strange ser- XXXI. A parable of a man that delivered a serpent from peril
pent snare, of death 181
XXXII. Of the friends and kin of Reynard the Fox
XXXIII. How the Fox with subtlety excused him for the
death of Cuwaert the Hare, and of all other
matters that were laid against him
XXXIV. How Isegrym the Wolf complained again on the Fox
XXXV. A fair parable of the Fox and the Wolf
XXXVI. How Isegrym proffered his glove to the Fox to fight
with him. .
XXXVII. How the Fox took up the glove, and how the King
set them a day and field for to come and do battle
XXXVIII. How Dame Rukenawe the She-Ape counselled the
Fox of the way he should behave him in the field
against the Wolf .
XXXIX. How the Fox came into the field
XL. How the Wolf and the Fox fought together
XLI. How the Fox, being under the Wolf, so glozed him
that he came above again
XLII. How Isegrym was overcome by the Fox, and how
the Fox had the worship .
XLIII. An ensample that the Fox told to the King after he
had won the battle .
XLIV. How the King forgave the Fox and made him
sovereign and greatest over all his lands
XLV. How the Fox with his friends and lineage departed
nobly from the King and went to his castle of
GLOSSARIAL NOTES .
INDEX-SUMMARY OF CHIEF MATTERS CONTAINED IN THE
229 The Wolf
235 The Ape's
245 must fight.
250 The Fox
252 Fought is
256 nigh lost.
267 sore cost.
He lives in
273 folk cen-
H IDDEN within this story men may find
Good learning, parables, and points diverse,
Which every man should mark who hath a mind
To master subtle knowledge (and the curse
O'ercome, which mankind mostly doth immerse
In ignorance and blindness), taught such things
As wise men utter in the courts of Kings
Or lordly prelates when they council hold,
Or where grave merchants meet to sift their cares,
Or common folk foregathering on the wold
To plain the hard dull lot of him who wears
His life in servitude and hardly fares
From birth till death's release. Good help and meed
This book shall give to all who rightly read:
For he who readeth it, or lists it read,
May gather witting of the base deceit
Wherewith the world doth cozen goodlihead;
Not with the purpose cozenage to repeat
Against his fellows, but such things to weet
As serve for safeguard against wily shrews,
Eschewing warily the arts they use.
And he who will good understanding gain
Of all this matter, earnestly and well,
With humble heart must con this book, and fain
Proem. Shall he then grow past power of words to tell,
Hoping for Heaven, and fearing nought of Hell.
But one short reading no man will suffice
To gather up fair wisdom's pearls of price,
Which, sought with pains, will yield a rich reward
To those who treasure them with care and love.
And many a gold-worth lesson will afford
This tale to him who through life's storms would
With calm content, ah! surely shall he prove
Sweetness untold, despite the world's annoy,
And passing hence find heaven's unending joy.
' WAS near the days of Pentecost,
When woods grow green, and Winter's frost
Is clean forgot; when fragrant flowers
Bedeck the meadows, brakes, and bowers,
Yet once again, and every tree
Resounds with gladsome harmony
Of joyous birds, who sweetly sing
Welcome to springtide's burgeoning,
That Nobel, Lion-King, and Lord
O'er every beast that treads the sward,
Made known his will to hold High Court
While dured the Feast, and bade resort
Thither, all those who humbly bowed
Beneath his sceptre; straight a crowd
Of lieges gathered, great and small,
To keep the glorious festival
Proclaimed by heralds; nor was one
Absent therefrom, except alone
The Fox, within whose bosom grew
Alarm for crimes whereof he knew
His hands right guilty. Small desire
He therefore had to face the ire
Of those who justly might complain
His theft and trespass, but full fain
Was he to hide his head; and when
The King of Beasts appeared in ken
Of all his subjects, quickly rose
A storm of wrath from Reynard's foes
I. The King While each from out his breast unlocks
holds Court. Some long-pent grief against the Fox.
MADe-BY- 1S eORYM-TH-E
FIRST spoke the grey wolf Isegrym,
Whose eager eye and quivering limb
Betrayed his wrath: loud cried he: "Friends,
Before this Court I claim amends
Against the Fox, for crimes so great
(Devised and done with spiteful hate
Toward me and mine), that, when I speak
Thereof, all words sound vain and weak.
Give ear, most just and noble lord,
Whilst I with aching heart record
How Reynard hath destroyed my life:
For not alone my well-loved wife
Hath he insulted, but with mind
To mar my lineage, sought to blind
My three dear children as they lay
Forthwith was set a day,
When Reynard forth should come and swear,
By holy saints, that he had ne'er
Thereof been guilty, but when brought
Forth was the sacred book, he thought
Him otherwise, and straightway stole
Back to his thievish lurking hole,
Crying that naught he set thereby.
Dear King, all this is openly
Beknown to many a beast who stands
Before thee here: Nay, more! his hands
Are stained by evil deeds, which blot II. The Wolf
His life in such wise, that I wot complains.
No man exists whose tongue could tell
All that I leave untold: so fell
The trespass is that he hath done
Against my wife, that while the sun
Doth light the heavens no power shall save
The Fox from that revenge I crave."
"Il *I-TH-E COMPLAINT-OF-
^ r^ r Tn Tn To4r4IIt'
AS ceased the Wolf, a hush profound
Fell o'er the Court, when lo! a hound,
Courtoys to wit, stood forth, and spake.
" I, too," quoth he: "complaint would make
Of Reynard Fox, who all the store,
Laid up against the winter frore,
Stole from my garner, so that I
Of hunger's pangs scarce failed to die
Through his most base misdeed."
Sprang sharply forward Tybert Cat,
Whose swelling tail bespoke his ire,
While flashed his grey-green eyes with fire,
As cried he: "Gracious Lord and King,
'Tis doubtless true that men may bring,
With justice, many a charge of crime
Against the Fox, but ill doth chime
This plaint of Courtoys in mine ears;
'Tis but a tale of long past years,
And I, not he, have right to make
III. Courtoys' Complaint thereof; the hound did take
ill sort. From me that sausage which by night
I from the Miller won, despite
His watchful care, while sound he slept.
Courtoys in claiming it, outstept
The bounds of truth;-except through me
He had therein no property."
THOUGH Courtoys be to blame for this,"
Exclaimed the Panther, strange it is
That thou, O Tybert, shouldst appear
To shelter Reynard, when 'tis clear,
Past doubt or question, he hath been
A thief and murderer; well I ween
That in this world no man doth live
To whom he would in kindness give
The meanest gift: nay, though the King
Had direst need, no single thing
This thief would do to help or save
His life or worship; but the grave
Might o'er him close, without a sigh
From Reynard, could he win thereby
Some base advantage. List ye now
The tale of Cuwaert Hare: a vow
Did Reynard make that he would teach
The guileless creature how to preach
And say his Credo, so that he
Might one day, fill a chaplaincy.
Betwixt his legs he made him sit,
And Credo, Credo cry: as it
Rose through the air I passed along,
And wondering much to hear that song,
Drew near the spot, and scarce need say
That once again his wonted play
The Fox enacted; soon he ceased
His task to teach the simple beast
How he should sing his Credo note, III. Courtoys'
And grasped him tightly by the throat ill sort.
Most haply, in the nick of time
I came to save him, or the crime
Had been fulfilled-behold still fresh,
The wound that scores his tender flesh.
"Great King it is for thee to stretch
The hand of justice o'er this wretch,
Lest you, and all your royal race,
In shielding crime, should share disgrace."
"Ye speak, Sir Panther, wholesome truth,"
Cried Isegrym, "it were, forsooth,
Idle to waste more words, this night
I fain would see the gallows dight
For Reynard, that his crimes surcease
Might give the world new rest, and peace."
-IV- H1OW GRYM'56 I11r-THe"
SON SPAK "UPFOR:-HlM.
SPROSE in haste then Grymbert Dachs,
Exclaiming: "Sorely doth it tax
Temper and patience thus to hear
Foul charges made against my dear
Good Uncle Reynard: dost thou deem
That thou may'st slander thus mine Eme,
O Isegrym, while silent I,
His loving kinsman, stand anigh
And nought reprove? That saw doth tell
Good truth, which saith: 'But rarely well
Speaketh a foeman's mouth'; right glad
IV. The Were I if trial could be had
Dachs Betwixt ye twain: then should we see
explains. Which best deserved upon a tree
To end his days. Stood Reynard near
Our gracious Lord, and had his ear
As thou hast had, then doubt I not
The case were changed, for well I wot,
Thy crimes made known, dismay would seize
Thy dastard heart, and on thy knees
Thou straight wouldst fall, and 'mercy' cry,
Convict of lies, and treachery.
How oft your sharp, white, grinning teeth
With cruel grip have met beneath
My dearest Uncle's russet fell,
A busy tongue wouldd need to tell.
But of more crimes than this I trow,
Justice demands the Court should know
The legend: did ye not misdo
When Reynard flung the plaice to you
From out the cart? Didst thou not eat
His share, thou base-born hungry cheat,
Leaving but prickly bone and gristle,
Dry, hard, and tasteless as a thistle ?
Recall to mind that bacon flitch
My Uncle stole, and ye so rich
And dainty found, that all alone
SYou gulped it down, nor left one bone
To stay his hunger. Was it fair
That, when he claimed a modest share,
Ye laughing cried, with mocking scorn:
'Nay, Reynard! look not so forlorn,
But if thou wilt, come take thy part
From out my gullet;' and did dart
Therewith an angry murderous scowl,
Set off with such a threatening growl,
As well might scare him? And I deem
No scrap of that fair flitch my Eme IV. The
E'er tasted, though at risk of life Dachs
He gat it, when the farmer's wife explains.
A sack threw o'er him. Can ye trust
One who hast proved himself unjust,
Treacherous, and selfish past belief;
A rogue ingrained; a common thief?
What trash this fable of the strife
In days long past, about his wife !
Reynard paid court to her, while she
Received his love with courtesy;
And Isegrym in truth were wise,
Such foolish scandal to despise,
Instead of scattering far and wide
A slanderous tale that well might bide
Forgotten. Then of Cuwaert Hare,
Good Heavens to think how great a scare
Is raised, because an idle scholar
Was gently shaken by the collar !
Shall truants rest then, unreclaimed,
Their faults excused, their masters blamed ?
Courtoys has dared to make complaint,
(As though he were himself a saint)
That he some winter store hath lost,
Laid up with special care and cost.
Well had he done thereof to hold
His peace, for, let the truth be told,
He did but steal it-thus, pardee,
Male quesisti et male
Perdidisti, in English done:
'Thou ill hast lost what ill was won'-
Who blameth Reynard, for this deft
And fair reprisal, made on theft ?
His action simply was to levy
Distraint in manner of replevy;
IV. The A righteous deed. All those who know
Dachs The law, right readily will trow
explains. My dearest Eme (as man of worth,
Untainted honour, and high birth)
Scorned stolen goods, nor had misdone
To slay Courtoys outright-for none
Thereof could blame him-but he knew
Too well what high respect is due
To legal form, and left the hound
Unscathed, who well were hanged or drowned.
Alas What thanks, then, hath he gained?
Nay, none; yet nobly hath disdained
To answer slander, for a true
And gentle heart is his. But few
Hate falsehood like to him. He lives
A saintly hermit life, and gives
Heed to his priest's advice. No more
He hunts and fishes as of yore,
Nor taketh food but once a day,
Vowing henceforth to put away
From off his table all flesh meat.
With strictest penance doth he treat
His chastened body, and doth wear
Against his flesh a shirt of hair.
But yesterday I heard it said,
By some who know him well, that dead
He is to earthly joys. A cell
He builds, as anchorite to dwell,
Where once stood Castle Malperdy.
For winning gold no longer he
Hath lust, but cheerfully doth live"
On such poor alms as men may give
To serve bare needs. He pale doth wax
With fast and prayer, which sorely tax
His strength, and humbly neathh the sod
Desires to rest, at peace with God."
As Grymbert boldly spake these words, IV. The
Broke on their view a troop of birds, Dachs
A-wending towards them down the hill; explains.
Chanticlere leads, while loud and shrill
Their wail of woe resounds; a bier
Is seen-as slowly draw they near
The wondering Court-on which lies dead
A hen of fairest plume, whose head
The Fox hath bitten off. They sing
Sad funeral dirges, while they bring
Before the Court their deep distress,
And Reynard's untold gracelessness.
V- 1OW- C1iANTICL9CRC-
COMPLAINED -ON -RY-
:NARDR y- o C
THEN forth stood Chanticlere, and smote
Sadly his wings, the while his throat
Gave out a loud and piteous cry.
Beside the bier stood mournfully,
Two fair young hens, the sisters twain
Of her by ruthless Reynard slain,
This Crayant, and that Cantart, hight.
Each bare in hand a taper bright,
Of whitest wax. No finer hens,
Between fair Flanders and Ardennes,
E'er scratched or cackled. "Welaway !"
They cried, and "Ah! woe worth the day "
Two plump-fed pullets bore the bier,
Who so bemoaned their mother dear
That far and wide their grief was heard:
And thus the sorrowful train appeared
V. The Cock Before the King.
laments. Then Chanticlere
Exclaimed: "Great Lord, we pray thee hear
What scathe thy loving friends, who stand
Before thee, suffer at the hand
Of Reynard Fox:
In April last,
When spring o'er earth began to cast
Her robe of green, I proudly walked
Abroad, and with my children talked,
Boasting the long drawn lineage we
Could claim, and praised our ancestry.
My noble brood I deemed unmatched,
For never finer birds were hatched
Than my fifteen; dear daughters seven,
As bright and fair as though from Heaven
They claimed descent, and eight stout sons,
Of blood as true as that which runs
In royal veins. We safely dwelt
Within a well-walled yard, and felt
Secure, unharassed by a doubt
Of prowling beasts of prey. Without
Our high-walled yard there stood a shed
Wherein six stalwart dogs were fed,
Whose deep mouthed baying gave alarm,
And thus, exempt from fear of harm,
We lived content. Hereat so great
The Fox's envy grew, and hate
So deep and deadly filled his mind,
That day and night he strove to find
Some means whereby to scale the yard;
And though our vigilance debarred
His schemes awhile, his soul became
At last quite mad, and all aflame
With hot desire; but if anigh
He came our trusty dogs would fly
So fiercely at him, that sweat broke V. The Cock
From out his fell as thick as smoke, laments.
" No stomach had he more to climb
Our wall, and quit were we long time
Of Reynard's face, till clad in weed
Of hermit coming: 'Prithee, read,'
Quoth he, 'for love and charity,
This letter,' and displayed to me
A scroll, which bore your royal crest
And coat of arms in wax impressed.
Therein 'twas written that the King
Most earnestly desired to bring
All birds and beasts, throughout the realm,
Of which 'tis his to guide the helm,
In sweet accord and loving peace.
It bade all strife forthwith to cease,
And said: 'let none henceforth scathe other
But dwell as brother should with brother.'
The Fox declared that he no more
In riot lived, as heretofore,
Nor e'er again would rob and roister,
But hermit-like, within a cloister,
Would penance do for past misdeeds,
With sighs and tears, and tell his beads
Morn, noon, and night, for now he meant
To pass as humble penitent
His few remaining years. His gown,
Made pilgrim fashion, fell down
Below his ankles, and he ware
Beneath his robe, a shirt of hair,
Rough, hard, and knotted. 'Now,' quoth he
'No more ye need have fear of me,
Sir Chanticlere; plain haws and hips
Alone henceforth shall pass my lips,
Varied, on feasts, by barley bread.
V. The Cock Already do I feel the thread
laments. Of life is worn, and near the goal
My steps approach, therefore my soul
I needs must think on, and but long
To say sext, none, and evensong,
And compline, lauds, and tierce, and prime,
Day in, day out, and thus my time
In pious works and prayers to spend,
With hope to make a blessed end.'
"As thus he spake-and neathh a thorn
Lay down to rest-no child new-born
Could seem more guileless. Then a book
From out his vest he drew, with look
So grave and studious, that I thought
The way of holy life he sought
Within its pages. Therefore, gay
And blithe of heart, I went my way,
And crowing, strolled without the wall
In careless ease. My cheerful call
Brought sons and daughters round in haste,
And forth we strutted o'er the waste
By fear unchecked.
List now the hate
Of this false saint, and how, to sate
His ravening maw, he broke the truce
Thy law proclaimed. On some excuse
He came abroad, and as we stept
Across the green sward, slyly crept
Behind a bush, and quickly snapped
One of my children, which he clapped
Within his wallet, and since then
For cockerel, pullet, chick, or hen,
He hourly watches; horns and hounds
He scorns in suchwise, that no bounds
His ravin knows. Erewhile, fifteen
Fair children knew me, now are seen V. The Cock
To answer to my call, but four. laments.
Well may'st thou judge, great King, what sore,
Keen sorrow racks my breast-see here
My daughter Coppen on her bier,
By Reynard slain but yesterday.
For burial was she snatched away
From out his clutches by our friends,
The guardian dogs. Dear Lord, here ends
My piteous tale; I leave to thee
The Fox's doom and penalty."
URST forth the King-whose wrath did wax
Exceeding hot-" Sir Grymbert Dachs,
What say ye now to this recluse,
Your sainted Eme? A paltry ruse
Appears this tale of fast and prayer,
But hither shall the culprit fare,
Ere twice the sun sinks neathh the sea,
To answer for his crime. Thy plea,
Good Chanticlere, is witness strong
Against the Fox, and thou ere long
Shalt be avenged. The Church's rites
Shall honour Coppen, and with lights
And incense, shall be sadly sung
Her vigil, while with pomp among
Her kin, shall she be laid to earth."
Then hushed was every sound of mirth,
While all in sad procession go,
Singing Placebo Domino,
With psalms, and versicles, and prayers,
Thereto belonging. Pious cares
Of vigil done, and commendation
Said o'er, with funeral oration,
The corse within the pit was laid.
Above, a noble tomb was made
Of purest marble, spotless white,
Than glass more clear, than pearl more bright,
And, deeply cut in during stone,
Her name and fate these words made known: VI. The
"Beneath the earth deep dolven, here word.
Lies Coppen, child of Chanticlere:
Reft of sweet life before her time
Was she, by Reynard Fox's crime.
Reader, not wasted were thy breath
In one short sigh o'er her sad death."
THE King then summoned round him wise
And learned men, who should advise
How past all doubt these murders might
Be proved against the Fox, and Right
Once more hold sway throughout the land.
Ere long went forth the royal command,
That Reynard must appear before
The Court in person, and no more,
For cause or quip, should he refrain
From coming thither, under pain
Of hangman's rope.
Then Bruin Bear
Was charged that he with wisest care
Should do the message.
Quoth the King:
"Sir Bruin, thine it is to bring
The culprit hither, be thou steeled,
Both ear and heart, against him: yield
No trust or credence to his smiles,
Sly, crafty speech, or flattering wiles:
For doubt thou not that he will try
On thee some scheme of treachery:
Long have I known him for a shrew,
Fairspoken, but of heart untrue:"
QUOTH Bruin: "Good, my Lord, let be,
VI. The Think you this thief deceiveth me ?
King's good Or dost thou deem that I so ill
word. Have learned my lesson, that the skill
I lack to snare a Fox?"
He forth with merry heart, prepared
To brave the foe: assurance vain !
Less joyous he returned amain.
ORTH started Bruin on his way,
Rejoicing, light of heart, and gay
As bird in spring, and well assured
That by no Fox could he be lured,
To fault or folly, or could be
O'ermatched in craft, and subtlety.
The season was of opening June :
The blackbird's note, the ringdove's croon,
Sounded o'erhead, and far around
Fair flowers bedecked each hedgerow mound,
The hawthorn whitened every brake
Wherefrom the winds sweet odour take,
Ere pass they whispering through the sedge,
Beside the brimming river's edge,
Oft murmuring lovers' hopes and fears,
As erst they told of Midas' ears.
Hyacinth bells of purple deep,
Awaked once more from winter sleep,
And nature all, in wood and fell,
For spring-tide's wake, kept festival.
Blind to the joys of waning spring, VII. The
And deaf to birds' sweet carolling, Bear's Intents.
Sped Bruin onward, till he stood
Within a thick-grown darksome wood,
Wherethrough a secret pathway went,
Which Reynard ofttimes took, when spent
With close pursuit, and close anigh,
A towering mountain rose, whose high
Steep side he needs must climb, to go
Towards Reynard's stronghold.
Ye must know
That many a dwelling had the Fox,
But here, high up among the rocks,
Was found the safest, and the best
Of all his burrows : once at rest
Within its well-built walls, he lay
Secure and safe, when driven to bay.
Now, when the Bear at last had come,
Before the Fox's mountain home,
Malperdy hight, he found the gate
Fast shut, so on his tail he sate,
In front thereof, and loudly cried:
"Ho! Reynard-be ye there inside
Your castle wall? Browning am I,
Sent by the King, to notify
His strict command, that forthwith ye
Appear at Court to make your plea.
He stoutly by his God hath sworn,
That should you this his summons scorn,
And dare refuse with me to go,
To bide his dooming, and to show
Him full submission, it shall cost
You life and good, for either tost
High on the gallows shall ye be,
Or on the rack die wretchedly.
VII.- The Reynard, in time be wisely ruled
Bear's Intents. By one who hath at Court been schooled
In wit and wisdom: bow thine head
Ere yet the hour of grace be sped."
Lay Reynard just inside the gate,
Stretched forth at length. From tail to pate
He sunned himself, with half shut eye,
And dreamed of merry days gone by,
When no one blamed his loselry.
But when he heard the Bear begin
This speech, at once he sought to win
One of the cryptic spots, which he
Had wrought in castle Malperdy.
For this strong fortress, sooth to say,
Had many a dark and hidden way,
Narrow and crooked, short and long,
Designed to make all those go wrong
Who sought the Fox against his will:
And, if some tracked his steps, he still
Knew secret doors, where in and out,
From hole to hole, he passed about
With furtive steps, and stored his prey
At night-time won, for feast by day.
THEN mused the Fox, how might he bring
The Bear to grievous suffering
And deep disgrace, the while he bode
In worship, lightened of the load
Of chastisement, his meed and due.
Having this worthy aim in view,
He issued forth, and cried: "Dear Eme,
Ye be right welcome if it seem
That when ye called I tarried long,
Believe me well, 'twas evensong
Held my attention at the time. VII. The
But surely he who made one climb Bear's Intents.
O'er this long hill, of your high rank,
From me shall win but slender thank.
The road is steep, and hot, and dreary,
And grieves my heart to see thee weary,
O'erworn, and faint, while sore doth reek
With dust and sweat, thy honoured cheek:
All needless too was this, for I
Had come to Court, spontaneously,
The morrow morn. But less I grieve,
Seeing that now shall I receive
Thy comfort, counsel, and support,
To help my plea before the Court:
Yet seems it strange the King assigned
To you this office; could he find
No humbler messenger to send
On such a duty? Well 'tis kenned
Of all good men for true, that ye
Rank next the King for family,
Great wealth and lands. Ah! well I would
That in the Court e'en now we stood,
As friends and brothers, side by side,
But find it needful to abide
At home to-day, through having fared
On such rich meat, that if I dared
To walk abroad, 'twere little wonder,
Though that my belly burst asunder :
The meat was new, and I for once,
O'erstepped the bounds of temperance.
Exclaimed the Bear: Dear Nephew, say-
What luscious food did Heaven purvey
To give you such delight ? Dear Eme,"
The Fox replied, "Small help I deem,
'Twould be to thee, if I should tell
The meat that savoureth me so well.
VII. The It is forsooth but simple food,
Bear's Intents. That suits the simple tastes of rude,
Untutored country folk, who fain
Must be to fill themselves with plain
And homely viands : honeycombs
I made repast on-in the homes
Of poor and hungry men, such fare
Is counted good."
Cried out the Bear:
Reynard so little set ye by
Sweet honeycombs? For my part I
Esteem them foremost of all meat,
Fragrant and luscious, soft and sweet,
Past measure: help me to obtain
Good store thereof, and ye shall gain
My lasting friendship while I live:
Prove only that thy hand can give
Such food in plenteouswise to me,
And count me thine eternally."
SVill If Ow-BR
QUOTH Reynard, seemingly agape,
"Dear Uncle, surely ye but jape!"
Cried Bruin, with an oath: "Nay, nay,
My words are naught of game or play,
But sober truth, no thing is this
Whereof to jest or jape ywis."
Then spake red Reynard: If it be
Truth that ye love so heartily
Fair honeycombs, thou soon shalt hold VIII. The
A store of luscious, bee-wrought gold, Bear's reward.
In such great quantity that ten
Or twelve grown bears might feast, and then
A heap be left; heaven grant that I
Your friendly help may win thereby."
"Nay dearest Nephew," quoth the Bear,
"Such plenty scarce can be, for were
Before me all that is for sale
From here to far off Portingale,
I, Bruin, all alone would eat,
In one great feast, that dainty meat."
Quoth Reynard: Eme, ye scarcely know
What thing ye say, for I will show
Thine eyes a farmstead, where doth dwell
Lantfert, a husbandman, whose well
Of honey ne'er was known to fail;
Nay, though ye drank it by the pail,
'Twould not give out for seven long years."
(Hereat the Bear pricked up his ears.)
"Now all this honey without end,
Shalt thou possess, if thou befriend
My cause at Court, and grant to me
Thine aid to foil each enemy."
A solemn oath then Bruin swore,
To be his nephew's friend before
All other men, if so he might
His belly fill, or day or night,
With fragrant bee-borne honey. Laughed
Thereat the shrew, with guileful craft,
And said, "Yea soothly, would ye load
Seven Hambro' barrels with that sweet food,
Yet will I pledge me to obtain
VIII. The Thy heart's desire, and make thee fain."
Bear's reward. So well these words of Reynard pleased
The Bear, that straightway was he seized
With laughter, till he scarce could stand.
Beside him sat the Fox with bland
Deceitful smile, and thought: Full soon,
Friend Bruin, thou shalt laugh to tune."
Then cried he: "Now no longer may
This matter tarry, let's away:
'Tis meet I work for thy behoof,
And put my friendship to the proof,
Past doubt or question; thou shalt see
That none can act more friendlily.
Of all my lineage lives not one,
Except thine own dear self alone,
For whom I thus would slave and swink."
Thanks thanks the Bear cried, but I think
'Tis time we sped-we tarry long."
Dear Eme," quoth Reynard, with a strong
Quick pace step forward; follow me,
Thou, ere one hour goes by, shalt see
More honey than thou well canst bear."
The sly Fox bode the evil fare
His foe should find, but that he meant
A gibe, the Bear saw not, but went
With willing steps toward Lantfert's yard.
Now this same Lantfert laboured hard
At woodman's work, and many an oak
And elm he felled with sturdy stroke,
And drew them homewards, to abide
His craftsman's work in wintertide. VIII. The
Within the yard it happed there lay Bear's reward.
A forest king, brought yesterday
From out the wood, wherein he drove
Great wedges, which wide open clove
The massive trunk. Hereof was glad
The wily Fox, for thus he had
A ready snare to hand. Quoth he,
" Dear friend, behold this cloven tree
Whose hollowed body doth contain
Unmeasured honey, which to gain,
You need but place your nose between
This open space, and soon I ween
Will have thy fill: but prithee eat
In sparing wise of this choice meat,
For though the honeycombs be good,
It yet were well ye understood
The need for prudence, lest ye take
Some hurt of body. For my sake
I prithee have a care, lest blame
Fell on my head if evil came
To thee, my friend and guest."
Nay, nay !"
Cried Bruin, "haste to put away
Such thought, dear Reynard; dost thou ween
That I, sage Bruin, would be seen
To act a fool's part? moderation
Incumbent is on men of station."
Reynard replied: "Sound, wholesome truth
Thy speech betokeneth well forsooth:'
Approach the tree's end now, and creep
Within the cleft."
With lumbering leap
The Bear trod toward the oak in haste,
O'erjoyed to think he soon should taste
The longed-for good; his pointed nose
VIII. The Down thrust he, and his forefeet toes
Bear's reward. Set well within the open space;
Forthwith leapt Reynard toward the place
With lightning speed, and deftly twitched
The wedges forth:-as if bewitched,
The oak sprang to, and held the Bear
With iron grip.
He well may spare
To flatter, threaten, coax, or chide,
Fast in the tree-trap must he bide,
Imprisoned by the base deceit
Of Reynard Fox; for head nor feet,
No craft or might, can freedom gain.
The foe, of Bruin's misery fain,
With light foot, gained a branching tree
And thence, clear-voiced, sang merrily:
WHENE'ER you go a Fox to trap,
Beware lest you by sad mishap
Catch ruin ruin !
'Twould seem the Fox has been your match,
Bruin! Bruin !
And set a new-found trap to catch
You in You in !
No more wilt thou the Fox betray
To ruin ruin !
Farewell, then, till another day,
Dear Bruin Bruin !"
The trapped, befooled, outwitted Bear,
Rends the soft drowsy summer air
With dismal howls. He strives to use
His sturdy sinews and strong thews
With such effect as might release
His paws and head, nor doth he cease
To strike the ground with savage beat VIII. The
Of hinder paws, but both fore-feet, Bear's reward.
And head, and ears, are fixed as fast
As though frore winter's fettering blast
Held them ice-bound with iron hand.
Finding force vain, he next with bland
And friendly words essays to coax
His wily foe. Quoth he: "A hoax,
Dear Reynard, surely ye but play
In merry sport; without delay
Thrust in the wedge, and once more free,
Such friendship will I show to thee,
That next beside the King shalt thou
Hold rule, and every beast shall bow
To thy behest."
Loud Reynard laughed,
Rejoiced to see his wiles and craft
Had so far triumphed; then quoth he,
In cruel jest, It gladdens me
That thou shouldst in that honey find
A banquet suited to thy mind:
But, prithee, Bruin, have a care,
How ye enjoy that luscious fare,
Lest while ye wallow in its wealth
Delight should prove the bane of health,
And sickness follow in such sort
That thou shouldst be debarred from Court.
If I mistake not, on the brink
Of greater joys ye stand; some drink
Thou surely needest, and I see
Good Lantfert coming, doubtless he
A cool draught brings to quench thy thirst;
I trust that he will kindly first
Use well the goodly oaken stick
He bears to push well down the thick
And clammy sweetness, which I fear
VIII. The Gives thee misease. No longer here
Bear's reward. My goodwill towards thee bids me stay,
But trust thou mayst a pleasant day
With Lantfert spend."
He trotted off towards Malperdy.
When Lantfert, hard at work indoors,
Caught sound of Bruin's howls and roars,
With haste he seized a stout oak stick
Shod with an iron point, and quick
As lightning ran whence came the din.
Soon as he spied the Bear, "A gryn
Of newest kind," he cried, is this
Wherein to catch a bear ywis!"
He first with all his might belabours
The helpless beast, and then his neighbours
From round about he runs to call,
With shouts that Bruin's heart appal,
Of, Hi run quick, I've caught a bear,
Speed! speed good friends, the sport to share! "
THROUGHOUT the thorp the tidings rang
Like tocsin call, and each man sprang
To win some weapon; carls and wives
Rushed forth, as though their very lives
Hung on the race: Hal seized a stake
From out the hedge, while Hob a rake
Laid hurried hand on ; Giles a broom
Snatched up to help on Bruin's doom;
The priest unto the winds did toss
His book, and seized his long staff-cross,
While quickly followed in his trail,
The clerk, with heavy threshing flail.
Distaff in hand, the priest's wife ran
To watch the sport the while she span:
Young girls, just turning life's first page,
And beldames, who in toothless age VIII. The
Spelt finis, all would join the fray, Bear's reward.
The Bear to bait, tease, maim, or slay:
Against him now is each man's hand
And, friendless, he the brunt must stand.
When Bruin heard the murderous shout
That rose from all this rabble rout,
With mighty wrestling did he strain
Freedom of head and limbs to gain.
His fore-feet freed with one great wrench
From out the knotted oak's firm clench,
He heeded little that his paws
Were spoiled of those defensive claws
That erst had armed them: then one more
Wild, frantic effort, and he tore
His head from out the cleft; alack !
With loss of ears! started aback
In panic fear the unhappy beast,
When forthwith Lantfert and the priest
Rushed on him, and from out the folk
A fearful storm of blows thick broke
O'er head and limbs, till death's dread fear
Sickened his brain, as far and near
Fresh foes come hasting, from whose eyes
Gleam glances, murderous as their cries.
Dickon the ploughman left his tillage
And, shouting, ran down the village,
Coulter in hand: from forth his smithy
Rushed Gervase, snatching from the stithy
A red hot iron; Wat the baker
Left loaves to burn; the deaf shoemaker,
Seeing all run, threw down his last,
And hurried forth, his apron cast
Out on the road; with clumsy gait
Hastes halting Hugelyn, while his mate,
Old Ludolf, long and broad of nose,
Runs panting, lest the sport should close
Ere he arrives; with reaping hook
Long fingered Bertolt comes; a crook
Tall Ottram brings, wherewith to smite
The helpless victim; strange delight
Find Batkyn and Ave Abelquack,
And old dame Bave, becrooked of back,
And every soul from out each cot-
Young, old, hale, sick, it mattered not,
Each time that they a blow can add,
To wound the Bear and drive him mad.
That fellow feeling held their mind
Was clear, but surely wondrous kind
It made them not, for never yell,
More fearful, burst from fiends of hell,
Than out the stormy crowd arose
Of Bruin's fell bloodthirsting foes.
Once more the Priest led on the fray,
And with his staff-cross made dread play,
While from his heavy threshing flail,
The clerk rained blows like April hail;
Tall Ottram with his shepherd's crook
Seized the beleaguered beast, who quook
With mortal fear. While Bertolt fast,
Firmhanded, held him, Ludolf cast
A well-aimed spear, whose keen steel point
Found home beneath the shoulder joint.
The victim quivered, groaned, and sighed,
But whatsoe'er of ill betide
Must needs endure. Of all his foes
Stout Lantfert fiercest proved, and rose
His voice o'er all the rout. Then sprang
His brother forth, and wildly flang
His staff athwart sad Bruin's eyes,
Blinding and maddening in such wise VIII. The
The wretched creature, that a rush Bear's reward.
At random made he through a bush
That grew beside the stream; there stood
A heap of wives, and in the flood
He drave them toppling off the steep
High bank, within the rolling deep.
Foremost of all, the parson's wife
Was seen to struggle for her life
Within the gurgling tide, and when
Her spouse espied her, quickly then
He lost all lust to bait the Bear,
And cried: Friends friends behold ye where
Within the stream my wife is thrown,
And neathh its wave is like to drown:
O help her save her! if ye may,
And henceforth shall ye from this day
Have full forgiveness, and release
Of all your sins, and Heaven's sweet peace
Bedew your souls." Ye well may wot
That all the crowd at once forgot
The hunting of the struggling beast,
And sought alone to serve their priest.
WHEN Bruin saw that every wight
Forsook his baiting, and the plight
Alone regarded of the wives,
Who strove and struggled for their lives
Like drowning sheep, he too leapt in
And strongly swam, with hope to win
His life and freedom: then with shout
And frantic yell, the priest cried out:
" Come back, false thief, come back, I say."
The Bear swam on, and cried "Nay! nay!
Call as ye will, I come not back,
Still sounds within mine ears the crack
VIII. The Of stones and staves, and mighty fain
Bear's reward. Of freedom am I once again."
Most heartily the honey tree
He banned, and cursed the Fox that he
Had so betrayed him that he crept
Fool-like therein, then wildly wept,
Lamenting loss of ears and hood.
Thus grieving, drave he down the flood
A mile or more, then lastly waxed
Aweary, and his strokes relaxed,
Made for the bank and came aland,
His limbs so bruised, he scarce could stand,
But length-long stretched, lay still, and groaned,
And sighed, and bitterly bemoaned
His wretched fate, his breath came quick,
Red blood suffused his eyes, and sick
He felt in head and limb, and cried
As one who recked not though he died.
HEARKEN what next the Fox hath done:
From out of Lantfert's yard hath won
His thievish hand, a well fed hen,
And in his wallet laid her, then
A by-track took he, that he weened
Was known to him alone, well screened
With thickset hedges; as along
This path he trod a merry song
He tuned, and scarcely could contain
His joy, so blithe of heart and fain
He felt in deeming Bruin dead;
And cried: "Now have I right well sped,
For he who most opposed and let
My work at Court, is killed, and yet
Wotteth no man the deed was mine,
And therefore doth my heart incline
To merriment." As he spoke these words,
His eyes the Fox cast riverwards, VIII. The
And spied where Bruin lay at rest. Bear's reward.
Then straightway was his heart oppressed
With grief far greater than before
His joy had been. Vexation tore
His soul, and angrily he chid
At Lantfert, who he deemed had rid
The earth of Bruin :
"Ah! lewd fool!"
He cried, "thou hast not in the school
Of wisdom learned. God give to thee
A shameful death, who could not see
The chance thou hadst, but fool-like lost,
Of good bear-venison free of cost,
Unsought, yet placed within thine hand."
Thus chiding came he to a stand
Near where the wounded Bear lay: bled
The poor sick beast from ears and head,
And whom but Reynard might he thank?
Then standing near him on the bank
Loud spake the Fox, in cruel scorn:
" Dear priest, God give you a good morn."
Within himself the victim cried
" Ah! ribald thief! would thou hadst died,
Ere thou cam'st hither." Reynard said:
"Forgat ye, when in haste ye sped
From Lantfert's yard, ye had not paid
For that rich honey which ye made
So free to feast on? Grievous shame
Such conduct were, and worthy blame
Of all good men. Wilt thou that I
Requite the owner honestly
On thy behalf? Pray found ye nice
And good that honey? Did the price
VIII. The Well suit your purse? Desire ye more
Bear's reward. From that exhaustless honey store?
And, dearest Eme, ere hence I go
Indulge my ardent wish to know
What holy order 'tis doth claim
Thy sacred vows ? Some house of fame
Dost rule, as Abbot ? Have the shears,
Which gave ye tonsure, nipped your ears?
The holy hood which hides your head
Seems, like your gloves, of deep blood-red.
Well fitted art thou, as I ween,
Within the choir to sing Compline."
The Bear with wrathful sorrow heard
These flouting gibes, yet not one word
Of answer deigned, whereas he saw
As yet no means whereby to draw
A worthy vengeance on his foe.
Slowly he turned his face to go
His homeward road, and then the tide
Once more he sought, and soon that side
Where lay the Court, with swimming, wan.
Alas what troublous thoughts began
Now to assail him ; much he fears
That when men note his loss of ears,
His wretched state will prove but sport
To those, who love him not, at Court.
His foremost paws are reft of skin,
And much he doubts his power to win
His goal on foot, yet needs he must,
And sitting upright, through the dust
And mire he strove, and thus progressed
A mile or twain, though sore distressed,
Rolling and wentling as he might.
When first from far he hove in sight,
Much wondered those who saw him, who
Could be this uncouth beast; none knew VIII. The
The late proud envoy, till the King, Bear's reward.
Foremost in this, as everything,
Exclaimed: Lord God is this the Bear
Who in such sorry plight doth fare
Again to Court? where then hath he
Been thus entreated shamefully?
Both ears he lacks, and o'er his head
Where skin late was, is he bebled;
With what wild set can he have been?"
Therewith the Bear cried out: "I ween
That never since this world was made
Hath Bear more basely been betrayed."
ETH FOX' '
THEN through the beasts who stood in ring,
Stepped Bruin forth, and said: "O King,
To thee with earnest voice I cry
For vengeance on the perfidy
Of Reynard Fox: behold, I pray,
How handled have I been this day,
By base device, while thee I served,
My body torn, my frame unnerved;
My foremost feet bereft of claws,
My ears shorn off, and both my jaws
All skinless made."
Say then how durst,"
Exclaimed the King, this beast accurst
Such crime commit? Now by my crown
I swear, that ere two suns go down
IX.TheBear's Such vengeance on his head shall fall
ill tale. As Fox ne'er suffered."
Then for all
The wisest beasts he sent, and sought
Advice how justice might be wrought
On Reynard Fox for this great wrong:
And all the council, old and young,
Concluded well it were that he
Were once again dayed instantly
Before the assembly, to abide
Full judgment. Then all voices cried,
"Our will it is that Tybert Cat
Should serve the summons; Bruin gat,
'Tis true, sore handling, far more fit
To match the Fox is Tybert's wit
Than mere brute force."
The King, with grave
And solemn nod, approval gave,
And said no choice could better be
In such extreme emergency.
SX- HOWTHE- KING-S
T HEN spake the King: "Sir Tybert, thou
Shalt seek out Reynard, as it now
Hath been decreed, and shortly say
That yet a second time hath day
Been set whereon to bring his plea
Before the Court. Although he be
Right fell to other beasts, full trust
He hath in thee, and surely must
Give heed to all that ye advise. X. Tybert's
But should he as a fool despise hard days.
Thy friendly counsel, say thou then
The King, advised by wisest men,
The third dread warning will declare,
And day him lastly.-Should he dare
Refuse to come e'en then, we will
No longer scruple to fulfil
Stern duty, but hot wrath will deal,
That knows nor mercy nor appeal,
And fire and sword shall ruthless rage
O'er all the Fox-born lineage."
Spake Tybert then: Dear Lord and King,
The men who counsel thee this thing
Are not my friends: what can I do
To hale the Fox ? Great King, with true
And earnest heart I humbly call
On thee to send some other; small
And feeble am I-if the Bear,
Stout, bold, and strong, did evil fare,
And fail to bring him, little hope
Have I with such rude beast to cope."
"Nay, nay," the King said, "Tybert, ye
Are wise and learned, though ye be
Not big, and oftentimes good craft
With better aim may speed a shaft
Than mightiest strength."
The Cat replied:
"Dear Lord, thy will must I abide,
And shoulder set to do this work:
God give me grace, that though it irk
My heart right sorely, yet I may
Achieve the mission."
Soon the way
Took Tybert towards Malperdy's height,
Tybert's And straightway hove within his sight
hard days. Saint Martin's bird-he quickly kens
The fowl of omen, bane of hens-
And cries aloud: Hail, gentle bird,
Since thou thy wings turn hitherward,
Oh fly the dexter side for luck,
Therefrom may I advantage pluck."
Alas towards the left side flew
The bird, and sadly Tybert knew
Presage of harm: if towards the right
The fowl had flown, all gay and light
The Cat had journeyed, now with sorrow
He wended, fearing lest the morrow
Should bring mishap, yet nevertheless
He strove his failing heart to dress
In pleasant hope, as men oft do
Though boding fear their hearts imbue.
Malperdywards then Tybert ran,
And, when the Fox's house he wan,
Found Reynard standing at the gate.
"The rich God's blessing on you wait,"
Quoth Tybert: "from the King I come,
Whose menace threats your life and home,
Unless ye wend with me to Court."
Replied the Fox: "May every sort
Of luck and blessing be thy lot,
Dear Tybert." Throughly did he wot
That fairest words are small of cost;
Yet while he spake his heart was crost
With evil schemes. "This night," said he,
"As guest shalt thou abide with me
And share my homely frugal cheer:
Soon as we see white dawn appear,
Together Courtwards will we hie.
Dear Cousin, speak I truthfully, X. Tybert's
Affirming that of all my kin hard days.
I love thee best, and hope to win
Thy fond regard. But yesterday
Came Bruin hither; sooth to say,
I like him not, he looked so shrewd,
Of haughty mien, of manners rude,
Of voice so loud, of form so strong;
And when he claimed that I along
With him should fare, I said him nay:
Though poor, much liefer would I pay
A thousand marks than with him fare.
But, Cousin, joy 'twill be to share
The road with thee, so soon as dawn
Doth drive drear night from wood and lawn."
Exclaimed the Cat: What needs delay?
The waxing moon mocks waning day,
And true delight it were together
To fare in this sweet summer weather."
"Dear Cousin," quoth the Fox, by night
Forego we many a pleasant sight,
The while, in open, cheerful day,
Good hap find wenders by the way,
When dark suspicion doth betide
Night-faring folk, therefore abide
Within my house."
"What sort of meat,"
Quoth Tybert, "have ye then to eat,
Should I make stay ?"
"For wholesome food,"
Quoth Reynard, "lack we not, with good
Sweet honeycomb-will that suffice? "
Said Tybert: "Have ye then no mice?
X. Tybert's By honeycomb I set small store,
hard days. And though some folk esteem it more
Than aught, I far prefer a mouse,
Beyond all else the wealthiest house
"Say ye so indeed,
Dear Tyb ? thou then on mouse shalt feed
In royal wise: a priest hard by
Doth live, within whose barn there lie
Such heaps that, thereto were he fain,
A man with mice might fill a wain.
I, many a time, have heard this priest
Bemoan the harm they do; a feast
Thou well may'st make there."
Say ye so?"
Exclaimed the Cat: pray let us go
Thither at once, and I am thine."
Quoth Reynard: "Doth your heart incline
Thereto so greatly, that above
All else beside, fat mice ye love?"
If mice I love !" the Cat exclaimed:
"Yea! than all delicacies famed
For savour-venison, flames, or pasty-
I find fat mice more sweet and tasty;
Lead on to where fat mice abound,
And for all time shall I be found
Thy firmest friend :-though thou hadst slain
My sire and mother, and shouldst stain
Thy hands with blood of all my kin,
Such rare mouse feast my heart should win."
SAID Reynard : "Ye but mock and jape
The Cat said: I but shape
My tongue to truth, so help me God! X. Tybert's
Said Reynard, with a gentle nod hard days
Of seeming doubt, If so I wist,
It then should fall that, an ye list,
Of mice ye might in truth be full."
" Full !" cried the Cat: therein ye pull
A long-bow shot; that scarce could be."
" Ye jape," quoth Reynard.
Nay," quoth he:
"A fat mouse liefer would I hold,
Than noble, coined of finest gold."
"Forth fare we then," cried out the Fox,
" And ere once more the chiming clocks
With merry peal give out the hour,
Mice, thick as raindrops in a shower,
Shalt thou behold."
"Right well I know
'Neath thy safe conduct may I go,"
The Cat said, "to Montpelier hence."
" Now speak'st thou like a cat of sense,"
The Fox replied, "but why delay?
Too long we tarry."
They fared, till near the barn they stood,
Well built, and walled about with mud.
Now so it happed, that through a hole
Worked in the wall, the Fox oft stole
A fatted hen, and yet one more
Had snatched thereout the night before.
The priest had noted this, and set
A gryn with running noose, to let
The prowling beast from further theft;
This Reynard saw, and planned a deft
And cunning trick, his foe to trap.
X. Tybert's So said, Dear Tybert, lucky hap
hard days. Hath left a hole through which to creep
Within the barn, and there a heap
Of mice awaits thee, hark how shrill
Their piping sounds-enjoy thy fill-
In then while I abide thee here.
Nay, wherefore lingerest thou ? doth fear
Withhold thy steps? My heart doth burn
With earnest longing to return
To Ermelyne, whose smiles await
Our coming, why dost hesitate?"
Quoth Tybert: Is it then your rede,
Dear friend, with fearless foot to speed
Within this hole? These priests be oft
Most wily shrews, for all their soft
Fair glozing speech-I dread some harm."
"Oho! Dear Tybert, doth alarm
Pervade thy breast?" false Reynard cried:
"Dost fear that evil can betide
While I stand near? What aileth thee?"
The Cat, ashamed, sprang hastily
Within the hole-the cruel gryn
Flew home with sharp and sudden spin,
And caught him, as though swung from bough
With cord around the throat. Ah now
Hath Reynard foully snared his guest:
Oh treacherous host! Oh Cat unblest.
In vain attempted he to spring
From out the hole, the tightening string
Held fast his neck. False Reynard saw
His dupe's distress, and heard him wraw
And shriek with pain, the while, above,
He laughing stood, and cried: D'ye love
Fat mice, dear Tybert? are they good?
Knew Martinet hereof, he would, X. Tybert's
I make no doubt, with pleasure bring hard days.
Thee savoury sauce. How sweet ye sing
The while ye dine! Is that I pray
The custom used at Court to-day?
Lord God! If Isegrym did share
This feast with thee, I then should bear
A heart as light as bird in May."
When nought availed to break away
The cord which held him, Tybert mowed
And galped so hideously and loud,
That out his bed sprang Martinet,
And cried: "Thank God the gryn I set
Hath caught the thief that stole our hens,
And scared the sheep from out their pens.
Arouse ye all to deal him due
And fit reward! Haste, all of you!
Shake off dull slumber and awaken !
Up! Up! The villain Fox is taken!"
The priest, barefoot, ran through the dirt,
All mother-naked but for shirt,
And Julock called, his wife, to light
An offering candle. Quickly dight
Young Martinet a heavy stake,
And dealt such strokes as well might break
The prisoner's bones, and tore his eye
From out the socket.
"Thou shalt die,"
Roared forth the priest, and drave a blow
Which missed its aim, or else alow
The Cat had lain.
"Nay, then my life
Shall dear be bought," above the strife
Shrieked Tybert, as the parson's calf
He seized and wellnigh bit in half.
X. Tybert's "Harrowe !" yelled out the priest. "I'm dead."
hard days. And fainting, kissed the ground, and bled
In such full tide, that well wouldd seem
His spirit drank drear Lethe's stream.
Hereat in wild despair his wife
Screamed, "Help! Oh help my love, my life,
Awake look up awake, I say,
Ah me alack and well-a-day!
Accursed be the hand which set
This hideous trap, through which hath met
My dearest man such evil fate !
What though the Fox should extirpate
All fowls that flock the teeming earth!
Shall wretched birds be counted worth
My husband's life?"
The while that she
Thus raved, the Fox with ill-timed glee
Stood by, and watched her wild affright,
And then with mocking words made light
Of her distress.
Dame Julock, now,"
Cried he, "'twere surely well to bow
Your head in thankful resignation
To Heaven's good will, a dispensation
Of mercy can it fail to be,
If thy dear man, from earth set free,
Attains the heavenly mansions blest?
There shall he find sweet peace and rest
From thy sharp tongue. He loved to preach,
Each week, what joy wouldd be to reach
The home of saints. Nay, dry thy tears,
And let sweet hope assuage thy fears:
Though thou be widowed, yet thou may'st
Ere long the joys of wedlock taste
Once more, if fortune send some fool,
Unware how oft the cucking-stool X. Tybert's
Had charge of thee for thy sharp tongue hard days.
In days gone by."
Then gaily sung
The Fox for joy-and cried: Good-day!
Time wears, and I must needs away."
THUS, Bruin, priest, and Tybert marred,
He blithely hied him burrowward.
Now hearken how the Cat escaped
The jaws of death.
While all folk shaped
Their hands to tend the wounded priest,
They clean forgot the struggling beast,
Who ceased thereon to yell and wraw,
And plied his unspent strength to gnaw
And bite apart the cruel gryn
That wrung his neck, and thus to win
Sweet freedom-this achieved, he ran
With foot as swift as erewhile Pan
Pursued fair Syrinx; till at last,
His strength foredone, his breath o'erpast,
His wounds grown stiff, all worn and spent,
With limp and stumble, forward went,
Through darksome hours, the weary wight,
Till morning waxed from grey to white
Above the hills, and lastly came
Before the Court, so bowed with shame,
And bent with grief, as must betray
To all men's eyes that he the play
Had been of adverse Fortune. Nought
He spake his woe, but humbly sought
Before the throne to lay his grief
EXCLAIMED the King: Hath then this thief
X. Tybert's And traitor once again defied
hard days. Our high command, and dared deride
Our envoy? Then by Heaven I swear
My hand no longer shall forbear
To crush this scorner of all right
Quickly bid he dight
A solemn council, formed of wise
And learned men, who might advise
Some means whereby the Fox should be
O'ermastered in his subtlety,
And brought before the Court to make
Submission, or the upshot take.
W HILE Reynard's friends rejoiced, his foes
Wondered, when Grymbert Dachs arose
(The Fox's sister's son) and said:
Dear Lord, though twice had trespassed
My Eme, beyond what he hath done,
We have by no means yet o'ergone
The remedies that may be used
To bring him here. He hath refused
Thy summons twice, now let him be
A third time summoned, as a free,
Unhindered man. And if again
He scorn your bidding, quick must rain
Death and destruction on his head."
"Say, then, who think ye would be sped
On such an errand," quoth the King, XI. Dachs'
" And risk eyes, ears, and life to bring redes avail.
So fell a beast to bay? Not one,
I trow, of all who live would own
Himself so lightly for a fool."
Quoth Grymbert Dachs: "Beneath thy rule,
So help me God lives one who dare
This stigma brave. I forth will fare
In person, at thy word, to try
My skill in this emergency."
" Go forth, Sir Grymbert, but see well,"
The King replied, "that thou a fell
And subtle beast must deal with: ware
Ye need to be, lest he some snare
Or pitfall shapeth."
Quoth Grymbert, as he gaily went
His way, "that thou ere long shalt see
The Fox fall low on bended knee."
With nimble foot, and cheerful heart,
Malperdyward doth Grymbert start;
And thither come the Fox he found
At home, and littered on the ground
In darksome corner, Ermelyne
Lay with her whelps.
"Right well beseen
Ye be, dear Uncle, and fair Aunt,"
Quoth Grymbert, "nought could more enchant
Mine eyes than thus to find ye well,
But dearest Eme, plain truth to tell,
Great hurt your absence from the Court
Is like to cause ye: ill report
Men spread about thy life, and good
It were no longer ye withstood
XI. Dachs' The King's command. Come, then, with me-
redes avail. For, should ye still withhold, 'twill be
An evil case. 'Tis now the third
And latest warning that my word
Affords thee: plain unvarnished truth
Is this advice, and if forsooth
Ye dare neglect it, and abide
Till falls the morrow's eventide,
No wit can then avail to save
Or thee or thine, but thou must brave
Within three days a siege about
Thine house and home. The King with rout
Of armed men, will 'fore it set
A rack and gallows; what shall let
Thee then from death? List all I say
For gospel truth, or on that day
Nor thou, nor wife, nor child shall 'scape
The grave, which open-mouthed doth gape
For all your lives. 'Tis therefore best
Ye Courtwards wend with me, and rest
Assured that there shall well avail
Thy subtle counsel: stranger tale
Hath oft been heard, than that thou quit
May'st go of all complaints, and sit
In honour o'er the heads of those
Ill beasts who boast themselves thy foes.
Yea! many a time hast thou, ywis,
Run much more dangerous risks than this."
THE Fox replied: Good sooth ye say,
Dear neighbour Grymbert, straightaway
'Twere well to wend with you, e'en now,
To face the Court, whereat I trow
My subtle counsel sorely lacks.
Once there, perchance the King may wax
Kind, good, and merciful to me,
Can I but gain impartially XI. Dachs'
His ear to weigh what I have done. redes avail.
Methinks, though my misdeeds had run
Much greater lengths, yet scarce could stand
The realm without me. 'Tis my hand
Hath ordered all things, and the King
Well knows my wit o'ermastering.
Though some right fell to meward be,
Yet, King and Lords, note carefully
My sage advice. When all are blind,
To Reynard must they turn to find
True words of wisdom; ever best
His craft and cunning stand confessed.
Some cruel men with mind accurst,
Have sworn against my life the worst
That lieth in them-that I own
Hath ofttimes o'er my spirit thrown
A pall of sadness-many may
One friendless man to death betray.
Yet, nathless, were it well to go
With thee, dear friend, each bitter foe
To face and answer, than to set
At venture all our lives, and let
Them thus be lost. Now forth we fare
To meet my fate: right well aware
And conscious am I of the might
The King doth wield, and whatso right
And just he counts, that thing must I
Accept and bear with, patiently."
With tenderest voice, to Ermelyne
He said: Dear dame, on thee I lean
To act as faithful prop and stay
Of this dear home, while far away
My duty calls me. Special care
Give thou to both our sons, and rare
XI. Dachs' Shall be thy recompense; first see
redes avail. Thou well to Reynkyn, who shall be
My second self: dear Rosel's skill
In theft hath promise, and he will
In time, I trust, become a thief
Of great renown : past all belief
I love my children, and if God
Should give me grace to 'scape the rod
That threats my life, and once again
To reach my home, ah! then with fain
And grateful heart shall I to you
Give loving thanks:-dear heart, adieu."
He turned and took the Courtward road.
Ah! God! how sorrowful abode
Lone Ermelyne then beside her small
Disfathered whelps, for he who all
The house provided, now was gone,
And she left helpless and alone,
Bereft of him who was to her
Protector, spouse, and victualler.
Xll-I HOW~ REYiARD -WAS
i- I SHRIVei ON-HIS 'W AY
HE twain had fared but little while
SWhen Reynard said: I feel how vile
My sins have been, and surely know
That now in jeopardy I go
To lose my life. I sore repent
The unholy way in which I've spent
So many years: no priest is here
To give me shriving, therefore, dear xII. Reynard
And worthy Nephew, unto thee shrift prays.
Will I confess me-contritely;
Assured I feel, that were I shriven,
I less should dread to go to Heaven."
Said Grymbert: Eme, if thou a mind
For shriving hast, thou must behind
Thee leave all lust to rob and steal."
Quoth Reynard : "That I deeply feel,
And so, Confiteor tibi Pater
A heap of evil deeds, and later
Will tell them fully, one by one,
And shrift received, and penance done,
Shall wend lighthearted."
"If thou the slough of sin wouldst shed
Through shrift, then English speak, I pray."
Said Reynard: Much I grieve to say,
Few men have done more wickedness
Than he who humbly doth confess
To thee his sins, and penance craves.
A many beasts have found their graves
Through my misdeeds. Mine Eme, the Bear,
With honeycombs did I ensnare;
And Tybert Cat, with hope of mice.
Then Chanticlere did I entice
From out his yard, with specious tale,
And ate his children. Time would fail
To go through all my crimes. The King
And Queen I slandered with a string
Of vilest falsehoods, which will stick
For ever by them. Many a trick
On Isegrym the Wolf I've played:
XII. Reynard A monk at Eelmare was he made
shrift prays. By my assistance, where I too
Donned monkish hood and gown. He drew
Therefrom small profit. When he sighed
To ring the bells, I tightly tied
The bell-rope round his feet, and soon
He rang therewith so wild a tune,
That, mazed and scared, folk ran to see
Who made such hideous minstrelsy.
And when 'twas found that Isegrym
Rang out the chime, they fell on him
With sticks and staves, till helpless left,
Half dead he lay, of sense bereft.
Another time the dullard sought
Fishing to learn of me, and bought
His knowledge dearly.
The fallow fields, at Vermedos,
A wealthy priest there lived, who kept
A well stored spence, wherein I crept,
When hunger prompted, through a hole,
And many a flitch of bacon stole,
Time and again. I thither led
The Wolf one winter's day, and said:
Dear Isegrym, if you but creep
Through this small hole, a wondrous heap
Of beef and bacon may ye find.'
With joy he crept therein, and blind
To future chances, so much ate
Of savoury viands, that too late
He found so vastly had his size
Of girth increased, that in no wise
His body through that hole would pass
By which he entry gained. 'Alas!
Dear Reynard,' cried he, 'help me out!
My answer was a deafening shout,
As sped I down the village street, XII. Reynard
And roused the neighbours; then as fleet shrift prays.
As drives the south-west wind, I ran
To where the priest, good easy man,
Was set to enjoy his midday meal-
A fatted capon; high the steel
Was raised with purpose to dissever
The tempting morsel: with a clever
.And well aimed stroke the fowl I cleared
From off the dish, and disappeared
Like lightning flash, then made my way
Towards the larder-' Stay, thief, stay,'
Roared forth the priest, 'who ever saw
So gross an outrage on the law,
As that a Fox should -dare to come
And rob a priest, within his home?'
"Therewith he cast at me the knife
His right hand grasped, whereby my life
Came near its ending-then, the board
He loves so well, when richly stored
With dainty viands, hastily
Thrusting aside, right nimbly he
Jumped up, and rushed forth crying: Maim
Or slay the Fox !' with either aim
A raging crowd of people flew
In hot pursuit, but passing through
The hole where lately Isegrym
Had made his entry, close to him
I dropped the capon on the ground-
Not for his benefit-but found
The burden more than I could bear:
And well it was I left it there,
For when the priest burst ope the door,
The capon found he on the floor
Beside the Wolf, while through the hole
XII Reynard By which I entered, out I stole
shrift prays. And went my way.
At once the priest
Clutched at the capon, and so ceased
To track my steps, with wonder stricken
To see the Wolf, (in whose eyes quicken
Alarm and terror,) loud shouts he:
'What wondrous vision do I see?
A red fox snatched away my capon,
And here the thief hath wolfish shape on !
Lay on, good friends, beat, break and tear
This plundering wretch, although he wear
A magic form.' Then fiercely fell
The crowd on Isegrym, pell-mell,
With sticks and staves, until he lay
As all foredone and dead; away
They dragged him over blocks and stones
(A bag of bruised and broken bones)
Without the village bounds, and cast
His body in a ditch.
Once more to health and strength he grew,
But how that happed I never knew-
Nor greatly cared-my grief but slight
Had been though he had died outright.
THE Wolf another time I led
To rob a henroost, where I said
A cock and seven fat hens arow
Sat on a perch. As down below
We stood and watched, a high fall-door
I pointed out, and said: 'The floor,
Where sit the birds, is just behind
That door, climb up, and ye shall find
Your heart's desire.' He laughing went,
Suspecting nought, but all intent
On plenteous feasting; here and there XII. Reynard
He snuffed about, then cried: 'Some snare shrift prays.
I fear ye set, or jape ye play,
Dear Nephew;' softly quoth I, 'Nay!
The man, dear Eme, who good will win
Must something venture: further in
The birds are roosting,' then a shove
I gave, and lo! the door above
Fell with a thundering noise down,
That well might rouse a spell-bound town.
"As through the house the clatter rang,
The slumberers started up, and sprang
From out their beds in wild affright,
Shrieking aloud, 'A light a light!'
And when they found 'twas Isegrym
Who caused their fear, they set on him,
And strook his body nigh to death.
"Dear Nephew, shame admonisheth
My tongue to leave some things untold
That scarce were fitting to unfold
To youthful ears, but deeply I
Repent my past carnality.
Here ends this woful roll of crimes
That stain the memory of past times,
And breed remorse within my breast:
But now, unburdened and confessed,
My mind feels easier, shrift I pray
At thy kind hands, to drive away
The clouds that hover o'er my soul,
Thy healing words shall make me whole."
GRYMBERT, who subtle was, and wise,
Replied: "Dear Eme, this tree supplies
The means of penance "; straight he broke
A slender twig, of fair grown oak,
XII. Reynard And said, Dear Uncle, wouldst thou quite
shrift prays. Absolve thy soul, thy body smite
Three times with this small rod, then bound
Three times across it on the ground:
Thou must not stumble, but keep straight
Thy legs, if thou wouldst expiate
Thy crimes: then take the rod in hand
And three times kiss it, this will stand
For token of obedience meek.
No further penance need ye seek,
But count your sins as wiped away,
From childhood's hour till this same day."
The Fox was glad.
Then Grymbert said:
"Dear Eme, henceforward be ye wed
To holy works, read well your psalms;
Keep fasts and holy days; give alms;
Frequent the Church; forthon leave sin,
And theft and treason, so within
Due time ye may to Heaven attain."
The Fox declared his heart right fain
Of holy counsel, and content
Seemed Grymbert-straight they Courtward went.
Beside the road they took, there stood
A Black-nuns' convent, fair and good
Of structure: capons, hens, and geese,
Strolled round the walls in careless peace;
Or basked in sprawling heaps together,
Beneath the sunlit springtide weather.
These Reynard noted; spake he nought,
But all astray his nephew brought,
Until they neared the fowls, when he,
All unawares, and suddenly,
Snapped at a heedless capon, strayed
Within his treacherous reach, and made
His feathers fly aloft in air. XII. Reynard
The Dachs turned sharply, saw the scare, shrift prays.
And cried: "What Eme thou cursed man
Wilt thou again incur the ban
Of sin, wherefrom thou art but free
Some few short seconds? Wilt thou be
For one poor capon doomed to Hell ?"
" I own, dear Nephew, 'twas not well,"
Quoth Reynard, but I clean forgot
My shrift-pray God I suffer not
This once-I swear that nevermore
Will I transgress; so turned they o'er
A little bridge, but Reynard's eye
Still watched the poultry-verily,
"That thing which in the bone is bred,
From out the flesh will ne'er be shed,"
And though to hang on gallows tree
Might be his fate, yet ever he
Watched every bird that cni,, in sight
As passed they onward, left and right.
His glances Grymbert saw, and spake:
" Foul, false deceiver! wilt thou take
Thine eye no instant off the birds ?"
The Fox said: "Nephew, suchlike words
Ye much misdo to use towards me,
For sweet devotion, wofully,
Your speech disturbs: I did but say
A paternoster by the way,
For all the souls of hens and geese,
That through my means, have had surcease
From watchful care of these good nuns.
Alas my burdened memory shuns
The wicked deeds of past ill days."
Too well did Grymbert know the ways
XII. Reynard Of Reynard Fox to give much heed
shrift prays. To suchlike pious talk; with greed
The Fox's eyes still sought for prey.
So came they whence they went astray,
And Courtward turned.
Sharp, quick, and short
Came Reynard's breath as now the Court
They neared, for all too well he knew
How great his crimes, what meed his due.
S XIII-' HOW- T E -FOX- CAMe-
H *& EXCuSeDH i- BeFoRe'
SO soon as through the Court 'twas known
That Reynard Fox his face had shown
Within its pale, not one so poor
Was found of kin or friends, but sure
He felt that, againstt the Fox complaint
'Twas safe to make, though ne'er so faint
And slight his grievance.
Was high and fearless, nought he shook
Or trembled coweringly, but went
With eye unmoved, and brow unbent,
By Grymbert's side throughout the street.
Yea! truly no King's son could meet
The gazer's eye with prouder stare,
As though the worth of one poor hair
He had not trespassed or misdone.
So marched he boldly to the throne,
Where sat the King, and cried: "God give XIII.Reynard
To thee great Lord, the while you live, at Court.
Honour and worship: never King
Had servant who in everything
Was truer liege, than I have been
To thee through life: though some I ween
Now stand within this Court, whose joy
Would rise past words could they destroy
Thine old-time friend, yet God I thank
That nought believe ye them, but rank
Such false deceiving liars rightly,
Nor let their tales deceive thee lightly.
It well to God may be complained,
That lying flatterers have obtained
In these last days too much belief
In lordly Courts: with shame and grief
Deceivers and false shrews I see
In power and great authority,
To good men's scathe; I humbly pray
That God, to such, due hire will pay.
"Peace !" cried the King, "base thief and traitor,
Of honest men most vile delator,
Thou well canst gloze fair specious tales
To blind men's eyes, but nought avails
By one poor straw thy flattering speech:
Deem'st thou thereby to overreach
Thy judge, and make of him a friend ?
Too well he sees thine aim and end.
Thy service towards thy King hath been
So base and treacherous, that I ween
Reward shall follow, just and due.
Wouldst thou then have me deem it true
That thou hast kept the peace I swore
Throughout my realm?"
The Cock no more
XIII. Reynard Could hold his wrath hereat, but cried:
at Court. Alas, 'twas through that peace that died
Said the King: "Hold still
Thy tongue, good friend, while I fulfil
Stern duty towards this losel thief,
'Tis mine to avenge thy thrice told grief."
And then again did he address
The Fox, stern-voiced and pitiless.
"Oh, robber shrewd! and murderer fell!
How true thy boast to love me well,
Thine hand hath shown on Bruin Bear
And Tybert Cat, who both declare
Thy deeds, though scant of words they be,
But that day's work shall cost to thee
Thy life, I swear In nominee
Patris et Christifilii! "-said
The Fox: "Dear Lord, if Bruin's head
Is blood besprent, with broken crown,
Can ye with justice set that down
To my account? He basely stole
Sweet honeycombs from out a bole
Of oak, which lay in Lantfert's yard.
If, in revenge, their owner marred
His head and limbs, am I to blame?
Surely, ere through the water came
He hither, a beast so strong of limb
Might lightly have avenged him,
For all he suffered. Tybert Cat
Next came, and friendly talk and chat
Awhile we held, then lastly he,
Scorning my counsel, suddenly,
Went off to rob the parson's house,
Whence stole he many a dainty mouse,
And thereby came to grievous ill.
My dear liege Lord, though thou shouldst spill
My blood, or blind, hang, seethe or roast
My body, yet I proudly boast
A conscience clear. Thou, King, art strong,
And I but feeble, yet no wrong
I fear to suffer through thy might,
'Fore all thou lovest truth and right."
As Reynard ended, Bellyn Ram
Stood boldly forth, and cried: No drachm
Of truth or justice dost thou say,
Thou base-born Fox, and Dame Olwey,
My faithful spouse, will bear me out."
While yet he spake an angry shout
Of loud complaint arose. The Bear
With all his lineage, claimed a share
In Reynard's censure. Tybert Cat
Was joined with Isegrym, who sat
In moody wrath: the fierce Wild-boar,
Cuwaert the Hare, though trembling sore,
The Goat and Kid, Brunel the Goose,
Baldwin the Ass, from toil set loose,
The Bull, the Camel, arid the Ox,
All raised their voices againstt the Fox,
With loud demand that forthwith he
Should be arrested. Readily
The King thereto gave ear, and cried,
" To prison with him-let him bide
In closest bonds-right well I wot
His crimes deserve a murderer's lot."
*XIV- HOW*THC FOX -WAS*
'TO'DCATH P V -
EREON a parliament was held,
Which found that so unparalleled
Were Reynard's deeds, that nought but death
Could wash their vileness. In a breath,
Reynard to each gave full reply,
And though all men spontaneously
Agreed that ne'er did beasts devise
More sound impeachments, yet so wise
Were Reynard's answers, that folk stood
Amazed to hear their likelihood.
But pleadings done, and both sides heard
By King and Council, 'twas averred
That guilty was he, past a doubt.-
Take note how oft it falleth out,
The feeblest hath the worst.-Then gave
The Court its sentence-that the grave
Must close o'er Reynard, and that he
Should deck the gallows speedily.
Alas! though still he sought to reach
His judges' hearts with flattering speech,
Nought could avail him. All as one,
Cried out that justice must be done
As now decreed,-yet still were left
Some faithful friends, whose hearts were cleft
With woe to think the Fox must die,
And roomed the Court most mournfully.
The King took note, how younglings went,
Of Reynard's kin, with heads low bent XIV. Rey-
In grief, and musing thereon said: nard's arrest.
" Behoveth counsel ere we shed
The Fox's blood; although a shrew,
Past doubt or question, no small few
Who own his lineage smack of good."
While thus he communed, nearby stood
The Cat, the Wolf, and Bruin Bear,
On whom devolved the ungracious care
Of hanging Reynard. Tybert cried:
" How now? why lag ye? eventide
Comes on apace, why friends so slow?
See here stout hanging-trees arow,
Whereon to sling the Fox; if he
Should 'scape this peril, who can see
What next may hap ? So great his wit,
And subtle craft, that fraught were it
With folly past belief, to give
Him yet another chance to live,
And mar us once again; why stand
We idle thus? Let each set hand
To place the gibbet, ere 'tis night.
Said Isegrym: Here ready dight
Behold a gallows," then he sighed;
That saw the Cat, and mocking cried :
"What! Isegrym, be'st thou afeard?
Or is thy memory grown so seared,
That pity overmastereth will
To hang the recreant who did kill
Thy brethren twain? An' ye were good
And wise, so long ye had not stood
A-tarrying when ye might repay
The debts of many a long past day."
EEP growled the Wolf, and said: "Ye make,
Sir Tybert, much ado, and take
My will to task-in case we had
A halter here, most wondrous glad
And willing should I be to lend
My help to speed the traitor's end."
The Fox, who long had held his peace,
Now spoke, and said: "To me surcease
Ye well may give, and short my pain
If so ye will, behold the bane
That lightly doth the means afford:
See! hangs round Tybert's neck the cord
Which caught him, when his greed for mouse
Led him to rob the good priest's house.
Active and lithe; he well can climb
And fix the rope; why lose ye time?
Ah! Isegrym, ah! Bruin Bear,
Say, is it meet that thus should fare
Your nephew at your ruthless hands?
I live too long. The law commands
The deed ye do: let Bruin lead,
And Isegrym, take thou good heed
To hold thy prisoner, lest he take
Some chance his cruel bonds to break."
Quoth Bruin: "Rarely have I heard
Friend Reynard speak so wise a word,
For long years past."
Then Isegrym XV. Fox days
Prayed kith and kin, who stood by him, seem short.
To see the prisoner did not slip
By some new wile from out their grip :
By beard and ears some held him fast,
While others round his fore-feet cast
A trammelling net.
The victim heard
With grief their speech, which in him stirred
Terror, and touched his heart anigh,
Then lastly spake, with long-drawn sigh:
"Alas dear Eme, methinks much pain
Ye take to do me scathe, yet fain
Would I beg mercy: though my grief
Seems to afford your heart relief
And pleasure, yet I feel assured
That, knew my Aunt what woe endured
Her well-loved nephew, of old days
She would bethink herself, and raise
Her voice in his behalf. Now he
Am I, to whom whatever be
Your will, that can ye work. May shame,
In life and death, surround your name,
O Tybert Cat; and Bruin Bear,
May'st thou of shame have equal share,
For both have done to me the worst
Within your power. Though death at first
Seem strange and hard, yet can I die
But once. My Father's death did I
Behold soon pass, and now I wend
That unknown path, fear nought the end."
Quoth Isegrym: "Since ye bestow
Your curse on us, because too slow
Ye find our work, may ill betide
Our souls if longer we abide."
XV. Fox days While Isegrym, upon the right,
seem short. Warded and watched the wretched wight,
Against his left was set the Bear,
And thus they led him forth to where
The gallows stood. With ready will
Ran Tybert forwards, wearing still
The cord around his neck which caught
His head within the gryn, and wrought
To him such punishment that yet
He writhed beneath it-ne'er forget
Could he the woes of that dread night,
Fruit of the Fox's vengeful spite.
Thus Reynard, safely kept by three
Stern gaolers, fared on towards the tree
Where felons use to meet their fate.
The King and Queen, in solemn state,
Followed, and in their wake did wend
Long courtier trains to watch the end.
Then fell the Fox in mighty dread
Of grisly death, and visions fled
Athwart his brain of how he still
Perchance might cozen fate, and fill
With shame those men who sought his life,
Setting the King with them at strife
Through tales and leasings"
"Though," thought he,
My lord be now sore wroth with me
For righteous cause, yet in the end
Perchance he may become my friend:
For if some specious tale I spin,
So well invented as to win
Credence of King and Council both,-
Wise as they be,-and make'them loth
To hang me, then once more may I
My foes o'ercome triumphantly.
Quoth Isegrym: "Consider well, XV. Fox days
Sir Bruin, how 'twas through this fell seem short.
And evil beast your crown of red
Ye came to wear, to-day his head
Shall bear your burden. Tybert, climb
The gallows swiftly, lose no time
To bind a riding knot around
The cross-branch, high above the ground:
This day I trust, we all may see
Our foeman's end ; beware lest free
Again he break: Sir Bruin, now
Hold fast, whilst I against the bough
Set up the ladder." Bruin said:
"I well shall help him."
Fear and dread,
Fell hard on Reynard, who exclaimed:
"Now is my spirit quelled, and tamed,
For death stands bare before mine eyes,
And all my past misdeeds arise,
To drive my soul to Hell: great King
And gracious Queen, I ask one thing,
Ere I depart, one little boon,
That may in some degree attune
To Heaven my spirit. 'Tis nor less
Nor more than this, that I confess
To thee, and those who stand anigh,
My past misdealings openly.
Thus purged, and cleansed, my soul no more
Shall feel encumbered as of yore,
Nor others be hereafter blamed
For treason worked by me, or shamed
For theft of mine. Hereby to me
Grim death shall somewhat easier be,
And when his waters o'er me roll,
Pray God to spare my sinful soul."
W HEN those who stood anear him heard
The humble boon the Fox preferred,
They cried: "O hear him, gracious King,
For is it not a little thing
He lastly asketh of thee ?" Said
King Nobel: "Nay then, by my head,
Since the desire it seems to be
Of all this goodly company
That Reynard full confession make
Of crime, ere he the journey take
Whence none return, I grant amain
The boon he asks."
Oh, then was fain
The Fox, who inwardly did cry:
"Give aid, 0 Spiritus Domini!
Though round about stands many a man
Who willingly my life would ban;
Yet courage from despair I take,
Good luck be mine!" and forth he spake:
" GOOD PEOPLE, hear the tale how I
Have spent my days from infancy.
From that first hour that I was yeaned,
Till dawned the day that saw me weaned,
Believe ye well, the woodland wild
Had ne'er beheld a sweeter child:
Blameless and pure I lived, and played
With tenderest lambkins, nought afraid
Or fraying, till I chanced to bite XVI. Old sins
One of my playmates, then good-night confessed.
To innocence; so wondrous sweet
I found the blood, that other meat
I scorned henceforward: next I heard
The bleat of kids and goats, which stirred
My veins, and twain I straightway slew;
Forthwith I callous waxed, and knew
No pleasure greater than to kill
Hens, ducks, and geese, rejoiced to spill
Their blood for sport.
One winter's day
I came on Isegrym, who lay
Asleep within a hollowed oak;
Awaking, friendlywise he spoke,
And forthwith claimed to be mine Eme:
' If that be so,' quoth I, wouldud seem
Well we were comrades;' straight quoth he:
' With right good will,' most cordially.
Alas! I sorely did repent
Of that alliance-thus it went:
Each gave his promise to be true
Toward his fellow, and a due
Fair share to give of each day's spoil:
Then set we forth with earnest toil
To hunt the woods and fields; his part
It was to rob great beasts, my art
Sufficed the smaller things to steal:
But when the business was to deal
The food betwixt us, less than half
Fell to my share; if ram or calf,
Or wether took we, for his own
He claimed it, and the barest bone
Would yield to stay my need, and drave
Me off right rudely, as a slave.
Then, when we gained a cow or ox
XVI. Old sins Alas! still worse would fare the Fox,
confessed. For Isegrym his wife would bring
To join the banquet, and a string
Of seven lean cubs, and quickly gone
Was Reynard's share. But fortune shone
Bright-eyed and gracious at this time,
In suchwise that Golconda's clime
Holds not more treasure than belongs
To me this moment. Poet's songs
Have ne'er imagined such untold
And heaped-up riches. Silver, gold,
And precious stones past counting, gems
And pearls, befitting diadems
Of mightiest kings lie gathered where
My hands have hidden them, and there
Must they remain, for now, alas !
Those treasures never more can pass
From out the darkness where they lie,
Since he stands here, condemned to die,
Who wots alone their lurking-place.
Perchance some happy wight may trace
In distant age his footstep thither,
Where rests that hoard which nought can wither
Or waste or change. The man who gains
That glittering wealth, seven goodly wains
Will need to bear it whence 'tis hid.
My Lord, if thou hast will to rid
The earth of him who hath the power
This harvest in thy lap to shower,
Speak thou the fatal word, and he
Will humbly bow to thy decree."
At first the King had barely listened
To Reynard's tale; but brightly glistened
His eager eyes when once he heard
Fall from his lips the magic word xvI. Old sins
Of GOLD, and straightway seized was he confessed.
By hell's foul fiend cupidity.
With hot desire his spirit burned
To touch these riches, and he turned
His voice, forthwith, from tone severe
To blandest fluting: "Reynard, dear,
Tell me," quoth he, "where may I find
This glorious hoard? I have no mind
To deal with thee severely; say
Where dwells this treasure, and away
Thy chains and shackles shall be cast."
O'er Reynard's sinking heart then passed
A gleam of hope. My Lord," he cried,
" I fear lest you your best friend chide,
When he avows that this great wealth
Was gotten by an act of stealth.
Nay, start thou not! except for that,
The chance is great ye had not sat
This day on that high throne where ye
Fair justice deal so worthily.
'Twould seem I was designed by Fate
To drag to light and dissipate
The vilest plot that ever yet
Was planned by reckless men to set
Themselves in place of those whom heaven
Hath in its highest wisdom given
To rule the world. Had this plot sped,
Thou hadst been murdered in thy bed !"
Therewith deep horror seized the Queen,
And cried she: "Reynard, dost thou mean
That men we trust in would imbue
Their hands in blood? Conjure I you
By that far road your soul must go,
To clearly speak, and make us know
XVI. Old sins
The full dread truth."
Oh, hearken now
How Reynard's flattering words shall bow
The King and Queen to give their love
And kindly wills to him above
All other men, and hinder those
Who labour for his death; unclose
His pack of lies shall he, and fair
Soft glozing speech so bring to bear
On all his matters, that wouldd seem
His life and acts with virtue teem.
With sorrowful countenance he spake,
And said : "For thy beloved sake,
Great Queen, since thou conjurest me,
Will I relate the tale: wouldd be
Of small effect that I should lie,
Doomed, as I am, forthwith to die.
Ye well may credit that my soul
I will not jeopardy, but the whole
Plain truth set forth-for should I tell
One falsehood, all the pains of Hell
Must be my lot. I nought will say
That may not be in plainest way
Made good and sure.
Now hear it shown,
How good King Nobel, by his own
Most trusted servants should have been
Murdered, and you, most gracious Queen,
Had shared his fate. Alas what grief
Wrings my sad heart to think the chief
And foremost movers in this plot
Were men of mine own blood. Did not
My conscience urge me on to lay
This treachery bare, would I betray,
Think you, my nearest kith and kin?
But that small voice which works within, XVI. Old sins
Moves me to speak, devoid of fear." confessed.
The King with grave and heavy cheer,
Replied: I charge thee, Reynard, now
To say in face of death, if thou
Herein dost speak plain, simple truth?"
Exclaimed the Fox: "Deem'st thou forsooth,
Here, standing on the very brink
Of Heaven, or Hell, that I should think
'Twould serve my turn to forge a lie?
Nay! ten times would I rather die
A thousand deaths than I should be
Condemned to fire eternally."
Then with a mighty trembling shook
His frame, as though death's agony strook
His bones and marrow, but the while
He inly laughed with cynic guile,
For well he saw how matters turned.
The Queen, whose heart with pity burned
At Reynard's feigned distress, then prayed
The King for grace, and begged that stayed
Might be the strife of tongues, while pause
Was given to Reynard, that his cause
He might set forth, unchecked by dread
Of evil hap.
King Nobel said:
"Let silence reign, that Reynard may
Tell forth whatever he hath to say."
Then spake the Fox: "Let all men hold
Their peace, while clearly I unfold,
As now commanded by the King,
A tale of treason, that will bring
Some great ones low-the truth shall spare
No man-let guilty souls beware."
OW hearken how the Fox began.
His eye around the Court he ran,
And then the faithful Grymbert called
To be his witness, and forestalled
Thereby the moment he might need
Support and help, for he would plead
Grymbert's good name, when any doubt
Was cast on tales he told about
His friends or foes.
"My Lord," quoth he,
"The onerous charge now laid on me
Is one which I have long forborne:
Past power to tell, my heart is torn
Betwixt stern duty, and the thought
That mine own honour must be bought
By others' woe-and lasting ruin
To Tybert, Isegrym, and Bruin.
"To clear the tale, must I go back
To days when lived my Sire-alack !
That his respected name should be
Involved in fraud and treachery.
Thus, then, it happed: my father found
Deep dolven down beneath the ground
The precious hoard of untold wealth,
Which great King Ermanric by stealth
In long-forgotten times concealed
From envious eyes. When now revealed
(By magic arts, none other knew) XVII. The
To my dear Sire, alas he grew Fox well goes.
Henceforth so proud, that he aspired
To rule the whole wide world, and fired
With this strange madness, in despite
Of law and reason, sense and right,
Tybert the Cat, as envoy sent
To journey o'er the vast extent
Of wild Ardenne, seek out the Bear,
Make him the offer of a share
In wealth untold, with vows that he
Would homage do and fealty
To Bruin, and anoint him King
In your despite, and shortly bring
Your royal line to nought. The Bear,
Dazzled at this great prospect, sware
To follow out his rede, for long
His heart had dreamed of suchlike wrong.
" Hot foot, he straight to Flanders sped,
And there, as he were King and head
Of beasts, my Father hailed him. Then,
With subtle wit past mortal ken,
The wise and helpful Grymbert they
Seduced to join them, nor made stay
Thereat, but sought out Isegrym,
And much I grieve to say, with him
The Cat conspired.
Beside a thorp,
'Twixt Ghent and Yft, the weft and warp
Of treason wove these five, discussed
Their plans, and boldly putting trust
In help and counsel of the fiend
Who reigns in Hell, they lightly weened,
By aid from him, and through the store
My Father owned, they need no more
XVII. The Doubt full success.
Fox well goes. Oh hearken now,
Great King, how ill from ill doth grow.
These five men pledged a solemn oath,
And plighted each towards other troth,
Confirmed by vows sworn on the head
Of Isegrym, that in thy bed
Thou shouldst be murdered, while the Bear
Should mount thy throne, and boldly wear
At Acon, sacred stole and crown:
My Sire, moreover, vowed to drown,
By bribes, all efforts that thy friends
Or lineage made to stay the ends
These traitors purposed, conquering right
By ill-got wealth and hireling might,
Till loyalty's voice was quenched in death.
"But thus it happed-when morning's breath
The conclave brake, my nephew dear,
Young Grymbert Dachs, such merry cheer
Had made o'ernight, that still he lay
Fordrunken through the following day.
And then to Dame Sleepcap, his wife,
Told forth the plot, but on her life
Charged her, that she should nought reveal
To living man. Beneath the seal
Of holy shrift my wife she told,
On pilgrimage, but bade her hold
Her shriving close, and made her swear
By those three holy Kings, whose fair
And precious shrine bedecks Cologne,
She ne'er would make the plotting known
Till death, nor dare for love or hate,
In any form to violate
The fateful secret that she held.
Hidden she kept it till it welled
Forth from her burdened heart to me XVII. The
What time we next joined company ; Fox well goes.
But strictly charged that I should keep
The dread disclosure hidden deep
Within my breast. Moreover gave
She then, with solemn words, such grave
And certain tokens that she spoke
Unblemished truth, that straight I broke
Forth in a fearful death-cold sweat,
The while she showed the wide-meshed net
Of foul conspiracy. Like lead
My heart became, and wellnigh dead
Within me felt, while stood my fine
Soft fur, like quills of porcupine,
Straight out on end.
And then thought I,
A likeness may be traced hereby
Betwixt the Frogs and us,-they dwelt
For ages free as air, yet felt
Desire for change, and therefore cried
To Jove, and. prayed he would provide
A Lord to rule them: and he gave
To them King Stork, who made a grave
Far down his throat, for all who said
They owned their souls, and ere long dead
Was half the Kingdom. Then they plained
Their lot, and gladly had regained
Their ancient freedom, but too late
Came vain regret, henceforth their fate
It was to suffer, for no more.
Could freedom reign as heretofore
Within their state.
So doth it seem,
That had this most nefarious dream
Of wicked plotters once been brought
To full fruition, past all thought
XVII. The Our woe had been-by traitors ruled !
Fox well goes. Ah then my heart was sharply schooled
In dread and fear, when visions crossed
My mind that Fortune's freak had tossed
Us all beneath the shrewish might
Of Bruin, who would those requite
He loved not, with affliction's fire:
But thee we know for Lord and Sire,
Of noble birth, and soul benign,
And should we tamely then resign
Thy rule to live beneath a Bear?
Whilst thou hast filled the kingly chair,
All men have lived their lives in peace,
Blessed with content, and fair increase
Of worldly goods, and should we throw
Thy house aside for one we know
Hath bred in long ancestral line
Folly and madness?
Grief was mine
By day and night, the while I thought
How I might wreck, and bring to nought
My father's counsel, which would make
This traitorous churl great lordship take
Beyond his fellows: then I prayed
On bended knees to Him who made
This wondrous world, to safely keep
With watchful love which knows not sleep
Our gracious Lord and King in health,
For nought I doubted that the wealth
My father owned he would employ,
In league with traitors, to destroy,
Or set aside, our honoured Lord;
Therefore I sought to trace that hoard
From earliest dawn till darkling eve;
Nor did my zeal one corner leave
Unsearched or covert; every stone
I dug beneath: each moss-o'ergrown XVII. The
And shaggy rock I hid behind, Fox well goes.
And through each dry stream-bed did wind
To track my Father's slot or tread:
And time and oft, above his head,
'Mid leafy branches would I watch
With patient eye, intent to catch
Some hint of where the treasure lay-
In shine or storm, by night and day,
His every movement I espied.
"At last it happed one Christmas-tide,
That, as I flat upon the ground
Lay couched, my parent with a bound
Appeared from out a hole. My breath
Came short and quick, for certain death
Were mine in case my form were seen.
He scanned around, but friendly screen
A bush afforded, and I lay
Unnoticed, ah! what words could say
The throes I suffered?
When the land
He deemed all clear, he scraped the sand
With painful care across the hole,
Yet worked with vigilance, and stole
A frequent glance around to see
If any watched : then, carefully,
The sand once more made smooth and plain,
With tongue and tail, till not one grain
Appeared displaced; and thus I learned
Some hints which I full oft have turned
To good advantage.
The ancient seemed, and straightway bent
His steps towards home.
Ye well may wot
XVII. The My eyes had closely marked the spot,
Fox well goes. Long sought with sleepless pains, and when
Its master well had passed from ken,
I lightly bounded towards the hole,
And burrowing deftly, as a mole,
Scratched, clawed, and scraped, with eager feet,
The sand away, till entry meet
For one of slim-built form was made.
My Lord-I hesitate-afraid
To put in words the view that burst
In glory on me when I first
Effected entrance. None I ween
Who live, except myself have seen
A sight so wondrous and so fair,
Past dreaming, and beyond compare
For sparkling splendour. Ne'er King reigned
Since earth began, but with unfeigned
Surprise and wonder had beheld
The scene that dazed my vision. Quelled
My spirit seemed within me when
I gazed around: nor gods nor men,
Foretime or late, have ever known
More wealth and treasure than was shown
In one vast heap-far flashing gold,
Plenteous, as though Pactolus rolled
His ruddy sands therein: moonlight
Could scarce have made the cave more white
Than glittering silver showed it; gems
Enough to broider all the hems
Of royal robes that e'er were worn
Since Kings first ruled: the gorgeous morn
Ne'er dyed her mantling in such hues
As flashed and sparkled: rich tissues
From looms of Perse and Ind were there
In bales unnumbered, and more rare
Than tongue can compass: from the wall XVII. The
Gleamed trophies fitted to recall Fox well goes.
Great tales of high romance: rich suits
Of armour, such as fame reputes
The godlike heroes bore of old;
Bright burnished steel, inlaid with gold;
Fair silver hauberks, fine as gauze
Spun from the web the silkworm draws
For shroud around him, yet as steel
Hard tempered, that no blade could feel
Its way therethrough.
Of suchlike gear
As queens and high born ladies wear,
Mine eyes beheld a paradise
Beyond all telling, past all price;
Necklets and bracelets, chains and rings,
Beset with emeralds shaming spring's
New undimmed raiment; coronets bright
With diamonds flashing like the light
Of sundawn's bursting; lustrous pearls,
Dazzling as teeth of laughing girls
In bloom of youth; rich rubies, red
As that young blood by Herod shed:
Sapphires of such surpassing hue
As mocked the heaven-reflected blue
Of sunniest ocean: topaz rare,
That flashed forth gold; and opals fair,
The myriad hued.
O'erhead there swung,
And through the cave sweet odours flung,
Rich lamps, with dedal chasing wrought -
By curious craftsmanship, and fraught
With fragrant spices.
In heaps, and scattered o'er the ground,
Lay coins of every clime and realm.
XVII. The Lightly might wealth so great o'erwhelm
Fox well goes. My Father's mind with maddening dreams
Of wild ambition. But meseems
That powerless sound mere words to draw
The faintest sketch of all I saw
Within that wondrous cave. As vain
It were to count the falling rain,
Or number daisies on the lea,
Or tell the myriads of the sea,
As strive to bring before thine eyes
By force of words, the wondrous prize
Once lost, now thine.
My faithful wife
I sought forthwith, who by her life
And hopes of heaven, on bended knee
Swore solemn oaths of secrecy.
"Then swinked we ceaseless, night and day,
This good to carry far away,
And hide within a deep haw-haw,
And then vast tons of earth to draw,
And heap o'erhead: now verdant grows
The grass thereon, and waving rows
Of willows mark the hiding-place
Of this great treasure.
While thus we laboured, grew the plot
Of treasonous crime. Ye well may wot
That burning to fulfil his bent,
With thrifty speed my Father went
To join his miscreant friends, who backed
His wild ambition till he lacked
Ruth, fear, or pity.
Hear ye now
Their hell-born project, and I trow
Thou wilt accord that but for me,
Great King, thou'dst fared but wretchedly. XVII. The
Fox well goes.
" The Bear and Wolf sent far and wide
The news o'er all the countryside,
That men might earn unheard-of wage,
In ready coin, would they engage
To fight for Bruin, while my Sire
With nimble foot, which nought could tire,
Bare treasonous letters through the land.
Ah! little wist he while he planned
And plotted thus, his treasure-store
Had vanished and he nevermore
Should find thereof one penny, though
He fondly hoped at one great blow
To'win the world.
When he had been
O'er all the land that lies between
The Elbe and Somme, and listed there
A band of fighting men, who sware
To haste to Bruin's aid as soon
As springtide waked the ringdove's croon,
Homeward he sped again to meet
His friends and fellows, who did greet
With open ears the tales he told
Of scapes and dangers manifold,
Endured and overcome, while he
Had scoured the land of Saxony,
Where hounds and hunters day by day
Pursued him so, that scarce away
He brake with life.
He next displayed
Letters to that fell four, which made
The treacherous heart of Bruin light
And gladsome. Well equipped and dight
With arms, they said, were seventy score
Akin to Isegrym, who swore
xvII. The That they, with Foxes, Cats, and Bears
Fox wellgoes. Unnumbered, would from out their lairs
Come trooping forth at trumpet call
To Bruin's aid, but one and all
Strict stipulation made that they
Should first receive a full month's pay.
"All this, thank God I heard and spied
And noting how my Father hied
Towards where he trowed his treasure lay,
With hurried footsteps, in the grey
Dim twilight followed, unperceived.
Ye Gods My bosom throbbed and heaved
Wellnigh to bursting as he drew
Anigh the fateful spot: I knew
What rage would seize him when the truth
Flashed on his senses: and forsooth
When came he near, and saw the hole
Gape wide, across his visage stole
A fearful look of blank despair,-
He entered straight, and soon as ware
Of what had happed, came rushing forth,
Looked east, looked west, looked south, looked
But no man saw, for I lay hid
Securely; next he wildly chid
His evil fortune, then a tree
He mounted, and, O misery!
Before mine eyes a corpse he swang,
While through mine ears his death cry rang
And ringeth yet.
Dull, dead and cold
My heart still turns, as I behold
In memory's glass that awful day:
Yet who shall rashly dare to say
That he hath erred, whose one pure aim
Hath been to shield from death and shame XVII. The
His sovereign Lord, and break the might Fox well goes
Of bold rebellious men ?
And Justice seem, alas astray,
When I behold the unblushing way
In which these traitors, round their King
In Council seated, barefaced fling
At me proud scornful looks, while I
Am left,-despised and spurned,-to die!
"To save thy life, dear Lord, I let
My own dear Father perish; yet
Small thanks are mine. What other one
Of all who stand around had run
Such risks as fell to my sad lot?
I pause-'tis vain-they answer not! "
While Reynard spake, a fierce desire
To win this treasure-hoard 'gan fire
The hearts of King and Queen, who cried:
" Nay, Reynard, wilt thou not confide
To us where this great storehouse lies ?
Or wilt thou rashly dare despise
To gain our mercy through this good?"
Quoth Reynard: "Nay, then, by the rood !
How should I tell so great a thing
In face of traitors, who would bring
My soul to death ? Each man of them
Would inly triumph, and contemn
The Fox for one of slender wit."
" Nay! here we find occasion fit,"
Exclaimed the Queen, to pardon all
Thy past offences, and recall
Thee to our Council, if but wise
Fox well goes.
And true thou provest"
The Fox: "Dear Lady, should my Lord
Of royal graciousness, afford
To me full pardon, and forgive
The past ill time, ne'er yet did live
Monarch on whom so rich a shower
Of wealth hath fallen, as shall dower
His crown withal: for as 'tis said,
The tale of stars that o'er us shed
Their influence, hath alone been told
By him who made them, so this gold
No mortal man can tell."
The King: "Ah! Dame, would ye confide
In legends Reynard doth relate?
Saving your reverence, innate
It is with him to rob and lie,
And though for once he willed to try
Plain-spoken truth, so in his bone
Is falsehood grafted, and so grown
Within his flesh, that much I doubt
If aught can drive that foul fiend out."
Replied the Queen: Nay, good my Lord,
'Twere well to trust the Fox's word,
For though he showed so fell before,
He now is changed, and will no more
Lie, jape, or steal: we all have heard
With what plain speech he hath preferred
Against his nephew and his Father,
Gross charge of crime, which he might rather
Have laid on other beasts, if he
Had mind to practise loselry."
Answered the King: Great Dame, if thou
Wilt have it so, my mind shall bow XVII. The
To thy desire, e'en though I thought Fox well goes.
That my accord thereto were bought
By some great scathe that might befall
Myself or crown. Now hear men all:-
An oath I swear by that same crown,
And by my kingly ermined gown,
That should the Fox but once again
Misdo and trespass, I will rain
Such vengeance down on him, and those
Who own his lineage, that the crows,
And other carrion birds, shall feed
For years untold on all the breed
Of Foxes, and their race shall be
Destroyed till past the ninth degree."
Then Reynard fixed his eyes stoundmele
Against the King's; such joy did feel
His heart he scarce found voice to speak,
But lastly, all subdued and weak,
"Gracious Lord, he were not wise
Who strove with foolish japes and lies,
To cozen one whose wit acute
Hath long been held beyond dispute
Or question; thou for judgment sound
Art through the world's wide space renowned,
And shallow-pated must he be
Who strives in wit to master thee."
The King from off the greensward took
A straw, with grave judicial look,
Then said: "E'en brittle as this straw,
I count that stern time-honoured law,
Whereby thou art condemned to die
For murder, theft and villainy.
XVII. The See now, before thine eyes is broken
Fox well goes. In twain this straw, let that be token
Of pardon for thy past misdeeds,
And full oblivion for the redes
Whereby thy Father sought to ruin
Our noble state, and establishh Bruin
On that illustrious throne where we
Hold rule with peace and equity."
Once more fair hope began to buoy
The Fox's heart, which leapt for joy
To hear these words, and in his brain
Arose forthwith a brilliant train
Of bold-eyed fiction, which the King
Should blind and hoodwink, and the string
Of lies he told make seeming fair
In such degree, that Wolf and Bear,
Cast down from high estate, might prove
The woe of thraldom, while above
Their abject heads exalt, he might
As champion pose, of Truth and Right.
HEN said he: "Gracious King and Queen,
I praise my God that ye have seen
It good, thus freely unto me
To do such worship; heartily
Thereof I thank ye, and will show
What strong and grateful love doth glow
Within my faithful breast: no King
Holds rule within this wide world's ring
Whose treasure-house shall equal thine;
For that great wealth, which now is mine,
To thee I freely give."
The Fox a straw in hand, with look
Of grave assurance: Hold," quoth he,
"This straw, and know most certainly,
King Ermanric's great wealth henceforth
As though 'twere thing of worth
The King received the straw, and threw
It gaily from him-then there flew
Across his face a joyous smile.
The Fox laughed inwardly the while,
For now the King gave ready ear
To all his counsel, and in fear
Stood many lest they fared but ill
Beneath the Fox's crafty will.
Then quoth he straight: I prithee lend
Attention while I bring to end
The tale of how this treasure may,