Early English versions of the Gesta Romanorum
Sidney J.H. Herrtage

[LII.]
(THE FABLE OF THE CAT AND THE FOX.)
Addit. MS. 9066.

[leaf 61 (cont'd)]

Story.

The foxe and the Catte mette onys to-gedgre. the foxe seide to the Catte, "how many wyles or sleightes haste thou, or knowes?" The Catte seide, "but oon alone." The foxe seide, "what is that?" The Catte seide, "when houndes folow me, I can̛ renne vpon̛ a tre, and̛ so scape from hem." Then the catte askid̛ the foxe, how many wiles or sleightes he had̛, or knewe? he saide, "I haue xviijen. and̛ a bage fuƚƚ moo; therfore come with me, and̛ I shaƚƚ teche the my crafte; and̛ when thou knowes hem, thou shalte wele scape the bytyng̘ of the houndes." and̛ they wentyn to-gedre. they herd̛ hunters and̛ houndes, folowyng̘ hem at here back. The Catte seide, "I here houndes, and̛ am aferde." then seide þe foxe, "drede the not, thegh the houndes come nere." The catte [seide], "fore sothe I folowe no lengere the; I wil vse myn owne wile." and̛ wente vp into a Tree, and̛ so scaped̛ the houndes. And̛ the houndes folowdyn, and̛ anone felle on the foxe, and̛ tokyn̛ [leaf 61, back] hym. The catte sate on lofte, on the tree, and̛ beheld̛ what they didden to the foxe; and̛ cried̛, "foxe! opyn thi bagge of̘ wiles, and̛ helpe thy selfe, for thou haddiste neuer more nede; for aƚƚ thy wiles helpith the not!"

Page  372

Declaracio.

Be the Catte are vndirstondyn sympiƚƚ men and̛ women, that can̛ but oon̛ wile, or oon̛ crafte, that is, forto calle to god̛, be contemplacion̛, and̛ to assende be feithe vpon the tree of cristes crosse; and̛ so are delyuered̛ from the houndes of the Enemeys of mankynde. But bi the foxe are vndirstondyn vokettes, prelates of causes temporaƚƚ, courteers, Iurrours, and̛ wily men̛, that han xviijen. sleightes, and̛ wiles passyng̘ tho a pokefuƚƚ. Atte laste comyn the hunters of helle, with here houndes, and̛ folowen hem, and̛ taken hem, and̛ rende hem. Than seithe the Catte, that sitteth on the tree of cristes Crosse, that bethe rightfuƚƚ man, "foxe! opyn thi bagge, and̛ lette oute thi wiles, and̛ help thy self̘!" that is, "ye wily men̛, Caste oute youre synnes be confession̛, contricion̛, and̛ satisfaccion̛; and̛ so helpe youre selfe, while ye lyve, or elles ye shuƚƚ be dede, bothe bodely and̛ gostely, withoutyn̛ doute." Amen, &c.