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The Canterbury Tales

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Lo, how fortune turneth sodeinly
The hope and pryde eek of hir enemy!
This cok, that lay upon the foxes bak,
In al his drede, unto the fox he spak,
And seyde, ‘sire, if that I were as ye,
Yet sholde I seyn (as wis God helpe me),
Turneth agayn, ye proude cherles alle!
A verray pestilence upon yow falle!
Now am I come unto this wodes syde,
Maugree your heed, the cok shal heer abyde’;
I wol him ete in feith, and that anon.’—
The fox answerde, ‘in feith, it shal be don,’—
And as he spak that word, al sodeinly
This cok brak from his mouth deliverly,
And heighe upon a tree he fleigh anon.
Ah, but Fortune changes course quickly, and she will sometimes unexpectedly help those she frowned upon just a moment ago! Despite the fear running through him, Chanticleer—who still lay on the fox’s back—spoke up and said, “Mr. Fox, if I were you, I would turn around and say, ‘Go away, dummies! Damn you all! You’ll never get your rooster back because, now that I’m at the edge of the forest, I’m going to eat him right here and now.’” The fox answered, “Hey, yeah, that’s a good idea!” But as soon as he spoke, the rooster pulled himself out of the fox’s mouth and flew high up into a tree.


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And whan the fox saugh that he was y-gon,
‘Allas!’ quod he, ‘O Chauntecleer, allas!
I have to yow,’ quod he, ‘y-doon trespas,
In-as-muche as I maked yow aferd,
Whan I yow hente, and broghte out of the yerd;
But, sire, I dide it in no wikke entente;
Com doun, and I shal telle yow what I mente.
I shal seye sooth to yow, God help me so.’
‘Nay than,’ quod he, ‘I shrewe us bothe two,
And first I shrewe my-self, bothe blood and bones,
If thou bigyle me ofter than ones.
Thou shalt na-more, thurgh thy flaterye,
Do me to singe and winke with myn yë.
For he that winketh, whan he sholde see,
Al wilfully, God lat him never thee!’
‘Nay,’ quod the fox, ‘but God yeve him meschaunce,
That is so undiscreet of governaunce,
That Iangleth whan he sholde holde his pees.’
And when the fox realized that he’d lost the rooster, he said, “Oh Chanticleer, I’m so sorry! I must’ve scared you when I grabbed you and brought you out of the yard. But sir, I wasn’t going to hurt you. Come on down and let me explain. I promise I’ll tell you the truth, so help me God.” “No way,” Chanticleer replied. “Fool me once, shame on you—but fool me twice, shame on me! You’re not going to trick me again and get me to close my eyes and sing with your flattery. God punishes those who look the other way instead of seeing!” “No,” said the fox. “God punishes those who aren’t careful and talk too much when they should hold their tongue.”

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