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ap

In quaint guise of clothing came they disfigured.

Το prayers and to penance put themselves

many,

25

All for love of our Lord lived they most strictly,

In hope of having

heaven's bliss after; As nuns and as hermits that in their cells

hold them,

Covet not careering about through the coun

try,

With no lustful luxuries their living to pam

per.

And some took to trade,
better,

As to our sight it seemeth

prosper.

30

to thrive by the

that such men

with min

And some, merriments to make, strels' cunning,

And get gold with their glee, guiltless, methinketh;

But jesters and jugglers, Judas' children, as fools preForged them wild fantasies

tended,

36 Yet have wit at their will to work, were they

willing.

What Paul preacheth of them prove here

I dare not:

Qui loquitur turpiloquium he is Lucifer's henchman.

Bidders and beggars fast about bustled, Till their bags and their bellies

and bulging;

were brimful

41

Faking for their food, and fighting at the

alehouse,

In gluttony, God wot, And rise up with rascals;

Sleep and sloth too

go they to slumber, ribaldry, these robber

pursue them forever. 45 Pilgrims and palmers pledged them together

To seek St. James's and saints' shrines at

Rome too;

Went they forth on their way with many

wise stories,

And had leave to be liars all their lives after.

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roam

beggars servant 21 what 22 prove, declare 27 brimful crammed 28 shammed 26 bellies went 32 these robber ribaldry go they 29 at the plighted rascals 33 sloth 34 follow 35

23

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36 seek 37 had

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And yif him wrattheth," be y-war and his weye shonye." 12

Alle this route of ratones to this reson thei assented.

175

for alle

Ac tho 13 the belle was y-bought and on the beighe hanged, Ther ne was ratoun in alle the route, the rewme 14 of Fraunce, That dorst have y-bounden the belle aboute the cattis nekke,

Ne hangen it aboute the cattes hals, al Engelond to wynne;

And helden hem unhardy 15 and here conseille feble,

180 And leten 16 here laboure lost and alle here longe studye.

A mous that moche good couthe,17 as me thoughte,

Stroke forth sternly and stode biforn hem alle,

And to the route of ratones, reherced these wordes:

"Though we culled 18 the catte yut

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19 sholde

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And if wrathful he be, then beware and his way shun well."

All this rabble of rats to this reasoning assented.

175 But when the bell had been bought and bound on the collar,

There was no rat in all the rout that, for all the realm of France,

Durst have bound that same bell about the cat's neck there,

Nor have hung it about his head, to have all England;

And found themselves fearful, and of feeble counsel, 180 And allowed their labour lost and their long study.

A mouse that much good marked, as methinketh,

Strode forth sternly and stood out before them,

And to that rabble of rats

wisdom:

rehearsed this

"Though we killed the cat, yet would there

185 though we

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For-thi I conseille alle the comune

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under benches.

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26 &C.

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