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1 buy 2 neck 3 hear n may 7 runs if he wishes to play pleases to play 11 he is angry


"reson me

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

Alle this route of ratones to this reson thei assented. 175

Ac tho 13 the belle was y-bought and on the beighe hanged,

for alle

Ther ne was ratoun in alle the route,
the rewme 14 of Fraunce,
That dorst have y-bounden the belle
the cattis nekke,

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

And helden hem unhardy 1

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 ther come another


172 ther-while hym

To cracchy us and al owre kynde, croupe 20 under benches. For-thi 21 I conseille alle the comune the catte worthe,22 And be we never so bolde the belle hym to shewe;

For I herde my sire seyn,23 is sevene yere y-passed, 'There 24 the catte is a kitoun the courte is ful elyng'; 25 That witnisseth Holi-write, who-so wil it rede: Ve terre ubi puer rex est, 26 &C.



yut 19 sholde

185 though we

to lat

6 rides

whether appear shun 13 but when

10 when he

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the cat flourish, And be we never so bold

then may we press


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

All this rabble of rats to this reasoning assented. 175

hen 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.

marked, as me

A mouse that much good thinketh, Strode forth sternly and stood out before them,

And to that rabble of rats

rehearsed this


"Though we killed the cat, come another To catch us and our kin, under benches. Therefore I counsel all the commons to let

the bell for to show

'tis seven years

him; For I heard my sire say since then 'Where the cat is a kitten the court will be ailing'; 190

That witnesseth Holy-writ,

whoso will read it: Vae terrae ubi puer rex est, etc.

yet would there 185 though we crept


14 realm 15 timid 16 counted 17 knew 18 killed 19 yet 20 should creep 21 therefore 22 be 23 where say 26 woe to the land where the king is a boy

25 ailing

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And from Ephesim Men gon 25 throghe many Iles in the See, unto the Cytee of Paterane, where Seynt Nicholas was born, and so to Martha, where he was chosen to ben 26 Bisschoppe; and there growethe right gode Wyn and strong; and that Men callen Wyn of Martha. And from thens 7 gon Men to the Ile of Crete, that the Emperour yaf som


1 man, person 2 rabbits flesh feeds 5

6 confusion get rid of tyrant




10 15

crowd 13 much 14 talking

it not for 11 could 12 rule

for rats in

For rest there may no man reap the night-time.

While that he catcheth conies he coveteth not our carcases,

But feeds him- all with venison, defame we him never.

For better is a little loss
The maze among us all
For many a man's malt

And also ye rabble of rats would rend men's clothing

But for that cat of that court that can overleap you;

For had ye rats your will, ye could not rule your own selves.


I say for me," said that mouse, "I see so much after,

Shall never the cat nor the kitten by my counsel be grieved,

Nor chatter of this collar that cost me noth

game were cost




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than a long sorrow, though we miss one 196 we mice would

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tyme to Janeweys. And thanne passen Men thorghe the Isles of Colos and of Lango; of the whiche Iles Ypocras was Lord offe. And some Men seyn,3 that in the Ile of Lango is yit the Doughtre of Ypocras, in forme and lykeness of a gret Dragoun, that is a hundred Fadme 5 of lengthe, as Men seyn: For I have not seen hire. And thei of the Isles callen hire, Lady of the Lond. And sche lyethe in an olde castelle, in a Cave, and schewethe 7 twyes or thryes in the Yeer. And sche dothe none harm to no Man, but-yif 8 Men don hire harm. And sche was thus chaunged and transformed, from a fair Damysele, in-to lyknesse of a Dragoun, be a Goddesse, that was clept 10 Deane." And Men seyn, that sche schalle so endure in that forme of a Dragoun, unto the tyme that a Knyghte come, that is so hardy, that dar come to hire and kiss hire on the Mouthe: And then schalle sche turne ayen 12 to hire owne Kynde,13 and ben a Woman ayen: But aftre that sche schalle not liven longe. And it is not long siththen,1 that a Knyghte of the Rodes, that was hardy and doughty in Armes, seyde that he wolde kyssen hire. And whan he was upon his Coursere, and wente to the Castelle, and entred into the Cave, the Dragoun lifte up hire Hed yenst 15 him. And whan the Knyghte saw hire in that Forme so hidous and so horrible, he fleyghe 16 awey. And the Dragoun bare 17 the Knyghte upon a Roche,18 mawgre his Hede; 19 and from that Roche,

then men pass through the isles of Colos and Lango; of the which isles Hippocrates was lord. And some men say that in the isle of Lango is yet the daughter of Hippocrates, in form and likeness of a great dragon that is a hundred fathoms in length, as men say; for I have not seen her. And they of the isles call her Lady of the Land. And she lieth in an old castle, in a cave, and appeareth twice or thrice in the year. And she doeth no harm to any man, unless men do harm to her. And she was thus changed and transformed from a fair damsel into likeness of a dragon by a goddess that was called Diana. And men say that she shall so continue in that form of a dragon until the time that a knight shall come who is so hardy that he dares come to her and kiss her on the mouth: and then shall she return to her own nature and be a woman again: but after that she shall not live long. And it



sche caste him in-to the See: and so was lost bothe Hors and Man. And also a yonge 20 Man, that wiste 21 not of the Dragoun, wente out of a Schipp, and wente thorghe the Ile, til that he come to the Castelle, and cam in to the Cave; and wente so longe, til that he fond a Chambre, and there he saughe 2 a Damysele, that kembed 23 hire Hede, and lokede in a Myrour; and sche hadde meche 24 Tresoure abouten hire: and he trowed,25 that sche hadde ben a comoun Woman, that dwelled there to receyve Men to Folye. And he abode, tille the Damysele saughe the Schadewe of him in the Myrour. And sche turned hire toward him, and asked hym, what he wolde. And he seyde, he wolde ben hire Limman 26 or Paramour. And sche asked him, yif 27 that he were a Knyghte. And he



formerly, once upon a time 2 the Genoese 3 yet fathom land appears 8 unless 9 by 10 called 11 Diana 12 again, back 13 nature since


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is not long since that a knight of the Rhodes that was hardy and doughty in arms said that he would kiss her. And when he was upon his courser, and went to the castle, and entered into the cave, the dragon lifted up her head against him. And when the knight saw her in that form, so hideous and so horrible, he fled away. And the dragon bore the knight upon a rock despite his efforts; and from the rock she cast him into the sea: and so was lost both horse and man. And also a young man, that did not know about the dragon, went out of a ship, and went through the isle till he came to the castle, and came into the cave; and went on till he found a chamber, and there he saw a damsel that was combing her hair and looking in a mirror; and she had much treasure about her: and he supposed that she was a common woman, who dwelt there to receive men to folly. And he waited till the damsel saw his shadow in the mirror. And she turned herself toward him, and asked him what he wished. And he said he would be her lover or paramour. And she asked him if he were a knight. And he said, "Nay." And then she said that he could not be her lover: but she bade him go back to his fellows and make himself a knight, and come again upon the morrow, and she would come out of the cave before him; and then he should come and kiss her on the

15 against 16 fled 17 bore 18 rock 19 despite his head (= despite all he could do) 20 young 21 knew 22 saw 23 combed 24 much 25 believed, thought 26 lover 27 if

seyde, nay. And than sche seyde, that he myghte not ben hire Lemman: 1 But sche bad him gon ayen2 unto his Felowes, and make him Knyghte, and come ayen upon the Morwe, and sche scholde come out of the Cave before him; and thanne come and kysse hire on the mowthe, and have no Drede; "for I schalle do the no maner harm, alle be it that thou see me in Lyknesse of a Dragoun. For thoughe thou see me hidouse and horrible to loken onne, I do 3 the to wytene, that it is made be Enchauntement. For withouten doute, I am non other than thou seest now, a Woman; and therfore drede the noughte. And yif thou kysse me, thou schalt have alle this Tresoure, and be my Lord, and Lord also of alle that Ile." And he departed fro hire and wente to his Felowes to Schippe, and leet 5 make him Knyghte, and cam ayen upon the Morwe, for to kysse this Damysele. And whan he saughe hire comen 6 out of the Cave, in forme of a Dragoun, so hidouse and so horrible, he hadde so grete drede, that he fleyghe ayen to the Schippe; and sche folewed him. And whan sche saughe, that he turned not ayen, sche began to crye, as a thing that hadde meche 8 Sorwe: and thanne sche turned ayen, in-to hire Cave; and anon the Knighte dyede. And siththen hidrewards,10 myghte no Knighte se hire, but that he dyede anon. But whan a Knyghte comethe, that is so hardy to kisse hire, he schalle not dye; but he schalle turne the Damysele in-to hire righte Forme and kyndely 11 Schapp, and he schal be Lord of alle the Contreyes and Iles aboveseyd.



mouth, and have no dread; "for I shall do thee no manner of harm, albeit that thou see me in likeness of a dragon. For though thou see me hideous and horrible to look upon, I give thee to know that it is caused by enchantment. For without doubt I am none other than thou seest now, a woman; and therefore dread thee naught. And if thou kiss me, thou shalt have all this treasure, and be my lord and lord also of all the isle." And he departed from her and went to his fellows on the ship, and had himself made a knight, and came back upon the morrow to kiss the damsel. And when he saw her come out of the cave, in the form of a dragon, so hideous and so horrible, he had so great dread that he fled back to the ship; and she followed him. And when she saw that he turned not back, she began to cry, as a thing that had great sorrow and then she turned back into her cave; and at once the knight died. And from then until now no knight has been able to see her but that he died very soon. But when a knight comes that is so bold as to kiss her, he shall not die; but he shall turn the damsel into her right form and natural shape, and he shall be lord of all the countries and isles abovesaid.


In the Lond of Prestre John ben many dyverse thinges and many precious Stones, so grete and so large that men maken of hem 12 Vesselle; 13 as Plateres, Dissches, and Cuppes. And many other marveylles ben there; that it were to 14 combrous and to 14 long to putten it in scripture 15 of Bokes.

But of the princypalle Yles ånd of his Estate and of his Lawe I schalle telle you som partye.16 This Emperour Prestre John is Cristene; and a gret partie of his Contree also: but yit thei have not alle the Articles of oure Feythe,17 as wee have. Thei beleven wel in the Fadre, in the Sone, and in the Holy Gost: 1 lover 2 back 3 4 know 5 let 6 7 fled 8 much since 10 till now 9



11 natural 12 them

In the land of Prester John are many diverse things, and many precious stones so great and so large that men make of them vessels; as platters, dishes and cups. And many other marvels are there; that it were too cumbrous and too long to put it in the writing of books.

But of the principal isles and of his estate and of his law I shall tell you some part. This emperor Prester John is Christian; and a great part of his country also: but yet they have not all the articles of our faith, as we have. They believe well in the Father, in the Son, and in the Holy Ghost: and they are very 13 vessels 14 too 15 writing part 17 religion




and thei ben fulle devoute and righte trewe on1
to another. And thei sette not be 2 no
Barettes, ne be Cawteles, ne of no Disceytes.5
And he hathe undre him 72 Provynces; and
in every Provynce is a Kyng. And theise
Kynges han Kynges undre hem; and alle
ben tributaries to Prestre John. And he
hathe in his Lordschipes many grete mar-
veyles. For in his Contree is the See that
men clepen the Gravely See, that is alle
Gravelle and Sond with-outen ony drope of
Watre; and it ebbethe and flowethe in grete
Wawes,10 as other Sees don; and it is never
stille ne in pes 11 in no manner 12
And no man may passe that See be Navye 14
ne be no maner of craft: 15 and therfore may
no man knowe what Lond is beyond that See.
And alle-be-it that it have no Watre, yit men
fynden 16 there-in and on the Bankes fulle gode
Fissche of other maner of kynde and schappe
thanne men fynden in ony other See; and thei
ben of right goode tast and delycious to
mannes mete.

devout and very true one to another. And
they do not practice any tricks, or frauds, or
deceits. And he hath under him seventy-
two provinces; and in every province is a
king. And these kings have kings under
them; and all are tributaries to Prester
John. And he hath in his lordships many
great marvels. For in his country is the sea
that men call the Gravelly Sea, that is all
gravel and sand, without any drop of water;
and it ebbeth and floweth in great waves, as
other seas do; and it is never still nor in
peace in any season. And no man may pass
that sea by ship or by any kind of craft: and
therefore may no man know what land is
beyond that sea. And albeit that it have no
water, yet men find therein and on the banks
very good fish of different kinds and shapes
from those that men find in any other sea; and
they are all very good to eat and delicious for
man's food.



And a 3 journeys long fro that See, ben gret Mountaynes; out of the whiche gothe 17 out a gret Flood,18 that comethe out of Paradys ; and it is fulle of precious Stones, withouten ony drope of Water; and it rennethe 19 thorghe the Desert, on that 20 o 1 syde, so that it makethe the See gravely; and it berethe 17 in-to that See, and there it endethe. And that Flome 18 rennethe also 3 dayes in the Woke,21 and bryngethe with him grete Stones and the Roches 22 also therewith, and that gret plentee. And anon as thei ben entred in-to the gravely See, thei ben seyn 23 no more, but lost for evere more. And in tho 3 dayes that that Ryvere rennethe no man dar 24 entren in-to it: but in the other dayes men dar entren wel ynow.25 Also beyonde that Flome,18 more upward to the Desertes, is a gret Pleyn alle gravelly betwene the Mountaynes; and in that Playn every day at the Sonne risynge begynnen to growe smale Trees; and thei growen til mydday, berynge Frute; but no man dar taken of that Frute, for it is a thing of Fayrye.26 And aftre mydday thei discrecen 27 and entren ayen 28 in-to the Erthe; so that at the goynge doun of the Sonne thei apperen no more; and so thei don every day: and that is a gret marvaylle.

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And three days' distance from that sea are great mountains; out of which flows a great river, that comes from Paradise; and it is full of precious stones, without any drop of water; and it runs through the desert, on the one side, so that it makes the sea gravelly; and it flows into the sea and ends there. And this river runs three days in the week, and brings with it great stones and rocks also, and that in great abundance. And as soon as they have entered into the Gravelly Sea, they are seen no more but are lost forever. And during the three days that the river runs, no man dares enter into it: but during the other days one may enter well enough. Also beyond that river, further upward towards the deserts, is a great plain of gravel between the mountains; and in that plain, every day at the rising of the sun, there begin to grow small trees; and they grow till midday, bearing fruit; but no man dares take any of that fruit, for it is a thing of faërie. And after midday they decrease and enter again into the earth; so that at the setting of the sun they appear no more; and so they do every day: and that is a great marvel.

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