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Aesop's Fables: Caxton (1484)

5.17. Of the knyght and of the seruaunt / the whiche fond the Foxe /
(Perry 707)

Many ben that for theyr grete lesynges supposen to put vnder alle the world / but euer at the last theyr lesynges ben knowen and manyfested / as hit appiereth by this fable of a knyght whiche somtyme wente with an archer of his thurgh the lande / And as they rode / they fonde a Fox And the knyght sayd to his archer / In good soothe I see a grete Foxe / And the Archer beganne to saye to his lord / My lord / merueylle ye therof / I haue ben in a Regyon where as the Foxes ben as grete as an oxe / And the knyght ansuerd In good soothe theyr skynnes were good for to make mantels with / yf skynners myght haue them / And as they were rydynge / they felle in many wordes and deuyses / And thenne by cause the knyght perceyued wel the lesynge of his Archer / he beganne to make prayers and orysons to the goddes / for to make his Archer aferd / And sayd in this manere / O Iupiter god almyghty / I praye the / that this daye thow wylt kepe vs fro all lesynges / so that we may sauf passe thys flood and this grete Ryuer whiche is here before vs / and that we may surely come to oure hows / And whanne the Archer herd the prayer and oryson of his lord / he was moche abasshed And thenne the Archer demaunded of hym / My lord wherfore prayest thow now soo deuoutely / And the knyght ansuerd wost thow not wel that hit is wel knowen and manyfested / that we soone must passe a ryght grete Ryuer / And that he who on al this daye shalle haue made ony lesynge / yf he entre in hit / he shalle neuer come oute of hit ageyne / of the whiche wordes the Archer was moche doubtous and dredeful / And as they had ryden a lytyl waye / they fond a lytyl Ryuer / wherfore the Archer demaunded of his lord / Is this the flood whiche we must passe / Nay sayd the knyght / For hit is wel gretter / O my lord I saye by cause that the foxe whiche ye sawe may wel haue swymmed and passed ouer this lytyl water / And the lord sayd / I care not therfore / And after that they had ryden a lytyl ferther / they fond another lytyl Ryuer / And the archer demaunded of hym / Is this the flood ye spake of to me / Nay sayd he / For hit is gretter & more brode / And the Archer sayd ageyne to hym / My lord I say so / by cause that the Foxe of the whiche I spake of to daye was not gretter than a calf / And thenne the knyght herkyng the dyssymylacion of his archer / answerd not / And soo they rode forthe so longe that they fond yet another Ryuer / And thenne the Archer demaunded of his lord / Is this the same hit / Nay sayd the knyght / but soone we shalle come therto / O my lord I saye so by cause that the Foxe wherof I spak to yow this daye / was not gretter than a sheep / And when they had ryden vnto euen tyme they fond a grete Ryuer and of a grete brede / And whan tharcher sawe hit / he began al to shake for fere / and demaunded of his lord / My lord is this the Ryuer / ye sayd the knyght / O my lord I ensure you on my feythe / that the Foxe of the whiche I spake to daye / was not gretter than the Foxe / whiche we saw to day / wherfore I knowledge and confesse to yow my synne / And thenne the knyght beganne to smyle / and sayd to his Archer in this manere / Also this Ryuer is no wors than the other whiche we sawe to fore and haue passed thurgh them / And thenne the archer had grete vergoyne and was shameful / by cause that he myght no more couere his lesynge /
And therfore hit is fayre and good for to saye euer the trouthe / and to be trewe bothe in speche and in dede / For a lyer is euer begyled / and his lesynge is knowen and manyfested on hym to his grete shame & dommage


Caxton published his edition of Aesop's fables in 1484. There are modern reprints by Joseph Jacobs (D. Nutt: London, 1889) and more recently by Robert Lenaghan (Harvard University Press: Cambridge, 1967). Lenaghan's edition is available at amazon.com.