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Aesop's Fables: Caxton (1484)

5.4. Of the dragon and of the kerle
(Perry 640)

Men ought not to rendre euylle for good / And them that helpen ought not to be letted / As reherceth thys fable Of a dragon whiche was within a Ryuer / and as this Ryuer was dymynuysshed of water / the dragon abode at the Ryuage / whiche was al drye / And thus for lack of watre he coude not stere hym / A labourer or vylane came thenne that waye / and demaunded of the dragon / what dost thow there / And the dragon ansuerd to hym / I am here lefte withoute water / withoute whiche I can not meue / but yf thow wilt bynd me / and sette me vpon thyn asse / and lede me in to my Ryuer / I shal gyue to the habondaunce of gold and syluer / And the vylane or chorle for couetyse bound and ledde hym in to his repayre / And whanne he had vnbounden hym / he demaunded his sallary / and payment / And the dragon sayd to hym / By cause that thow hast bounden me / thow wylt be payd And by cause that I am now hongry / I shalle ete the / And the vylayne ansuerd and sayd / For to haue done wel / thow wylt ete and deuoure me / And as they stryued to gyder / the foxe whiche was within the forest herd wel theyr question and different came to them / and sayd in this manere / Stryue ye no more to gyder / For I wyll acord / and make pees bytwixt you Late eche of yow telle to me his reason for to wete / whiche of yow hath ryght / And whanne eche of them had told his caas the foxe sayd to the vylayne / Shewe thow to me / how thow boundest the dragon / to thende / that I may gyue therof a trewe and lawfull sentence / And the vylayne put the dragon vpon his asse / and bound hym as he had done before / And the fox demaunded of the dragon / helde he thenne the so fast bounden / as he dothe now / And the dragon ansuerd / ye my lord / and yet more hard / And the foxe sayd to the vylayn / Bynde hym yet more harder / For who that was wel byndeth / wel can he vnbynd And whanne the dragon was fast and wel bounden / the fox sayd to the vylayne / bere hym ageyn there as thow fyrst tokest hym / And there thow shalt leue hym bounden as he is now / And thus shalle not ete ne deuoure the /
For he that dothe euylle / euylle he must haue / For Iustly he shall ben punysshed of god / they that done harme and dommage to the poure folke For who so euer rendreth euylle for good / he shalle therof iustly be rewarded


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.