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THE COFFERS OR CASKETS, &c.
In a Cronique thus I rede:
Aboute a king, as must nede,
Ther was of knyghtès and squiers
Gret route, and eke of officers :
Some of long time him hadden served,
And thoughten that they haue deserved
Avancement, and gon withoute:
And some also ben of the route,
That comen but a while agon,
And they avanced were anon.
These oldè men upon
So as they durst, ageyne the king
Among hemself compleignen ofte:
But there is nothing said so softe,
That it ne comith out at laste:
The king it wiste, and als so faste,
As he which was of high prudènce :
He shope therfore an evidence
Of hem that pleignen in the cas,
To knowe in whose defalte it was;
And all within his owne entent,
That non ma wistè what it ment.
Anon he let two cofres make
Of one semblance, and of one make,
So lich”, that no lif thilke throwe,
That one may fro that other knowe:
They were into his chamber brought,
But no man wot why they be wrought,
And natheles the king hath bede
That they be set in privy stede,
As he that was of wisdom slih
Whan he therto his time sih,
All privěly, that none it wiste,
His ownè hondes that one chiste
Of fin gold, and of fin perie“,
The which out of his tresorie
Was take, anon he fild full;
That other cofre of straw and mull5
With stones meynd 6 he fild also :
Thus be they full bothè two.
So that erliche? upon a day
He had within, where he lay,
Ther should be tofore his bed
A bord up set and fairè spred:
And than he let the cofres fette'
Upon the bord, and did hem sette.
He knewe the names well of thos,
The whiche agein him grutched so,
Both of his chambre and of his halle,
Anon and sent for hem alle ;
And seidè to hem in this wise.
There shall no man his hap despise :
I wot well ye have longe served,
And God wot what ye have deserved; .
But if it is along on me
Of that ye unavanced be,
Or elles if it belong on yow,
The sothè shall be proved now:
To stoppè with your evil word,
Lo! here two cofres on the bord;
Chese which you list of bothè two;
And witеth well that one of tho
Is with tresor sọ full begon,
That if ye happè therupon
Ye shall be richè men for ever :
Now chese, and take whịch you is lever,
But be well ware ere that ye take,
For of that one I undertake
There is no maner good therein,
Wherof ye mighten profit winne.
Now goth together of one assent,
And taketh your avisement;
For, but I you this day avance,
It stant upon your ownè chance,
Al only in defalte of grace ;
So shall be shewed in this place
Upon you all well afyn',
That no defaltè shal be myn.
They knelen all, and with one vois
The king they thonken of this chois :
And after that they up arise,
And gon aside, and hem avise,
And at lastè they acorde
(Wherof her? tale to recorde
To what issue they be falle)
A knyght shall spekè for hem alle :
He kneleth doun unto the king,
And seith that they upon this thing,
Or for to winne, or for to lese",
Ben all avised for to chese.
Tho* toke this knyght a yerd' on honde,
And goth there as the cofres stonde,
And with assent of everychone
He leith his yerde upon one,
And seith' the king how thilke same
They chese in reguerdon by name,
And preith him that they might it have.
The king, which wolde his honor save,
Whan he had heard the common vois,
Hath granted hem her owne chois,
4 Then. 5 A rod Every one.
And toke hem therupon the keie;
But for he woldè it were seie!
What good they have as they suppose,
He bad anon the cofre unclose,
Which was fulfild with straw and stones :
Thus be they served all at ones.
This king than, in the same stede,
Anon that other cofre undede,
Where as they sihen gret richesse,
Well more than they couthen gesse.
Lo! seith the king, now may ye se
That ther is no defalte in me;
Forthy? my self I wol aquite,
And bereth ye your ownè wites
Of that* fortune hath you refused.
Thus was this wise king excused :
And they lefte off her evil speche,
And mercy of her king beseche.
OF THE GRATIFICATION WHICH THE LOVER'S PAS
SION RECEIVES FROM THE SENSE OF HEARING,
Right as myn eyè, with his loke,
Is to myn herte a lusty cooke
Of lovès foodè delicate;
Right so myn eare in his estate,
Seen. Therefore. 3 Blame. 4i. e. that which.