All these so belabored the poor bear that his life was in extreme jeopardy; he sat and sighed sadly during the massacre, but the thundering weight of Lanfert’s fierce blows was the most cruel to bear; for Dame Podge, at Casport, was his mother, and his father was Marob, the staplemaker, a passing stout man when he was alone. From him Bruin received such a shower of stones, at the same time that Lanfert’s brother wielded him a savage blow upon the pate, that he could no longer see nor hear, but made a desperate plunge into the adjoining river, through a cluster of old wives standing by, many of whom he threw into the water, which was broad and deep, among whom was the parson’s wife.
Seeing her floating there like a seamew, the holy man left off striking the bear, crying out, “Help, oh, help! Dame Jullock is in the water! I absolve the man, woman, or child that saves her, from all their sins and transgressions, past and to come, and I remit all penance.” Hearing this, all left the pursuit of the bear to succor Dame Jullock, upon which Bruin cut the stream with fresh strength, and swam away.
The priest only pursued him, crying in great rage, “Turn, villain, turn, that I may be revenged upon thee!” But the bear, having the advantage of the stream, heeded not his calling, for he was proud of the triumph of having escaped from them. He bitterly cursed the honey the honey tree, and more bitterly the fox, who had not only betrayed him, but made him lose his hood from his face and his leather gloves from his fingers.
In this condition he swam about three miles down the stream, when he grew so very weary that he was obliged to seek a landing. The blood trickled down his face; he sighed, and drew his breath so short that it seemed as if his last hour was come.
Meanwhile the fox, on his way home, had stolen a fat pullet, and running through a bypath to elude pursuit, he now came towards the river with infinite joy. For he never doubted but the bear was slain, and he therefore said, “My fortune is made, for my greatest enemy at the court is dead, and no one can suspect me.”
But as he spoke, looking towards the riverside, he espied the bear lying down to ease his grievous wounds. At this sight Reynard’s heart misgave him, and he railed bitterly against Lanfert the carpenter, cursing him for a silly fool, that did not know how to kill a bear in a trap. “What madman,” he cried, “would have lost such good venison? so fat and wholesome, and which lay taken to his hand.
A wise man would have been proud of the fortune which thou, like a fool, hast neglected.” Thus fretting and chiding, he came to the river, where he found the bear covered with wounds, which Reynard alone had caused.