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of you.' Thus abode there the earl of Flanders all alone : he might then well say that he was in great danger and hard adventure, for at that time, if he had fallen in the hands of his enemies, he had been in danger of death; for the Gauntois went from house to house searching for the earl's friends, and ever as they found any they brought them into the market-place, and there without remedy before Philip d'Arteveld and the captains they were put to death. So God was friend to the earl, to save him out of that peril: he was never in such danger before in his life, nor never after, as ye shall hear after in this history. Thus about the hour of midnight the earl went from street to street and by back lanes, so that at last he was fain to take a house, or else he had been found by them of Gaunt; and so, as he went about the town, be entered into a poor woman's house, the which was not meet for such a lord : there was nother hall, palace nor chamber, it was but a poor smoky house, there was nothing but a poor hall, black with smoke, and above a small plancher and a ladder of seven steps to mount upon, and on the plancher there was a poor couch, whereas the poor woman's children lay. Then the earl, sore abashed and trembling, at his entering said : ` O good woman, save me: I am thy lord the earl of Flanders; but now I must hide me, for mine enemies chase me, and if ye do me good now, I shall reward you hereafter therefor.' The poor woman knew him well, for she had been oftentimes at his gate to fetch alms, and had often seen him as he went in and out a-sporting ; and so incontinent, as hap was, she answered, for if she had made any delay, he had been taken talking with her by the fire. Then she said : `Sir, mount up this ladder and lay yourself under the bed that ye find, thereas my children sleep' and so in the mean time the woman sate down by the fire with another child that she had in her arms. So the earl mounted up the plancher as well as he might, and crept in between the couch and the straw and lay as flat as he could -. and even therewith some of the rutters of Gaunt entered into the same house, for some of them said how they had seen a man enter into the house before them ; and so they found the woman sitting by the fire with her child. Then they said: `Good woman, where is the man that we saw enter before us into this house, and did shut the door after him ?' ` Sirs,' quoth she, ` I saw no man enter into this house this night. I went out right now and cast out a little water and did close my door again. If any were here, I could not tell how to hide him : ye see all the easement that I have in this house: here ye may see my bed, and here above this plancher lieth my poor children.' Then one ofthem tookacandle and mounted up the ladder and put up his head above the plancher, and saw there none other thing but the poor couch, where her children lay and slept, and so he looked all about and then said to his company: 'Go we hence; we lose the more for the less: the poor woman saith truth ; here is no creature but she and her children': and then they departed out of the house. After that there was none entered to do any hurt. All these words the earl heard right well, whereas he lay under the poor couch: ye may well imagine then that he was in great fear of his life: he might well say, ` I am as now one of the poorest princes of the world,' and might well say that the fortunes of the world are nothing stable.' Yet it was a good hap that he scaped with his life: howbeit, this hard and perilous adventure might well be to him a spectacle all his life after and an ensample to all other. Now let us leave the earl of Flanders in this hard estate and speak of them of Bruges, and how the Gauntois persevered.

CHAPTER CCCCI

How they of Gaunt spared the merchants strangers ; and how the earl parted from Bruges and went to Lille, and how he was received there joyously.

FRANCIS ACKERMAN was one of the chief captains of these rutters : he was sent by Philip d'Arteveld and by Peter du Bois to seek about Bruges for their ene



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