desired rather strife and debate, they cared nothing for the earl's coming, for they knew well that if he came, they should privily be corrected at last for the evil deeds that they had done. Notwithstanding that they were in this doubt, yet they that had the governing of the law, the councillors and good men of the town, would for anything that he should come thither and that they should go and require him so to do, for they thought they had no firm peace without the earl came thither. And so there was ordained twenty-four men to go to Bruges to shew to the earl the great affection that they had to have him : and so they departed honourably, as it appertained for them that should go for their lord; and it was said to them by them of the town: `Sirs, return never again to Gaunt, without ye bring the earl with you ; for if ye do, ye shall find the gates closed against you.' Thus these burgesses of Gaunt rode forth toward Bruges, and between Bruges and Deynse they heard say how the earl was coming to Gaunt-ward, whereof they, were right joyous : and they had not ridden past a league farther, but that they met the earl in the fields. Then the burgesses stood still on both sides of the way, and so the earl and all his company passed through them. As he passed by, the burgesses inclined themselves right low and humbly and made great reverence to the earl. The earl rode through them without any great regarding of them, but a little put his hand to his hat, nor all the way he made to them no semblant. So the earl rode on the one side and the Gauntois on the other, till they came to Deynse ; and there they rested, for the earl did dine there, and the Gauntois went to other lodgings and dined also. And after dinner the Gauntois in good array came to the earl and kneeled all down before him, for the earl sat, and there they presented right humbly the affection and service of them of the town of Gaunt, and shewed him how by great love they of Gaunt, who desired so much to have him with them, hath sent them to him `And, sir, at our departing they said to us that it were but a folly for us to return again to Gaunt, without that we brought you thither with us.' The earl, who right well heard these words, held his peace a certain space, and at last, when he spake, he said fair and softly: ` Sirs, I believe well it be as ye say, and that divers of Gaunt desireth to have me among them: but I have marvel of that they remember not, nor will not remember, of time past, what they have shewed me; and I have been to them so courteous, meek and gentle in all their requests, and I have suffered to be put out of my country my gentlemen, when they have complained of them, to acquit their law and justice. I have also opened divers times my prisons to deliver out their burgesses, when they have desired it. I have loved and honoured them more than any other of my country, and they have clone to me clean contrary. They have slain my baily and destroyed the houses of my men, banished and chased away mine officers and brent the house in the world that I loved best, enforced my towns and brought them to their intents and slain my knights in the town of Ypres, and have done so manytrespasses against me and my seignory, that it is noyful to me to record it, and I would I could never think on it ; but I do and shall do, whether I will or not.' ` Ah, right dear lord,' said they of Gaunt, `for God's sake never regard it: ye have all things pardoned.' 'It is truth,' quoth the earl : `for all my words, in time to come I will ye shall be never the worse: but I shew it unto you, sirs, for the great cruelties and felonies that I have found in them of Gaunt.' Then the earl appeased himself, and rose up on his feet and caused them to rise, and said to the lord of Ramseflies,1 who was by him, 'Go, get some wine.' So they of Gaunt drank and departed to their lodgings, and tarried there all that night, for so did the earl; and the next day all together they rode towards Gaunt.
How the earl of Flanders entered into the town of Gaunt, and of his