“Ay!” quoth Bruin; “honeycombs, do you say? Hold you them in such slight respect, nephew? Why, sir, it is food for the greatest emperors in the world. Help me, fair nephew, to some of these honeycombs, and command me while I live; for only a small share I will be your servant everlastingly.” “You are jesting with me, surely, uncle,” replied the fox. “Jest with you!” cried Bruin; “bestrew my heart, then; for I am in such serious good earnest, that for a single lick of the same you shall count me among the most faithful of your kindred.”
“Nay, if you be,” returned Reynard, “I will bring you where ten of you would not be able to eat the whole at a meal. This I do out of friendship, for I wish to have yours in return, which above all things I desire.” “Not ten of us,” cried the bear, “not ten of us! it is impossible; for had I all the honey between Hybla and Portugal, I could eat the whole of it very shortly myself.”
“Then know, uncle, that near at hand there dwells a husbandman named Lanfert, who is master of so much that you could not consume it in seven years, and this, for your love and friendship’s sake, I will put into your possession.” Bruin, now mad for the honey, swore that for one good meal he would stop the mouths of all Reynard’s enemies.
Smiling at his easy credulity, the latter said, “If you would wish for seven ton, uncle, you shall have it”; and these words pleased the bear so much, and made it so pleasant, that he could not actually stand for laughing. “Well,” thought the fox, “this is good fortune; though I will assuredly lead him where he shall laugh more in reason.” He then said, “Uncle, we must lose no time, and I will spare no pains, such as I would not undertake for any of my kin.” The bear gave him thanks, and away they went together, the fox promising as much honey as he could carry, but meaning as many stripes as he could undergo.
At length they came to Lanfert’s house, the sight of which made the bear caper for joy. This Lanfert was a stout brawny carpenter, who the other day had brought into his yard a large oak, which he had begun to cleave, and struck into it two wedges, so that the cleft lay a great way open, at which the fox rejoiced, as it was just what he wished. Then, with a smiling countenance, turning to the bear, “Behold now,” he said, “dear uncle, and be careful of yourself ; for within this tree is contained so much honey, that if you can get to it you will find it immeasurable; yet be cautious, good uncle, and eat moderately.
The combs are sweet and good, but a surfeit is always dangerous, and may prove troublesome on your journey, which I would not for the world, as no harm can happen to you but must redound to my dishonor.” “Concern not yourself for me, faith, nephew Reynard; I am not such a fool but I can temper my appetite if I can only get at the honey.” “True, I was perhaps too bold to say what I did, my best uncle; so I pray you enter in at the end, and you shall there find what you want.”