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The Fox and the Wolf is the earliest English version of a Reynard story in English before Chaucer's The Nun's Priest's Tale. The poem has 295 lines of rhyming couplets composed in the Southwest c.1250-75. It is to be found in MS Digby 86 together with Dame Sirith. The English version of The Fox and the Wolf is closely related to branch IV of the Roman de Renard combining the episodes of the 'Fox and the Cock' and of the 'Fox in the Well'. The poem is not a fable in the strict sense of the term, nor is it a beast epic. Instead it might be referred to as a complex beast tale incorporating elements of various medieval genres and modes of meaning, such as fable, beast epic, allegory, confession, satire, parody, etc. The plot of the tale is as follows:

    A very hungry fox intrudes the henhouse of a friary and eats several hens. He explains to the rooster that he has only been letting blood of the hens and tries to persuade the cock to fly down. But Chauntecleer, the cock, cannot be fooled. As the fox is thirsty he runs to a well with two buckets, leaps into one and finds himself at the bottom of the well. He complains of his bad fortune and hears the wolf, Sigrim, coming. He convinces the wolf that Paradise is at the pit's bottom. Sigrim at once wants to join the fox, who makes him confess all his sins. After Reynard has absolved Sigrim, the wolf jumps into the second bucket and sinks down, while the fox rises up. When the wolf is detected by the friars, he gets a thorough beating.

The Fox and the Wolf