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Nonne Prestes Tale

A thrifty widow had a cock, “hight Chaunteclere,” who had his harem; but “damysel Pertilote” was his favourite, who perched beside him at night. Chaunteclere once dreamt that he saw a fox who “tried to make arrest on his body,” but Pertilote chided him for placing faith in dreams. Next day a fox came into the poultry-yard, but told Chaunteclere he merely came to hear him sing, for his voice was so ravishing he could not deny himself that pleasure. The cock, pleased with this flattery, shut his eyes and began to crow most lustily, when Dan Russell seized him by the throat and ran off with him. When they got to the wood, the cock said to the fox, “I should advise you to eat me, and that anon.” “It shall be done,” said the fox, but as he loosed the cock's neck to speak the word, Chaunteclere flew from his back into a tree. Presently came a hue and cry after the fox, who escaped with difficulty, and Chaunteclere returned to the poultry-yard wiser and discreeter for his adventure. (Chaucer: Canterbury Tales.)

This tale is taken from the old French “Roman de Renart.” The same story forms also one of the fables of Marie of France, “Don Coc et Don Werpil.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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  • Chanticleer - Chanticleer The cock, in the tale of Reynard the Fox, and in Chaucer's Nonne Prestes Tale. The ...
  • Russel - Russel A common name given to a fox, from its russet colour. Dann Russel, the fox, stert up at ...
  • Clock - Clock So church bells were once called (German glocke, French, cloche Mediæval Latin, cloca) ...
  • Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: N - Definitions, origins, and illustrative excerpts for words, phases, and literary allusions starting with "N"

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