But ȝif yþat a lous couthe þe betterre haue lopenM.5.200: M's b-verse reverses the syntax of the other B manuscripts. Compare W's han lopen þe bettre.
But yf that a louse coude haue lopen the better
But if þat a louse couþe · haue lopen þe better
But if a lous coude lepe þe bettere .R.5.201: All the B manuscripts are corrupt,
presumably losing most of the original b-verse: But if (þat) a lous couthe
(haue lopen / lepen) þe bettre. RF omit þat and avoid the perfect
tense. F's reading for this line is unique in other ways as well. The A-version reading for this line's second half is uncertain, with considerable variation
between witnesses. Kane chose I may it nouȝt leue. The C b-verse has the appearance of a feeble patch rather than a common
original: y leue and y trowe.
Þat but if a lows were lyght / & cowhde lepe þe bettre.F.5.198: F's reading for this line is unique. All the other B manuscripts are corrupt, omitting an alliterating stave in the a-verse: "But if a lous couþe haue lopen þe bettre." R also