The Merchant and His Tale

The Merchant

The Merchant and His Tale

"A Marchant was ther with a forked berd,
In mottelee, and hye on horse he sat;
Upon his heed a Flaundryssh bever hat,
His bootes clasped faire and fetisly.
His resons he spak ful solempnely,
Sownynge alwey th'encrees of his wynnyng.
He wolde the see were kept for any thyng
Bitwixe Middelburgh and Orewelle."
Wel koude he in eschaunge sheeldes selle." (270-278)

The Merchant's Tale tells the story of old January, who marries a young lady named May.  January's squire, Damian, falls in love with May, and the two plan to deceive January and consummate the relationship.  While in a garden, May climbs a tree to have sex with Damian; at that moment, January is miraculously given his sight in time to catch them in a compromising position.  May escapes punishment by explaining that she had heard that if a man's wife struggled with another man in a tree, it could restore a man's sight; thus, she acted to help January.  January accepts this flimsy excuse, and the tale ends happily.
Bibliography

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Riverside Chaucer. Ed. Larry D. Benson. 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton, 1987.