Thus before the witnesses he divested himself utterly of all his wealth, and became naked as a peeled wand in the eyes of the world, for this merchant now had neither purse nor penny, nor wherewithal to break his fast, save it were given him by his son. So when the words were spoken and the merchant altogether spoiled, then the knight took his daughter by the hand and handfasted her with the bachelor, and she became his wife.

For two years after this marriage the husband and the dame lived a quiet and peaceful life. Then a fair son was born to the bachelor, and the lady cherished and guarded him fondly. With them dwelt the mer­chant in the same lodging, but very soon he perceived that he had given himself a mortal blow in despoiling himself of his substance to live on the charity of others.

But perforce he remained of their house­hold for more than twelve years, until the lad had grown up tall, and began to take notice, and to remember that which often he heard of the making of his father’s marriage. And well he promised himself that it should never go from mind.

The merchant was full of years. He leaned upon his staff, and went bent with age, as one who searches for his lost youth. His son was weary of his presence, and would gladly have paid for the spinning of his shroud. The dame, who was proud and disdainful, held him in utter despite, for greatly he was against her heart. Never was she silent, but always was she saying to her lord:

“Husband, for love of me, send your father upon his business. I lose all appetite just for the sight of him about the house.”

Anger and importunity

“Wife,” answered he, “this shall be done according to your wish.’ So because of his wife’s anger and importunity, he sought out his father straightway, and said:

“Father, father, get you gone from here. I tell you that you must do the best you can, for we may no longer concern ourselves with you and your lodging. For twelve years and more we have given you food and raiment in our house. Now all is done, so rise and depart forthwith, and fend for yourself, as fend you must.”

When the father heard these words he wept bitterly, and often he cursed the day and the hour in which he found he had lived too long.

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