There was once a rich merchant of Norwich, who brought and sold and sometimes sold and brought and when he wasn't doing that he would lend money at high interest, for he was only interested in himself. He was very rich, but unlike his friends who all had large apple cheeked wives whom they draped in fine cloth and jewels to demonstrate their wealth and success, he had not. All his life he had been too busy making coin to marry, for he was a miser. Lets say a bit of a banker. You all know what I mean!
But now he was growing old, cold and achey and he sought the comfort of of young firm flesh and so he set out on the road to find himself a willing young wife. He travelled north, he travelled south, he traveled east and even west, and he met many many a potential mate. Some were pretty, some were plain, but non to his fancy until he met Bess. Never had he seen one as beautiful as this young maid. She was as skittish as a colt as straight as a crossbow bolt. She was to use an underused term from long ago… Comely to behold.
The merchant had found a wife . They married but they did not live so happily ever after. For his Young Bess had come hither and come to bed eyes and the rich merchant began to worry that many another man would come hither when he was away on business. That many another man would come a knocking, come a tupping when he was away making coin. Such were his fears the merchant stopped going on his travels, he even feared to leave his own house lest others come and make him cuckold. Where once he had many chests of coin in his counting house, now he had few and the old merchants friends began to mock him, telling the many tales of old fools who sought young and willing flesh.
The old man did indeed feel foolish, knowing that he should never have married one so young and beautiful, knowing that soon he would not even have enough coin to care for her. Such were his fears that now the old merchant got very little joy from life and even less sleep. Each night he would lie besides the beautiful Bess tossing and turning preying to no one in particular for help, before falling into fitful dream leaden sleep. And this night so tired was he that no sooner had his head hit the pillow than he began to dream. Dreams of counting coin mostly and as he slept he fingered the chinks with his hands. But then there was a blast of bright light and standing at the the foot of his bed was an angel. A beautiful man with fine wings and a glimmering gown. The angel smiled serenely upon the old man and held out a hand, In which he held a golden ring. And then the angel spoke. I am an angel, said he to the merchant, But fear not. Rest happy and be of good cheer this night. For take this golden ring and place it upon the middle finger of you right hand and as long as you wear this ring your wife will never be unfaithful. Now sleep old man, said the Angel. before smiling once more, winking and disappearing before the merchants eyes.
The merchant knew his prayers had been answered. He wiggled and pushed the ring onto the middle finger of his right hand and settled down to sleep. And that night he slept the deep, deep and very sweet, sweet sleep of a happy and contented man. And in the morning the light spilt thru the open window. Birds were singing loudly and cocks were crowing as cocks so often crow in stories. The merchant he woke up feeling oh so much happier, energised even. He lept from his bed, or should I say he made to leap from his bed. For where his legs went, his body would not follow. For his body was attached to his right arm (as most are) His right arm was attached to his right hand and of course his right hand to his fingers. And the right middle finger? Well that was shoved firmly up his wifes arse!
And do you know, whilst he wore that particular ring on his finger the merchant's wife was never ever unfaithful!