Caxton - A Blind Man and His Wife

Caxton's Fables of Aesop (1484)

The xii fable is of a blind man and his wif.

There was sometime a blind man which had a fair wif, of the which he was much Jealous. He kept her so that she might not go nowhere. For ever he had her by the hand.

And after that she was enamoured of a gentle fellow they could not find the manner nor no place to fulfill their will. But, notwithstanding, the woman, which was subtle and ingenious, counselled to her friend that he should climb upon a pear tree. And he did as she told him.

And when they had made their enterprise, the woman came again in to the house and said to her husband, "My friend, I pray you that ye will go into our garden for to disport us a little while there."

Of the which prayer the blind man was well content, and said to his wife, "Well, my good friend, I will well. Let us go thither."

And as they were under the pear tree, she said to her husband, "My friend, I pray thee to let me go upon the pear tree, and I shall gather for us both some fair pears."

"Well, my friend," said the blind man. "I will well and grant thereto."

And when she was upon the tree, the young man began to shake the pear tree at one side, and the young woman at the other side. And as the blind man heard thus hard shake the pear tree, and the noise which they made, he said to them, "Ha! Ah, evil woman, how be it that I see it not, neverthless I feel and understand it well! But I pray to the gods that they vouchsafe to send me my sight again."

And as soon as he had made his prayer, Jupiter rendered to him his sight again. And when he saw that pageant upon the pear tree, He said to his wife, "Ah, unhappy woman! I shall never have no joy with thee."

And by cause that the young woman was ready in speech and malicious, she answered forthwith to her husband: "My friend, thou art well beholden and bounden to me, for by cause of me, and for the love the gods have to me, they have restored to thee thy sight, whereof I thank all the gods and goddesses which have enhanced and heard my prayer; for I desiring much that thou might see me, ceased never day nor night to pray them that they would render to thee thy sight; wherfore the goddess Venus visibly showed her self to me and said that if I would do some pleasure to the said young man she shold restore to thee thy sight. And thus I am the cause of it."

And then the good man said to her, "My right dear wife and good friend, I remercy and thank you greatly, for right ye have and I great wrong."

The spelling of the text has been regularized (and slightly modernized); from Caxton's edition of The Fables of Esope, as printed in Originals and Analogues of the Canterbury Tales. Chaucer Society, Second Series, 1887. Pp. 181-82.