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The Wife Of Bath's Riddles


The frolicsome Wife of Bath, when called upon to favour the company, protested that she had no aptitude for such things, but that her fourth husband had had a liking for them, and she remembered one of his riddles that might be new to her fellow pilgrims: "Why is a bung that hath been made fast in a barrel like unto another bung that is just falling out of a barrel?" As the company promptly answered this easy conundrum, the lady went on to say that when she was one day seated sewing in her private chamber her son entered. "Upon receiving," saith she, "the parental command, 'Depart, my son, and do not disturb me!' he did reply, 'I am, of a truth, thy son; but thou art not my mother, and until thou hast shown me how this may be I shall not go forth.'" This perplexed the company a good deal, but it is not likely to give the reader much difficulty.

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