14th century, Middle English: Princeton University Libraries, Advocates Library of Scotland.
Sir Amadace agrees to a strange bargain with a ghost, and soon finds himself on a beach dressing himself in the clothes he has recovered from a shipwreck that has washed ashore.
Sir Amadace is a debtor. He has decided to mortgage all his estates, pay off his debts and leave the country.
As he rides away with a small entourage, they come upon a chapel where a stinking corpse lies unburied. The man owes money and his principal creditor is refusing burial until the debt is repaid. Sir Amadace, out of pity, pays off this man’s remaining debts with the last of his own cash and, now penniless, says goodbye to his steward and his squire and wanders alone into the forest, wishing himself dead.
Perhaps it is an enchanted forest. Perhaps his wish has come true – for he seems to have entered a spirit world and soon he meets with a ghost. But is it the ghost of the debtor so recently buried? – for the ghost tells him that the Wheel of Fortune can rise and fall and then rise again and that he, the ghost, can guide Sir Amadace to an opportunity of great wealth and possessions, if he will agree that these treasures should be the ghost’s as well as his own and must be shared equally between them. What belongs to the one must belong to the other; as though, perhaps, the one is the other. Identities are becoming confused. Two debtors, the one's debts paid off by the other's last remaining money, two lost spirits.
Sir Amadace agrees to this bargain and soon finds himself on a beach where a ship has been cast ashore. All on board are dead. Here Sir Amadace finds chests and coffers full of treasure, a fine horse (miraculously survived) and nobody at all around.
Thenne Sir Amadace he him cladde and that was in a gold webbe, a bettir myghte none be.’ Sir Amadace dresses himself in some fine clothes, salvaged from the ship, and rides off on the horse to renewed fortune and a new life, claiming to be a prince.