Was ther with a forked berd,
In motteleye, and hye on horse he sat;
(= A Merchant was there, with a forked beard / Wearing parti-coloured cloth, a sitting high on his horse)
Chaucer himself can be seen to have this style of beard:
It’s possible he’s making a sly joke about the nature of the ‘author’ by having the same beard as the duplicitous, concealing merchant.
‘Motteleye’ refers to the parti-coloured cloth (we still have the word ‘motley’ today, as in ‘motely crew’) that members of London guilds would wear.
The fact that he’s sitting high on his horse is possibly a sign of showing-off, given his distinctive, ostentatious clothing.
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