The Bodhisatta was once a rich merchant in Benares. One day, when he had gone to pay his respects to the king, his mother-in-law visited his wife. The former was deaf, and on asking her daughter if they were happy, and receiving the reply that the husband was a very good man, like a hermit, she heard only the word "hermit," and she raised a great uproar thinking that her son-in-law had turned hermit. The news spread like wildfire, and as the merchant was on his way home he was told by someone that all the members of his household were weeping because he had become a hermit. Thinking that auspicious words should not be trifled with, the merchant went to the king, took his leave, and became an ascetic in the Himālaya.
The story was told in reference to a merchant of Sāvatthi to whom the same thing happened when he went to pay his respects to the Buddha (J.ii.63-5).
The story is also given in the Jātakamālā, where it is called the Sresthi Jātaka (No.20).