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The Unfaithful Wife

Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

Once upon a time there were two brothers and as their wives did not
get on well together, they lived separately. After a time it came
to the ears of the elder brother that the younger brother's wife
was carrying on an intrigue with a certain Jugi; so he made up his
mind to watch her movements. One night he saw a white figure leave
his brother's house and, following it quietly, he saw it go into the
Jugi's house, and creeping nearer, he heard his sister-in-law's voice
talking inside. He was much grieved at what he had seen, but could
not make up his mind to tell his brother.

One day the elder brother found that he had no milk in the house,
as all his cows had run dry; so he sent a servant to his brother's
house to ask for some milk; but the younger brother's wife declined
to give any, and sent word that her brother-in-law was quite rich
enough to buy milk cows if he wanted milk. The elder brother said
nothing at this rebuff, but after a time it happened that the younger
brother's cows all became dry, and he in his turn sent to his elder
brother for milk. The elder brother's wife was not disposed to give
it, but her husband bade her not bear malice and to send the milk.

After this the elder brother sent for the other and advised him to
watch his wife and see where she went to at night. So that night the
younger brother lay awake and watched; and in the middle of the night
saw his wife get up very quietly and leave the house. He followed her;
as the woman passed down the village street, some Mahommedans, who had
been sitting up smoking ganja, saw her and emboldened by the drug set
out to see who it was, who was wandering about so late at night. The
woman took refuge in a clump of bamboos and pulled down one of the
bamboos to conceal herself. The Mahommedans surrounded the clump but
when they saw the one bamboo which the woman held shaking, while all
the rest were still--for it was a windless night--they concluded that
it was an evil spirit that they were pursuing and ran away in a panic.

When they were gone, the woman came out from the bamboos and went on to
the Jugi's house. Her husband who had been watching all that happened
followed her: and having seen her enter the Jugi's house hastened
home and bolted his door from inside. Presently his wife returned
and found the door which she had left ajar, fastened; then she knew
that she was discovered. She was however full of resource; she began
to beg to be let her in, but her husband only showered abuse upon her
and bade her go back to the friend she had left. Then she took a large
stone and heaved it into a pool of water near the house. Her husband
heard the splash and concluded that she was drowning herself. He did
not want to get into trouble with the police, as would surely be the
case if his wife were found drowned, so he ran out of the house to the
pool of water to try and save her. Seizing this opportunity his wife
slipped into the house and in her turn locked the door from inside;
so that her husband had to spend the rest of the night out-of-doors.

He could not be kept out of the house permanently and the next day he
gave his wife a thrashing and turned her out. At evening however she
came back and sat outside in the courtyard, weeping and wailing. The
noise made her husband more angry than ever, and he shouted out to her
that if she did not keep quiet he would come and cut off her nose. She
kept on crying, and the Jugi heard her and sent an old woman to call
her to him. She declared that if she went her husband would know and be
the more angry with her, but she might go if the old woman would sit
in her place and keep on crying, so that her husband might believe
her to be still in the courtyard. The old woman agreed and began
to weep and wail, while the other went off to the Jugi. She wept to
such purpose that the husband at last could not restrain his anger,
and rushing out into the darkness with a knife, cut off the nose,
as he supposed, of his wife.

Presently the wife came back and found the old woman weeping in real
earnest over the loss of her nose. "Never mind, I'll find it and fix it
on for you," so saying she felt about for the nose till she found it,
clapped it on to the old woman's face and told her to hold it tight
and it would soon grow again. Then she sat down where she had sat
before and began to lament the cruelty of her husband in bringing a
false charge against her and challenged him to come out and see the
miracle which had occurred to indicate her innocence. She repeated
this so often that at last her husband began to wonder what she meant,
and took a lamp and went out to see. When he found her sitting on the
ground without a blemish on her face, although he had seen her with
his own eyes go to the Jugi's house, he could not doubt her virtue
and had to receive her back into the house.

Thus by her cunning the faithless wife escaped the punishment which
she deserved.

Next: The Industrious Bride

Previous: The Prince Who Found Two Wives

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