Folklore of the Santal Parganas | Annotated Tale

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Unfaithful Wife, The

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.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Unfaithful Wife, The
Tale Author/Editor: Bompas, Cecil Henry
Book Title: Folklore of the Santal Parganas
Book Author/Editor: Bompas, Cecil Henry
Publisher: David Nutt
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1909
Country of Origin: India
Classification: unclassified

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