The Nobleman and the Soldier's Wife, whose Virtue he put to the proof.

WHEN the sun was set, and the moon had risen, Khojisteh came to the parrot, and said, “You pay no regard to my anguish: know you not that I am distracted with love? Give me leave this very night to go to my sweet-heart.” The parrot re­plied, “My own breast is inflamed and torn on ac-count of your sorrow. For, as you will hear my tales every night, instead of going to your lover, I am afraid lest your husband arrive, and you get shame with your sweet-heart, in the same manner as the soldier's wife put to confusion the nobleman.” Khojisteh desired to hear the story.

The parrot said, “In a certain city dwelt a mili-tary man, who had a very beautiful wife, on whose account he was always under apprehension. The man being indigent, the wife asked him why he had quitted his occupation and profession? He answered, I have not confidence in you, and there-fore do not go any-where in quest of employment. The wife said, This is a perverse conceit, for no one can seduce a virtuous woman; and if a wo-man is vicious, no husband is able to guard her. Have you never heard the story of the Jowgee, who kept his wife upon his back, and wandered about in the desart; notwithstanding which, she was guilty of infidelity with an hundred men? The soldier asked, What kind of story is that?

“The wife began with saying, that, once on a time, a man saw in the desart an elephant with a litter on his back. The man, alarmed thereat, climbed up into a tree. By chance the elephant came under that very tree, and having slipt off the litter from his back, went himself to graze. The man, on a sudden, discovering a beautiful woman in the litter, descended from the tree, and set about ingratiating himself with her: she also being well inclined towards him, began to speak to him in such words as suited her purpose. In short, they gratified their mutual evil inclinations; after which the woman took out of her pocket a string full of knots, and added thereto one more knot. The man inquired about the string, how it happened to have so many knots, and what was the reason of her adding another to the number? The woman replied, My husband, who is a magician, has trans-formed himself into an elephant, and wanders about the desart with me on his back; yet, notwith-standing he watches me so narrowly, I had before this carnal knowledge of one hundred men, the memory of whom I have preserved by making knots on this string; and to-day, through your condescension, the number of knots is increased to an hundred and one!

“Briefly—When the soldier's wife had con-cluded the story, the husband asked what she had further to say to him? The wife replied, It is most eligible for you to travel, and get into ser-vice. I will give you a fresh and lively nose-gay; as long as the nosegay shall continue in this state, you may be assured that I have not committed any bad action; if the nosegay should wither, you will then know that I have been guilty of some fault. The soldier listened to these words, and resolved on taking a journey. On his departure, the wife presented him with a nosegay. When he arrived at a certain city, he engaged in the service of a nobleman of that place. The soldier always took the nosegay along with him. When the winter season arrived, the no-bleman said to his attendants, At this time of the year a fresh flower is not to be seen in any garden, neither is such a thing procurable by persons of rank; it is wonderful from whence this stranger, the soldier, brings a fresh nosegay every day. They said that they also were astonished at this circum-stance. Then the nobleman asked the soldier, What kind of a nosegay is this? He answered, My wife gave me this nosegay as an emblem of her chastity, saying, As long as this nosegay con-tinues alive and fresh, know you of a truth that my virtue is unsullied. The nobleman laughing, said, that his wife must be a conjuror or a sorceress.

“In a few words, the nobleman had two cooks, remarkable for their cunning and adroitness. To one of these he said, Repair to the soldier's coun-try, where, through artifice and deceit, contrive to form an intimacy with his wife, and return quickly with a particular account of her; when it will be be seen whether this nosegay will continue fresh and gay, or not. In conformity to the nobleman's commands, the cook, having gone to the soldier's city, sent a procuress to the wife, who, through treachery and deceit, waited on her, and delivered the message. The wife did not give any direct assent to the procuress; but said, Send the man to me, in order that I may see whether he will be agreeable to me or not. The procuress introduced the cook to the soldier's wife, who said in his ear, Go away for the present, and tell the procuress I will have nothing to say to such a woman as this; then come alone to my house without apprizing the procuress, for these sort of gentry cannot pre-serve a secret. The cook approved of her plan, and acted accordingly. The woman had in her house a dry well, on which she placed a bedstead very slightly laced, and spread over it a sheet: when the cook returned, she told him to sit down on that bed; and he, having placed himself thereon, fell through, and began to bawl out. The soldier's wife said, Tell me truly who thou art, and from whence you came? The forlorn cook confessed all the circumstances about the soldier and the no-bleman.

“The short of the story is this—The cook, un-able to get out of the scrape, continued in this distressful situation. When some time had passed in this manner, and the first cook did not return, the nobleman gave the other cook a large sum of money, with abundance of goods, and sent him to the soldier's wife, in the character of a merchant. He pursued the like course with the other, and was caught in the same whirlpool. The nobleman, astonished that neither of the two cooks came back again, and perceiving that some evil or mischief must have happened to them, at length resolved to go himself.

“One day the nobleman, under pretence of hunt-ing, set out, attended by the soldier. When they arrived at the soldier's city, he went to his own house and presented his wife with the fresh nose-gay. The wife told her husband all that had hap-pened. The next day the soldier conducted the nobleman to his dwelling, and prepared an hospit-able entertainment. He took both the cooks out of the well, and said to them, Guests are come to my house; do you both put on women's clothes, place the victuals before them, and wait at table; after which I will set you at liberty. The two cooks put on female apparel, and served up the victuals to the nobleman. From their sufferings in the well, and bad diet, the hair had fallen from both their heads, and their complexion was very much changed. The nobleman said to the soldier, What crimes have these girls been guilty of, that the hair of their heads has been shaved? The soldier answered, They have committed a great fault; ask themselves. When he examined them more attentively, he knew them. They, in their turn, having discovered the nobleman, began to weep grievously, fell at his feet, and bore testimony of the woman's chastity and in-nocence. The wife called out from behind a cur-tain, Ay, my lord, I am that woman whom you suspected to be a sorceress, and sent men to put me to the proof, and laughed at my husband. Now you have learnt my character. The nobleman was abashed, and asked forgiveness for his offences.”

The parrot having concluded this story of the sol­dier's wife, said to Khojisteh, “My princess, go quickly to your lover, lest your husband should arrive, and you incur shame with your friend, in the same manner as the nobleman was confounded by the soldier's wife.” Khojisteh wanted, and made an effort to go; but at the very time the cock crowed, and day appearing, her departure was deferred.