The Husband Shut Out.

The wife of a certain old man was in the habit of stealing out at nights when he was sound asleep, and meeting her lover. It happened one night that the husband awoke, and, missing his spouse from beside him, at once concluded that she was unfaith­ful; so he rose up, and securely bolted the outer door. A little before daybreak the truant wife returned, and finding the door fast, she

Bygan loud to crye,
And badde the devle hys neke to breke
That the doore hadde steke.

The goodman, however, was not to be moved by her entreaties or threats, and bade her begone, adding that in the morning he should expose her to all their friends and relations, yea, and to the whole town. In vain she continued to beg to be let in; the justly incensed husband was obdurate. At length she declared that she would not live to suffer such disgrace, and taking up a great stone she plunged it into the well, and then stole quietly close to the door. The husband, supposing the plash he had heard to be caused by her throwing herself into the well, began to relent, for he was doatingly fond of her, in spite of her levity and misconduct; so he hastened to undo the fastenings of the door, and went to the well to draw her forth if possible. Mean­while the artful wife quickly slipped into the house, bolted the door, and went up stairs to her warm bed—“an evyl deth mote scho dee!” The poor man, having fruitlessly searched into and all round the well for his wife, returned to the house, to find himself in turn shut out. Now there was a law in that town that all husbands found in the streets after a certain hour were to be taken up by the watchmen and severely punished. The husband therefore knocks repeatedly at the door, but his wife bids him return to his leman, with whom he has passed the night. The noise of their altercation attracts the watchmen, who come up, and ask what it is all about, to which the wife from the window replies, that it is her husband come back from spending the night with his leman—she had endured his mis­conduct too long, and now they may take him away and punish him. So the poor man is arrested, and thus “thorow his wyf he was schent.”

This tale seems to have been taken into the Liber de Septem Sapientibus from Alphonsus (Fab. 13), who probably derived it from the Arabian story-tellers. It is one of the fabliaux of the Trouvères (Le Grand, iii, 143), and the 4th novel, Day vii, of the Decameron. Dunlop says it is “the origin of the Calandra of Cardinal Bibbiena, the best comedy that appeared in Italy previous to the time of Goldoni; it also forms the groundwork of one of Dancourt's plays, and probably suggested to Moliere the plot of his celebrated comedy, George Dandin.”—It has also suggested the plot of one of the plays of Hans Sachs, Das Weib im Brunnen.

VII—The Queen then relates the story of