The King and his Seneschal.

A certain king, whose body was all swollen, or leprous, desires his seneschal to procure him a mistress, and, on being reminded how repulsive his person was to women, tells him to take from his treasury whatever money might be necessary for the purpose. The seneschal's cupidity induces him to introduce his own wife to the king at night—having terrified her into compliance with his drawn sword. In the morning the seneschal repeatedly knocks at the door of the king's chamber, and is told to go away; at length he informs the king that the woman is his wife, upon which the king, having opened the window and discovered this to be the fact, declares that he will not part with her now, upbraids the seneschal for selling his virtuous wife for a paltry sum of money, and orders him, on pain of death, to quit the kingdom immediately.

This story is similiar to that of the Bathkeeper, which occurs in nearly all the Eastern texts of the Book of Sindibād, where, however (especially in the Arabian versions), it is related with some very objectionable details. In the Seven Wise Masters it is put into the mouth of the Queen, as it is made to tell solely against men; but in the Eastern texts of the Sindibād, it is related by one of the vazīrs, the woman being represented as yielding a not unwilling consent—though even thus its appro­priateness as one of the vazīrs' tales is questionable. In the Historia Septem Sapientum Romæ, and its derivatives—English and Scottish, Spanish, Armenian, Russian, etc.—this story is rather clumsily joined with another. It does not occur in Dolo-pathos ;—I was induced to state, in note, p. 61, that the story is found in this old text by Goedeke's comparative table of the versions of the Wise Masters (Orient und Occident, iii, pp. 422, 423), where I mistook “senes” for “senesc.” (senescalcus). In the same table the story does not appear in the contents of Rolland's Scottish version, though it forms part of another tale, as in the Septem Sapientum.

The form which the tale of the Seneschal in the Wise Masters and that of the Bathman in the Eastern texts of the Book of Sindibād assume in the Hitopadésa (Book i, fab. viii and ix) is to the following effect: A young and wealthy prince, becoming enamoured of the blooming wife of a merchant, employed an old woman to solicit her to grant him an interview, which she refused, saying that she was devoted to her husband. The old woman, after reporting the failure of her mission, advises the prince to enter the service of the merchant, who confides to him his most important affairs. One day, at the suggestion of the old woman, the prince, being anointed fresh from the bath, said to the merchant that he must perform a vow to Gaurī for the space of a month, and, beginning that day, requested the mer­chant to bring him every evening a young woman of good family, and she should be honoured by him in due form. Accordingly, the merchant, having brought a young woman of that description, presented her, and afterwards concealed himself to watch what he would do. The prince, without so much as touching the young lady, having done homage to her at a distance, with vestures, jewellery, perfumes, and sandal, dismissed her imme­diately in the care of a guard. On seeing this, the merchant became confident; and his mind being biassed by the lust of gain, he brought his own wife and presented her—the result, however, was very different from his expectations, and he was overwhelmed with grief.

VIII—The Fourth Master relates the story of