The Tank of Trial—p. 250.—I understand, from Professor Comparetti's note on Nakhshabī's story of the Father-in-Law (Researches, etc, p. 41), that the 15th tale of the Suka Saptatī is similar to the version I have cited from Cardonne's Mélanges in the incident of the “water trial,” to which a close parallel is found in the legendary “life” of Virgilius, as follows (from Thoms' English Prose Romances, ii, pp. 34-36):

Than made Virgilius at Rome a metall serpente with his cunnynge, that who so euer put his hande in the throte of the serpente, was to sware his cause ryght and trewe; and if hys cause were false he shulde nat plucke his hande out a geyne; and if it were trewe they shulde plucke it out a geyne without any harme doynge. So it fortuned that there was a knyght of Lum-bardye that mystrusted his wife with one of his men that was moost set by the conseyte of his wyfe: but she excused hyr selfe ryght noblye and wysely. And she consented to goo with hym to Rome to that serpent, and there to take hyr othe that she was not gylty of that, that he put apon hyr. And therto con­sented the knyght: and as they were bothe in the carte, and also hyr man with hyr, she sayd to the man; that when he cam to Rome that he shulde clothe him with a foles-cote, and dysgyse hym in such maner that they shulde nat knowe hym, and so dyd he; and when the day was come that he shulde come to the serpent, he was there present. And Virgilius knowinge the falsenes of the woman by his cunnynge of egromancy, and than sayd Virgilius to the woman: “With drawe your othe and swere nat;” but she wolde nat do after hym, but put hyr hande into the serpentes mouthe: and when hyr hande was in, she sware before hyr husbande that she had no more to do with hym than with that fole that stode hyr by: and by cause that she sayd trowthe she pulled out hyr hande a geyne out of the throte of the serpent nat hurt: and than departed the knyght home, and trusted her well euer after. And Virgilius hauing therat great spyte and anger that the woman hade so escaped destroyed the serpent: for thus scaped the lady a waye fro that great daunger. And spake Virgilius, and sayde: that the women be ryght wyse to enmagen ungraceousenes, but in goodnes they be but innocentes.

“It is curious,” says Mr. Thoms, “that at this day there is a chapel at Rome called Santa Maria, built in the first ages of the church, which is likewise denominated ‘Bocca della verita,’ on account of a large round mask, with an enormous mouth, fixed up in the vestibule. Tradition says that in former times the Romans, in order to give a more solemn confirmation to oaths, were wont to put their hands into this mouth, and if a person took a false oath his hand would be bitten off.”