No. IV—pp. 35 and 148.

A VARIANT—possibly the original—of this widely-diffused story is found in the Hitopadesa, Book ii, Fable, 7, as follows:

“In the town of Dwárávatí a certain farmer had a wife, a woman of loose conduct, who used to amuse herself with the magistrate of the town and with his son. One day, as she sat diverting herself with the magistrate's son, the magistrate himself arrived. When she saw him, she shut his son in the cupboard, and began sporting in the same manner with the magistrate. In the meantime, the herdsman her husband returned from the fold. On seeing him, she said: ‘O magistrate, do you, taking your staff, and putting on the appearance of anger, depart with haste.’ This was done; and now the herdsman, coming up, asked his wife: ‘Wherefore came the magistrate here?’ She replied: ‘For some cause or other, he is angry with his son, who, running away, came here, and entered the house. Him I have made safe in the cupboard. His father, seeking him, and not finding him in the house, is therefore going off in a rage.’ Then having made the youth come out of the cupboard, she showed him to her husband.”

The 9th tale of the Disciplina Clericalis of Peter Alphonsus is evidently a modification of the story:

“In former times there was a good man, who, on setting out on a distant journey, left his wife in charge of her mother. This old woman brought to the house a young man whom her daughter loved. It happened that, while they were seated at table, the husband returned unexpectedly and knocked at the door. The young woman rose to open the door to her husband. But the mother (who lived with the friend of her daughter) did not know what to do, because there was no place in which to hide him. So, while the daughter was opening the door to her husband, the old woman took a drawn sword and handed it to the youth, and told him to stand with it drawn at the door; and if the husband said anything to him, he should answer nothing. The youth did as the old woman told him; and when the door was opened, the husband of the girl saw him, and he stood quite still, and said: ‘Who art thou?’ He did not say a word, but held the drawn sword in his hand, and the husband was per­plexed at this. The old woman said to him: ‘Fair son, be quiet; let none hear you.’ Then the husband wondered more than before, and said: ‘Fair lady, who is he?’ The old woman said to him: ‘Three men were following him just now; we opened the door and let him enter here, and because he feared lest you be one of them, he will not answer you.’ ‘Lady,’ said the husband, ‘you did well;’ and he entered and called to the lover of his wife, and caused him to dine with him.”

This is also one of the Fabliaux; but it must have been from another version, more closely resembling the Sindibād tale, that Boccaccio derived his story of the lady of Florence and her two lovers (Decameron, Day vii, Nov. 6): To the one called Leonetto she was much attached; but the other, Lambertuccio, only procured her good-will by the power which he possessed, in con­sequence of his high rank and influence, of doing her an injury. While residing at a country seat, the husband of this lady left her for a few days, and on his departure she sent for Leonetto to bear her company. Lambertuccio, also hearing of the absence of the husband, came to the villa soon after the arrival of her favoured lover. Scarcely had Leonetto been concealed, and Lambertuccio occupied his place, when the husband unexpectedly knocked at the outer gate. At the earnest entreaty of his mistress, Lambertuccio runs down with a drawn sword in his hand, and rushes out of the house, exclaiming: “If ever I meet the villain again!” Leonetto is then brought forth from concealment, and the husband is informed, and believes, that he had sought refuge in his villa from the fury of Lambertuccio, who, having met him on the road, had pursued him with an intention of putting him to death.—Dunlop.

From Boccaccio the story was reproduced in Tarlton's Newes out of Purgatorie (a catchpenny book), printed about 1590; and eleven years later Samuel Rowlands turned it into verse, in his Knave of Clubs, under the title of “The Cuckold:” the lady's lovers are a courtier and a captain;—the former is hidden away on the arrival of the son of Mars, who, when the lady hears that her husband is coming, is instructed how to comport himself in his retreat:

So downe the staires he goes,
With rapier drawne, such feareful looks he showes,
The cuckold trembles to behould the sight,
And up he comes, as he had met some spright.
Ah, wife, said he, what creature did I meete?
Hath he done any harme to thee, my sweete?
A verier ruffian I did never see;
The sight of him hath almost distracted me.
My loving husband, as I heere sate sowing,
Thinking no harme, or any evill knowing,
A gentleman comes up the staires amaine,
Crying, Oh, helpe me, or I shall be slaine:
I of compassion, husband (life is deere),
Under your bed in pitty hid him heere;
His foe sought for him with his rapier drawne,
While I with teares did wash this peece of lawne.
But when he saw he could not finde him out
(After he tossed all my things about),
He went downe swaggering even as you met him,
My saving the poore man so much did fret him.
A blessed deede, quoth he; it prooves thee wise:
Alas! the gentleman uneasie lies;
Wife, call him forth; I hope all danger's past;
Good Bettris, looke that all the doores be fast.
Sir, you are welcome to my house, I vow,
I joy it is your sanctuary now,
And count myself most happy in the thing,
That such good fortune did you hither bring.
Sir, said the courtier, hearty thanks I give,
I will requite your kindness if I live.

But the story had found its way into an English jest-book many years before its appearance in Tarlton's Newes, even before Boccaccio's tales were translated in Paynter's Palace of Pleasure. In Tales and Quicke Answeres, very Pleasant and Mery to Rede, 1535, it is told of an innkeeper's wife near Florence. While she was entertaining one lover, another came “up the ladder,” and she bade him be off. “But for all her words, he would not go away, but still pressed to come in. So long they stood chiding that the good-man came upon them, and asked them why they bawled so. The woman, not unprovided with a deceitful answer, said: Sir, this man would come in perforce to slay or mischief another that is fled into our house for succour, and hitherto I have kept him back.—When he that was within heard her say so, he began to pluck up his heart, and say he would be revenged on him without. And he that was without made a face as he would kill him that was within.—The foolish man her husband inquired the cause of their debate, and took upon him to set them at one. And so the good silly man spake and made the peace between them, yea, and farther, he gave them a gallon of wine.”

In all the Eastern texts, excepting the Persian and Scott's versions, the story of the Double Infidelity is preceded by another, related by the same vazīr: