No. XI—pp. 61 and 162.

IT is very significant that in this story as related in the Disciplina Clericalis of Alphonsus (A. D. 1106), the fabliau of La vielle qui séduisit la jeune fille, the Gesta Romanorum (13th century), and the collection of mediæval tales written in Latin, edited, for the Percy Society, by Wright (No. xiii, De dolo et arte vetularum), the incident of the Libertine Husband does not occur; but—as in the Sanskrit Suka Saptatī and our Persian Sindibād Nāma— the scruples of the virtuous matron are done away by the old hag's device, and the lover is introduced to her. In the Suka Saptatī the lady is the wife of a prince; a young man becomes enamoured of her, and his mother, seeing him fading away because of his love, adopts the expedient of the dog, and persuades her to grant her son an interview.

The oldest form of the story is probably that of the Cunning Siddhikari, in the Kathá Sarit Ságara: A Buddhist priestess has been employed by four young merchants to corrupt Devasmitá, the wife of a merchant, and with this object she pays a visit to the virtuous lady. The narrative thus proceeds:

“As she approached the private rooms of Devasmitá, a she-dog, that was fastened there with a chain, would not let her come near, but opposed her entrance in the most determined way. Then Devasmitá, seeing her, of her own accord sent a maid, and had her brought in, thinking to herself: ‘What can this person be come for?’ After she had entered, the wicked ascetic gave Devasmitá her blessing, and, treating the virtuous woman with affected respect, said to her: ‘I have always had a desire to see you, but to-day I saw you in a dream, therefore I am come to visit you with impatient eagerness; and my mind is afflicted at beholding you separated from your husband, for beauty and youth are wasted when one is deprived of the society of one's beloved.’ With this and many other speeches of the same kind she tried to gain the confidence of the virtuous woman in a short interview, and then, taking leave of her, she returned to her own house. On the second day she took with her a piece of meat full of pepper-dust, and went again to the house of Devasmitá, and there she gave that piece of meat to the she-dog at the door, who gobbled it up, pepper and all. Then, owing to the pepper-dust, the tears flowed in profusion from the animal's eyes, and her nose began to run. And the cunning ascetic immediately went into the apartment of Deva-smitá, who received her hospitably, and she began to cry. When Devasmitá asked her why she shed tears, she said, with affected reluctance: ‘My friend, look at this dog weeping outside here. This creature recognised me to-day as having been its companion in a former birth, and began to weep; for that reason my tears gushed through pity.’ When she heard that, and saw that she-dog outside apparently weeping, Devasmitá thought for a moment to herself: ‘What can be the meaning of this wonderful sight?’ Then the ascetic said to her: ‘My daughter, in a former birth, I and that dog were the two wives of a certain Bráhman. And our husband frequently went about to other countries on embassies by order of the king. Now while he was away from home I lived with other men at my pleasure, and so did not cheat the elements of which I was composed, and my senses, of their lawful enjoyment. For considerate treatment of the elements and senses is held to be the highest duty. Therefore I have been born in this birth with a recollection of my former existence. But she, in her former life, through ignorance, con­fined all her attention to the preservation of her character, therefore she has been degraded and born again as one of the canine race; however, she too remembers her former birth.’* The wise Devasmitá said to herself: ‘This is a novel conception of duty; no doubt this woman has laid a treacherous snare for me;’ and so said to her: ‘Reverend lady, for this long time I have been ignorant of this duty, so procure me an interview with some charming man.’ Then the ascetic said: ‘There are residing here some young merchants that have come from another country, so I will bring them to you.’”

The wicked ascetic returns home delighted with the success of her stratagem. Meanwhile Devasmitá resolves to punish the four young merchants. So calling her maids, she instructs them to prepare some wine mixed with datura (a stupifying drug), and to have a dog's foot of iron made as quickly as possible. Then she causes one of her maids to dress herself to resemble her mistress. The ascetic introduces one of the young libertines into the lady's house in the evening, and then returns home. The maid, disguised as her mistress, receives the young merchant courteously, and, having persuaded him to drink freely of the drugged wine till he becomes senseless, the other maids strip off his clothes, and, after branding him on the forehead with the dog's foot, during the night push him into a filthy ditch. On recovering consciousness he returns to his companions, and tells them, in order that they should share his fate, that he had been robbed. The three other young merchants in turn visit the house of Devasmitá, and receive the same treatment. Soon afterwards the pretended devotee, ignorant of the result of her device, visits the lady, is drugged, her ears and nose are cut off, and she is flung into a foul pond. In the sequel, the lady, disguised in man's apparel, proceeds to the country of the young libertines, where her husband had been residing for some time, and, going before the king, petitions him to assemble all his subjects, alleging that there are among his citizens four of her slaves who had run away. Then she seized upon the four young merchants, and claimed them as her slaves. The other merchants indignantly cried out that these were re­putable men, and she answered that if their foreheads were examined they should be found marked with a dog's foot. On seeing the merchants thus branded, the king was astonished, and Devasmitá thereupon related the whole story, and all the people burst out laughing, and the king said to the lady: “They are your slaves by the best of titles.” The other mer­chants paid a large sum to the chaste wife to redeem these four from slavery, and a fine to the king's treasury. And Devasmitá having received the money, and recovered her husband, was honoured by all men, returned to her own city, and was never afterwards separated from her beloved.

It will be observed that in this old Indian version the dénoue-ment is more moral than in any others: instead of the lady yielding, she entraps successively the four young merchants and their go-between, and punishes all of them in the most edifying manner.