No. XIII—p. 65.

THIS story is found in the 8th Night of Nakhshabī's Tūtī Nāma (where it is told by the 5th vazīr) and also in the modern version of its Sanskrit prototype, the Suka Saptatī.—Readers of Lane's translation of the Thousand and One Nights will probably recol­lect a more elaborate conversation by signs in the touching story of 'Azīz and 'Azīza, where the young man's cousin and betrothed interprets the amorous lady's symbols; for instance: She tucked up her sleeves from her forearms, and opening her five fingers, struck her bosom with them (with the palm and five fingers); next she raised her hands, and held forth a mirror from the lattice, and took a red handkerchief and retired with it; after which she let it down from the lattice towards the street three times, letting it down and raising it, and then wringing and twisting it with her hand and bending down her head; meaning thereby: “Come hither after five days; seat thyself at the shop of the dyer [indicated by the dipping and wringing of the red handkerchief], until my messenger shall come to thee.”—Lane remarks, that “the inability of numbers of Eastern women in families of the middle classes to write or read, as well as the difficulty or impossibility existing of conveying written letters, may have given rise to such modes of communication.”

Another example of conversing by signs occurs in the Story of the Minister's Son, in the Sanskrit collection entitled Vetala-panchavinsati (Twenty-five Tales of a Demon). The prince and his companion, the minister's son, discover a lady bathing in a tank; and the prince and the damsel become immediately enam­oured of each other. The lady took a lotus from her garland of flowers, and put it in her ear; she then twisted it into an ornament called dantapatra, or tooth-leaf; then she took another lotus and placed it significantly upon her heart. The minister's son explains these signs: the lady lives in such a place; she is the daughter of a dentist there; her name is Padmavati, and her heart is wholly the prince's. An old woman (as usual) acts as go-between. The lady scolds her, strikes her on both cheeks with her two hands smeared with camphor;—meaning: “Wait for the remaining ten nights of moonlight, for they are unfavour­able for an interview.” A second time the old woman goes to the lady, who again pretends to be angry with her, and strikes her on the breast with three fingers dipped in red dye;—meaning: “I cannot receive you for three nights.” A third time the lady receives her more graciously, but, instead of letting her go into the street by the usual way, she places her in a seat with a rope fastened to support it, and lets her down from a window into the garden of the house, where she must climb a tree, cross the wall, and let herself down by another tree, and go to her own house; thus indicating to the prince the way by which he was to be admitted into the house.

Cardonne, in his Mélanges de Littérature Orientale, gives a variant of our story, with additions, from a Persian or Turkish collection. After the father-in-law (a merchant of Agra) has failed to convince his son of his wife's infidelity, by displaying the anklets, he is still resolved to open his eyes to her true character, at whatever cost. “There was at Agra a mysterious reservoir, much admired, constructed by some wise men, who had brought water into it under the conjunction of certain planets. The virtue of the water consisted in trying all kinds of falsehood. A woman, suspected of infidelity, swore she had been faithful, and was thrown into this tank, called the Tank of Trial; if she swore falsely, she instantly sank to the bottom, but if truly, she swam on the surface. The enraged father-in-law cited the lady to this tank, according to the right of every head of a family. Conscious of her guilt, the lady studied how to clear herself in the eyes of the world. Acquainting her gallant of her situation, she begged him to counterfeit madness, and to seize her in his arms the moment she was to undergo the trial. The lover, solicitous to save the honour and life of his mistress, made no difficulty to expose himself to the eyes of the spectators, and found an opportunity to approach and embrace her, which he effected by subjecting himself to a few blows, being deemed insane by those who did not know him.

“The suspected wife advanced to the edge of the tank, and, raising her voice, cried: ‘I swear that I have never touched any man but my husband and that madman who has just insulted me. Let this water be my punishment if I have sworn falsely.’ Having thus spoken, she threw herself into the tank. The water buoyed her up in the sight of all present, who unanimously de­clared her innocent, and she returned triumphant to the arms of her husband, who had always thought her faithful. But the old man could not give up the opinion he had formed from the evi­dence of his own eyes; he kept constant watch in the garden, but the lover and the lady discontinued their meetings.

“The vigilance of the father-in-law did not, however, abate. The king of India, being informed of his indefatigable care and attention, thought him a very proper person to superintend his harem, and appointed him to that responsible office. The old man discharged his duties with great severity; every one trembled before him, and his eyes seemed to penetrate the walls of the seraglio, even to its inmost recesses. One night as the unre­lenting old fellow was going his usual rounds, he perceived the prince's elephant mounted by its driver. This privileged animal advanced to the balcony of the king's favourite wife, which opened, and the elephant, taking the lady upon his trunk, con­ducted her to his rider. After some time the lady was brought back again in the same manner, and set down in her balcony. The aga could not help laughing at the docility of the animal, the confidence of the lady, and the happiness of the guide. The adventure having taught him that the sultan was no more for­tunate than his son, he took comfort, and resolved to keep the lady's intrigue more secret than he had done that of his daughter-in-law.

From a fabliau, possibly, Margaret Queen of Navarre obtained the material of the 45th tale of her Heptameron, in which an officious neighbour, looking from his window, discovers a lady and her gallant in the garden; when she sees that they are being thus watched, she sends her lover away, and, going into the house, persuades her husband to spend what remains of the night with her in the same spot. In the morning the neighbour meets the husband and tells him of his wife's misconduct, but is answered: “It was I, gossip, it was I.”