Story of the Woman who knew the Language of Animals.

There was in former times a goldsmith who had a grown-up son, whose wife was acquainted with the language of animals, but she kept secret from her husband and all others the fact of her being endowed with such a rare gift. It happened one night that she heard a jackal exclaim: “There is a dead body floating on the river; would that some one might give me that body to eat, and for his pains take the diamond ring from the finger of that dead man.” The woman arose from her bed and went to the bank of the river, and her husband, who had not been asleep, got up and followed her unobserved. She went into the water, drew the corpse on to the land, and, being unable to loose the ring from the dead man's finger, which had swelled, she bit off the finger, and, leaving the corpse on the bank of the river, returned home, whither she had been preceded by her husband. Almost petrified by fear, the young goldsmith con­cluded from what he had seen that his wife was not a human being but a rákshasí; and early in the morning he hastened to his father and related the whole affair to him—how the woman had got up during the night and gone to the river, out of which she dragged a dead body on to the land, and was busy devouring it when he ran home in horror at the loathsome sight. The old man was greatly shocked, and advised his son to take his wife on some pretext into the forest, and leave her there to be destroyed by wild beasts. So the husband caused the woman to get herself ready to go on a visit to her parents, and after a hasty breakfast they set out. In going through a dense jangal, where the goldsmith purposed abandoning his wife, she heard a serpent cry: “O passenger, I pray thee to seize and give me that croaking frog, and take for thy reward the gold and precious stones concealed in yonder hole.” The woman at once seized the frog and threw it towards the serpent, and then began digging into the ground with a stick. Her husband quaked with fear, thinking that his ghúl-wife was about to kill him; but she called to him, saying: “My dear husband, gather up all the gold and precious gems.” Approaching the spot with hesitation, he was surprised to perceive an immense treasure laid bare by his wife, who then explained to him how she had learned of it from the snake that lay coiled up near them, whose language she understood. Then said he to his wife: “It is now so late that we cannot reach your father's house before dark, and we might be slain by wild beasts. Let us therefore return home.” So they retraced their steps, and approaching the house, the gold­smith said to his wife: “Do you, my dear, go in by the back door, while I enter by the front and show my father all this treasure.” The woman accordingly went in by the back door and was met by her father-in-law, who, on seeing her, concluded that she had killed and devoured his son, and striking her on the head with a hammer which he happened to have in his hand she instantly fell down dead. Just then the son came into the room, but it was too late.

“I have told your majesty this story,” adds the eldest prince, “in order that, before putting the man to death, you should make sure that he is guilty.”

The king then calls his second son, and asks him the same question as he had asked his brother, to which he replies by relating the