Bernier, François, Travels in the Mogul Empire A.D. 1656-1668

(Westminster, Eng. :  Constable,  1891.)



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OF HINDOUSTAN                         311

keeping wives in subjection, of securing their attention in
times of sickness, and of deterring them from administer¬
ing poison to their husbands.

But let us proceed to another of these dreadful scenes,
not witnessed indeed by myself, but selected in preference
to others at which I happened to be present on account of
the remarkable incident by which it was distinguished. I
have seen so many things which I should have pronounced
incredible, that neither you nor I ought to reject the
narrative in question merely because it contains something
extraordinary. The story is in every person's mouth in
the Indies, and is universally credited. Perhaps it has
already reached you in Europe.

A woman, long engaged in love intrigues with a young
Mahometan, her neighbour, by trade a tailor, and a player
on the tambourine,! poisoned her husband, hoping that
the young man would marry her. She then hastened
to her lover, informed him of what she had done, and
claiming the performance of his promise to take her to
wife, urged the necessity of immediately flying, as had
been previously projected, from the scene of their guilt;
'for,' added she, 'if there be the least delay, I shall be
constrained by a common sense of decency to burn myself
with the body of my dead spouse.' The young man, who
foresaw that such a scheme would involve him in difficulty
and danger, peremptorily refused, and the woman, without
betraying the smallest emotion, went at the instant to her
relations, informed them of the sudden death of her
husband, and of her fixed resolution to die on the funeral
pile. Pleased with so magnanimous an intention, and with
the honour she was about to confer on the family, her
friends prepare a pit, fill it with wood, lay the body upon
the pile, and kindle the fire. These an-angements being
completed, the woman makes the round of the pit for the
purpose of embracing and bidding a last farewell to her

^ Probably a khunjuree; a small tambourine played upon with the
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