The Good Wife and the Bad Husband
In a remote village there lived a man and his wife, who was a stupid little woman and believed everything that was told her. Whenever people wanted anything from her they used to come and flatter her; but this had to be done in the absence of her husband, because he was a very miserly man, and would never part with any of his money, for all he was exceedingly rich. Nevertheless, without his knowledge cunning beggars would now and then come to his wife and beg of her, and they used generally to succeed, as she was so amenable to flattery. But whenever her husband found her out he would come down heavily upon her, sometimes with words and sometimes with blows. Thus quarrels arose, till at last, for the sake of peace, the wife had to give up her charitable propensities.
Now there lived in the village a rogue of the first water, who had many a time witnessed what took place in the rich miser’s family. Wishing to revive his old habit of getting what he wanted from the miser’s wife he watched his opportunity and one day, when the miser had gone out on horseback to inspect his land, he came to his wife in the middle of the day and fell down at the threshold as if overcome by exhaustion. She ran up to him at once and asked him who he was.
“I am a native of Kailâsa,” said he, “sent down by an old couple living there, for news of their son and his wife.”
“Who are those fortunate dwellers on Śiva’s mountain?” said she.
On this the rogue gave the names of her husband’s deceased parents, which he had taken good care, of course, to learn from the neighbours.
“Do you really come from them?” said she. “Are they doing well there? Dear old people. How glad my husband would be to see you, were he here! Sit down please, and take rest awhile till he returns. How do they live there? Have they enough to eat and to dress themselves?”
These and a thousand other questions she put to the rogue, who, for his part, wanted to get away as quick as possible, as he knew full well how he would be treated if the miser should return while he was there, so he said:—
“Mother, language has no words to describe the miseries they are undergoing in the other world.