An Adulterous Wife Locks Her Husband Out of Doors

folktales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 1377
edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 2013


  1. Dschoha's Wife Locks Him Out (from the Arabic).

  2. The Unfaithful Wife (India).

  3. The Ancient Knight Who Married a Beautiful Young Wife (The Seven Wise Masters).

  4. Tofano Shuts His Wife Out of Doors (Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron).

  5. A Tyrannical Husband (England).

  6. Link to The Well (Petrus Alfonsi, The Disciplina Clericalis).

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

Dschoha's Wife Locks Him Out

from the Arabic

Dschoha's wife was accustomed to go out at night to meet her lover, which caused the neighbors to tease Dschoha. Thus one night he stayed awake until she left, then locked the door, and sat down just inside.

Upon returning, she found the door locked. She asked him to have mercy on her and to open the door, but he just scolded her.

Having given up hope for a good outcome, she said to him, "If you don't open the door for me, I'll jump into the well."

Then she picked up a large stone and threw it into the well. Filled with regret, he ran outside to see what had happened. His wife immediately slipped into the house and locked the door.

He made every effort to convince her to let him come inside, but she scolded him incessantly, saying, "This is what you get for staying out all night with your drunken friends!" And thus she succeeded in shaming him in the presence of all their neighbors.

The Unfaithful Wife


Once upon a time there were two brothers, and as their wives did not get on well together, they lived separately. After a time it came to the ears of the elder brother that the younger brother's wife was carrying on an intrigue with a certain Jugi; so he made up his mind to watch her movements.

One night he saw a white figure leave his brother's house and, following it quietly, he saw it go into the Jugi's house, and creeping nearer, he heard his sister-in-law's voice talking inside. He was much grieved at what he had seen, but could not make up his mind to tell his brother.

One day the elder brother found that he had no milk in the house, as all his cows had run dry; so he sent a servant to his brother's house to ask for some milk; but the younger brother's wife declined to give any, and sent word that her brother-in-law was quite rich enough to buy milch cows if he wanted milk.

The elder brother said nothing at this rebuff, but after a time it happened that the younger brother's cows all became dry, and he in his turn sent to his elder brother for milk. The elder brother's wife was not disposed to give it, but her husband bade her not bear malice and to send the milk.

After this the elder brother sent for the other and advised him to watch his wife and see where she went to at night. So that night the younger brother lay awake and watched; and in the middle of the night saw his wife get up very quietly and leave the house. He followed her; as the woman passed down the village street, some Mohammedans, who had been sitting up smoking ganja, saw her and emboldened by the drug set out to see who it was, who was wandering about so late at night. The woman took refuge in a clump of bamboos and pulled down one of the bamboos to conceal herself. The Mohammedans surrounded the clump but when they saw the one bamboo which the woman held shaking, while all the rest were still -- for it was a windless night -- they concluded that it was an evil spirit that they were pursuing and ran away in a panic.

When they were gone, the woman came out from the bamboos and went on to the Jugi's house. Her husband who had been watching all that happened followed her, and having seen her enter the Jugi's house hastened home and bolted his door from inside.

Presently his wife returned and found the door which she had left ajar, fastened; then she knew that she was discovered. She was however full of resource; she began to beg to be let her in, but her husband only showered abuse upon her and bade her go back to the friend she had left. Then she took a large stone and heaved it into a pool of water near the house. Her husband heard the splash and concluded that she was drowning herself. He did not want to get into trouble with the police, as would surely be the case if his wife were found drowned, so he ran out of the house to the pool of water to try and save her.

Seizing this opportunity his wife slipped into the house and in her turn locked the door from inside; so that her husband had to spend the rest of the night out-of-doors.

He could not be kept out of the house permanently, and the next day he gave his wife a thrashing and turned her out. At evening however she came back and sat outside in the courtyard, weeping and wailing. The noise made her husband more angry than ever, and he shouted out to her that if she did not keep quiet he would come and cut off her nose. She kept on crying, and the Jugi heard her and sent an old woman to call her to him.

She declared that if she went her husband would know and be the more angry with her, but she might go if the old woman would sit in her place and keep on crying, so that her husband might believe her to be still in the courtyard. The old woman agreed and began to weep and wail, while the other went off to the Jugi. She wept to such purpose that the husband at last could not restrain his anger, and rushing out into the darkness with a knife, cut off the nose, as he supposed, of his wife.

Presently the wife came back and found the old woman weeping in real earnest over the loss of her nose.

"Never mind, I'll find it and fix it on for you," so saying she felt about for the nose till she found it, clapped it onto the old woman's face and told her to hold it tight and it would soon grow again. Then she sat down where she had sat before and began to lament the cruelty of her husband in bringing a false charge against her and challenged him to come out and see the miracle which had occurred to indicate her innocence. She repeated this so often that at last her husband began to wonder what she meant, and took a lamp and went out to see. When he found her sitting on the ground without a blemish on her face, although he had seen her with his own eyes go to the Jugi's house, he could not doubt her virtue and had to receive her back into the house.

Thus by her cunning the faithless wife escaped the punishment which she deserved.

The Ancient Knight Who Married a Beautiful Young Wife

The Seven Wise Masters

In the famous city of Mantua lived an ancient knight who married a beautiful young wife, whom he loved above all earthly things; but lest his age not concurring with the expectations of her more vigorous youth, should incline her to incontinence, and encourage her in a lawless flame, he was not wanting to do all in his power to confine her within his house; and every night be locked the gates with his own hands, and secured the keys under his bed head.

But notwithstanding all the precautions and care of the old knight, his young wife found means to meet her gallant, and supply his defect, by taking the keys from under his bed's head, when he was fast asleep, and opening the door, went to her paramour; and having enjoyed one another to mutual satisfaction, she returned; and laying the keys where she found them, silently crept into bed to her husband.

But after she had frequently thus pursued her unlawsul amours without being discovered, at last her husband happened to awake, when she was gone to prosecute her accustomed delights, and missing his wife, he felt for the keys; but not finding them, he got up, and went to the door, which he found only on the lock; and then bolting it, he returned to his chamber, and looked out of the window to see what time she returned.

Now we must observe, that in the same city was a law, that at a certain hour in the night, a bell was rung, after which, if either man or woman was found in the streets, they were detained in prison till the next morning, and then put into the pillory, as objects of shame and derision unto all beholders.

When it was very late, or rather early, his wife came from her gallant, but found the door bolted against her; however, she took the boldness to knock.

The good old knight, looking out at the window, and seeing it was his wife, reproached her in the following manner: "O thou wicked and unchaste woman!" said he, "Have I found thee out? How often may I conclude thou hast committed adultery, and defiled thy marriage bed? Assure thyself, lascivious creature, that thou shall stand there till the ringing of the bell, that the watch may seize thee, and thou mayest meet with the punishment due to thy abominable perfidiousness and adultery."

She answered in an humble, dissembling tone: "Why does my dear lord and husband thus unjustly charge me with a wicked crime, which my known chastity abhors from my soul? God is my witness I am innocent of this grievous accusation; for if you will know the truth, I was sent for by my mother, who was taken dangerously ill; and you being fast asleep, I was loth to awake you, and so with all possible silence I arose, and taking the keys, I opened the door, and went, as my duty obliged me, to my sick mother, whom I found so very ill, that, I fear she cannot live till morning. But for all that, my affection is so great to you tha I came away, and left a dying mother, to return to a dear and loving husband; wherefore, I beseech you, for the love of God, let me in, and do not for my great affection to you, expose me to shame and disgrace."

These plausible pretences did not prevail upon the old knight, who justly looked upon her as guilty of adultery and falshood, and therefore he absolutely refused to let her in.

Hereupon she reminded him, what a disgrace it would be, were she taken by the watch, not only to herself but to him, and all their relations; using besides, all the arguments her subtle invention could imagine necessary to prevail upon him; but finding all her prayers to no purpose, and that he remained inexorable, she bethought herself of a stratagem, which she prosecuted after the following manner:

"My lord," said she, "you know that by this door there is a well. If you let me not in, I will drown myself to avoid the shame that is coming upon me and my friends."

As the old gentleman was going about to reprove her further, and to threaten her, in hopes to deter her thereby from the like practices for the future, and then intending to let her in, and out of his great love and good nature, to forgive her, the moon went down, and the night was obscured with a darkness more than usual.

Overjoyed at this advantage, she pursued her stratagem, and with an audible voice, and a dismal tone she thus expressed herself: "That I may die like a Christian, I will make my last will; and first I bequeath my soul to heaven, and my body to the earth; but all other worldly goods whatever, I bequeath to my dear husband, for him to dispose of as he shall think convenient."

Having thus finished her pretended will, she went to the well, and there finding a great stone, she took it in her arms, and lifting it up, cried out, "Now I drown myself!" and so threw the stone into the well, squealing after it very artfully, to make her husband the more readily believe it was her. This done, she stept softly and hid herself behind the door again.

Her stratagem had its desired effect; for the good old knight verily believing that his wife had been as good as her word, ran hastily down to the well, making a lamentable outcry all the way, from his great tenderness to her.

Now observe the perfidiousness and crafty contrivance of this wicked woman, to turn the tables upon her too indulgent husband; for though, before she had injured him in the highest degree imaginable, yet now she makes him suffer publicly for her scandalous crimes; and instead of reparation to his abused honour, she by the falsest accusations, and most complicated wickedness procures him to be punished in the pillory as a debauched person, for her adulteries; and thereby at once clear herself, be revenged on her innocent husband for threatening her before, and all this at the price of her reputation and good name.

The old knight was no sooner out, but she got in, and having locked the doors, went up into the chamber, and looked out of the window, as he had done before. And having a long while heard the good old man grievously lament for her supposed loss, and condemning himself for too much rigour, laughing all the time at him, for his indulgence and love, she at last, in opprobrious terms, called out to him, reproaching him in the vilest manner imaginable, calling him letcherous dotard, and upbraiding him with slighting her and going continually out on nights after harlots.

The old good man was so overjoyed to hear his wife was alive, that he valued not what she said; and desiring her to have a better opinion of him, be begged her to open the door, and passing by all, they would be good friends.

But all his prayers and intreaties availed nothing. She vowed he should stay till the watch came, that he might deservedly suffer, as he had threatened her before. The knight, in his own vindication, pleaded that it was an improbable thing, that he should be guilty of such vices, seeing his advanced years rendered him unqualified for the delights of love; alledging further, that out of pure affection to her, he was now in the streets; and therefore desired her not to let him suffer shamefully.

She confidently answered, that it was God's goodness that he had given him time to repent; and therefore he ought to be thankful, and suffer patiently.

The knight replied, that God was merciful, and required nothing more of a sinner, than that he should repent of his sins past, and amend his life. "Therefore, dear wife," said he, "I beg of you to let me in."

She said, "Who the devil made you so good a preacher? But for all that you come not in here."

And as he was studying some new persuasions to prevail upon her to let him in; the watch came, and finding him in the streets, demanded what he did there at that unseasonable, time of night, reminding him withal, that he had broke the law of the city, and though he was an ancient inhabitant thereof, that could not excuse him from suffering according to the nature of the offence.

His wife hearing these words, cried out to the watchmen, "Now is the time, honest men, for you to avenge me on that foul adulterer, who is so insatiate in his lust, that he never fails at night to forsake my bed, and follow his strumpets. In hopes of reformation, I have patiently forborn him a great while; but nothing will reclaim him, slighting my youth, and continuing still in his wicked whoredoms; therefore now punish him according to his deserts, that he may be made an example to all such doating letchers as he is."

Accordingly he was carried to prison; and he, next morning, shamefully stood in the pillory.

Tofano Shuts His Wife Out of Doors

Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron

Tofano shuts his wife one night out of doors; who, not being able to persuade him to let her come in, pretends to throw herself into a well, by throwing a stone in. He runs thither to see, during which she enters, and, locking him out, abuses him well.
There lived at Arezzo a certain rich man named Tofano, who had a very handsome woman for his wife, whose name was Madam Ghita, of whom all at once, and without knowing why, he became extremely jealous. This greatly vexed the lady, who would frequently demand of him his reasons for such a suspicion; and he being able to assign none, but such as were general, or nothing to the purpose, she resolved to plague him with the real evil, which hitherto had only been imaginary. And having observed that a certain young gentleman had taken particular notice of her, she encouraged him so far, that they only waited for a favorable opportunity to put their design into execution.

Amongst the rest of her husband's bad qualities, he had taken a great delight, she saw, in drinking, which she not only seemed pleased with, but would persuade him to drink more. In this manner she used to make him drunk as often as she could, which afforded the first opportunity of being with her lover, and from that time they met continually by the same means. She depended indeed so much upon this drunken disposition of his, that she would not only bring her lover into her house, but even go and spend the greater part of the night along with him, his residence not being very far off.

Continuing this way of life, the husband began to perceive that, whilst she encouraged him to drink in that manner, she scarcely tasted it herself, and from thence to suspect, as was really the case, that she made him drunk with a view only to her own private purposes, during the time of his being asleep. And being willing to have proof of this, he pretended once (without having drunk a drop all that day), both in his words and actions, to be the most disordered creature that could be. Which she perceiving, and thinking that he had then had a dose sufficient, and that he would sleep without any more liquor, straightway put him to bed.

This was no sooner done, but she went as usual to her lover's house, where she stayed the best part of the night. Tofano finding his wife did not come to bed, got up, and bolted the door, and then went and sat in the window to wait for her coming home, that she might see he was acquainted with her way of going on; and continued there till her return. She, finding the door bolted, was exceedingly uneasy, and tried several times to force it open.

Which after Tofano had suffered for some time, he said, "Madam, you give yourself trouble to no purpose, for here you shall not come; go back, if you please, for you shall enter no more within these doors, till I have showed you that respect, which these ways of yours require, before all your relations and neighbors."

She then begged, for Heaven's sake, that he would open the door, saying, that she had not been where he imagined; but (as the evenings were long, and she able neither to sleep all the time, nor to sit up by herself) that she went to see a gentlewoman in the neighborhood. But all was to no purpose, he seemed resolved that the whole town should be witnesses of their shame, when otherwise they would have known nothing of the matter.

The lady, finding her entreaties of no effect, had recourse to threats, and said, "Either open the door, or I will make you the most miserable man that ever was born."

Tofano replied, "And which way will you do it?"

She, whose wits were sharpened by love, continued, "Before I will suffer such a disgrace, as you mean wrongfully to fasten upon me, I will throw myself directly into this well, and being found there afterwards, everybody will conclude that you did it in one of your drunken fits; whence it must unavoidably happen, that you be either obliged to fly your country, and lose all your effects; or else that you be put to death, as having murdered your wife."

This, however, had no effect upon him; when she said, "I can no longer bear all your scorn; God forgive you for being the cause of my death!" and the night being so dark that they could scarcely see one another, she ran towards the well, and taking up a great stone that lay by the well-side, and crying aloud, "God forgive this act of mine!" she let it fall into the well.

The stone made a great noise when it came to the water, which Tofano hearing, firmly believed that she had thrown herself in, and taking the rope and bucket, he ran out to help her.

But she, who stood concealed by the side of the door, seeing him go towards the well, got into the house, and made all fast, whilst she went to the window, and began to say to him, "Why, husband, you should use water whilst you are drinking and not after you have made yourself drunk."

Tofano, seeing her laugh at him, returned, and finding the door bolted, begged of her to open it.

But she now changed her note, and began to cry out, "You drunken, sorry, troublesome wretch! you shall not come in here tonight; I can no longer bear with your evil practices; I will let all the world know what sort of a person you are, and what hours you keep."

Tofano, on the other part, being grievously provoked, used all the bad language he could think of, and made a most terrible mutiny. Upon which the neighbors were all raised out of their beds; and coming to their windows, inquired what was the matter.

When she began to lament and say, "It is this wicked man, who is coming home drunk at all hours of the night, which, having endured a long time, and said a great deal to no purpose, I was now willing to try if I could not shame him out of it by locking him out."

Tofano, on the contrary, told them how the matter was; and threatened her very much.

She then said to the neighbors, "Now you see what sort of a man he is; what would you say if I went in the street, and he within doors, as I am? Then you might think he was in the right. Take notice, I beseech you, how artful he is; he says I have done that which he seems to have done himself, and talks something about the well; but I wish he was in, that he might have some water as well as wine."

The neighbors all joined in blaming Tofano, deeming him the person in fault, and giving him many hard words for his usage of his wife; and the thing was noised about the city, till her relations heard of it, who came thither in a body; and inquiring of one neighbor and another neighbor how it was, they took Tofano and beat him very severely. Afterwards they went into the house, and carried the lady away with them, with all that was hers, threatening Tofano with further punishment. Whilst he, finding the ill effects of his jealousy, and still having a regard for his wife, got some friends to intercede with her to come home again, promising never more to be jealous, and giving her leave for the future to do as she would. Thus, like a simple knave, he was glad to purchase peace, after having been to the last degree injured.

A Tyrannical Husband


A little while ago I cut out of a Sussex newspaper a story purporting to be the relation of a fact which had taken place at a fixed date in Lewes. This was the story. A tyrannical husband locked the door against his wife, who was out having tea with a neighbor, gossiping and scandalmongering; when she applied for admittance, he pretended not to know her. She threatened to jump into the well unless he opened the door.

The man, not supposing that she would carry her threat into execution, declined, alleging that he was in bed, and the night was chilly; besides which he entirely disclaimed all acquaintance with the lady who claimed admittance.

The wife then flung a log into a well, and secreted herself behind the door. The man, hearing the splash, fancied that his good lady was really in the deeps, and forth he darted in his nocturnal costume, which was of the lightest, to ascertain whether his deliverance was complete. At once the lady darted into the house, locked the door, and, on the husband pleading for admittance, she declared most solemnly from the window that she did not know him.

Now, this story, I can positively assert, unless the events of this world move in a circle, did not happen in Lewes, or any other Sussex town.

It was told in the Gesta Romanorum six hundred years ago, and it was told, may be, as many hundred years before in India, for it is still to be found in Sanskrit collections of tales.

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Revised February 4, 2013.