Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/477

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the Western Border of India. 441

pounds for Bakthbhari, and there was the lady happily- returned to the bosom of her family. Legally he could do nothing. He was not married to her, and so could not sue for restitution of conjugal rights, nor could he run in any handsome young suspect. He was legally helpless, but, as custom was on his side, he was not daunted. He arranged with his first wife Khanzadi to act for him, and she responded manfully with a petition in a criminal court of riot and assault against thirteen persons. She stated that seven ladies of Bakthbhari's family had met her, pulled her hair, disarranged her bonnet, and otherwise maltreated her in true feminine manner, and that, when she protested, several male relatives of the same woman had bundled her home in the most brutal and pushing manner. The case seems inconceivable to English spectacles, but let us remember that English law is comparatively definite and sufficiently binding to make custom so strong that no one can protest. However, Hassu managed to harass thirteen persons into a court, and, though it is regrettable to say that the other side held out and no settlement was arrived at, he helped to discourage future generations of widows from striking out independent lines for themselves. My readers will perhaps at once seize on the curiosity of the fact of a wife aiding a husband to obtain a co-wife and a rival, but here again Eastern and Western ideas are in conflict. The Western lady is above all ornamental. The Eastern has to be useful or explain the reason why, and there are many relaxations for an elderly woman if a young co-wife can be found to do the drudgery for her.

My object, however, is to show how the refusal of authority to acknowledge ancient customs, however wrong in our eyes, leads to an increase of diff'erent forms of crime. Apart from the riot case, which thus came to nothing, further time had to be spent by the courts in binding over the parties concerned to keep the peace, because Hassu might have soothed his angry feelings with a shrewd