Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/480

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444 Some Matrimonial Problems of

run in for abduction, but this could only be on the com- plaint of the original husband, who had not yet heard of his wife's whereabouts. The accusation of kidnapping was bound to fail, as the woman was of mature age and also a willing party. No charge of cheating could lie where a man takes his chance in bargaining with an outsider. As to the lady's disappearance from him, the farmer did not want to have her punished for stealing his jewellery because she had returned to him. Moreover, ornaments presented to a woman become hers, and it is hard to punish a woman for going away wearing her own property. The second set of wicked people equally get off scatheless. The lady returned with them, no doubt, but of her own will, and to go to the home to which she really belonged. If she did not reach it, that was her fault, not theirs. No charge of stealing or receiving stolen property could lie where, as has been seen, the ownership of the jewels probably rested with the woman. Thus, even in a case in which a woman is abducted, sold, and re-abducted, it may well happen that no one becomes entangled in the meshes of the law. Theft is always hard to check, but, when the thing stolen is a sentient being and is willing to be stolen, to be sold by the thief, to remain with the purchaser, to be stolen again by another thief, and to return to the purchaser if he proves his power to recover, it is difficult to know how to tackle the problem.

There is a well-known story of a Highland shepherd who sold his dog to an American, but repented of the bargain when he heard of its destination. Till then he had always found that the dog would return to him. So, too, it is a common trick of cattle thieves in the Punjab to sell a man a bullock, and to remove it from him after a respectable interval. When it comes, however, to a position in which woman's wiles are added to the wits of the thieves, all that can be said is " caveat emptor."

To revert again to an account of tribal justice across the