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Another Solomon.

AT T‘aiyüan there lived a middle-aged woman with her widowed daughter-in-law. The former was on terms of too great intimacy with a notably bad character of the neighbourhood; and the latter, who objected very strongly to this, did her best to keep the man from the house. The elder woman accordingly tried to send the other back to her family, but she would not go; and at length things came to such a pass that the mother-in-law actually went to the mandarin of the place and charged her daughter-in-law with the offence she herself was committing. When the mandarin inquired the name of the man concerned, she said she had only seen him in the dark and didn’t know who he was, referring him for information to the accused. The latter, on being summoned, gave the man’s name, but retorted the charge on her mother-in-law; and when the man was confronted with them, he promptly declared both their stories to be false. The mandarin, however, said there was a primâ facie case against him, and ordered him to be severely beaten, whereupon he confessed that it was the daughter-in-law whom he went to visit. This the woman herself flatly denied, even under torture; and on being released, appealed to a higher court, with a very similar result. Thus the case dragged on, until a Mr. Sun, who was well-known for his judicial acumen, was appointed district magistrate at that place. Calling the parties before him, he bade his lictors prepare stones and knives, at which they were much exercised in their minds, the severest tortures allowed by law being merely gyves and fetters. However, everything was got ready, and the next day Mr. Sun proceeded with his investigation. After hearing all that each one of the three had to say, he delivered the following judgment:—“The case is a simple one; for although I cannot say which of you two women is the guilty one, there is no doubt about the man, who has evidently been the means of bringing discredit on a virtuous family. Take those stones and knives there and put him to death. I will be responsible.” Thereupon the two women began to stone the man, especially the younger one, who seized the biggest stones she could see and threw them at him with all the might of her pent up anger; while the mother-in-law chose small stones and struck him on non-vital parts. So with the knives: the daughter-in-law would have killed him at the first blow, had not the mandarin stopped her, and said, “Hold! I now know who is the guilty woman.” The mother-in-law was then tortured until she confessed, and the case was thus terminated.


太原有民家,姑婦皆寡。姑中年,不能自潔,村無賴頻頻就之。婦不善其行,陰於門戶牆垣阻拒之。姑慚,借端出婦;婦不去,頗有勃谿。姑益恚,反相誣,告諸官。官問姦夫姓名。媼曰:「夜來宵去,實不知其阿誰,鞫 婦自知。」因喚婦。婦果知之,而以姦情歸媼,苦相抵。拘無賴至,又譁辨:「兩無所私。彼姑婦不相能,故妄言相詆毀耳。」官曰:「一村百人,何獨誣汝?」重笞之。無賴叩乞免責,自認與婦通。械婦,婦終不承。逐去之。婦忿告憲院,仍如前,久不決。時淄邑孫進士柳下令臨晉,推折獄才,遂下其案於臨晉。人犯到,公略訊一過,寄監訖,便命隸人備磚石刀錐,質明聽用。共疑曰:「嚴刑自有桎梏,何將以非刑折獄耶?」不解其意,姑備之。明日,升堂,問知諸具已備,命悉置堂上。乃喚犯者,又一一略鞫之。乃謂姑婦:「此事亦不必甚求清析。淫婦雖未定,而姦夫則確。汝家本清門,不過一時為匪人所誘,罪全在某。堂上刀石具在,可自取擊殺之。」姑婦趑趄,恐邂逅抵償。公曰:「無慮,有我在。」於是媼婦並起,掇石交投。婦啣恨已久,兩手舉巨石,恨不即立斃之;媼惟以小石擊臀腿而已。又命用刀。婦把刀貫胸膺,媼猶逡巡未下。公止之曰:「淫婦我知之矣。」命執媼嚴梏之,遂得其情。笞無賴三十,其案始結。


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