Today on our folk tales, we present to you a western African story, titled The Woman With Two Skins.
Eyamba I. was a very powerful king. He fought and conquered all the surrounding countries.
This king had 6 wives, but none of them had borne a son to him. His subjects, seeing that he was becoming an old man, begged him to marry one of the spider’s daughters, as they always had plenty of children. But when the king saw the spider’s daughter he did not like her, as she was ugly, and the people said it was because her mother had had so many children at the same time. However, in order to please his people he married the ugly girl, and placed her among his other wives, but they all complained because she was so ugly, and said she could not live with them. The king, therefore, built her a separate house for herself, where she was given food and drink the same as the other wives. Every one jeered at her on account of her ugliness; but she was not really ugly, but beautiful, as she was born with two skins, and at her birth her mother was made to promise that she should never remove the ugly skin until a certain time arrived save only during the night, and that she must put it on again before dawn. Now the king’s head wife knew this, and was very fearful lest the king should find it out and fall in love with the spider’s daughter; so she went to a herbalist and offered him two hundred rods to make a potion that would make the king forget altogether that the spider’s daughter was his wife. This the herbalist finally consented to do, after much haggling over the price, for three hundred and fifty rods; and he made up some “portion,” which the head wife mixed with the king’s food. For some months this had the effect of making the king forget the spider’s daughter, and he used to pass quite close to her without recognising her in any way. When four months had elapsed and the king had not once sent for Adiaha (for that was the name of the spider’s daughter), she began to get tired, and went back to her parents. Her father, the spider, then took her to another herbalist, who, by making spells and casting lots, very soon discovered that it was the king’s head wife who had made the charm and had charmed the king so that he would not look at Adiaha. He therefore told the spider that Adiaha should give the king some portion which he would prepare, as it would make the king remember her. He prepared the portion, for which the spider had to pay a large sum of money; and that very day Adiaha made a small dish of food, into which she had placed the medicine, and presented it to the king. After he had eaten the dish his eyes were opened and he recognised his wife, and told her to come to him that very evening. So in the afternoon, being very joyful, she went down to the river and washed, and when she returned she put on her best cloth and went to the king’s palace.
To Be Continued!