Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/803

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WEST AFRICAN FOLKLORE.

walking along the beach, toward the village of Aboanu, thinking about his dead wife, he met a strange young woman.

The young woman, who was very handsome, asked him why he walked alone and appeared so sad. He replied: "My wife is dead, and I am living alone. I feel lonely by myself, and there is no one to cook my meals."

The young woman said she felt sorry for him, and the two walked on, conversing together. She spoke kindly, and the man liked her appearance; so before long he asked her to take the place of the deceased, and come home and live with him. She agreed to the proposal, and, returning with the man to his house the same night, became his wife.

They lived together very happily for a time, but when three months had passed the wife grew restless and uneasy. Her husband asked her what was troubling her, but she put him off with excuses, until at last one day, when he had again asked her what was the matter, she said that she was uneasy in mind because she must leave him to go and visit her family.

The husband said, "That need not trouble you, for I will go with you"; but to this she would not consent, saying that alone she had come to him and alone she must go away.

Then the husband declared that he would go with her, and, as she still continued to refuse, he asked her to tell him her reason. For a long time she would not tell him, but at last he pressed her so much that she said, "I will not allow you to go with me, because you would laugh at me when we returned."

This answer much puzzled the husband. He asked, "Why should I laugh at you?" but she would not say why until he had sworn a great oath that he would never allude to what she was about to tell him. She then said: "You think I am a woman, but I am a fish. My family are fishes, and my home lies in the sea. If you still wish to accompany me, count the breakers as they fall upon the shore, and dive with me under the third one."

As the third breaker dashed upon the beach she threw herself under it, and, her husband following her, they both passed under the water, and arrived at the spot where her family dwelt. There the wife was joyfully received by her relations; she told her tale and introduced her companion as her husband.

The fish family made the man very welcome, and a house was put in order for him, outside which he was strictly enjoined not to venture; but they did not give him any reason for this.

The man complied with the request for some days, and then, one night, being tired of staying in the house, and seeing some young fishes at play, he went out to look at them more closely. He had scarcely left the house when all his wife's family came