THERE was once a man, and he lived at Kilwa. And that man married a wife, and built a hut, in which they stayed. Everything that woman asked for he gave her, only that hut he had built without a door.
He himself, when he went abroad and returned, used to climb up a ladder and get in at the window, and when he went away he took away the ladder. So that woman stayed in that hut and was not able to go out, not even for a little, and so she was sick of heart.
Now when her mother heard about this she came and dug a hole under the wall, so that she was able to come and see her daughter whenever the husband had gone out. The mouth of that hole the woman covered over with matting, so that that man, her husband, did not get to see it.
Now that man was a merchant, and used to trade up and down the coast even as far as Maskat.
One day he came home to his wife and said to her, "My wife, it is time that I went up the coast trading, so in a week's time I will start and will go to Zanzibar and Maskat, and then, after the space of one year, I will return again."
So his wife said to him, "It is well, my husband; may you go and return in safety."
When her husband went away again she got out quickly by her tunnel and came to her mother and said, "My mother, my husband is going to travel away for a year and leave me in my hut. Now you must go quickly and get a fast ship ready for me and tell no one."
Then she returned and sat in the hut, and in the evening her husband returned and climbed in by that window of his.
After a week had passed the husband took leave of his wife and went down to the harbour, got on board his ship and set sail for Zanzibar.
After he had gone, the wife came out quickly and went down to the harbour and got on board the vessel her mother had prepared for her and set sail behind him.
In the middle of the ocean that boat of hers passed his. He looked at it and called out, "Who is that in the ship that is passing me?"
She answered, "It is I, my name is Kitangatanga of the sea."
She arrived at Zanzibar, moored her vessel and went ashore, and found that house where he stayed and entered it and sat down. Presently her husband arrived, moored his boat and went up to that house.
When he saw that woman he was surprised and said to her, "How like you are to my wife whom I left in Kilwa!"
So he talked to her for a while and then asked, "Are you married?"
She replied, "No, I am a widow."
Then he said, "If you will marry me I will settle on you a hundred reals."
So that woman agreed, and they were married, and they stayed together. After two weeks he said to her, "My wife, I must continue my journey to Maskat now; but in the space of six months I will return and stay with you."
She said, "It is well, my husband; go, and return in safety."
So he got in his boat and set sail for Maskat. After he had gone she got in her boat and set sail behind him. In the middle of the sea her vessel passed his, and he called out, "Who is that who is passing me?"
She replied, "It is I, Kitangatanga of the sea." She arrived first in Maskat and found that house where he stopped and went and sat in it. Presently her husband arrived, moored his ship and went up to the house.
When he saw that woman sitting there he was very surprised and said, "How like you are to my wife whom I left in Kilwa, and also to that woman I married in Zanzibar."
Then he asked her, "Are you married?"
She replied, "No, I am a widow." So he said, "I will marry you for one hundred reals."
She agreed, and they were married, and he stayed with her six months there in Maskat. At the end of that time he said, "My wife, I must now return home. I will stay a year, and then I will return to you."
She said, "Go, and return in peace, my husband."
So he set sail from Maskat, and that woman set sail after him. In the midst of the ocean she passed him again, and when he asked who it was, she replied, "It is I, Kitangatanga of the sea."
She arrived at Zanzibar and went up to that house.
Presently her husband arrived, and she said, "Welcome, stranger; what is the news?"
He replied, "The news is that I have made a prosperous journey to Maskat, and that there I met a woman just like the wife I left at Kilwa and also like you, and I married her."
She replied, "It is well, my husband."
After he had stopped several weeks he said to her, "My wife, I must now return home. I will stop one year, and then I will return to you."
So she said, "May your journey be prosperous, my husband, and may you return in safety."
So he set sail for Kilwa, and she set sail after him. In the midst of the ocean she passed him again, and when he asked who it was, she replied, "It is I, Kitangatanga of the sea."
When she arrived in Kilwa she moored her vessel and went up to her house. She entered by her underground doorway and sat down. After a while her husband arrived and climbed in by his window. She said, "Welcome, my husband."
Then she cooked food for him, and when he had eaten she asked him, "What is the news of there where you have been?"
He replied, "I made a good voyage to Zanzibar, and there I met a woman just like you. I married her for one hundred reals, and stayed with her for two weeks. Then I went on to Maskat, and there I met a woman exactly like you and like that woman I married in Zanzibar. I married her, too, for a hundred reals, and stopped with her six months.
"Then I returned to Zanzibar and stayed with my wife there a few weeks, then set out for home, and here I am. Now what is the news here of this place whilst I have been away?"
That wife replied, "The news is this, my husband. I was angered because you put me in a hut without a door, so I made this underground door which you see there.
"Then, when you set sail, I set sail after you, and I passed you in the sea; and when you asked who I was, I replied, 'Kitangatanga of the sea!'
"I came first to Zanzibar, and it was I whom you married there for a hundred reals.
"When you left for Maskat, I set sail behind you, and arrived there first. It was I also whom you married in Maskat for one hundred reals. That is my news, my husband."
When her husband heard that, he said, "Indeed, this is true. Now I will build you a very fine hut with a door in it, so that you may go out when you please."
So he built her a splendid hut with a door and put her into it, and there they lived happily.