The King who Married the Cock's Daughter
KING EFFIOM of Duke Town, Calabar, was very fond of pretty maidens, and whenever
he heard of a girl who was unusually good-looking, he always sent for her, and
if she took his fancy, he made her one of his wives.
This he could afford to do, as he was a rich man, and could pay any dowry which
the parents asked, most of his money having been made by buying and selling
Effiom had two hundred and fifty wives, but he was never content, and wanted to
have all the finest women in the land. Some of the king's friends, who were
always on the look-out for pretty girls, told Effiom that the Cock's daughter
was a lovely virgin, and far superior to any of the king's wives.
Directly the king heard this he sent for the Cock, and said he intended to have
his daughter as one of his wives. The Cock, being a poor man, could not resist
the order of the king, so he brought his daughter, who was very good-looking and
pleased the king immensely.
When the king had paid the Cock a dowry of six puncheons of palm-oil, the Cock
told Effiom that if he married his daughter he must not forget that she had the
natural instincts of a hen, and that he should not blame Adia unen (his
daughter) if she picked up corn whenever she saw it. The king replied that he
did not mind what she ate so long as he possessed her.
The king then took Adia unen as his wife, and liked her so much, that he
neglected all his other wives, and lived entirely with Adia unen, as she suited
him exactly and pleased him more than any of his other wives.
She also amused the king, and played with him and enticed him in so many
different ways that he could not live without her, and always had her with him
to the exclusion of his former favourites, whom he would not even speak to or
notice in any way when he met them.
This so enraged the neglected wives that they met together, and although they
all hated one another, they agreed so far that they hated the Cock's daughter
more than any one, as now that she had come to the king none of them ever had a
chance with him.
Formerly the king, although he always had his favourites, used to favour
different girls with his attentions when they pleased him particularly. That was
very different in their opinion to being excluded from his presence and all his
affections being concentrated on one girl, who received all his love and
In consequence of this they were very angry, and determined if possible to
disgrace Adia unen. After much discussion, one of the wives, who was the last
favourite, and whom the arrival of the Cock's daughter had displaced, said:
"This girl, whom we all hate, is, after all, only a Cock's daughter, and we can
easily disgrace her in the king's eyes, as I heard her father tell the king that
she could not resist corn, no matter how it was thrown about."
Very shortly after the king's wives had determined to try and disgrace Adia
unen, all the people of the country came to pay homage to the king.
This was done three times a year, the people bringing yams, fowls, goats, and
new corn as presents, and the king entertained them with a feast of foo-foo,
palm-oil chop, and tombo. A big dance was also held, which was usually kept
up for several days and nights.
Early in the morning the king's head wife told her servant to wash one head of
corn, and when all the people were present she was to bring it in a calabash and
throw it on the ground and then walk away. The corn was to be thrown in front of
Aida unen, so that all the people and chiefs could see.
About ten o'clock, when all the chiefs and people had assembled, and the king
had taken his seat on his big wooden chair, the servant girl came and threw the
corn on the ground as she had been ordered. Directly she had done this Adia unen
started towards the corn, picked it up, and began to eat. At this all the people
laughed, and the king was very angry and ashamed.
The king's wives and many people said that they thought the king's finest wife
would have learnt better manners than to pick up corn which had been thrown away
Others said: "What can you expect from a Cock's daughter? She should not be
blamed for obeying
[1. Tombo is an intoxicating drink made from the juice which is extracted from
the tombo palm, and which ferments very quickly. It is drawn from the tree twice
a day-in the morning very early, and again in the afternoon.]
Her natural instincts." But the king was so vexed, that he told one of his
servants to pack up Adia unen's things and take them to her father's house. And
this was done, and Aida unen returned to her parents.
That night the king's third wife, who was a friend of Adia unen's, talked the
whole matter over with the king, and explained to him that it was entirely owing
to the jealousy of his head wife that Adia unen had been disgraced. She also
told him that the whole thing had been arranged beforehand in order that the
king should get rid of Adia unen, of whom all the other wives were jealous.
When the king heard this he was very angry, and made up his mind to send the
jealous woman back to her parents empty-handed, without her clothes and
When she arrived at her father's house the parents refused to take her in, as
she had been given as a wife to the king, and whenever the parents wanted
anything, they could always get it at the palace. It was therefore a great loss
to them. She was thus turned into the streets, and walked about very miserable,
and after a time died, very poor and starving.
The king grieved so much at having been compelled to send his favourite wife
Adia unen away, that he died the following year. And when the people saw that
their king had died of a broken heart, they passed a law that for the future no
one should marry any bird or animal.