Jamaica: Long-Shirt

This story features a piece of clothing — the "long-shirt" of the title — that is able to talk!

Beckwith notes that her source for this story was "Moses Hendricks of Mandeville," and she comments that the ending about just why goats smell so bad is probably something he added to the story himself: "The conclusion is no doubt a turn of Hendrick's own, as he was fond of explanatory endings and got one in whenever he could."

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Jamaican Stories unit. Story source: Jamaica Anansi Stories by Martha Warren Beckwith (1924).


Anansi, Tacoomah and Tiger made a dance; Anansi was the fiddler, Tacoomah the drummer and Tiger the tambourine man. They travel on till they get to a country where all the people were naked--no clothing except the head-man, who wore a long shirt; he had a wooden leg.

So they invite up all these people to come to the dance. Mr. Ram-goat was in the lot.


So they start playing and the people start dancing, dance until they get so tired everybody fell asleep; and Anansi stole the head-man's shirt--good shirt!--and put his own old one upon him while he was sleeping.

The man got awake, miss his shirt. Now this shirt could talk. The man call out, "Long-shirt, whe' you deh?"

Longshirt answer, "Brar Nansi have me on-o!" They start up, now. Anansi got so frightened!

He met Brar Ram-goat. He said, "Brar Ram-goat, I swap me shirt, gi' you one new one fe you ol' one!"

Ram-goat readily make the exchange.

The head-man call out, "Long-shirt, whe' you deh?"

Long-shirt call out, "Bra' Ram-goat have me on now-o!"

Ram-goat run until he was exhausted, couldn't go any further. He dug a hole an' bury himself into the, hole leaving one horn outside and didn't know that horn was projecting outside.

The man with the wooden leg couldn't go as fast as the rest. All the rest ran past Ram-goat; the head-man came along, buck the wooden leg upon the horn and he fell down.

When he got up, he thought it was a stump, so he got out his knife to cut off that stump to prevent it throwing him down again. He cut an' cut an' cut till he saw blood. He call out to the rest, "Look! come now-o, dirtee have blood!"

All the rest come around say, "Dig him out! dig him out! dig him out!" After they dug him out, they took off head-man long shirt, put on his own old one, and they wet him with all the dirty slops--they drench poor Ram-goat.

They thought he was dead and they leave him an' go away. After they was gone, Ram-goat got up. He wring the dirty clothes, he wring with all the slop they throw on him; he never remember to wring his beard.

Jack man dora! That's the reason the goat have such an offensive smell until this day; he didn't remember to wring his beard!

(400 words)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments for Google accounts; you can also contact me at laura-gibbs@ou.edu.