Jamaica: Tar-Baby and Yam Hills

You will find the tar baby story in the Brer Rabbit unit for this class, and also in the Mississippi Valley unit, where it is a story told by the Biloxi people.

Meanwhile, in the second story, you will finally get to see the trickster tricked, when Monkey beats Anansi at his own game based on a "taboo" word; in this story, the taboo word is the number nine.

[Notes by LKG]

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


Anansi and the Tar-Baby

Tiger got a groun' plant some peas an' get Hanansi to watch it. Me'while Hanansi are de watchman, himself stealin' de peas.

Tiger tar a 'tump, put on broad hat on de 'tump.

Hanansi come an' say, "Who are you in de groun'?" Him don hear no answer. He hol' him. His han' fasten. He hol' him wid de odder han'. Dat han' fasten.

He said, "Aw right! You hol' me two han', I bet you I buck you!" He head fasten.

Said, "I bet you, I kick you!" Him two feet fasten.

Den he say, "Poor me bwoy! You a watchman an' me a watchman!" So begin to sing, Mediany dead an' gone.

Nex' mawnin' Tiger come an' say, "Why Brar Hanansi, a you been mashin' me up?"

Tiger tak him out. Tiger said wha' fe him do wid him now?

Hanansi say, "What you fe do? Mak a fire, bu'n me.'

Tiger go 'way, mak up him fire, ketch Hanansi go fe t'row him in de fire.

Hanansi say, "Brer Tiger, you don' know to burn somebody yet? You mus' jump ober de fire t'ree time, den me a count."

Tiger jump one, an' jump again, two, an' jump again, t'ree, an' go fe jump again.

Hanansi kick down Tiger into de fire, den go back now go finish off de peas.


The Yam-Hills

One time Anansi start to work a groun' at the road-side. After clearing up his field, he dig nine yam-bills. Now no one is allowed to count up to the nine. If he say nine, he drop down dead.

So Anansi say, "I got to eat somet'ing out of this." So he sat down an' begin to cry.

Hog was passing, say to him, "Br'er Anansi, wha's the matter with you?"

Anansi said, "My dear Bredder Hog, from mawning I dig these few yam-hills an' trying to count them, but I can't manage to count them yet."

Hog said, "Cho! you too wort'less! You mean say you can't say, 'One, two, t'ree, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine?'" And as Hog say "nine," Hog drop down dead. Anansi take him up, put him in his bag an' carry him home an' eat him.

The nex' day he came back an' eat up Goat, who share the same fate as Hog, an' every day he went back dig the same hills.

At that time Monkey was on a tree watching an' seeing all that take place. He came down from off the tree, an' while Anansi dig the same nine hills again an' was sitting down crying, Monkey come up an' said, "Br'er Anansi, wha' the matter with you?"

Anansi said, "My dear Bredder Monkey, from mawning I dig these few yam-hills, an' I'm trying to count them but I can't manage!"

Monkey said, "I will count them for you, but you mus' sit down 'pon one." Monkey then said, "One, two, t'ree, four, five, six, seven, eight, an' the one Br'er Anansi sit down upon."

Anansi said, "That's not the way to count them!"

Monkey said, "I'll count them good for you now!" Monkey began, "One, two, t'ree, four, five, six, seven, eight, an' the one Br'er Nansi sit down upon deh."

Now Anansi is a man with a very short heart. He got vex an' say, "You mean to say that you can't say 'One, two, t'ree, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine?"

An' as the word nine come out, Anansi drop down dead. Monkey took him up an' said, "You can fool the others, but you can't fool me!"





(600 words)







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