Diamonds & Toads | The Servant at the Fairy's (A Basque Tale)

The following is an annotated version of the fairy tale. I recommend reading the entire story before exploring the annotations, especially if you have not read the tale recently.

Martha Roe, Maroon Town, Cock-pit country.

A WOMAN have two daughter; one was her own chil' an' one was her daughter-in-law. So she didn't use her daughter-in-law good. So de place whe' dem go fe water a bad place, Ol' Witch country. De place name Bosen Corner. One day she sen' de daughter-in-law fe water. So when she go long, she see so-so [1. "Only."] head in de road; she put her hand on belly mek kind howdy. Go on again, see two foot go one in anudder so (crossed) in de road. An' say, "Howdy, papa." So-so foot say, "Gal, whe you gwine?" She said, "Mamma sen' me a Bosen Corner fe water." He say, "Go on, gal; good befo' an' bad behin'." She go on till she ketch to a little hut, see one ol' lady sit down deh. She say, "Howdy, nana," De ol' lady say, "Whe' you gwine?" Say, "Ma sen' me a Bosen Corner fe water, ma'am." De ol' lady say, "Come in here; late night goin' tek you." De Ol' Witch go pick up one piece of bone out dungle-heap an' choppy up putty in pot, an' four grain of rice. Boil de pot full of meat an' rice an' get de gal dinner. De gal eat, an, eat done call her say, "Me gal, come here 'cratch me back." When she run her han' 'cratch her back so, back pick all de gal han' so it bleed. Ol' Witch ask her, "What de matter you' han'?" Say, "Not'ing, ma'am." Even when it cut up all bleed, never say not'ing. When she go sit down, ol' lady go out of door come in one ol' cat. De ol' cat come in de gal lap, an' she hug it up an' coax de cat an' was so kin' to de cat. An' de gal sleep an' get up to go away in de mo'ning, De ol' lady tell her say mus' go roun' de house see some fowl-egg. She tell de gal say, de egg whe' she hear say "Tek me! tek me!" dem are big egg; she musn't tek dem; small egg say, "No tek me!" she mus' tek four. First cross-road ketch, she mus' mash one. Firs' cross-road she mash one de egg, an' see into a big pretty common. Second cross-road she mash udder one; de common pack up wid cow an' goat an' sheep an' ev'ryt'ing dat a gentleman possess in property. De t'ird cross-road she mash anudder one; she saw a pretty young gentleman come out into a buggy. De fourt' cross-road she mash de las' egg an' fin' de gentleman is a prince an' he marry her.

De daughter-in-law come, her an' her husban', drive into de yard see mudder-in-law. She expec' de Ol' Witch kill de gal didn't know she was living. So she sen' fe her own daughter, sen' a Bosen Corner fe water, say de udder one go get fe her riches, so she mus' get riches too. De gal tek a gourd an' going now fe water too. Go long an' see so-so head an' say, "Ay-e-e! from me bo'n I nebber see so-so head yet!" So-so head say, "Go long, gall better day befo'." An' go long an' meet upon so-so foot, an' say, "Eh! me mamma sen' me fe water I buck up agains' all kind of bugaboo, meet all kin' of insect!" An' say, "Go long, gall better day befo'." An' go de ol' lady house now. De ol' lady go tek de ol' bone go putty on de fire again, an' say, "Nana, you gwine tell me so-so bone bile t'-day fe me dinner?" An' when she see de four grain of rice she say, "Nebber see fo' grain of rice go in a pot yet!" Till it boil de pot full de same wid rice an' meat. De ol' lady share fe her dinner give her, an' she go tu'n a puss an' come back in. When de puss beg fe little rice, de gal pick her up fling her out de door. Ol' lady call her fe come, 'cratch him back too, an' put him han' to 'cratch him back, draw it back say, "Nebber see such a t'ing to 'cratch de back an' cut han'!" Nex' mo'ning, de ol' lady tell her mus' look in back of de house tek egg. De big egg say, "Tek me! tek me!" mus'n't tek dem; de little egg say, "No tek me! no tek me!" mus' tek four. She don' tek de small one, tek four of de big egg. De firs' cross-road she break one an' see a whole heap of snake. At de secon' cross-road she break anudder an' see a whole lot of insect. At de las' cross-road she massoo one, an' see a big Ol' Witch man tear her up kill her 'tiff dead in de road.

End Notes

These notes originally appeared at the end of the book.

This nursery tale was commonly recited to me by women, and a great many versions differed only in trifling respects from the pattern employed in the oldest Jamaica version on record, Lewis, 255-259.

Here the girl breaks a jug and is sent to get a new one. Three old women appear to her one after another, the last of them headless, to test her courtesy. The cat appears, the rice is cooking. The eggs to be selected are the "silent" ones out of a number of fine large ones that cry "take me." Out of the first egg comes the jug after which she has been sent; the other two make her fortune.

P. Smith's version, 31-34, has more direct Frau Holle incidents. The good girl fulfils as she advances the requests of the grass, ping-wing and bramble, the fruit-tree and the cow. When the old woman sends her to draw water with a basket, Turtle tells her to put a plantain-leaf inside. She selects a little ugly calabash. When she is pursued by "axe-men" (as in number 82), the things she has been kind to befriend her, as in Wona's version of Brother Dead.

In a manuscript version in the collection of Mrs. W. E. Wilson (Wona), Yuckie and Jubba are the two daughters. Yuckie has a present of a string of amber beads. She puts them about her neck and says "bad dey behind you, good dey before you," but this only in dream. She loses the beads in the river and is turned out of the house. On her way, she sees and greets kindly a foot and a hand, and scratches the back of an ugly old woman, without complaining of the insects which sting her. The pot of rice, the cat, and the eggs are as above, The fine eggs say "Tek me no,", the dirty ones, "No tek me." Compare FLJ (SA) 1; 111-116, where the girls pretend to throw their beads into the water and thus deceive one girl into doing so, who has then to go down to the home of the water monster to get them back.

The variants from Andros Island, Parsons, 17-26, show no such uniformity. They are sometimes confused with the pumpkin story of Parsons, 26-27, and Milne-Home, 84-88, in which the choice of pumpkins is like that of the eggs in this story.

The theme is very common in African collections. Compare MacDonald 1:298-301; Junod, 191-192; 237-242; Torrend, 75-80; Tremearne, 307-314; 401-407; Barker, 89-94; Nassau, 213; Renel 1:50-64; Bundy, JAFL 32:406; and Parsons, Andros Island, note 1, page 17 for further references. See Grimm 24, Frau Holle; Bolte u. Polívka 2:207-227.

Beckwith, Martha Warren. Jamaica Anansi StoriesNew York: American Folklore Society & G. E. Stechert, 1924.


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