Cunnie Rabbit, Mr. Spider and the Other Beef: West African Folk Tales | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in October 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

Spider Discovers the Wax Girl

"SPIDER bin get fa'm wey (where) be bin lib wid heen wef en heen pickin (pickaninnies). Dis yeah fa'm bin big, oh! en de ress plenty, but wey (since) Spider nebber satisfy fo' yeat, he greedy (begrudged) heen wef en heen pickin all. He make one plan fo' heself fo' make dem lef he one (alone) nah fa'm. [1]

               "He tell he wef, say: 'Dah tem w'en I go die, yo' mus' bury me close me fa'm-ho'se.'

               "Aftah he done tell heen wef dat, he no' tay agin, [2] Spider he bin sick, he head duh hurt um fo' true, true. He no able fo' yeat anyt'ing agin. He say dah sick 'trong 'pon um. Jus' t'ree no mo (merely), well, Spider he die. He wef en heen pickin' dey cry fo' um, en dem people all. Dey bury um close de fa'm-ho'se lek how he bin say. Well, net tem he wef take all he pickin, he go nah town, but sun tem dey wuk nah fa'm. W'en dey wan' fo' go back nah town, dey bin lef clean ress plenty, den bin lef fis' en palm-ile, en peppy, en all t'ing fo' cook.

               "W'en dey done go, Spider get up soffle f'om he grabe, he go inside fa'm-ho'se, he go take pot, he was' um, he put um nah fiah, he cook plenty ress; he go look, he take fis', he take 'nuff fo' hese'f. Well, he kin yeat dat all net sotay fus' fowl crow. Jus' w'en fowl crow, Spider go back nah he grabe. He go lay down deh soffle. Dem people dey come now. W'en dey wan' cook dey go look den ress, dey meet only leelee bit. Dem no know who take um. Well, Spider do dis trick ebery net fo' one week. W'en den people go home, Spider bin come out f'om he grabe. Dem people heah dey no know how fo' do. Well, one pusson tell um say:

               "'Make yo' mus' go to de country-fashion man. W'en he look de groun' he tell yo' wey t'ing kin do dat. [3]

               "Den go to dat country-fashion man. Wen he look de groun' he tell dem, say, ef den wan' fo' ketch dah pusson wey (who) do dah trick, dem fo' get big wax, [4] make um lek young girl, en dis girl heah dey mus' put nah one co'ner inside de ho'se. So dey duh do all. Well, Spider no know anyt'ing happen. Wen de people done go, he come out soffle, lek wey he do de odder tem. He get de big, big pot, he was' um, put um nah fiah. He go take ress, he go cook de ress; den he take de pot, he pin (placed) um down 'pon de groun' close de fiah. He take odder leelee pot, he go look ef den get fis'; he fine leelee bit. He cook de fis' good fashion, make soup wid um. He pin de soup down close de ress. He go take de plate now, he was' um, but he no get 'tick-'poon [5] fo' dish up. He take 'tick wid fiah 'pon um fo' go look 'poon. Well, w'en he take de fiah-'tick, he see dis wax 'tan' up one side. He say: 'Eh! eh! Yo' bin heah so all de tem, en make me trouble fo' cook ress all, sotay I done cook de soup? Yo' no come se'f fo' he'p me?'

               "De t'ing no talk.

               "'Well, now I done finish, go make yo' dish up de ress, make we yeat.'

               "But w'en de t'ing no answer, Spider say:

               "'How yo' kin do? I duh talk, yo' no hearee wey t'ing I duh say? I say, yo' mus' go pull dah ress, make we yeat.'

               "W'en de t'ing no duh talk, Spider hole um wid he han'. 'Jus he hole um, now he han' fash'n (stuck fast), he say:

               "'Because I no hole yo' wid all two han', dat make yo' duh hole me tight?'

               "W'en he hole um wid he odder han', he han' fash'n agin en he say:

               "'Eh! eh! Lef me now! Ef yo' no wan' pull (bring) dah ress tell me, make me go pull um fo' mese'f. Yo' t'ink say nar (it is) play I duh play? Fo' dat yo' kin do so? He look lek say yo' wan' make me kick yo'.'

               "He kick um; he foot fash'n, he say:

               "'Yo' make so I go kick yo' wid dis me odder foot jus' now.'

               "W'en he take de odder foot, kick um, dat fash'n agin. He say:

               "'Eh! eh! Ef yo' no lef me I go box yo' wid me head.'

               "Den he butt um, en he head fash'n 'pon de wax.

               "'Ef yo' no lef me, I go conk (strike) yo' jus' now wid me chest.'

               "He conk um, he chest fash'n. W'en Spider he fine how he fash'n all, he begin fo' talk soffle, he beg, he beg, he say:

               "'Lef me now, do yah. Soon do' go clean.'

               "W'en he beg, de t'ing no duh talk: jus' 'tan' up deh. Spider fet, he fet, he fet t-a-y (till) do' go clean; he no come out. De mo' he duh fet de mo' he duh fash'n. He wef come out town, he come meet Spider, he say:

               "'Ah! Fren', nar so yo' bin do all de tem? Aintee yo' say yo' duh die fo' make yo' take all de ress? Well, mese'f I no go lef yo' come out f'om dah place. Yo' fo' 'tan' up deh (there).'

               "Spider 'tan' up dey tay (till) all de people to de town come meet um; dem beat um fine."

               "Well, fus' tem Spider bin roun' lek pusson, but he fash'n so 'pon dah wax w'en den people all duh beat um, dat make he flat tay (till) to-day. Dis now de punishment he duh get. Story done."

               The narrative of Mr. Spider's successive disasters with the Wax Girl moved forward with accelerated energy. Now and then came a brief pause to allow the story-teller to reinforce voice and tone with a fitting gesture, or to give vent to that peculiar, deep-throated chuckle which was his only outward evidence of inward delight. The eyes of the listeners danced and sparkled. They mimicked Spider's successive blows as the speaker illustrated them, and swayed to and fro, or shook with convulsions that threatened every minute to become uncontrollable. The last statements were uttered hurriedly, as if to give the pent up storm of laughter a chance to escape before it should work serious consequences. With the words "Story done," the men gave way to unrestrained and unrestrainable hilarity.

               "He conk um, he conk um, he conk um," repeated Oleemah, in a voice choked with mirth, trying by the repetition to experience again all the delicious humor of the situation.

               "He han' fash'n, he foot fash'n, he head fash'n, he chest fash'n," remarked Gondomah, while his whole frame shook with merriment, and the remark started a new fit of laughter.

               Long after the noisy outburst had ceased, the comments continued concerning Mr. Spider's propensity for trickery, and his notorious capacity for "yeat."

               It was not long before the tales were going again regarding some of Mr. Spider's numberless exploits. This time Oleemah was the story-teller. He had been sitting unusually silent for some time, but now, lifting his head and sniffing the air significantly, he remarked:

               "One tem Cappen Spider, he en Lizzad make boat of Chameleon."

               Here he paused, as if there were nothing more to say, but the men, scenting a story, urged him to go on. After a decent show of reluctance, he proceeded to tell how [MR. CHAMELEON IS TRANSFORMED INTO A BOAT.]



[1] To better insure their safety against invading tribes, the people live in villages, often mud-walled, and go at day-break to their farms, where a hut, or a thatched roof supported by poles, serves as temporary abode and shelter. In order to indulge undisturbed his inordinate appetite, Spider plans to be left alone at night upon his farm, when the other members of the household return to the village.

[2] "He no 'tay agin," i.e., It did not stay, was a short time.

[3] The country-fashion man is a sort of African seer, who seats himself upon the ground, spreads a white cloth in front of him, throws upon it small stones and bits of various things, and in some way from these makes his predictions, fumbling in an apparently aimless way, and muttering to himself, or to the spirits of darkness with which he claims to be in communion. This is about as much as the uninitiated and curious can learn in regard to "Looking the ground."

[4] The wax referred to exudes from a tree called by the natives "chockooh." It is very tenacious.

[5] "'Tick-'poon" i.e. a stick used as a substitute for a spoon.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Spider Discovers the Wax Girl
Tale Author/Editor: Cronise, Florence M. & Ward, Henry W.
Book Title: Cunnie Rabbit, Mr. Spider and the Other Beef: West African Folk Tales
Book Author/Editor: Cronise, Florence M. & Ward, Henry W.
Publisher: E. P. Dutton & Co.
Publication City: New York
Year of Publication: 1903
Country of Origin: Sierra Leone
Classification: ATU 175: The Tarbaby and the Rabbit

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