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.

Mr Leopard Shows His Hand

AS IF to make the retribution appear in the light of poetic justice, Sobah devised a connecting link between this story and the one just told.

               "W'en dey reach home," he said, referring to the time Spider flogged Leopard so unmercifully, "Spider go cut one big calabas' (gourd), he dig one leelee hole inside um, nuff fo' hese'f to pass. He put um deh to de co'ner of he ho'se.

               "Well, w'en one week done pass, dem bug-a-bug (white ants) dey come yeat all dem rope, en Lepped go home. He no get 'trenk because he no bin yeat anyt'ing fo' one week. He go try sotay (till) he ketch leelee beef, befo' he get 'trenk fo' ketch big beef. De day wey make t'ree, he get leelee 'trenk, he hole de road, he walker slow, slow, fo' go to Spider heen ho'se.

               "Nahker he duh cook. Den all hearee step. One leelee pickin, wid name Kokany, wey (which) mean go watch, he go look, he say: 'Mammy, 'tranger duh come; hide de ress (rice) nah bottom bed.'

               "Nahker come out, he peep, he say: 'Spider, we die to-day, Lepped duh come.'

               "Spider call he pickin, he say: 'Ef yo' lef' behine, en yo' get big trouble, de fault to oonah (you).'

               "Dey all duh follow um, go inside de gourd wey (which) 'tan' up nah de co'ner de ho'se. De place wey dey pass go inside bin up. W'en dey all done go inside, Spider roll de t'ing over, de mout' he nah de groun'.'

               "Lepped come, he meet big pot ress 'tan' up nah de fiah, en one big pot soup 'tan' up 'pon de groun'. De beef wey dey cook, nar bush-hog. Den t'ing all done ready was' fo' take up de yeat. Lepped he sit down, he laugh fus'. Now he take up all dah ress, he take dah soup, he turn dah soup all 'pon de ress, he yeat all, he no lef one grain. Spider wan' cry, he deh inside dah hole."

               This was more than Dogbah could stand. "No talk mo'," he cried impulsively, "Yo' make mese'f wan' cry fo' yeat dah ress en dah bush-hog," and he drew in a long breath that seemed to typify the longing of his soul.

               "Ah! Yo greedy (begrudge) pusson too much," Sobah answered sternly, but deigned no further reply.

               "Well, aftah Lepped done yeat, he go outside de fa'm-ho'se, he smell all 'roun', but he no smell Spider. He go inside, he come smell smell. He look, he bootoo (stooped over), he peep, he see one leelee gourd yandah, he go smell deh, he smell ole Mr. Spider. He take he foot, he krape de gourd, he turn um over. All de spider dey scatter, dey so plenty he no know which one fo' ketch. All go f'om um, dey all go inside bush yandah. Bottom one big tree dey go sit down. W'en Lepped bin yeat dah beef, he hebe (throw) de bone nah groun'. W'en Spider duh run go, he kare one leelee ole bone wey Lepped t'row 'way. He hole de bone, he sit bottom one big 'tick, he en he wef en he pickin. Den come Mr. Lepped, he take swing (sling), he put stone deh, he twis' um 'roun', he sen' um, he knock Bucknaykuhnunt, de mos' large pickin. De pickin say: 'W-a-y-ee!'

               "Spider say: 'Ah! No holler! Shut mout' one tem. Bimeby Lepped go come ketch we. Take dah bone, make yo' suck um.'

               "De pickin no talk, he take de bone, he hole um, but he no suck um, he too sick fo' suck um. Lepped sen' odder stone, he knock odder pickin. So he duh do tay he knock de pickin all. Now de same word Spider duh tell ebery tem to de pickin, but de bone he one no mo'. W'en stone knock one of he pickin, Spider take de bone f'om de fus', he gie to de odder one wey las' get de trouble. Now Lepped sen' one stone, he size pass (beyond) de fus', he sen' um go knock he wef Nahker nah jaw-bone. He wef say: 'W-y-ee! Me mammy to-day.' (He mean say he mammy kin feel fo' um pass odder pusson, he wan' see um).

               "Spider say: 'Oh, wef! lef' fo' holler, shut mout' one tem. Bimeby Lepped go ketch we. Take de bone, make yo' suck um.'

               "At las' Mr. Lepped take stone big lek dis town, put um inside de swing. He sen' um go knock Mr. Spider nah he forehead. Spider cry: 'W-a-y-ee! Trouble, trouble! Me mammy to-day!'

               "He wef say: 'Ah! Spider, lef fo' holler, shut mout' one tem, bimeby Lepped go ketch we. Look de bone fo' suck."

               "Spider say: 'Yo' craze? Aftah pusson knock yo' cumpin (companion) yo' no tell um hush-yah? [1] Yo' say make yo' come suck bone. Nar tem dis fo' suck bone?'

               "Spider holler tay Lepped come ketch dem. Now he flog dem all. Nahker en de pickin dey die, but Spider run go odder country.

               "Pusson nebber kill Spider w'en dey flog um; dey make he go so he kin feel pain, so he kin 'member wey t'ing he do.

               "Tay to-day, Spider he en Lepped no to fren' agin."

               So matters were equalized, and justice satisfied, but the story-tellers were not willing to let Mr. Leopard off.

               Gondomah's face showed that he was repressing a desire to speak, and, noticing this, Sobah condescendingly urged him to proceed.

               Thus encouraged Gondomah began, rather timidly at first, to recount the ruse of Mr. Leopard by which he secured food in time of famine.



[1] "Hush yah," or "as-yah," is the strongest expression of sympathy in the Sierra Leone dialect.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Mr Leopard Shows His Hand
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: unclassified

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