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.

Origin of the Axe, The

"NOW one boy en one girl bin deh. De boy kin stone plenty bird, he kill one. De girl go take de bird wey de boy get, he yeat um. Den de boy cry fo' de bird, en de girl take one corn, he giē um. De boy go put de corn nah groun, en de bug-a-bug (ants) yeat um. Den he cry 'pon de bug-a-bug, de bug-a-bug make one country-pot, gie um. He take de country-pot, he go get wattah, en de wattah take de country-pot 'way f'om he han'. So he cry 'pon de wattah, en de wattah gie um fis'. He go put de fis' 'pon de sho', en de 'awk kare um go. He call de 'awk name, en de 'awk take one he wing, he gie um. W'en he put de wing 'pon 'tick, de breeze come take um, en he cry 'pon de breeze, he sing:

               "'Dah breeze take me wing, eh!'"

               With the first line of the song, the story-teller's voice fell into a chanting movement, and he began beating time with hand and foot. The movement was contagious, and soon every hand was clapping noisily.

"'Dah breeze take me wing, eh!     
De wing wey de 'awk done gie me;     
'Awk done yeat me fis', eh!    
Dah fis' wey wattah gie me;     
Wattah take me pot, eh!    
Dah pot wey de bug-a-bug gie me;    
Bug-a-bug yeat me corn, eh!     
De corn wey dah girl bin gie me;    
Girl yeat me bird, eh!    
Wey mese'f bin ketch um.'

               "Now de breeze go pick plenty fruit fo' de boy, en de babboo (baboon) take de fruit, yeat um. He cry 'pon de babboo, en de babboo take axe, he gie um. De boy kare de axe go nah town; de chief take um f'om he han'. W'en de chief take um f'om he han', he cry 'pon de chief, he say:

               "'Me poor boy, I suffer! I ketch one bird, girl yeat um. W'en I tell um, he gie me one corn. I take um, put um down en bug-a-bug yeat um. I cry 'pon dah bug-a-bug, bug-a-bug gie me one country-pot. I go get wattah wid um, wattah take um f'om me han'. I cry 'pon de wattah, wattah gie me one fis'. I take de fis', I put um 'pon de sho', 'awk take um 'way. I cry 'pon de 'awk, 'awk gie me one wing. I take de wing, I put um down, breeze take um. I cry 'pon de breeze, breeze pick plenty fruit fo' me. Babboo take um f'om me han'. I cry 'pon babboo, babboo gie me axe. W'en I fetch um nah town, yo' wey bin gentry, yo' take um f'om me han'. Well, wey t'ing I go do now?'

               "Well, de chief answer um back, he say:

               "'Dis kind of t'ing no bin to dis town, so I go take um. I gie yo' lot of me money, fo' make I go take dis axe.'

               "He answer de chief back, he say:

               "'Well, befo' yo' take um, not to leelee bit money yo' gie me, yo' gie me plenty, because I bin suffer fo' de axe; I cry 'pon all dem t'ing befo' dey gie me de axe.'

               "Well, de chief answer um back, he say: 'I gie yo' money en make yo' sit down to dis town so yo' no suffer. I gie yo' plenty slave.'

               "He answer de chief, he say: 'All ret.'

               "De chief take plenty money, he gie um wid slave. Well, de boy take de axe, he gie um to de chief, en de chief tankee um. De chief take de axe, he make de blacksmit' look de axe. Dey follow how de ax bin make, en dey make one, but he no so good lek de fus' one. Befo' dis tem heah, axe no bin to dis wuld.

               "De chief say: 'Make de boy mus' go cry agin, make de babboo show um how fo' do wid de axe, ef he fo' make hole in um, hang um nah he neck.'

               "Den de boy say: 'Chief, ef yo' no wan' de axe, gie me back, make I no go die agin. Ef I go back I go die, because dah place bad wey I bin suffer.'

               "De chief take de axe, he say: 'All ret.' He say: 'Make yo' no go agin.' He get one Kongah man (magician) to he town. De Kongah man show um how fo' do wid de axe fo' 'plit wood. Well, w'en he done show um so, he say: 'All ret.'

               "So all man make axe tay dey sabbee (know) fo' make um. Now dey scatter um all over dis wuld."

               The men found but little occasion in this story for their usual outbursts of laughter, but they were none the less charmed with the strange chain of events by which the axe was brought into existence. "Story done," Sobah remarked, as the narrative ended, and with that he arose, and picking up his much prized axe, set out for the village.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Origin of the Axe, The
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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