Jamaica - Curing the Sick
Rennie Macfarlane, Mandeville.
Three little fish pickney mother was sick an' Anansi said, "If you want, I get you' mother better for you!" an the three little fish said, "Yes!" An' said, "You give me a frying-pan an' some sweet ile, an' you lock up in that room an' when she better, I let you know." An' he fry the fish an' eat it an' tell the fish pickney that they can come out the room now. An' they ask, "Where is our mother? Did you get her better?" an' he said, "No, I eat her!" an' the fish run after him an' he run away.
An' a mule ask the fish, "Do you want me to catch him for you?" an' they said, "Yes!" And the mule said, "Give me those peas that you have now an' I catch him for you." An' the mule go out to Anansi gate an' lie down there an' when Anansi come out, Anansi run up into his belly an' the mule gallop away again. An' Anansi cry out in the mule's belly, "If he go to sea-side, stop him; but if he go anywhere else, let him go!" An' he gallop to the sea-shore an' give Anansi to the fish.
An' he say, "You know what you do, fish? Put me under the trash an' burn me!" An' when the fish put him under de trash, Anansi run under a stone, hide, an' the fish t'ot he was burn.
b. The Six Children.
George Parkes, Mandeville.
An old woman had six children, three sons and three daughters. They grew up to be big men and women. They were living near the roadside. The old woman was sick with sore eyes, so the children came out by the wayside and began to cry. Hog was passing by, said to them, "What's the matter with you, now?"--"Well, Mr. Hog, our mother became blind and we cannot cure it!"--"I can't do no good, I can't cure it!" So Hog went away. Little after that there was Goat come up. Children were still crying. Goat said, "What's the matter with you, now?" Children said, "Well, Mr. Goat, our mother took in with blindness and we cannot cure it!" Goat say, "I cannot cure it!" and he went on his way. A little after that Cow came up. "What's the matter with you, now?"--"Well, Mr. Cow, our mother took in with blindness an' we cannot cure it!" Cow say, "I can't do no good!" an' he went on his way. Afterward they heard Jack-ass galloping come along say, "Hee-haw, hee-haw! What's the matter with you? what's the matter with you?" The children say, "Well, Mr. Jack-ass., our mother took in with blindness an' we cannot cure it!" Jack-ass say, "I can't do no good! I can't do no good! I can't do no good!"
Little after that, Anansi come up, hear the children crying, said, 'An' Vat de mattah wid you, now?"--"Well, Mr. Anansi, our mother took in with blindness an' we cannot cure it!" Anansi said, "I can cure it!" He said, "You know wha' you all do? Put a barrel of water in the kitchen, get two barrels of white yam put in the kitchen, a pound of butter, a pound of lard, 'nuf meat, an' put dem in de kitchen, an' I'll come back anodder day an' cure it!" So the day appointed he came back an' said, "Carry you mother now an' put in the kitchen," an' said, "I am going to shut the door an' when you heah somet'ing say 'fee-e-e-e', you all mus' say, 'T'ank God, mama have a cure!"
So Anansi kill the ol' lady, cook off all the yarns an' flour an' everyt'ing, fry up the ol' lady with the butter an' the lard. He go "fee-e-e-e" an' the children, hearing that, said, "Tank God, mama have a cure! t'ank God, mama have a cure!" Anansi now eat off the ol' lady an' all the t'ings, take all the bones an' pack it put at the fire-side, an' come out an' fasten the door, say that they mus' not open the door until nine days time. That time, take himself away. On the seventh day, the chil'ren couldn't bear it no longer, went an' burst the door open fin' all their mother bones at the fire-side.
They come out, start crying again. Hog pass by, said, "What's the matter with you now?"--"Well, Mr. Hog, Mr. Anansi come heah an' kill our mother an' we cannot catch him!" Hog said, "I can't help you!" and went his way. A little after, Goat came up, said, "What' the matter now?"--"Well, Mr. Goat, Mr. Anansi came heah an' kill our mother eat her off an' we cannot catch him!"--I can do no good, I can't catch him!" Goat went on his way. Cow came up. "What's the matter with you now? what's the matter with you?"--"Well, Mr. Cow, Mr. Anansi come heah an' kill our mother an' eat her off an' we cannot catch him!" Cow said, "I can't do no good! I can't do no good!" an' he went on his way. A little after, Jackass come, say, "Hee-haw! what's the matter with you? what's the matter with you? what's the matter with you?"--"Well, Mr. Jack-ass, Mr. Anansi come heah an' kill our mother an' eat her off an' we can't catch him!" Jack-ass said, "I will catch de fellah! I will catch de fellah! I will catch de fellah!"
Jackass went to Anansi gate an' lay down fawn dead with his belly swell up. Anansi come down an' said, "Lawd! dat's a lot me bwoy meet up t'-day!" An' said, "Me wife, bring de big pot an' de big bowl an' de big yabba an' de big knife!" So when it come, Anansi cut Jack-ass under the belly, put his han' t'ru the cut. He full the big pot with the fat, and the big bowl, an' shove his han' now to fill yabba, clear to his shoulder. Jack-ass hol' him. He said, "Br'er Jack-ass, me no t'ink you dead!" an' said, "A little fun me mak wid you, no mean i'!" Jack-ass say, "Fun or no fun, come we go!" an' Jack-ass get up, gallop straight to the children yard. An' they make up a big fire an' put Anansi in an' bu'n him an' bu'n him till him belly burst!
Curing the Sick.
In Parkes's version, the substitution of the human for the fish victim not only spoils the wit of the story but obscures its relation to the story of Anansi's visit to fish-country as it appears in number 39. The identity of the two is proved by the structure of the story, which falls into two parts. (1) Anansi, pretending to cure a sick relative, eats her instead. (2) The mule offers to avenge her and plays dead outside Anansi's door; when he attempts to make use of her for food, she drags him into the water and drowns him, as in number 6.
For (1) compare Cronise and Ward, 226-230, where Rabbit pretends to cure Leopard's children and eats them up; Nassau, 125-126, where Tortoise pretends to bring children out of Crocodile's hundred eggs, and eats them all.
(2) In Parsons's Portuguese negro story, JAFL 30:231-235, Lob escapes from the island where the indignant birds have abandoned him, by bribing Horse-fish to carry him across. He promises to pay her well, but abandons the horse-fish as soon as he touches shore. She remains weeping on the shore. Lob thinks her dead and starts to cut her up. She drags him into the sea and drowns him. There are small touches in the story which prove its identity with the Jamaica version. When Lob's wife weeps, Lob says, "She is just playing with me, she is not going to do anything." In Parkes's story, Anansi says to the mule who is dragging him into the sea, "A little fun me mak wid you, no mean i'." In both Jamaica versions, Mule turns Anansi over to the vengeance of the fishes; in the Portuguese, he is drowned.
In Jekyll, 135-137, an old lady meddles with a jar she has been told not to touch and which, as soon as she gets her hand in, drags her to the sea and drowns her.
In Jekyll, 125, "Cousin Sea-mahmy" makes his son Tarpon carry Anansi to shore, and Anansi gets him into the pot by the trick of taking turns weighing each other, as in number 16.
In Pamela Smith, 44-46, Anansi eats the sick mother under pretence of cure, and bribes Dog to carry him across the river, but there is no vengeance; Dog himself is swallowed by Crocodile.
Jamaica Anansi Stories ,Martha Warren Beckwith, New York, Published By The American Folk-Lore Society, G. E. Stechert & Co., Agents.  and is now in the public domain.