Jamaica Anansi Stories/The Law against Back-biting

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Jamaica Anansi Stories by Martha Warren Beckwith
Animal Stories (The Law against Back-biting.)
32. The Law against Back-biting.
a. Duck's Dream.
George Parkes, Mandeville.

One time Anansi were living in a country an' the country were very hard; so they pass a law that anyone talk one another, that man will drop down dead. So Anansi say he mus' eat something out of it, because he's going to fix himself into a place where people mus' talk him. So he get a hoe an' a pick-axe an' a machete an' go to a broad flat rock near the side of the road where everyone pass, begun to knock, pong pong pong. Hog was passing. Hog say, "Mawning, Brar Anansi." Anansi say, "Mawning, Brar Hog." Hog say, "Wha you do deh?" Anansi say, "Governor pass law an' say famine coming upon lan' an' ev'rybody mus' work groun', so me deh try see wha' me kyan' do." So Hog went on. As he went a little way he say, "Odder people work groun' a good place; Anansi deh work groun' 'pon rock!" As Hog say so, drop down dead. Anansi turn roun', pick him up put him in his bag, said, "Dat de way oonoo[2] talk a man!" So now he carry Hog go home go eat him.

[2. Oonoo is Jamaican for "you."]

The nex' day he went back. Cow was passing. He began to knock, pong pong pong. Cow say, "Mawning, Brar Anansi." Anansi say, "Mawning, Brar Cow." Cow say, "A wha' you deh do deh?" Anansi say, "governor pass a law that a great famine come 'pon land an' everybody mus' work groun'." So cow went on. When he go a little distance he said, "Odder man work groun' have good place; Anansi work 'pon rock stone!" Cow drop down dead. Anansi tak him up put him in his bag, said, "Dat's how oonoo talk a man!' He carry home Cow an' eat him.

Horse and Goat come and they share the same fate. Now a day or two after, while Anansi was there knocking, Duck came up. He said, "Mawning, Brar Anansi." Anansi said, "Mawning, Brar Duck." Duck said, "A wha' you do deh?" Anansi say, "Governor pass law say great famine coming 'pon lan' an' ev'rybody mus' work groun', so me deh try see wha' me can do." Anansi said to Duck, "What is all de strange news a fe you side?"[1] Duck say not'ing strange but only thing he dream a dream las' night that he's on the worl' so long an' no married yet; so him a go down a bottom yonder go see if him kyan' get married. So he went on. Anansi then said, "Good people, they get married. Duck an' all say him want fe married too!" So Anansi drop down dead. Duck turn roun' an' pick him up, swallow him, an' said, "Dat's de way oonoo talk a man!"

[1. "in your district."]


b. Guinea-chick.
Alexander Archibald, Mandeville.

Anansi make law if anyone talk de odder one, he dead. He get up on one cave roadside, go working ground. Cow a pass, go see him. Anansi say, "Des a try a work one groun' heah." So when Cow go long, pass him, Cow say, "Chuh! man fool! man kyan't work groun' 'pon rock-stone!" As Cow say so, Cow tumble down dead. Den Anansi go pick him up, go eat.

Hog came. Hog ax him say, "A wha' yo' a doin' heah?"--"A try a work a groun'." Hog pass him."--"Chuh! man kyan't look upon rock-stone an' say me work groun'!" As Hog say so, him drop dead. Anansi pick him up, go eat.

Guinea-chick say, "I will go deh!" Guinea-chick put on him clo'es same as a go market. So when he come an' see Anansi upon de stone a dig, tie him head wid a check handkerchief--dat are Guinea-chick--an' pass Anansi, no 'peak to him. Dat time him go long Anansi say, "Dat dar fool!" Den Anansi drop dead.

Jack man dory!


c. Dry-head at the Barber's.
Charles Thompson, Harmony Hall.

Once Anansi and But[1] made agreement that they wasn't to talk one another. Anansi went to a road and But went to one. Part of the day, Dry-head was passing where Anansi was working and complain to Anansi that he going out to a ball to-night and he going to a barber-shop to get his hair barber. And after he gone Anansi say, "Pardon me, me Lord! whe' Brar Dry-head get hair on his head to go to de barber-shop to barber?" An' Anansi fell down an' died, an' But went back an' pick him up an' eat him.

[1. Butterfly.]