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 [39. Anansi, White-belly and Fish.]


39. Anansi, White-belly and Fish.

Jekyll, 129-131, and Milne-Home, 35-39, have excellent versions of this very popular Jamaica story, which, in its full form, is made up of four episodes. (1) The birds take Anansi across the water to their feeding-place where; because of his bad behavior, they abandon him. (2) Anansi visits Fish and claims relationship. Fish tests him with a cup of hot pop, which he cools in the sun under pretence of heating it hotter. (3) He is lodged for the night with a box of eggs, all of which he eats but one; and when called upon to count the eggs, brings Fish the same one every time,

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after wiping off the mark. (4) Fish sends her children to row him home. He fools them out of heeding her call when she discovers the loss of the eggs. Once on shore, he fries and eats the children.

Compare Tremearne, 265-266; Head-hunters, 324-326; Rattray, 2: 88-104; Parsons, Portuguese negroes, JAFL 30:231-235; Andros Island, 2-3.

(1) The episode of the birds' feeding-place is to be compared with that of Fire-fly and the egg-hunt, number 7, and with the visit "inside the cow," number 22. In the Portuguese version, the birds take Lob to a dance and he sings insulting songs because there is no least.

(2) The test of relationship occurs in Jekyll and in Tremearne, Head-hunters. It belongs to the same class of boasts as those of the Clever Tailor in Grimm 20 and 183.

(3) In Milne-Home, the scorpion trick is employed to guard the eggs, as in number 7, and Anansi complains of "fleas" biting him. The episode is lacking in Jekyll.

In Tremearne, Head-hunters, when Spider breaks the eggshells, the children cry out to know what is the matter and Spider says he is hiccoughing.

The egg-counting trick generally occurs in a different connection. The trickster visits Tiger's house, eats all the cubs but one, and counts that one many times. Compare Callaway, 24-27; MacDonald 1:55-56; Theal 111; Jacottet, 40-45; Rattray, Chinyanje, 137-138; Harris, Nights, 346-348.

(4) In Jekyll, Anansi visits "Sea-mahmy," who is a mermaid, and. her son, "Trapong," or tarpon, takes him home. In Milne-Home, "Alligator" is host; a "boat-man" the ferryman. Lob gets "aunt" sea-horse to carry him to shore. In my Jamaica versions, the sons are the ferrymen and are generally cooked and eaten at the other end. The misinterpreted call occurs in all Jamaica versions and in Tremearne, Head-hunters. In the Lob story, Lob mutters an insult; when asked to repeat his words, he declares that he has merely praised the sea-horse's swimming; compare Parsons, Sea Islands, 54-56. For the fate of the ferryman, see also note to number 38 and compare Anansi's treatment of Rat in the note to number 7.

Next: Note 40. Goat's Escape.