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67. The Tree-wife.

Thomas White, Maroon Town.

It was a man didn't have no wife an' he was a hunter-man; he hunt in de bush all day. An' one day he go in de bush, go an' shoot, an' when he coming home, him saw a pretty tree name of Jessamy, an' he say, "O me biddy boy, das a pretty tree!" An' he says, "If dis tree could tu'n a wife to me, I would like to be marry to him!" An' so he said, it done de very same as what him said; de free do tu'n a wife for him. De woman was naked, an' he lef' him at de said time an' went home back, an' he get some clot'ing for de woman, an' got him dress up nicely an' carry him home at house.

An' deh he an' de woman was fo' a long time until one day he were gwine out a bush fe gwine shoot, an' leave him wife a house. Him go an' sleep an' never come home till de nex' day. An' after he gone to de wood, it's anudder man go dere an' inveigle him wife an' tek' him away from him house an' go to dis man house. An' when de poor man come home from bush de nex' day, he couldn't fin' him wife. An' what de wife did, after de wife come out dis man's house go to de nex' house, she was frighten how him husban' gwine fin' him. An' de nex' man house, about a two mile off him husban' house, an' as she leaving for him house, she spit all de way until she ketch to dis odder man's house.

An' de man was into a rage dat him couldn't fin' him wife an' didn't know what was to ever do. An' him sing,[1]

Jes-ta be-yo, eh-e-eh-eh-eh-o -- --
Jes-ta be-yo,
A, a wi' die, oh, wi'a go die, oh, fe trees bear-e, oh,
A, a wi' die, ob, wi a go die, oh, fe trees bear-e, oh.

[1. The song sung is the Koromanti Death Song, always used by the Maroons at a burial.]

{p. 75}

When de man sing, de spit dat de woman spit answer him,--

"Jesta be-yo, eh, eh, eh, o!
Jesta be-yo, a wi' die-o,
Wi' a go die-o, fe trees bear-e o!"

To every place where de woman spit, de man go dere an' stan' an' call--

"Jesta be-yo, eh, eh, eh, o,"

at each stopping-place of half a mile until two miles are passed. An' jus' as de woman hear de voice of de man, stan' at door-mout' an' see dat de man coming. An' de man go tak him wife an' catch him right back to home yard.

Jack man dory, choose none!

Next: 68. Sammy the Comferee.