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 [17. House in the Air.]


17. House in the Air.

The story of obtaining entrance to a hidden food-supply "in the air" takes two general forms in Jamaica--first, that in which a song serves as pass-word, as in the voice-softening Rapunzel plot, number 91; second, that of the lost pass, numbers 22 and 100. The lost pass takes two directions; there is either a forgotten password or a destroyed "key."

The story is popular in Jamaica. See Jekyll, 23-25, Pamela Smith, 52-54; Backus, JAFL 11:288-289.

Compare: Dayrell, 86-90; Parsons, Andros Island, 5-7; 8-9; Sea Islands, 36; Harris, Nights, 236-241.

Version (a). Dayrell, Harris and Pamela Smith use the episode to complete the mother-eating story; the trickster hides his relative in a tree in order to evade his share of the bargain.

In Bleek, 7, 9, and Theal, 190, a trickster offers to act as carrier for the Lion's prey, conveys it to a height, then pretends to draw the Lion up with a rope but lets him fall when he is part way up.

Version (b). The version is so incomplete that its connections are difficult to trace. In Chatelain, 133, when the women from Sun and Moon who have come to draw water go back up to heaven on the cobweb that Spider has woven, Frog goes along with them to woo the daughter of Sun and Moon for his master. In Dennett, 74, the Spider climbs up to the blue vault of heaven and draws up the other animals to woo Nzambi's daughter.

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Versions (c) and (d). In Parsons, Andros Island, 5-7, the trickster visits some fat pea-fields in the air belonging to "dose speerits which you call witch people" and gets a dash of hot water, as in number 1 b. In version (d), the trickster himself employs the hot water in the popular John-crow peel-head episode with which the story concludes; see number 48, Backus's Jamaica version ends in the same fashion,

The idea of the liver as the "key" to the house occurs in Chatelain, 113. The trickster, after trying in vain to kill a monster by cutting off his head, gets himself swallowed and "goes to look into his hearts (i. e. "liver" and "inner organs" generally, says the note) whether these are the keys."

Next: Note 18. Goat on the Hill-side.