This is one of the best-known stories in Jamaica. See Milne-Home, 67-69, Garshan Bull; P. Smith, 55-58, Bull Garshananee. All follow about the same pattern, and the same may be said of other versions collected in Jamaica which are not set down here.
In a version given by Mrs. Elizabeth Hilton, the boy buys twelve buta (arrows) and a bottle of water and a bottle of rum. When he calls "Geshawnee," the bull says, "Since I have been in this place, I never heard anyone call my name." The boy stays up the tree into which he has climbed by the formula, "Bear up, me good tree, bear up! I have often seen me father fell a green tree and leave a dry one."
In a Mandeville version by John Macfarlane, the boy's name is "Simon Tootoos," the bull's "Garshanee." The woman makes him a pudding and he takes six eggs each of hen, turkey and bird. He opens three gates with song, and the giant appears in the form of a bull. He climbs a cotton-wood tree. When the bull throws arrows at him he says, "I see me father take his little finger and catch longer arrows than those!" He catches twelve, with which he pelts the bull in return.
Neither of these versions ends with the false claim.
In another Mandeville version given by a lad, Clarence Tathum, the slayer of the mother is a giant named "Tako-rimo." The son takes a yard of tobacco and a pone. With the tobacco, he bribes the watchman to give him information about the giant and an iron-crow-bar. He goes inside and sees a servant lousing the giant's head. "Massa, der is someone calling you name," says the servant. "Who would calling my name so uncommon?" answers the giant. The giant flings a sword, which the boy catches and himself flings the crowbar and kills the giant, The story goes on to tell how the boy is imprisoned by the brother, "Giant Despair," and escapes exactly as in the tale of "Jack the Giant-Killer," while the giant falls into a trench and is killed.
In Stephen Johnson's version from Claremont, a huge animal by the name of "Grandezee" kills the mother but spares the child. To escape the beast, the boy climbs a tree and sings, "Bear up, me good tree, for I often see me father get down tall trees and ketch them up again!" He throws three pegs and pegs down Grandezee and takes out the golden tongue and teeth. The false claim follows.
In a version from Brownstown by Emanuel Johnson, "Geshawnee was a kind of witch t'ing live into de river." He has seven heads. Sammy cuts seven lances, climbs a tree and calls his name. He says, 'From day I'm born, never see a big man call me name, much more a little boy!' He knocks his side and brings out axe-men, rain and cattle, which attack the tree in vain. Sammy sings, "Bear up, me good tree, bear up. I oftentimes see me father cow
haul down a tree an' me father say, 'Bear up, me good tree, bear up,' an' that tree bear up.' Sammy kills the monster. The story of the false claim follows.
In Parsons's fragment, 145-146, the name is Kramytadanta. The boy takes a bottle of water and a loaf and sings from the tree.
Seven episodes regularly belong to the story. (1) A bull (or monster) kills a woman whose new-born son is saved and brought up by a woman-friend or relative. (2) The boys at school mock at him because he has no father, and he learns the story of his parentage. (3) He takes certain objects for slaying the monster. (4) He sings a name-song as challenge. (5) He climbs a tree which resists attack. (6) He slays the beast by hurling missiles from the tree. (7) Anansi claims the deed.
Compare Zeltner's stories of Soundita, 1-6, and Kama, 54-61; Renel 1: 82-85; 117-118; Tremearne, 408-412; Lenz, 22; Fortier, 11-13; Harris, Friends, 86-89; Boas, Notes, JAFL 25: 258.
(1) In the less sophisticated versions, the bull kicks the child from the "breeding" woman.
(2) See Burton's Arabian Nights Tales (Burton Club, 1885) 1:231. The mocking incident is common in Maori tales.
(3) In Zeltner's "Soundita" story, the contest with a witch turned buffalo is carried on with three magic eggs and three magic arrows. In Fortier, the boy fights the bull with flap-jacks. The arrows suggest the weapons used in the fight of Sir Percival with the Red Knight in the English romance version. See also number 79, 80, 82.
(4) By comparing this bull version with Harris, Friends, 86- 89, and Fortier, 11-13, it is clear that the North American version contained the two episodes, that of exposing the bull husband by means of a song, as in number 87, and that of the challenge to conflict which completes number 89 in Jamaica. In Harris, the word used for the bull transformation is "Ballybaloo-bill," which is very close to my "Ballinder bull." The more common name in Jamaica is "Geshawnee," as in P. Smith's version and Johnson's song. But in Johnson's song, as in Harris, the boy is named Sammy and his small size emphasized. In the Harris-Fortier version, one episode is used to motivate the other, The first episode explains the rather mysterious use of the song in the Ballinder Bull story and in number 88, where the bull seems surprised that anyone knows enough to challenge him by name and where the knowledge itself seems bound up with his defeat. In Jekyll's version of number 88,
when the son challenges the father by name a cow calls, "Master, master, I hear some one calling your name." The bull answers, "No, no, not a man can call my name!" At some stage in transmission a fatal name motive must have dropped out and a magic song taken its place.
This comparison with Harris and Fortier merely proves a relation with the Jamaica story. It by no means explains the original source of the American version, or its exact relation to the other bull stories collected; namely, numbers 84 and 88. Zeltner's story of Soundita, 3-5, has perhaps more elements in common with the Harris-Fortier story than any other African parallel, and further analysis may decide whether the complex Senegambian story is in the direct line or merely has gathered episodes from a common source.
(5) and (6) See note to number 82 and Bolte u. Polívka, discussing Grimm 60, Two Brothers.
(7) The episode of the mock claim appears also in the next number and in 97.