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 [38. Curing the Sick.]


38. Curing the Sick.

In Parkes's version, the substitution of the human for the fish victim not only spoils the wit of the story but obscures its relation to the story of Anansi's visit to fish-country as it appears in number 39. The identity of the two is proved by the structure of the

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story, which falls into two parts. (1) Anansi, pretending to cure a sick relative, eats her instead. (2) The mule offers to avenge her and plays dead outside Anansi's door; when he attempts to make use of her for food, she drags him into the water and drowns him, as in number 6.

For (1) compare Cronise and Ward, 226-230, where Rabbit pretends to cure Leopard's children and eats them up; Nassau, 125-126, where Tortoise pretends to bring children out of Crocodile's hundred eggs, and eats them all.

(2) In Parsons's Portuguese negro story, JAFL 30:231-235, Lob escapes from the island where the indignant birds have abandoned him, by bribing Horse-fish to carry him across. He promises to pay her well, but abandons the horse-fish as soon as he touches shore. She remains weeping on the shore. Lob thinks her dead and starts to cut her up. She drags him into the sea and drowns him. There are small touches in the story which prove its identity with the Jamaica version. When Lob's wife weeps, Lob says, "She is just playing with me, she is not going to do anything." In Parkes's story, Anansi says to the mule who is dragging him into the sea, "A little fun me mak wid you, no mean i'." In both Jamaica versions, Mule turns Anansi over to the vengeance of the fishes; in the Portuguese, he is drowned.

In Jekyll, 135-137, an old lady meddles with a jar she has been told not to touch and which, as soon as she gets her hand in, drags her to the sea and drowns her.

In Jekyll, 125, "Cousin Sea-mahmy" makes his son Tarpon carry Anansi to shore, and Anansi gets him into the pot by the trick of taking turns weighing each other, as in number 16.

In Pamela Smith, 44-46, Anansi eats the sick mother under pretence of cure, and bribes Dog to carry him across the river, but there is no vengeance; Dog himself is swallowed by Crocodile.

Next: Note 39. Anansi, White-belly and Fish.