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 [54. Why Crab is afraid after Dark.]


54. Why Crab is afraid after Dark.

The story represents a very wide-spread folk motive--that of a weak being who appeals to some deity for more power, but whose request is proved to be either needless or disastrous.

In Tremearne, FL 21:360, an old woman is to teach Spider cunning. She sends him for a bottle of lion's tears, an elephant's tusk, a dog's skin. Spider secures them all, and escapes her when she tries to kill him. She says, "If I taught you more cunning, you would destroy everybody." This story is popular in Sea Islands, according to Dr. Parsons, JAFL 32:404, and Sea Islands, 14-19. Compare Bundy, JAFL 32:416-417, and note, page 416.

[1. See supplementary note, p. 290.]

{p. 260}

In Tremearne, 270-271, Snake promises Scorpion a poison that will kill a man at once. Scorpion accidentally bites Snake, and she refuses the poison lest he kill everybody.

In Fortier, 13-19, the Devil gives the little Earthworm his wish: "I want to become big big and beat everybody who will come to trouble and bother me. Give me only that and I shall be satisfied." The consequences are disastrous for the earth-worm.

In Folk-tales of the Malagasy, FLJ 1:238-239, "the little Pound Boy" smokes out God's children and so wins his desire,

In Ralston, 1-20, Sukra grants all an ambitious king's wishes until he finally wishes to push Sukra himself off his seat, See Grimm, 19, The Fisherman's Wife, Bolte u. Polívka 1:138-148.

Compare the Panchatantra story quoted by Ralston, introduction to Tibetan Tales, Liii, Of the weaver who asks for two pairs of arms and two heads in order to work faster, but is pelted by his terrified neighbors for his pains.

Next: Note 55. Why Mice are no Bigger.