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 [81. Bosen Corner.]


81. The Witch at Bosen Corner.

This nursery tale was commonly recited to me by women, and a great many versions differed only in trifling respects from the pattern employed in the oldest Jamaica version on record, Lewis, 255-259.

Here the girl breaks a jug and is sent to get a new one. Three old women appear to her one after another, the last of them headless, to test her courtesy. The cat appears, the rice is cooking. The eggs to be selected are the "silent" ones out of a number of fine large ones that cry "take me." Out of the first egg comes the jug after which she has been sent; the other two make her fortune.

{p. 269}

P. Smith's version, 31-34, has more direct Frau Holle incidents. The good girl fulfils as she advances the requests of the grass, ping-wing and bramble, the fruit-tree and the cow. When the old woman sends her to draw water with a basket, Turtle tells her to put a plantain-leaf inside. She selects a little ugly calabash. When she is pursued by "axe-men" (as in number 82), the things she has been kind to befriend her, as in Wona's version of Brother Dead.

In a manuscript version in the collection of Mrs. W. E. Wilson (Wona), Yuckie and Jubba are the two daughters. Yuckie has a present of a string of amber beads. She puts them about her neck and says "bad dey behind you, good dey before you," but this only in dream. She loses the beads in the river and is turned out of the house. On her way, she sees and greets kindly a foot and a hand, and scratches the back of an ugly old woman, without complaining of the insects which sting her. The pot of rice, the cat, and the eggs are as above, The fine eggs say "Tek me no,", the dirty ones, "No tek me." Compare FLJ (SA) 1; 111-116, where the girls pretend to throw their beads into the water and thus deceive one girl into doing so, who has then to go down to the home of the water monster to get them back.

The variants from Andros Island, Parsons, 17-26, show no such uniformity. They are sometimes confused with the pumpkin story of Parsons, 26-27, and Milne-Home, 84-88, in which the choice of pumpkins is like that of the eggs in this story.

The theme is very common in African collections. Compare MacDonald 1:298-301; Junod, 191-192; 237-242; Torrend, 75--80; Tremearne, 307-314; 401-407; Barker, 89-94; Nassau, 213; Renel 1:50-64; Bundy, JAFL 32:406; and Parsons, Andros Island, note 1, page 17 for further references. See Grimm 24, Frau Holle; Bolte u. Polívka 2:207-227.

Next: Note 82. The Witch and the Three Dogs.