The Tar-Baby

Folktales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther Types 175 and 1310A
edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 2014-2018


  1. The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story (USA, Joel Chandler Harris).

  2. How Mr. Rabbit Was Too Sharp for Mr. Fox (USA, Joel Chandler Harris).

  3. Buh Wolf, Buh Rabbit, an de Tar-Baby (USA).

  4. Playing Godfather: Tar-Baby: Mock Plea (USA).

  5. The Rabbit and the Frenchman (Native American, Biloxi).

  6. Coyote and Pitch (Native American, Shasta).

  7. B' Rabby an' B' Tar-Baby (Bahamas).

  8. The Story of a Dam (South Africa, Hottentot).

  9. The Dance for Water; or, Rabbit's Triumph (South Africa).

  10. How Prince Five-Weapons Fought the Ogre Hairy-Grip (India, Jataka Tales).

  11. The Demon with the Matted Hair (India, Jataka Tales, retold by Joseph Jacobs).

  12. The Jackal and the Chickens (India).

  13. The Farmer, the Crocodile, and the Jackal (Pakistan).

  14. King Robin (Spain/Portugal).

  15. The Monkey and Juan Puson Tambi-Tambi (Philippines).

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story

USA, Joel Chandler Harris

"Didn't the fox never catch the rabbit, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy the next evening.

He come mighty nigh it, honey, sho's you bawn -- Brer Fox did. One day, atter Brer Rabbit fool 'im wid dat calamus root, Brer Fox went ter wuk en got 'im some tar, en mix it wid some turkentime, en fix up a contrapshun wat he call a Tar-Baby, en he tuck dish yer Tar-Baby en he sot 'er in de big road, en den he lay off in de bushes fer ter see wat de news wuz gwineter be. En he didn't hatter wait long, nuddor, kaze bimeby here come Brer Rabbit pacin' down de road -- lippity-clippity, clippity-lippity -- dez ez sassy ez a jay-bird. Brer Fox, he lay low.

Brer Rab bit come prancin' 'long twel he spy de Tar-Baby, en den he fotch up on his behime legs like he wuz 'stonished. De Tar-Baby, she sot dar, she did, en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"'Mawnin!' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee -- 'nice wedder dis mawnin',' sezee.

"Tar-Baby ain't sayin' nuthin', en Brer Fox, he lay low.

'How duz yo' sym'tums seem ter segashuate? ' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.

Brer Fox, he wink his eye slow, en lay low, en de Tar-Baby, she ain't sayin' nuthin'.

"How you come on, den? Is you deaf?" sez Brer Rabbit, sezee. "Kaze if you is, I kin holler louder," sezee.

Tar-Baby stay still, en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"Youer stuck up, dat's what you is," says Brer Rabbit, sezee, en I'm gwineter kyore you, dat's w'at I'm a gwineter do," sezee.

Brer Fox, he sorter chuckle in his stummuck, he did, but Tar-Baby ain't sayin' nuthin'.

"I'm gwineter lam you howter talk ter 'specttubble fokes ef hit's de las' ack," sez Brer Rabbit, sezee. "Ef you don't take off dat hat en tell me howdy, I'm gwineter bus' you wide open," sezee.

Tar-Baby stay still, en Brer Fox, he lay low.

Brer Rabbit keep on axin' 'im, en de Tar-Baby, she keep on sayin' nuthin', twel present'y Brer Rabbit draw back wid his fis', he did, en blip he tuck 'er side er de head. Right dar's whar he broke his merlasses jug. His fis' stuck, en he can't pull loose. De tar hilt 'im. But Tar-Baby, she stay still, en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"Ef you don't lemme loose, I'll knock you agin," sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, en wid dat he fotch 'er a wipe wid de udder han', en dat stuck. Tar-Baby, she ain't sayin' nuthin', en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"Tu'n me loose, fo' I kick de natal stuffin' outen you," sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, but de Tar-Baby, she ain't sayin' nuthin'. She des hilt on, en den Brer Rabbit lose de use er his feet in de same way. Brer Fox, he lay low.

Den Brer Rabbit squall out dat ef de Tar-Baby don't tu'n 'im loose he butt 'er cranksided. En den he butted, en his head got stuck. Den Brer Fox, he sa'ntered fort', lookin' des ez innercent ez wunner yo' mammy's mockin'-birds.

"Howdy, Brer Rabbit," sez Brer Fox, sezee. "You look sorter stuck up dis mawnin'," sezee, en den he rolled on de groun', en laft en laft twel he couldn't laff no mo'. "I speck you'll take dinner wid me dis time, Brer Rabbit. I done laid in some calamus root, en I ain't gwineter take no skuse," sez Brer Fox, sezee.

Here Uncle Remus paused, and drew a two-pound yam out of the ashes.

"Did the fox eat the rabbit?" asked the little boy to whom the story had been told.

"Dat's all de fur de tale goes," replied the old man. "He mout, en den agin he moutent. Some say Jedge B'ar come 'long en loosed 'im -- some say he didn't. I hear Miss Sally callin'. You better run 'long."

How Mr. Rabbit Was Too Sharp for Mr. Fox

USA, Joel Chandler Harris

"Uncle Remus," said the little boy one evening, "when he had found the old man with little or nothing to do, "did the fox kill and eat the rabbit when he caught him with the Tar-Baby?"

"Law, honey, ain't I tell you 'bout dat?" replied the old darkey, chuckling slyly. "I 'clar ter grashus I ought er tole you dat, but ole man Nod wuz ridin' on my eyeleds 'twel a leetle mo'n I'd a dis'member'd my own name, en den on to dat here come yo' mammy hollerin' after you. Wat I tell you w'en I fus' begin? I tole you Brer Rabbit wuz a monstus soon beas'; leas'ways dat's w'at I laid out fer ter tell you. Well, den, honey, don't you go en make no udder kalkalashuns, kaze in dem days Brer Rabbit en his fambly wuz at de head er de gang w'en enny racket wuz on han', en dar dey stayed. 'Fo' you begins fer ter wipe yo' eyes 'bout Brer Rabbit, you wait en see whar'bouts Brer Rabbit gwineter fetch up at. But dat's needer yer ner dar."

Wen Brer Fox fine Brer Rabbit mixt up wid de Tar-Baby, he feel mighty good, en he roll on de groun' en laff. Bimeby he up'n say, sezee: "Well, I speck I got you dis time, Brer Rabbit," sezee; "maybe I ain't, but I speck I is. "You been runnin' roun' here sassin' atter me a mighty long time, but I speck you done come ter de een' er de row. You bin cuttin' up yo' capers en bouncin' 'roun' in dis naberhood ontwel you come ter b'leeve yo'se'f de boss er de whole gang. En den youer allers some'rs whar you got no bizness," sez Brer Fox, sezee.

"Who ax you fer ter come en strike up a 'quaintence wid dish yer Tar-Baby? En who stuck you up dar whar you iz? Nobody in de roun' worril. You des tuck en jam yo'se'f on dat Tar-Baby widout waitin' fer enny invite," sez Brer Fox, sezee, "en dar you is, en dar you'll stay twel I fixes up a bresh-pile and fires her up, kaze I'm gwineter bobbycue you dis day, sho," sez Brer Fox, sezee.

Den Brer Rabbit talk mighty 'umble. "I don't keer w'at you do wid me, Brer Fox," sezee, "so you don't fling me in dat brier-patch. Roas' me, Brer Fox," sezee, "but don't fling me in dat brier-patch," sezee.

"Hit's so much trouble fer ter kindle a fier," sez Brer Fox, sezee, "dat I speck I'll hatter hang you," sezee.

"Hang me des ez high as you please, Brer Fox," sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, "but do fer de Lord's sake don't fling me in dat brier-patch," sezee.

"I ain't got no string," sez Brer Fox, sezee, "en now I speck I'll hatter drown you," sezee.

"Drown me des ez deep ez you please, Brer Fox," sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'but do don't fling me in dat brier-patch," sezee.

"Dey ain't no water nigh," sez Brer Fox, sezee, "en now I speck I'll hatter skin you," sezee.

"Skin me, Brer Fox," sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, "snatch out my eyeballs, tar out my years by de roots, en cut off my legs," sezee, "but do please, Brer Fox, don't fling me in dat brier-patch," sezee.

Co'se Brer Fox wanter hurt Brer Rabbit bad ez he kin, so he cotch 'im by de behime legs en slung 'im right in de middle er de brier-patch. Dar wuz a considerbul flutter whar Brer Rabbit struck de bushes, en Brer Fox sorter hang 'roun' fer ter see w'at wuz gwineter happen. Bimeby he hear somebody call 'im, en way up de hill he see Brer Rabbit settin' cross-legged on a chinkapin log koamin' de pitch outen his har wid a chip. Den Brer Fox know dat he bin swop off mighty bad.

Brer Rabbit wuz bleedzed fer ter fling back some er his sass, en he holler out: "Bred en bawn in a brier-patch, Brer Fox -- bred en bawn in a brier-patch!" en wid dat he skip out des ez lively ez a cricket in de embers.

Buh Wolf, Buh Rabbit, an de Tar-Baby


Buh Wolf and Buh Kabbit, dem bin lib nabur. De dry drout come. Ebry ting stew up. Water scace. Buh Wolf dig one spring fuh him fuh git water. Buh Rabbit, him too lazy an too scheemy fuh wuk fuh isself. Eh pen pon lib off tarruh people. Ebry day, wen Buh Wolf yent duh watch um, eh slip to Buh Wolf spring, an eh full him calabash long water an cah um to eh house fuh cook long and fuh drink. Buh Wolf see Buh Rabbit track, but eh couldnt ketch um duh tief de water.

One day eh meet Buh Rabbit in de big road, an eh ax um how eh mek out fur water.

Buh Rabbit say him no casion fuh hunt water: him lib off de jew on de grass.

Buh Wolf quire: "Enty you blan tek water outer me spring?"

Buh Rabbit say: "Me yent."

Buh Wolf say: "You yis, enty me see you track?"

Buh Rabbit mek answer: "Yent me gone to you spring. Must be some edder rabbit. Me nebber bin nigh you spring. Me dunno way you spring day."

Buh Wolf no question um no mo: but eh know say eh bin Buh Rabbit fuh true, an eh fix plan fuh ketch um.

De same ebenin eh mek Tar-Baby, an eh gone an set um right in de middle er de trail wuh lead to de spring, an dist in front er de spring. Soon a mornin Buh Rabbit rise an tun in fuh cook eh bittle. Eh pot biggin fuh bun.

Buh Rabbit say: "Hey! me pot duh bun. Lemme slip to Buh Wolf spring an git some water fuh cool um."

So eh tek eh calabash an hop off fuh de spring. Wen eh ketch de spring, eh see de Tar-Baby duh tan dist een front er de spring. Eh stonish. Eh stop. Eh come close. Eh look at um. Eh wait fur um fuh mobe. De Tar-Baby yent notice um. Eh yent wink eh yeye. Eh yent say nuttne. Eh yent mobe.

Buh Rabbit, him say: "Hey titter, enty you guine tan one side an lemme git some water?"

De Tar-Baby no answer.

Den Buh Rabbit say: "Leely gal, mobe, me tell you, so me kin dip some water outer de spring long me calabash."

De Tar-Baby wunt mobe.

Buh Rabbit say: "Enty you know me pot duh bun? Enty you know me hurry? Enty you yeddy me tell you fuh mobe? You see dis han? Ef you dont go long and lemme git some water, me guine slap you ober."

De Tar-Baby stan day. Bull Rabbit haul off an slap um side de head. Eh han fastne. Buh Rabbit try fuh pull eh hand back, an eh say: "Wuh you hole me han fuh? Lemme go. Ef you dont loose me, me guine box de life outer you wid dis tarruh han."

De Tar-Baby yent crack eh teet. Buh Rabbit hit um, bim, wid eh tarruh han. Dat han fastne too same luk tudder.

Buh Rabbit say: "Wuh you up teh? Tun me loose. Ef you dont leggo me right off, me guine knee you."

De Tar-Baby hole um fas. Buh Rabbit skade an bex too. Eh faid Buh Wolf come ketch um. Wen eh fine eh cant loosne eh han, eh kick de Tar-Baby wid eh knee. Eh knee fastne. Yuh de big trouble now. Buh Rabbit skade den wus den nebber. Eh try fuh skade de Tar-Baby.

Eh say: "Leely gal, you better mine who you duh fool long. Me tell you, fuh de las time, tun me loose. Ef you dont loosne me han an me knee right off, me guine bus you wide open wid dis head."

De Tar-Baby hole um fas. Eh yent say one wud. Den Buh Rabbit butt de Tar-Baby een eh face. Eh head fastne same fashion luk eh han an eh knee. Yuh de ting now. Po Buh Rabbit done fuh. Eh fastne all side. Eh cant pull loose. Eh gib up. Eh bague. Eh cry. Eh holler. Buh Wolf yeddy um. Eh run day.

Eh hail Buh Rabbit : "Hey, Budder! wuh de trouble? Enty you tell me you no blan wisit me spring fuh git water? Who calabash dis? Wuh you duh do yuh anyhow?"

Buh Rabbit so condemn eh yent hab one wud fuh talk. Buh Wolf, him say: "Nummine, I done ketch you dis day. I guine lick you now."

Buh Rabbit bague. Eh bague. Eh prommus nebber fuh trouble Buh Wolf spring no mo. Buh Wolf laugh at um. Den eh tek an loose Buh Rabbit from de Tar-Baby, an eh tie um teh one spakleberry bush, an eh git switch an eh lick um tel eh tired. All de time Buh Rab bit bin a bague an a holler. Buh Wolf yent duh listne ter um, but eh keep on duh pit de lick ter um.

At las Buh Rabbit tell Buh Wolf: "Dont lick me no mo. Kill me one time. Mek fire an bun me up. Knock me brains out gin de tree."

Buh Wolf mek answer: "Ef I bun you up, ef I knock you brains out, you guine dead too quick. Me guine trow you in de brier patch, so de brier kin cratch you life out."

Buh Rabbit say: "Do Buh Wolf, bun me: broke me neck, but dont trow me in de brier patch. Lemme dead one time. Dont tarrify me no mo."

Buh Wolf yent bin know wuh Buh Rabbit up teh. Eh tink eh bin guine tare Buh Rabbit hide off. So, wuh eh do? Eh loose Buh Rabbit from de spakleberry bush, an eh tek um by de hine leg, and eh swing um roun, an eh trow um way in de tick brier patch fuh tare eh hide an cratch eh yeye out.

De minnit Buh Rabbit drap in de brier patch, eh cock up eh tail, eh jump, an eh holler back to Buh Wolf: "Good bye, Budder! Dis de place me mammy fotch me up, -- dis de place me mammy fotch me up."

An eh gone befo Buh Wolf kin ketch um. Buh Rabbit too scheemy.

Playing Godfather: Tar-Baby: Mock Plea


A fox once hired a rabbit to help him work on his farm, and the fox's wife had to cook for them. They began work early in the morning, while Mrs. Fox was cooking pease, of which the rabbit was very fond. He would work to get to the end of the row before Mr. Fox, and answer as if some one had called him.

Mr. Fox would say, "Who is that?"

The rabbit would say, "Your wife called me, I don't know what she wants."

Mr. Fox would say, "Go see what she wants."

The rabbit would go to the house and say, "Mrs. Fox, Mr. Fox says give me a plate of pease, please."

"All right!" said Mrs. Fox, "Tell him there are only two more left."

When Mr. Rabbit began work, he would run to the end of the row and back, and answer again. Mr. Fox would say, "Who is that?"

The rabbit would say, "Your wife called me again. I don't know what she wants."

"Go and see what she wants," said the fox. Then Mr. Rabbit would go, and say to Mrs. Fox, "Mr. Fox says give me another plate of pease."

"Please tell him there's only one more left."

Mr. Rabbit ate the pease and went back the third time.

At noon Mr. Fox said, "Come, Mr. Rabbit! we'll go and get our dinner."

The rabbit said, "Oh, no, Mr. Fox! I don't care for any dinner."

"I don't want anybody to work for me without eating," said Mr. Fox.

Mr. Rabbit went, but would not keep up with Mr. Fox.

Mrs. Fox met Mr. Fox in the yard, and asked where he was going, and also told him there was no dinner because he had sent Mr. Rabbit to eat all the pease.

Mr. Fox said, "Never mind, never mind! I'll catch you. Go in the dairy and bring me that butter."

The rabbit went in and stuck his front paw in the butter, but it stuck fast. He said, "Never mind, never mind! I have another paw here." He stuck it in, and it stuck fast.

"Never mind, never mind! I still have another one here." He stuck that one in, and it stuck fast.

"Never mind, never mind! got one more here," and that stuck fast.

"Never mind, never mind! I got a mouth here." He put his mouth in, and it stuck fast.

Then Mr. Fox came upon him, and said, "Now I have you! I am going to kill you; I am going to throw you in a pile of briers."

The rabbit said, "Please don't throw me in the briers! You may burn me, you may roast me, but please don't throw me in the briers! You will tear my face and eyes to pieces."

Then Mr. Fox took him, and threw him in the briers.

The rabbit laughed, "Ha, ha, ha! you threw me to my home in bamboo-briers. I was bred and born in a brier-patch."

The Rabbit and the Frenchman

Native American (Biloxi)

During January and February of this year [1892], I was in the central part of Louisiana, where I found the survivors of the Biloxi tribe. These Indians belong to the Siouan linguistic family, their language being closely related to those of the Tutelo of Canada, the Hidatsa of North Dakota, and the Kwapa of Indian Territory. In order to record any of the texts in the original Biloxi, it was necessary to have present not only the aged woman who told the myths to the others, but also her daughter and son-in-law, as only the last could be induced to dictate the myths sentence by sentence and in an audible voice, the others prompting him from time to time.

The first myth which I shall present is one entitled "The Rabbit and the Frenchman."

The rabbit and the Frenchman were two friends. The rabbit aided the Frenchman, agreeing to work a piece of land on shares. The first season they planted potatoes. The rabbit, having been told to select his share of the crop, chose the potato vines, and devoured them all.

The next season they planted corn. This year the rabbit said, "I will eat the roots." So he pulled up all the corn by the roots, but he found nothing to satisfy his hunger.

Then the Frenchman said, "Let us dig a well."

But the rabbit did not wish to work any longer with his friend. Said he to the Frenchman, "If you wish to dig a well, I shall not help you."

"Oho," said the Frenchman, "you shall not drink any of the water from the well."

"That does not matter," replied the rabbit, "I am accustomed to licking the dew from the ground."

The Frenchman, suspecting mischief, made a tar-baby, which he stood up close to the well. The rabbit approached the well, carrying a long piece of cane and a tin bucket. On reaching the well he addressed the tar-baby, who remained silent.

"Friend, what is the matter? Are you angry?" said the rabbit.

Still the tar-baby said nothing. So the rabbit hit him with one forepaw, which stuck there.

"Let me go or I will hit you on the other side," exclaimed the rabbit. And when he found that the tar-baby paid no attention to him, he hit him with his other fore paw, which stuck to the tar-baby.

"I will kick you," said the rabbit. But when he kicked the tar-baby, the hind foot stuck.

"I will kick you with the other foot," said the rabbit. And when he did so, that foot, too, stuck to the tar baby.

Then the rabbit resembled a ball, because his feet were sticking to the tar baby, and he could neither stand nor recline.

Just at this time the Frenchman approached. He tied the legs of the rabbit together, laid him down and scolded him.

Then the rabbit pretended to be in great fear of a brier patch.

"As you are in such fear of a brier patch," said the Frenchman, "I will throw you into one."

"Oh, no," replied the rabbit.

"I will throw you into the brier patch," responded the Frenchman.

"I am much afraid of it," said the rabbit.

"As you are in such dread of it," said the Frenchman, "I will throw you into it."

So he seized the rabbit, and threw him into the brier patch. The rabbit fell at some distance from the Frenchman. But instead of being injured, he sprang up and ran off laughing at the trick which he had played on the Frenchman.

Coyote and Pitch

Native American (Shasta)

One day Coyote heard that Pitch, the bad man, was coming. He went out to meet him, and said, "I can whip you, no matter who you are."

Pitch answered, "I can't fight with my hands."

Thereupon Coyote struck him with his fist; but the fist stuck fast.

Then Coyote said, "If I strike you with my left hand, I'll kill you."

"Go ahead, do it!" answered Pitch.

Coyote hit him, and his left hand stuck fast.

"I'll kick you," said Coyote; and Pitch replied, "All right, kick!"

Coyote kicked, and his foot stuck fast.

"If I kick you with my left foot," threatened Coyote, "I'll surely kill you."

"Do it!" mocked Pitch.

Coyote kicked again, and his left foot stuck fast.

"I will lash you with my tail!" shouted Coyote, whereupon his tail stuck fast.

Then Coyote became angry, and threatened to kill Pitch with his ear; but his ear, too, stuck fast. Finally Coyote hit him with his head. The same thing happened. His head stuck fast. Now Coyote was stuck to Pitch, and could not pry himself loose.

After a while his friend Spider came there, and saw Coyote's predicament. "How can I help you?" inquired he.

"Cut my hand away, but do not cut it," said Coyote.

"It will be easier to burn it away," suggested Spider.

"No!" said Coyote, "scrape it away!"

Spider did so, and after a while Coyote became free.

B' Rabby an' B' Tar-Baby


Once it vwas a time, a very good time,
De monkey chewed tobacco, an' 'e spit white lime.
So dis day B' Rabby, B' Bouki, B' Tiger, B' Lizard, B' Helephant, B' Goat, B' Sheep, B' Rat, B'Cricket, all o' de creatures, all kind; -- so now dey say, "B' Rabby, you goin' help dig vwell?"

B' Rabby say, "No!"

Dey say, "Vw'en you vwan' vwater, how you goin' manage?"

'E say, "Get it an' drink it."

Dey say, "B' Rabby, you goin' help cut fiel'?"

B' Rabby say, "No!"

Dey say, "Vw'en you 'r' hungry, how you goin' manage?"

"Get it an' eat it."

So all on 'em gone to work. Dey vwen'; dey dig vwell first. Nex' dey cut fiel'.

Now dis day B' Rabby come. Dey leave B' Lizard home to min' de vwell.

So now B' Rabby say, "B' Lizard, you vwant to see who can make de mostest noise in de trash?"

B' Lizard say, "Yes!"

B' Rabby say, "You go in dat big heap o' trash dere an' I go in dat over dere."

(B' Rabby did vwant to get his vwater now!) B' Lizard gone in de trash; 'e kick up. Vw'ile 'e vwas makin' noise in de trash, B' Rabby dip 'e bucket full o' vwater. 'E gone!

So now vw'en B' Helephant come, an' hall de hother animals come out de fiel', B' Helephant say, "B' Lizard, you goin' let B' Rabby come here today an' take dat vwater?"

B' Lizard say, "I could n't help it!" 'e say. "'E tell me to go in de trash to see who could make de mostest noise."

Now de nex' day dey leave B' Bouki home to min' de vwell.

Now B' Rabby come. 'E say, "B' Bouki, you vwan' to see who can run de fastes'?"

B' Bouki say, "Yes."

'E say, "You go dat side, an' le' me go dis side."

Good! B' Bouki break off; 'e gone a runnin'. Soon as B' Bouki git out o' sight B' Rabby dip 'e bucket; 'e gone.

So now vw'en B' Helephan' an' 'im come dey say, "B' Bouki, you let B' Rabby come 'ere again today and take our vwater?"

'E say, "'E tell me who could run de fastes', an' soon 's I git a little vays 'e take de vwater an' gone.

So B' Helephan' say, "I know how to ketch him!"

Dey gone; hall on 'em in de pine yard. Dey make one big tarbaby. Dey stick 'im up to de vwell.

B' Rabby come. 'E say, "Hun! dey leave my dear home to min' de vwell today." B' Rabby say, "Come, my dear, le' me kiss you!"

Soon as 'e kiss 'er 'e lip stick fas'. B' Rabby say, "Min' you better le' go;" 'e say. "You see dis biggy, biggy han' here;" 'e say, "'f I slap you wid dat I kill you."

Now vw'en B' Rabby fire, so, 'e han' stick. B' Rabby say, "Min' you better le' go me;" 'e say. "You see dis biggy, biggy han' here; 'f I slap you wid dat I kill you."

Soon as B' Rabby slap wid de hudder han', so, 'e stick. B' Rabby say, "You see dis biggy, biggy foot here. My pa say, 'f I kick anybody wid my biggy, biggy foot I kill 'em."

Soon as 'e fire his foot, so, it stick. B' Rabby say, "Min' you better le' go me."

Good! soon as 'e fire his foot, so, it stick. Now B' Rabby jus' vwas hangin'; hangin' on de Tar-baby.

B' Bouki come runnin' out firs'. 'E say, "Ha! vwe got 'im to day! vwe got 'im to-day!"

'E gone back to de fiel'; 'e tell B' Helephan'; 'e say, "Ha! B' Helephan', vwe got 'im today!"

Vw'en all on 'em gone out now dey ketch B' Rabby. Now dey did vwan' to kill B' Rabby; dey did n' know whey to t'row 'im.

B' Rabby say, "'f you t'row me in de sea" (you know 'f dey had t'row B'Rabby in de sea, dey 'd a kill 'im), -- B' Rabby say, "'f you t'row me in de sea you won' hurt me a bit." B' Rabby say, "'f you t'row me in de fine grass, you kill me an' all my family."

Dey take B' Rabby. Dey t'row 'im in de fine grass. B' Rabby jump up; 'e put off a runnin'.

So now B' Rabby say, "Hey! ketch me 'f you could."

All on 'em gone now.

Now dis day dey vwas all sittin' down heatin'. Dey had one big house; de house vwas full o' hall kin' o' hanimals. B' Rabby gone; 'e git hup on top de house; 'e make one big hole in de roof o' de house.

B' Rabby sing hout, "Now, John Fire, go hout!"

B' Rabby let go a barrel o' mud; let it run right down inside de house. Vw'en 'e let go de barrel o' mud, so, every one on 'em take to de bush, right vwil'; gone right hover in de bush. B' Rabby make all on 'em vwent vwil', till dis day you see hall de hanimals vwil'.

E bo ban, my story 's en',
If you doan' believe my story 's true,
Hax my captain an my crew,
Vw'en I die bury me in a pot o' candle grease.

The Story of a Dam

South Africa (Hottentot)

There was a great drought in the land; and the lion called together a number of animals, so that they might devise a plan for retaining water when the rains fell.

The animals which attended to the lion's summons were the baboon, the leopard, the hyena, the jackal, the hare, and the mountain tortoise.

It was agreed that they should scratch a large hole m some suitable place to hold water; and the next day they all began to work, with the exception of the jackal, who continually hovered about in that locality, and was overheard to mutter that he was not going to scratch his nails off in making waterholes.

When the dam was finished, the rains fell, and it was soon filled with water, to the great delight of those who had worked so hard at it. The first one, however, to come and drink there, was the jackal, who not only drank, but filled his clay pot with water, and then proceeded to swim in the rest of the water, making it as muddy and dirty as he could.

This was brought to the knowledge of the lion, who was very angry, and ordered the baboon to guard the water the next day, armed with a huge knobkirrie. The baboon was concealed in a bush close to the water; but the jackal soon became aware of his presence there, and guessed its cause.

Knowing the fondness of baboons for honey, the jackal at once hit upon a plan, and marching to and fro, every now and then dipped his lingers into his clay pot, and licked them with an expression of intense relish, saying, in a low voice, to himself, "I don't want any of their dirty water, when I have a pot full of delicious honey."

This was too much for the poor baboon, whose mouth began to water. He soon began to beg the jackal to give him a little honey, as he had been watching for several hours, and was very hungry and tired.

After taking no notice of the baboon at first, the jackal looked round, and said, in a patronizing manner, that he pitied such an unfortunate creature, and would give, him some honey, on certain conditions, viz., that the baboon should give up his knobkirrie and allow himself to be bound by the jackal. He foolishly agreed; and was soon tied in such a manner that he could not move hand or foot.

The jackal now proceeded to drink of the water, to fill his pot, and to swim, in the sight of the baboon; from time to time telling him what a foolish fellow he had been to be so easily duped, and that he (the jackal) had no honey or anything else to give him, excepting a good blow on the head every now and then with his own knobkirrie.

The animals soon appeared, and found the poor baboon in this sorry plight; looking the picture of misery. The lion was so exasperated that he caused the baboon to be severely punished, and to be denounced as a fool.

The tortoise hereupon stepped forward, and offered his services for the capture of the jackal. It was at first thought that he was merely joking; but, when he explained in what manner he proposed to catch him, his plan was considered so feasible that his offer was accepted. He proposed that a thick coating of bijenwerk (a kind of sticky black substance found on bee-hives, i.e., bee-glue) should be spread fill over him, and that he should then go and stand at the entrance of the dam, on the water level, so that the jackal might tread upon him, and stick fast. This was accordingly done, and the tortoise posted there.

The next day, when the jackal came, he approached the water very cautiously, and wondered to find no one there. He then ventured to the entrance of the water, and remarked how kind they had been in placing there a large black stepping-stone for him. As soon, however, as he trod upon the supposed stone, he stuck fast, and saw that he had been tricked; for the tortoise now put his head out, and began to move. The jackal's hind feet being still free, he threatened to smash the tortoise with them if he did not let him go.

The tortoise merely answered, "Do as you like."

The jackal thereupon made a violent jump, and found, with horror, that his hind foot were now also fast. "Tortoise," said he, " I have still my mouth and teeth left, and will eat you alive, if you do not let me go,"

"Do as you like," the tortoise again replied.

The jackal, in his endeavors to free himself, at last made a desperate bite at the tortoise, and found himself fixed, both head and feet. The tortoise, feeling proud of his successful capture, now marched quietly up to the top of the bank with the jackal on his back, so that he could easily be seen by the animals as they came to the water.

They were indeed astonished to find how cleverly the crafty jackal had been caught; and the tortoise was much praised, while the unhappy baboon was again reminded of his misconduct when set to guard the water.

The jackal was at once condemned to death by the lion; and the hyena was to execute the sentence. The jackal pleaded hard for mercy, but, finding this useless, he made a last request to the lion (always, as he said, so fair and just in his dealings) that he should not have to suffer a lingering death.

The lion inquired of him in what manner he wished to die; and he asked that his tail might be shaved and rubbed with a little fat, and that the hyena might then swing him round twice, and dash his brains out upon a stone. This, being considered sufficiently fair by the lion, was ordered by him to be carried out in his presence.

When the jackal's tail had been shaved and greased, the hyena caught hold of him with great force, and before he had fairly lifted him from the ground, the cunning jackal had slipped away from the hyena's grasp, and was running for his life, pursued by all the animals.

The lion was the foremost pursuer, and, after a great chase, the jackal got under an overhanging precipice, and, standing on his hind legs with his shoulders pressed against the rock, called loudly lo the lion to help him, as the rock was falling, and would crush them both. The lion put his shoulders to the rock, and exerted himself to the utmost. After some little time, the jackal proposed that he should creep slowly out, and fetch a large pole to prop up the rock, so that the lion could get out and save his life. The jackal did creep out, and left the lion there to starve, and die.

The Dance for Water; or, Rabbit's Triumph

South Africa

There was a frightful drought. The rivers after a while dried up and even the springs gave no water.

The animals wandered around seeking drink, but to no avail. Nowhere was water to be found. A great gathering of animals was held: Lion, Tiger, Wolf, Jackal, Elephant, all of them came together. What was to be done? That was the question. One had this plan, and another had that; but no plan seemed of value.

Finally one of them suggested: "Come, let all of us go to the dry riverbed and dance; in that way we can tread out the water."

Good! Everyone was satisfied and ready to begin instantly, excepting Rabbit, who said, "I will not go and dance. All of you are mad to attempt to get water from the ground by dancing."

The other animals danced and danced, and ultimately danced the water to the surface. How glad they were. Everyone drank as much as he could, but Rabbit did not dance with them. So it was decided that Rabbit should have no water.

He laughed at them: "I will nevertheless drink some of your water."

That evening he proceeded leisurely to the riverbed where the dance had been, and drank as much as he wanted.

The following morning the animals saw the footprints of Rabbit in the ground, and Rabbit shouted to them: "Aha! I did have some of the water, and it was most refreshing and tasted fine."

Quickly all the animals were called together. What were they to do? How were they to get Rabbit in their hands? All had some means to propose; the one suggested this, and the other that.

Finally old Tortoise moved slowly forward, foot by foot: "I will catch Rabbit."

"You? How? What do you think of yourself?" shouted the others in unison.

"Rub my shell with pitch [black beeswax], and I will go to the edge of the water and lie down. I will then resemble a stone, so that when Rabbit steps on me his feet will stick fast."

"Yes! Yes! That's good."

And in a one, two, three, Tortoise's shell was covered with pitch, and foot by foot he moved away to the river. At the edge, close to the water, he lay down and drew his head into his shell. Rabbit during the evening came to get a drink.

"Ha!" he chuckled sarcastically, "they are, after all, quite decent. Here they have placed a stone, so now I need not unnecessarily wet my feet."

Rabbit trod with his left foot on the stone, and there it stuck. Tortoise then put his head out.

"Ha! old Tortoise! And it's you, is it, that's holding me. But here I still have another foot. I'll give you a good clout."

Rabbit gave Tortoise what he said he would with his right forefoot, hard and straight; and there his foot remained.

"I have yet a hind foot, and with it I'll kick you."

Rabbit drove his hind foot down. This also rested on Tortoise where it struck.

"But still another foot remains, and now I'll tread you."

He stamped his foot down, but it stuck like the others. He used his head to hammer Tortoise, and his tail as a whip, but both met the same fate as his feet, so there he was tight and fast down to the pitch.

Tortoise now slowly turned himself round and foot by foot started for the other animals, with Rabbit on his back.

"Ha! ha! ha! Rabbit! How does it look now? Insolence does not pay after all," shouted the animals.

Now advice was sought. What should they do with Rabbit? He certainly must die. But how?

One said, "Behead him"; another, "Some severe penalty."

"Rabbit, how are we to kill you?"

"It does not affect me," Rabbit said. "Only a shameful death please do not pronounce."

"And what is that?" they all shouted.

"To take me by my tail and dash my head against a stone; that I pray and beseech you don't do."

"No, but just so you'll die. That is decided."

It was decided Rabbit should die by taking him by his tail and dashing his head to pieces against some stone. But who is to do it?

Lion, because he is the most powerful one.

Good! Lion should do it. He stood up, walked to the front, and poor Rabbit was brought to him. Rabbit pleaded and beseeched that he couldn't die such a miserable death.

Lion took Rabbit firmly by the tail and swung him around. The white skin slipped off from Rabbit, and there Lion stood with the white bit of skin and hair in his paw. Rabbit was free.

How Prince Five-Weapons Fought the Ogre Hairy-Grip

India, Jataka Tales

Once on a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, it was as his queen's child that the Bodhisatta came to life once more. On the day when he was to be named, the parents enquired as to their child's destiny from eight hundred brahmins, to whom they gave their hearts' desire in all pleasures of sense.

Marking the promise which he showed of a glorious destiny, these clever soothsaying brahmins foretold that, coming to the throne at the king's death, the child should be a mighty king endowed with every virtue; famed and renowned for his exploits with five weapons, he should stand peerless in all Jambudipa. And because of this prophecy of the brahmins, the parents named their son Prince Five-weapons.

Now, when the prince was come to years of discretion, and was sixteen years old, the king bade him go away and study.

"With whom, sire, am I to study?" asked the prince.

"With the world-famed teacher in the town of Takkasila in the Gandhara country. Here is his fee," said the king, handing his son a thousand pieces.

So the prince went to Takkasila and was taught there. When he was leaving, his master gave him a set of five weapons, armed with which, after bidding adieu to his old master, the prince set out from Takkasila for Benares.

On his way he came to a forest haunted by an ogre named Hairy-Grip; and, at the entrance to the forest, men who met him tried to stop him, saying: "Young brahmin, do not go through that forest; it is the haunt of the ogre Hairy-Grip, and he kills every one he meets."

But, bold as a lion, the self-reliant Bodhisatta pressed on, till in the heart of the forest he came on the ogre. The monster made himself appear in stature as tall as a palm-tree, with a head as big as an arbor and huge eyes like bowls, with two tusks like turnips and the beak of a hawk; his belly was blotched with purple; and the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet were blue-black!

"Whither away?" cried the monster. "Halt! you are my prey."

"Ogre," answered the Bodhisatta, "I knew what I was doing when entering this forest. You will be ill-advised to come near me. For with a poisoned arrow I will slay you where you stand."

And with this defiance, he fitted to his bow an arrow dipped in deadliest poison and shot it at the ogre. But it only stuck on to the monster's shaggy coat. Then he shot another and another, till fifty were spent, all of which merely stuck on to the ogre's shaggy coat.

Hereon the ogre, shaking the arrows off so that they fell at his feet, came at the Bodhisatta; and the latter, again shouting defiance, drew his sword and struck at the ogre. But, like the arrows, his sword, which was thirty-three inches long, merely stuck fast in the shaggy hair. Next the Bodhisatta hurled his spear, and that stuck fast also. Seeing this, he smote the ogre with his club; but, like his other weapons, that too stuck fast.

And thereupon the Bodhisatta shouted, "Ogre, you never heard yet of me, Prince Five-Weapons. When I ventured into this forest, I put my trust not in my bow and other weapons, but in myself! Now will 1 strike you a blow which shall crush you into dust."

So saying, the Bodhisatta smote the ogre with his right hand; but the hand stuck fast upon the hair. Then, in turn, with his left hand and with his right and left feet, he struck at the monster, but hand and feet alike clave to the hide.

Again shouting "I will crush you into dust!" he butted the ogre with his head, and that too stuck fast. Yet even when thus caught and snared in fivefold wise, the Bodhisatta, as he hung upon the ogre, was still fearless, still undaunted.

And the monster thought to himself, "This is a very lion among men, a hero without a peer, and no mere man. Though he is caught in the clutches of an ogre like me, yet not so much as a tremor will he exhibit. Never, since I first took to slaying travelers upon this road, have I seen a man to equal him. How comes it that he is not frightened?"

Not daring to devour the Bodhisatta offhand, he said, "How is it, young brahmin, that you have no fear of death?"

"Why should?" answered the Bodhisatta. "Each life must surely have its destined death. Moreover, within my body is a sword of adamant, which you will never digest, if you eat me. It will chop your inwards into mincemeat, and my death will involve yours too. Therefore it is that I have no fear."

(By this, it is said, the Bodhisatta meant the Sword of Knowledge, which was within him.)

Hereon, the ogre fell a-thinking. "This young brahmin is speaking the truth and nothing but the truth," thought he. "Not a morsel so big as a pea could I digest of such a hero. I'll let him go."

And so, in fear of his life, he let the Bodhisatta go free, saying, "Young brahmin, you are a lion among men; I will not eat you. Go forth from my hand, even as the moon from the jaws of Rahu, and return to gladden the hearts of your kinsfolk, your friends, and your country."

"As for myself, ogre," answered the Bodhisatta," I will go. As for you, it was your sins in bygone days that caused you to be reborn a ravening, murderous, flesh-eating ogre; and, if you continue in sin in this existence, you will go on from darkness to darkness. But, having seen me, you will be unable thenceforth to sin any more. Know that to destroy life is to ensure re-birth either in hell or as a brute or as a ghost or among the fallen spirits. Or, if the re-birth be into the world of men, then such sin cuts short the days of a man's life."

In this and other ways the Bodhisatta showed the evil consequences of the five bad courses, and the blessing that comes of the five good courses; and so wrought in divers ways upon that ogre's fears that by his teaching he converted the monster, imbuing him with self-denial and establishing him in the Five Commandments.

Then making the ogre the fairy of that forest, with a right to levy dues, and charging him to remain stedfast, the Bodhisatta went his way, making known the change in the ogre's mood as he issued from the forest. And in the end he came, armed with the five weapons, to the city of Benares, and presented himself before his parents. In later days, when king, he was a righteous ruler; and after a life spent in charity and other good works he passed away to fare there after according to his deserts.

This lesson ended, the Master, as Buddha, recited this stanza:

When no attachment hampers heart or mind,
When righteousness is practised peace to win,
He who so walks, shall gain the victory
And all the Fetters utterly destroy.
When he had thus led his teaching up to Arahatship as its crowning point, the Master went on to preach the Four Truths, at the close whereof that Brother won Arahatship. Also, the Master shewed the connexion, and identified the Birth by saying, "Angulimala was the ogre of those days, and I myself Prince Five-Weapons."

The Demon with the Matted Hair

India, Jataka Tales, retold by Joseph Jacobs

Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta was King of Benares, the Bodhisatta was born as son of his chief queen. On his name-day they asked 800 Brahmans, having satisfied them with all their desires, about his lucky marks.

The Brahmans who had skill in divining from such marks beheld the excellence of his, and made answer: "Full of goodness, great King, is your son, and when you die he will become king; he shall be famous and renowned for his skill with the five weapons, and shall be the chief man in all India."

On hearing what the Brahmans had to say, they gave him the name of the Prince of the Five Weapons, sword, spear, bow, battle-axe, and shield.

When he came to years of discretion, and had attained the measure of sixteen years, the King said to him: "My son, go and complete your education."

"Who shall be my teacher?" the lad asked.

"Go, my son; in the kingdom of Candahar, in the city of Takkasila, is a far-famed teacher from whom I wish you to learn. Take this, and give it him for a fee." With that he gave him a thousand pieces of money, and dismissed him.

The lad departed, and was educated by this teacher; he received the Five Weapons from him as a gift, bade him farewell, and leaving Takkasila, he began his journey to Benares, armed with the Five Weapons.

On his way he came to a forest inhabited by the Demon with the Matted Hair.

At the entering in of the forest some men saw him, and cried out: "Hullo, young sir, keep clear of that wood! There's a Demon in it called he of the Matted Hair. He kills every man he sees!"

And they tried to stop him. But the Bodhisatta, having confidence in himself, went straight on, fearless as a maned lion.

When he reached mid-forest the Demon showed himself. He made himself as tall as a palm tree; his head was the size of a pagoda, his eyes as big as saucers, and he had two tusks all over knobs and bulbs; he had the face of a hawk, a variegated belly, and blue hands and feet.

"Where are you going?" he shouted. "Stop! You'll make a meal for me!"

Said the Bodhisatta: "Demon, I came here trusting in myself. I advise you to be careful how you come near me. Here's a poisoned arrow, which I'll shoot at you and knock you down!"

With this menace, he fitted to his bow an arrow dipped in deadly poison, and let fly. The arrow stuck fast in the Demon's hair. Then he shot and shot, till he had shot away fifty arrows; and they all stuck in the Demon's hair. The Demon snapped them all off short, and threw them down at his feet; then came up to the Bodhisatta, who drew his sword and struck the Demon, threatening him the while. His sword -- it was three-and-thirty inches long -- stuck in the Demon's hair! The Bodhisatta struck him with his spear that stuck too! He struck him with his club and that stuck too!

When the Bodhisatta saw that this had stuck fast, he addressed the Demon. "You, Demon!'' said he, "did you never hear of me before the Prince of the Five Weapons? When I came into the forest which you live in I did not trust to my bow and other weapons. This day will I pound you and grind you to powder!"

Thus did he declare his resolve, and with, a shout he hit at the Demon with his right hand. It stuck fast in his hair! He hit him with his left hand that stuck too! With his right foot he kicked him that stuck too; then with his left and that stuck too!

Then he butted at him with his head, crying, "I'll pound you to powder!" and his head stuck fast like the rest.

Thus the Bodhisatta was five times snared, caught fast in five places, hanging suspended: yet he felt no fear was not even nervous.

Thought the Demon to himself: "Here's a lion of a man! A noble man! More than man is he! Here he is, caught by a Demon like me; yet he will not fear a bit. Since I have ravaged this road, I never saw such a man. Now, why is it that he does not fear?"

He was powerless to eat the man, but asked him: "Why is it, young sir, that you are not frightened to death?"

"Why should I fear, Demon?" replied he. "In one life a man can die but once. Besides, in my belly is a thunderbolt; if you eat me, you will never be able to digest it; this will tear your inwards into little bits, and kill you: so we shall both perish. That is why I fear nothing."

(By this, the Bodhisatta meant the weapon of knowledge which he had within him.)

When he heard this, the Demon thought: "This young man speaks the truth. A piece of the flesh of such a lion-man as he would be too much for me to digest, if it were no bigger than a kidney-bean. I'll let him go!"

So, being frightened to death, he let go the Bodhisatta, saying: "Young sir, you are a lion of a man! I will not eat you up. I set you free from my hands, as the moon is disgorged from the jaws of Rahu after the eclipse. Go back to the company of your friends and relations!"

And the Bodhisatta said: "Demon, I will go, as you say. You were born a Demon, cruel, blood-bibbing, devourer of the flesh and gore of others, because you did wickedly in former lives. If you still go on doing wickedly, you will go from darkness to darkness. But now that you have seen me you will find it impossible to do wickedly. Taking the life of living creatures causes birth, as an animal, in the world of Petas, or in the body of an Asura, or, if one is reborn as a man, it makes his life short."

With this and the like monition he told him the disadvantage of the five kinds of wickedness, and the profit of the five kinds of virtue, and frightened the Demon in various ways, discoursing to him until he subdued him and made him self-denying, and established him in the five kinds of virtue; he made him worship the deity to whom offerings were made in that wood; and having carefully admonished him, departed out of it.

At the entrance of the forest he told all to the people thereabout; and went on to Benares, armed with his five weapons. Afterwards he became king, and ruled righteously; and after giving alms and doing good he passed away according to his deeds.

And the Teacher, when this tale was ended, became perfectly enlightened, and repeated this verse:

Whose mind and heart from all desire is free,
Who seeks for peace by living virtuously,
He in due time will sever all the bonds
That bind him fast to life, and cease to be.
Thus the Teacher reached the summit, through sainthood and the teaching of the law, and thereupon he declared the Four Truths. At the end of the declaring of the Truths, this Brother also attained to sainthood.

Then the Teacher made the connection, and gave the key to the birth-tale, saying: "At that time Angulimala was the Demon, but the Prince of the Five Weapons was I myself."

The Jackal and the Chickens


Once upon a time a jackal and a hen were great friends and regarded each other as brother and sister; and they agreed to have a feast to celebrate their friendship; so they both brewed rice beer and they first drank at the jackal's house and then went to the hen's house; and there they drank so much that the hen got blind drunk, and while she lay intoxicated the jackal ate her up.

The jackal found the flesh so nice that he made up his mind to eat the hen's chickens too; so the next day he went to their house and found them all crying "Cheep, cheep," and he asked what was the matter; they said that they had lost their mother; he told them to cheer up and asked where they slept; they told him, "on the shelf in the wall."

Then he went away; but the chickens saw that he meant to come and eat them at night, so they did not go to sleep on the shelf but filled it with razors and knives and when the jackal came at night and felt about the shelf he got badly cut and ran away screaming.

But a few day later he paid another visit to the chickens, and condoled with them on the loss of their mother and again asked where they slept, and they told him, "in the fireplace."

Directly the jackal was gone, they filled the stove with live embers and covered them up with ashes; and went to sleep themselves inside a drum. At night the jackal came and put his paws into the fireplace; but he only scraped the hot embers up against his belly and got burnt; this made him scream and the chickens burst out laughing.

The jackal heard them and said, "You have got me burnt; now I am going to eat you."

They said, "Yes, uncle, but please eat us outside the house; you did not eat our mother in her own house; take us to yonder flat rock."

So the jackal took up the drum but when he got to the rock he accidentally let it fall and it broke and the chickens ran away in all directions; but the chicken that had been at the bottom of the drum had got covered with the droppings of the others and could not fly away; so the jackal thought, "Well it is the will of heaven that I should have only one chicken; it is doubtless for the best!"

The chicken said to the jackal, "I see that you will eat me, but you cannot eat me in this state; wash me clean first."

So the jackal took the chicken to a pool and washed it; then the chicken asked to be allowed to get a little dry; but the jackal said that if it got dry it would fly away.

"Then," said the chicken, "rub me dry with your snout and I will myself tell you when I am ready to be eaten;" so the jackal rubbed it dry and then proceeded to eat it; but directly the jackal got it in his mouth it voided there, so the jackal spat it out and it flew away.

The jackal thought that it had gone into a hole in a white ant-hill, but really it had hidden elsewhere; however the jackal felt for it in the hole and then tried in vain to scrape the hole larger; as he could not get into the hole he determined to sit and wait till hunger or suffocation forced the chicken to come out. So he sat and watched, and he sat so long that the white ants ate off his hind quarters; at last he gave up and went off to the rice fields to look for fish and crabs.

There he saw an old woman catching fish, and he asked to be allowed to help her. So the old woman sat on the bank and the jackal jumped and twisted about in the water and presently he caught a potha fish which he ate; but as the jackal had no hind quarters the fish passed through him none the worse. Soon the jackal caught the same fish over again, and he laughed at the old woman because she had caught none. She told him that he was catching the same fish over and over again, and when he would not believe her she told him to mark with a thorn the next one which he caught; he did so and then found that he really was catching and eating the same fish over and over again.

At this he was much upset and asked what he should do.

The old woman advised him to go to a cobbler and get patched up; so he went and killed a fowl and took it to a cobbler and offered it to him if he would put him to rights; so the cobbler sewed on a leather patch with a long leather tail which rapped on the ground as the jackal went along. Then the jackal went to a village to steal fowls and he danced along with his tail tapping, and sang:

Now the Moghul cavalry are coming
And the Koenda Rajas.
Run away or they will utterly destroy you.
And when the villagers heard this they all ran away and the jackal entered the village and killed as many fowls as he wanted.

A few days later he went again to the village and frightened away the villagers as before; but one old woman was too feeble to run away and she hid in a pigsty, and one fowl that the jackal chased, ran into this sty and the jackal followed it, and when he saw the old woman, he told her to catch the fowl for him or he would knock her teeth out; but she told him to catch it himself; so he caught and ate it.

Then he said to the old woman. Say "Toyo" (jackal) and she said "Toyo"; then he took a curry pounder and knocked all her teeth out and told her again to say "Toyo"; but as she had no teeth she said "Hoyo." This amused the jackal immensely and he went away laughing.

When the villagers returned, the old woman told them that it was only a jackal who had attacked the village, so they decided to kill him; but one man said "You won't be able to catch him; let us make an image of this old woman and cover it with birdlime and set it up at the end of the village street; he will stop and abuse her, and we shall know where he is."

So they did this, and the next morning, when the jackal came singing along the road, they hid inside their houses. When the jackal reached the village, he saw the figure of the old woman with its arms stretched out, and he said to it, "What are you blocking my road for? get out of the way; I knocked your teeth out yesterday: aren't you afraid? Get out of the way or I will kick you out."

As the figure did not move he gave it a kick and his leg was caught in the birdlime. Then he said, "Let me go, you old hag, or I will give you a slap." Then he gave it a slap and his front paw was stuck fast; then he slapped at it with his other paw and that stuck. Then he tried to bite the figure and his jaws got caught also; and when he was thus helpless the villagers came out and beat him to death and that was the end of the jackal.

The Farmer, the Crocodile, and the Jackal


There was once a wily old crocodile who dwelt in a tank [pond] hard by a village, and he was sometimes so ferocious that he would seize children who used to go for water there, then drown and eat them. He had become, in fact, the terror of the place.

One year there was a very great drought, and the tank by degrees began to dry up, and at last it got quite dry, and the crocodile was to be seen grilling and roasting in the sun.

He used to call out to the passers-by, "Oh! pray take pity upon me and show me where I can go for water, for I am dying in this heat."

"No, indeed! they all said. "We are glad to see you suffering, for have you not often made us suffer by taking our goats, and sometimes even our children? We shall not help you in any way."

At last an old man passed by, and the crocodile appealed to him, and at first he replied as the others did, but afterwards he relented and said, "Well, if you will follow me I will take you to a tank which is never dry." So the crocodile followed him, and he showed him a tank no great distance off, which was filled with water.

The old man went first into the tank himself, and calling to the crocodile, he said, "See here, how deep it is!"

No sooner had the crocodile had a good drink, than he made a grab at the old man's leg. "Ah-ho! Ah-ho!" said the old man. "What are you doing?"

"Well," replied the crocodile, "I have had a good drink, thanks to you, and as I have had no food for many days, I am going to make a meal of you. That is what I am going to do."

"You wretched and ungrateful brute!" said the old man. "Is this the way you reward me?"

At that moment a jackal hove in sight, coming for a drink (the jackals, we know, are the most cunning of all animals), and the old man said, "I will put my case before him, and if he says you are to eat me, very good, so you shall."

The old man then beckoned to the jackal to come close up to the tank, and told him all the facts of the case.

The jackal said, "You know I am always a just judge, and if you want me to decide, you must show me the place from whence you brought the crocodile."

So they all three wended their way back to the tank near the village, and the jackal said, "Show me the exact spot where you first found the crocodile," and when they got there the jackal said, "Now I am going to give you my judgment, so prepare to listen." Then turning to the old man, he said quietly, "You silly old idiot! What made you ever help a crocodile? Now, you run one way, and I will run the other."

The jackal gave a skip, and was soon off out of sight, and the old man took to his heels also, and soon got away. The wily old crocodile, now balked of his prey, said to himself, "I know my way back to that water tank, and I will someday have my revenge on that jackal, for he is sure to come there to lap water."

So back he went, and as there were many trees near the tank, some of whose roots went beneath the water, the crocodile lay in ambush there. By and by the jackal came to drink water, and the crocodile made a sudden snap at his leg, and held it.

"Oh, you foolish crocodile!" the jackal said, "you think you have got hold of my leg, do you? But it is only the root of a tree."

Hearing this, the crocodile released his hold, and the jackal jumped off in high glee out of his reach.

The crocodile then determined that he would try some other plan of entrapping him. So, as there were great numbers of a small fruit falling from one of the trees, which he knew the jackal came to eat, he one night piled up a heap and hid himself beneath it, leaving only his eyes uncovered.

Presently the jackal came prowling along, and noticing the pile of fruit he felt inclined to partake of some, but he drew near very cautiously, and in a moment he caught sight of the two eyes of the crocodile glistening in the moonlight, when he called out, "Oh, I see you!" and scampered off.

After this, the crocodile saw that it was no use to try himself to catch the jackal, "for," said he, "he is too cunning for me. I must employ someone who comes to get water here."

So one day he saw a farmer, and said to him, "If you will catch a jackal for me, I will make you a rich man, for I will give you several jewels which people have dropped in this tank for years and years, and they are lying here at the bottom."

"Oh!" replied the farmer, "that is easily done." So that very night he went into the jungle and lay down as if dead.

Presently the jackal made his appearance, and smelling along he came close up to the body. Then he hesitated and said, "I wonder if this is really a dead body or not." He then called out audibly, "If it is really dead it will shake its leg, and if it is alive it won't do so." This he said so quickly and so artfully that the farmer was taken aback, and to make him believe he was dead he at once stupidly shook his leg, and off skipped the jackal, saying, "I caught you there," and was lost to view in an instant.

The farmer, who was very avaricious, and wanted the jewels badly, made up his mind that he would by hook or by crook make sure of the jackal on the next occasion. So this time he prepared of the softest wax a doll the size of a child, and digging a small grave and covering it over with leaves and mud, he waited in hiding to see the result.

Shortly after sunset the jackal began to prowl about as usual, and coming on the new grave he said to himself, "Ah! This is someone lately buried. I will try my luck here." He then began to scratch with his paw, and presently one paw got caught in the wax, and in trying to get that away, all four became stuck with the wax, when in a moment out came the farmer from his hiding place and said, "Ah! At last I have got you, and you are my prisoner!"

The jackal yelled and howled, and endeavored to escape, but was hindered by the wax on his feet. So then he took to frightening the farmer, and said, "If you do not get me out of this scrape I will call all the jackals in a moment of time, and they will destroy you forever, for do you not know that I am the king of the jackals?"

"What am I to do?" asked the farmer.

"Go!" he said. "Go and get some oil, and rub it all over me. Then get a fowl, and tie it about fifty yards away, and bring two men with hatchets to stand over me, so that if I attempt to get away they may chop me to pieces!"

This being done by the farmer, the jackal while being held in his hands sought his opportunity, and being well greased all over, he made a violent spring and so got clear of the farmer. Then he dashed between the legs of the men with hatchets, when they made a plunge at him, but they only succeeded in hurting their own legs. So the jackal got finally off, and picking up the fowl, he was soon lost to view, and so won the day.

King Robin


There was once a little boy called Sigli, who, I am sorry to say, took great pleasure in catching and killing little birds. His father was a notorious robber, so it was not surprising that Sigli gave way to acts of cruelty. His mother died when he was little more than a year old, and he did not know any other relation.

In the north of Portugal, bands of robbers used to frequent the roads, and some of them lived in strong castles, and had a large retinue of followers. In time of war these robber-chiefs would side with the king's party, because after the war was over they received large grants of land for the assistance they had rendered the sovereign. Sometimes when the neighboring kings of Spain invaded Portugal, these robbers proved of great advantage in repelling the invaders; but in following up their victories they would despoil all the churches in the enemy's country of the gold and silver idols, which the priests had caused to be made in order to get the ignorant peasantry to make offerings of money, corn, and oil, in exchange for which the priests, in the name of the idols, offered all those who gave, pardon of their sins.

Now, Sigli's father had on many occasions robbed gold and silver idols, and had murdered a few brethren of the Holy Inquisition, who, in their turn, were well known for the wicked deeds they had committed, such as burning Christian men and women who did not, and could not, profess the popish faith. But in course of time the Jesuits, for so they were called, made common cause against these robbers, and either put them to death, or obliged them to leave off robbing churches and take to cheating the peasantry.

Sigli, as I said before, was a very cruel boy, and he was the terror of all the birds and beasts. He would lay traps for them, and when he had caught them he would take pleasure in tormenting them, which clearly proved that he was not a Christian, nor possessed of any refinement. But he took more pleasure in catching robin-redbreasts than in anything else, and for this purpose he used bird-lime.

He had caught and killed so many that at last King Robin of Birdland issued invitations to all his feathered subjects and to the beasts of the field, asking them to a meeting at which they might discuss the best means of putting Sigli to death, or punishing him in some other way, for the cruelty of which he was guilty towards them.

Among the many who accepted the invitation was an old fox, the first of the Reynards, and when it came to his turn to speak, he said that as Sigli was so fond of catching redbreasts with bird-lime, he (Mr. Reynard) would propose catching Sigli in the same manner; and when caught they might discuss how they should punish him, either by pecking and biting him, or by getting the wolves to eat him. In order to carry out this idea, he suggested that the monkeys should be asked to prepare the bird-lime, which they might use with safety by oiling their hands, and then gradually make a man of bird-lime close to the robber chief's castle. Sigli would probably take it for some poor man, and hit it, and then he would not be able to get away.

This idea was accepted by all in general, and by Mrs. Queen Bee in particular, who owed Sigli and his father a grudge for destroying her hive; and the monkeys cheerfully set to work, while King Robin watched the putting together of the figure, and was very useful in giving it most of the artistic merit it possessed when finished. The making took one whole night, and next morning, almost opposite the castle, stood the bird-lime figure about the size of a man.

Sigli, seeing it from his dressing-room window, and taking it for a beggar, was so enraged that he ran out without his shoes and stockings, and, without waiting to look at the man, he struck at him with his right hand so that it stuck firmly to the figure.

"Let go," he cried, "or I will kick you!" And as the figure did not let go he kicked it, so that his foot was glued.

"Let go my foot," he cried out, "or I will kick you with the other;" and, doing so, both his legs were glued to it. Then he knocked up against the figure, and the more he did so the more firmly he was glued.

Then his father, hearing his cries, rushed out, and said: "Oh, you bad man! I will squeeze you to death for hurting my dear Sigli!"

No sooner said than done, and the robber chief was glued on to the bird-lime figure. The screams of the two attracted the attention of the servants, who, seeing their robber master, as they thought, murdering his little boy, ran away and never came back again.

King Robin was now master of the situation, and he directed ten thousand bees under General Bumble, and another ten thousand wasps under Colonel Hornet, to fall on the robber and cruel Sigli and sting them to death. But this was hardly necessary, as the wriggling of their bodies so fixed them to the figure that they died of suffocation.

Then King Robin ordered the wolves to dig a large grave, into which the monkeys rolled Sigli, his father, and the bird-lime figure; and after covering it up, they all took charge of the castle, and lived there for many years undisturbed, acknowledging King Robin as their king; and if the Jesuits did not turn them out, I am certain they are still there.

The Monkey and Juan Puson Tambi-Tambi


Tiring-Tirang was a barrio in the town of Tang-Tang, situated at the foot of a hill which was called "La Campana" because of its shape. Around the hill, about a mile from the barrio, flowed the Malogo River, in which the people of the town used to bathe. It so happened that one time an epidemic broke out in the community, killing off all the inhabitants except one couple. This couple had an only son named Juan Pusong Tambi-Tambi.

When Juan had reached his twelfth year, his father died; consequently the boy had to go to work to earn money for the support of himself and his mother. At first Juan followed the occupation of his father, that of fisherman; but, seeing that he made little money from this, he decided to become a farmer. His mother had now reached the age of seventy(!), and was often sick. Juan frequently had to neglect his farm in order to take care of her.

One day Juan went to Pit-Pit to buy medicine for his mother. On his way to the town he saw a flock of crows eating up his corn. He paid no attention to the birds; but on his way back, when he saw these same birds still eating his corn, he became angry. He picked up a stone about the size of his fist, and crept into a bush near by. He had hardly hidden himself when the birds heard a rustling, and began to fly off. Juan jumped up, and hurled his stone with such accuracy and force that one of the crows fell dead to the ground.

He tied the dead crow to a bamboo pole, and planted it in the middle of his corn field. No sooner was he out of sight than the crows flew back to the field again; but when they saw their dead companion, they flew off, and never troubled Juan again.

For six months Juan had no trouble from birds. He did not know, however, that not far from his field there was a monkey (chongo) living in a large tree. This monkey used to come to his field every day and steal two or three ears of corn.

One day, as Juan was walking across his field, he saw many dead cornstalks. He said to himself, "I wonder who it is that comes here and steals my corn! I am no longer troubled by birds; and yet I find here many husks."

He went home and made an image of a crooked old man like himself. This he covered with sticky wax. He placed it in the middle of the field. The next morning, when the sun was shining very brightly, the monkey felt hungry, so he ran towards the field to steal some corn to eat. There he saw the statue.

Thinking that it was Juan, he decided to ask permission before he took any corn. "Good-morning, Juan!" said the monkey in a courteous tone; but the image made no reply. "You are too proud to bend your neck, Juan," continued the monkey. "I have only come to ask you for three or four ears of corn. I have not eaten since yesterday, you know; and if you deny me this request, I shall die before morning."

The waxen statue still stood motionless.

"Do you hear me, Juan?" said the monkey impatiently.

Still the statue made no reply.

"Since you are too proud to answer me, I will soon give you some presents. Look out!" he cried, and with his right paw he slapped the statue which he thought was Juan; but his paw stuck to the wax, and he could not get free.

"Let my hand loose!" the monkey shouted, "or you will get another present."

Then he slapped the statue with his left paw, and, as before, stuck fast.

"You are foolish, Juan. If you do not let me go this very moment, I'll kick you."

He did so, first with one foot, and then with the other. At last he could no longer move, and he began to curse the statue.

Juan, who had been hiding in a bush near by, now presented himself, and said to the monkey, "Now I have caught you, you thief!"

He would have killed the monkey at once, had not the monkey begged for mercy, and promised that he would at some future time repay him for his kindness if he would only spare his life. So Juan set the monkey free.

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

Revised October 21, 2018.