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"Le petit bonhomme en Coal Tar (The Little Tar-Man)," #33 Swapping Stories by Wilson "Ben Guiné" Mitchell, Parks, Louisiana


Ouais, mais Bouki té gain un jardin. Li acheté un homme, et fait un petit n-homme en coal tar dans le milieu du jardin.

Ah, well, Bouki vient, li gardé comme ça-là. Lapin vient, li gardé comme ça-là. Li hélé li, li dit, "Qui c'est ça, cil-là?"

A rien répond pas.

"O!" li dit, "c'est bligé d'être quelque chose de malicieux que Bouki rangé moi." Li dit, "M'alé couri apé li, n-homme."

Quand il a arrivé là-là, il sacré gaillard-là un coup de poing. "Kabô!" Ça c'était les jambes en bas, vous comprends? Li dit, "Moi dis toi lâcher moi, moi té toi!"

C'est comme ça!

"Moi dis toi lâcher moi, moi gain l'autre oui! Moi dis toi lâcher moi, moi gain l'autre, oui!" Li piqué un autre coup encore! Li lâchait pas, li restait collé! Li restait collé! Li . . . Là, li voyé la tête, tout quelque chose restait collé comme ça-là.

Ah ouais, mais Bouki toujours resté en arrière. Lapin sorti devant.

Richard Guidry: Mais cette fois-là-là, Bouki sorti en avant!

Ben Guiné: Ouais, mais, li sorti en avant, mais li tient bon li, vous comprends ça? Bien là, c'était temps pour trapé Lapin, vous comprends? C'était passé. C'était temps pour trapé li! C'est pas une affaire, non. Pas jouer avec Lapin, non!


The Little Tar-Man

Yes, well, Bouki had a garden. He bought a mannikin and made a little man out of coal tar in the middle of the garden.

Ah, well, Bouki came, he looked like this. Lapin came, he looked like that. He called to him [the mannikin], he said, "Who's this?"

Nothing answered.

"Oh!" he said, "this must be some evil things that Bouki has prepared for me." He said, "I'll go to him, this man."

When he arrived there, he hit the guy with his fist. "Kabo!" That was his legs, you know? He said, "I'm telling you to let me go, if I were you!"

That's how it was!

"I'm telling you to let me go, I have another! I'm telling you to let me go, I have another." He stung him again! He didn't let go. He stayed stuck! He stayed stuck! He--then, he hit him with his head, everything stayed stuck like that.

Oh yes, but Bouki always came out behind. Lapin always came out ahead.

Richard Guidry: But that time, Bouki came out ahead!

Ben Guiné: Yes, well, he came out ahead, but he had him, you understand? Well, then, it was high time to catch Lapin, you understand? It was past time. It was time to catch him! That was really something. You can't play with Lapin!


Notes to the Teacher: AT 175, The Tarbaby and the Rabbit. K581.2. Briar patch punishment for rabbit. This is one of the best-known tales in African-American tradition, made popular to white audiences by Joel Chandler Harris (1880, no. 2). In Louisiana AT 175 is reported from three groups: English-speaking African Americans, like Delores Henderson, whose version appears in this book (#200); French-speaking black Creoles, including Enola Matthews (tale #49) in this book (see also Fortier 1887; reprinted in Saucier 1962, no. 33a); and Cajuns, including Max Grieg (tale #190; see also Saucier 1962, nos. 31, 33; Claudel 1978; and Ancelet 1994, no. 2). Even among such numerous and talented company, Ben Guiné's version stands out: he is the only narrator who ends his tale with the capture of Lapin (or Brer Rabbit). As Ben says, "Well then it was high time to catch Lapin, you understand! . . . You can't play with Lapin!"

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