"Bouki, Lapin et Rat de
Bois" (Bouki, Lapin and Possum), #49 Swapping Stories
Enola Matthews, Jennings,
Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana
Collected by Annette Huval on April 2, 1993. An
English translation of this story follows.
Bouki, Lapin et Rat
Il y avait Bouki et Lapin et
Rat de Bois. And Lapin était canaille. Et Bouki et Lapin et eux autres, ça
travaillait. Ça fait, ils aviont plus d'eau.
Ça fait, Bouki et Rat
de Bois, dit à Lapin (that is your [word for] "rabbit"), "Allons fouiller
un puits d'eau."
"Oh," Lapin dit, "Moi," il dit, "Je vis sur la
Quand ils fouillaient le puits--mais le soir, quand ça
allait le lendemain matin, le puits était sec. Lapin allait le soir, il
Ça fait, Bouki dit à Rat de Bois, il dit, "O, je vas
faire une dame en goudron. "Et," il dit, "Je vas la mettre là." Il dit,
"Je connais c'est Lapin qui vient prendre l'eau et il aime beaucoup les
Ça se fait, il a fait la catin en goudron puis il l'a mis
au ras du puits. Quand Lapin arrivé avec ses baquets d'eau, il a vu la
"Bonjour, petite mamselle," il dit.
Elle disait pas
"Bonjour, petite mamselle." Elle disait pas de rien.
Ça fait il l'a touchée. Well, il l'a touchée et il a resté stuck.
Il dit, "Petite mamselle, lâchez-moi." Elle lâchait pas.
Il dit, "Mo vas cogner vous, oui." Ça fait il l'a foutu la tape.
Sa main ça a resté collée.
Il dit, "Petite mamselle, ma foutre
vous un coup de pied." Elle la lâchait pas. Il l'a foutu un coup de pied.
Il a resté collé.
Quand il a revenu, il dit, "Mon gain un autre
pied oui." Il l'a foutu l'autre coup de pied. Il a resté trap, c'était du
goudron. Il pouvait pas s'échapper.
Ça fait quand Bouki et Rat de
Bois s'a élevé, ça dit, "Oh c'est toi, le coquin qui venait voler notre
"Non, mais," il dit, "c'était la première fois moi t'apé
vini pour l'eau. Mo vois petite mamselle, elle veut pas me lâcher."
Ça fait il l'a ramassé. Et force Lapin était canaille, il dit,
"Jette-moi dans l'eau. Jette-moi dans le feu. Mais," il dit, "Jette pas
moi dans les éronces. Parce que," il dit, "les éronces va tout gratter ma
peau." Il dit, "Tu peux me jeter dans l'eau, n'importe d'autres choses,
dans le feu, mais," il dit, "Jette pas moi--" parce qu'il connaissait ils
l'auraient jeté dans les éronces. C'est là où il voulait aller. Ça fait
quand il a été, "O mais," il dit, "c'est là où je veux être mettre." Quand
ils l'ont tiré dans la talle d'éronces, il dit, "Ehhhh," il dit, "je suis
dans mon pays." Il dit, "C'est là où je voulais tu me mets." Il les a
Bouki, Rabbit, and
There were Bouki and Lapin
and Possum. And Lapin was naughty. And Bouki and Lapin and the others,
they were working. It happened that they ran out of water.
Bouki and Possum say to Lapin (that means "rabbit"), "Let's dig a water
"Oh," Lapin says, "I," he says, "live on dew."
While they were digging the well . . . that night -- when they
came the next morning, the well was dry. Lapin went in the night and stole
So Bouki says to Possum, he says, "Oh, I'm going to
make a woman out of tar. And," he said, "I'm going to put her there." He
says, "I know that it's Lapin who comes to take the water -- and he loves
So he made the doll from tar and he put it near the well.
When Lapin came with his water buckets, he saw the girl.
little miss," he says.
She said nothing.
She said nothing.
So he touched her. Well, he
touched her and he got stuck.
He says, "Little miss, let me go."
She didn't let go.
He says, "I'm going to hit you for sure." So he
gave her a hit. His hand got stuck.
He says, "Little miss, I'm
going to give you a kick." She didn't let go. He gave her a kick. He got
When he revived, he says, "I have another foot for sure."
He gave her another kick. He was trapped, trapped by the tar. He couldn't
So when Bouki and Possum got up, they said, "Oh, you're
the rascal who came to steal our water."
"No," he says, "that was
the first time that I've come for water. I see the little miss, and now
she doesn't want to let go of me."
So they seized him. And because
Lapin was naughty, he says, "Throw me in the water. Throw me in the fire.
But" -- he says -- "don't throw me in the briars. Because," he says, "the
briars will scratch my skin all up." He says, "You can throw me in the
water or in the fire, but," he says, "don't throw me" -- because he knew
that they would throw him in the briars. That's where he wanted to go.
When he was [in the briars], "But, oh," he says, "that's where I want to
be put." When they had thrown him in the briar patch, he says, "Ehhh," he
says, "I'm in my home." He says, "That's where I wanted you to put me." He
always made fools of them.
This story is extremely popular in
Louisiana. Already rendered famous by the nineteenth-century version
appearing in Joel Chandler Harris' Uncle Remus (1880), the
tarbaby tale attained even greater popularity through the animated version
presented in Walt Disney's Song of the South (1946), a film that
deeply affected Mme. Matthews. The widespread motif of the briar patch
punishment is found at the end of this tale. In this variant, as well as
in many other Louisiana versions, the trickster steals water from a well
that he has not helped dig. There is no mention of the water well in
Uncle Remus, but Klipple lists ten variants from Africa that
include water of some sort (1991, 213-33). In this variant, there are
three animals: Bouki, Lapin, and Rat de Bois (or Possum). Bouki and Rat de
Bois use tar to fashion a catin (a doll in the image of a lady)
to catch Lapin. Another interesting aspect of Mme. Matthews' version is
the way in which she tends to switch from Cajun to Creole French when
Lapin begins to speak in anger; the angry Lapin uses such Creole phrases
as ma foutre, mon gain and t'apé vini.
For more information about
this and related tales, refer to the book Swapping Stories: Folktales from
Louisiana, published by University Press of Mississippi.