One Story of…
HOW ANANSE BEAT MONGOOSE AND SNAKE
From the novel Journey as the Wire Bend Up River Where the Story end
or Read for yourself.
One Story of
How Ananse Beat Mongoose and Snake
Well, for those who have ears to hear, Mongoose greedy. And that is the way to beat him. But to beat him, first you have to know him. And is I, Ananse, the spider-man, who know who Mongoose is, because is I, the smart-boy Ananse, who beat him at his own game.
Was just after the turning of the age, and Ananse used to live in a Tamarind tree behind Farmer land. And behind the Tamarind tree, up the hill live that sly Mongoose.
Now, Mongoose love eggs. Wasn’t any other creature in the forest love eggs more than Mongoose. And every morning, right after Cock crow, Mongoose would sneak into Farmer yard and make off with all Farmer eggs.
Well, one morning, Ananse, the spider-man, was out walking. And as he pass Farmer fence, he hear Dog barking, growling and barking. So, Ananse hurry round the bird-pepper tree to see what all the commotion was about. And there was Mongoose, balancing on top Farmer fence. And dog; jumping gainst the wire fence trying to shake him down.
Mongoose hands was full-up with eggs and every time dog jump and bark, the fence shake, and Mongoose come close to falling and breaking all the nice big eggs.
‘Mongoose! Mongoose! I see Dog got you good this time,’ Ananse call out and laugh.
But Mongoose was too busy to answer, so smart-boy see his opportunity and shout. ‘My friend, just drop the eggs and I will catch them safe for you.’
‘Oh yes, and, and steal them away too,’ was Mongoose ungrateful reply.
‘How a small creature like me going to carry away so many big eggs?’ ask Ananse. ‘But if you want to give me just one of your eggs for my trouble. We could have a deal.’
Ananse could see Mongoose considering the plan, so he start at once to weave a big net. And same time he finish the net, Mongoose called out.
‘Alright then spider-man. A bargain. One of my eggs for your help. Catch!’
And he toss the eggs down one by one. And while Dog continue to bark and growl and shake the fence, Ananse catch the eggs with his net – One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six – and gently set them on the ground.
As soon as the sixth egg was on the ground, Mongoose jump off the fence, and laugh at Dog.
‘Heh, heh, heh, I get way again, you old dog. Heh, heh, heh.’
And with that, Mongoose snatch up all the eggs.
‘Hey!’ said Ananse. ‘A bargain is a bargain, Mongoose.’
But that sly Mongoose laugh again. ‘Heh, heh, heh, Spider-man, I’m not giving you any at all. Heh, heh, heh, Spider-man and to take them from me, you too small. Heh, heh, heh.’
Well Ananse get angry at those words.
‘Oh yes Mongoose?’ he snap. ‘The spider-man too small? Well. I bet you, come tomorrow, when you reach in Farmer yard, for Farmer eggs, I smart-boy Ananse, would have take them all, already.’
Mr Mongoose start to laugh, at that. He laugh so much he almost drop the eggs with his laughter.
‘Heh, heh, heh, spider-man. Is a challenge you offering me? Heh, heh, heh, spider-man, you want to try and test me? Heh, heh, heh, hee, hee, hee.’ And the Mongoose dash way up the hill, with all of the six eggs.
Well, the spider man decided then and there to teach Mongoose a lesson. Immediately he walk to the riverside where he know Snake was spending the dry season. And when he get to the riverside, he see Snake sunning heself on a rock.
Ananse call to Snake. ‘Snake! Snake! You here still? I thought you was gone?’
Snake didn’t even turn his head. ‘Go way little Ananse. I don’t have time for you and your games.’
‘Oh no, of course, indeed, Mister Snake,’ Ananse call back. ‘It’s just, I hear Mongoose talking…’
‘Mongoose?’ said Snake raising his head for nosiness sake. ‘What Mongoose could have to say?’
‘Well he say how he is the most cunning creature in the forest,’ Ananse tell Snake.
‘Ssss. Ssss, Ssss,’ Snake snigger. ‘He was only trying to frighten you, little man.’
‘Yes, I sure you right,’ Ananse reply. ‘But wasn’t just me. He tell everybody in the forest. He say how he is the best, because he’s the only one who could sneak past Dog into Farmer hen house, and get Farmer eggs.’
‘Isss so?’ answer Snake. ‘And who teach him all he know, what little he know?’
‘You, of course,’ Ananse call out. ‘But I hear him say how he is the slickest, the slyest, the sneakiest creature to ever cross the earth, in all of history.’
Well, Snake start to get vex, now. He uncurl he long tail and then curl it round heself again. ‘The sssimpering, ssss,’ Snake hiss. ‘He only just start. He only just arrive. Who ever hear bout Mongoose? Who ever write story about Mongoose? Everybody know about me. Snake. I been here since time begin. I am the first, the slimiest, the slyest, the lowest, the sneakiest, the slickest, the deceitfulest. And was me there when the first garden get mash down? And was me there turning people to stone ontop that lady head? So who go really be fraid of Mongoose, but Mongoose?’
Smart-boy Ananse could see he plan working, so he throw a bit more wood for the fire to catch.
‘And he tell everybody how you getting old.’ Ananse add on. ‘How when you asleep he does sneak up to you and tickle your nose. And how, you too slow and fat to catch him.’
Well, Snake was really vex now. ‘SSSS, sssaucy ssscamp. SSSneak up on me? Nobody don’t sssneak up on Snake. Is Snake who sssneak up on people!’
‘That is what I tell him,’ Ananse agree. ‘I say to Mongoose, if you wanted eggs you could go into Farmer yard, at any time and take them. No?’
‘Of coursssse,’ Snake reply. ‘SSSStupid Dog is no match for me. I would be in and out before he even ssssniff my ssscales.’
‘Well yes,’ said Ananse. ‘Unless you go after Cock crow. Because that bold-faced Mongoose does take Farmer eggs first thing every morning. If you really want to get the nice big eggs you have to go early, early, before Cock crow. Then, by the time mongoose reach, the eggs long gone. And he would know is only Mighty Snake could do that. Who else?’
‘Yessss, yessss,’ Snake hiss. He like the idea.
‘And imagine, my friend Snake,’ Ananse added. ‘Imagine if, while stupid Mongoose busy wasting he time sneaking past Farmer dog, you up the hill in he house, clearing out all the other eggs he hiding. I mean, he would know who is the slyest then. Who is the sneakiest. Who was the one under the Master heel.’
‘Yesssss, yessss, yessss,’ Snake hissed. He love the idea.
So early, early next morning, before Cock could crow, the smart-boy Ananse pull up his deck chair and sit under the Tamarind tree.
Sure enough, just as the sun start to push the night out the sky, Snake come sliding by.
‘Morning, morning,’ Ananse greet him. But Snake didn’t answer. He slide round the bird-pepper tree, under the wire fence, past sleeping Dog and into the hen house.
One chicken cluck, and Snake was back out of the hen house, past Dog, under the wire fence, round the pepper tree and back to the Tamarind tree with a coil full of big, brown eggs.
‘Ssspider-man, you are the witnessss,’ Snake hiss. ‘Who is more sssly? Who is more sssneaky than I?’
‘Not Mongoose,’ Ananse agree.
Snake open his coil and let the eggs roll into the grass
‘What is the sssum,’ ask Snake. ‘How many eggs you see? One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six? All the eggs in the hen house.’
‘And after you get the eggs from Mongoose’s den, the whole forest will know, who is the most cunning creature of all,’ Ananse announce.
Snake lift his head up and nod. ‘Yes. That will be easy for me little spider-man. The apple off the tree.’ And he leave the six big eggs under the Tamarind tree with Ananse, and slither up the hill to Mongoose house.
In no time at all, Cock crow, and Mongoose come hurrying down the hill, past the bird-pepper tree, and under the fence. He run into the hen house and immediately the chicken start to cluck and sqwark. -Puk. Puk-puk. Puk-puk, Puk.
And Dog jump up and run to the hen house barking. Mongoose had to dash out the hen house without a single egg, and Dog chase him all the way to the fence, barking like he going crazy. Mongoose get way by the tip of he tail and run straight to Ananse by the Tamarind Tree.
‘You bad-boy Ananse,’ Mongoose shout. ‘You eight-leg boy Ananse. You thin-foot, big belly boy Ananse!’
Ananse smile. ‘What is the matter Mongoose,’ he say. ‘You want to borrow an egg this morning?’
Mongoose could only stare at the nice big eggs in Ananse’s sack.
Ananse laugh. ‘Heh, heh, heh, sly Mongoose you can’t believe your eyes? Heh, heh, heh, sly Mongoose. I’ll give you one, if you care to buy.’
‘Hush!’ Mongoose shout. ‘You lazy-boy Ananse, you never get all those eggs by youself. You too small spider, you too weak, man.’
‘That may be,’ laugh Ananse. ‘But who have Farmer eggs today?”
Mongoose was too vex to leave it there. He start sniffing, sniff, sniff, sniff, until he catch Snake trail. And like he realise at once where Snake trail leading. So without another word he leave Ananse and hurry back up the hill to his den.
As soon as Mongoose gone, Ananse hide the eggs behind the Tamarind tree. Then he pull out a big crocus bag and sling it over his shoulder. Careful, careful, he follow Mongoose up the hill. As he go he hum a little song to himself.
Eggs for breakfast today
Eggs for dinner tonight
I eating eggs tomorrow,
Poach, boil, fry and scramble
Now, Mongoose house build right at the edge of a waterfall. And the noise of the waterfall so loud you can’t hear nothing but the noise from the waterfall. So when Ananse reach Mongoose house, he couldn’t hear nothing, but he could see Snake sliding round the side of Mongoose house. And Mongoose see him too.
Snake stop and Mongoose stop. So Ananse stop too. He watch Mongoose move in slow, toward Snake, and Snake slide side-ways. Then – Bap-Si-Bi – Mongoose jump and grab Snake tail. And as Mongoose bite Snaks tail, Snake whip round and sink two sharp fang into Mongoose nose. And the two start to wrestle. Backward and forward, round and round, rolling over and over.
Well, Ananse not stupid. He see his chance and he take it. He run across the muddy yard and into the Mongoose den. He went straight for Mongoose’s kitchen. And he start to fill up his sack. He take two fat fowl, a bowl of ripe mango, a pot full of fish and in a basket under some dry fig leaf, six big brown eggs – One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six. Then Ananse close the sack and drag it to the door.
Meanwhile, in the yard, Mongoose and Snake was still fighting. Round and round, backward and forward. Ananse pull the sack all the way out of the yard and Mongoose and Snake was still fighting. Mongoose holding Snake tail, Snake biting Mongoose nose.
Ananse manage to drag the heavy sack all the way back to the Tamarind tree and Mongoose and Snake never even know.
That night, as he add the six eggs from Mongoose den to the six eggs from Farmer yard, he sing…
Eggs for breakfast today
Eggs for dinner tonight
I eating eggs tomorrow,
Poach, boil, fry and scrambled
And Ananse eat fish with chicken and rice for supper that night, and every morning for the next twelve days he eat egg for breakfast, poach, boil, fry and scramble.
And when Ananse see Mongoose again, he could see the big red bite in his nose, from where Snake nearly take it off. And Snake? Well, I hear Snake still by the riverside nursing the scars from Mongoose attack.
My live performance on Zoom, of Ananse and the Book of Knowledge, for Caribbean Storytime, Rampoon Radio. 27/09/20.