Ananse And the Three Cruel Friends
“Haba! said Ananse loudly wondering if the tar baby were deaf. “I said ‘HOW ARE YOU THIS MORNING?”
The Tar Baby said nothing. Ato curled up into a ball to hide his laughter. His plan was working perfectly!
“Are you deaf or just rude?” demanded Ananse, losing his temper. “I can’t stand folks that are stuck up! You take off that hat and say ‘Hello’ or I’m going to give you a slap’!”
The Tar Baby just sat in the middle Qf the road saying nothing and looking as cute as.a button. Ato rolled over and over under the bushes, almost busting because he didn’t dare laugh out loud.
“I’ll teach you a bitter lesson!” Ananse yelled. He took a swing at the cute little Tar Baby and his hand got stuck in the tar.
“Let go of my hand or hit you again,”
shouted Ananse. The Tar Baby said nothing.
“Fine! Stay where you are,” said Ananse, swinging at the Tar Baby with his other free hand. Now both his hands were stuck in the tar, and Ato danced with glee behind the bushes.
“I’m going to kick the sense out of you,” Ananse said and pounced on the Tar Baby with both feet. They sank deep into the Tar Baby. Ananse was so furious that he head-butted the cute little creature until he was completely covered with tar and unable to move.
Then Ato leapt out of the bushes and strolled over to Ananse. “Well, well, what have we here?” he asked, grinning in an evil manner.
Ananse gulped. He was stuck fast. He did some fast thinking while Adu rolled about on the road, laughing over Ananse’s dilemma.
“I’ve got you this time, Ananse,” said Ato. jumping up and shaking off the dust. “You’ve tricked me for the very last time. Now I wonder what I should do to you?”
Ananse’s eyes got very large. “Oh please Adu, whatever you do, please don’t kill me.”
“Maybe 1 should roast you over a fire and eat you,” said Ato. “No, that’s too much trouble.
Maybe I’ll hang you instead.”
“Roast me! Hang me! Do whatever you please,” said Ananse. “Only please, Ato, please don’t throw me into the bush.”
“If I’m going to hang you, I’ll need a string,” said Ato. “And I don’t have any string in handy. But the stream’s not far away, so maybe I’ll drown you instead.”
“Drown me! Roast me! Hang me! Do whatever you please,” said Ananse. “Only please, Ato, please don’t throw me into the bush.”
“The bush, eh?” said Ato. “What a wonderful idea! You’ll be torn into pieces!”
Grabbing up the tar-covered Ananse, Ato swang him around and around and then flang him head over heels into the bush. Ananse let out such a scream as he fell that all the rats in the bush were awoken. They rushed to where he was and licked the sticky rubber and tar off
him. Ato strained one ear toward the bush. hoping to hear a cry of pain but he heard nothing. Ato strained the other ear toward the bush, listening for Ananse’s death rattle. He heard nothing.
Then Ato heard someone calling his name. He turned around and looked up the hill. Ananse was sitting on a log combing the tar out of his body with a wood chip and looking self-satisfied.
“I was bred and born in the bush so almost every animal is my friend,” he called. “Born and bred in the bush.”
Ananse skipped away as happily as a cricket while Ato ground his teeth in rage and went home.
One fine morning, Badu decided to make a groundnut farm. As he was determined he raked and hoed the ground and planted groundnut in record time. It did not take too long before those plants grew tall and long and ready for harvest.
Now Ananse watched Badu planting the groundnut and told his children and Okonorie, his wife where they could find groundnut. As soon as those groundnuts were ripe, Ananse and his children sneaked into the farm and stole the groundnuts. When Badu came to the farm, he could hardly find any groundnut to call his own.
Badu thought he had worked so hard on the farm only to have the crops stolen by someone else. He suspected t1at Ananse was to blame for this, but the stubborn Ananse had covered his tracks so well that Badu could not catch him. Badu came up with a plan. He found a smooth spot in his fence where a cunning thief could sneak in, and he set a trap for Ananse at that spot.
He tied a rope to a nearby branch and bent it nearly double. Then he took the other end of the rope and made a round knot that he fixed firmly with a trigger right around the hole in the fence. If anybody CAme through the crack to steal his groundnut, the knot would tighten around their body. The branch would spring upright, and they would be left hanging from the tree for everyone to see.
The next morning, Ananse came slipping through the hole in the fence. At once, the
trigger sprang, the knot tightened on his legs, and the tree snapped upright immediately. Anansse found himself swinging from the branch of the tree. He could not go up or down. He just went back and forth.
Ananse was in trouble. He tried to come up with some convincing explanation for Badu when he heard someone rumbling and tumbling down the road. It was Ato, looking for a bee-tree so he could get some honey. As soon as Ananse saw Ato, he came up with a plan to get himself freed.
“Hell, Ato,” he called cheerfully. Ato squinted around here and there, wondering where the
voice had come from. Then he looked up and saw Ananse swinging from the tree.
“Hello Ananse,” he rumbled. “How are you this morning?”
“Alright, Ato,” Ananse replied. “Just alri ght.”
Ato was wondering why Ananse was up in the tree, so he asked him about it. Ananse grinned and said that he was earning ten cedi-a-minute from the farmer.
“Ten cedis-a-minute!” Ato exclaimed. “What for?”
“I’m keeping the crows away from his groundnut farm,” Ananse explained, and went on to say that the farmer was paying ten cedi-aminute to whoever would act as a scarecrow for him.
Well, Ato became interested. He had a big family to feed, and he could use the money. When Ananse asked him if he would like to take the job, Ato agreed. Ananse showed him how to bend the branch down and remove the knot from his legs.
When Ananse was free, Ato climbed
into the knot and soon he was hanging aloft between heaven and earth, swinging to and from the branch and growling at the birds to keep them away from the groundnuts.
Ananse laughed and laughed at the sight of Ato up in the branch. He scampered down the road to Badu’s place and told him that his trap had caught a groundnut thief Badu grabbed his walking stick and ran down the road after Ananse. When he saw Ato hanging there, Badu called him a thief. He ranted and raved and threatened to hit Ato with his walking stick, despite their friendship. He yelled so loud that Adu could not have time to explain anything!
Ananse knew that Ato would be very mad at him when he found out he had been tricked, and so he ran down the road and hid in the mud beside the pond, so that only his eyeballs stuck out, making him look like a big old bullfrog. A very angry Ato came walking down the road.
“Hi, Brother Bullfrog,” Ato said when he saw Ahanse’s eyes sticking out of the mud. “Have you seen Ananse anywhere?”
“Ananse just ran down the road,” he told the angry Ato, in a deep croaking voice – that sounded just like the voice of .a frog. Ato thanked him and trotted down the road, growling fiercely.
When Ato was out of sight, Ananse jumped out of the mud. He washed himself in the pond and then scampered home, chuckling to himself at how he had escaped from Badu
and Ato. At home Ananse thought of a new plan to steal from Badu’s zroundnut farm to feed his family.
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