The tales of an orphan

There lived a man who had two wives and later died. One among the wives fell ill. She saw she was near to death, so she said to the second wife, “Now you have seen this illness will not leave me. There is my daughter; I have left her as a trust to you.”

There lived a man who had two wives and later died. One among the wives fell ill. She saw she was near to death, so she said to the second wife, “Now you have seen this illness will not leave me. There is my daughter; I have left her as a trust to you.”

So the woman died and was buried, and they were left with the child. They always showed her cruelty, until one day a sickness took hold of Florence. She was lying down when her stepmother said, “Get up, and go fetch water.”

Florence got up, was groaning in pain, lifted a small jerry can and took to the road. She went to the well and drew water. She took it back and said, “Mother, lift the jerrycan down for me.”

But her step-mother said, “Do you not see I am pounding? Not now, when I have finished.”

She finished husking the grain, she was winnowing, as the step mum was standing by. Said, ‘Mother, lift down the jerry can for me.’ But her step-mother said, ‘Do you not see I am winnowing?

(Not now), when I have finished.’ The maiden stood by till she had finished, until she had washed; she paid no attention to the maiden. The maiden said, “Mother, help me down with the water-pot.

She said, “Do you not see I am pouring grain into the mortar? Not now, let me finish pounding.” The maiden kept standing by till she finished pounding.

She re-pounded, she winnowed, she finished. The maiden was still standing right there. The maiden said, “Mother, help me down,” but she said, “Do you not see I am putting porridge in the pot? Wait till I have finished.”

The maiden kept standing by till the step-mother had finished putting the porridge in the pot. The maiden said, “Mother, help me down,” but she said, “If I come to help you down the porridge will get burned. Wait till the porridge boils.”

The porridge boiled, she took it out of the water, till she pounded it, squeezed it, and finished. She did not say anything to the maid, till the wind came like a whirlwind; it lifted the maiden and went off with her and she was not seen.

The wind took her to the forest, there was no one but she alone. She was roaming in the forest till she saw a grass hut. Then she went up to it. She peeped in, and saw a thigh-bone and a dog inside.

Then she drew back, but the thigh-bone said, ‘Us! Us!’, and the dog said, “He says you are to come back.” The maiden came back, and the thigh-bone said, ‘Us! Us!’, and the dog said, “He says you enter.”

The maiden entered the hut, and bowed down and prostrated herself, and the thighbone said, ‘Us! Us!’, and the dog said, “He says, Can you cook food?” And the maiden said, “Yes”

So they gave her one grain of rice and said she was to cook it. She picked up the single grain of rice. She did not grumble, she put it in the mortar and pounded, and when she had finished pounding, the rice filled the mortar.

 She dry pounded the rice and finished, and poured it from a height to let the wind blow away the chaff (sheke). She went to the stream, washed it and brought it back home, she set the pot on the fire, she poured in the rice and in a short time the rice filled the pot.

Then the thigh-bone said, ‘Us! Us!’, and the dog said, “He says are you able to make soup?” The maiden said, “Yes,” I can.’ The thighbone said, ‘Us! Us!’, so the dog got up, went to a small refuse heap, scraped up an old bone and gave it to the maiden. She received it and put it in the pot.

When a little while had passed, the meat filled the pot. When the meat was ready, she poured in salt and spice, and she put in all kinds of soup spices.

When the soup was ready she took the pot off the fire, she served out the food and divided it up. Ten helpings she set aside for the thigh-bone, for the dog she set aside nine helpings, and she set out for herself two.

They went to sleep. At dawn the thigh-bone said, ‘Us! Us!’ and the dog said to the maiden, “He says, Can you make fura cakes?” She said, “Yes.”

The thigh-bone said, ‘Us! Us!’ Then the dog got up came, lifted one grain of corn, brought it and gave her. She received it and put it in the mortar; she poured in water, she lifted the pestle and pounded. As she wet pounded, the corn became much.

She took it out, winnowed it, took it to the water, washed it, and returned. She pounded, took it out, winnowed, returned and poured it in again.

She pounded it very finely, she took it out, rolled it into cakes, and put it in the pot until it boiled. She took it off the fire, set it down, poured it into the mortar, pounded, took it out, rolled it up into balls, and gave to the thigh-bone three balls and to the dog she gave two.

To be continued...

 

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