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Story No. 132

De New Han’

Book Name:

Gypsy Folk Tales

Tradition: Gypsy, U.S.A

Wunst dar wer a sawmill on de aige of a wood not a thousan mili from heah, wid a branch a-runnin by a-turnin de wheel. An ole colored man, he kep de mill an wer a very fine kine of man; but he son Sam, what help him, didn’ take arter de ole man, but wer a triflin, no account sort o’ young man; an’ de ole man had to wuk right sharp to git along. One day ’long come a poor-lookin sort o’ man, sayin he wanted to larn de saw-millin, an he wuk fur a yeah fur nuffin. De ole man wer glad to git his help, an de young ’un ’lowed he could shif some o’ his wuk on to de New Han’. So de New Han’ he went to totin boads and doin chores round de mill. De ole man he like de New Han’ fus class, an allus gin he jes as good as he git hisself; but de son he make hisself big to de New Han’ behind de ole man back, an order him roun to do dis an dat. De New Han’ he never say nuffin, but jes go ’long ’bout he own bisness. De ole man he cotch Sam ’busin an a-bossin de New Han’ aroun, and he club he good fur hit more’n a few times. One day an ole man come fur a load o’ plank, and he war a-groanin wid de misery in de back, an a-wishin he were young an spry like as he used to.

Den up speak de New Han’, an he say, 'Ef you all go in de woods ’ceptin dis man an me, whar you can't see nuffin goin on, an wait till I holler, I'll fix dis man right up good; but you all mus promis not to peek, for suffin bad happen of yo do.'

So dey promis. An de ole man an he son go in de woods wher dey can't see nuffin. An de New Han’ he say to de man wid de misery in he back, 'Go lay down on de saw-frame.'

Den he up wid de saw, an cut he in two. Den he up wid de two pieces of de man, an frow em into de branch, an de pieces jine togidder, an de ole man wid de misery in he back come outer de branch a live an well man an quite young like an frisky. Den he fell a-thankin de New Han’, but he jest tole he to shet up. An den he hollerd. Sam and he fader come a-runnin, an was mighty exprised when dey seen de young-lookin man in de place of de ole limpin man. But de New Han’ wouldn't say nuffin ’bout it. So dey jest shet up, an things carried on same as usual till de ole man he got word his mudder very bad, an he must start right off fur to see her. Befo he go he dun tole Sam not fur to ac obstropolus wid de New Han’, case ef he did, so sho’ would he git a clubbin soon ez he got back. But Sam he forgit jes so soon de ole man gone, an behave wery overbearin an obstropolus.

Finally de New Han’ say to Sam, 'Ef you don’ quit behavin, I’se gwine to leave when my yeah up, an dat's to-morrer.'

Den Sam ac real owdashus, an tole him, 'Go along now, yo fool.'

Sho’ enuff nex dey de New Han’ dun gone, an no one seed him go, an no one pass he in de road or in de wood. Well, de wery nex day ’long come de man what was made young an likely by de New Han’, an ’long wid him come he ole woman totin a baskit wid a elegant fat possum an sweet taters dat fairly made Sam mouf water. After passin de time o’ day an so on, de man ax arter de New Han’, sayin he want him fix up de ole woman same like he do him.

Sam say, 'O, he be back to-morrer. Jes leave de possum, an come agin. I'll gin it to him when he come.'

But de man too smart fur dat, an wouldn’ leave hit.

So Sam ’fraid he gwine to lose de possum, so he say, 'De New Han’ dun gone off fur to see he sic fader, an dun tole me fo’ he go for to ax you an do same what he done to you.'

So den de man tole Sam, an Sam tell de man to go in de wood an shet he eyes. Den Sam he saw de ole woman in two, an frow de pieces in de branch; but dar dey stay. Den Sam git skeered, an go down to de branch, an try to jine de pieces, but dey wont jine. An de ole ’oman's husban come a-runnin and a-hollerin outer de wood case he see suffin wrong; an de neighbers come, an dey take Sam an try he, an fin' he guilty.

An de judge he put on he black hat an say, 'Hang Sam by de neck ontil he mus be quite ded, an de Lor hab mussy on pore Sam.'

Den Sam's ole fader come a-runnin, an he fall down, an beg for Sam; but do’ he roll in de dus, an cry, de judge won’ let Sam go. Den dey all go ’way solemn like to de gallus. An de judge ax Sam, do he got anything to say for hisself. An Sam see de New Han’ stan a-laffin in de crowd. An he think how bad he dun treated de pore man.

So he say, 'Brudren an sistren, min’ what I gwine tell you. Don’ ac highminded an biggity wid no one, case ef I hadn’ ac dat way to a man in dis here very crowd, I'd a been heavin saw-logs instid o’ gwine to be hung dis day.'

’Den all he frinds fall a-cryin an a-rollin, but de New Han’ jump up longside Sam, an say quick like to he, 'Do you shore enuff sorry for you acshuns?'

Den Sam say, 'Deed an deed I’s sorry, an I ax pardon an hope yo’ll forgive me when I’s gone.'

Den de New Han’ speak out big an loud to de crowd, an say, 'How come yo gwine to hang dis heah man when de ole ’oman he kill is a-standin right dar?'

Sho' enuff dar was she standin long o’ her ole man. So dey let Sam down, an dey had great jollification; but dey never see de New Han’ from dat day to dis nowhar.


This Negro folk-tale, first printed by me in the Athenæum for 10th August 1887, p. 245, was taken down by an American acquaintance, Mr. J. P. Suverkrop, C.E., in 1871, at Sand Mountain, Alabama, from the recitation of his negro servant, Dick Brown, about thirty years old, who was a native of Petersburg, Virginia, and there had got it from his granny. It seems to be clearly a variant of 'The Master Smith' (Clouston, ii. 409) and of Grimm's No. 147, 'The Old Man made Young Again' (ii. 215, 444). If so, it must be a comparatively recent transmission from one race (Aryan) to another (non-Aryan), yet it is as thoroughly localised as folk-tale well could be.


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