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But old Eve was mad enough to bust. She wait till Adam catching little nap.

Then she flounce down to the orchard where there's a big old apple

 tree with a cave between the roots.

 

 

The Ways of Women

A Folktale

 

Most folk say the sixth day was Saturday. Cause on the seventh day didn’t the Lord rest and look his creation over? Now it may have been Saturday that he done the work of making man and woman, but from all the signs, he must thought up the first man and woman on old unlucky Friday.

Saturday or Friday, the Lord made them. Then he made a nice garden and a fine house with a cool dogtrot for them to set in when the sun get hot. “Adam and Eve,” he say, “here it is. Get your stuff together and move in.

“Thank you kindly, Lord,” say Eve.

“Wait a minute, Lord,” say Adam. “how we going pay the rent? You aint create no money yet, is you?”

The Lord say, “Don’t worry your head about that, Adam. It’s a free gift for you and the little woman.”

So the man and woman move in and start to ready up the house to make it comfortable to live in. And then the trouble began.

“Adam,” says the woman, “you get the stove put up while I hangs the curtains.”

“Why don’t you put up the stove,” say Adam, and me hang the curtains? You’s strong as me. The Lawd ain’t made neither one of us stronger than the other. How come you always shoving off the heavy stuff one me?”

“Cause there’s man’s work and there’s woman’s work, Adam,” say Eve. “It don’t look right for me to do that heavy stuff.”

“Don’t look right to who” say Adam. “Who’s going see it? You know there ain’t no neighbors yet.”

Eve stomp the floor. She say, “Just cause it ain’t no neighbors yet aint no reason for us acting trashy behind their backs, is it?”

“Ain’t that just like a woman!” say Adam. Then he set down and fold his arms. “I ain’t going put up no stove,” he say, “for that woman!

Next thing he know old Eve lollop him in the talk box with her fist and he fall over backward like a calf hit by lightning. Then he scramble up and was all over her like a wildcat. They bang and scuffle round there till the house look like a cyclone been playing in it. Neither one could whup, cause the Lord had laid the same equal strength on them both.

After while they both were too wore out to scrap. Eve flop on the bed and start kicking her feet and bawling. "Why you treat me so mean, Adam?" she holler. "Wouldn't treat a no account old hound like you treat poor me!"

Adam spit out a tooth and tried to open the black eye she give him. He say, "If I had a hound that bang into me like you does, I'd kill him."

But Eve start bawling so loud, with the tears just sopping up the bed clothes, that Adam sneak out of the house. Feeling mighty mean and low, he sat round awhile out behind the smokehouse studying what best to do. Then he go up to heaven to find the Lord.

The Lord say, "Well, Adam? Anything about the house won't work? It's the first one I ever made and it might have some faults."

Adam shake his head. "The house is prime, Lord. The house couldn't be no better than it is."

"What then, Adam? say the Lord.

"To tell the truth," say Adam, "it's that Eve woman. Lord, you made us with the equal strength and that's the trouble. I can't get the best of her nohow at all."

The Lord frown then. "Adam!" he say. "Is you trying to criticize the Lord? Course you's of the equal strength. That the fair way to make a man and woman so they both pull in the harness even."

Adam tremble and shake but he so upset an miserable he just has to keep on. He say, "But Lord, it really ain't equal between the two of us."

Lord say, "Be careful there, Adam! You is disputing the Lord smack to the face!"

"Lord," say Adam, "like you says, we is equal in the strength. But that woman done found another way to fight. She start howling and blubbering till it make me feel like I'm a lowdown scamp. I can't stand that sound, Lord. If it go on like that, I knows old Eve going always get her way and make me do all the dirty jobs."

"How come she learn that trick?" say the Lord, looking like he thinking hard. "Ain't seen no little old pink man with horns and a pitchfork hanging round the place, is you, Adam?"

"Naw, Lord. Thought I heard Eve talking with somebody down in the apple orchard this morning, but she say it just the wind blowing. Naw, I ain't seen no pink man with horns. Who would that be, anyhow, Lord?"

"Never you mind, Adam," say the Lord. "Hmmmmmmm!"

"Well," say Adam, "this woman trouble got me down. I sure be much oblige if you makes me stronger than Eve. Then I can tell her to do a thing and slap her till she do. She do what she told if she know she going get whupped."

"So be it!" say the Lord. "Look at yourself, Adam!"

Well Adam look at his arms. Where before they was smooth and round, now the muscle bump up like prize yams. Look like it was two big corn pone under the skin of his chest and that chest it was like a barrel. His belly it was like a washboard and his legs so awful big and down right lumpy they scared him.

"Thank you kindly, good Lord!" say Adam. "Watch the woman mind me now!" so that Adam high tail it home and bust in the back door.

Eve setting down rocking in the rocker. Eve looking mean. Didn't say a mumbling word when Adam come strutting in. Just look at him, just reached down in the wood box for a big stick of kindling.

"Drop that stick, woman!" say Adam

"Say who?" say the woman. "Who that talking big round here?" 

"With that, she jump on him and try to hammer his head down with the stick

Adam just laugh and grab the stick and heave it out the window. Then he give her a lazy little slap that sail her clean cross the room. "That who saying it, sugar!" he say.

"My feet must have slip or something," say Eve. "And you the one going to pay for it out of your hide, Adam!"

So the woman come up clawing and kicking and Adam pick her up and whop her down.

"Feet slip again, didn't they?" say Adam

"It must be I couldn't see good where you is in this dark room," say Eve. She rise up and feather into him again.

So Adam he pick her up and throw her on the bed. Before she know what, he start laying it on with one hand, hold her down with the other.

Before long Eve bust out bawling. She say, "Please quit that whacking me, Adam honey! Aw please, honey!"

"Is I the boss round here?" say Adam.

"Yes, honey," she say. "You is the head man, boss."

"All right," he tell her. "I is the boss. The Lord done give me the more power of us two. From now on out and then some, you mind me, woman! What I just give you ain't nothing but a little hum. Next time I turn the whole song loose on you."

He give Eve a shove and say, "Fry me some catfish, woman."

"Yes, Adam honey," she say.

But old Eve was mad enough to bust. She wait till Adam catching little nap. Then she flounce down to the orchard where there's a big old apple tree with a cave between the roots. She look round till she sure nobody see her, then she stick her head in the cave and holler.

Now, it may been the wind blowing and it may been a bird, but it sure sound like somebody in that cave talking with Eve. Eve she sound like she complaining that she got a crooked deal and then it sound like she saying, "yes--yes--Yes. You mean on which wall? The east wall? Oh! all right."

Anyhow, Eve come back to the house all smiling to herself like she know something. She powerful sweet to Adam the rest of the day.

So next morning Eve go up to heaven to find the Lord.

Lord say, "you again Eve? what can I do for you?"

Eve smile and drop a pretty curtsy. "Could you do me a little old favor, Lord?" say Eve.

"Name it, Eve," say the Lord.

"See them two little old rusty keys hanging on that nail on the east wall?" Eve say. "If you ain't using them, I wish I had them little old keys."

"I declare!" say the Lord. "I done forgot they hanging there. But, Eve, they don't fit nothing. Found them in some junk and think maybe I find the locks they fit some day. They been hanging on that nail ten million years and I ain't found the locks yet. if you want them, take them. Ain't doing me no good."

So Eve take the two keys and thank the Lord and go on back down home. There was two doors without no keys and Eve find that the two rusty ones fit.

"Aaah!" she say. "Here's the locks the Lord couldn't find. Now, Mister Adam, we see who the boss!" Then she lock the two doors and hide the keys.

Before long Adam come in out of the garden. "Gimme some food, woman!" he say.

"Can't Adam," say Eve. "The kitchen door is lock."

"I fix that!" say Adam. So he try to bust the kitchen door down. But the lord built that door and Adam can't even scratch it.

Eve say, "well, Adam honey, if you go out in the woods and cut some wood for the fire. I maybe can get the kitchen door open. Maybe I can put one then conjure tricks on it. Now, run along, honey, and get the wood.

"Wood chopping is your work," say Adam, "since I got the most strength. But I do it this once and see can you open the doors."

So he get the wood and when he come back, Eve had the door open. And from then on out Eve kept the key to the kitchen and made Adam haul in the wood.

Well, after supper Adam say, "Come on, honey, lets you and me hit the frog hair."

"Can't," say eve. "The bedroom door is locked."

"Dadblame!" say Adam. "Reckon you can trick that door too, Eve?"

"Might can," say Eve. "Honey, you just get a piece of tin an patch that little hole in the roof and while you's doing it, maybe I can get the bedroom door open."

So Adam patched the roof and Eve she unlocked the bedroom door. From then on she kept that key and used it to suit herself.

So that the reason, the very reason, why the men think they is boss and the women knows they is boss, cause they got them two little keys to use in that slippery women's way. Yes, forever more and then some!

And if you don't know that already, you ain't no married man.

Source: Tennessee Writers' Project, God Bless the Devil! by James R. Aswell, et al. The University of Tennessee Press, 1985.

 

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Bayard Rustin has been called the “lost prophet” of the Civil Rights Movement, a master strategist and organizer of the 1963 March on Washington and a deeply influential figure in the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Despite these achievements, Rustin often remained in the background, largely because he was an openly gay man in a fiercely homophobic era. Published on the centennial of his birth, and in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters  are his words shining through a collection of more than 150 of Rustin’s letters. His correspondents include major figures of his day — for example, Eleanor Holmes Norton, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Ella Baker and of course, Martin Luther King Jr. “I have file boxes full of Rustin’s letters that I tracked down in archives across the country,” said book editor Michael G. Long.

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Ancient African Nations

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