DESCRIPTION: Young Mary and Jack go on a journey; Jack takes four grains of corn. They stop at a witch's house; she prepares to kill them. Jack throws out his grains of corn, one at a time; each turns into something which helps the children return home
EARLIEST DATE: 1966 (Carawan/Carawan)
KEYWORDS: recitation magic escape children
FOUND IN: US(SE)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Carawan/Carawan, pp. 103-105, "Gullah Folk Tale: Barney McCabe" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: _Sing Out_ magazine, Volume 35, #4 (1991), pp, 12-14, "Barney McCabe" (1 text, 1 tune)
Janie Hunter, "Barney McCabe" (on USSeaIsland01)
NOTES: This is a mix of spoken narrative with musical interludes. The source was Janie Hunter of Johns Island.
The tale is somewhat peculiar because nothing is ever explained. Why did the two young children go on their journey without their parents? Where were they going? Why did Jack take the corn? What made it magical? If he can himself make magic, why does he not use it more directly?
I rather suspect that the confusion arises because the tale is composite. The lost-children-and-witch motif of course comes from sources like "Hansel and Gretl." The magic talisman is common in stories such as "The Goose Girl." I suppose, when you mix them all up, you get this. - RBW
USSeaIsland01 liner notes have no performer credits. Janie Hunter tells the story in Carawan/Carawan. - BS
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