Miss Calinda's Marriage
Translated by D. A. Kress from the Creole story, «Mariage Mlle Calinda,» by Alfred Mercier.
In Comptes Rendus de L'Athénée louisianais, juillet 1880, pp. 378-383.
Many years ago Brother Deer and Brother Tortoise were both courting Miss Calinda. Miss Calinda preferred Brother Deer because he was the most valiant, but she liked Brother Tortoise, too, because he was so good-natured.
Miss Calinda's father told her: "young lady, it's time for you to get married, choose the one you want."
The next day both Brother Deer and Brother Tortoise stopped by Miss Calinda's house.
Miss Calinda, who had thought about it all night long, announced to them: "Brother Deer and Brother Tortoise, my father wants me to get married. I don't want to say no to either of you. So next Sunday, you'll race a mile and a half, and I'll marry whoever wins."
They both left, Brother Deer with a happy heart, but Brother Tortoise was lost in thought: "a long time ago my granddaddy beat Brother Rabbit in a race but I don't know what I'm going to do to beat Brother Deer."
In those days, an old, old crocodile—more than 500 years old—lived nearby. He was so crafty that everybody called him Papa Avocat [Lawyer].
Night came. Brother Tortoise ran to see Papa Avocat to tell him all about his problems with the race. Papa Avocat told him: "I want to help you, my son; we're part of the same family; the earth and water are the same for you and me. I'll think about this business. Come see me tomorrow morning and I'll tell you what you need to do."
Brother Tortoise ran home to go to bed but he didn't sleep much. He was so worried! The next morning he hurried over to see Papa Avocat.
Papa Avocat was already up and having a cup of coffee.
—"Good morning, Monsieur Avocat."
—"Morning, my son. Your problem has really given me fits, but I think you'll beat Brother Deer, if you do what I tell you.
—"Today go find a judge who will measure the road along the bayou. Every 8oo feet, drive in a pole; Brother Deer will run on land and you'll go by water. Do you understand what I'm telling you?
—"Oh yes, Papa Avocat, I'm listening to everything you're saying."
—"The night before the race, when it gets dark, go get nine of your friends and hide one of them near each of the poles. As for you, you'll hide near Miss Calinda's house. Do you understand what I'm telling you?"
—"Oh yes, Papa Avocat, I understand perfectly well what you're telling me!"
—"Well, go get ready to uphold our nation's honor!"
Brother Tortoise went to see Brother Deer and arranged everything just like Papa Avocat had told him. Brother Deer was so sure of winning the race that he said yes to everything that Brother Tortoise wanted. The next day, bright and early, everybody who lived along the bayou gathered to see the big race.
When the moment came, Brother Deer and Brother Tortoise were both ready. The judge yelled: "Go!" and they took off at a galop.
When Brother Deer reached the first pole, he shouted: "Hey, Brother Tortoise!"
—"Here I am, Brother Deer."
When they reached the second pole, Brother Deer whistled: "Whewww!"
Brother Tortoise answered, "Croakkkk!"
Passing the third pole, Brother Tortoise was still snout to muzzle with Brother Deer.
—"What the devil! This tortoise swims faster than a steamboat; I gotta get myself in gear."
When Brother Deer reached the ninth pole, he saw Brother Tortoise diving into the water. He had raced as hard as he could, all for nothing; before he could reach the finish line, he heard everybody shouting: "Hurrah! hurrah for Brother Tortoise!"
When he reached the finish line, he saw Brother Tortoise on the porch kissing Miss Calinda. It hurt so much he ran off into the woods.
Brother Tortoise married Miss Calinda the following Saturday, and everybody ate until they were stuffed and drank so much they got drunk.
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