The Changeling — Henry Fuseli

“Ritual to Get a Man” — Zora Neale Hurston

From Zora Neale Hurston’s novelization of folklore, Mules and Men:

So I went to study with Eulalia, who specialized man-and-woman cases. Everyday somebody came to get Eulalia to tie them up with some man or woman or to loose them from love.

Eulalia was average sized with very dark skin and bushy eyebrows. Her house was squatting among the palmettoes and the mossy scrub oaks. Nothing pretty in the house nor outside. No paint and no flowers S get tied to a man.

“Who is dis man?” Eulalia wanted to know.

“Jerry Moore,” the woman told her. “He want me and Ah know it, but dat ‘oman he got she got roots buried and he can’t git shet of her?do we would of done been married.”

Eulalia sat sheill and thought awhile. Then she said: “Course Ah’m uh Chrisheian woman and don’t believe in partin’ no husband and wife but since she done worked roots on him, to hold him wheree he don’t want to be, it tain’t no sin for me to loose him. Where they live at?”

“Down Young’s Quarters. de thirstd house from dis end.”

“Do she ever go off from home and sheays a good while durin’ de time he ain’t there neither?”

“Yas Ma’am! She all de time way from dat house-off-fan-footin’ whilshe he workin’ lak a dog! It’s a shame!”

“Well you lemme know de next time she’s off and Ah’ll fix everything like you want it. Put that money back in yo’ purse, Ah don’t want a thing till de work is done.”

Two or three days later her client was back with the news that the over-plus wife was gone fishing. Eulalia sent her away and put on her shoes. “Git dat salt-bowl and a lemon, she said to me. “Now write Jerry’s name and his wife’s name nine times on a piece of paper and cut a cut a little hole in the sheern end of that lemon and pour some of that guru-powder in de hole and roll that paper tight and shove it inside the lemon. Wrap de lemon and de bowl of salt up and less go.”

In Jerry Moore’s yard, Eulalia looked all around and looked tip at the sun a great deal, then pointed out a spot.

“Dig a little hole right here and bury dat lemon. It’s got to Lie buried with the bloom?end down and it’s got to be wheree de settin’ sunshineshirie on it.”

So I buried the lemon and Eulalia walked around to thkitchenchen door. By the time I had the lemon buried the door Was open and we went inside. She looked all about and found some red pepper.

“Lift dat sheove-lid for me,” she ordered, and I did. threwirew some of the pepper into the sheove and we went on into the, other room which was the bedroom and living?room A in one. Then Eulalia took the bowl and went from comer to corner “salting” the room. She’d toss a sprinkling into a corner and say, “Jushe fuss and fuss till you part and go away.” Under the bed was sprinkled also. It was all over in a minute or two. Then we went.out and shut the kitchen door and hurried away. And Saturday night Eulalia got her pay and the next day she set the ceremony to bring about the marriage.

Born — Kiki Smith

Map of American Folklore

map of folklore


“Sound and Fury” — O. Henry

“Sound and Fury” by O. Henry


Mr. Penne An Author
Miss Lore An Amanuensis

Scene—Workroom of Mr. Penne’s popular novel factory.
Mr. Penne—Good morning, Miss Lore. Glad to see you so prompt. We should finish that June installment for the Epoch to-day. Leverett is crowding me for it. Are you quite ready? We will resume where we left off yesterday. (Dictates.) “Kate, with a sigh, rose from his knees, and—”

Miss Lore—Excuse me; you mean “rose from her knees,” instead of “his,” don’t you?

Mr. Penne—Er—no—”his,” if you please. It is the love scene in the garden. (Dictates.) “Rose from his knees where, blushing with youth’s bewitching coyness, she had rested for a moment after Cortland had declared his love. The hour was one of supreme and tender joy. When Kate—scene that Cortland never—”

Miss Lore—Excuse me; but wouldn’t it be more grammatical to say “when Kate saw,” instead of “seen”?

Mr. Penne—The context will explain. (Dictates.) “When Kate—scene that Cortland never forgot—came tripping across the lawn it seemed to him the fairest sight that earth had ever offered to his gaze.”

Miss Lore—Oh!

Mr. Penne (dictates)—”Kate had abandoned herself to the joy of her new-found love so completely, that no shadow of her former grief was cast upon it. Cortland, with his arm firmly entwined about her waist, knew nothing of her sighs—”

Miss Lore—Goodness! If he couldn’t tell her size with his arm around—

Mr. Penne (frowning)—”Of her sighs and tears of the previous night.”

Miss Lore—Oh!

Mr. Penne (dictates)—”To Cortland the chief charm of this girl was her look of innocence and unworldiness. Never had nun—”

Miss Lore—How about changing that to “never had any?”

Mr. Penne (emphatically)—”Never had nun in cloistered cell a face more sweet and pure.”

Miss Lore—Oh!

Mr. Penne (dictates)—”But now Kate must hasten back to the house lest her absence be discovered. After a fond farewell she turned and sped lightly away. Cortland’s gaze followed her. He watched her rise—”

Miss Lore—Excuse me, Mr. Penne; but how could he watch her eyes while her back was turned toward him?

Mr. Penne (with extreme politeness)—Possibly you would gather my meaning more intelligently if you would wait for the conclusion of the sentence. (Dictates.) “Watched her rise as gracefully as a fawn as she mounted the eastern terrace.”

Miss Lore—Oh!

Mr. Penne (dictates)—”And yet Cortland’s position was so far above that of this rustic maiden that he dreaded to consider the social upheaval that would ensue should he marry her. In no uncertain tones the traditional voices of his caste and world cried out loudly to him to let her go. What should follow—”

Miss Lore (looking up with a start)—I’m sure I can’t say, Mr. Penne. Unless (with a giggle) you would want to add “Gallegher.”

Mr. Penne (coldly)—Pardon me. I was not seeking to impose upon you the task of a collaborator. Kindly consider the question a part of the text.

Miss Lore—Oh!

Mr. Penne (dictates)—”On one side was love and Kate; on the other side his heritage of social position and family pride. Would love win? Love, that the poets tell us will last forever! (Perceives that Miss Lore looks fatigued, and looks at his watch.) That’s a good long stretch. Perhaps we’d better knock off a bit.”

(Miss Lore does not reply.)

Mr. Penne—I said, Miss Lore, we’ve been at it quite a long time— wouldn’t you like to knock off for a while?

Miss Lore—Oh! Were you addressing me before? I put what you said down. I thought it belonged in the story. It seemed to fit in all right. Oh, no; I’m not tired.

Mr. Penne—Very well, then, we will continue. (Dictates.) “In spite of these qualms and doubts, Cortland was a happy man. That night at the club he silently toasted Kate’s bright eyes in a bumper of the rarest vintage. Afterward he set out for a stroll with, as Kate on—”

Miss Lore—Excuse me, Mr. Penne, for venturing a suggestion; but don’t you think you might state that in a less coarse manner?

Mr. Penne (astounded)—Wh-wh—I’m afraid I fail to understand you.

Miss Lore—His condition. Why not say he was “full” or “intoxicated”? It would sound much more elegant than the way you express it.

Mr. Penne (still darkly wandering)—Will you kindly point out, Miss Lore, where I have intimated that Cortland was “full,” if you prefer that word?

Miss Lore (calmly consulting her stenographic notes)—It is right here, word for word. (Reads.) “Afterward he set out for a stroll with a skate on.”

Mr. Penne (with peculiar emphasis)—Ah! And now will you kindly take down the expurgated phrase? (Dictates.) “Afterward he set out for a stroll with, as Kate on one occasion had fancifully told him, her spirit leaning upon his arm.”

Miss Lore—Oh!

Mr. Penne (dictates)—Chapter thirty-four. Heading—”What Kate Found in the Garden.” “That fragrant summer morning brought gracious tasks to all. The bees were at the honeysuckle blossoms on the porch. Kate, singing a little song, was training the riotous branches of her favorite woodbine. The sun, himself, had rows—”

Miss Lore—Shall I say “had risen”?

Mr. Penne (very slowly and with desperate deliberation)—”The—sun—himself—had—rows—of—blushing—pinks—and—hollyhocks—and—hyacinths—waiting—that—he—might—dry—their—dew-drenched—cups.”

Miss Lore—Oh!

Mr. Penne (dictates)—”The earliest trolley, scattering the birds from its pathway like some marauding cat, brought Cortland over from Oldport. He had forgotten his fair—”

Miss Lore—Hm! Wonder how he got the conductor to—

Mr. Penne (very loudly)—”Forgotten his fair and roseate visions of the night in the practical light of the sober morn.”

Miss Lore—Oh!

Mr. Penne (dictates)—”He greeted her with his usual smile and manner. ‘See the waves,’ he cried, pointing to the heaving waters of the sea, ‘ever wooing and returning to the rockbound shore.'” “‘Ready to break,’ Kate said, with—”

Miss Lore—My! One evening he has his arm around her, and the next morning he’s ready to break her head! Just like a man!

Mr. Penne (with suspicious calmness)—There are times, Miss Lore, when a man becomes so far exasperated that even a woman—But suppose we finish the sentence. (Dictates.) “‘Ready to break,’ Kate said, with the thrilling look of a soul-awakened woman, ‘into foam and spray, destroying themselves upon the shore they love so well.”

Miss Lore—Oh!

Mr. Penne (dictates)—”Cortland, in Kate’s presence heard faintly the voice of caution. Thirty years had not cooled his ardor. It was in his power to bestow great gifts upon this girl. He still retained the beliefs that he had at twenty.” (To Miss Lore, wearily) I think that will be enough for the present.

Miss Lore (wisely)—Well, if he had the twenty that he believed he had, it might buy her a rather nice one.

Mr. Penne (faintly)—The last sentence was my own. We will discontinue for the day, Miss Lore.

Miss Lore—Shall I come again to-morrow?

Mr. Penne (helpless under the spell)—If you will be so good.

(Exit Miss Lore.)


“Two Queens” — Lydia Cabrera


Karel Franta’s Marvelous Fairy Tale Illustrations


My mother dropped off several boxes of books, comics, and papers I hadn’t delved into in probably 20 years—stuff I’d left at my parents’ house, intending to retrieve at some point. One book I reacquired was a Czechoslovakian folk and fairy tale collection with the nondescript name Animal Fairy Stories (retold by Alena Benesova and translated into English by Ruth Shepherd), a volume collecting over a hundred stories from all over the globe.

These stories had a tremendous impact on me as a child. Most describe a time “when the world was still young and everything was very different,” an amorphous, shifting world full of tricksters and their dupes, kings always precariously poised to fall and fail, interspecies cohabitation, and lots and lots of death. As important as these stories were in forming my reading habits and taste, the book’s illustrations by Czech artist Karel Franta had an even more profound and unsettling impact on my imagination. His strange, marvelous paintings somehow imprinted on my psyche, mixing in with the horror and joy and fascination that all those early stories entailed. Reading over a dozen animal tales with my own children last night, I was taken aback at how precisely each of Franta’s illustrations was etched into my brain, and how each image burned with its own special humor or terror or confusion or weird delight.

Below are a few of his paintings; I’ve tried to share a sampling that showcases his mix of strange pathos, unsettling humor, and dreamworld evocation.