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The tale of La Diablesse [VIDEO]

They say this story is about a woman ’cause woman know how to get things done. They say this story about a man and how men are the stupidest creatures on the planet. As to who am I? Well, don’t worry about that. They say I am in the details.

A woman with gloved hands and a dazzling black dress sat before a vanity. Her head hung low as she cried into her hands.

“Oh, stop your crying!” said the Devil. “You knew  the cost when you came knocking on my door begging for eternal youth and beauty. And I explained to you the consequences of not doing my bidding. So stop your crying and get to work.”

Just before setting her wide-brimmed hat on her head, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Her skin was pale like death and scaled like a fish. She had eyes like burning coals. The woman in the beautiful dress was ugly — nay, she was terrifying.

The elders in the community called her Lajabless. A creole translation of the French word La Diablesse which meant female devil.

According to them, Lajabless used to be beautiful but her many deals with the Devil caused her to be a slave to the Devil. See, beneath that beautiful dress with the high split, she had one good leg and one leg that ended with a cow’s hoof.

In exchange for eternal youth and beauty, Lajabless needed to provide the Devil with a regular supply of souls. If she didn’t, she would transform into a demon. She’d held out as long as she could, but it was time to make another human sacrifice.

The Friday sun was finally letting up as the day changed from afternoon to evening. Joseph had just finished working a long week in the sugar cane fields.

He wanted to celebrate his earnings by going out drinking with his friends. His wife, with their new baby, begged him to come straight home. She didn’t want him blowing his entire pay on booze and loose women like the typical island man.

“Yeah. Yeah. Every man does wake up wanting to be faithful, but they pants and morals does loosen up when liquor start flowing,” warned Carmencita.

“Just be happy nuh, Cita? Look, I’ll tell you what, come down to the bar for a drink and we’ll go home together. We used to have so much fun going out.”

“And who goin’ watch the baby? Sometimes you don’t think nuh, Joseph.”

Joseph had the entire day to decide. He chose to go drinking with his friends. When he got to the bar, he immediately noticed the curvaceous bartender with the wide-brimmed hat and dazzling black dress.”

“Brethren, today I is a man with money! Let we drink to the sugar cane fields and to the great salt pond for giving us work. ‘Cause of them we can put johnnycakes and saltfish pon we tables.” The bar filled with people cheered at Joseph’s toast.

“Foolish man.” whispered the beautiful bartender.

“Sorry, what?” asked Joseph.
“You come here with yuh whole pay and announce it. Indeed, a fool and his money are soon parted.”

“You come here with yuh whole pay and announce it. Indeed, a fool and his money are soon parted.”

Joseph, who had already started drinking before even reaching the bar, declared that he was not a fool. To prove it, he challenged the bartender to offer him riddles like Samson from the Bible.

“If you even knew how Samson’s story ended, you would hush up and go home.”

“Ask me a riddle! Nuh, man”

Joseph’s friends encouraged him to make the deal more interesting. For every riddle he answered incorrectly, he had to take a shot of rum.The bartender agreed only if he paid for those shots. The plan was made, and the bartender fired off the first riddle.

“Here’s one for the man with so much money. Riddle me this, why is every river rich?” Joseph had no answer and was forced to drink and pay for the shots.

“Because they have two banks!” shouted Hubert, Joseph’s friend.

“Shh, don’t tell him,” said onlookers.

“Here’s one for yuh big fancy job. Sweet water stand up. What am I?

“Ice!” exclaimed Joseph.

“Wrong! You sure you from here?” asked Hubert. “Man you was ‘round sugarcane all day, and you got that one wrong! Should be ‘shamed.”

“All you cheating. But where you find these riddles. I born here and ain’t never heard these.”

“I bet he also ain’t never heard of Lajabless, the she-devil” challenged Hubert.

“Lajabless?” asked Joseph.

Hubert downed another shot in preparation to tell the tale. “Yes, Lajabless poses as a damsel in distress, waiting for men to stop and offer assistance. She then leads her victims deep into the bushes where she’d disappear into mist.

The drunk, confused, and scared men would then run around the overgrown bushes and trees screaming for help. Unfortunately, most of them ended up falling into the ravine where they drowned or got eaten by the Devil’s wild dogs.”

The bartender seethed, “That’s an old wives tale. You really going to believe silly folklore? Get out of here, Joseph. You’ve had enough to drink.”

“Silly folklore or not, all I know is that I always leave here with my clothes wrong side out and she ain’t never bothered me.” said Hubert.

The bartender concealed her temper and offered Joseph one more drink for the road. “Old man Hubert ain’t never seen Lajabless but swears she’s real. Don’t be no tebbe turning your clothes inside out. Just walk off the booze and go home to your wife and baby.”

A very intoxicated Joseph stumbled out of the bar and started making his way home. A ways up where Joseph couldn’t yet see, Lajabless walked with her good foot on the road.

Her cow’s hoof stayed hidden under her skirt and off to the grassy side of the road that led to the overgrown bushes. Joseph sang as he zig-zagged down the dirt road.

“Thirty-six bottles of rum on the wall. Thirty-six bottles of rum. If one of those bottles should happen to fall,” he hiccupped. “I’d have thirty—um, thirty,” he hiccupped again. “I wonder if it guavaberry rum? Yum. They shouldn’t be letting good rum fall from a wall so reckless.”

Joseph imagined himself catching falling bottles of guavaberry rum. Woops, he tripped over a rock and rolled to the side of the road. “You okay?” asked a deliciously sweet voice. She used her skirt’s high slit to arouse lust in his heart.

Joseph opened his eyes to see the beautiful bartender. “Hey, you’re from the bar. How’d you get way out here? And you have a twin?” He rubbed his head.

“You drunk bad and seeing double, Joseph. I is just one. Come walk me home.” She reached down to help him up. Like at the bar, she kept her head pointed low so that the wide brim of her hat kept her face concealed.
Joseph wasn’t too worried about her face, he was seduced by her bosom and dangerously high split that revealed a luscious and well-toned leg.

“Yes. I can walk you. Where yuh live?”

“Oh, just through dem tall trees. It’s dark, but with you it goin’ be less scary.” As they entered deep enough into the bushes, the point where the dirt road was no longer visible, Lajabless laughed as she turned into mist.

As they entered deep enough into the bushes, the point where the dirt road was no longer visible, Lajabless laughed as she turned into mist.

Muahahaha so this story goes but who knows maybe you’ll come work for me one day. Hopefully, you’re not stupid that way. Muahahaha

Caribbean stories | Caribbean folklore | Caribbean legends | ghost stories | audio drama

The Soualichi Stories series is presented by the Foresee Foundation and funded by the Prins Bernard Culture Fund. The Soualichi Stories series includes some of the Caribbean’s most beloved legends as told by some exceptional St. Maarten storytellers. This story is a depiction taken from the first national intangible culture heritage inventory of St Maarten. It is written and read by Onicia Muller.

By Onicia Muller

Award-winning Caribbean comedian, Onicia Muller’s weekly humour column, Just Being Funny is chicken soup for the naive sceptic’s soul. You can hire her to write anything from blogs and newsletters to (bathroom poetry) funny greeting cards. Join her newsletter for funny stories and stand-up comedy. www.OniciaMuller.com