The Soap Tale

Collected by Emory L. Hamilton
Wise, Virginia

From Mrs. Belle Kilgore, Mt. View, September 9, 1940

Reprinted in
AppLit with permission from the James Taylor Adams Collection
U of Virginia's College at Wise/Blue Ridge Institute of Ferrum College

NOTE:  This text was recopied directly from a typewritten copy in the archives of the Blue Ridge Institute. James Taylor Adams (1892-1954) kept typewritten copies of the folktales he and others collected during the last thirty years of his life, while he lived in Wise County, VA. A few words have been inserted in square brackets where words seem to be missing in the typescript, which also contains the irregularities in punctuation retained here. Note that this version of the tale contains some crude language and an abrupt ending that does not show the boy's return home to his mother with the soap (unlike Richard Chase's published version and Tom Birdseye's picture book adaptation, for example). For another version, see "The Boy Who Was Sent for Soap." For more details on other variants of this tale, see "Soap, Soap Soap."


    "One time a woman was fixing to wash and didn't have any soap. She had a little boy that was very forgetful and she called him in and told him to go to a neighbor's house and borrow her some soap, and if the neighbor didn't have any to go on to the store and buy some. She told him to be sure he didn't forget what she was sending him after and told him to say soap all the way. Well, off he run saying, 'soap, soap, soap' and he hadn't gone far till he forgot what is was she told him to get. He sat down in the road and commenced crying. He sat there crying and snubbing till a man come along driving a pig. He asked what was the matter several times and the boy didn't answer, just kept bawling. He told him, 'If you don't tell me what's the matter I'll thrash the hide off you.' He started up to the boy and the bank was muddy and he slipped and fell. 'Ah, slick as soap,' he said. That made the boy think and he jumped up saying, 'soap, soap, soap.' The man thought he was making fun of him and he whipped him and told him to say, 'I'm sorry I did it, I won't do it again.'

     Off he run saying, 'I'm sorry I did it, I won't do it again, I'm sorry I did it, I won't do it again.' He run up where an old woman had fallen into the ditch and he helped her out saying, 'I'm sorry I did it, I won't do it again.' The old woman boxed his ears, shoved him in the ditch and told him to say, 'One out, t'other in.' He picked himself up and started off saying, 'one out, t'other in, one out, t'other in,' till he met a one eyed man coming up the road. He run up to old one eye and said, 'one out, t'other in, one out, t'other in.' One eye thought he was making fun of him and boxed his ears and told him to say, 'One in, hope the other's in,' So off he run saying, 'one in, hope the other's in,' till he come to [a woman]washing on the river bank and one of her children had fallen in and the other was standing on the bank watching while the mother was trying to fish the other out. The forgotful [or forgetful] boy ran up saying, 'one in, hope other's in, one in, hope other's in.' The angry mother boxed his ears and told him to say, 'one's out, hope other's out.' So off he run saying, 'one's out, hope other's out, one's out, hope other's out;  till he come to where a man was trying to get up two hogs. He had one in the pen but was having difficulty getting the other in. The boy run up saying, 'One's out, hope other's out, one's out, hope other's out.' The man thought he was poking fun at him and he thrashed the boy and told him to say, 'one's in, hope other's in.' Away he run saying one's in, hope other's in' till he come to where a man was trying to get a dog out of a crate to hang it. He had one dog out but the other was giving trouble. Up run the boy saying, ' one's in, hope the other's in, one's in, hope the others in.' This man flew mad and give him another thrashing and told him to say, 'bitch and sonofabitch going to be hung.' Away he run saying, "bitch and sonofabitch going to be hung.' He met a couple going to be married and he ran up saying, 'bitch and a sonofabitch going to be hung, bitch and a sonofabitch going to be hung.'  He got another walloping and was told to say, 'man going to cut his throat.' Away he run saying, 'man going to cut his throat, man going to cut his throat,' and he ran into a barber shop where a man was getting a shave, saying, 'man going to get his throat cut.' The fellow jumped up and saw the boy with his face all black from crying and said, 'Give that boy some soap and water to wash that black face.' Out the boy ran saying, 'soap, soap, soap,' on his way to borrow some soap.

Replace Copy Made By the Blue Ridge Institute to Replace Unstable Original 
April, 1991          
[JTA-2326]


This page created 11/6/01   |   Last update 9/17/09

Fiction and Poetry Index
AppLit Home

Site Index