THE HAIRY WOMAN

Collected by James Taylor Adams
Big Laurel, Virginia

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

NOTES:  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. No editorial changes have been made in Adams' manuscript. 

Note that this tale has a cruel and brutal ending. In the tradition of the Robinsonnade (stories about people stranded on islands like Daniel Defoe's eighteenth-century hero Robinson Crusoe), the hero finds a "savage" companion but chooses to return to his home and "his own sort of people." Which character do you think is more cruel or savage in the end, the father or the mother?


       Told me August 19, 1940, by Samuel Simpson Adams. He learned it from his father, Spencer Adams, about eighty years ago.


       One time there was a ship wrecked and everybody on it was drowned except one man. He swam to a little island and saved hisself.

       He built hisself a little hut and lived there keeping close watch out for a ship that might come near enough for him to call to.

        One day he looked out and seed a hairy woman standing behind a tree peeping around at him. He kept right still and she kept coming a little closer and closer. Finally he motioned to her to come to him, but she run off in the woods. The next day she come back and he let her get up pretty close again and then motioned for her to come to him. But she run off again.

       The next day when she come back and he motioned to her she just run off a little piece and stayed awhile and come back. She had some meat with her that time and she throwed him a piece. He took it and built a fire and broiled it and throwed her a piece. She picked it up and smelt of it and throwed it down. Bit off a piece of the raw meat and throwed him another piece. He kept on, broiling it and throwing her little pieces of it until she at last tasted of it. She frowned and spit it out, but he kept on until finally he got her to eating the broiled meat.

       At last she ventured up to the hut and they would make motions to one another instead of talking. All she could do was make some jabbering noise.

       So they lived together there and she would go off in the woods and come back with a deer. She had great long claws for finger nails and she'd catch these in the deer and rip it open and tear it up into little pieces and he would broil it and they would eat it.

        It went on for about a year and she had a baby. Half of the baby was hairy like her and the other half like him. And they lived on there until the baby was about six months old and then one day he saw a ship and he waved his arms and hollered till he got them to notice him and they sent a boat with some men in it to see who it was and what they wanted.

       This was his first and would probably be his last chance to ever get away from that island and back home. He hated to leave the hairy woman for he had learned to love her and he loved the baby. But he knew he couldn't take either one of them with her.

       He made motions to her to tell her he was going away and she cried and held to him until he got in the boat. They just had to tear her loose from him. Then as the boat started off to the ship she stood on the bank and motioned to him to come back and cried and wrung her hands. She grabbed up their baby and held it up and motioned to it like she meant for him to come back and stay with her for its sake. But he shook his head to show her he couldn't stay with her but had to go with his own sort of people. Then she give one loud scream and taking hold of the baby head and feet she tore it in two and throwed the piece that was like him after him and the last he seen of her she was going back toward their hut with the piece of the baby that was hairy like her hugged up to her breast.

Replace Copy Made By the Blue Ridge Institute to Replace Unstable Original 
April, 1991          
[JTA-101]


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