Ti Jean was a very cunning young man. Because of his common sense, he had won a castle and many acres of land from the Devil. One day as he was passing near the Devil’s castle, he saw the Devil’s daughter combing her hair at the window. So beautiful was the young lady that Ti Jean fell in love with her.
Several days later, he saw the Devil sitting in the shade of a tree at the roadside. Ti Jean approached him. He told the Devil, "Mr Devil sir, I saw your beautiful daughter, I love her dearly and wish to marry her." The Devil looked carefully at the young man, then said, "No man shall marry my daughter until he proves that he is much smarter than I am. I will give you two tasks, and if you can fulfil them, then you shall marry my daughter." Ti Jean accepted the challenge. He replied, "That I am willing to try, Mr Devil."
The next morning, the Devil took Ti Jean to a large plot of land in the forest. Looking at the young man, the Devil said, "My first task for you is this, I want you to chop down all these trees, clear the land and plant it through with plantain plants. By the end of today, the plants must grow and bear fruits, which must become ripe, and when you are returning to my castle this evening, you bring me the best bunch of ripe plantains from that garden."
Ti Jean wondered and worried as the Devil left. In a while, he sat down with tears in his eyes for he knew that such a task was impossible for him to achieve. It was midday when the Devil’s daughter brought him a bowl of soup for his lunch. The beautiful daughter asked him, "Why are you crying Ti Jean? Can’t you do such a simple task?" Ti Jean answered, "I will surely fail and I'll be put into your father’s prison forever."
She soon gave him the soup, and as he drank, she sang him a soothing song. Having finished the soup, he put down the bowl and fell fast asleep beneath the tree. The sun was already setting behind the trees when Ti Jean was awakened by a loud hum of bees. When he looked around he could not believe, for as far as he could have seen, there were plantain trees instead of forest trees. Huge bunches of plantain were all around which attracted the bees. The beautiful daughter had miraculously performed the task for him.
Happily, Ti Jean took the bunch of ripe plantains to the Devil. He could not believe, and so he hurried down to the garden of plantains. He smiled as he looked around in disbelief. He patted Ti Jean on the shoulder. He said, "Very good, my man, tomorrow I shall give you another task to further prove your worth to marry my daughter."
The next morning, The Devil called Ti Jean and gave him a saw. He ordered, "Here, my good man, take this saw and go down to the river and saw the water into boards. If you can accomplish this task, then you deserve to have my daughter in marriage."
Ti Jean went down to the river. He took the saw and tried to saw the water into boards. Several times over he tried but failed. At length, he cried himself to sleep under the tree. When it was lunchtime, the Devil’s daughter brought his lunch. She awakened him from his sleep, and as she offered him the lunch, she whispered a secret plan in his ear and ran away. As soon as he was finished eating, he recalled the secret plan, which she whispered in his ear. He hastened to the Devil at his castle. He said to the Devil,
"Mr Devil sir, I have made thousands of boards for you. The boards are too hard and heavy. If you will now make me a soft pad out of smoke, I will put that pad of smoke on my head to cushion the load of boards so I can bring them to you." The Devil lit a big fire of dried wood in his backyard. As it smoked, he danced about in the cloud of smoke, trying to catch the smoke to make the pad. He tried several times over but failed. Having failed, he grew into a fit of anger, as he shouted to Ti Jean,
"You fool! How do you expect me to make a pad out of smoke when I cannot even catch the smoke?"
"Very well, Mr Devil," smiled the cunning Ti Jean. "If you cannot make a pad out of smoke, then how do you expect me to make boards out of water?" The seemingly confused Devil paused thoughtfully, then smiled with Ti Jean, as he nodded his head in approval. He said, "I now see that you are a very smart young man and deserve my daughter’s hand in marriage." And so, Ti Jean and the Devil’s beautiful daughter were happily married. They both went to live in the castle which Ti Jean had won from the Devil some time before. The Devil smiled, "You both go live in your own castle, for two smart men cannot live in the same house."
As you enjoy the Carnival celebrations, you can look out for the many portrayals of The Devil as presented in blue, black or red in our Traditional Mas on stage and street parades, in our cities, towns and villages throughout our country. It is a part of preserving our natural and cultural heritage. We wish you all our fans and readers a happy, enjoyable and safe Carnival.