In which I share a story of friendship (send it to ALL your best friends!)

I spend a lot of time on this blog--and in real life--with some wonderful friends.  They will totally understand this story.

If you have friends like that, don't hesitate:  send them this story!  I collected it from storyteller Diane Wolkstein's classic collection of Haitian folklore The Magic Orange Tree.

Tipingee  (Haiti)
There was a girl named Tipingee.  Her father was dead, and her stepmother was selfish.

One morning, the stepmother was cooking sweets to sell in the market and the cooking fire went out.  She had to go into the woods to get more firewood.  She walked for a long time, and came to a place where there was lots of firewood.  There was too much for her to carry, but she didn't want anyone else to know about the place.  So she stood in the middle of the forest and called out, “There is so much wood!  Who will help me carry the wood?”

A strange little old man appeared.  “I will carry the wood,” he said.  “How will you pay me?”

“I will give you something when we get to my house,” said the stepmother.

The old man carried the firewood.  When they got to the house, he said, “Now what will you give me?”

“I will give you a servant girl,” said the stepmother.  “I will give you my stepdaughter Tipingee.”

But when she said this, Tipingee and her friends were nearby, and they heard her say it. 

Then they heard her say, “Tomorrow I will send Tipingee to the well for water.  She will wear a red dress.  Call her by her name, Tipingee, and she will come to you.  Then you can take her.”

“Very well,” said the man, and he went away.

Tipingee did not want to be a servant girl.  She and her friends made a plan.

The next day, the old man went to the well.  He saw a girl in a red dress.  He saw another girl in a red dress, and another.  “Which of you is Tipingee?” asked the man.

The first girl said, “I’m Tipingee.”
The second girl said, “I’m Tipingee.”
The third girl said, “I’m Tipingee too!”

All the girls began to clap and skip and sing: 
I’m Tipingee, she’s Tipingee, we’re Tipingee too!
            I’m Tipingee, she’s Tipingee, we’re Tipingee too!

Rah!  The old man went back to the stepmother.  “You tricked me.  All the girls at the well were wearing red.  They each said they were Tipingee.”

The stepmother tried again.  “Tomorrow she will wear a black dress.  Then you will find her.  The girl in the black dress will be Tipingee.  Call her and take her.”

But Tipingee and her friends heard what the stepmother said.  They made a plan.

When the old man went to the well the next day, he saw one girl in a black dress.  He saw a second girl and a third girl in a black dress.  “Which of you is Tipingee?” asked the man.

The first girl said, “I’m Tipingee.”
The second girl said, “I’m Tipingee.”
The third girl said, “I’m Tipingee too!”

And all the girls began to clap and skip and sing: 
I’m Tipingee, she’s Tipingee, we’re Tipingee too!
            I’m Tipingee, she’s Tipingee, we’re Tipingee too!

Rah!  The man was getting angry.  He went to the stepmother and said, “You promised to pay me.  You tell me to take Tipingee and everyone here is Tipingee, Tipingee, Tipingee.  If this happens again, I will come and take you for my servant.

The stepmother told him to go to the well the next day and call for Tipingee.  And again, Tipingee and her friends made a plan.

The old man went to the well.  He saw one girl, a second girl, a third girl.  “Which of you is Tipingee?” asked the man.

The first girl said, “I’m Tipingee.”
The second girl said, “I’m Tipingee.”
The third girl said, “I’m Tipingee too!”

“WHICH OF YOU IS TIPINGEE?” the old man shouted.

But all the girls began to clap and skip and sing: 
I’m Tipingee, she’s Tipingee, we’re Tipingee too!
            I’m Tipingee, she’s Tipingee, we’re Tipingee too!

The old man knew he would never find Tipingee. 

He went to the stepmother and took her away. 

After that, Tipingee lived in her own house, and she was happy.




A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.

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