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Nights With Uncle Remus - Myths and Legends of the Old Plantation
by Joel Chandler Harris
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"Co'se, dis make Brer Rabbit feel monst'us biggity, en he 'low ter hisse'f dat he 'speck he better drap 'roun' en skummish in de neighborhoods er Brer Fox house. En w'iles he wuz stannin' dar runnin' dis 'roun' in he min', yer come old Brer B'ar en all er he fambly. Brer Rabbit, he git crossways de road, he did, en he sorter sidle todes um. Ole Brer B'ar, he stop en look, but Brer Rabbit, he keep on sidlin' todes um. Ole Miss B'ar, she stan' it long ez she kin, en den she fling down 'er parrysol en tuck a tree. Brer B'ar look lak he gwine ter stan' his groun', but Brer Rabbit he jump straight up in de a'r en gin hisse'f a shake, en, bless yo' soul, honey! ole Brer B'ar make a break, en dey tells me he to' down a whole panel er fence gittin' 'way fum dar. En ez ter Kubs en Klibs, dey tuck der hats in der han's, en dey went skaddlin' thoo de bushes des same ez a drove er hosses."

"And then what?" the little boy asked.

"Brer Rabbit p'raded on down de road," continued Uncle Remus, "en bimeby yer come Brer Fox en Brer Wolf, fixin' up a plan fer ter nab Brer Rabbit, en dey wuz so intents on der confab dat dey got right on Brer Rabbit 'fo' dey seed 'im; but, gentermens! w'en dey is ketch a glimpse un 'im, dey gun 'im all de room he want. Brer Wolf, he try ter show off, he did, kase he wanter play big 'fo' Brer Fox, en he stop en ax Brer Rabbit who is he. Brer Rabbit, he jump up en down in de middle er de road, en holler out:

"'I'm de Wull-er-de-Wust.[5] I'm de Wull-er-de-Wust, en youer de man I'm atter!'

"Den Brer Rabbit jump up en down en make lak he gwine atter Brer Fox en Brer Wolf, en de way dem creeturs lit out fum dar wuz a caution.

"Long time atter dat," continued Uncle Remus, folding his hands placidly in his lap, with the air of one who has performed a pleasant duty,—"long time atter dat, Brer Rabbit come up wid Brer Fox en Brer Wolf, en he git behime a stump, Brer Rabbit did, en holler out:

"'I'm de Wull-er-de-Wust, en youer de mens I'm atter!'

"Brer Fox en Brer Wolf, dey broke, but 'fo' dey got outer sight en outer yar'n', Brer Rabbit show hisse'f, he did, en laugh fit ter kill hisse'f. Atterwuds, Miss Meadows she year 'bout it, en de nex' time Brer Fox call, de gals dey up en giggle, en ax 'im ef he aint feard de Wull-er-de-Wust mought drap in."

——————————————————————————————————— FOOTNOTE:

[5] Or Wull-er-de-Wuts. Probably a fantastic corruption of "will-o'-the-wisp," though this is not by any means certain. ———————————————————————————————————



VI

BROTHER RABBIT SECURES A MANSION

The rain continued to fall the next day, but the little boy made arrangements to go with 'Tildy when she carried Uncle Remus his supper. This happened to be a waiter full of things left over from dinner. There was so much that the old man was moved to remark:

"I cl'ar ter gracious, hit look lak Miss Sally done got my name in de pot dis time, sho'. I des wish you look at dat pone er co'n-bread, honey, en dem ar greens, en see ef dey aint got Remus writ some'rs on um. Dat ar chick'n fixin's, dey look lak deyer good, yet 'taint familious wid me lak dat ar bile ham. Dem ar sweet-taters, dey stan's fa'r fer dividjun, but dem ar puzzuv,[6] I lay dey fit yo' palate mo' samer dan dey does mine. Dish yer hunk er beef, we kin talk 'bout dat w'en de time come, en dem ar biscuits, I des nat'ally knows Miss Sally put um in dar fer some little chap w'ich his name I aint gwine ter call in comp'ny."

It was easy to perceive that the sight of the supper had put Uncle Remus in rare good-humor. He moved around briskly, taking the plates from the waiter and distributing them with exaggerated carefulness around upon his little pine table. Meanwhile he kept up a running fire of conversation.

"Folks w'at kin set down en have der vittles brung en put down right spang und' der nose—dem kinder folks aint got no needs er no umbrell. Night 'fo' las', w'iles I wuz settin' dar in de do', I year dem Willis-whistlers, en den I des knowed we 'uz gwine ter git a season."[7]

"The Willis-whistlers, Uncle Remus," exclaimed the little boy. "What are they?"

"Youer too hard fer me now, honey. Dat w'at I knows I don't min' tellin', but w'en you axes me 'bout dat w'at I dunno, den youer too hard fer me, sho'. Deze yer Willis-whistlers, dey bangs my time, en I bin knockin' 'roun' in dish yer low-groun' now gwine on eighty year. Some folks wanter make out deyer frogs, yit I wish dey p'int out unter me how frogs kin holler so dat de nigher you come t'um, de furder you is off; I be mighty glad ef some un 'ud come 'long en tell me dat. Many en many's de time is I gone atter deze yer Willis-whistlers, en, no diffunce whar I goes, deyer allers off yander. You kin put de shovel in de fier en make de squinch-owl hush he fuss, en you kin go out en put yo' han' on de trees en make deze yere locus'-bugs quit der racket, but dem ar Willis-whistlers deyer allers 'way off yander."[8]

Suddenly Uncle Remus paused over one of the dishes, and exclaimed:

"Gracious en de goodness! W'at kinder doin's is dis Miss Sally done gone sont us?"

"That," said the little boy, after making an investigation, "is what mamma calls a floating island."

"Well, den," Uncle Remus remarked, in a relieved tone, "dat 's diffunt. I wuz mos' fear'd it 'uz some er dat ar sillerbug, w'ich a whole jugful aint ska'cely 'nuff fer ter make you seem like you dremp 'bout smellin' dram. Ef I'm gwine ter be fed on foam," continued the old man, by way of explaining his position on the subject of syllabub, "let it be foam, en ef I'm gwine ter git dram, lemme git in reach un it w'ile she got some strenk lef'. Dat 's me up an down. W'en it come ter yo' floatin' ilun, des gimme a hunk er ginger-cake en a mug er 'simmon-beer, en dey won't fine no nigger w'ats got no slicker feelin's dan w'at I is.

"Miss Sally mighty kuse w'ite 'oman," Uncle Remus went on. "She sendin' all deze doin's en fixin's down yer, en I 'speck deyer monst'us nice, but no longer'n las' Chuseday she had all de niggers on de place, big en little, gwine squallin' 'roun' fer Remus. Hit 'uz Remus yer en Remus dar, en, lo en beholes, w'en I come ter fine out, Miss Sally want Remus fer ter whirl in en cook 'er one er deze yer ole-time ash-cakes. She bleedzd ter have it den en dar; en w'en I git it done, Miss Sally, she got a glass er buttermilk, en tuck'n sot right flat down on de flo', des like she useter w'en she wuz little gal." The old man paused, straightened up, looked at the child over his spectacles, and continued, with emphasis: "En I be bless ef she aint eat a hunk er dat ash-cake mighty nigh ez big ez yo' head, en den she tuck'n make out 't wa'n't cook right.

"Now, den, honey, all deze done fix. You set over dar, and I'll set over yer, en 'twix' en 'tween us we'll sample dish yer truck en see w'at is it Miss Sally done gone en sont us; en w'iles we er makin' 'way wid it, I'll sorter rustle 'roun' wid my 'membunce, en see ef I kin call ter min' de tale 'bout how ole Brer Rabbit got 'im a two-story house widout layin' out much cash."

Uncle Remus stopped talking a little while and pretended to be trying to remember something,—an effort that was accompanied by a curious humming sound in his throat. Finally, he brightened up and began:

"Hit tu'n out one time dat a whole lot er de creeturs tuck a notion dat dey'd go in coboots wid buil'n' un um a house. Ole Brer B'ar, he was 'mongs' um, en Brer Fox, en Brer Wolf, en Brer 'Coon, en Brer 'Possum. I won't make sho', but it seem like ter me dat plum down ter ole Brer Mink 'uz 'mongs' um. Leas'ways, dey wuz a whole passel un um, en dey whirl in, dey did, en dey buil' de house in less'n no time. Brer Rabbit, he make lak it make he head swim fer ter climb up on de scaffle, en likewise he say it make 'im ketch de palsy fer ter wuk in de sun, but he got 'im a squar', en he stuck a pencil behime he year, en he went 'roun' medjun[9] en markin'—medjun en markin'—en he wuz dat busy dat de yuther creeturs say ter deyse'f he doin' monst'us sight er wuk, en folks gwine 'long de big road say Brer Rabbit doin' mo' hard wuk dan de whole kit en bilin' un um. Yit all de time Brer Rabbit aint doin' nothin', en he des well bin layin' off in de shade scratchin' de fleas off'n 'im. De yuther creeturs, dey buil' de house, en, gentermens! she 'uz a fine un, too, mon. She'd 'a' bin a fine un deze days, let 'lone dem days. She had er upsta'rs en downsta'rs, en chimbleys all 'roun', en she had rooms fer all de creeturs w'at went inter cahoots en hope make it.

"Brer Rabbit, he pick out one er de upsta'rs rooms, en he tuck'n' got 'im a gun, en one er deze yer brass cannons, en he tuck'n' put um in dar w'en de yuther creeturs aint lookin', en den he tuck'n' got 'im a tub er nasty slop-water, w'ich likewise he put in dar w'en dey aint lookin'. So den, w'en dey git de house all fix, en w'iles dey wuz all a-settin' in de parlor atter supper, Brer Rabbit, he sorter gap en stretch hisse'f, en make his 'skuses en say he b'leeve he'll go ter he room. W'en he git dar, en w'iles all de yuther creeturs wuz a-laughin' en a-chattin' des ez sociable ez you please, Brer Rabbit, he stick he head out er de do' er he room en sing out:

"'W'en a big man like me wanter set down, wharbouts he gwine ter set?' sezee.

"Den de yuther creeturs dey laugh, en holler back:

"'Ef big man like you can't set in a cheer, he better set down on de flo'.'

"'Watch out down dar, den,' sez ole Brer Rabbit, sezee. 'Kaze I'm a gwine ter set down,' sezee.

"Wid dat, bang! went Brer Rabbit gun. Co'se, dis sorter 'stonish de creeturs, en dey look 'roun' at one er n'er much ez ter say, W'at in de name er gracious is dat? Dey lissen en lissen, but dey don't year no mo' fuss, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' dey got ter chattin' en jabberin' some mo'. Bimeby, Brer Rabbit stick he head outer he room do', en sing out:

"'W'en a big man like me wanter sneeze, wharbouts he gwine ter sneeze at?'

"Den de yuther creeturs, dey tuck'n holler back:

"'Ef big man like you aint a-gone gump, he kin sneeze anywhar he please.'

"'Watch out down dar, den,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee. 'Kaze I'm gwine ter tu'n loose en sneeze right yer,' sezee.

"Wid dat, Brer Rabbit let off his cannon—bulderum-m-m! De winder-glass dey shuck en rattle, en de house shuck like she gwine ter come down, en ole Brer B'ar, he fell out de rockin'-cheer—kerblump! W'en de creeturs git sorter settle, Brer 'Possum en Brer Mink, dey up'n 'low dat Brer Rabbit got sech a monst'us bad cole, dey b'leeve dey'll step out and git some fresh a'r, but dem yuther creeturs, dey say dey gwine ter stick it out; en atter w'ile, w'en dey git der h'ar smoove down, dey 'gun ter jower 'mongs' deyse'f. 'Bout dat time, w'en dey get in a good way, Brer Rabbit, he sing out:

"'W'en a big man like me take a chaw terbacker, wharbouts he gwine ter spit?'

"Den de yuther creeturs, dey holler back, dey did, sorter like deyer mad:

"'Big man er little man, spit whar you please.'

"Den Brer Rabbit, he squall out:

"'Dis de way a big man spit!' en wid dat he tilt over de tub er slop-water, en w'en de yuther creeturs year it come a-sloshin' down de sta'r-steps, gentermens! dey des histed deyse'f outer dar. Some un um went out de back do', en some un um went out de front do', en some un um fell out de winders; some went one way en some went n'er way; but dey all went sailin' out."

"But what became of Brother Rabbit?" the little boy asked.

"Brer Rabbit, he des tuck'n shot up de house en fassen de winders, en den he got ter bed, he did, en pull de coverled up 'roun' he years, en he sleep like a man w'at aint owe nobody nuthin'; en needer do he owe um, kaze ef dem yuther creeturs gwine git skeer'd en run off fum der own house, w'at bizness is dat er Brer Rabbit? Dat w'at I like ter know."

——————————————————————————————————— FOOTNOTES:

[6] Preserves.

[7] In the South, a rain is called a "season," not only by the negroes, but by many white farmers.

[8] It is a far-away sound that might be identified with one of the various undertones of silence, but it is palpable enough (if the word may be used) to have attracted the attention of the humble philosophers of the old plantation.

[9] Measuring. ———————————————————————————————————



VII

MR. LION HUNTS FOR MR. MAN

Uncle Remus sighed heavily as he lifted the trivet on the head of his walking-cane, and hung it carefully by the side of the griddle in the cavernous fireplace.

"Folks kin come 'long wid der watchermaycollums," he said presently, turning to the little boy, who was supplementing his supper by biting off a chew of shoemaker's-wax, "en likewise dey kin fetch 'roun' der watziznames. Dey kin walk biggity, en dey kin talk biggity, en mo'n dat, dey kin feel biggity, but yit all de same deyer gwine ter git kotch up wid. Dey go 'long en dey go 'long, en den bimeby yer come trouble en snatch um slonchways, en de mo' bigger w'at dey is, de wusser does dey git snatched."

The little boy did n't understand this harangue at all, but he appreciated it because he recognized it as the prelude to a story.

"Dar wuz Mr. Lion," Uncle Remus went on; "he tuck'n sot hisse'f up fer ter be de boss er all de yuther creeturs, en he feel so biggity dat he go ro'in' en rampin' 'roun' de neighborhoods wuss'n dat ar speckle bull w'at you see down at yo' Unk' Jeems Abercrombie place las' year. He went ro'in' 'roun', he did, en eve'ywhar he go he year talk er Mr. Man. Right in de middle er he braggin', some un 'ud up'n tell 'im 'bout w'at Mr. Man done done. Mr. Lion, he say he done dis, en den he year 'bout how Mr. Man done dat. Hit went on dis a-way twel bimeby Mr. Lion shake he mane, he did, en he up'n say dat he gwine ter s'arch 'roun' en 'roun', en high en low, fer ter see ef he can't fine Mr. Man, en he 'low, Mr. Lion did, dat w'en he do fine 'im, he gwine ter tu'n in en gin Mr. Man sech n'er larrupin' w'at nobody aint never had yit. Dem yuther creeturs, dey tuck'n tell Mr. Lion dat he better let Mr. Man 'lone, but Mr. Lion say he gwine ter hunt 'im down spite er all dey kin do.

"Sho' nuff, atter he done tuck some res', Mr. Lion, he put out down de big road. Sun, she rise up en shine hot, but Mr. Lion, he keep on; win', hit come up en blow, en fill de elements full er dust; rain, hit drif' up en drizzle down; but Mr. Lion, he keep on. Bimeby, w'iles he gwine on dis a-way, wid he tongue hangin' out, he come up wid Mr. Steer, grazin' 'long on de side er de road. Mr. Lion, he up'n ax 'im howdy, he did, monst'us perlite, en Mr. Steer likewise he bow en scrape en show his manners. Den Mr. Lion, he do lak he wanter have some confab wid 'im, en he up'n say, sezee:

"'Is dey anybody 'roun' in deze parts name Mr. Man?' sezee.

"'Tooby sho' dey is,' sez Mr. Steer, sezee; 'anybody kin tell you dat. I knows 'im mighty well,' sezee.

"'Well, den, he de ve'y chap I'm atter,' sezee.

"'W'at mought be yo' bizness wid Mr. Man?' sez Mr. Steer, sezee.

"'I done come dis long ways fer ter gin 'im a larrupin',' sez Mr. Lion, sezee. 'I'm gwine ter show 'im who de boss er deze neighborhoods,' sezee, en wid dat Mr. Lion, he shake he mane, en switch he tail, en strut up en down wuss'n one er deze yer town niggers.

"'Well, den, ef dat w'at you come atter,' sez Mr. Steer, sezee, 'you des better slew yo'se'f 'roun' en p'int yo' nose todes home, kaze you fixin' fer ter git in sho' 'nuff trouble,' sezee.

"'I'm gwine ter larrup dat same Mr. Man,' sez Mr. Lion, sezee; 'I done come fer dat, en dat w'at I'm gwine ter do,' sezee.

"Mr. Steer, he draw long breff, he did, en chaw he cud slow, en atter w'ile he say, sezee:

"'You see me stannin' yer front er yo' eyes, en you see how big I is, en w'at long, sharp hawns I got. Well, big ez my heft is, en sharp dough my hawns be, yit Mr. Man, he come out yer en he ketch me, en he put me und' a yoke, en he hitch me up in a kyart, en he make me haul he wood, en he drive me anywhar he min' ter. He do dat. Better let Mr. Man 'lone,' sezee. 'If you fool 'long wid 'im, watch out dat he don't hitch you up en have you prancin' 'roun' yer pullin' he kyart,' sezee.

"Mr. Lion, he fotch a roar, en put out down de road, en 't wa'n't so mighty long 'fo' he come up wid Mr. Hoss, w'ich he wuz a-nibblin' en a-croppin' de grass. Mr. Lion make hisse'f know'd, en den he tuck'n ax Mr. Hoss do he know Mr. Man.

"'Mighty well,' sez Mr. Hoss, sezee, 'en mo'n dat, I bin a-knowin' 'im a long time. W'at you want wid Mr. Man?' sezee.

"'I'm a-huntin' 'im up fer ter larrup 'im,' sez Mr. Lion, sezee. 'Dey tells me he mighty stuck up,' sezee, 'en I gwine take 'im down a peg,' sezee.

"Mr. Hoss look at Mr. Lion like he sorry, en bimeby he up'n say:

"'I 'speck you better let Mr. Man 'lone,' sezee. 'You see how big I is, en how much strenk w'at I got, en how tough my foots is,' sezee; 'well dish yer Mr. Man, he kin take'n take me en hitch me up in he buggy, en make me haul 'im all 'roun', en den he kin take'n fassen me ter de plow en make me break up all his new groun',' sezee. 'You better go 'long back home. Fus' news you know, Mr. Man'll have you breakin' up his new groun',' sezee.

"Spite er all dis, Mr. Lion, he shake he mane en say he gwine ter larrup Mr. Man anyhow. He went on down de big road, he did, en bimeby he come up wid Mr. Jack Sparrer, settin' up in de top er de tree. Mr. Jack Sparrer, he whirl 'roun' en chirp, en flutter 'bout up dar, en 'pariently make a great 'miration.

"'Heyo yer!' sezee; 'who'd er 'speckted fer ter see Mr. Lion 'way down yer in dis neighborhoods?' sezee. 'Whar you gwine, Mr. Lion?' sezee.

"Den Mr. Lion ax ef Mr. Jack Sparrer know Mr. Man, en Mr. Jack Sparrer say he know Mr. Man mighty well. Den Mr. Lion, he ax ef Mr. Jack Sparrer know whar he stay, w'ich Mr. Jack Sparrer say dat he do. Mr. Lion ax wharbouts is Mr. Man, en Mr. Jack Sparrer say he right 'cross dar in de new groun', en he up'n ax Mr. Lion w'at he want wid 'im, w'ich Mr. Lion 'spon' dat he gwine larrup Mr. Man, en wid dat, Mr. Jack Sparrer, he up'n say, sezee:

"'You better let Mr. Man 'lone. You see how little I is, en likewise how high I kin fly; yit, 'spite er dat, Mr. Man, he kin fetch me down w'en he git good en ready,' sezee. 'You better tuck yo' tail en put out home,' sez Mr. Jack Sparrer, sezee, 'kaze bimeby Mr. Man 'll fetch you down,' sezee.

"But Mr. Lion des vow he gwine atter Mr. Man, en go he would, en go he did. He aint never see Mr. Man, Mr. Lion aint, en he dunner w'at he look lak, but he go on todes de new groun'. Sho' 'nuff, dar wuz Mr. Man, out dar maulin' rails fer ter make 'im a fence. He 'uz rippin' up de butt cut, Mr. Man wuz, en he druv in his wedge en den he stuck in de glut. He 'uz splittin' 'way, w'en bimeby he year rustlin' out dar in de bushes, en he look up, en dar wuz Mr. Lion. Mr. Lion ax 'im do he know Mr. Man, en Mr. Man 'low dat he know 'im mo' samer dan ef he wer' his twin brer. Den Mr. Lion 'low dat he wanter see' im, en den Mr. Man say, sezee, dat ef Mr. Lion will come stick his paw in de split fer ter hol' de log open twel he git back, he go fetch Mr. Man. Mr. Lion he march up en slap his paw in de place, en den Mr. Man, he tuck'n' knock de glut out, en de split close up, en dar Mr. Lion wuz. Mr. Man, he stan' off en say, sezee:

"'Ef you'd 'a' bin a steer er hoss, you mought er run'd, en ef you'd 'a' bin a sparrer, you mought er flew'd, but yer you is, en you kotch yo'se'f,' sezee.

"Wid dat, Mr. Man sa'nter out in de bushes en cut 'im a hick'ry, en he let in on Mr. Lion, en he frail en frail 'im twel frailin' un 'im wuz a sin. En down ter dis day," continued Uncle Remus, in a tone calculated to destroy all doubt, "you can't git no Lion ter come up whar dey 's a Man a-maulin' rails en put he paw in de split. Dat you can't!"



VIII

THE STORY OF THE PIGS

Uncle Remus relapsed into silence again, and the little boy, with nothing better to do, turned his attention to the bench upon which the old man kept his shoemaker's tools. Prosecuting his investigations in this direction, the youngster finally suggested that the supply of bristles was about exhausted.

"I dunner w'at Miss Sally wanter be sendin' un you down yer fer, ef you gwine ter be stirr'n' en bodderin' 'longer dem ar doin's," exclaimed Uncle Remus, indignantly. "Now don't you scatter dem hog-bristle! De time wuz w'en folks had a mighty slim chance fer ter git bristle, en dey aint no tellin' w'en dat time gwine come ag'in. Let 'lone dat, de time wuz w'en de breed er hogs wuz done run down ter one po' little pig, en it look lak mighty sorry chance fer dem w'at was bleedzd ter have bristle."

By this time Uncle Remus's indignation had vanished, disappearing as suddenly and unexpectedly as it came. The little boy was curious to know when and where and how the bristle famine occurred.

"I done tole you 'bout dat too long 'go ter talk 'bout," the old man declared; but the little boy insisted that he had never heard about it before, and he was so persistent that at last Uncle Remus, in self-defence, consented to tell the story of the Pigs.

"One time, 'way back yander, de ole Sow en er chilluns wuz all livin' 'longer' de yuther creeturs. Hit seem lak ter me dat de ole Sow wuz a widder 'oman, en ef I don't run inter no mistakes, hit look like ter me dat she got five chilluns. Lemme see," continued Uncle Remus, with the air of one determined to justify his memory by a reference to the record, and enumerating with great deliberation,—"dar wuz Big Pig, en dar wuz Little Pig, en dar wuz Speckle Pig, en dar wuz Blunt, en las' en lonesomes' dar wuz Runt.

"One day, deze yer Pig ma she know she gwine kick de bucket, and she tuck'n call up all 'er chilluns en tell um dat de time done come w'en dey got ter look out fer deyse'f, en den she up'n tell um good ez she kin, dough 'er breff mighty scant, 'bout w'at a bad man is ole Brer Wolf. She say, sez she, dat if dey kin make der 'scape from ole Brer Wolf, dey'll be doin' monst'us well. Big Pig 'low she aint skeer'd, Speckle Pig 'low she aint skeer'd, Blunt, he say he mos' big a man ez Brer Wolf hisse'f, en Runt, she des tuck'n root 'roun' in de straw en grunt. But ole Widder Sow, she lay dar, she did, en keep on tellin' um dat dey better keep der eye on Brer Wolf, kaz he mighty mean en 'seetful man.

"Not long atter dat, sho' 'nuff ole Miss Sow lay down en die, en all dem ar chilluns er hern wuz flung back on deyse'f, en dey whirl in, dey did, en dey buil' um all a house ter live in. Big Pig, she tuck'n buil' 'er a house outer bresh; Little Pig, she tuck'n buil' a stick house; Speckle Pig, she tuck'n buil' a mud house; Blunt, he tuck'n buil' a plank house; en Runt, she don't make no great ter-do, en no great brags, but she went ter wuk, she did, en buil' a rock house.

"Bimeby, w'en dey done got all fix, en marters wuz sorter settle, soon one mawnin' yer come ole Brer Wolf, a-lickin' un his chops en a-shakin' un his tail. Fus' house he come ter wuz Big Pig house. Brer Wolf walk ter de do', he did, en he knock sorter saf'—blim! blim! blim! Nobody aint answer. Den he knock loud—blam! blam! blam! Dis wake up Big Pig, en she come ter de do', en she ax who dat. Brer Wolf 'low it's a fr'en', en den he sing out:

"'Ef you'll open de do' en let me in, I'll wom my han's en go home ag'in.'

"Still Big Pig ax who dat, en den Brer Wolf, he up'n say, sezee:

"'How yo' ma?' sezee.

"'My ma done dead,' sez Big Pig, sezee, 'en 'fo' she die she tell me fer ter keep my eye on Brer Wolf. I sees you thoo de crack er de do', en you look mighty like Brer Wolf,' sezee.

"Den ole Brer Wolf, he draw a long breff lak he feel mighty bad, en he up'n say, sezee:

"I dunner w'at change yo' ma so bad, less'n she 'uz out'n er head. I year tell dat ole Miss Sow wuz sick, en I say ter myse'f dat I'd kinder drap 'roun' en see how de ole lady is, en fetch 'er dish yer bag er roas'n'-years. Mighty well dose I know dat ef yo' ma wuz yer right now, en in 'er min', she 'd take de roas'n'-years en be glad fer ter git um, en mo'n dat, she'd take'n ax me in by de fire fer ter worn my han's,' sez ole Brer Wolf, sezee.

"De talk 'bout de roas'n'-years make Big Pig mouf water, en bimeby, atter some mo' palaver, she open de do' en let Brer Wolf in, en bless yo' soul, honey! dat uz de las' er Big Pig. She aint had time fer ter squeal en needer fer ter grunt 'fo' Brer Wolf gobble 'er up.

"Next day, ole Brer Wolf put up de same game on Little Pig; he go en he sing he song, en Little Pig, she tuck'n let 'im in, en den Brer Wolf he tuck'n 'turn de compelerments[10] en let Little Pig in."

Here Uncle Remus laughed long and loud at his conceit, and he took occasion to repeat it several times.

"Little Pig, she let Brer Wolf in, en Brer Wolf, he let Little Pig in, en w'at mo' kin you ax dan dat? Nex' time Brer Wolf pay a call, he drop in on Speckle Pig, en rap at de do' en sing his song:

"'Ef you'll open de do' en let me in, I'll wom my han's en go home ag'in.'

"But Speckle Pig, she kinder 'spicion sump'n', en she 'fuse ter open de do'. Yit Brer Wolf mighty 'seetful man, en he talk mighty saf' en he talk mighty sweet. Bimeby, he git he nose in de crack er de do' en he say ter Speckle Pig, sezee, fer ter des let 'im git one paw in, en den he won't go no furder. He git de paw in, en den he beg fer ter git de yuther paw in, en den w'en he git dat in he beg fer ter git he head in, en den w'en he git he head in, en he paws in, co'se all he got ter do is ter shove de do' open en walk right in; en w'en marters stan' dat way, 't wa'n't long 'fo' he done make fresh meat er Speckle Pig.

"Nex' day, he make way wid Blunt, en de day atter, he 'low dat he make a pass at Runt. Now, den, right dar whar ole Brer Wolf slip up at. He lak some folks w'at I knows. He'd 'a' bin mighty smart, ef he had n't er bin too smart. Runt wuz de littles' one er de whole gang, yit all de same news done got out dat she 'uz pestered wid sense like grown folks.

"Brer Wolf, he crope up ter Runt house, en he got un'need de winder, he did, en he sing out:

"'Ef you'll open de do' en let me in, I'll wom my han's en go home ag'in.'

"But all de same, Brer Wolf can't coax Runt fer ter open de do', en needer kin he break in, kaze de house done made outer rock. Bimeby Brer Wolf make out he done gone off, en den atter while he come back en knock at de do'—blam, blam, blam!

"Runt she sot by de fier, she did, en sorter scratch 'er year, en holler out:

"'Who dat?' sez she.

"'Hit 's Speckle Pig,' sez ole Brer Wolf, sezee, 'twix' a snort en a grunt. 'I fotch yer some peas fer yo' dinner!'

"Runt, she tuck'n laugh, she did, en holler back:

"'Sis Speckle Pig aint never talk thoo dat many toofies.'

"Brer Wolf go off 'g'in, en bimeby he come back en knock. Runt she sot en rock, en holler out:

"'Who dat?'

"'Big Pig,' sez Brer Wolf. 'I fotch some sweet-co'n fer yo' supper.'

"Runt, she look thoo de crack un'need de do', en laugh en say, sez she:

"'Sis Big Pig aint had no ha'r on 'er huff.'

"Den ole Brer Wolf, he git mad, he did, en say he gwine come down de chimbley, en Runt, she say, sez she, dat de onliest way w'at he kin git in; en den, w'en she year Brer Wolf clam'in' up on de outside er de chimbley, she tuck'n pile up a whole lot er broom sage front er de h'a'th, en w'en she year 'im clam'in' down on de inside, she tuck de tongs en shove de straw on de fier, en de smoke make Brer Wolf head swim, en he drap down, en 'fo' he know it he 'uz done bu'nt ter a cracklin'; en dat wuz de las' er ole Brer Wolf. Leas'ways," added Uncle Remus, putting in a cautious proviso to fall back upon in case of an emergency, "leas'ways, hit 'uz de las' er dat Brer Wolf."

——————————————————————————————————— FOOTNOTE:

[10] Compliments. ———————————————————————————————————



IX

MR. BENJAMIN RAM AND HIS WONDERFUL FIDDLE

"I 'speck you done year tell er ole man Benjermun Ram," said Uncle Remus, with a great affectation of indifference, after a pause.

"Old man who?" asked the little boy.

"Ole man Benjermun Ram. I 'speck you done year tell er him too long 'go ter talk 'bout."

"Why, no, I have n't, Uncle Remus!" exclaimed the little boy, protesting and laughing. "He must have been a mighty funny old man."

"Dat 's ez may be," responded Uncle Remus, sententiously. "Fun deze days would n't er counted fer fun in dem days; en many's de time w'at I see folks laughin'," continued the old man, with such withering sarcasm that the little boy immediately became serious,—"many's de time w'at I sees um laughin' en laughin', w'en I lay dey aint kin tell w'at deyer laughin' at deyse'f. En 'taint der laughin' w'at pesters me, nudder,"—relenting a little,—"hit 's dish yer ev'lastin' snickle en giggle, giggle en snickle."

Having thus mapped out, in a dim and uncertain way, what older people than the little boy might have been excused for accepting as a sort of moral basis, Uncle Remus proceeded:

"Dish yer Mr. Benjermun Ram, w'ich he done come up inter my min', wuz one er dezeyer ole-timers. Dey tells me dat he 'uz a fiddler fum away back yander—one er dem ar kinder fiddlers w'at can't git de chune down fine 'less dey pats der foot. He stay all by he own-alone se'f way out in de middle un a big new-groun', en he sech a handy man fer ter have at a frolic dat de yuther creeturs like 'im mighty well, en w'en dey tuck a notion fer ter shake der foot, w'ich de notion tuck'n struck um eve'y once in a w'ile, nuthin' 'ud do but dey mus' sen' fer ole man Benjermun Ram en he fiddle; en dey do say," continued Uncle Remus, closing his eyes in a sort of ecstasy, "dat w'en he squar' hisse'f back in a cheer, en git in a weavin' way, he kin des snatch dem ole-time chunes fum who lay de rail.[11] En den, w'en de frolic wuz done, dey'd all fling in, dem yuther creeturs would, en fill up a bag er peas fer ole Mr. Benjermun Ram fer ter kyar home wid 'im.

"One time, des 'bout Christmas, Miss Meadows en Miss Motts en de gals, dey up'n say dat dey 'd sorter gin a blowout, en dey got wud ter ole man Benjermun Ram w'ich dey 'speckted 'im fer ter be on han'. W'en de time done come fer Mr. Benjermun Ram fer ter start, de win' blow cole en de cloud 'gun ter spread out 'cross de elements—but no marter fer dat; ole man Benjermun Ram tuck down he walkin'-cane, he did, en tie up he fiddle in a bag, en sot out fer Miss Meadows. He thunk he know de way, but hit keep on gittin' col'er en col'er, en mo' cloudy, twel bimeby, fus' news you know, ole Mr. Benjermun Ram done lose de way. Ef he'd er kep' on down de big road fum de start, it moughter bin diffunt, but he tuck a nigh-cut, en he aint git fur 'fo' he done los' sho' 'nuff. He go dis a-way, en he go dat a-way, en he go de yuther way, yit all de same he wuz done los'. Some folks would er sot right flat down whar dey wuz en study out der way, but ole man Benjermun Ram aint got wrinkle on he hawn fer nothin', kaze he done got de name er ole Billy Hardhead long 'fo' dat. Den ag'in, some folks would er stop right still in der tracks en holler en bawl fer ter see ef dey can't roust up some er de neighbors, but ole Mr. Benjermun Ram, he des stick he jowl in de win', he did, en he march right on des 'zackly like he know he aint gwine de wrong way. He keep on, but 't wa'n't long 'fo' he 'gun ter feel right lonesome, mo' speshually w'en hit come up in he min' how Miss Meadows en de gals en all de comp'ny be bleedz ter do de bes' dey kin bidout any fiddlin'; en hit kinder make he marrer git cole w'en he study 'bout how he gotter sleep out dar in de woods by hisse'f.



"Yit, all de same, he keep on twel de dark 'gun ter drap down, en den he keep on still, en bimeby he come ter a little rise whar dey wuz a clay-gall. W'en he git dar he stop en look 'roun', he did, en 'way off down in de holler, dar he see a light shinin', en w'en he see dis, ole man Benjermun Ram tuck he foot in he han', en make he way todes it des lak it de ve'y place w'at he bin huntin'. 'T wa'n't long 'fo' he come ter de house whar de light is, en, bless you soul, he don't make no bones er knockin'. Den somebody holler out:

"'Who dat?'

"'I'm Mr. Benjermun Ram, en I done lose de way, en I come fer ter ax you ef you can't take me in fer de night,' sezee.

"In common," continued Uncle Remus, "ole Mr. Benjermun Ram wuz a mighty rough-en-spoken somebody, but you better b'leeve he talk monst'us perlite dis time.

"Den some un on t'er side er de do' ax Mr. Benjermun Ram fer ter walk right in, en wid dat he open de do' en walk in, en make a bow like fiddlin' folks does w'en dey goes in comp'ny; but he aint no sooner make he bow en look 'roun' twel he 'gun ter shake en shiver lak he done bin strucken wid de swamp-ager, kaze, settin' right dar 'fo' de fier wuz ole Brer Wolf, wid his toofies showin' up all w'ite en shiny like dey wuz bran new. Ef ole Mr. Benjermun Ram aint bin so ole en stiff I boun' you he'd er broke en run, but 'mos' 'fo' he had time fer ter study 'bout gittin' 'way, ole Brer Wolf done bin jump up en shet de do' en fassen 'er wid a great big chain. Ole Mr. Benjermun Ram he know he in fer't, en he tuck'n put on a bol' face ez he kin, but he des nat'ally hone[12] fer ter be los' in de woods some mo'. Den he make n'er low bow, en he hope Brer Wolf and all his folks is well, en den he say, sezee, dat he des drap in fer ter wom hisse'f, en 'quire uv de way ter Miss Meadows', en ef Brer Wolf be so good ez ter set 'im in de road ag'in, he be off putty soon en be much 'blige in de bargains.

"'Tooby sho', Mr. Ram,' sez Brer Wolf, sezee, w'iles he lick he chops en grin; 'des put yo' walkin'-cane in de cornder over dar, en set yo' bag down on de flo', en make yo'se'f at home,' sezee. 'We aint got much,' sezee, 'but w'at we is got is yone w'iles you stays, en I boun' we'll take good keer un you,' sezee; en wid dat Brer Wolf laugh en show his toofies so bad dat ole man Benjermun Ram come mighty nigh havin' 'n'er ager.

"Den Brer Wolf tuck'n flung 'n'er lighter'd-knot on de fier, en den he slip inter de back room, en present'y, w'iles ole Mr. Benjermun Ram wuz settin' dar shakin' in he shoes, he year Brer Wolf whispun' ter he ole 'oman:

"'Ole 'oman! ole 'oman! Fling 'way yo' smoke meat—fresh meat fer supper! Fling 'way yo' smoke meat—fresh meat fer supper!'

"Den ole Miss Wolf, she talk out loud, so Mr. Benjermun Ram kin year:

"'Tooby sho' I'll fix 'im some supper. We er 'way off yer in de woods, so fur fum comp'ny dat goodness knows I'm mighty glad ter see Mr. Benjermun Ram.'

"Den Mr. Benjermun Ram year ole Miss Wolf whettin' 'er knife on a rock—shirrah! shirrah! shirrah!—en ev'y time he year de knife say shirrah! he know he dat much nigher de dinner-pot. He know he can't git 'way, en w'iles he settin' dar studyin', hit come 'cross he min' dat he des mought ez well play one mo' chune on he fiddle 'fo' de wuss come ter de wuss. Wid dat he ontie de bag en take out de fiddle, en 'gun ter chune 'er up—plink, plank, plunk, plink! plunk, plank, plink, plunk!"

Uncle Remus's imitation of the tuning of a fiddle was marvellous enough to produce a startling effect upon a much less enthusiastic listener than the little boy. It was given in perfect good faith, but the serious expression on the old man's face was so irresistibly comic that the child laughed until the tears ran down his face. Uncle Remus very properly accepted this as a tribute to his wonderful resources as a story-teller, and continued, in great good-humor:

"W'en ole Miss Wolf year dat kinder fuss, co'se she dunner w'at is it, en she drap 'er knife en lissen. Ole Mr. Benjermun Ram aint know dis, en he keep on chunin' up—plank, plink, plunk, plank! Den ole Miss Wolf, she tuck'n hunch Brer Wolf wid 'er elbow, en she say, sez she:

"'Hey, ole man! w'at dat?"

"Den bofe un um cock up der years en lissen, en des 'bout dat time ole Mr. Benjermun Ram he sling de butt er de fiddle up und' he chin, en struck up one er dem ole-time chunes."

"Well, what tune was it, Uncle Remus?" the little boy asked, with some display of impatience.

"Ef I aint done gone en fergit dat chune off'n my min'," continued Uncle Remus; "hit sorter went like dat ar song 'bout 'Sheep shell co'n wid de rattle er his ho'n,' en yit hit mout er been dat ar yuther one 'bout 'Roll de key, ladies, roll dem keys.' Brer Wolf en ole Miss Wolf, dey lissen en lissen, en de mo' w'at dey lissen de skeerder dey git, twel bimeby dey tuck ter der heels en make a break fer de swamp at de back er de house des lak de patter-rollers wuz atter um.

"W'en ole man Benjermun Ram sorter let up wid he fiddlin', he don't see no Brer Wolf, en he don't year no ole Miss Wolf. Den he look in de back room; no Wolf dar. Den he look in de back po'ch; no Wolf dar. Den he look in de closet en de cubberd; no Wolf aint dar yit. Den ole Mr. Benjermun Ram, he tuck'n shot all de do's en lock um, en he s'arch 'roun' en he fine some peas en fodder in de lof', w'ich he et um fer he supper, en den he lie down front er de fier en sleep soun' ez a log.

"Nex' mawnin' he 'uz up en stirrin' monst'us soon, en he put out fum dar, en he fine de way ter Miss Meadows' time 'nuff fer ter play at de frolic. W'en he git dar, Miss Meadows en de gals, dey run ter de gate fer ter meet 'im, en dis un tuck he hat, en dat un tuck he cane, en t'er'n tuck he fiddle, en den dey up'n say:

"'Law, Mr. Ram! whar de name er goodness is you bin? We so glad you come. Stir 'roun' yer, folks, en git Mr. Ram a cup er hot coffee.'

"Dey make a mighty big ter-do 'bout Mr. Benjermun Ram, Miss Meadows en Miss Motts en de gals did, but 'twix' you en me en de bedpos', honey, dey'd er had der frolic wh'er de ole chap 'uz dar er not, kaze de gals done make 'rangerments wid Brer Rabbit fer ter pat fer um, en in dem days Brer Rabbit wuz a patter, mon. He mos' sholy wuz."

——————————————————————————————————— FOOTNOTES:

[11] That is, from the foundation, or beginning.

[12] To pine or long for anything. This is a good old English word, which has been retained in the plantation vocabulary. ———————————————————————————————————



X

BROTHER RABBIT'S RIDDLE

"Could Brother Rabbit pat a tune, sure enough, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy, his thoughts apparently dwelling upon the new accomplishment of Brother Rabbit at which the old man had hinted in his story of Mr. Benjamin Ram. Uncle Remus pretended to be greatly surprised that any one could be so unfamiliar with the accomplishments of Brother Rabbit as to venture to ask such a question. His response was in the nature of a comment:

"Name er goodness! w'at kinder pass dish yer we comin' ter w'en a great big grow'd up young un axin' 'bout Brer Rabbit? Bless yo' soul, honey! dey wa'n't no chune gwine dat Brer Rabbit can't pat. Let 'lone dat, w'en dey wuz some un else fer ter do de pattin', Brer Rabbit kin jump out inter de middle er de flo' en des nat'ally shake de eyel'ds off'en dem yuther creeturs. En 't wa'n't none er dish yer bowin' en scrapin', en slippin' en slidin', en han's all 'roun', w'at folks does deze days. Hit uz dish yer up en down kinder dancin', whar dey des lips up in de a'r fer ter cut de pidjin-wing, en lights on de flo' right in de middle er de double-shuffle. Shoo! Dey aint no dancin' deze days; folks' shoes too tight, en dey aint got dat limbersomeness in de hips w'at dey uster is. Dat dey aint.

"En yit," Uncle Remus continued, in a tone which seemed to imply that he deemed it necessary to apologize for the apparent frivolity of Brother Rabbit,—"en yit de time come w'en ole Brer Rabbit 'gun ter put dis en dat tergedder, en de notion strak 'im dat he better be home lookin' atter de intruss er he fambly, 'stidder trapesin' en trollopin' 'roun' ter all de frolics in de settlement. He tuck'n study dis in he min' twel bimeby he sot out 'termin' fer ter 'arn he own livelihoods, en den he up'n lay off a piece er groun' en plant 'im a tater-patch.

"Brer Fox, he see all dish yer gwine on, he did, en he 'low ter hisse'f dat he 'speck Brer Rabbit rashfulness done bin supjued kaze he skeer'd, en den Brer Fox make up his min' dat he gwine ter pay Brer Rabbit back fer all he 'seetfulness. He start in, Brer Fox did, en fum dat time forrerd he aggervate Brer Rabbit 'bout he tater-patch. One night he leave de draw-bars down, 'n'er night he fling off de top rails, en nex' night he t'ar down a whole panel er fence, en he keep on dis a-way twel 'pariently Brer Rabbit dunner w'at ter do. All dis time Brer Fox keep on foolin' wid de tater-patch, en w'en he see w'ich Brer Rabbit aint makin' no motion, Brer Fox 'low dat he done skeer'd sho' 'nuff, en dat de time done come fer ter gobble him up bidout lief er license. So he call on Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox did, en he ax 'im will he take a walk. Brer Rabbit, he ax wharbouts. Brer Fox say, right out yander. Brer Rabbit, he ax w'at is dey right out yander? Brer Fox say he know whar dey some mighty fine peaches, en he want Brer Rabbit fer ter go 'long en climb de tree en fling um down. Brer Rabbit say he don't keer ef he do, mo' speshually fer ter 'blige Brer Fox.

"Dey sot out, dey did, en atter w'ile, sho' 'nuff, dey come ter de peach-orchud, en Brer Rabbit, w'at do he do but pick out a good tree, en up he clum. Brer Fox, he sot hisse'f at de root er de tree, kaze he 'low dat w'en Brer Rabbit come down he hatter come down backerds, en den dat 'ud be de time fer ter nab 'im. But, bless yo' soul, Brer Rabbit dun see w'at-Brer Fox atter 'fo' he clum up. W'en he pull de peaches, Brer Fox say, sezee:

"'Fling um down yer, Brer Rabbit—fling um right down yer so I kin ketch um,' sezee.

"Brer Rabbit, he sorter wunk de furdest eye fum Brer Fox, en he holler back, he did:

"'Ef I fling um down dar whar you is, Brer Fox, en you misses um, dey'll git squshed,' sezee, 'so I'll des sorter pitch um out yander in de grass whar dey won't git bus',' sezee.

"Den he tuck'n flung de peaches out in de grass, en w'iles Brer Fox went atter um, Brer Rabbit, he skint down outer de tree, en hustle hisse'f twel he git elbow-room. W'en he git off little ways, he up 'n holler back ter Brer Fox dat he got a riddle he want 'im ter read. Brer Fox, he ax w'at is it. Wid dat, Brer Rabbit, he gun it out ter Brer Fox lak a man sayin' a speech:

"'Big bird rob en little bird sing, De big bee zoon en little bee sting, De little man lead en big hoss foller— Kin you tell w'at's good fer a head in a holler?'

"Ole Brer Fox scratch he head en study, en study en scratch he head, but de mo' he study de wuss he git mix up wid de riddle, en atter w'ile he tuck'n tell Brer Rabbit dat he dunno how in de name er goodness ter onriddle dat riddle.

"'Come en go 'longer me,' sez ole Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'en I boun' you I show you how ter read dat same riddle. Hit 's one er dem ar kinder riddle,' sez ole man Rabbit, sezee, 'w'ich 'fo' you read 'er you got ter eat a bait er honey, en I done got my eye sot on de place whar we kin git de honey at,' sezee.

"Brer Fox, he ax wharbouts is it, en Brer Rabbit, he say up dar in ole Brer B'ar cotton-patch, whar he got a whole passel er bee-gums. Brer Fox, he 'low, he did, dat he aint got no sweet-toof much, yit he wanter git at de innerds er dat ar riddle, en he don't keer ef he do go 'long.

"Dey put out, dey did, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' dey come ter ole Brer B'ar bee-gums, en ole Brer Rabbit, he up'n gun um a rap wid he walkin'-cane, des lak folks thumps water-millions fer ter see ef dey er ripe. He tap en he rap, en bimeby he come ter one un um w'ich she soun' like she plum full, en den he go 'roun' behime it, ole Brer Rabbit did, en he up'n say, sezee:

"'I'll des sorter tilt 'er up, Brer Fox,' sezee, 'en you kin put yo' head und' dar en git some er de drippin's,' sezee.

"Brer Rabbit, he tilt her up, en, sho' 'nuff, Brer Fox, he jam he head un'need de gum. Hit make me laugh," Uncle Remus continued, with a chuckle, "fer ter see w'at a fresh man is Brer Fox, kaze he aint no sooner stuck he head un'need dat ar bee-gum, dan Brer Rabbit turnt 'er aloose, en down she come—ker-swosh!—right on Brer Fox neck, en dar he wuz. Brer Fox, he kick; he squeal; he jump; he squall; he dance; he prance; he beg; he pray; yit dar he wuz, en w'en Brer Rabbit git way off, en tu'n 'roun' fer ter look back, he see Brer Fox des a-wigglin' en a-squ'min', en right den en dar Brer Rabbit gun one ole-time whoop, en des put out fer home.

"W'en he git dar, de fus' man he see wuz Brer Fox gran'daddy, w'ich folks all call 'im Gran'sir' Gray Fox. W'en Brer Rabbit see 'im, he say, sezee:

"'How you come on, Gran'sir' Gray Fox?'

"'I still keeps po'ly, I'm 'blije ter you, Brer Rabbit,' sez Gran'sir' Gray Fox, sezee. 'Is you seed any sign er my gran'son dis mawnin'?' sezee.

"Wid dat Brer Rabbit laugh en say w'ich him en Brer Fox bin a-ramblin' 'roun' wid one er'n'er havin' mo' fun dan w'at a man kin shake a stick at.

"'We bin a-riggin' up riddles en a-readin' un um,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee. 'Brer Fox is settin' off some'rs in de bushes right now, aimin' fer ter read one w'at I gun 'im. I'll des drap you one,' sez ole Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'w'ich, ef you kin read it, hit'll take you right spang ter whar yo' gran'son is, en you can't git dar none too soon,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.

"Den ole Gran'sir' Gray Fox, he up'n ax w'at is it, en Brer Rabbit, he sing out, he did:

"'De big bird rob en little bird sing; De big bee zoon en little bee sting, De little man lead en big hoss foller— Kin you tell w'at's good fer a head in a holler?'

"Gran'sir' Gray Fox, he tuck a pinch er snuff en cough easy ter hisse'f, en study en study, but he aint make it out, en Brer Rabbit, he laugh en sing:

"'Bee-gum mighty big fer ter make Fox collar, Kin you tell w'at's good fer a head in a holler?'

"Atter so long a time, Gran'sir' Gray Fox sorter ketch a glimpse er w'at Brer Rabbit tryin' ter gin 'im, en he tip Brer Rabbit good-day, en shuffle on fer ter hunt up he gran'son."

"And did he find him, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy.

"Tooby sho', honey. Brer B'ar year de racket w'at Brer Fox kickin' up, en he go down dar fer ter see w'at de marter is. Soon ez he see how de lan' lay, co'se he tuck a notion dat Brer Fox bin robbin' de bee-gums, en he got 'im a han'ful er hick'ries, Brer B'ar did, en he let in on Brer Fox en he wom he jacket scannerlous, en den he tuck'n tu'n 'im loose; but 't wa'n't long 'fo' all de neighbors git wud dat Brer Fox bin robbin' Brer B'ar bee-gums."



XI

HOW MR. ROOSTER LOST HIS DINNER

It seemed that the rainy season had set in in earnest, but the little boy went down to Uncle Remus's cabin before dark. In some mysterious way, it appeared to the child, the gloom of twilight fastened itself upon the dusky clouds, and the great trees without, and the dismal perspective beyond, gradually became one with the darkness. Uncle Remus had thoughtfully placed a tin pan under a leak in the roof, and the drip-drip-drip of the water, as it fell in the resonant vessel, made a not unmusical accompaniment to the storm.

The old man fumbled around under his bed, and presently dragged forth a large bag filled with lightwood knots, which, with an instinctive economy in this particular direction, he had stored away for an emergency. A bright but flickering flame was the result of this timely discovery, and the effect it produced was quite in keeping with all the surroundings. The rain, and wind, and darkness held sway without, while within, the unsteady lightwood blaze seemed to rhyme with the drip-drip-drip in the pan. Sometimes the shadow of Uncle Remus, as he leaned over the hearth, would tower and fill the cabin, and again it would fade and disappear among the swaying and swinging cobwebs that curtained the rafters.

"W'en bed-time come, honey," said Uncle Remus, in a soothing tone, "I'll des snatch down yo' pa buggy umbrell' fum up dar in de cornder, des lak I bin a-doin', en I'll take'n take you und' my arm en set you down on Miss Sally h'a'th des ez dry en ez wom ez a rat'-nes' inside a fodder-stack."

At this juncture 'Tildy, the house-girl, rushed in out of the rain and darkness with a water-proof cloak and an umbrella, and announced her mission to the little boy without taking time to catch her breath.

"Miss Sally say you got ter come right back," she exclaimed. "Kaze she skeerd lightin' gwine strak 'roun' in yer 'mongs' deze high trees some'rs."

Uncle Remus rose from his stooping posture in front of the hearth and assumed a threatening attitude.

"Well, is anybody year de beat er dat!" was his indignant exclamation. "Look yer, gal! don't you come foolin' 'longer me—now, don't you do it. Kaze ef yer does, I'll take'n hit you a clip w'at'll put you ter bed 'fo' bed-times come. Dat 's w'at!"

"Lawdy! w'at I done gone en done ter Unk' Remus now?" asked 'Tildy, with a great affectation of innocent ignorance.

"I'm gwine ter put on my coat en take dat ar umbrell', en I'm gwine right straight up ter de big house en ax Miss Sally ef she sont dat kinder wud down yer, w'en she know dat chile sittin' yer 'longer me. I'm gwine ter ax her," continued Uncle Remus, "en if she aint sont dat wud, den I'm gwine ter fetch myse'f back. Now, you des watch my motions."

"Well, I year Miss Sally say she 'feard lightnin' gwine ter strak some'rs on de place," said 'Tildy, in a tone which manifested her willingness to compromise all differences, "en den I axt 'er kin I come down yer, en den she say I better bring deze yer cloak en pairsol."

"Now you dun brung um," responded Uncle Remus, "you des better put um in dat cheer over dar, en take yo'se'f off. Thunder mighty ap' ter hit close ter whar deze here slick-head niggers is."

But the little boy finally prevailed upon the old man to allow 'Tildy to remain, and after a while he put matters on a peace footing by inquiring if roosters crowed at night when it was raining.

"Dat dey duz," responded Uncle Remus. "Wet er dry, dey flops der wings en wakes up all de neighbors. Law, bless my soul!" he exclaimed suddenly, "w'at make I done gone en fergit 'bout Mr. Rooster?"

"What about him?" inquired the little boy.

"One time, 'way back yander," said Uncle Remus, knocking the ashes off his hands and knees, "dey wuz two plan'ations right 'longside one er 'ne'r, en on bofe er deze plan'ations wuz a whole passel of fowls. Dey wuz mighty sociable in dem days, en it tu'n out dat de fowls on one plan'ation gun a party, w'ich dey sont out der invites ter de fowls on de 't'er plan'ation.

"W'en de day come, Mr. Rooster, he blow his hawn, he did, en 'semble um all tergedder, en atter dey 'semble dey got in line. Mr. Rooster, he tuck de head, en atter 'im come ole lady Hen en Miss Pullet, en den dar wuz Mr. Peafowl, en Mr. Tukkey Gobbler, en Miss Guinny Hen, en Miss Puddle Duck, en all de balance un um. Dey start off sorter raggedy, but 't wa'n't long 'fo' dey all kotch de step, en den dey march down by de spring, up thoo de hoss-lot en 'cross by de gin-house, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' dey git ter whar de frolic wuz.

"'Dey dance, en dey play, en dey sing. Mo' 'speshually did dey play en sing dat ar song w'ich it run on lak dis:

"'Come under, come under, My honey, my love, my own true love; My heart bin a-weepin' Way down in Galilee.'

"Dey wuz gwine on dis a-way, havin' der 'musements, w'en, bimeby, ole Mr. Peafowl, he got on de comb er de barn en blow de dinner-hawn. Dey all wash der face en ban's in de back po'ch, en den dey went in ter dinner. W'en dey git in dar, dey don't see nothin' on de table but a great big pile er co'n-bread. De pones was pile up on pones, en on de top wuz a great big ash-cake. Mr. Rooster, he look at dis en he tu'n up he nose, en bimeby, atter aw'ile, out he strut. Ole Miss Guinny Hen, she watchin' Mr. Rooster motions, en w'en she see dis, she take'n squall out, she did:

"'Pot-rack! Pot-rack! Mr. Rooster gone back! Pot-rack! Pot-rack! Mr. Rooster gone back!'

"Wid dat dey all make a great ter-do. Miss Hen en Miss Pullet, dey cackle en squall, Mr. Gobbler, he gobble, en Miss Puddle Duck, she shake 'er tail en say, quickity-quack-quack. But Mr. Rooster, he ruffle up he cape, en march on out.

"Dis sorter put a damper on de yuthers, but 'fo' Mr. Rooster git outer sight en year'n dey went ter wuk on de pile w'at wuz 'pariently co'n-bread, en, lo en beholes, un'need dem pone er bread wuz a whole passel er meat en greens, en bake' taters, en bile' turnips. Mr. Rooster, he year de ladies makin' great 'miration, en he stop en look thoo de crack, en dar he see all de doin's en fixin's. He feel mighty bad, Mr. Rooster did, w'en he see all dis, en de yuther fowls dey holler en ax 'im fer ter come back, en he craw, w'ich it mighty empty, likewise, it up'n ax 'im, but he mighty biggity en stuck up, en he strut off, crowin' ez he go; but he 'speunce er dat time done las' him en all er his fambly down ter dis day. En you neenter take my wud fer't, ne'r, kaze ef you'll des keep yo' eye open en watch, you'll ketch a glimse er ole Mr. Rooster folks scratchin' whar dey 'specks ter fine der rations, en mo' dan dat, dey'll scratch wid der rations in plain sight. Since dat time, dey aint none er de Mr. Roosters bin fool' by dat w'at dey see on top. Dey aint res' twel dey see w'at und' dar. Dey'll scratch spite er all creation."

"Dat 's de Lord's truth!" said 'Tildy, with unction. "I done seed um wid my own eyes. Dat I is."

This was 'Tildy's method of renewing peaceful relations with Uncle Remus, but the old man was disposed to resist the attempt.

"You better be up yander washin' up dishes, stidder hoppin' down yer wid er whole packet er stuff w'at Miss Sally aint dreamp er sayin'."



XII

BROTHER RABBIT BREAKS UP A PARTY

As long as Uncle Remus allowed 'Tildy to remain in the cabin, the little boy was not particularly interested in preventing the perfunctory abuse which the old man might feel disposed to bestow upon the complacent girl. The truth is, the child's mind was occupied with the episode in the story of Mr. Benjamin Ram which treats of the style in which this romantic old wag put Mr. and Mrs. Wolf to flight by playing a tune upon his fiddle. The little boy was particularly struck with this remarkable feat, as many a youngster before him had been, and he made bold to recur to it again by asking Uncle Remus for all the details. It was plain to the latter that the child regarded Mr. Ram as the typical hero of all the animals, and this was by no means gratifying to the old man. He answered the little boy's questions as well as he could, and, when nothing more remained to be said about Mr. Ram, he settled himself back in his chair and resumed the curious history of Brother Rabbit:

"Co'se Mr. Ram mighty smart man. I aint 'spute dat; but needer Mr. Ram ner yet Mr. Lam is soon creeturs lak Brer Rabbit. Mr. Benjermun Ram, he tuck'n skeer off Brer Wolf en his ole 'oman wid his fiddle, but, bless yo' soul, ole Brer Rabbit he gone en done wuss'n dat."

"What did Brother Rabbit do?" asked the little boy.

"One time," said Uncle Remus, "Brer Fox, he tuck'n ax some er de yuther creeturs ter he house. He ax Brer B'ar, en Brer Wolf, en Brer 'Coon, but he aint ax Brer Rabbit. All de same, Brer Rabbit got win' un it, en he 'low dat ef he don't go, he 'speck he have much fun ez de nex' man.

"De creeturs w'at git de invite, dey tuck'n 'semble at Brer Fox house, en Brer Fox, he ax um in en got um cheers, en dey sot dar en laugh en talk, twel, bimeby, Brer Fox, he fotch out a bottle er dram en lay 'er out on de side-bode, en den he sorter step back en say, sezee:

"'Des step up, gentermens, en he'p yo'se'f,' en you better b'lieve dey he'p derse'f.

"W'iles dey wuz drinkin' en drammin' en gwine on, w'at you 'speck Brer Rabbit doin'? You des well make up yo' min' dat Brer Rabbit monst'us busy, kaze he 'uz sailin' 'roun' fixin' up his tricks. Long time 'fo' dat, Brer Rabbit had been at a bobbycue whar dey was a muster, en w'iles all de folks 'uz down at de spring eatin' dinner, Brer Rabbit he crope up en run off wid one er de drums. Dey wuz a big drum en a little drum, en Brer Rabbit he snatch up de littles' one en run home.

"Now, den, w'en he year 'bout de yuther creeturs gwine ter Brer Fox house, w'at do Brer Rabbit do but git out dis rattlin' drum en make de way down de road todes whar dey is. He tuk dat drum," continued Uncle Remus, with great elation of voice and manner, "en he went down de road todes Brer Fox house, en he make 'er talk like thunner mix up wid hail. Hit talk lak dis:

"'Diddybum, diddybum, diddybum-bum-bum—diddybum!'

"De creeturs, dey 'uz a-drinkin', en a-drammin', en a-gwine on at a terrible rate, en dey aint year de racket, but all de same, yer come Brer Rabbit:

"'Diddybum, diddybum, diddybum-bum-bum—diddybum!'

"Bimeby Brer 'Coon, w'ich he allers got one year hung out fer de news, he up'n ax Brer Fox w'at dat, en by dat time all de creeturs stop en lissen; but all de same, yer come Brer Rabbit:

"'Diddybum, diddybum, diddybum-bum-bum—diddybum!'

"De creeturs dey keep on lis'nin', en Brer Rabbit keep on gittin' nigher, twel bimeby Brer 'Coon retch und' de cheer fer he hat, en say, sezee:

"'Well, gents, I 'speck I better be gwine. I tole my ole 'oman dat I won't be gone a minnit, en yer 't is 'way 'long in de day.'

"Wid dat Brer 'Coon, he skip out, but he aint git much furder dan de back gate, 'fo' yer come all de yuther creeturs like dey 'uz runnin' a foot-race, en ole Brer Fox wuz wukkin' in de lead."

"Dar, now!" exclaimed 'Tildy, with great fervor.

"Yasser! dar dey wuz, en dar dey went," continued Uncle Remus. "Dey tuck nigh cuts, en dey scramble over one er 'n'er, en dey aint res' twel dey git in de bushes.

"Ole Brer Rabbit, he came on down de road—diddybum, diddybum, diddybum-bum-bum—en bless gracious! w'en he git ter Brer Fox house dey aint nobody dar. Brer Rabbit is dat ow-dacious, dat he hunt all 'roun' twel he fine de a'r-hole en de drum, en he put his mouf ter dat en sing out, sezee:

"'Is dey anybody home?' en den he answer hisse'f, sezee, 'Law, no, honey—folks all gone.'

"Wid dat, ole Brer Rabbit break loose en laugh, he did, fit ter kill hisse'f, en den he slam Brer Fox front gate wide open, en march up ter de house. W'en he git dar, he kick de do' open en hail Brer Fox, but nobody aint dar, en Brer Rabbit he walk in en take a cheer, en make hisse'f at home wid puttin' his foots on de sofy en spittin' on de flo'.

"Brer Rabbit aint sot dar long 'fo' he ketch a whiff er de dram—"

"You year dat?" exclaimed 'Tildy, with convulsive admiration.

"—'Fo' he ketch a whiff er de dram, en den he see it on de side-bode, en he step up en drap 'bout a tumbeler full some'rs down in de neighborhoods er de goozle. Brer Rabbit mighty lak some folks I knows. He tuck one tumbeler full, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he tuck 'n'er'n, en w'en a man do dis a-way," continued Uncle Remus, somewhat apologetically, "he bleedz ter git drammy."

"Truth, too!" said 'Tildy, by way of hearty confirmation.

"All des time de yuther creeturs wuz down hi de bushes lissenin' fer de diddybum, en makin' ready fer ter light out fum dar at de drop uv a hat. But dey aint year no mo' fuss, en bimeby Brer Fox, he say he gwine back en look atter he plunder, en de yuther creeturs say dey b'leeve dey'll go 'long wid 'im. Dey start out, dey did, en dey crope todes Brer Fox house, but dey crope mighty keerful, en I boun' ef somebody'd 'a' shuck a bush, dem ar creeturs 'ud 'a' nat'ally to' up de ye'th gittin' 'way fum dar. Yit dey still aint year no fuss, en dey keep on creepin' twel dey git in de house.

"W'en dey git in dar, de fus' sight dey see wuz ole Brer Rabbit stannin' up by de dram-bottle mixin' up a toddy, en he wa'n't so stiff-kneed n'er, kase he sorter swage fum side ter side, en he look lak he mighty limbersome, w'ich, goodness knows, a man bleedz ter be limbersome w'en he drink dat kinder licker w'at Brer Fox perwide fer dem creeturs.

"W'en Brer Fox see Brer Rabbit makin' free wid he doin's dat a-way, w'at you 'speck he do?" inquired Uncle Remus, with the air of one seeking general information.

"I 'speck he cusst," said 'Tildy, who was apt to take a vividly practical view of matters.

"He was glad," said the little boy, "because he had a good chance to catch Brother Rabbit."

"Tooby sho' he wuz," continued Uncle Remus, heartily assenting to the child's interpretation of the situation: "tooby sho' he wuz. He stan' dar, Brer Fox did, en he watch Brer Rabbit motions. Bimeby he holler out, sezee:

"'Ah yi![13] Brer Rabbit!' sezee. 'Many a time is you made yo' 'scape, but now I got you!' En wid dat, Brer Fox en de yuther creeturs cloze in on Brer Rabbit.

"Seem like I done tole you dat Brer Rabbit done gone en tuck mo' dram dan w'at 'uz good fer he wholesome. Yit he head aint swim so bad dat he dunner w'at he doin', en time he lay eyes on Brer Fox, he know he done got in close quarters. Soon ez he see dis, Brer Rabbit make like he bin down in de cup mo' deeper dan w'at he is, en he stagger 'roun' like town gal stannin' in a batteau, en he seem lak he des ez limber ez a wet rag. He stagger up ter Brer Fox, he did, en he roll he eyeballs 'roun', en slap 'im on he back en ax 'im how he ma. Den w'en he see de yuther creeturs," continued Uncle Remus, "he holler out, he did:

"'Vents yo' uppance, gentermens! Vents yo' uppance![14] Ef you'll des gimme han'-roomance en come one at a time, de tussle 'll las' longer. How you all come on, nohow?' sezee.

"Ole Brer Rabbit talk so kuse dat de yuther creeturs have mo' fun dan w'at you k'n shake a stick at, but bimeby Brer Fox say dey better git down ter business, en den dey all cloze in on Brer Rabbit, en dar he wuz.

"In dem days, ole man B'ar wuz a jedge 'mongs' de creeturs, en dey all ax 'im w'at dey gwine do 'long wid Brer Rabbit, en Jedge B'ar, he put on his specks, en cle'r up his th'oat, en say dat de bes' way ter do wid a man w'at kick up sech a racket, en run de neighbors outer der own house, en go in dar en level[15] on de pantry, is ter take 'im out en drown 'im; en ole Brer Fox, w'ich he settin' on de jury, he up'n smack he hands togedder, en cry, en say, sezee, dat atter dis he bleedz ter b'leeve dat Jedge B'ar done got all-under holt on de lawyer-books, kaze dat 'zackly w'at dey say w'en a man level on he neighbor pantry.

"Den Brer Rabbit, he make out he skeerd, en he holler en cry, en beg um, in de name er goodness, don't fling 'im in de spring branch, kaze dey all know he dunner how ter swim: but ef dey bleedz fer ter pitch 'im in, den for mussy sake gin' 'im a walkin'-cane, so he kin have sumpin' ter hol' ter w'iles he drownin'.

"Ole Brer B'ar scratch his head en say, sezee, dat, fur ez his 'membunce go back, he aint come 'cross nothin' in de lawyer-book ter de contraries er dat, en den dey all 'gree dat Brer Rabbit kin have a walkin'-cane.

"Wid dat, dey ketch up Brer Rabbit en put 'im in a wheelborrow en kyar 'im down ter de branch, en fling 'im in."

"Eh-eh!" exclaimed 'Tildy, with well-feigned astonishment.

"Dey fling 'im in," continued Uncle Remus, "en Brer Rabbit light on he foots, same ez a tomcat, en pick his way out by de helps er de walkin'-cane. De water wuz dat shaller dat it don't mo'n come over Brer Rabbit slipper, en w'en he git out on t'er side, he holler back, sezee:

"'So long, Brer Fox!'"

——————————————————————————————————— FOOTNOTES:

[13] A corruption of "aye, aye." It is used as an expression of triumph and its employment in this connection is both droll and picturesque.

[14] Southern readers will recognize this and "han'-roomance" as terms used by negroes in playing marbles,—a favorite game on the plantations Sunday afternoons. These terms were curt and expressive enough to gain currency among the whites.

[15] Levy. ———————————————————————————————————



XIII

BROTHER FOX, BROTHER RABBIT, AND KING DEER'S DAUGHTER

Notwithstanding Brother Rabbit's success with the drum, the little boy was still inclined to refer to Mr. Benjamin Ram and his fiddle; but Uncle Remus was not, by any means, willing that such an ancient vagabond as Mr. Ram should figure as a hero, and he said that, while it was possible that Brother Rabbit was no great hand with the fiddle, he was a drummer, and a capital singer to boot. Furthermore, Uncle Remus declared that Brother Rabbit could perform upon the quills,[16] an accomplishment to which none of the other animals could lay claim. There was a time, too, the old man pointedly suggested, when the romantic rascal used his musical abilities to win the smiles of a nice young lady of quality—no less a personage, indeed, than King Deer's daughter. As a matter of course, the little boy was anxious to hear the particulars, and Uncle Remus was in nowise loath to give them.

"W'en you come ter ax me 'bout de year en day er de mont'," said the old man, cunningly arranging a defence against criticism, "den I'm done, kaze de almanick w'at dey got in dem times won't pass muster deze days, but, let 'lone dat, I 'speck dey aint had none yit; en if dey is, dey aint none bin handed down ter Remus.

"Well, den, some time 'long in dar, ole Brer Fox en Brer Rabbit got ter flyin' 'roun' King Deer daughter. Dey tells me she 'uz a monst'us likely gal, en I 'speck may be she wuz; leas'ways, Brer Fox, he hanker atter 'er, en likewise Brer Rabbit, he hanker atter 'er. Ole King Deer look lak he sorter lean todes Brer Fox, kaze ter a settle man like him, hit seem lak dat Brer Fox kin stir 'roun' en keep de pot a-b'ilin', mo' speshually bein's he de bigges'. Hit go on dis a-way twel hardly a day pass dat one er de yuther er dem creeturs don't go sparklin' 'roun' King Deer daughter, en it got so atter w'ile dat all day long Brer Rabbit en Brer Fox keep de front gate a-skreakin', en King Deer daughter aint ska'cely had time fer ter eat a meal vittels in no peace er min'.

"In dem days," pursued Uncle Remus, in a tone of unmistakable historical fervor, "w'en a creetur go a-courtin' dey wa'n't none er dish yer bokay doin's mix' up 'longer der co'tship, en dey aint cut up no capers like folks does now. Stidder scollopin' 'roun' en bowin' en scrapin', dey des go right straight atter de gal. Ole Brer Rabbit, he mouter had some bubby-blossoms[17] wrop up in his hankcher, but mostly him en Brer Fox 'ud des drap in on King Deer daughter en 'gin ter cas' sheep-eyes at 'er time dey sot down en cross der legs."

"En I bet," said 'Tildy, by way of comment, and looking as though she wanted to blush, "dat dey wa'n't 'shame', nuther."

"Dey went 'long dis a-way," continued Uncle Remus, "twel it 'gun ter look sorter skittish wid Brer Rabbit, kaze ole King Deer done good ez say, sezee, dat he gwine ter take Brer Fox inter de fambly. Brer Rabbit, he 'low, he did, dat dis aint gwine ter do, en he study en study how he gwine ter cut Brer Fox out.



"Las', one day, w'iles he gwine thoo King Deer pastur' lot, he up wid a rock en kilt two er King Deer goats. W'en he git ter de house, he ax King Deer daughter whar'bouts her pa, en she up'n say she go call 'im, en w'en Brer Rabbit see 'im, he ax w'en de weddin' tuck place, en King Deer ax w'ich weddin', en Brer Rabbit say de weddin' 'twix' Brer Fox en King Deer daughter. Wid dat, ole King Deer ax Brer Rabbit w'at make he go on so, en Brer Rabbit, he up'n 'spon' dat he see Brer Fox makin' monst'us free wid de fambly, gwine 'roun' chunkin' de chickens en killin' up de goats.

"Ole King Deer strak he walkin'-cane down 'pon de flo', en 'low dat he don't put no 'pennunce in no sech tale lak dat, en den Brer Rabbit tell 'im dat ef he'll des take a walk down in de pastur' lot, he kin see de kyarkiss er de goats. Ole King Deer, he put out, en bimeby he come back, en he 'low he gwine ter settle marters wid Brer Fox ef it take 'im a mont'.

"Brer Rabbit say he a good frien' ter Brer Fox, en he aint got no room ter talk 'bout 'im, but yit w'en he see 'im 'stroyin' King Deer goats en chunkin' at his chickens, en rattlin' on de palin's fer ter make de dog bark, he bleedz ter come lay de case 'fo' de fambly.

"'En mo'n dat,' sez ole Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'I'm de man w'at kin make Brer Fox come en stan' right at de front gate en tell you dat he is kill dem goat; en ef you des wait twel ter-night, I won't ax you ter take my wud,' sezee.

"King Deer say ef Brer Rabbit man 'nuff ter do dat, den he kin git de gal en thanky, too. Wid dat, Brer Rabbit jump up en crack he heels tergedder, en put out fer ter fine Brer Fox. He aint git fur 'fo' he see Brer Fox comin' down de road all primp up. Brer Rabbit, he sing out, he did:

"'Brer Foxy, whar you gwine?' "En Brer Fox, he holler back:

"'Go 'way, Rab; don't bodder wid me. I'm gwine fer ter see my gal.'

"Brer Rabbit, he laugh 'way down in his stomach, but he don't let on, en atter some mo' chat, he up'n say dat ole King Deer done tell 'im 'bout how Brer Fox gwine ter marry he daughter, en den he tell Brer Fox dat he done promise King Deer dat dey'd drap 'roun' ter-night en gin 'im some music.

"'En I up'n tole 'im,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'dat de music w'at we can't make aint wuth makin',—me wid my quills, en you wid yo' tr'angle.[18] De nex' motion we makes,' sezee, we'll hatter go off some'rs en practise up on de song we'll sing, en I got one yer dat'll tickle um dat bad,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'twel I lay dey'll fetch out a hunk er dat big chicken-pie w'at I see um puttin' in de pot des now,' sezee.

"In a 'casion lak dis, Brer Fox say he de ve'y man w'at Brer Rabbit huntin', en he 'low dat he'll des 'bout put off payin' he call ter King Deer house en go wid Brer Rabbit fer ter practise on dat song.

"Den Brer Rabbit, he git he quills en Brer Fox he git he tr'angle, en dey went down on de spring branch, en dar dey sing en play, twel dey git it all by heart. Ole Brer Rabbit, he make up de song he own se'f, en he fix it so dat he sing de call, lak de captain er de co'n-pile, en ole Brer Fox, he hatter sing de answer."[19]

At this point Uncle Remus paused to indulge in one of his suggestive chuckles, and then proceeded:

"Don't talk 'bout no songs ter me. Gentermens! dat 'uz a funny song fum de wud go. Bimeby, w'en dey practise long time, dey gits up en goes 'roun' in de neighborhoods er King Deer house, en w'en night come dey tuck der stan' at de front gate, en atter all got still, Brer Rabbit, he gun de wink, en dey broke loose wid der music. Dey played a chune er two on de quills en tr'angle, en den dey got ter de song. Ole Brer Rabbit, he got de call, en he open up lak dis:

"'Some folks pile up mo'n dey kin tote, En dot w'at de marter wid King Deer goat,'

en den Brer Fox, he make answer:

"'Dat 's so, dat 's so, en I'm glad dat it's so!'

Den de quills en de tr'angle, dey come in, en den Brer Rabbit pursue on wid de call:

"'Some kill sheep en some kill shote, But Brer Fox kill King Deer goat,'

en den Brer Fox, he jine in wid de answer:

"'I did, dat I did, en I'm glad dat I did!'

En des 'bout dat time King Deer, he walk outer de gate en hit Brer Fox a clip wid his walkin'-cane, en he foller it up wid 'n'er'n, dat make Brer Fox fa'rly squall, en you des better b'lieve he make tracks 'way fum dar, en de gal she come out, en dey ax Brer Rabbit in."

"Did Brother Rabbit marry King Deer's daughter, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy.

"Now, den, honey, you're crowdin' me," responded the old man. "Dey ax 'im in, en dey gun 'im a great big hunk er chicken-pie, but I won't make sho' dat he tuck'n marry de gal. De p'int wid me is de way Brer Rabbit run Brer Fox off fum dar."

——————————————————————————————————— FOOTNOTES:

[16] The veritable Pan's pipes. A simple but very effective musical instrument made of reeds, and in great favor on the plantations.

[17] A species of sweet-shrub growing wild in the South.

[18] Triangle.

[19] That is to say, Brother Rabbit sang the air and Brother Fox the refrain. ———————————————————————————————————



XIV

BROTHER TERRAPIN DECEIVES BRER BUZZARD

There was a pause here, which was finally broken by 'Tildy, whose remark was in the shape of a very undignified yawn. Uncle Remus regarded her for a moment with an expression of undisguised scorn, which quickly expressed itself in words:

"Ef you'd er bin outer de house dat whack, you'd er tuck us all in. Pity dey aint some place er 'n'er whar deze yer trollops kin go en l'arn manners."

Tildy, however, ignored the old man, and, with a toss of her head, said to the little boy in a cool, exasperating tone, employing a pet name she had heard the child's mother use:

"Well, Pinx, I 'speck we better go. De rain done mos' hilt up now, en bimeby de stars'll be a-shinin'. Miss Sally lookin' fer you right now."

"You better go whar you gwine, you triflin' huzzy, you!" exclaimed Uncle Remus. "You better go git yo' Jim Crow kyard en straighten out dem wrops in yo' ha'r. I allers year w'ite folks say you better keep yo' eye on niggers w'at got der ha'r wrop up in strings. Now I done gun you fa'r warnin's."

"Uncle Remus," said the little boy, when the old man's wrath had somewhat subsided, "why do they call them Jim Crow cards?"

"I be bless ef I know, honey, 'ceppin' it's kaze dey er de onliest machine w'at deze yer low-life niggers kin oncomb der kinks wid. Now, den," continued the old man, straightening up and speaking with considerable animation, "dat 'min's me 'bout a riddle w'at been runnin' 'roun' in my head. En dat riddle—it's de outdoin'es' riddle w'at I mos' ever year tell un. Hit go lak dis: Ef he come, he don't come; ef he don't come, he come. Now, I boun' you can't tell w'at is dat."

After some time spent in vain guessing, the little boy confessed that he did n't know.

"Hit 's crow en co'n," said Uncle Remus sententiously.

"Crow and corn, Uncle Remus?"

"Co'se, honey. Crow come, de co'n don't come; crow don't come, den de co'n come."

"Dat 's so," said 'Tildy. "I done see um pull up co'n, en I done see co'n grow w'at dey don't pull up."

If 'Tildy thought to propitiate Uncle Remus, she was mistaken. He scowled at her, and addressed himself to the little boy:

"De Crow, he mighty close kin ter de Buzzud, en dat puts me in min' dat we aint bin a-keepin' up wid ole Brer Buzzud close ez we might er done.

"W'at de case mout be deze days, I aint a-sayin', but, in dem times, ole Brer Tarrypin love honey mo' samer dan Brer B'ar, but he wuz dat flat-footed dat, w'en he fine a bee-tree, he can't climb it, en he go so slow dat he can't hardly fine um. Bimeby, one day, w'en he gwine 'long down de road des a-honin' atter honey, who should he meet but ole Brer Buzzud.

"Dey shuck han's mighty sociable en ax 'bout de news er de neighborhoods, en den, atter w'ile, Brer Tarrypin say ter ole Brer Buzzud, sezee, dat he wanter go inter cahoots wid 'im 'longer gittin' honey, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' dey struck a trade. Brer Buzzud wuz ter fly 'roun' en look fer de bee-tree, en Brer Tarrypin he wuz ter creep en crawl, en hunt on de groun'.

"Dey start out, dey did, ole Brer Buzzud sailin' 'roun' in de elements, en ole Brer Tarrypin shufflin' en shamblin' on de groun'. 'Mos' de ve'y fus' fiel' w'at he come ter, Brer Tarrypin strak up wid a great big bumbly-bee nes' in de groun'. He look 'roun', ole Brer Tarrypin did, en bimeby he stick he head in en tas'e de honey, en den he pull it out en look all 'roun' fer ter see ef he kin ketch a glimpse er Brer Buzzud; but Brer Buzzud don't seem lak he nowhar. Den Brer Tarrypin say to hisse'f, sezee, dat he 'speck dat bumbly-bee honey aint de kinder honey w'at dey been talkin' 'bout, en dey aint no great shakes er honey dar nohow. Wid dat, Brer Tarrypin crope inter de hole en gobble up de las' drop er de bumbly-bee honey by he own-alone se'f. Atter he done make 'way wid it, he come out, he did, en he whirl in en lick it all off'n his footses, so ole Brer Buzzud can't tell dat he done bin git a mess er honey.

"Den ole Brer Tarrypin stretch out he neck en try ter lick de honey off'n he back, but he neck too short; en he try ter scrape it off up 'g'in' a tree, but it don't come off; en den he waller on de groun', but still it don't come off. Den old Brer Tarrypin jump up, en say ter hisse'f dat he'll des 'bout rack off home, en w'en Brer Buzzud come he kin lie on he back en say he sick, so ole Brer Buzzud can't see de honey.

"Brer Tarrypin start off, he did, but he happen ter look up, en, lo en beholes, dar wuz Brer Buzzud huv'rin' right spang over de spot whar he is. Brer Tarrypin know Brer Buzzud bleedz ter see 'im ef he start off home, en mo'n dat, he know he be fine out ef he don't stir 'roun' en do sump'n' mighty quick. Wid dat, Brer Tarrypin shuffle back ter de bumbly-bee nes' swif' ez he kin, en buil' 'im a fier in dar, en den he crawl out en holler:

"'Brer Buzzud! O Brer Buzzud! Run yer, fer gracious sake, Brer Buzzud, en look how much honey I done fine! I des crope in a little ways, en it des drip all down my back, same like water. Run yer, Brer Buzzud! Half yone en half mine, Brer Buzzud!'

"Brer Buzzud, he flop down, en he laugh en say he mighty glad, kaze he done git hongry up dar whar he bin. Den Brer Tarrypin tell Brer Buzzud fer ter creep in little ways en tas'e en see how he like um, w'iles he take his stan' on de outside en watch fer somebody. But no sooner is Brer Buzzud crope in de bumbly-bee nes' dan Brer Tarrypin take'n roll a great big rock front er de hole. Terreckly, de fier 'gun ter bu'n Brer Buzzud, en he sing out like a man in trouble:

"'Sump'n' bitin' me, Brer Tarrypin—sump'n' bitin' me, Brer Tarrypin!'

"Den ole Brer Tarrypin, he holler back:

"'It's de bumbly-bees a-stingin' you, Brer Buzzud; stan' up en flop yo' wings, Brer Buzzud. Stan' up en flop yo' wings, Brer Buzzud, en you'll drive um off,' sezee.

"Brer Buzzud flop en flop he wings, but de mo' w'at he flop, de mo' he fan de fier, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he done bodaciously bu'n up, all 'ceppin' de big een er his wing-fedders, en dem ole Brer Tarrypin tuck en make inter some quills, w'ich he go 'roun' a-playin' un um, en de chune w'at he play was dish yer:

"'I foolee, I foolee, I foolee po' Buzzud; Po' Buzzud I foolee, I foolee, I foolee.'"



XV

BROTHER FOX COVETS THE QUILLS

"That must have been a mighty funny song," said the little boy.

"Fun one time aint fun 'n'er time; some folks fines fun whar yuther folks fines trouble. Pig may laugh w'en he see de rock a-heatin', but dey aint no fun dar fer de pig.[20]

"Yit, fun er no fun, dat de song w'at Brer Tarrypin play on de quills:

"'I foolee, I foolee, I foolee po' Buzzud; Po' Buzzud I foolee, I foolee, I foolee.'

"Nobody dunner whar de quills cum fum, kaze Brer Tarrypin, he aint makin no brags how he git um; yit ev'ybody wants um on account er der playin' sech a lonesome[21] chune, en ole Brer Fox, he want um wuss'n all. He beg en he beg Brer Tarrypin fer ter sell 'im dem quills; but Brer Tarrypin, he hol' on t' um tight, en say eh-eh! Den he ax Brer Tarrypin fer ter loan um t' um des a week, so he kin play fer he chilluns, but Brer Tarrypin, he shake he head en put he foot down, en keep on playin':

"'I foolee, I foolee, I foolee po' Buzzud; Po' Buzzud I foolee, I foolee, I foolee.'

"But Brer Fox, he aint got no peace er min' on account er dem quills, en one day he meet Brer Tarrypin en he ax 'im how he seem ter segashuate[22] en he fambly en all he chilluns; en den Brer Fox ax Brer Tarrypin ef he can't des look at de quills, kaze he got some goose-fedders at he house, en if he kin des get a glimpse er Brer Tarrypin quills, he 'speck he kin make some mighty like um.

"Brer Tarrypin, he study 'bout dis, but he hate ter 'ny small favors like dat, en bimeby he hol' out dem quills whar Brer Fox kin see um. Wid dat, Brer Fox, he tuck'n juk de quills outen Brer Tarrypin han', he did, and dash off des ez hard ez he kin go. Brer Tarrypin, he holler en holler at 'im des loud ez he kin holler, but he know he can't ketch 'im, en he des sot dar, Brer Tarrypin did, en look lak he done los' all de kin-folks w'at he got in de roun' worrul'.

"Atter dis, Brer Fox he strut 'roun' en play mighty biggity, en eve'y time he meet Brer Tarrypin in de road he walk all 'roun' 'im en play on de quills like dis:

"'I foolee, I foolee po' Buzzud; I foolee ole Tarrypin, too.'

"Brer Tarrypin, he feel mighty bad, but he aint sayin' nothin'. Las', one day w'iles ole Brer Tarrypin was settin' on a log sunnin' hisse'f, yer come Brer Fox playin' dat same old chune on de quills, but Brer Tarrypin, he stay still. Brer Fox, he come up little nigher en play, but Brer Tarrypin, he keep he eyes shot en he stay still. Brer Fox, he come nigher en git on de log; Brer Tarrypin aint sayin' nothin'. Brer Fox still git up nigher en play on de quills; still Brer Tarrypin aint sayin' nothin'.

"'Brer Tarrypin mighty sleepy dis mawnin',' sez Brer Fox, sezee.

"Still Brer Tarrypin keep he eyes shot en stay still. Brer Fox keep on gittin' nigher en nigher, twel bimeby Brer Tarrypin open he eyes en he mouf bofe, en he make a grab at Brer Fox en miss 'im.

"But hol' on!" exclaimed Uncle Remus, in response to an expression of intense disappointment in the child's face. "You des wait a minnit. Nex' mawnin', Brer Tarrypin take hisse'f off en waller in a mud-hole, en smear hisse'f wid mud twel he look des 'zackly lak a clod er dirt. Den he crawl off en lay down un'need a log whar he know Brer Fox come eve'y mawnin' fer ter freshen[23] hisse'f.

"Brer Tarrypin lay dar, he did, en terreckly yer come Brer Fox. Time he git dar, Brer Fox 'gun ter lip backerds en forerds 'cross de log, and Brer Tarrypin he crope nigher en nigher, twel bimeby he make a grab at Brer Fox en kotch him by de foot. Dey tells me," continued Uncle Remus, rubbing his hands together in token of great satisfaction,—"dey tells me dat w'en Brer Tarrypin ketch holt, hit got ter thunder 'fo' he let go. All I know, Brer Tarrypin git Brer Fox by de foot, en he hilt 'im dar. Brer Fox he jump en he r'ar, but Brer Tarrypin done got 'im. Brer Fox, he holler out:

"'Brer Tarrypin, please lemme go!'

"Brer Tarrypin talk way down in his th'oat:

"'Gim' my quills!'

"'Lemme go en fetch um.'

"'Gim'my quills!'

"'Do pray lemme go git um.'

"'Gim'my quills!'

"En, bless gracious! dis all Brer Fox kin git outer Brer Tarrypin. Las', Brer Fox foot hu't 'im so bad dat he bleedz ter do sump'n', en he sing out fer his ole 'oman fer ter fetch de quills, but he ole 'oman, she busy 'bout de house, en she don't year 'im. Den he call he son, w'ich he name Tobe. He holler en bawl, en Tobe make answer:

"'Tobe! O Tobe! You Tobe!'

"'W'at you want, daddy?'

"'Fetch Brer Tarrypin quills.'

"'W'at you say, daddy? Fetch de big tray ter git de honey in?'

"'No, you crazy-head! Fetch Brer Tarrypin quills!'

"'W'at you say, daddy? Fetch de dipper ter ketch de minners in?'

"'No, you fool! Fetch Brer Tarrypin quills!'

"'W'at you say, daddy? Water done been spill?'

"Hit went on dis a-way twel atter w'ile ole Miss Fox year de racket, en den she lissen, en she know dat 'er ole man holler'n' fer de quills, en she fotch um out en gun um ter Brer Tarrypin, en Brer Tarrypin, he let go he holt. He let go he holt," Uncle Remus went on, "but long time atter dat, w'en Brer Fox go ter pay he calls, he hatter go hoppity-fetchity, hoppity-fetchity."



The old man folded his hands in his lap, and sat quietly gazing into the lightwood fire. Presently he said:

"I 'speck Miss Sally blessin' us all right now, en fus' news you know she'll h'ist up en have Mars John a-trapesin' down yer; en ef she do dat, den ter-morrer mawnin' my brekkuss'll be col', en lakwise my dinner, en ef dey's sump'n' w'at I 'spizes hit 's col' vittels."

Thereupon Uncle Remus arose, shook himself, peered out into the night to discover that the rain had nearly ceased, and then made ready to carry the little boy to his mother. Long before the chickens had crowed for midnight, the child, as well as the old man, had been transported to the land where myths and fables cease to be wonderful,—the land of pleasant dreams.

——————————————————————————————————— FOOTNOTES:

[20] An allusion to the primitive mode of cleaning hogs by heating rocks, and placing them in a barrel or tank of water.

[21] This word "lonesome," as used by the negroes, is the equivalent of "thrilling," "romantic," etc., and in that sense is very expressive.

[22] An inquiry after his health. Another form is: "How does yo' corporosity seem ter segashuate?"

[23] Exercise himself. ———————————————————————————————————



XVI

HOW BROTHER FOX FAILED TO GET HIS GRAPES

One night the little boy failed to make his appearance at the accustomed hour, and the next morning the intelligence that the child was sick went forth from the "big house." Uncle Remus was told that it had been necessary during the night to call in two physicians. When this information was imparted to the old man, there was an expression upon his countenance of awe not unmixed with indignation. He gave vent to the latter:

"Dar now! Two un um! W'en dat chile rize up, ef rize up he do, he'll des nat'ally be a shadder. Yer I is, gwine on eighty year, en I aint tuck none er dat ar docter truck yit, ceppin' it's dish yer flas' er poke-root w'at ole Miss Favers fix up fer de stiffness in my j'ints. Dey'll come en dey'll go, en dey'll po' in der jollup yer, en slap on der fly-plarster dar, en sprinkle der calomy yander, twel bimeby dat chile won't look like hisse'f. Dat 's w'at! En mo'n dat, hit 's mighty kuse unter me dat ole folks kin go 'long en stan' up ter de rack en gobble up der 'lowance, en yit chilluns is got ter be strucken down. Ef Miss Sally'll des tu'n dem docter mens loose onter me, I lay I lick up der physic twel dey go off 'stonish'd."

But no appeal of this nature was made to Uncle Remus. The illness of the little boy was severe, but not fatal. He took his medicine and improved, until finally even the doctors pronounced him convalescent. But he was very weak, and it was a fortnight before he was permitted to leave his bed. He was restless, and yet his term of imprisonment was full of pleasure. Every night after supper Uncle Remus would creep softly into the back piazza, place his hat carefully on the floor, rap gently on the door by way of announcement, and so pass into the nursery. How patient his vigils, how tender his ministrations, only the mother of the little boy knew; how comfortable and refreshing the change from the bed to the strong arms of Uncle Remus, only the little boy could say.

Almost the first manifestation of the child's convalescence was the renewal of his interest in the wonderful adventures of Brother Rabbit, Brother Fox, and the other brethren who flourished in that strange past over which this modern AEsop had thrown the veil of fable. "Miss Sally," as Uncle Remus called the little boy's mother, sitting in an adjoining room, heard the youngster pleading for a story, and after a while she heard the old man clear up his throat with a great affectation of formality and begin.

"Dey aint skacely no p'int whar ole Brer Rabbit en ole Brer Fox made der 'greements side wid one er 'n'er; let 'lone dat, dey wuz one p'int 'twix' 'um w'ich it wuz same ez fier en tow, en dat wuz Miss Meadows en de gals. Little ez you might 'speck, dem same creeturs wuz bofe un um flyin' 'roun' Miss Meadows en de gals. Ole Brer Rabbit, he'd go dar, en dar he'd fine ole Brer Fox settin' up gigglin' wid de gals, en den he'd skuze hisse'f, he would, en gallop down de big road a piece, en paw up de san' same lak dat ar ball-face steer w'at tuck'n tuck off yo' pa' coat-tail las' Feberwary. En lakwise ole Brer Fox, he'd sa'nter in, en fine old man Rab. settin' 'longside er de gals, en den he'd go out down de road en grab a 'simmon-bush in he mouf, en nat'ally gnyaw de bark off'n it. In dem days, honey," continued Uncle Remus, responding to a look of perplexity on the child's face, "creeturs wuz wuss dan w'at dey is now. Dey wuz dat—lots wuss.

"Dey went on dis a-way twel, bimeby, Brer Rabbit 'gun ter cas' 'roun', he did, fer ter see ef he can't bus' inter some er Brer Fox 'rangerments, en, atter w'ile, one day w'en he wer' settin' down by de side er de road wukkin up de diffunt oggyment w'at strak pun he mine, en fixin' up he tricks, des 'bout dat time he year a clatter up de long green lane, en yer come ole Brer Foxtoobookity—bookity—bookity-book—lopin' 'long mo' samer dan a bay colt in de bolly-patch. En he wuz all primp up, too, mon, en he look slick en shiny lak he des come outen de sto'. Ole man Rab., he sot dar, he did, en w'en ole Brer Fox come gallopin' 'long, Brer Rabbit, he up'n hail 'im. Brer Fox, he fotch up, en dey pass de time er day wid one er nudder monst'us perlite; en den, bimeby atter w'ile, Brer Rabbit, he up'n say, sezee, dat he got some mighty good news fer Brer Fox; en Brer Fox, he up'n ax 'im w'at is it. Den Brer Rabbit, he sorter scratch he year wid his behime foot en say, sezee:

"'I wuz takin' a walk day 'fo' yistiddy,' sezee, 'w'en de fus' news I know'd I run up gin de bigges' en de fattes' bunch er grapes dat I ever lay eyes on. Dey wuz dat fat en dat big,' sezee, 'dat de natal juice wuz des drappin' fum um, en de bees wuz a-swawmin' atter de honey, en little ole Jack Sparrer en all er his fambly conneckshun wuz skeetin' 'roun' dar dippin' in der bills,' sezee.

"Right den en dar," Uncle Remus went on, "Brer Fox mouf 'gun ter water, en he look outer he eye like he de bes' frien' w'at Brer Rabbit got in de roun' worl'. He done fergit all 'bout de gals, en he sorter sidle up ter Brer Rabbit, he did, en he say, sezee:

"'Come on, Brer Rabbit,' sezee, 'en less you 'n me go git dem ar grapes 'fo' deyer all gone,' sezee. En den ole Brer Rabbit, he laff, he did, en up'n 'spon', sezee:

"'I hungry myse'f, Brer Fox,' sezee, 'but I aint hankerin' atter grapes, en I'll be in monst'us big luck ef I kin rush 'roun' yer some'rs en scrape up a bait er pusley time nuff fer ter keep de breff in my body. En yit,' sezee,' ef you take'n rack off atter deze yer grapes, w'at Miss Meadows en de gals gwine do? I lay dey got yo' name in de pot,' sezee.

"'Ez ter dat,' sez ole Brer Fox, sezee, 'I kin drap 'roun' en see de ladies atterwards,' sezee.

"'Well, den, ef dat 's yo' game,' sez ole man Rab., sezee, 'I kin squot right flat down yer on de groun' en p'int out de way des de same ez leadin' you dar by de han',' sezee; en den Brer Rabbit sorter chaw on he cud lak he gedder'n up his 'membunce, en he up'n say, sezee:

"'You know dat ar place whar you went atter sweetgum fer Miss Meadows en de gals t'er day?' sezee.

"Brer Fox 'low dat he know dat ar place same ez he do he own tater-patch.

"'Well, den,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'de grapes aint dar. You git ter de sweetgum,' sezee, 'en den you go up de branch twel you come ter a little patch er bamboo brier—but de grapes aint dar. Den you follow yo' lef' han' en strike 'cross de hill twel you come ter dat big red oak root—but de grapes aint dar. On you goes down de hill twel you come ter 'n'er branch, en on dat branch dars a dogwood-tree leanin' 'way over, en nigh dat dogwood dars a vine, en in dat vine, dar you'll fine yo' grapes. Deyer dat ripe,' sez ole Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'dat dey look like deyer done melt tergedder, en I speck you'll fine um full er bugs, but you kin take dat fine bushy tail er yone, Brer Fox,' sezee, 'en bresh dem bugs away.'

"Brer Fox 'low he much 'blige, en den he put out atter de grapes in a han'-gallop, en w'en he done got outer sight, en likewise outer year'n, Brer Rabbit, he take'n git a blade er grass, he did, en tickle hisse'f in de year, en den he holler en laff, en laff en holler, twel he hatter lay down fer ter git he breff back 'gin.

"Den, atter so long time, Brer Rabbit he jump up, he do, en take atter Brer Fox, but Brer Fox, he aint look ter de right ner de lef', en needer do he look behime; he des keep a-rackin' 'long twel he come ter de sweetgum-tree, en den he tu'n up de branch twel he come ter de bamboo brier, en den he tu'n squar ter de lef' twel he come ter de big red-oak root, en den he keep on down he hill twel he come ter de yuther branch, en dar he see de dogwood; en mo'n dat, dar nigh de dogwood he see de vine, en in dat vine dar wuz de big bunch er grapes. Sho' nuff, dey wuz all kivvud wid bugs.

"Ole Brer Rabbit, he'd bin a-pushin' 'long atter Brer Fox, but he des hatter scratch gravel fer ter keep up. Las' he hove in sight, en he lay off in de weeds, he did, fer ter watch Brer Fox motions. Present'y Brer Fox crope up de leanin' dogwood-tree twel he come nigh de grapes, en den he sorter ballunce hisse'f on a lim' en gun um a swipe wid his big bushy tail, fer ter bresh off de bugs. But, bless yo' soul, honey! no sooner is he done dat dan he fetch a squall w'ich Miss Meadows vow atterwards she year plum ter her house, en down he come—kerblim!"

"What was the matter, Uncle Remus?" the little boy asked.

"Law, honey! dat seetful Brer Rabbit done fool ole Brer Fox. Dem ar grapes all so fine wuz needer mo' ner less dan a great big was'-nes', en dem bugs wuz deze yer red wassies—deze yer speeshy w'at's rank pizen fum cen' ter cen'. W'en Brer Fox drap fum de tree de wassies dey drap wid 'im, en de way dey wom ole Brer Fox up wuz sinful. Dey aint mo'n tetch' im 'fo' dey had 'im het up ter de b'ilin' p'int. Brer Fox, he run, en he kick, en he scratch, en he bite, en he scramble, en he holler, en he howl, but look lak dey git wuss en wuss. One time, hit seem lak Brer Fox en his new 'quaintance wuz makin' todes Brer Rabbit, but dey aint no sooner p'int dat way, dan ole Brer Rabbit, he up'n make a break, en he went sailin' thoo de woods wuss'n wunner dese whully-win's, en he aint stop twel he fetch up at Miss Meadows.

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