"Miss Meadows en de gals, dey ax 'im, dey did, wharbouts wuz Brer Fox, en Brer Rabbit, he up'n 'spon' dat he done gone a-grape-huntin', en den Miss Meadows, she 'low, she did:
"'Law, gals! is you ever year de beat er dat? En dat, too, w'en Brer Fox done say he comin' ter dinner,' sez she. 'I lay I done wid Brer Fox, kaze you can't put no pennunce in deze yer men-folks,' sez she. 'Yer de dinner bin done dis long time, en we bin a-waitin' lak de quality. But now I'm done wid Brer Fox,' sez she.
"Wid dat, Miss Meadows en de gals dey ax Brer Rabbit fer ter stay ter dinner, en Brer Rabbit, he sorter make like he wanter be skuze, but bimeby he tuck a cheer en sot um out. He tuck a cheer," continued Uncle Remus, "en he aint bin dar long twel he look out en spy ole Brer Fox gwine 'long by, en w'at do Brer Rabbit do but call Miss Meadows en de gals en p'int 'im out? Soon's dey seed 'im dey sot up a monst'us gigglement, kaze Brer Fox wuz dat swell up twel little mo'n he'd a bus'. He head wuz swell up, en down ter he legs, dey wuz swell up. Miss Meadows, she up'n say dat Brer Fox look like he done gone en got all de grapes dey wuz in de neighborhoods, en one er de yuther gals, she squeal, she did, en say:
"'Law, aint you 'shame', en right yer 'fo' Brer Rabbit!'
"En den dey hilt der han's 'fo' der face en giggle des like gals duz deze days."
BROTHER FOX FIGURES AS AN INCENDIARY
The next night the little boy had been thoughtful enough to save some of his supper for Uncle Remus, and to this "Miss Sally" had added, on her own account, a large piece of fruit-cake. The old man appeared to be highly pleased.
"Ef ders enny kinder cake w'at I likes de mos', hit 's dish yer kine w'at's got reezins strowed 'mongs' it. Wid sick folks, now," he continued, holding up the cake and subjecting it to a critical examination, "dish yer hunk 'ud mighty nigh las' a mont', but wid a well man lak I is, hit won't las' a minnit."
And it did n't. It disappeared so suddenly that the little boy laughed aloud, and wanted Uncle Remus to have some more cake; but the latter protested that he did n't come there "fer ter git founder'd," but merely to see "ef somebody's strenk uz strong 'nuff fer ter stan' 'n'er tale." The little boy said if Uncle Remus meant him, he was sure his health was good enough to listen to any number of stories. Whereupon, the old man, without any tantalizing preliminaries, began:
"Brer Fox done bin fool so much by Brer Rabbit dat he sorter look 'roun' fer ter see ef he can't ketch up wid some er de yuther creeturs, en so, one day, w'iles he gwine long down de big road, who should he strak up wid but old Brer Tarrypin. Brer Fox sorter lick his chops, en 'low dat ef he kin fling ennybody en gin um all-under holt, Brer Tarrypin de man, en he march up, mighty biggity, like he gwine ter make spote un 'im. W'en he git up nigh 'nuff, Brer Fox hail 'im:
"'How you 'speck you fine yo'se'f dis mawnin', Brer Tarrypin?' sezee.
"'Slow, Brer Fox—mighty slow,' sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee. 'Day in en day out I'm mighty slow, en it look lak I'm a-gittin' slower; I'm slow en po'ly, Brer Fox—how you come on?' sezee.
"'Oh, I'm slanchindickler, same ez I allers is,' sez Brer Fox, sezee. 'W'at make yo' eye so red, Brer Tarrypin?' sezee.
"'Hit 's all 'longer de trouble I see, Brer Fox,' sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee. 'I see trouble en you see none; trouble come en pile up on trouble,' sezee.
"'Law, Brer Tarrypin!' sez Brer Fox, sezee, 'you aint see no trouble yit. Ef you wanter see sho' 'nuff trouble, you des oughter go 'longer me; I'm de man w'at kin show you trouble,' sezee.
"'Well, den,' sez ole Brer Tarrypin, sezee, 'ef youer de man w'at kin show me trouble, den I'm de man w'at want a glimpse un it,' sezee.
"Den Brer Fox, he ax Brer Tarrypin is he seed de Ole Boy, en den Brer Tarrypin, he make answer dat he aint seed 'im yit, but he year tell un 'im. Wid dat, Brer Fox 'low de Ole Boy de kinder trouble he bin talkin' 'bout, en den Brer Tarrypin, he up'n ax how he gwine see 'im. Brer Fox, he tak'n lay out de pogrance, en he up'n tell Brer Tarrypin dat ef he'll step up dar in de middle er dat ole broom-sage fiel', en squot dar a spell, 't won't be no time 'fo' he'll ketch a glimpse er de Ole Boy.
"Brer Tarrypin know'd ders sump'n' wrong some'rs, yit he mos' too flat-flooted fer ter have enny scuffle wid Brer Fox, en he say ter hisse'f dat he'll go 'long en des trus' ter luck; en den he 'low dat ef Brer Fox he'p 'im 'cross de fence, he b'lieve he'll go up en resk one eye on de Ole Boy. Co'se Brer Fox hope 'im 'cross, en no sooner is he good en gone, dan Brer Fox, he fix up fer ter make 'im see trouble. He lipt out ter Miss Meadows house, Brer Fox did, en make like he wanter borry a chunk er fier fer ter light he pipe, en he tuck dat chunk, en he run 'roun' de fiel', en he sot de grass a fier, en't wa'n't long 'fo' it look lak de whole face er de yeth waz a-blazin' up."
"Did it burn the Terrapin up?" interrupted the little boy.
"Don't push me, honey; don't make me git de kyart 'fo' de hoss. W'en ole Brer Tarrypin 'gun ter wade thoo de straw, de ve'y fus' man w'at he strak up wid wuz ole man Rabbit layin' dar sleepin' on de shady side uv a tussock. Brer Rabbit, he one er deze yer kinder mens w'at sleep wid der eye wide open, en he wuz 'wake d'reckly he year Brer Tarrypin scufflin' en scramblin' 'long thoo de grass. Atter dey shuck han's en ax 'bout one er n'er fambly, hit aint take long fer Brer Tarrypin fer ter tell Brer Rabbit w'at fotch 'im dar, en Brer Rabbit, he up'n say, sezee:
"'Hit 's des na'tally a born blessin' dat you struck up wid me w'en you did,' sezee, 'kaze little mo' en bofe un us would 'a' bin bobbycu'd,' sezee.
"Dis kinder tarrify Brer Tarrypin, en he say he wanter git out fum dar; but Brer Rabbit he 'low he'd take keer un 'im, en he tuck'n tuck Brer Tarrypin in de middle er de fiel' whar dey wuz a big holler stump. Onter dis stump Brer Rabbit lif' Brer Tarrypin, en den he lip up hisse'f en crope in de holler, en, bless yo' soul, honey, w'en de fier come a-snippin' en a-snappin', dar dey sot des ez safe en ez snug ez you iz in yo' bed dis minnit.
"W'en de blaze blow over, Brer Tarrypin look 'roun', en he see Brer Fox runnin' up'n down de fence lak he huntin' sump'n'. Den Brer Rabbit, he stick he head up outen de hole, en likewise he seed 'im, and den he holler like Brer Tarrypin" (Here Uncle Remus puckered his voice, so to say, in a most amusing squeak):
"'Brer Fox! Brer Fox! O Brer Fox! Run yer—we done kotch Brer Rabbit!'
"En den Brer Fox, he jump up on de top rail er de fence en fetch a spring dat lan' 'im 'way out in de bu'nin' grass, en it hurted 'im en sting 'im in de footses dat bad, dat he squeal en he roll, en de mo' he roll de wuss it bu'n him, en Brer Rabbit en Brer Tarrypin dey des holler en laff. Bimeby Brer Fox git out, en off he put down de road, limpin' fus' on one foot en den on de yuther."
The little boy laughed, and then there was a long silence—so long, indeed, that Uncle Remus's "Miss Sally," sewing in the next room, concluded to investigate it. An exceedingly interesting tableau met her sight. The little child had wandered into the land of dreams with a smile on his face. He lay with one of his little hands buried in both of Uncle Remus's, while the old man himself was fast asleep, with his head thrown back and his mouth wide open. "Miss Sally" shook him by the shoulder and held up her finger to prevent him from speaking. He was quiet until she held the lamp for him to get down the back steps, and then she heard him say, in an indignantly mortified tone:
"Now den, Miss Sally'll be a-riggin' me 'bout noddin', but stidder dat she better be glad dat I aint bus loose en sno' en 'larm de house—let 'lone dat sick baby. Dat 's w'at!"
A DREAM AND A STORY
"I dreamed all about Brother Fox and Brother Rabbit last night, Uncle Remus," exclaimed the little boy when the old man came in after supper and took his seat by the side of the trundle-bed; "I dreamed that Brother Fox had wings and tried to catch Brother Rabbit by flying after him."
"I don't 'spute it, honey, dat I don't!" replied the old man, in a tone which implied that he was quite prepared to believe the dream itself was true. "Manys en manys de time, deze long nights en deze rainy spells, dat I sets down dar in my house over ag'in de chimbley-jam—I sets dar en I dozes, en it seem lak dat ole Brer Rabbit, he'll stick he head in de crack er de do' en see my eye periently shot, en den he'll beckon back at de yuther creeturs, en den dey'll all come slippin' in on der tip-toes, en dey'll set dar en run over de ole times wid one er n'er, en crack der jokes same ez dey useter. En den ag'in," continued the old man, shutting his eyes and giving to his voice a gruesome intonation quite impossible to describe,—"en den ag'in hit look lak dat Brer Rabbit'll gin de wink all 'roun', en den dey'll tu'n in en git up a reg'lar juberlee. Brer Rabbit, he'll retch up en take down de trivet, en Brer Fox, he'll snatch up de griddle, en Brer B'ar, he'll lay holt er de pot-hooks, en ole Brer Tarrypin, he'll grab up de fryin' pan en dar dey'll have it, up en down, en' roun' en 'roun'. Hit seem like ter me dat ef I kin git my mine smoove down en ketch up some er dem ar chunes w'at dey sets dar en plays, den I 'd lean back yer in dish yer cheer en I'd intrance you wid um, twel, by dis time termorrer night, you'd be settin' up dar at de supper-table 'sputin' 'longer yo' little brer 'bout de 'lasses pitcher. Dem creeturs dey sets dar," Uncle Remus went on, "en dey plays dem kinder chunes w'at moves you fum 'way back yander; en manys de time w'en I gits lonesome kaze dey aint nobody year um 'ceppin' it's me. Dey aint no tellin' de chunes dey is in dat trivet, en in dat griddle, en in dat fryin'-pan er mine; dat dey aint. W'en dem creeturs walks in en snatches um down, dey lays Miss Sally's pianner in de shade, en Mars John's flute, hit aint nowhars."
"Do they play on them just like a band, Uncle Remus?" inquired the little boy, who was secretly in hopes that the illusion would not be destroyed.
"Dey comes des lak I tell you, honey. W'en I shets my eyes en dozes, dey comes en dey plays, but w'en I opens my eyes dey aint dar. Now, den, w'en dat 's de shape er marters, w'at duz I do? I des shets my eyes en hol' um shot, en let um come en play dem ole time chunes twel long atter bed-time done come en gone."
Uncle Remus paused, as though he expected the little boy to ask some question or make some comment, but the child said nothing, and presently the old man resumed, in a matter-of-fact tone:
"Dat dream er yone, honey, 'bout Brer Fox wid wings, fetches up de time w'en Brer Fox en Brer Wolf had der fallin' out wid one er n'er—but I 'speck I done tole you 'bout dat."
"Oh, no, you have n't, Uncle Remus! You know you have n't!" the little boy exclaimed.
"Well, den, one day, atter so long a time, Brer Wolf en Brer Fox dey got ter 'sputin' 'longer one er n'er. Brer Wolf, he tuck'n 'buse Brer Fox kaze Brer Fox let Brer Rabbit fool 'im, en den Brer Fox, he tuck'n quol back at Brer Wolf, kaze Brer Wolf let ole man Rabbit lakwise fool 'im. Dey keep on 'sputin' en 'sputin', twel bimeby dey clinch, en Brer Wolf, bein' de bigges' man, 't would n't a bin long 'fo' he'd a wool Brer Fox, but Brer Fox, he watch he chance, he did, en he gin 'im leg bail."
"Gave him what, Uncle Remus?"
"Gin 'im leg bail, honey. He juk loose fum Brer Wolf, Brer Fox did, en, gentermens, he des mosey thoo de woods. Brer Wolf, he tuck atter 'm, he did, en dar dey had it, en Brer Wolf push Brer Fox so close, dat de onliest way Brer Fox kin save he hide is ter fine a hole some'rs, en de fus' holler tree dat he come 'cross, inter it he dove. Brer Wolf fetcht a grab at 'im, but he wuz des in time fer ter be too late.
"Den Brer Wolf, he sot dar, he did, en he study en study how he gwine git Brer Fox out, en Brer Fox, he lay in dar, he did, en he study en study w'at Brer Wolf gwine do. Bimeby, Brer Wolf, he tuck'n gedder up a whole lot er chunks, en rocks, en sticks, en den he tuck'n fill up de hole what Brer Fox went in so Brer Fox can't git out. W'iles dis wuz gwine on, ole Brer Tukky Buzzud, he wuz sailin' 'roun' 'way up in de elements, wid he eye peel fer bizness, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he glance lit on Brer Wolf, en he 'low ter hisse'f, sezee:
"'I'll des sorter flop down,' sezee, 'en look inter dis, kaze ef Brer Wolf hidin' he dinner dar wid de expeck'shun er findin' it dar w'en he come back, den he done gone en put it in de wrong place,' sezee.
"Wid dat ole Brer Tukky Buzzud, he flop down en sail 'roun' nigher, en he soon see dat Brer Wolf aint hidin' no dinner. Den he flop down furder, ole Brer Buzzud did, twel he lit on de top er de holler tree. Brer Wolf, he done kotch a glimpse er ole Brer Buzzud shadder, but he keep on puttin' chunks en rocks in de holler. Den, present'y, Brer Buzzud, he open up:
"'W'at you doin' dar, Brer Wolf?'
"'Makin' a toom-stone, Brer Buzzud.'
"Co'se Brer Buzzud sorter feel like he got intruss in marters like dis, en he holler back:
"'Who dead now, Brer Wolf?'
"'Wunner yo' 'quaintance, w'ich he name Brer Fox, Brer Buzzud.'
"'W'en he die, Brer Wolf?'
"'He aint dead yit, but he won't las' long in yer, Brer Buzzud.'
"Brer Wolf, he keep on, he did, twel he done stop up de hole good, en den he bresh de trash off'n his cloze, en put out fer home. Brer Tukky Buzzud, he sot up dar, he did, en ontankle his tail fedders, en lissen en lissen, but Brer Fox, he keep dark, en Brer Buzzud aint year nuthin'. Den Brer Buzzud, he flop he wings en sail away.
"Bimeby, nex' day, bright en early, yer he come back, en he sail all 'roun' en 'roun' de tree, but Brer Fox he lay low en keep dark, en Brer Buzzud aint year nuthin'. Atter w'ile, Brer Buzzud he sail 'roun' ag'in, en dis time he sing, en de song w'at he sing is dish yer:
"'Boo, boo, boo, my filler-mer-loo, Man out yer wid news fer you!'
Den he sail all 'roun' en 'roun' n'er time en listen, en bimeby he year Brer Fox sing back:
"'Go 'way, go 'way, my little jug er beer, De news you bring, I yeard las' year.'"
"Beer, Uncle Remus? What kind of beer did they have then?" the little boy inquired.
"Now, den, honey, youer gittin' me up in a close cornder," responded the old man, in an unusually serious tone. "Beer is de way de tale runs, but w'at kinder beer it moughter bin aint come down ter me—en yit hit seem lak I year talk some'rs dat dish yer beer wuz mos' prins'ply 'simmon beer."
This seemed to satisfy the small but exacting audience, and Uncle Remus continued:
"So, den, w'en Brer Buzzud year Brer Fox sing back, he 'low he aint dead, en wid dat, Brer Buzzud, he sail off en 'ten' ter he yuther business. Nex' day back he come, en Brer Fox, he sing back, he did, des ez lively ez a cricket in de ashes, en it keep on dis way twel Brer Fox stomach 'gun ter pinch him, en den he know dat he gotter study up some kinder plans fer ter git out fum dar. N'er day pass, en Brer Fox, he tuck'n lay low, en it keep on dat a-way twel hit look like ter Brer Fox, pent up in dar, he mus' sholy pe'sh. Las', one day Brer Buzzud come sailin' all 'roun' en 'roun' wid dat
"'Boo, boo, boo, my filler-mer-loo,'
but Brer Fox, he keep dark en Brer Buzzud, he tuck'n spishun dat Brer Fox wuz done dead. Brer Buzzud, he keep on singin', en Brer Fox he keep on layin' low, twel bimeby Brer Buzzud lit en 'gun ter cle'r 'way de trash en truck fum de holler. He hop up, he did, en tuck out one chunk, en den he hop back en lissen, but Brer Fox stay still. Den Brer Buzzud hop up en tuck out n'er chunk, en den hop back en lissen, en all dis time Brer Fox mouf 'uz waterin' w'iles he lay back in dar en des nat'ally honed atter Brer Buzzud. Hit went on dis a-way, twel des 'fo' he got de hole unkivvud, Brer Fox, he break out he did, en grab Brer Buzzud by de back er de neck. Dey wuz a kinder scuffle 'mongs' um, but 't wa'n't fer long, en dat wuz de las' er ole Brer Tukky Buzzud."
THE MOON IN THE MILL-POND
One night when the little boy made his usual visit to Uncle Remus, he found the old man sitting up in his chair fast asleep. The child said nothing. He was prepared to exercise a good deal of patience upon occasion, and the occasion was when he wanted to hear a story. But, in making himself comfortable, he aroused Uncle Remus from his nap.
"I let you know, honey," said the old man, adjusting his spectacles, and laughing rather sheepishly,—"I let you know, honey, w'en I gits my head r'ar'd back dat a-way, en my eyeleds shot, en my mouf open, en my chin p'intin' at de rafters, den dey's some mighty quare gwines on in my min'. Dey is dat, des ez sho' ez youer settin' dar. W'en I fus' year you comin' down de paf," Uncle Remus continued, rubbing his beard thoughtfully, "I 'uz sorter fear'd you mought 'spicion dat I done gone off on my journeys fer ter see ole man Nod."
This was accompanied by a glance of inquiry, to which the little boy thought it best to respond.
"Well, Uncle Remus," he said, "I did think I heard you snoring when I came in."
"Now you see dat!" exclaimed Uncle Remus, in a tone of grieved astonishment; "you see dat! Man can't lean hisse'f 'pun his 'membunce, 'ceppin' dey's some un fer ter come high-primin' 'roun' en 'lowin' dat he done gone ter sleep. Shoo! W'en you stept in dat do' dar I 'uz right in 'mungs some mighty quare notions—mighty quare notions. Dey aint no two ways; ef I uz ter up en let on 'bout all de notions w'at I gits in 'mungs, folks 'ud hatter come en kyar me off ter de place whar dey puts 'stracted people.
"Atter I sop up my supper," Uncle Remus went on, "I tuck'n year some flutterments up dar 'mungs de rafters, en I look up, en dar wuz a Bat sailin' 'roun'. 'Roun' en 'roun', en 'roun' she go—und' de rafters, 'bove de rafters—en ez she sail she make noise lak she grittin' 'er toofies. Now, w'at dat Bat atter, I be bless ef I kin tell you, but dar she wuz; 'roun' en 'roun', over en under. I ax 'er w'at do she want up dar, but she aint got no time fer ter tell; 'roun' en 'roun', en over en under. En bimeby, out she flip, en I boun' she grittin' 'er toofies en gwine 'roun' en 'roun' out dar, en dodgin' en flippin' des lak de elements wuz full er rafters en cobwebs.
"W'en she flip out I le'nt my head back, I did, en 't wa'n't no time 'fo' I git mix up wid my notions. Dat Bat wings so limber en 'er will so good dat she done done 'er day's work dar 'fo' you could 'er run ter de big house en back. De Bat put me in min' er folks," continued Uncle Remus, settling himself back in his chair, "en folks put me in min' er de creeturs."
Immediately the little boy was all attention.
"Dey wuz times," said the old man, with something like a sigh, "w'en de creeturs 'ud segashuate tergedder des like dey aint had no fallin' out. Dem wuz de times w'en ole Brer Rabbit 'ud 'ten 'lak he gwine quit he 'havishness, en dey'd all go 'roun' des lak dey b'long ter de same fambly connexion.
"One time atter dey bin gwine in cohoots dis a-way, Brer Rabbit 'gun ter feel his fat, he did, en dis make 'im git projecky terreckly. De mo' peace w'at dey had, de mo' wuss Brer Rabbit feel, twel bimeby he git restless in de min'. W'en de sun shine he'd go en lay off in de grass en kick at de gnats, en nibble at de mullen stalk en waller in de san'. One night atter supper, w'iles he 'uz romancin' 'roun', he run up wid ole Brer Tarrypin, en atter dey shuck han's dey sot down on de side er de road en run on 'bout ole times. Dey talk en dey talk, dey did, en bimeby Brer Rabbit say it done come ter dat pass whar he bleedz ter have some fun, en Brer Tarrypin 'low dat Brer Rabbit des de ve'y man he bin lookin' fer.
"'Well den,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'we'll des put Brer Fox, en Brer Wolf, en Brer B'ar on notice, en termorrer night we'll meet down by de mill-pon' en have a little fishin' frolic. I'll do de talkin',' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'en you kin set back en say yea,' sezee.
"Brer Tarrypin laugh.
"'Ef I aint dar,' sezee, 'den you may know de grasshopper done fly 'way wid me,' sezee.
"'En you neenter bring no fiddle, n'er,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'kaze dey aint gwineter be no dancin' dar,' sezee.
"Wid dat," continued Uncle Remus, "Brer Rabbit put out fer home, en went ter bed, en Brer Tarrypin bruise 'roun' en make his way todes de place so he kin be dar 'gin de 'p'inted time.
"Nex' day Brer Rabbit sont wud ter de yuther creeturs, en dey all make great 'miration, kaze dey aint think 'bout dis deyse'f. Brer Fox, he 'low, he did, dat he gwine atter Miss Meadows en Miss Motts, en de yuther gals.
"Sho' nuff, w'en de time come dey wuz all dar. Brer B'ar, he fotch a hook en line; Brer Wolf, he fotch a hook en line; Brer Fox, he fotch a dip-net, en Brer Tarrypin, not ter be outdone, he fotch de bait."
"What did Miss Meadows and Miss Motts bring?" the little boy asked.
Uncle Remus dropped his head slightly to one side, and looked over his spectacles at the little boy.
"Miss Meadows en Miss Motts," he continued, "dey tuck'n stan' way back fum de aidge er de pon' en squeal eve'y time Brer Tarrypin shuck de box er bait at um. Brer B'ar 'low he gwine ter fish fer mud-cats; Brer Wolf 'low he gwine ter fish fer horneyheads; Brer Fox 'low he gwine ter fish fer peerch fer de ladies; Brer Tarrypin 'low he gwine ter fish fer minners, en Brer Rabbit wink at Brer Tarrypin en 'low he gwine ter fish fer suckers.
"Dey all git ready, dey did, en Brer Rabbit march up ter de pon' en make fer ter th'ow he hook in de water, but des 'bout dat time hit seem lak he see sump'n'. De t'er creeturs, dey stop en watch his motions. Brer Rabbit, he drap he pole, he did, en he stan' dar scratchin' he head en lookin' down in de water.
"De gals dey 'gun ter git oneasy w'en dey see dis, en Miss Meadows, she up en holler out, she did:
"'Law, Brer Rabbit, w'at de name er goodness de marter in dar?'
"Brer Rabbit scratch he head en look in de water. Miss Motts, she hilt up 'er petticoats, she did, en 'low she monst'us fear'd er snakes. Brer Rabbit keep on scratchin' en lookin'.
"Bimeby he fetch a long bref, he did, en he 'low:
"'Ladies en gentermuns all, we des might ez well make tracks fum dish yer place, kaze dey aint no fishin' in dat pon' fer none er dish yer crowd.'
"Wid dat, Brer Tarrypin, he scramble up ter de aidge en look over, en he shake he head, en 'low:
"'Tooby sho'—tooby sho'! Tut-tut-tut!' en den he crawl back, he did, en do lak he wukkin' he min'.
"'Don't be skeert, ladies, kaze we er boun' ter take keer un you, let come w'at will, let go w'at mus',' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee. 'Accidents got ter happen unter we all, des same ez dey is unter yuther folks; en dey aint nuthin' much de marter, 'ceppin' dat de Moon done drap in de water. Ef you don't b'leeve me you kin look fer yo'se'f,' sezee.
"Wid dat dey all went ter de bank en lookt in; en, sho' nuff, dar lay de Moon, a-swingin' an' a-swayin' at de bottom er de pon'."
The little boy laughed. He had often seen the reflection of the sky in shallow pools of water, and the startling depths that seemed to lie at his feet had caused him to draw back with a shudder.
"Brer Fox, he look in, he did, en he 'low, 'Well, well, well!' Brer Wolf, he look in, en he 'low, 'Mighty bad, mighty bad!' Brer B'ar, he look in, en he 'low, 'Tum, tum, tum!' De ladies dey look in, en Miss Meadows she squall out, 'Aint dat too much?' Brer Rabbit, he look in ag'in, en he up en 'low, he did:
"'Ladies en gentermuns, you all kin hum en haw, but less'n we gits dat Moon out er de pon', dey aint no fish kin be ketch 'roun' yer dis night; en ef you'll ax Brer Tarrypin, he'll tell you de same.'
"Den dey ax how kin dey git de Moon out er dar, den Brer Tarrypin 'low dey better lef' dat wid Brer Rabbit. Brer Rabbit he shot he eyes, he did, en make lak he wukkin' he min'. Bimeby, he up'n 'low:
"'De nighes' way out'n dish yer diffikil is fer ter sen' 'roun' yer to ole Mr. Mud-Turkle en borry his sane, en drag dat Moon up fum dar,' sezee.
"'I 'clar' ter gracious I mighty glad you mention dat,' says Brer Tarrypin, sezee. 'Mr. Mud-Turkle is setch clos't kin ter me dat I calls 'im Unk Muck, en I lay ef you sen' dar atter dat sane you won't fine Unk Muck so mighty disaccomerdatin'.'
"Well," continued Uncle Remus, after one of his tantalizing pauses, "dey sont atter de sane, en w'iles Brer Rabbit wuz gone, Brer Tarrypin, he 'low dat he done year tell time en time ag'in dat dem w'at fine de Moon in de water en fetch 'im out, lakwise dey ull fetch out a pot er money. Dis make Brer Fox, en Brer Wolf, en Brer B'ar feel mighty good, en dey 'low, dey did, dat long ez Brer Rabbit been so good ez ter run atter de sane, dey ull do de sanein'.
"Time Brer Rabbit git back, he see how de lan' lay, en he make lak he wanter go in atter de Moon. He pull off he coat, en he 'uz fixin' fer ter shuck he wescut, but de yuther creeturs dey 'low dey wa'n't gwine ter let dryfoot man lak Brer Rabbit go in de water. So Brer Fox, he tuck holt er one staff er de sane, Brer Wolf he tuck holt er de yuther staff, en Brer B'ar he wade 'long behime fer ter lif' de sane 'cross logs en snags.
"Dey make one haul—no Moon; n'er haul—no Moon; n'er haul—no Moon. Den bimeby dey git out furder fum de bank. Water run in Brer Fox year, he shake he head; water run in Brer Wolf year, he shake he head; water run in Brer B'ar year, he shake he head. En de fus' news you know, w'iles dey wuz a-shakin', dey come to whar de bottom shelfed off. Brer Fox he step off en duck hisse'f; den Brer Wolf duck hisse'f; en Brer B'ar he make a splunge en duck hisse'f; en, bless gracious, dey kick en splatter twel it look lak dey 'uz gwine ter slosh all de water outer de mill-pon'.
"W'en dey come out, de gals 'uz all a-snickerin' en a-gigglin', en dey well mought, 'kaze go whar you would, dey wa'n't no wuss lookin' creeturs dan dem; en Brer Rabbit, he holler, sezee:
"'I 'speck you all, gents, better go home en git some dry duds, en n'er time we'll be in better luck,' sezee. 'I hear talk dat de Moon'll bite at a hook ef you take fools fer baits, en I lay dat 's de onliest way fer ter ketch 'er,' sezee.
"Brer Fox en Brer Wolf en Brer B'ar went drippin' off, en Brer Rabbit en Brer Tarrypin, dey went home wid de gals."
BROTHER RABBIT TAKES SOME EXERCISE
One night while the little boy was sitting in Uncle Remus's cabin, waiting for the old man to finish his hoe-cake, and refresh his memory as to the further adventures of Brother Rabbit, his friends and his enemies, something dropped upon the top of the house with a noise like the crack of a pistol. The little boy jumped, but Uncle Remus looked up and exclaimed, "Ah-yi!" in a tone of triumph.
"What was that, Uncle Remus?" the child asked, after waiting a moment to see what else would happen.
"News fum Jack Fros', honey. W'en dat hick'y-nut tree out dar year 'im comin' she 'gins ter drap w'at she got. I mighty glad," he continued, scraping the burnt crust from his hoe-cake with an old case-knife, "I mighty glad hick'y-nuts aint big en heavy ez grinestones."
He waited a moment to see what effect this queer statement would have on the child.
"Yasser, I mighty glad—dat I is. 'Kaze ef hick'y-nuts 'uz big ez grinestones dish yer ole callyboose 'ud be a-leakin' long 'fo' Chris'mus."
Just then another hickory-nut dropped upon the roof, and the little boy jumped again. This seemed to amuse Uncle Remus, and he laughed until he was near to choking himself with his smoking hoe-cake.
"You does des 'zackly lak ole Brer Rabbit done, I 'clar' to gracious ef you don't!" the old man cried, as soon as he could get his breath; "dez zackly fer de worl'."
The child was immensely flattered, and at once he wanted to know how Brother Rabbit did. Uncle Remus was in such good humor that he needed no coaxing. He pushed his spectacles back on his forehead, wiped his mouth on his sleeve, and began:
"Hit come 'bout dat soon one mawnin' todes de fall er de year, Brer Rabbit wuz stirrin' 'roun' in de woods atter some bergamot fer ter make 'im some h'ar-grease. De win' blow so col' dat it make 'im feel right frisky, en eve'y time he year de bushes rattle he make lak he skeerd. He 'uz gwine on dis a-way, hoppity-skippity, w'en bimeby he year Mr. Man cuttin' on a tree way off in de woods. He fotch up, Brer Rabbit did, en lissen fus' wid one year en den wid de yuther.
"Man, he cut en cut, en Brer Rabbit, he lissen en lissen. Bimeby, w'iles all dis was gwine on, down come de tree—kubber-lang-bang-blam! Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n jump des lak you jump, en let 'lone dat, he make a break, he did, en he lipt out fum dar lak de dogs wuz atter 'im."
"Was he scared, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy.
"Skeerd! Who? Him? Shoo! don't you fret yo'se'f 'bout Brer Rabbit, honey. In dem days dey wa'n't nothin' gwine dat kin skeer Brer Rabbit. Tooby sho', he tuck keer hisse'f, en ef you know de man w'at 'fuse ter take keer hisse'f, I lak mighty well ef you p'int 'im out. Deed'n dat I would!"
Uncle Remus seemed to boil over with argumentative indignation.
"Well, den," he continued, "Brer Rabbit run twel he git sorter het up like, en des 'bout de time he makin' ready fer ter squot en ketch he win', who should he meet but Brer Coon gwine home atter settin' up wid ole Brer Bull-Frog. Brer Coon see 'im runnin', en he hail 'im.
"'W'at yo' hurry, Brer Rabbit?'
"'Aint got time ter tarry.'
"'No, my Lord! Aint got time ter tarry!'
"'Tryin' yo' soopleness?'
"'No, my Lord! Aint got time ter tarry!'
"'Do pray, Brer Rabbit, tell me de news!'
"'Mighty big fuss back dar in de woods. Aint got time ter tarry!'
"Dis make Brer Coon feel mighty skittish, 'kaze he fur ways fum home, en he des lipt out, he did, en went a-b'ilin' thoo de woods. Brer Coon aint gone fur twel he meet Brer Fox.
"'Hey, Brer Coon, whar you gwine?'
"'Aint got time ter tarry!'
"'Gwine at'-de doctor?'
"'No, my Lord! Aint got time ter tarry.'
"'Do pray, Brer Coon, tell me de news.'
"'Mighty quare racket back dar in de woods! Aint got time ter tarry!'
"Wid dat, Brer Fox lipt out, he did, en fa'rly split de win'. He aint gone fur twel he meet Brer Wolf.
"'Hey, Brer Fox! Stop en res' yo'se'f!'
"'Aint got time ter tarry!'
"'Who bin want de doctor?'
"'No'ne, my Lord! Aint got time ter tarry!'
"'Do pray, Brer Fox, good er bad, tell me de news.'
"'Mighty kuse fuss back dar in de woods! Aint got time ter tarry!'
"Wid dat, Brer Wolf shuck hisse'f loose fum de face er de yeth, en he aint git fur twel he meet Brer B'ar. Brer B'ar he ax, en Brer Wolf make ans'er, en bimeby Brer B'ar he fotch a snort en run'd off; en, bless gracious! 't wa'n't long 'fo' de las' one er de creeturs wuz a-skaddlin' thoo de woods lak de Ole Boy was atter um—en all 'kaze Brer Rabbit year Mr. Man cut tree down.
"Dey run'd en dey run'd," Uncle Remus went on, "twel dey come ter Brer Tarrypin house, en dey sorter slack up 'kaze dey done mighty nigh los' der win'. Brer Tarrypin, he up'n ax um wharbouts dey gwine, en dey 'low dey wuz a monst'us tarryfyin' racket back dar in de woods. Brer Tarrypin, he ax w'at she soun' lak. One say he dunno, n'er say he dunno, den dey all say dey dunno. Den Brer Tarrypin, he up'n ax who year dis monst'us racket. One say he dunno, n'er say he dunno, den dey all say dey dunno. Dis make ole Brer Tarrypin laff 'way down in he insides, en he up'n say, sezee:
"You all kin run 'long ef you feel skittish,' sezee. 'Atter I cook my brekkus en wash up de dishes, ef I gits win' er any 'spicious racket may be I mought take down my pairsol en foller long atter you,' sezee.
"W'en de creeturs come ter make inquirements 'mungs one er n'er 'bout who start de news, hit went right spang back ter Brer Rabbit, but, lo en beholes! Brer Rabbit aint dar, en it tu'n out dat Brer Coon is de man w'at seed 'im las'. Den dey got ter layin' de blame un it on one er n'er, en little mo' en dey'd er fit dar scan'lous, but ole Brer Tarrypin, he up'n 'low dat ef dey want ter git de straight un it, dey better go see Brer Rabbit.
"All de creeturs wuz 'gree'ble, en dey put out ter Brer Rabbit house. W'en dey git dar, Brer Rabbit wuz a-settin' cross-legged in de front po'ch winkin' he eye at de sun. Brer B'ar, he speak up:
"'W'at make you fool me, Brer Rabbit?'
"'Fool who, Brer B'ar?'
"'Me, Brer Rabbit, dat 's who.'
"'Dish yer de fus' time I seed you dis day, Brer B'ar, en you er mo' dan welcome ter dat.'
"Dey all ax 'im en git de same ans'er, en den Brer Coon put in:
"'W'at make you fool me, Brer Rabbit?'
"'How I fool you, Brer Coon?'
"'You make lak dey wuz a big racket, Brer Rabbit.'
"'Dey sholy wuz a big racket, Brer Coon.'
"'W'at kinder racket, Brer Rabbit?'
"'Ah-yi! You oughter ax me dat fus', Brer Coon.'
"'I axes you now, Brer Rabbit.'
"'Mr. Man cut tree down, Brer Coon.'
"Co'se dis make Brer Coon feel like a nat'al-born Slink, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' all de creeturs make der bow ter Brer Rabbit en mosey off home."
"Brother Rabbit had the best of it all along," said the little boy, after waiting to see whether there was a sequel to the story.
"Oh, he did dat a-way!" exclaimed Uncle Remus. "Brer Rabbit was a mighty man in dem days."
WHY BROTHER BEAR HAS NO TAIL
"I 'clar' ter gracious, honey," Uncle Remus exclaimed one night, as the little boy ran in, "you sholy aint chaw'd yo' vittles. Hit aint bin no time, skacely, sence de supper-bell rung, en ef you go on dis a-way, you'll des nat'ally pe'sh yo'se'f out."
"Oh, I wasn't hungry," said the little boy. "I had something before supper, and I wasn't hungry anyway."
The old man looked keenly at the child, and presently he said:
"De ins en de outs er dat kinder talk all come ter de same p'int in my min'. Youer bin a-cuttin' up at de table, en Mars John, he tuck'n sont you 'way fum dar, en w'iles he think youer off some'rs a-snifflin' en a-feelin' bad, yer you is a-high-primin' 'roun' des lak you done had mo' supper dan de King er Philanders."
Before the little boy could inquire about the King of Philanders he heard his father calling him. He started to go out, but Uncle Remus motioned him back.
"Des set right whar you is, honey,—des set right still."
Then Uncle Remus went to the door and answered for the child; and a very queer answer it was—one that could be heard half over the plantation:
"Mars John, I wish you en Miss Sally be so good ez ter let dat chile 'lone. He down yer cryin' he eyes out, en he aint bodderin' 'long er nobody in de roun' worl'."
Uncle Remus stood in the door a moment to see what the reply would be, but he heard none. Thereupon he continued, in the same loud tone:
"I aint bin use ter no sich gwines on in Ole Miss time, en I aint gwine git use ter it now. Dat I aint."
Presently 'Tildy, the house-girl, brought the little boy his supper, and the girl was no sooner out of hearing than the child swapped it with Uncle Remus for a roasted yam, and the enjoyment of both seemed to be complete.
"Uncle Remus," said the little boy, after a while, "you know I wasn't crying just now."
"Dat 's so, honey," the old man replied, "but 't would n't er bin long 'fo' you would er bin, kaze Mars John bawl out lak a man w'at got a strop in he han', so w'at de diff'unce?"
When they had finished eating, Uncle Remus busied himself in cutting and trimming some sole-leather for future use. His knife was so keen, and the leather fell away from it so smoothly and easily, that the little boy wanted to trim some himself. But to this Uncle Remus would not listen.
"'T aint on'y chilluns w'at got de consate er doin' eve'ything dey see yuther folks do. Hit 's grown folks w'at oughter know better," said the old man. "Dat 's des de way Brer B'ar git his tail broke off smick-smack-smoove, en down ter dis day he de funnies'-lookin' creetur w'at wobble on top er dry groun'."
Instantly the little boy forgot all about Uncle Remus's sharp knife.
"Hit seem lak dat in dem days Brer Rabbit en Brer Tarrypin done gone in cohoots fer ter outdo de t'er creeturs. One time Brer Rabbit tuck'n make a call on Brer Tarrypin, but w'en he git ter Brer Tarrypin house, he year talk fum Miss Tarrypin dat her ole man done gone fer ter spen' de day wid Mr. Mud-Turkle, w'ich dey wuz blood kin. Brer Rabbit he put out atter Brer Tarrypin, en w'en he got ter Mr. Mud-Turkle house, dey all sot up, dey did, en tole tales, en den w'en twelf er'clock come dey had crawfish fer dinner, en dey 'joy deyse'f right erlong. Atter dinner dey went down ter Mr. Mud-Turkle mill-pon', en w'en dey git dar Mr. Mud-Turkle en Brer Tarrypin dey 'muse deyse'f, dey did, wid slidin' fum de top uv a big slantin' rock down inter de water.
"I 'speck you moughter seen rocks in de water 'fo' now, whar dey git green en slipp'y," said Uncle Remus.
The little boy had not only seen them, but had found them to be very dangerous to walk upon, and the old man continued:
"Well, den, dish yer rock wuz mighty slick en mighty slantin'. Mr. Mud-Turkle, he'd crawl ter de top, en tu'n loose, en go a-sailin' down inter de water—kersplash! Ole Brer Tarrypin, he'd foller atter, en slide down inter de water—kersplash! Ole Brer Rabbit, he sot off, he did, en praise um up.
"W'iles dey wuz a-gwine on dis a-way, a-havin' der fun, en 'joyin' deyse'f, yer come ole Brer B'ar. He year um laffin' en holl'in', en he hail um.
"'Heyo, folks! W'at all dis? Ef my eye aint 'ceive me, dish yer's Brer Rabbit, en Brer Tarrypin, en ole Unk' Tommy Mud-Turkle,' sez Brer B'ar, sezee.
"'De same,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'en yer we is 'joyin' de day dat passes des lak dey wa'n't no hard times.'
"'Well, well, well!' sez ole Brer B'ar, sezee, 'a-slippin' en a-slidin' en makin' free! En w'at de matter wid Brer Rabbit dat he aint j'inin' in?' sezee.
"Ole Brer Rabbit he wink at Brer Tarrypin, en Brer Tarrypin he hunch Mr. Mud-Turkle, en den Brer Rabbit he up'n 'low, he did:
"'My goodness, Brer B'ar! you can't 'speck a man fer ter slip en slide de whole blessid day, kin you? I done had my fun, en now I'm a-settin' out yer lettin' my cloze dry. Hit 's tu'n en tu'n about wid me en deze gents w'en dey's any fun gwine on,' sezee.
"'Maybe Brer B'ar might jine in wid us,' sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee.
"Brer Rabbit he des holler en laff.
"'Shoo!' sezee, 'Brer B'ar foot too big en he tail too long fer ter slide down dat rock,' sezee.
"Dis kinder put Brer B'ar on he mettle, en he up'n 'spon', he did:
"'Maybe dey is, en maybe dey aint, yit I aint a-feared ter try.'
"Wid dat de yuthers tuck'n made way fer 'im, en ole Brer B'ar he git up on de rock, he did, en squot down on he hunkers, en quile he tail und' 'im, en start down. Fus' he go sorter slow, en he grin lak he feel good; den he go sorter peart, en he grin lak he feel bad; den he go mo' pearter, en he grin lak he skeerd; den he strack de slick part, en, gentermens! he swaller de grin en fetch a howl dat moughter bin yeard a mile, en he hit de water lak a chimbly a-fallin'.
"You kin gimme denial," Uncle Remus continued after a little pause, "but des ez sho' ez you er settin' dar, w'en Brer B'ar slick'd up en flew down dat rock, he break off he tail right smick-smack-smoove, en mo'n dat, w'en he make his disappear'nce up de big road, Brer Rabbit holler out:
"'Brer B'ar!—O Brer B'ar! I year tell dat flaxseed poultices is mighty good fer so' places!'
"Yit Brer B'ar aint look back."
HOW BROTHER RABBIT FRIGHTENED HIS NEIGHBORS
When Uncle Remus was in a good humor he turned the most trifling incidents into excuses for amusing the little boy with his stories. One night while he was hunting for a piece of candle on the shelf that took the place of a mantel over the fireplace, he knocked down a tin plate. It fell upon the hearth with a tremendous clatter.
"Dar now!" exclaimed Uncle Remus. "Hit 's a blessin' dat dat ar platter is got mo' backbone dan de common run er crockery, 'kaze 't would er bin bust all ter flinderations long time ago. Dat ar platter is got dents on it w'at Miss Sally put dar w'en she 'uz a little bit er gal. Yet dar 't is, en right dis minnit hit'll hol' mo' vittles dan w'at I got ter put in it.
"I lay," the old man continued, leaning his hand against the chimney and gazing at the little boy reflectively,—"I lay ef de creeturs had a bin yer w'iles all dat clatterment gwine on dey'd a lef' bidout tellin' anybody good-bye. All 'ceppin' Brer Rabbit. Bless yo' soul, he'd er stayed fer ter see de fun, des lak he did dat t'er time w'en he skeer um all so. I 'speck I done tole you 'bout dat."
"When he got the honey on him and rolled in the leaves?"
Uncle Remus thought a moment.
"Ef I make no mistakes in my 'membunce, dat wuz de time w'en he call hisse'f de Wull-er-de-Wust."
The little boy corroborated Uncle Remus's memory.
"Well, den, dish yer wuz n'er time, en he lak ter skeer um plum out'n de settlement. En it all come 'bout 'kaze dey wanter play smarty."
"Who wanted to play smarty, Uncle Remus?" asked the child.
"Oh, des dem t'er creeturs. Dey wuz allers a-layin' traps fer Brer Rabbit en gittin' cotch in um deyse'f, en dey wuz allers a-pursooin' atter 'im day in en day out. I aint 'nyin' but w'at some er Brer Rabbit pranks wuz mighty ha'sh, but w'y'n't dey let 'im 'lone deyse'f?"
Naturally, the little boy was not prepared to meet these arguments, even had their gravity been less impressive, so he said nothing.
"In dem days," Uncle Remus went on, "de creeturs wuz same lak folks. Dey had der ups en dey had der downs; dey had der hard times, and dey had der saf' times. Some seasons der craps 'ud be good, en some seasons dey'd be bad. Brer Rabbit, he far'd lak de res' un um. W'at he'd make, dat he'd spen'. One season he tuck'n made a fine chance er goobers, en he 'low, he did, dat ef dey fetch 'im anywhars nigh de money w'at he 'speck dey would, he go ter town en buy de truck w'at needcessity call fer.
"He aint no sooner say dat dan ole Miss Rabbit, she vow, she did, dat it be a scannul en a shame ef he don't whirl in en git sevin tin cups fer de chilluns fer ter drink out'n, en sevin tin plates fer 'm fer ter sop out 'n, en a coffee-pot fer de fambly. Brer Rabbit say dat des zackly w'at he gwine do, en he 'low, he did, dat he gwine ter town de comin' We'n'sday."
Uncle Remus paused, and indulged in a hearty laugh before he resumed:
"Brer Rabbit wa'n't mo'n out'n de gate 'fo' Miss Rabbit, she slap on 'er bonnet, she did, en rush 'cross ter Miss Mink house, en she aint bin dar a minnit 'fo' she up'n tell Miss Mink dat Brer Rabbit done promise ter go ter town We'n'sday comin' en git de chilluns sump'n'. Co'se, w'en Mr. Mink come home, Miss Mink she up'n 'low she want ter know w'at de reason he can't buy sump'n' fer his chilluns same ez Brer Rabbit do fer his'n, en dey quo'll en quo'll des lak folks. Atter dat Miss Mink she kyar de news ter Miss Fox, en den Brer Fox he tuk'n got a rakin' over de coals. Miss Fox she tell Miss Wolf, en Miss Wolf she tell Miss B'ar, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' ev'ybody in dem diggin's know dat Brer Rabbit gwine ter town de comin' We'n'sday fer ter git his chilluns sump'n'; en all de yuther creeturs' chilluns ax der ma w'at de reason der pa can't git dem sump'n'. So dar it went.
"Brer Fox, en Brer Wolf, en Brer B'ar, dey make up der mines, dey did, dat ef dey gwine ter ketch up wid Brer Rabbit, dat wuz de time, en dey fix up a plan dat dey'd lay fer Brer Rabbit en nab 'im w'en he come back fum town. Dey tuck'n make all der 'rangerments, en wait fer de day.
"Sho' nuff, w'en We'n'sday come, Brer Rabbit e't he brekkus 'fo' sun-up, en put out fer town. He tuck'n got hisse'f a dram, en a plug er terbarker, en a pocket-hankcher, en he got de ole 'oman a coffee-pot, en he got de chillun sevin tin cups en sevin tin plates, en den todes sundown he start back home. He walk 'long, he did, feelin' mighty biggity, but bimeby w'en he git sorter tired, he sot down und' a black-jack tree, en 'gun to fan hisse'f wid one er der platters.
"W'iles he doin' dis a little bit er teenchy sap-sucker run up'n down de tree en keep on makin' mighty quare fuss. Atter w'ile Brer Rabbit tuk'n shoo at 'im wid de platter. Seem lak dis make de teenchy little sap-sucker mighty mad, en he rush out on a lim' right over Brer Rabbit, en he sing out:
"'Pilly-pee, pilly-wee! I see w'at he no see! I see, pilly-pee, I see, w'at he no see!'
"He keep on singin' dis, he did, twel Brer Rabbit 'gun ter look 'roun', en he aint no sooner do dis dan he see marks in de san' whar sum un done bin dar 'fo' 'im, en he look little closer en den he see w'at de sap-sucker drivin' at. He scratch his head, Brer Rabbit did, en he 'low ter hisse'f:
"'Ah-yi! Yer whar Brer Fox bin settin', en dar de print er he nice bushy tail. Yer whar Brer Wolf bin settin', en dar de print er he fine long tail. Yer whar Brer B'ar bin squattin' on he hunkers, en dar de print w'ich he aint got no tail. Dey er all bin yer, en I lay dey er hidin' out in de big gully down dar in de holler.'
"Wid dat, ole man Rab. tuck'n put he truck in de bushes, en den he run 'way 'roun' fer ter see w'at he kin see. Sho' nuff," continued Uncle Remus, with a curious air of elation,—"sho' nuff, w'en Brer Rabbit git over agin de big gully down in de holler, dar dey wuz. Brer Fox, he 'uz on one side er de road, en Brer Wolf 'uz on de t'er side; en ole Brer B'ar he 'uz quiled up in de gully takin' a nap.
"Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n peep at um, he did, en he lick he foot en roach back he h'ar, en den hol' his han's 'cross he mouf en laff lak some chilluns does w'en dey t'ink dey er foolin' der ma."
"Not me, Uncle Remus—not me!" exclaimed the little boy promptly.
"Heyo dar! don't kick 'fo' you er spurred, honey! Brer Rabbit, he seed um all dar, en he tuck'n grin, he did, en den he lit out ter whar he done lef he truck, en w'en he git dar he dance 'roun' en slap hisse'f on de leg, en make all sorts er kuse motions. Den he go ter wuk en tu'n de coffee-pot upside down en stick it on he head; den he run he gallus thoo de han'les er de cups, en sling um crosst he shoulder; den he 'vide de platters, some in one han' en some in de yuther. Atter he git good en ready, he crope ter de top er de hill, he did, en tuck a runnin' start, en flew down like a harrycane—rickety, rackety, slambang!"
The little boy clapped his hands enthusiastically.
"Bless yo' soul, dem creeturs aint year no fuss lak dat, en dey aint seed no man w'at look lak Brer Rabbit do, wid de coffee-pot on he head, en de cups a-rattlin' on he gallus, en de platters a-wavin' en a-shinin' in de a'r.
"Now, mine you, ole Brer B'ar wuz layin' off up de gully takin' a nap, en de fuss skeer 'im so bad dat he make a break en run over Brer Fox. He rush out in de road, he did, en w'en he see de sight, he whirl 'roun' en run over Brer Wolf. Wid der scramblin' en der scufflin', Brer Rabbit got right on um 'fo' dey kin git away. He holler out, he did:
"'Gimme room! Tu'n me loose! I'm ole man Spewter-Splutter wid long claws, en scales on my back! I'm snaggle-toofed en double-j'inted! Gimme room!'
"Eve'y time he'd fetch a whoop, he'd rattle de cups en slap de platters tergedder—rickety, rackety, slambang! En I let you know w'en dem creeturs got dey lim's tergedder dey split de win', dey did dat. Ole Brer B'ar, he struck a stump w'at stan' in de way, en I aint gwine tell you how he to' it up 'kaze you won't b'leeve me, but de nex' mawnin' Brer Rabbit en his chilluns went back dar, dey did, en dey got nuff splinters fer ter make um kin'lin' wood all de winter. Yasser! Des ez sho' ez I'm a-settin' by dish yer h'ath."
MR. MAN HAS SOME MEAT
The little boy sat watching Uncle Remus sharpen his shoe-knife. The old man's head moved in sympathy with his hands, and he mumbled fragments of a song. Occasionally he would feel of the edge of the blade with his thumb, and then begin to sharpen it again. The comical appearance of the venerable darkey finally had its effect upon the child, for suddenly he broke into a hearty peal of laughter; whereupon Uncle Remus stopped shaking his head and singing his mumbly-song, and assumed a very dignified attitude. Then he drew a long, deep breath, and said:
"'W'en folks git ole en stricken wid de palsy, dey mus' 'speck ter be laff'd at. Goodness knows, I bin use ter dat sence de day my whiskers 'gun to bleach."
"Why, I was n't laughing at you, Uncle Remus; I declare I was n't," cried the little boy. "I thought maybe you might be doing your head like Brother Rabbit did when he was fixing to cut his meat."
Uncle Remus's seriousness was immediately driven away by a broad and appreciative grin.
"Now, dat de way ter talk, honey, en I boun' you wa'n't fur wrong, n'er, 'kaze fer all dey'll tell you dat Brer Rabbit make he livin' 'long er nibblin' at grass en greens, hit 't wa'n't dat a-way in dem days, 'kaze I got in my 'membunce right now de 'casion whar Brer Rabbit is tuck'n e't meat."
The little boy had learned that it was not best to make any display of impatience, and so he waited quietly while Uncle Remus busied himself with arranging the tools on his shoe-bench. Presently the old man began:
"Hit so happen dat one day Brer Rabbit meet up wid Brer Fox, en w'en dey 'quire atter der corporosity, dey fine out dat bofe un um mighty po'ly. Brer Fox, he 'low, he do, dat he monst'us hongry, en Brer Rabbit he 'spon' dat he got a mighty hankerin' atter vittles hisse'f. Bimeby dey look up de big road, en dey see Mr. Man comin' 'long wid a great big hunk er beef und' he arm. Brer Fox he up 'n 'low, he did, dat he lak mighty well fer ter git a tas'e er dat, en Brer Rabbit he 'low dat de sight er dat nice meat all lineded wid taller is nuff fer ter run a body 'stracted.
"Mr. Man he come en he come 'long. Brer Rabbit en Brer Fox dey look en dey look at 'im. Dey wink der eye en der mouf water. Brer Rabbit he 'low he bleedz ter git some er dat meat. Brer Fox he 'spon', he did, dat it look mighty fur off ter him. Den Brer Rabbit tell Brer Fox fer ter foller 'long atter 'im in hailin' distuns, en wid dat he put out, he did, en 't wa'nt long 'fo' he kotch up wid Mr. Man.
"Dey pass de time er day, en den dey went joggin' 'long de road same lak dey 'uz gwine 'pun a journey. Brer Rabbit he keep on snuffin' de a'r. Mr. Man up'n ax 'im is he got a bad cole, en Brer Rabbit 'spon' dat he smell sump'n' w'ich it don't smell like ripe peaches. Bimeby, Brer Rabbit 'gun to hoi' he nose, he did, en atter w'ile he sing out:
"'Gracious en de goodness, Mr. Man! hit 's dat meat er yone. Phew! Whar'bouts is you pick up dat meat at?'
"Dis make Mr. Man feel sorter 'shame' hisse'f, en ter make marters wuss, yer come a great big green fly a-zoonin' 'roun'. Brer Rabbit he git way off on t'er side er de road, en he keep on hol'in' he nose. Mr. Man, he look sorter sheepish, he did, en dey aint gone fur 'fo' he put de meat down on de side er de road, en he tuck'n ax Brer Rabbit w'at dey gwine do 'bout it. Brer Rabbit he 'low, he did:
"'I year tell in my time dat ef you take'n drag a piece er meat thoo' de dus' hit'll fetch back hits freshness. I aint no superspicious man myse'f,' sezee, 'en I aint got no 'speunce wid no sech doin's, but dem w'at tell me say dey done try it. Yit I knows dis,' says Brer Rabbit, sezee,—'I knows dat 't aint gwine do no harm, 'kaze de grit w'at gits on de meat kin be wash off,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.
"'I aint got no string,' sez Mr. Man, sezee.
"Brer Rabbit laff hearty, but still he hol' he nose.
"'Time you bin in de bushes long ez I is, you won't miss strings,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.
"Wid dat Brer Rabbit lipt out, en he aint gone long 'fo' he come hoppin' back wid a whole passel er bamboo vines all tied tergedder. Mr. Man, he 'low:
"'Dat line mighty long.'
"Brer Rabbit he 'low:
"'Tooby sho', you want de win' fer ter git 'twix' you en dat meat.'
"Den Mr. Man tuck'n tied de bamboo line ter de meat. Brer Rabbit he broke off a 'simmon bush, he did, en 'low dat he'd stay behime en keep de flies off. Mr. Man he go on befo' en drag de meat, en Brer Rabbit he stay behime, he did, en take keer un it."
Here Uncle Remus was compelled to pause and laugh before he could proceed with the story.
"En he is take keer un it, mon—dat he is. He tuck'n git 'im a rock, en w'iles Mr. Man gwine 'long bidout lookin' back, he ondo de meat en tie de rock ter de bamboo line, en w'en Brer Fox foller on, sho' nuff, dar lay de meat. Mr. Man, he drug de rock, he did, en Brer Rabbit he keep de flies off, twel atter dey gone on right smart piece, en den w'en Mr. Man look 'roun', whar wuz ole man Rabbit?
"Bless yo' soul, Brer Rabbit done gone back en jine Brer Fox, en he wuz des in time, at dat, 'kaze little mo' en Brer Fox would 'a' done bin outer sight en yearin'. En so dat de way Brer Rabbit git Mr. Man meat."
The little boy reflected a little, and then said:
"Uncle Remus, was n't that stealing?"
"Well, I tell you 'bout dat, honey," responded the old man, with the air of one who is willing to compromise. "In dem days de creeturs bleedz ter look out fer deyse'f, mo' speshually dem w'at aint got hawn en huff. Brer Rabbit aint got no hawn en huff, en he bleedz ter be he own lawyer."
Just then the little boy heard his father's buggy rattling down the avenue, and he ran out into the darkness to meet it. After he was gone, Uncle Remus sat a long time rubbing his hands and looking serious. Finally he leaned back in his chair, and exclaimed:
"Dat little chap gittin' too much fer ole Remus—dat he is!"
HOW BROTHER RABBIT GOT THE MEAT
When the little boy next visited Uncle Remus the cabin was dark and empty and the door shut. The old man was gone. He was absent for several nights, but at last one night the little boy saw a welcome light in the cabin, and he made haste to pay Uncle Remus a visit. He was full of questions:
"Goodness, Uncle Remus! Where in the world have you been? I thought you were gone for good. Mamma said she reckoned the treatment here did n't suit you, and you had gone off to get some of your town friends to hire you."
"Is Miss Sally tell you dat, honey? Well, ef she aint de beatenes' w'ite 'oman dis side er kingdom come, you kin des shoot me. Miss Sally tuck'n writ me a pass wid her own han's fer ter go see some er my kin down dar in de Ashbank settlement. Yo' mammy quare 'oman, honey, sho'!
"En yit, w'at de good er my stayin' yer? T'er night, I aint mo'n git good en started 'fo' you er up en gone, en I aint seed ha'r ner hide un you sence. W'en I see you do dat, I 'low ter myse'f dat hit 's des 'bout time fer ole man Remus fer ter pack up he duds en go hunt comp'ny some'r's else."
"Well, Uncle Remus," exclaimed the little boy, in a tone of expostulation, "did n't Brother Fox get the meat, and was n't that the end of the story?"
Uncle Remus started to laugh, but he changed his mind so suddenly that the little boy was convulsed. The old man groaned and looked at the rafters with a curious air of disinterestedness. After a while he went on with great seriousness:
"I dunner w'at kinder idee folks got 'bout Brer Rabbit nohow, dat I don't. S'pozen you lays de plans so some yuther chap kin git a big hunk er goody, is you gwine ter set off some'r's en see 'im make way wid it?"
"What kind of goody, Uncle Remus?"
"Dish yer kinder goody w'at town folks keeps. Mint draps and reezins, en sweet doin's lak Miss Sally keep und' lock en key. Well, den, if you gits some er dat, er may be some yuther kinder goody, w'ich I wish 't wuz yer right dis blessid minnit, is you gwine ter set quile up in dat cheer en let n'er chap run off wid it? Dat you aint—dat you aint!"
"Oh, I know!" exclaimed the little boy. "Brother Rabbit went back and made Brother Fox give him his part of the meat."
"Des lak I tell you, honey; dey wa'n't no man 'mungs de creeturs w'at kin stan' right flat-footed en wuk he min' quick lak Brer Rabbit. He tuck'n tie de rock on de string, stidder de meat, en he pursue long atter it, he did, twel Mr. Man tu'n a ben' in de road, en den Brer Rabbit, he des lit out fum dar—terbuckity-buckity, buck-buck-buckity! en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he tuck'n kotch up wid Brer Fox. Dey tuck de meat, dey did, en kyar'd it way off in de woods, en laid it down on a clean place on de groun'.
"Dey laid it down, dey did," continued Uncle Remus, drawing his chair up closer to the little boy, "en den Brer Fox 'low dey better sample it, en Brer Rabbit he 'gree. Wid dat, Brer Fox he tuck'n gnyaw off a hunk, en he shut bofe eyes, he did, en he chaw en chaw, en tas'e en tas'e, en chaw en tas'e. Brer Rabbit, he watch 'im, but Brer Fox, he keep bofe eyes shot, en he chaw en tas'e, en tas'e en chaw."
Uncle Remus not only furnished a pantomime accompaniment to this recital by shutting his eyes and pretending to taste, but he lowered his voice to a pitch of tragical significance in reporting the dialogue that ensued:
"Den Brer Fox smack he mouf en look at de meat mo' closeter, en up'n 'low:
"'Brer Rabbit, hit 's lam'!'
"'No, Brer Fox! sho'ly not!'
"'Brer Rabbit, hit 's lam'!'
"'Brer Fox, tooby sho'ly not!'
"Den Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n gnyaw off a hunk, en he shot bofe eyes, en chaw en tas'e, en tas'e en chaw. Den he smack he mouf, en up'n 'low:
"'Brer Fox, hit 's shote!'
"'Brer Rabbit, you foolin' me!'
"'Brer Fox, I vow hit 's shote!'
"'Brer Rabbit, hit des can't be!'
"'Brer Fox, hit sho'ly is!'
"Dey tas'e en dey 'spute, en dey 'spute en dey tas'e. Atter w'ile, Brer Rabbit make lak he want some water, en he rush off in de bushes, en d'reckly yer he come back wipin' he mouf en cle'rin' up he th'oat. Den Brer Fox he want some water sho' nuff:
"'Brer Rabbit, whar you fin' de spring?'
"'Cross de road, en down de hill en up de big gully.'
"Brer Fox, he lope off, he did, en atter he gone Brer Rabbit totch he year wid he behime foot lak he flippin' 'im good-bye. Brer Fox, he cross de road en rush down de hill, he did, yit he aint fin' no big gully. He keep on gwine twel he fin' de big gully, yit he aint fin' no spring.
"W'iles all dish yer gwine on, Brer Rabbit he tuck'n grabble a hole in de groun', he did, en in dat hole he hid de meat. Atter he git it good en hid, he tuck'n cut 'im a long keen hick'ry, en atter so long a time, w'en he year Brer Fox comin' back, he got in a clump er bushes, en tuck dat hick'ry en let in on a saplin', en ev'y time he hit de saplin', he 'ud squall out, Brer Rabbit would, des lak de patter-rollers had 'im:
"Pow, pow! 'Oh, pray, Mr. Man!'—Pow, pow! 'Oh, pray, Mr. Man!'—Chippy-row, pow! 'Oh, Lordy, Mr. Man! Brer Fox tuck yo' meat!'—Pow! 'Oh, pray, Mr. Man! Brer Fox tuck yo' meat!'"
Every time Uncle Remus said "Pow!" he struck himself in the palm of his hand with a shoe-sole by way of illustration.
"Co'se," he went on, "w'en Brer Fox year dis kinder doin's, he fotch up, he did, en lissen, en ev'y time he year de hick'ry come down pow! he tuck'n grin en 'low ter hisse'f, 'Ah-yi! you fool me 'bout de water! Ah-yi! you fool me 'bout de water!'
"Atter so long a time, de racket sorter die out, en seem lak Mr. Man wuz draggin' Brer Rabbit off. Dis make Brer Fox feel mighty skittish. Bimeby Brer Rabbit come a-cally-hootin' back des a-hollerin':
"'Run, Brer Fox, run! Mr. Man say he gwine to kyar dat meat up de road ter whar he son is, en den he's a-comin' back atter you. Run, Brer Fox, run!'
"En I let you know," said Uncle Remus, leaning back and laughing to see the little boy laugh, "I let you know Brer Fox got mighty skace in dat neighborhood!"
Usually, the little boy, who regarded himself as Uncle Remus's partner, was not at all pleased when he found the old man entertaining, in his simple way, any of his colored friends; but he was secretly delighted when he called one night and found Daddy Jack sitting by Uncle Remus's hearth. Daddy Jack was an object of curiosity to older people than the little boy. He was a genuine African, and for that reason he was known as African Jack, though the child had been taught to call him Daddy Jack. He was brought to Georgia in a slave-ship when he was about twenty years old, and remained upon one of the sea-islands for several years. Finally, he fell into the hands of the family of which Uncle Remus's little partner was the youngest representative, and became the trusted foreman of a plantation, in the southern part of Georgia, known as the Walthall Place. Once every year he was in the habit of visiting the Home Place in Middle Georgia, and it was during one of these annual visits that the little boy found him in Uncle Remus's cabin.
Daddy Jack appeared to be quite a hundred years old, but he was probably not more than eighty. He was a little, dried-up old man, whose weazened, dwarfish appearance, while it was calculated to inspire awe in the minds of the superstitious, was not without its pathetic suggestions. The child had been told that the old African was a wizard, a conjurer, and a snake-charmer; but he was not afraid, for, in any event,—conjuration, witchcraft, or what not,—he was assured of the protection of Uncle Remus.
As the little boy entered the cabin Uncle Remus smiled and nodded pleasantly, and made a place for him on a little stool upon which had been piled the odds and ends of work. Daddy Jack paid no attention to the child; his thoughts seemed to be elsewhere.
"Go en shake han's, honey, en tell Daddy Jack howdy. He lak good chilluns." Then to Daddy Jack: "Brer Jack, dish yer de chap w'at I bin tellin' you 'bout."
The little boy did as he was bid, but Daddy Jack grunted ungraciously and made no response to the salutation. He was evidently not fond of children. Uncle Remus glanced curiously at the dwarfed and withered figure, and spoke a little more emphatically:
"Brer Jack, ef you take good look at dis chap, I lay you'll see mo'n you speck ter see. You'll see sump'n' dat'll make you grunt wusser dan you grunted deze many long year. Go up dar, honey, whar Daddy Jack kin see you."
The child went shyly up to the old African and stood at his knee. The sorrows and perplexities of nearly a hundred years lay between them; and now, as always, the baffled eyes of age gazed into the Sphinx-like face of youth, as if by this means to unravel the mysteries of the past and solve the problems of the future.
Daddy Jack took the plump, rosy hands of the little boy in his black, withered ones, and gazed into his face so long and steadily, and with such curious earnestness, that the child did n't know whether to laugh or cry. Presently the old African flung his hands to his head, and rocked his body from side to side, moaning and mumbling, and talking to himself, while the tears ran down his face like rain.
"Ole Missy! Ole Missy! 'E come back! I bin shum dey-dey, I bin shum de night! I bin yeddy 'e v'ice, I bin yeddy de sign!"
"Ah-yi!" exclaimed Uncle Remus, into whose arms the little boy had fled; "I des know'd dat 'ud fetch 'im. Hit 's bin manys de long days sence Brer Jack seed Ole Miss, yit ef he aint seed 'er dat whack, den I aint settin' yer."
After a while Daddy Jack ceased his rocking, and his moaning, and his crying, and sat gazing wistfully into the fireplace. Whatever he saw there fixed his attention, for Uncle Remus spoke to him several times without receiving a response. Presently, however, Daddy Jack exclaimed with characteristic but laughable irrelevance:
"I no lakky dem gal wut is bin-a stan' pidjin-toe. Wun 'e fetch pail er water on 'e head, water churray, churray. I no lakky dem gal wut tie 'e wool up wit' string; mekky him stan' ugly fer true. I bin ahx da' 'Tildy gal fer marry me, un 'e no crack 'im bre't' fer mek answer 'cep' 'e bre'k out un lahf by me werry face. Da' gal do holler un lahf un stomp 'e fut dey-dey, un dun I shum done gone pidjin-toe. Oona bin know da' 'Tildy gal?"
"I bin a-knowin' dat gal," said Uncle Remus, grimly regarding the old African; "I bin a-knowin' dat gal now gwine on sence she 'uz knee-high ter one er deze yer puddle-ducks; en I bin noticin' lately dat she mighty likely nigger."
"Enty!" exclaimed Daddy Jack, enthusiastically, "I did bin mek up ter da' lilly gal troo t'ick un t'in. I bin fetch 'im one fine 'possum, un mo' ez one, two, free peck-a taty, un bumbye I bin fetch 'im one bag pop-co'n. Wun I bin do dat, I is fley 'roun' da' lilly gal so long tam, un I yeddy 'im talk wit' turrer gal. 'E do say: 'Daddy Jack fine ole man fer true.' Dun I is bin talk: 'Oona no call-a me Daddy Jack wun dem preacher man come fer marry we.' Dun da' lilly gal t'row 'e head back; 'e squeal lak filly in canebrake."
The little boy understood this rapidly spoken lingo perfectly well, but he would have laughed anyhow, for there was more than a suggestion of the comic in the shrewd seriousness that seemed to focus itself in Daddy Jack's pinched and wrinkled face.
"She tuck de truck w'at you tuck'n fotch 'er," said Uncle Remus, with the air of one carefully and deliberately laying the basis of a judicial opinion, "en den w'en you sail in en talk bizness, den she up en gun you de flat un 'er foot en de back un 'er han', en den, atter dat, she tuck'n laff en make spote un you."
"Enty!" assented Daddy Jack, admiringly.
"Well, den, Brer Jack, youer mighty ole, en yit hit seem lak youer mighty young; kaze a man w'at aint got no mo' speunce wid wimmen folks dan w'at you is neenter creep 'roun' yer callin' deyse'f ole. Dem kinder folks aint ole nuff, let 'lone bein' too ole. W'en de gal tuck'n laff, Brer Jack, w'at 'uz yo' nex' move?" demanded Uncle Remus, looking down upon the shrivelled old man with an air of superiority.
Daddy Jack shut his shrewd little eyes tightly and held them so, as if by that means to recall all the details of the flirtation. Then he said:
"Da' lilly gal is bin tek dem t'ing. 'E is bin say, 'T'anky, t'anky.' Him eaty da' 'possum, him eaty da' pop-co'n, him roas'n da' taty. 'E do say, 'T'anky, t'anky!' Wun I talk marry, 'e is bin ris 'e v'ice un squeal lak lilly pig stuck in 'e t'roat. 'E do holler: 'Hi, Daddy Jack! wut is noung gal gwan do wit' so ole man lak dis?' Un I is bin say: 'Wut noung gal gwan do wit' ole Chris'mus' cep' 'e do 'joy 'ese'f?' Un da' lil gal 'e do lahff un flut 'ese'f way fum dey-dey."
"I know'd a nigger one time," said Uncle Remus, after pondering a moment, "w'at tuck a notion dat he want a bait er 'simmons, en de mo' w'at de notion tuck 'im de mo' w'at he want um, en bimeby, hit look lak he des nat'ally erbleedz ter have um. He want de 'simmons, en dar dey is in de tree. He mouf water, en dar hang de 'simmons. Now, den, w'at do dat nigger do? W'en you en me en dish yer chile yer wants 'simmons, we goes out en shakes de tree, en ef deyer good en ripe, down dey comes, en ef deyer good en green, dar dey stays. But dish yer yuther nigger, he too smart fer dat. He des tuck'n tuck he stan' und' de tree, en he open he mouf, he did, en wait fer de 'simmons fer ter drap in dar. Dey aint none drap in yit," continued Uncle Remus, gently knocking the cold ashes out of his pipe; "en w'at's mo', dey aint none gwine ter drap in dar. Dat des 'zackly de way wid Brer Jack yer, 'bout marryin'; he stan' dar, he do, en he hol' bofe han's wide open en he 'speck de gal gwine ter drap right spang in um. Man want gal, he des got ter grab 'er—dat 's w'at. Dey may squall en dey may flutter, but flutter'n' en squallin' aint done no damage yit ez I knows un, en 't aint gwine ter. Young chaps kin make great 'miration 'bout gals, but w'en dey gits ole ez I is, dey ull know dat folks is folks, en w'en it come ter bein' folks, de wimmen ain gut none de 'vantage er de men. Now dat 's des de plain up en down tale I'm a-tellin' un you."
This deliverance from so respectable an authority seemed to please Daddy Jack immensely. He rubbed his withered hands together, smacked his lips and chuckled. After a few restless movements he got up and went shuffling to the door, his quick, short steps causing Uncle Remus to remark:
"De gal w'at git ole Brer Jack 'ull git a natchul pacer, sho'. He move mo' one-sideder dan ole Zip Coon, w'ich he rack up de branch all night long wid he nose p'int lak he gwine 'cross."
While the little boy was endeavoring to get Uncle Remus to explain the nature of Daddy Jack's grievances, muffled laughter was heard outside, and almost immediately 'Tildy rushed in the door. 'Tildy flung herself upon the floor and rolled and laughed until, apparently, she could laugh no more. Then she seemed to grow severely angry. She arose from the floor and flopped herself down in a chair, and glared at Uncle Remus with indignation in her eyes. As soon as she could control her inflamed feelings, she cried:
"W'at is I done ter you, Unk' Remus? 'Fo' de Lord, ef anybody wuz ter come en tole me dat you gwine ter put de Ole Boy in dat ole Affikin nigger head, I would n't er b'leeved um—dat I would n't. Unk' Remus, w'at is I done ter you?"
Uncle Remus made no direct response; but he leaned over, reached out his hand, and picked up an unfinished axe-helve that stood in the corner. Then he took the little boy by the arm, and pushed him out of the way, saying in his gentlest and most persuasive tone:
"Stan' sorter 'roun' dar, honey, 'kaze w'en de splinters 'gin ter fly, I want you ter be out'n de way. Miss Sally never gimme 'er fergivance in de roun' worl' ef you 'uz ter git hurted on account er de frazzlin' er dish yer piece er timber."
Uncle Remus's movements and remarks had a wonderful effect on 'Tildy. Her anger disappeared, her eyes lost their malignant expression, and her voice fell to a conversational tone.
"Now, Unk' Remus, you ought n't ter do me dat a-way, 'kaze I aint done nothin' ter you. I 'uz settin' up yon' in Aunt Tempy house, des now, runnin' on wid Riah, en yer come dat ole Affikin Jack en say you say he kin marry me ef he ketch me, en he try ter put he arm 'roun' me en kiss me."
'Tildy tossed her head and puckered her mouth at the bare remembrance of it.
"W'at wud did you gin Brer Jack?" inquired Uncle Remus, not without asperity.
"W'at I gwine tell him?" exclaimed 'Tildy disdainfully. "I des tuck'n up en tole 'im he foolin' wid de wrong nigger."
'Tildy would have continued her narration, but just at that moment the shuffling of feet was heard outside, and Daddy Jack came in, puffing and blowing and smiling. Evidently he had been hunting for 'Tildy in every house in the negro quarter.
"Hi!" he exclaimed, "lil gal, 'e bin skeet sem lak ma'sh hen. 'E no run no mo'."
"Pick 'er up, Brer Jack," exclaimed Uncle Remus; "she's yone."
'Tildy was angry as well as frightened. She would have fled, but Daddy Jack stood near the door.
"Look yer, nigger man!" she exclaimed, "ef you come slobbun 'roun' me, I'll take one er deze yer dog-iuens en brain you wid it. I aint gwine ter have no web-foot nigger follerin' atter me. Now you des come!—I aint feard er yo' cunjun. Unk' Remus, ef you got any intruss in dat ole Affikin ape, you better make 'im lemme 'lone. G'way fum yer now!"
All this time Daddy Jack was slowly approaching 'Tildy, bowing and smiling, and looking quite dandified, as Uncle Remus afterward said. Just as the old African was about to lay hands upon 'Tildy, she made a rush for the door. The movement was so unexpected that Daddy Jack was upset. He fell upon Uncle Remus's shoe-bench, and then rolled off on the floor, where he lay clutching at the air, and talking so rapidly that nobody could understand a word he said. Uncle Remus lifted him to his feet, with much dignity, and it soon became apparent that he was neither hurt nor angry. The little boy laughed immoderately, and he was still laughing when 'Tildy put her head in the door and exclaimed:
"Unk' Remus, I aint kilt dat ole nigger, is I? 'Kaze ef I got ter go ter de gallus, I want to go dar fer sump'n' n'er bigger'n dat."
Uncle Remus disdained to make any reply, but Daddy Jack chuckled and patted himself on the knee as he cried:
"Come 'long, lilly gal! come 'long! I no mad. I fall down dey fer laff. Come 'long, lilly gal, come 'long."
'Tildy went on laughing loudly and talking to herself. After awhile Uncle Remus said:
"Honey, I 'speck Miss Sally lookin' und' de bed en axin' whar you is. You better leak out fum yer now, en by dis time termorrer night I'll git Brer Jack all primed up, en he'll whirl in en tell you a tale."
Daddy Jack nodded assent, and the little boy ran laughing to the "big house."
WHY THE ALLIGATOR'S BACK IS ROUGH
The night after the violent flirtation between Daddy Jack and 'Tildy, the latter coaxed and bribed the little boy to wait until she had finished her work about the house. After she had set things to rights in the dining-room and elsewhere, she took the child by the hand, and together they went to Uncle Remus's cabin. The old man was making a door-mat of shucks and grass and white-oak splits, and Daddy Jack was dozing in the corner.
"W'at I tell you, Brer Jack?" said Uncle Remus, as 'Tildy came in. "Dat gal atter you, mon!"
"Fer de Lord sake, Unk' Remus, don't start dat ole nigger. I done promise Miss Sally dat I won't kill 'im, en I like ter be good ez my word; but ef he come foolin' longer me I'm des nat'ally gwine ter onj'int 'im. Now you year me say de word."
But Daddy Jack made no demonstration. He sat with his eyes closed, and paid no attention to 'Tildy. After awhile the little boy grew restless, and presently he said:
"Daddy Jack, you know you promised to tell me a story to-night."
"He wukkin' wid it now, honey," said Uncle Remus, soothingly. "Brer Jack," he continued, "wa'n't dey sump'n' n'er 'bout ole man Yalligater?"
"Hi!" exclaimed Daddy Jack, arousing himself, "'e 'bout B'er 'Gater fer true. Oona no bin see da' B'er 'Gater?"
The child had seen one, but it was such a very little one he hardly knew whether to claim an acquaintance with Daddy Jack's 'Gater.
"Dem all sem," continued Daddy Jack. "Big mout', pop-eye, walk on 'e belly; 'e is bin got bump, bump, bump 'pon 'e bahk, bump, bump, bump 'pon 'e tail. 'E dife 'neat' de water, 'e do lif 'pon de lan'.
"One tam Dog is bin run B'er Rabbit, tel 'e do git tire; da' Dog is bin run 'im tel him ent mos' hab no bre't' in 'e body; 'e hide 'ese'f by de crik side. 'E come close 'pon B'er 'Gater, en B'er 'Gater, 'e do say:
"'Ki, B'er Rabbit! wut dis is mek you blow so? Wut mekky you' bre't' come so?'
"'Eh-eh! B'er 'Gater, I hab bin come 'pon trouble. Dog, 'e do run un-a run me.'
"'Wey you no fetch 'im 'long, B'er Rabbit? I is bin git fat on all da' trouble lak dem. I proud fer yeddy Dog bark, ef 'e is bin fetch-a me trouble lak dem.'
"'Wait, B'er 'Gater! Trouble come bisitin' wey you lif; 'e mekky you' side puff; 'e mekky you' bre't' come so.'
"'Gater, he do flup 'e tail un 'tretch 'ese'f, un lahff. 'E say:
"'I lak fer see dem trouble. Nuddin' no bodder me. I ketch-a dem swimp, I ketch-a dem crahb, I mekky my bed wey de sun shiuen hot, un I do 'joy mese'f. I proud fer see dem trouble.'
"''E come 'pon you, B'er 'Gater, wun you bin hab you' eye shed; 'e come 'pon you fum de turrer side. Ef 'e no come 'pon you in da' crik, dun 'e come 'pon you in da' broom-grass.'
"'Dun I shekky um by de han', B'er Rabbit; I ahx um howdy.'
"'Eh-eh, B'er 'Gater! you bin-a lahff at me; you no lahff wun dem trouble come. Dem trouble bin ketch-a you yit.'"
Daddy Jack paused to wipe his face. He had reported the dialogue between Brother Rabbit and Brother Alligator with considerable animation, and had illustrated it as he went along with many curious inflections of the voice, and many queer gestures of head and hands impossible to describe here, but which added picturesqueness to the story. After awhile he went on:
"B'er Rabbit, 'e do blow un 'e do ketch urn bre't'. 'E pit one year wey Dog is bin-a bark; 'e pit one eye 'pon B'er 'Gater. 'E lissen, 'e look; 'e look, 'e lissen. 'E no yeddy Dog, un 'e comforts come back. Bumbye B'er 'Gater, 'e come drowsy; 'e do nod, nod, un 'e head sway down, tel ma'sh-grass tickle 'e nose, un 'e do cough sem lak 'e teer up da' crik by da' root. 'E no lak dis place fer sleep at, un 'e is crawl troo da' ma'sh 'pon dry lan'; 'e is mek fer da' broom-grass fiel'. 'E mek 'e bed wid 'e long tail, un 'e is 'tretch 'ese'f out at 'e lenk. 'E is shed 'e y-eye, un opun 'e mout', un tek 'e nap.
"B'er Rabbit, 'e do hol' 'e y-eye 'pon B'er 'Gater. Him talk no wud; him wallup 'e cud; him stan' still. B'er 'Gater, 'e do tek 'e nap; B'er Rabbit 'e do watch. Bum-bye, B'er 'Gater bre't', 'e do come loud; 'e is bin sno' hard! 'E dream lilly dream; 'e wuk 'e fut un shek 'e tail in 'e dream. B'er Rabbit wink 'e y-eye, un 'e do watch. B'er 'Gater, he do leaf 'e dream bahine, un 'e sleep soun'. B'er Rabbit watch lil, wait lil. Bumbye, 'e do go wey fier bu'n in da' stump, un 'e is fetch some. 'E say, 'Dis day I is mek you know dem trouble; I is mek you know dem well.' 'E hop 'roun' dey-dey, un 'e do light da' broom-grass; 'e bu'n, bu'n—bu'n, bu'n; 'e do bu'n smaht.
"B'er 'Gater, 'e is dream some mo' lilly dream. 'E do wuk 'e fut, 'e do shek 'e tail. Broom-grass bu'n, bu'n; B'er 'Gater dream. 'E dream da' sun is shiuen' hot; 'e wom 'e back, 'e wom 'e belly; 'e wuk 'e fut, 'e shek 'e tail. Broom-grass bu'n high, 'e bu'n low; 'e bu'n smaht, 'e bu'n hot. Bumbye, B'er 'Gater is wek fum 'e dream; 'e smell-a da' smoke, 'e feel-a da' fier. 'E run dis way, 'e run turrer way; no diffran' wey 'e is run, dey da' smoke, dey da' fier. Bu'n, bu'n, bu'n! B'er 'Gater lash 'e tail, un grine 'e toof. Bumbye, 'e do roll un holler:
"'Trouble, trouble, trouble! Trouble, trouble!'
"B'er Rabbit, 'e is stan' pas' da' fier, un 'e do say:
"'Ki! B'er 'Gater! Wey you fer l'arn-a dis talk 'bout dem trouble?'
"B'er 'Gater, 'e lash 'e tail, 'e fair teer da' ye't, un 'e do holler:
"'Oh, ma Lord! Trouble! Trouble, trouble, trouble!'
"'Shekky um by de han', B'er 'Gater. Ahx um howdy!'
"'Ow, ma Lord! Trouble, trouble, trouble!'
"'Lahff wit' dem trouble, B'er 'Gater, lahff wit' dem! Ahx dem is dey he'lt' bin well! You bin-a cry fer dey 'quaintun', B'er 'Gater; now you mus' beer wit' dem trouble!'
"B'er 'Gater come so mad, 'e mek dash troo da' broom-grass; 'e fair teer um down. 'E bin scatter da' fier wide 'part, un 'e do run un dife in da' crik fer squinch da' fier 'pon 'e bahk. 'E bahk swivel, 'e tail swivel wit' da' fier, un fum dat dey is bin stan' so. Bump, bump 'pon 'e tail; bump, bump 'pon 'e bahk, wey da' fier bu'n."
"Hit 's des lak Brer Jack tell you, honey," said Uncle Remus, as Daddy Jack closed his eyes and relapsed into silence. "I done seed um wid my own eyes. En deyer mighty kuse creeturs, mon. Dey back is all ruffed up en down ter dis day en time, en mo'n dat, you aint gwineter ketch Brer Rabbit rackin' 'roun' whar de Yallergaters is. En de Yallergaters deyse'f, w'en dey years any crackin' en rattlin' gwine on in de bushes, dey des makes a break fer de creek en splunges in."
"Enty!" exclaimed Daddy Jack, with momentary enthusiasm. "'E do tu'n go da' bahnk, un dife 'neat' da' crik. 'E bin so wom wit' da' fier, 'e mek de crik go si-z-z-z!"
Here Daddy Jack looked around and smiled. His glance fell on 'Tildy, and he seemed suddenly to remember that he had failed to be as polite as circumstances demanded.
"Come-a set nex' em, lilly gal. I gwan tell you one tale."
"Come 'long, Pinx," said 'Tildy, tossing her head disdainfully, and taking the little boy by the hand. "Come 'long, Pinx; we better be gwine. I done say I won't kill dat ole nigger man. Yit ef he start atter me dis blessid night, I lay I roust de whole plantation. Come on, honey; less go."
The little boy was not anxious to go, but Uncle Remus seconded 'Tildy's suggestion.
"Better let dat gal mosey 'long, honey, 'kaze she mout start in fer ter cut up some 'er capers in yer, en I hate mighty bad ter bus' up dis yer axe-helve, w'ich I'm in needs un it eve'y hour er de day."
Whereupon the two old negroes were left sitting by the hearth.
 Tear the earth.
 Acquaintance. ———————————————————————————————————
BROTHER WOLF SAYS GRACE
'Tildy, the house-girl, made such a terrible report of the carryings on of Daddy Jack that the little boy's mother thought it prudent not to allow him to visit Uncle Remus so often. The child amused himself as best he could for several nights, but his play-things and picture-books finally lost their interest. He cried so hard to be allowed to go to see Uncle Remus that his mother placed him under the care of Aunt Tempy,—a woman of large authority on the place, and who stood next to Uncle Remus in the confidence of her mistress. Aunt Tempy was a fat, middle-aged woman, who always wore a head-handkerchief, and kept her sleeves rolled up, displaying her plump, black arms, winter and summer. She never hesitated to exercise her authority, and the younger negroes on the place regarded her as a tyrant; but in spite of her loud voice and brusque manners she was thoroughly good-natured, usually good-humored, and always trustworthy. Aunt Tempy and Uncle Remus were secretly jealous of each other, but they were careful never to come in conflict, and, to all appearances, the most cordial relations existed between them.
"Well de goodness knows!" exclaimed Uncle Remus, as Aunt Tempy went in with the little boy. "How you come on, Sis Tempy? De rainy season aint so mighty fur off w'en you come a-sojourneyin' in dis house. Ef I'd a-know'd you'd a-bin a-comin' I'd a-sorter steered 'roun' en bresh'd de cobwebs out'n de cornders."
"Don't min' me, Brer Remus. Luck in de house whar de cobwebs hangs low. I 'uz des a-passin'—a-passin' 'long—en Miss Sally ax me ef I kin come fur ez de do' wid dat chile dar, but bless you, 't aint in my manners ter tu'n back at de do'. How you come on, Brer Remus?"
"Po'ly, Sis Tempy; en yit I aint complainin'. Pain yer, en a ketch yander, wid de cramps th'ow'd in, aint no mo' dan ole folks kin 'speck. How you is, Sis Tempy?"
"I thank de Lord I'm able to crawl, Brer Remus, en dat 's 'bout all. Ef I wa'n't so sot in my ways, deze yer niggers would er run me 'stracted d'reckly."
Daddy Jack was sitting in the corner laughing and talking to himself, and the little boy watched him not without a feeling of awe. After a while he said:
"Uncle Remus, won't Daddy Jack tell us a story to-night?"
"Now, den, honey," responded the old man, "we aint got ter push Brer Jack too closte; we ull des hatter creep up on 'im en ketch 'im fer er tale wence he in de humors. Sometimes hoss pull, sometime he aint pull. You aint bin down yer so long, hit sorter look lak it my tu'n; 'kaze it done come 'cross my 'membunce dat dey wuz one time w'en Brer Wolf kotch Brer Rabbit, w'ich I aint never gun it out ter you yit."
"Brother Wolf caught Brother Rabbit, Uncle Remus?" exclaimed the little boy, incredulously.
"Yasser! dat 's de up en down un it, sho'," responded the old man with emphasis, "en I be mighty glad ef Sis Tempy yer will 'scuze me w'iles I runs over de tale 'long wid you."
"Bless yo' soul, Brer Remus, don't pay no 'tention ter me," said Aunt Tempy, folding her fat arms upon her ample bosom, and assuming an attitude of rest and contentment. "I'm bad ez de chillun 'bout dem ole tales, 'kaze I kin des set up yer un lissen at um de whole blessid night, un a good part er de day. Yass, Lord!"
"Well, den," said Uncle Remus, "we ull des huddle up yer en see w'at 'come er Brer Rabbit, w'en ole Brer Wolf kotch 'im. In dem days," he continued, looking at Daddy Jack and smiling broadly, "de creeturs wuz constant gwine a-courtin'. Ef 't wa'n't Miss Meadows en de gals dey wuz flyin' 'roun', hit 'uz Miss Motts. Dey wuz constant a-courtin'. En 't wa'n't none er dish yer 'Howdy-do-ma'm-I-'speck-I-better-be-gwine,' n'er. Hit 'uz go atter brekkus en stay twel atter supper. Brer Rabbit, he got tuk wid a-likin' fer Miss Motts, en soon one mawnin', he tuck'n slick hisse'f up, he did, en put out ter call on 'er. W'en Brer Rabbit git ter whar Miss Motts live, she done gone off some'rs.
"Some folks 'ud er sot down en wait twel Miss Motts come back, en den ag'in some folks 'ud er tuck der foot in der han' en went back; but ole Brer Rabbit, he aint de man fer ter be outdone, en he des tuck'n go in de kitchen en light he seegyar, en den he put out fer ter pay a call on Miss Meadows en de gals.
"W'en he git dar, lo en beholes, he fine Miss Motts dar, en he tipped in, ole Brer Rabbit did, en he galanted 'roun' 'mungs um, same lak one er dese yer town chaps, w'at you see come out ter Harmony Grove meetin'-house. Dey talk en dey laff; dey laff en dey giggle. Bimeby, 'long todes night, Brer Rabbit 'low he better be gwine. De wimmen folks dey all ax 'im fer ter stay twel atter supper, 'kaze he sech lively comp'ny, but Brer Rabbit fear'd some er de yuther creeturs be hidin' out fer 'im; so he tuck'n pay his 'specks, he did, en start fer home.
"He aint git fur twel he come up wid a great big basket settin' down by de side er de big road. He look up de road; he aint see nobody. He look down de road; he aint see nobody. He look befo', he look behime, he look all 'roun'; he aint see nobody. He lissen, en lissen; he aint year nothin'. He wait, en he wait; nobody aint come.
"Den, bimeby Brer Rabbit go en peep in de basket, en it seem lak it half full er green truck. He retch he han' in, he did, en git some en put it in he mouf. Den he shet he eye en do lak he studyin' 'bout sump'n'. Atter w'ile, he 'low ter hisse'f, 'Hit look lak sparrer-grass, hit feel lak sparrer-grass, hit tas'e lak sparrer-grass, en I be bless ef 't aint sparrer-grass.'