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Nights With Uncle Remus - Myths and Legends of the Old Plantation
by Joel Chandler Harris
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"Wid dat Brer Rabbit jump up, he did, en crack he heel tergedder, en he fetch one leap en lan' in de basket, right spang in 'mungs de sparrer-grass. Dar whar he miss he footin'," continued Uncle Remus, rubbing his beard meditatively, "'kaze w'en he jump in 'mungs de sparrer-grass, right den en dar he jump in 'mungs ole Brer Wolf, w'ich he wer' quile up at de bottom."

"Dar now!" exclaimed Aunt Tempy, enthusiastically. "W'at I tell you? W'at make him pester t'er folks doin's? I boun' Brer Wolf nail't 'im."

"Time Brer Wolf grab 'im," continued Uncle Remus, "Brer Rabbit knowed he 'uz a gone case; yit he sing out, he did:

"'I des tryin' ter skeer you, Brer Wolf; I des tryin' ter skeer you. I know'd you 'uz in dar, Brer Wolf, I know'd you by de smell!' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.

"Ole Brer Wolf grin, he did, en lick he chops, en up'n say:

"'Mighty glad you know'd me, Brer Rabbit, 'kaze I know'd you des time you drapt in on me. I tuck'n tell Brer Fox yistiddy dat I 'uz gwine take a nap 'longside er de road, en I boun' you 'ud come 'long en wake me up, en sho' nuff, yer you come en yer you is,' sez Brer Wolf, sezee.

"Oh-ho, Mr. Rabbit! How you feel now?" exclaimed Aunt Tempy, her sympathies evidently with Brother Wolf.

"W'en Brer Rabbit year dis," said Uncle Remus, paying no attention to the interruption, "he 'gun ter git mighty skeer'd, en he whirl in en beg Brer Wolf fer ter please tu'n 'im loose; but dis make Brer Wolf grin wusser, en he toof look so long en shine so w'ite, en he gum look so red, dat Brer Rabbit hush up en stay still. He so skeer'd dat he bref come quick, en he heart go lak flutter-mill. He chune up lak he gwine cry:

"'Whar you gwine kyar me, Brer Wolf?'

"'Down by de branch, Brer Rabbit.'

"'W'at you gwine down dar fer, Brer Wolf?'

"'So I kin git some water ter clean you wid atter I done skunt you, Brer Rabbit.'

"'Please, sir, lemme go, Brer Wolf.'

"'You talk so young you make me laff, Brer Rabbit.'

"'Dat sparrer-grass done make me sick, Brer Wolf.'

"'You'll be sicker'n dat 'fo' I git done wid you, Brer Rabbit.'

"'Whar I come fum nobody dast ter eat sick folks, Brer Wolf.'

"'Whar I come fum dey aint dast ter eat no yuther kin', Brer Rabbit.'"

"Ole Mr. Rabbit wuz a-talkin', mon," said Aunt Tempy, with a chuckle that caused her to shake like a piece of jelly.

"Dey went on dis a-way," continued Uncle Remus, "plum twel dey git ter de branch. Brer Rabbit, he beg en cry, en cry en beg, en Brer Wolf, he 'fuse en grin, en grin en 'fuse. W'en dey come ter de branch, Brer Wolf lay Brer Rabbit down on de groun' en hilt 'im dar, en den he study how he gwine make way wid 'im. He study en he study, en w'iles he studyin' Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n study some on he own hook.

"Den w'en it seem lak Brer Wolf done fix all de 'rangerments, Brer Rabbit, he make lak he cryin' wusser en wusser; he des fa'rly blubber."

Uncle Remus gave a ludicrous imitation of Brother Rabbit's wailings.

"'Ber—ber—Brer Wooly—ooly—oolf! Is you gwine—is you gwine ter sakerfice-t me right now—ow—ow?'

"'Dat I is, Brer Rabbit; dat I is.'

"'Well, ef I blee-eedz ter be kilt, Brer Wooly—ooly—oolf, I wants ter be kilt right, en ef I blee-eedz ter be e't, I wants ter be e't ri—ight, too, now!'



"'How dat, Brer Rabbit?'

"'I want you ter show yo' p'liteness, Brer Wooly—ooly—oolf!'

"'How I gwine do dat, Brer Rabbit?'

"'I want you ter say grace, Brer Wolf, en say it quick, 'kaze I gittin' mighty weak.'

"'How I gwine say grace, Brer Rabbit?'

"'Fol' yo' han's und' yo' chin, Brer Wolf, en shet yo' eyes, en say: "Bless us en bine us, en put us in crack whar de Ole Boy can't fine us." Say it quick, Brer Wolf, 'kaze I failin' mighty fas'.'"

"Now aint dat des too much!" exclaimed Aunt Tempy, as delighted as the little boy. Uncle Remus laughed knowingly and went on:

"Brer Wolf, he put up he han's, he did, en shot he eyes, en 'low, 'Bless us en bine us;' but he aint git no furder, 'kaze des time he take up he han's, Brer Rabbit fotch a wiggle, he did, en lit on he foots, en he des nat'ally lef a blue streak behime 'im."

"Ah-yi-ee!" exclaimed Daddy Jack, while Aunt Tempy allowed her arms to drop helplessly from her lap as she cried "Dar now!" and the little boy clasped his hands in an ecstasy of admiration.

"Oh, I just knew Brother Rabbit would get away," the child declared.

"Dat 's right, honey," said Uncle Remus. "You put yo' pennunce in Brer Rabbit en yo' won't be fur out er de way."

There was some further conversation among the negroes, but it was mostly plantation gossip. When Aunt Tempy rose to go she said:

"Goodness knows, Brer Remus, ef dis de way you all runs on, I'm gwine ter pester you some mo'. Hit come 'cross me like ole times, dat it do."

"Do so, Sis Tempy, do so," said Uncle Remus, with dignified hospitality. "You allers fine a place at my h'a'th. Ole times is about all we got lef'."

"Trufe, too!" exclaimed Aunt Tempy; and with that she took the child by the hand and went out into the darkness.



XXVIII

SPIRITS, SEEN AND UNSEEN

It was not many nights before the same company was gathered in Uncle Remus's cabin,—Daddy Jack, Aunt Tempy, and the little boy. The conversation took a turn that thrilled the child with mingled fear and curiosity. Uncle Remus had inquired as to the state of Aunt Tempy's health, when the latter came in, and her response was:

"I feelin' mighty creepy, Brer Remus, sho'. Look like I bleedz ter hunt comp'ny. W'en I come 'long down I felt dat skittish twel ef a leaf had blow'd 'crost de paff, I'd 'a' des about drapt in my tracks."

"How come dat, Sis Tempy?" Uncle Remus inquired.

"You know dat little gal er Riah's? Well, I 'uz settin' up dar in my house 'w'ile ergo, w'en, bless gracious! fus' news I know, I year dat chile talkin' in the yuther room. I 'low ter myse'f, she aint talkin' ter Riah, 'kaze Riah aint come yit, un den I crope up, un dar wuz de chile settin' right flat in de middle er de flo', laffin' un talkin' un makin' motions like she see somebody in de cornder. I des stood dar un watch 'er, un I aint a livin' human ef she don't do like dey 'uz somebody er n'er in dar wid 'er. She ax um fer ter stay on dey own side, un den, w'en it seem like dey come todes 'er, den she say she gwine git a switch un drive um back. Hit make me feel so cole un kuse dat I des tuck'n come 'way fum dar, un ef dey's sump'n' n'er dar, hit'll be dem un Riah fer't."

"'E do talk wid ghos'; 'e is bin larf wit' harnt," exclaimed Daddy Jack.

"I 'speck dat 's 'bout de upshot un it," said Uncle Remus. "Dey tells me dat w'ence you year chilluns talkin' en gwine on periently wid deyse'f, der er bleedz ter see ha'nts."

The little boy moved his stool closer to his venerable partner. Daddy Jack roused himself.

"Oona no bin-a see dem ghos'? Oona no bin-a see dem harnt? Hi! I is bin-a see plenty ghos'; I no 'fraid dem; I is bin-a punch dem 'way wit' me cane. I is bin-a shoo dem 'pon dey own sied da' road. Dem is bin walk w'en da' moon stan' low; den I is bin shum. Oona no walk wit' me dun. 'E berry bahd. Oona call, dey no answer. Wun dey call, hol' you' mout' shet. 'E berry bahd fer mek answer, wun da' harnt holler. Dem call-a you 'way fum dis lan'. I yeddy dem call; I shetty me y-eye, I shekkey me head.

"Wun I is bin noung mahn, me der go fer git water, un wun I der dip piggin 'neat' da' crik, I yeddy v'ice fer call me—'Jahck! O Jahck!' I stan', I lissen, I yeddy de v'ice—'Jahck! Jahck! O Jahck!' I t'ink 'e bin Titty Ann;[26] I ahx um:

"Wey you bin call-a me, Titty Ann?' Titty Ann 'tretch 'e y-eye big:

"'I no bin-a call. Dead ghos' is bin-a call. Dem harnt do call-a you.'

"Dun I rise me y-eye, un I is bin shum gwan by sundown; 'e is bin gwan bahckwud. I tell Titty Ann fer look at we nuncle, gwan bahckwud by sundown. Titty Ann pit 'e two han' 'pon me y-eyes, un 'e do bline me. 'E say I bin-a see one dead ghos'."

"What then, Daddy Jack?" asked the little boy, as the old African paused.

"Ki! nuff dun. 'Kaze bumbye, so long tam, folks come fetch-a we nuncle 'tretch out. 'E is bin-a tek wit' da' hecup; 'e t'row 'e head dis way; 'e t'row 'e head dat way." Daddy Jack comically suited the action to the word. "'E is bin tek-a da' hecup; da' hecup is bin tek um—da' cramp is bin fetch um. I is bin see mo' dead ghos', but me no spot um lak dis."

"I boun' you is," said Uncle Remus. "Dey tells me, Brer Jack," he continued, "dat w'en you meets up wid one er deze ha'nts, ef you'll take'n tu'n yo' coat wrong-sud-outerds, dey won't use no time in makin' der disappearance."

"Hey!" exclaimed Daddy Jack, "tu'n coat no fer skeer dead ghos'. 'E skeer dem Jack-me-Lantun. One tam I is bin-a mek me way troo t'ick swamp. I do come hot, I do come cole. I feel-a me bahck quake; me bre't' come fahs'. I look; me ent see nuttin'; I lissen; me ent yeddy nuttin'. I look, dey de Jack-me-Lantun mekkin 'e way troo de bush; 'e comin' stret by me. 'E light bin-a flick-flicker; 'e git close un close. I yent kin stan' dis; one foot git heffy, da' heer 'pon me head lif' up. Da' Jack-me-Lantun, 'e git-a high, 'e git-a low, 'e come close. Dun I t'ink I bin-a yeddy ole folks talk tu'n you' coat-sleef wun da' Jack-me-Lantun is bin run you. I pull, I twis', I yerk at dem jacket; 'e yent come. 'E is bin grow on me bahck. Jack-me-Lantun fly close. I say me pray 'pon da' jacket; 'e is bin-a yerk loose; da' sleef 'e do tu'n. Jack-me-Lantun, 'e see dis, 'e lif' up, 'e say 'Phew!' 'E done gone! Oona no walk in da' swamp 'cep' you is keer you' coat 'cross da' arm. Enty!"

"Dat w'at make me say," remarked Aunt Tempy, with a little shiver, "dat 'oman like me, w'at aint w'ar no jacket, aint got no business traipsin' un trollopin' 'roun' thoo the woods atter dark."

"You mout tu'n yo' head-hankcher, Sis Tempy," said Uncle Remus, reassuringly, "en ef dat aint do no good den you kin whirl in en gin um leg-bail."

"I year tell," continued Aunt Tempy, vouchsafing no reply to Uncle Remus, "dat dish yer Jacky-ma-Lantun is a sho' nuff sperit. Sperits aint gwine to walk un walk less'n dey got sump'n' n'er on der min', un I year tell dat dish yer Jacky-ma-Lantun is 'casioned by a man w'at got kilt. Folks kilt 'im un tuck his money, un now his ha'nt done gone un got a light fer ter hunt up whar his money is. Mighty kuse ef folks kin hone atter money w'en dey done gone. I dunner w'at he wanter be ramblin' 'roun' wid a light w'en he done dead. Ef anybody got any hard feelin's 'gin' me, I want um ter take it out w'ile deyer in de flesh; w'en dey come a-ha'ntin' me, den I'm done—I'm des done."

"Are witches spirits?" the little boy asked.

The inquiry was not especially directed at Daddy Jack, but Daddy Jack was proud of his reputation as a witch, and he undertook to reply.

"None 't all. Witch, 'e no dead ghos'—'e life folks, wey you shekky han' wit'. Oona witch mebbe; how you is kin tell?"

Here Daddy Jack turned his sharp little eyes upon the child. The latter moved closer to Uncle Remus, and said he hoped to goodness he was n't a witch.

"How you is kin tell diffran 'cep' you bin fer try um?" continued Daddy Jack. "'E good t'ing fer be witch; 'e mek-a dem folks fred. 'E mek-a dem fred; 'e mek-a dem hol' da' bre't', wun dey is bin-a come by you' place."

"In de name er de Lord, Daddy Jack, how kin folks tell wh'er dey er witches er no?" asked Aunt Tempy.

"Oo! 'e easy nuff. Wun da' moon is shiuen low, wet-a you' han' wit' da' pot-licker grease; rub noung heifer 'pon 'e nose; git 'pon 'e bahck. Mus' hol' um by 'e year; mus' go gallop, gallop down da' lane, tel 'e do come 'cross one-a big gully. Mus' holler, 'Double, double, double up! double, double, double up!' Heifer jump, oona witch; heifer no jump, oona no witch."

"Did you ever ride a heifer, Daddy Jack?" asked the little boy.

"Mo' tam es dem," replied the old negro, holding up the crooked fingers of one withered hand.

"Did—did she jump across the big gully?"

The child's voice had dropped to an awed whisper, and there was a glint of malicious mischief in Daddy Jack's shrewd eyes, as he looked up at Uncle Remus. He got his cue. Uncle Remus groaned heavily and shook his head.

"Hoo!" exclaimed Daddy Jack, "wun I is bin-a tell all, dey no mo' fer tell. Mus' kip some fer da' Sunday. Lilly b'y no fred dem witch; 'e no bodder lilly b'y. Witch, 'e no rassel wit' 'e ebry-day 'quaintan'; 'e do go pars 'e own place."

It was certainly reassuring for the child to be told that witches did n't trouble little boys, and that they committed their depredations outside of their own neighborhood.

"I is bin-a yeddy dem talk 'bout ole witch. 'E do leaf 'e skin wey 'e is sta't fum. Man bin-a come pars by; 'e is fine dem skin. 'E say:

"'Ki! 'E one green skin; I fix fer dry um.'

"Man hang um by da' fier. Skin, 'e do swink, i' do swivel. Bumbye 'e do smell-a bahd; man, 'e hol' 'e nose. 'E do wait. Skin swink, skin stink, skin swivel. 'E do git so bahd, man pitch um in da' ya'd. 'E wait; 'e is wait, 'e is lissen. Bumbye, 'e yeddy da' witch come. Witch, e' do sharp' 'e claw on-a da' fence; 'e is snap 'e jaw—flick! flick! flick! 'E come-a hunt fer him skin. 'E fine un. 'E trey um on dis way; 'e no fit. 'E trey um on dat way; 'e no fit. 'E trey um on turrer way; 'e no fit. 'E pit um 'pon 'e head; skin 'e no fit. 'E pit um 'pon 'e foot; skin 'e no fit. 'E cuss, 'e sweer; skin 'e no fit. 'E cut 'e caper; skin 'e no fit. Bumbye 'e holler:

"''Tiss-a me, Skin! wey you no know me? Skin, 'tiss-a me! wey you no know me?'

"Skin, 'e no talk nuttin' 'tall. Witch 'e do jump, 'e do holler; a mek no diffran. Skin 'e talk nuttin' 'tall. Man, 'e tekky to'ch, 'e look in ya'd. 'E see big blahck Woolf lay by da' skin. E toof show; 'e y-eye shiuen. Man drife um 'way; 'e is come bahck. Man bu'n da' skin; 'e is bin-a come bahck no mo'."

The little boy asked no more questions. He sat silent while the others talked, and then went to the door and looked out. It was very dark, and he returned to his stool with a troubled countenance.

"Des wait a little minnit, honey," said Uncle Remus, dropping his hand caressingly on the child's shoulder. "I bleedz ter go up dar ter de big house fer ter see Mars John, en I'll take you 'long fer comp'ny."

And so, after a while, the old man and the little boy went hand in hand up the path.

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

[26] Sissy Ann. ———————————————————————————————————



XXIX

A GHOST STORY

The next time the little boy visited Uncle Remus he persuaded 'Tildy to go with him. Daddy Jack was in his usual place, dozing and talking to himself, while Uncle Remus oiled the carriage-harness. After a while Aunt Tempy came in.

The conversation turned on Daddy Jack's story about "haunts" and spirits. Finally 'Tildy said:

"W'en it come ter tales 'bout ha'nts," said she, "I year tell er one dat'll des nat'ally make de kinks on yo' head onquile deyse'f."

"W'at tale dat, chile?" asked Aunt Tempy.

"Unk' Remus, mus' I tell it?"

"Let 'er come," said Uncle Remus.

"Well, den," said 'Tildy, rolling her eyes back and displaying her white teeth, "one time dey wuz a 'Oman en a Man. Seem like dey live close ter one er n'er, en de Man he sot his eyes on de 'Oman, en de 'Oman, she des went 'long en 'ten' ter her bizness. Man, he keep his eyes sot on 'er. Bimeby, de 'Oman, she 'ten' ter her bizness so much tel she tuck'n tuck sick en die. Man, he up'n tell de folks she dead, en de folks dey come en fix 'er. Dey lay 'er out, en dey light some candles, en dey sot up wid 'er, des like folks does now; en dey put two great big roun' shiny silver dollars on 'er eyes fer ter hol' 'er eyeleds down."

In describing the silver dollars 'Tildy joined the ends of her thumbs and fore-fingers together, and made a figure as large as a saucer.

"Dey wuz lots bigger dan dollars is deze days," she continued, "en dey look mighty purty. Seem like dey wuz all de money de 'Oman got, en de folks dey put um on 'er eyeleds fer to hol' um down. Den w'en de folks do dat dey call up de Man en take'n tell 'im dat he mus' dig a grave en bury de 'Oman, en den dey all went off 'bout der bizness.

"Well, den, de Man, he tuck'n dig de grave en make ready fer ter bury de 'Oman. He look at dat money on 'er eyeleds, en it shine mighty purty. Den he tuck it off en feel it. Hit feel mighty good, but des 'bout dat time de Man look at de 'Oman, en he see 'er eyeleds open. Look like she lookin' at 'im, en he take'n put de money whar he git it fum.

"Well, den, de Man, he take'n git a waggin en haul de 'Oman out ter de buryin'-groun', en w'en he git dar he fix ever'thing, en den he grab de money en kivver up de grave right quick. Den he go home, en put de money in a tin box en rattle it 'roun.' Hit rattle loud en hit rattle nice, but de Man, he aint feel so good. Seem like he know de 'Oman eyeled stretch wide open lookin' fer 'im. Yit he rattle de money 'roun', en hit rattle loud en hit rattle nice.

"Well, den, de Man, he take'n put de tin box w'at de money in on de mantel-shel-uf. De day go by, en de night come, en w'en night come de win' 'gun ter rise up en blow. Hit rise high, hit blow strong. Hit blow on top er de house, hit blow und' de house, hit blow 'roun' de house. Man, he feel quare. He set by de fier en lissen. Win' say 'Buzz-zoo-o-o-o-o!' Man lissen. Win' holler en cry. Hit blow top er de house, hit blow und' de house, hit blow 'roun' de house, hit blow in de house. Man git closte up in de chimbly-jam. Win' fin' de cracks en blow in um. 'Bizzy, bizzy, buzz-zoo-o-o-o-o!'

"Well, den, Man, he lissen, lissen, but bimeby he git tired er dis, en he 'low ter hisse'f dat he gwine ter bed. He tuck'n fling a fresh light'd knot in de fier, en den he jump in de bed, en quile hisse'f up en put his head und' de kivver. Win' hunt fer de cracks—bizzy-buzz, bizzy-buzz, buzz-zoo-o-o-o-o-o! Man keep his head und' de kivver. Light'd knot flar' up en flicker. Man aint dast ter move. Win' blow en w'issel Phew-fee-e-e-e! Light'd knot flicker en flar'. Man, he keep his head kivvud.

"Well, den, Man lay dar, en git skeer'der en skeer'der. He aint dast ter wink his eye skacely, en seem like he gwine ter have swamp agur. W'iles he layin' dar shakin', en de win' a-blowin', en de fier flickin', he year someyuther kind er fuss. Hit mighty kuse kind er fuss. Clinkity, clinkalinkle! Man 'low:

"'Hey! who stealin' my money?'

"Yit he keep his head kivvud w'iles he lay en lissen. He year de win' blow, en den he year dat yuther kinder fuss—Clinkity, clink, clinkity, clinkalinkle! Well, den, he fling off de kivver en sot right up in de bed. He look, he aint see nothin'. De fier flicker en flar' en de win' blow. Man go en put chain en bar 'cross de do'. Den he go back to bed, en he aint mo'n totch his head on de piller tel he year de yuther fuss—clink, clink, clinkity, clinkalinkle! Man rise up, he aint see nothin' 'tall. Mighty quare!

"Des 'bout time he gwine ter lay down 'g'in, yer come de fuss—clinkity, clinkalinkle. Hit soun' like it on de mantel-shel-uf; let 'lone dat, hit soun' like it in de tin box on de mantel-shel-uf; let 'lone dat, hit soun' like it de money in de tin box on de man-tel-shel-uf. Man say:

"'Hey! rat done got in box!'

"Man look; no rat dar. He shet up de box, en set it down on de shel-uf. Time he do dat yer come de fuss—clinkity, clinkity, clinkalinkle! Man open de box en look at de money. Dem two silver dollars layin' in dar des like he put um. W'iles de man dun dis, look like he kin year sump'n' say 'way off yander:

"'Whar my money? Oh, gim me my money!'

"Man, he sot de box back on de shel-uf, en time he put it down he year de money rattle—clinkity, clinkalinkle, clink!—en den fum 'way off yander sump'n' say:

"'Oh, gim me my money! I want my money!'

"Well, den, de Man git skeer'd sho' nuff, en he got er flat-iuen en put on de tin box, en den he tuck'n pile all de cheers 'gin' de do', en run en jump in de bed. He des know dey's a booger comin'. Time he git in bed en kivver his head, de money rattle louder, en sump'n' cry way off yander:

"'I want my money! Oh, gim me my money!'

"Man, he shake en he shiver; money, hit clink en rattle; booger, hit holler en cry. Booger come closter, money clink louder. Man shake wusser en wusser. Money say: 'Clinkity, clinkalinkle!' Booger cry, 'Oh, gim me my money!' Man holler, 'O Lordy, Lordy!'

"Well, den, hit keep on dis a-way, tel dreckly Man year de do' open. He peep fum und' de kivver, en in walk de 'Oman w'at he done bury in de buryin'-groun'. Man shiver en shiver, win' blow en blow, money rattle en rattle, 'Oman cry en cry. 'Buzz-zoo-o-o-o-o!' sez de win'; 'Clinkalink!' sez de box; 'Oh, gim me my money!' sez de 'Oman; 'O Lordy!' sez de Man. 'Oman year de money, but look like she aint kin see, en she grope 'roun', en grope 'roun', en grope 'roun' wid 'er han' h'ist in de a'r des dis away."

Here 'Tildy stood up, pushed her chair back with her foot, raised her arms over her head, and leaned forward in the direction of Daddy Jack.

"Win' blow, fier flicker, money rattle, Man shake en shiver, 'Oman grope 'roun' en say, 'Gim me my money! Oh, who got my money?'"

'Tildy advanced a few steps.

"Money look like it gwine ter t'ar de tin box all ter flinders. 'Oman grope en cry, grope en cry, tel bimeby she jump on de man en holler:

"'You got my money!'"

As she reached this climax, 'Tildy sprang at Daddy Jack and seized him, and for a few moments there was considerable confusion in the corner. The little boy was frightened, but the collapsed appearance of Daddy Jack convulsed him with laughter. The old African was very angry. His little eyes glistened with momentary malice, and he shook his cane threateningly at 'Tildy. The latter coolly adjusted her ear-rings, as she exclaimed:

"Dar, now! I know'd I'd git even wid de ole vilyun. Come a-callin' me pidjin-toed!"

"Better keep yo' eye on 'im, chile," said Aunt Tempy. "He 'witch you, sho'."

"'Witch who? Ef he come witchin' roun' me, I lay I break his back. I tell you dat right pine-blank."



XXX

BROTHER RABBIT AND HIS FAMOUS FOOT

The little boy was very glad, one night shortly after he had heard about Daddy Jack's ghosts and witches and 'Tildy's "ha'nts," to find Uncle Remus alone in his cabin. The child liked to have his venerable partner all to himself. Uncle Remus was engaged in hunting for tobacco crumbs with which to fill his pipe, and in turning his pockets a rabbit foot dropped upon the hearth.

"Grab it, honey!" he exclaimed. "Snatch it up off'n de h'a'th. In de name er goodness, don't let it git in de embers; 'kaze ef dat ar rabbit foot git singe, I'm a goner, sho'!"

It was the hind foot of a rabbit, and a very large one at that, and the little boy examined it curiously. He was in thorough sympathy with all the superstitions of the negroes, and to him the rabbit foot appeared to be an uncanny affair. He placed it carefully on Uncle Remus's knee, and after the pipe had been filled, he asked:

"What do you carry that for, Uncle Remus?"

"Well, honey," responded the old man, grimly, "ef you want me ter make shorts out'n a mighty long tale, dat rabbit foot is fer ter keep off boogers. W'en I hatter run er'n's fer myse'f all times er night, en take nigh cuts thoo de woods, en 'cross by de buryin'-groun', hits monst'us handy fer ter have dat ar rabbit foot. Keep yo' head studdy, now; mine yo' eye; I aint sayin' deyer any boogers anywhars. Brer Jack kin say w'at he mineter; I aint sayin' nothin'. But yit, ef dey wuz any, en dey come slinkin' atter me, I let you know dey'd fine out terreckly dat de ole nigger heel'd wid rabbit foot. I 'ud hol' it up des dis a-way, en I boun' you I'd shoo um off'n de face er de yeth. En I tell you w'at," continued Uncle Remus, seeing that the little boy was somewhat troubled, "w'en it come to dat pass dat you gotter be dodgin' 'roun' in de dark, ef you'll des holler fer me, I'll loan you dish yer rabbit foot, en you'll be des ez safe ez you is w'en Miss Sally stannin' by yo' bed wid a lit can'le in 'er han'.

"Strip er red flannil tied 'roun' yo' arm'll keep off de rheumatis; stump-water 'll kyo 'spepsy; some good fer one 'zeeze,[27] en some good fer n'er, but de p'ints is dat dish yer rabbit foot 'll gin you good luck. De man w'at tote it mighty ap' fer ter come out right een' up w'en dey's any racket gwine on in de neighborhoods, let 'er be whar she will en w'en she may; mo' espeshually ef de man w'at got it know 'zactly w'at he got ter do. W'ite folks may laugh," Uncle Remus went on, "but w'en rabbit run 'cross de big road front er me, w'at does I do? Does I shoo at um? Does I make fer ter kill um? Dat I don't—dat I don't! I des squots right down in de middle er de road, en I makes a cross-mark in de san' des dis way, en den I spits in it."[28]

Uncle Remus made a practical illustration by drawing a cross-mark in the ashes on the hearth.

"Well, but, Uncle Remus, what good does all this do?" the little boy asked.

"Lots er good, honey; bless yo' soul, lots er good. W'en rabbit crosses yo' luck, w'at you gwine do, less'n you sets down en crosses it out, right den en dar? I year talk er folks shootin' rabbit in de big road, yit I notices dat dem w'at does de shootin' aint come ter no good een'—dat w'at I notices."

"Uncle Remus," the little boy asked, after a while, "how did people happen to find out about the rabbit's foot?"

"Oh, you let folks 'lone fer dat, honey! You des let um 'lone. W'at de wimmen aint up'n tell bidout anybody axin' un um, folks mighty ap' fer ter fine out fer deyse'f. De wimmen, dey does de talkin' en de flyin', en de mens, dey does de walkin' en de pryin', en betwixt en betweenst um, dey aint much dat don't come out. Ef it don't come out one day it do de nex', en so she goes—Ant'ny over, Ant'ny under—up one row en down de udder, en clean acrosst de bolly-patch!"

It may be that the child did n't understand all this, but he had no doubt of its wisdom, and so he waited patiently for developments.

"Dey's a tale 'bout de rabbit foot," continued Uncle Remus, "but yo' eye look watery, like ole man Nod 'bout ter slip up behime you; en let 'lone dat, I 'speck Miss Sally clock clickin' fer you right now."

"Oh, no, it is n't, Uncle Remus," said the child, laughing. "Mamma said she'd make 'Tildy call me."

"Dar, now!" exclaimed the old man, indignantly, "'Tildy dis en 'Tildy dat. I dunner w'at yo' mammy dreamin' 'bout fer ter let dat nigger gal be a-holl'in' en a-bawlin' atter you all 'roun' dish yer plan'ation. She de mos' uppity nigger on de hill, en de fus' news you know dey ull all hatter make der bows en call 'er Mistiss. Ef ole Miss wuz 'live, dey would n't be no sech gwines on 'roun' yer. But nummine.[29] You des let 'er come a-cuttin' up front er my do', en I lay you'll year squallin'. Now, den," continued the old man, settling himself back in his chair, "wharbouts wuz I?"

"You said there was a tale about the rabbit foot," the little boy replied.

"So dey is, honey! so dey is!" Uncle Remus exclaimed, "but she got so many crooks en tu'ns in 'er dat I dunner but w'at I aint done gone en fergotted some un um off'n my min'; 'kaze ole folks lak me knows lots mo' dan w'at dey kin 'member.

"In de days w'ence Brer Rabbit wuz sorter keepin' de neighborhoods stirred up, de yuther creeturs wuz studyin' en studyin' de whole blessid time how dey gwine ter nab 'im. Dey aint had no holiday yit, 'kaze w'en de holiday come, dey'd go ter wuk, dey would, en juggle wid one er n'er fer ter see how dey gwine ter ketch up wid Brer Rabbit. Bimeby, w'en all der plans, en der traps, en der jugglements aint do no good, dey all 'gree, dey did, dat Brer Rabbit got some cunjerment w'at he trick um wid. Brer B'ar, he up'n 'low, he did, dat he boun' Brer Rabbit is a nat'al bawn witch; Brer Wolf say, sezee, dat he 'speck Brer Rabbit des in cahoots wid a witch; en Brer Fox, he vow dat Brer Rabbit got mo' luck dan smartness. Den Jedge B'ar, he drap he head one side, he did, en he ax how come Brer Rabbit got all de luck on he own side. De mo' dey ax, de mo' dey git pestered, en de mo' dey git pestered, de wuss dey worry. Day in en day out dey wuk wid dis puzzlement; let 'lone dat, dey sot up nights; en bimeby dey 'gree 'mungs deyse'f dat dey better make up wid Brer Rabbit, en see ef dey can't fine out how come he so lucky.

"W'iles all dis gwine on, ole Brer Rabbit wuz a-gallopin' 'roun' fum Funtown ter Frolicville, a-kickin' up de devilment en terrifyin' de neighborhoods. Hit keep on dis a-way, twel one time, endurin' de odd-come-shorts,[30] ole Jedge B'ar sont wud dat one er his chilluns done bin tooken wid a sickness, en he ax won't ole Miss Rabbit drap 'roun' en set up wid 'im. Ole Miss Rabbit, she say, co'se she go, en atter she fill 'er satchy full er yerbs en truck, off she put.

"I done fergit," said Uncle Remus, scratching his head gravely, "w'ich one er dem chilluns wuz ailin'. Hit mout er bin Kubs, en hit mout er bin Klibs; but no marter fer dat. W'en ole Miss Rabbit git dar, ole Miss B'ar wuz a-settin' up in de chimbly-cornder des a-dosin' en a-nussin' de young un; en all de wimmin er de neighborhoods wuz dar, a-whispun en a-talkin', des fer all de worl' lak wimmin does deze days. It 'uz:

"'Come right in, Sis Rabbit! I mighty proud to see you. I mighty glad you fotch yo' knittin', 'kaze I'm pow'ful po' comp'ny w'en my chillun sick. Des fling yo' bonnet on de bed dar. I'm dat flustrated twel I dunner w'ich een's up, skacely. Sis Wolf, han' Sis Rabbit dat rickin'-cheer dar, 'kaze 't aint no one step fum her house ter mine.'

"Dat de way ole Miss B'ar run on," continued Uncle Remus, "en dey set dar en dey chatter en dey clatter. Ole Brer Wolf, he 'uz settin' out on de back peazzer smokin' en noddin'. He 'ud take en draw a long whiff, he would, en den he 'ud drap off ter noddin' en let de smoke oozle out thoo he nose. Bimeby ole Sis Rabbit drap 'er knittin' in 'er lap, en sing out, sez she:

"'Law, Sis B'ar! I smells 'barker smoke,' sez she.

"Ole Sis B'ar, she jolt up de sick baby, en swap it fum one knee ter de yuther, en 'low:

"'My ole man bin smokin' 'roun' yer de whole blessid day, but soon'z dish yer chile tuck sick, I des tuck'n tole 'im, sez I, fer ter take hisse'f off in de woods whar he b'long at, sez I. Yessum! I did dat! I pities any 'oman w'at 'er ole man is fer'verlastin' stuck 'roun' de house w'en dey's any sickness gwine on,' sez she.

"Ole Brer Wolf sot out dar on de back peazzer, en he shot one eye, he did, en open um 'g'in, en let de smoke oozle out'n he nose. Sis B'ar, she jolt de sick baby en swap it fum one knee ter de yuther. Dey sot dar en talk twel bimeby der confab sorter slack up. Fus' news dey know Sis Rabbit drap 'er knittin' en fling up 'er han's en squall out:

"'De gracious en de goodness! Ef I aint done come traipsin' off en lef' my ole man money-pus, en he got sump'n' in dar w'at he won't take a purty fer, needer! I'm dat fergitful,' sez she, 'twel hit keep me mizerbul mighty nigh de whole time,' sez she.

"Brer Wolf, he lif' up he year en open he eye, en let de smoke oozle out'n he nose. Sis B'ar, she jolt de sick baby wuss en wuss, en bimeby, she up'n say, sez she:

"'I mighty glad 't aint me, dat I is,' sez she, 'bekaze ef I wuz ter lef' my ole man money-pus layin' 'roun' dat a-way, he'd des nat'ally rip up de planks in de flo', en t'ar all de bark off'n de trees,' sez she.

"Ole Miss Rabbit, she sot dar, she did, en she rock en study, en study en rock, en she dunner w'at ter do. Ole Sis B'ar, she jolt en jolt de baby. Ole Brer Wolf, he let de 'barker smoke oozle thoo he nose, he did, en den he open bofe eyes en lay he pipe down. Wid dat, he crope down de back steps en lit out fer Brer Rabbit house. Brer Wolf got gait same lak race-hoss, en it aint take 'im long fer ter git whar he gwine. W'en he git ter Brer Rabbit house, he pull de latch-string en open de do', en w'en he do dis, one er de little Rabs wake up, en he holler out:

"'Dat you, mammy?'

"Den Brer Wolf wish he kin sing 'Bye-O-Baby,' but 'fo' he kin make answer, de little Rab holler out 'g'in:

"'Dat you, mammy?'

"Ole Brer Wolf know he got ter do sump'n', so he tuck'n w'isper, he did:

"'Sh-sh-sh! Go ter sleep, honey. De boogers'll git you!' en wid dat de little Rab 'gun ter whimple, en he whimple hisse'f off ter sleep.

"Den w'en it seem lak de little Rabs, w'ich dey wuz mighty nigh forty-eleven un um, is all gone ter sleep, Brer Wolf, he crope 'roun', he did, en feel on de mantel-shelf, en feel, en feel, twel he come ter ole Brer Rabbit money-pus. Ef he want so light wid he han'," Uncle Remus went on, glancing quizzically at the child, "he'd a knock off de pollygollic vial w'at ole Miss Rabbit put up dar. But nummine! Brer Wolf, he feel, en feel, twel he come ter de money-pus, en he grab dat, he did, en he des flew'd away fum dar.

"W'en he git out er sight en year'n', Brer Wolf look at de money-pus, en see w'at in it. Hit 'uz one er deze yer kinder money-pus wid tossle on de een' en shiny rings in de middle. Brer Wolf look in dar fer ter see w'at he kin see. In one een' dey wuz a piece er calamus-root en some collard-seeds, en in de t'er een' dey wuz a great big rabbit foot. Dis make Brer Wolf feel mighty good, en he gallop off home wid de shorance[31] un a man w'at done foun' a gol' mine."

Here Uncle Remus paused and betrayed a disposition to drop off to sleep. The little boy, however, touched him upon the knee, and asked him what Brother Rabbit did when he found his foot was gone. Uncle Remus laughed and rubbed his eyes.

"Hit 's mighty kuse 'bout Brer Rabbit, honey. He aint miss dat money-pus fer mighty long time, yit w'en he do miss it, he miss it mighty bad. He miss it so bad dat he git right-down sick, 'kaze he know he bleedz ter fine dat ar foot let go w'at may, let come w'at will. He study en he study, yit 't aint do no good, en he go all 'roun' 'lowin' ter hisse'f:

"'I know whar I put dat foot, yit I dunner whar I lef' um; I know whar I put dat foot, yit I dunner whar I lef' um.'

"He mope en he mope 'roun'. Look lak Brer Wolf got all de luck en Brer Rabbit aint got none. Brer Wolf git fat, Brer Rabbit git lean; Brer Wolf run fas', Brer Rabbit lope heavy lak ole Sis Cow; Brer Wolf feel funny, Brer Rabbit feel po'ly. Hit keep on dis a-way, twel bimeby Brer Rabbit know sump'n' n'er bleedz ter be done. Las' he make up he min' fer ter take a journey, en he fix up he tricks, he do, en he go en see ole Aunt Mammy-Bammy Big-Money."

"And who was old Aunt Mammy-Bammy Big-Money, Uncle Remus?" the little boy inquired.

"Ah-yi!" exclaimed Uncle Remus, in a tone of triumph, "I know'd w'en I fotch dat ole creetur name up, dey wa'n't gwine ter be no noddin' 'roun' dish yer h'a'th. In dem days," he continued, "dey wuz a Witch-Rabbit, en dat wuz her entitlements—ole Aunt Mammy-Bammy Big-Money. She live way off in a deep, dark swamp, en ef you go dar you hatter ride some, slide some; jump some, hump some; hop some, flop some; walk some, balk some; creep some, sleep some; fly some, cry some; foller some, holler some; wade some, spade some; en ef you aint monst'us keerful you aint git dar den. Yit Brer Rabbit he git dar atter so long a time, en he mighty nigh wo' out.

"He sot down, he did, fer ter res' hisse'f, en bimeby he see black smoke comin' outer de hole in de groun' whar de ole Witch-Rabbit stay. Smoke git blacker en blacker, en atter w'ile Brer Rabbit know de time done come fer 'im ter open up en tell w'at he want."

As Uncle Remus interpreted the dialogue, Brother Rabbit spoke in a shrill, frightened tone, while the voice of the Rabbit-Witch was hoarse and oracular:

"'Mammy-Bammy Big-Money, I needs yo' he'p.'

"'Son Riley Rabbit, why so? Son Riley Rabbit, why so?'

"'Mammy-Bammy Big-Money, I los' de foot you gim me.'

"'O Riley Rabbit, why so? Son Riley Rabbit, why so?'

"'Mammy-Bammy Big-Money, my luck done gone. I put dat foot down 'pon de groun'. I lef um dar I know not whar.'

"'De Wolf done tuck en stole yo' luck, Son Riley Rabbit, Riley. Go fine de track, go git hit back, Son Riley Rabbit, Riley.'

"Wid dat," continued Uncle Remus, "ole Aunt Mammy-Bammy Big-Money sucked all de black smoke back in de hole in de groun', and Brer Rabbit des put out fer home. W'en he git dar, w'at do he do? Do he go off in a cornder by hisse'f, en wipe he weepin' eye? Dat he don't—dat he don't. He des tuck'n wait he chance. He wait en he wait; he wait all day, he wait all night; he wait mighty nigh a mont'. He hang 'roun' Brer Wolf house; he watch en he wait.

"Bimeby, one day, Brer Rabbit git de news dat Brer Wolf des come back fum a big frolic. Brer Rabbit know he time comin', en he keep bofe eye open en bofe years h'ist up. Nex' mawnin' atter Brer Wolf git back fum de big frolic, Brer Rabbit see 'im come outer de house en go down de spring atter bucket water. Brer Rabbit, he slip up, he did, en he look in. Ole Miss Wolf, she 'uz sailin' 'roun' fryin' meat en gittin' brekkus, en dar hangin' 'cross er cheer wuz Brer Wolf wes'cut where he keep he money-pus. Brer Rabbit rush up ter do' en pant lak he mighty nigh fag out. He rush up, he did, en he sing out:

"'Mawnin', Sis Wolf, mawnin'! Brer Wolf sont me atter de shavin'-brush, w'ich he keep it in dat ar money-pus w'at I 'loant 'im.'

"Sis Wolf, she fling up 'er han's en let um drap, en she laugh en say, sez she:

"'I 'clar' ter gracious, Brer Rabbit! You gimme sech a tu'n, dat I aint got room ter be perlite skacely.'

"But mos' 'fo' she gits de wuds out'n 'er mouf, Brer Rabbit done grab de money-pus en gone!"

"Which way did he go, Uncle Remus?" the little boy asked, after a while.

"Well, I tell you dis," Uncle Remus responded emphatically, "Brer Rabbit road aint lay by de spring; I boun' you dat!"

Presently 'Tildy put her head in the door to say that it was bedtime, and shortly afterward the child was dreaming that Daddy Jack was Mammy-Bammy Big-Money in disguise.

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

[27] Disease.

[28] If, as some ethnologists claim, the animal myths are relics of zooetheism, there can scarcely be a doubt that the practice here described by Uncle Remus is the survival of some sort of obeisance or genuflexion by which the negroes recognized the presence of the Rabbit, the great central figure and wonder-worker of African mythology.

[29] Never mind.

[30] Sometime, any time, no time. Thus: "Run fetch me de ax, en I'll wait on you one er deze odd-come-shorts."

[31] Assurance. ———————————————————————————————————



XXXI

"IN SOME LADY'S GARDEN"

When the little boy next visited Uncle Remus the old man was engaged in the somewhat tedious operation of making shoe-pegs. Daddy Jack was assorting a bundle of sassafras roots, and Aunt Tempy was transforming a meal-sack into shirts for some of the little negroes,—a piece of economy of her own devising. Uncle Remus pretended not to see the child.

"Hit 's des lak I tell you all," he remarked, as if renewing a conversation; "I monst'us glad dey aint no bad chilluns on dis place fer ter be wadin' in de spring-branch, en flingin' mud on de yuther little chilluns, w'ich de goodness knows dey er nasty nuff bidout dat. I monst'us glad dey aint none er dat kinder young uns 'roun' yer—I is dat."

"Now, Uncle Remus," exclaimed the little boy, in an injured tone, "somebody's been telling you something on me."

The old man appeared to be very much astonished.

"Heyo! whar you bin hidin', honey? Yer 't is mos' way atter supper en you aint in de bed yit. Well—well—well! Sit over ag'in in de chimbly jam dar whar you kin dry dem shoes. En de ve'y nex' time w'at I see you wadin' in dat branch, wid de sickly season comin' on, I'm a-gwine ter take you 'cross my shoulder en kyar you ter Miss Sally, en ef dat aint do no good, den I'll kyar you ter Mars John, en ef dat aint do no good, den I'm done wid you, so dar now!"

The little boy sat silent a long time, listening to the casual talk of Uncle Remus and his guests, and watching the vapor rise from his wet shoes. Presently there was a pause in the talk, and the child said:

"Uncle Remus, have I been too bad to hear a story?"

The old man straightened himself up and pushed his spectacles back on his forehead.

"Now, den, folks, you year w'at he say. Shill we pursue on atter de creeturs? Shill er shan't?"

"Bless yo' soul, Brer Remus, I mos' 'shame' myse'f, yit I tell you de Lord's trufe, I'm des ez bad atter dem ar tales ez dat chile dar."

"Well, den," said Uncle Remus, "a tale hit is. One time dey wuz a man, en dish yer man he had a gyardin. He had a gyardin, en he had a little gal fer ter min' it. I don't 'speck dish yer gyardin wuz wide lak Miss Sally gyardin, but hit 'uz lots longer. Hit 'uz so long dat it run down side er de big road, 'cross by de plum thicket, en back up de lane. Dish yer gyardin wuz so nice en long dat it tuck'n 'track de 'tention er Brer Rabbit; but de fence wuz built so close en so high, dat he can't git in nohow he kin fix it."

"Oh, I know about that!" exclaimed the little boy. "The man catches Brother Rabbit and ties him, and the girl lets him loose to see him dance."

Uncle Remus dropped his chin upon his bosom. He seemed to be humbled.

"Sis Tempy," he said, with a sigh, "you'll hatter come in some time w'en we aint so crowded, en I'll up en tell 'bout Billy Malone en Miss Janey."

"That wasn't the story I heard, Uncle Remus," said the little boy. "Please tell me about Billy Malone and Miss Janey."

"Ah-yi!" exclaimed Uncle Remus, with a triumphant smile; "I 'low'd maybe I wa'n't losin' de use er my 'membunce, en sho' nuff I aint. Now, den, we'll des wuk our way back en start fa'r en squar'. One time dey wuz a man, en dish yer man he had a gyardin en a little gal. De gyardin wuz chock full er truck, en in de mawnin's, w'en de man hatter go off, he call up de little gal, he did, en tell 'er dat she mus' be sho' en keep ole Brer Rabbit outer de gyardin. He tell 'er dis eve'y mawnin'; but one mawnin' he tuck en forgit it twel he git ter de front gate, en den he stop en holler back:

"'O Janey! You Janey! Min' w'at I tell you 'bout ole Brer Rabbit. Don't you let 'im get my nice green peas.'

"Little gal, she holler back: 'Yes, daddy.'

"All dis time, Brer Rabbit he 'uz settin' out dar in de bushes dozin'. Yit, w'en he year he name call out so loud, he cock up one year en lissen, en he 'low ter hisse'f dat he bleedz ter outdo Mr. Man. Bimeby, Brer Rabbit, he went 'roun' en come down de big road des ez natchul ez ef he bin trafflin' some'rs. He see de little gal settin' by de gate, en he up'n 'low:

"'Aint dish yer Miss Janey?'

"Little gal say: 'My daddy call me Janey.'" Uncle Remus mimicked the voice and manner of a little girl. He hung his head, looked excessively modest, and spoke in a shrill tone. The effect was so comical that even Daddy Jack seemed to enjoy it.

"'My daddy call me Janey; w'at yo' daddy call you?'

"Brer Rabbit look on de groun', en sorter study lak folks does w'en dey feels bad. Den he look up en 'low:

"I bin lose my daddy dis many long year, but w'en he 'live he call me Billy Malone.' Den he look at de little gal hard en 'low: 'Well, well, well! I aint seed you sence you 'uz a little bit er baby, en now yer you is mighty nigh a grown 'oman. I pass yo' daddy in de road des now, en he say I mus' come en tell you fer ter gimme a mess er sparrer-grass.'

"Little gal, she fling de gate wide open, en let Mr. Billy Malone git de sparrer-grass.

"Man come back en see whar somebody done bin tromplin' on de gyardin truck, en den he call up de little gal, en up'n ax 'er who bin dar since he bin gone; en de little gal, she 'low, she did, dat Mr. Billy Malone bin dar. Man ax who in de name er goodness is Mr. Billy Malone. Little gal 'low hit 's des a man w'at say 'er daddy sont 'im fer ter git some sparrer-grass on account er ole acquaintance. Man got his 'spicions, but he aint say nothin'.

"Nex' day, w'en he start off, he holler en tell de little gal fer ter keep one eye on ole Brer Rabbit, en don't let nobody git no mo' sparrer-grass. Brer Rabbit, he settin' off dar in de bushes, en he year w'at de man say, en he see 'im w'en he go off. Bimeby, he sorter run 'roun', ole Brer Rabbit did, en he come hoppin' down de road, twel he git close up by de little gal at de gyardin gate. Brer Rabbit drapt 'er his biggest bow, en ax 'er how she come on. Den, atter dat, he 'low, he did:

"'I see yo' daddy gwine 'long down de road des now, en he gimme a rakin' down 'kaze I make 'way wid de sparrer-grass, yit he say dat bein' 's how I sech a good fr'en' er de fambly I kin come en ax you fer ter gimme a mess er Inglish peas.'

"Little gal, she tuck'n fling de gate wide open, en ole Brer Rabbit, he march in, he did, en he git de peas in a hurry. Man come back atter w'ile, en he 'low:

"'Who bin tromplin' down my pea-vines?'

"'Mr. Billy Malone, daddy.'

"Man slap he han' on he forrud;[32] he dunner w'at ter make er all dis. Bimeby, he 'low:

"'W'at kinder lookin' man dish yer Mr. Billy Malone?'

"'Split lip, pop eye, big year, en bob-tail, daddy.'

"Man say he be bless ef he aint gwine ter make de acquaintance er Mr. Billy Malone; en he went ter wuk, he did, en fix 'im up a box-trap, en he put some goobers in dar, en he tell de little gal nex' time Mr. Billy Malone come fer 'vite 'im in. Nex' mawnin', Man git little ways fum de house en tuck'n holler back, he did:

"'W'atsumever you does, don't you dast ter let nobody git no mo' sparrer-grass, en don't you let um git no mo' Inglish peas.'

"Little gal holler back: 'No, daddy.'

"Den, atter dat, 't wa'n't long 'fo' yer come Mr. Billy Malone, hoppin' 'long down de big road. He drapt a bow, he did, en 'low:

"'Mawnin', Miss Janey, mawnin'! Met yo' daddy down de big road, en he say dat I can't git no mo' sparrer-grass en green peas but you kin gimme some goobers.'

"Little gal, she lead de way, en tell Mr. Billy Malone dar dey is in de box. Mr. Billy Malone, he lick he chops, he did, en 'low:

"'You oughter be monst'us glad, honey, dat you got sech a good daddy lak dat.'

"Wid dat, Mr. Billy Malone wunk he off eye, en jump in de box."

"W'at I done tell you!" exclaimed Aunt Tempy.

"He jump in de box," continued Uncle Remus, "en dar he wuz, en ef de little gal hadder bin a minnit bigger, I lay she'd 'a' tuck'n done some mighty tall winkin'.

"Man aint gone fur, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' yer he come back. W'en Brer Rabbit year 'im comin' he bounce 'roun' in dar same ez a flea in a piller-case, but 't aint do no good. Trap done fall, en Brer Rabbit in dar. Man look thoo de slats, en 'low:

"'Dar you is—same old hoppum-skippum run en jumpum. Youer de ve'y chap I'm atter. I want yo' foot fer ter kyar in my pocket, I want yo' meat fer ter put in de pot, en I want yo' hide fer ter w'ar on my head.'

"Dis make cole chill rush up en down Brer Rabbit backbone, en he git more 'umble dan a town nigger w'at been kotch out atter nine erclock.[33] He holler en cry, en cry en holler:

"'Do pray, Mr. Man, tu'n me go! I done 'ceive you dis time, but I aint gwine ter 'ceive you no mo'. Do pray, Mr. Man, tu'n me go, des dis little bit er time.'

"Man he aint sayin' nothin'. He look lak he studyin' 'bout somep'n' ne'r way off yan', en den he take de little gal by de han' en go off todes de house."

"Sho'ly Brer Rabbit time done come now!" exclaimed Aunt Tempy, in a tone of mingled awe and expectation.

Uncle Remus paid no attention to the interruption, but went right on:

"Hit seem lak dat Brer Rabbit got mo' luck dan w'at you kin shake a stick at, 'kaze de man en de little gal aint good en gone skacely twel yer come Brer Fox a-pirootin' 'roun'. Brer Fox year Brer Rabbit holl'in' en he up'n ax w'at de 'casion er sech gwines on right dar in de broad open daylight. Brer Rabbit squall out:

"'Lordy, Brer Fox! you better make 'as'e 'way fum yer, 'kaze Mr. Man ull ketch you en slap you in dish yer box en make you eat mutton twel you ull des nat'ally bus' right wide open. Run, Brer Fox, run! He bin feedin' me on mutton the whole blessid mawnin' en now he done gone atter mo'. Run, Brer Fox, run!'

"Yit, Brer Fox aint run. He up'n ax Brer Rabbit how de mutton tas'e.

"'He tas'e mighty good 'long at fus', but nuff's a nuff, en too much is a plenty. Run, Brer Fox, run! He ull ketch you, sho'!'

"Yit, Brer Fox aint run. He up'n 'low dat he b'leeve he want some mutton hisse'f, en wid dat he onloose de trap en let Brer Rabbit out, en den he tuck'n git in dar. Brer Rabbit aint wait fer ter see w'at de upshot gwine ter be, needer—I boun' you he aint. He des tuck'n gallop off in de woods, en he laff en laff twel he hatter hug a tree fer ter keep fum drappin' on de groun'."

"Well, but what became of Brother Fox?" the little boy asked, after waiting some time for Uncle Remus to proceed.

"Now, den, honey," said the old man, falling back upon his dignity, "hit e'en about takes all my spar' time fer ter keep up wid you en Brer Rabbit, let 'lone keepin' up wid Brer Fox. Ole Brer Rabbit tuck'n tuck keer hisse'f, en now let Brer Fox take keer hisse'f."

"I say de word!" exclaimed Aunt Tempy.

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

[32] Forehead.

[33] During slavery, the ringing of the nine-o'clock bell in the towns and villages at night was the signal for all negroes to retire to their quarters. ———————————————————————————————————



XXXII

BROTHER 'POSSUM GETS IN TROUBLE

When Uncle Remus began his story of Billy Malone and Miss Janey, Daddy Jack sat perfectly quiet. His eyes were shut, and he seemed to be dozing; but, as the story proceeded, he grew more and more restless. Several times he was upon the point of interrupting Uncle Remus, but he restrained himself. He raised his hands to a level with his chin, and beat the ends of his fingers gently together, apparently keeping time to his own thoughts. But his impatience exhausted itself, and when Uncle Remus had concluded, the old African was as quiet as ever. When Brother Fox was left so unceremoniously to his fate, Daddy Jack straightened himself temporarily and said:

"Me yent bin-a yerry da tale so. 'E nice, fer true, 'e mek larf come; oona no bin-a yerry um lak me."

"No," said Uncle Remus, with grave affability, "I 'speck not. One man, one tale; 'n'er man, 'n'er tale. Folks tell um diffunt. I boun' yo' way de bes', Brer Jack. Out wid it—en we ull set up yer, en hark at you en laff wid you plum twel de chick'ns crow."

Daddy Jack needed no other invitation. He clasped his knee in his hands and began:

"Dey is bin lif one Man wut plan' some pea in 'e geerden. 'E plan' some pea, but 'e mek no pea; B'er Rabbit, 'e is fine um. 'E fine um un 'e eat um. Man mek no pea, B'er Rabbit 'e 'stroy um so. 'E plan' dem pea; dey do grow, un 'e go off. 'E come bahk; pea no dere. B'er Rabbit teer um up un mek 'e cud wit' dem. So long tam, Man say 'e gwan ketch um, un 'e no ketch um. Man go, B'er Rabbit come; Man come, B'er Rabbit go. Bumbye, Man, 'e is git so mad, 'e y-eye bin-a come red; 'e crack 'e toof, 'e do cuss. 'E oby 'e gwan ketch B'er Rabbit nohow. Dun 'e is bin-a call 'e lilly gal. 'E talk, 'e tell 'im fer let B'er Rabbit go troo da geerden gett. Lil gal say yasser. 'E talk, 'e tell 'im wun B'er Rabbit go troo da gett, dun 'e mus' shed da gett, un no le'm come pas' no mo'. Lil gal say yasser.

"Ole Man is bin-a gone 'bout 'e wuk; lil gal, 'e do lissun. B'er Rabbit, 'e come tippy-toe, tippy-toe; gone in da geerden; eat dem pea tel 'e full up; eat tel he mos' git seeck wit' dem pea. Dun 'e start fer go out; 'e fine da gett shed. 'E shek um, 'e no open; 'e push um, 'e no open; 'e fair grunt, 'e push so hard, 'e no open. 'E bin-a call da lil gal; e' say:

"'Lil gal, lil gal! cum y-open da gett. 'T is hu't me feelin' fer fine da gett shed lak dis.'

"Lil gal no talk nuttin'. B'er Rabbit say:

"''T is-a bin hu't me feelin', lil gal! Come y-open da gett, lil gal, less I teer um loose from da hinch.'

"Lil gal v'ice come bahk. 'E talk:

"'Daddy say mus'n'.'

"B'er Rabbit open 'e mout'. 'E say:

"'See me long sha'p toof? 'E bite you troo un troo!'

"Lil gal skeer; 'e tu'n loose de gett un fly. B'er Rabbit gone! Ole Man come bahk; 'e ahx 'bout B'er Rabbit. Lil gal say:

"''E done gone, daddy. I shed da gett, I hol' um fas'. B'er Rabbit bin show 'e toof; 'e gwan fer bite-a me troo un troo. I git skeer', daddy.' Man ahx:

"'How 'e gwin fer bite you troo un troo, wun 'e toof fix bite grass? B'er Rabbit tell one big tale. 'E no kin bite-a you. Wun 'e come 'g'in, you shed dem gett, you hol' um tight, you no le'm go pas' no mo'.' Lil gal say yasser.

"Nex' day mawnin', Man go 'long 'bout 'e wuk. Lil gal, 'e play 'roun', un 'e play 'roun'. B'er Rabbit, 'e is come tippy-tippy. 'E fine gett open; 'e slip in da geerden. 'E chew dem pea, 'e gnyaw dem pea; 'e eat tel dem pea tas'e bad. Dun 'e try fer go out; gett shed fas'. 'E no kin git troo. 'E push, gett no open; 'e keek wit' um fut, gett no open; 'e butt wit' um head, gett no open. Dun 'e holler:

"'Lil gal, lil gal! come y-open da gett. 'E berry bad fer fool wit' ole man lak me. I no kin hol' me feelin' down wun you is do lak dis. 'E berry bad.'

"Lil gal hol' 'e head down; 'e no say nuttin'. B'er Rabbit say:

"'Be shame, lil gal, fer do ole man lak dis. Me feelin' git wusser. Come y-open de gett 'fo' I is teer um down.'

"Lil gal say: 'Daddy say mus'n'.'

"B'er Rabbit open 'e y-eye wide; 'e is look berry mad. 'E say:

"'See me big y-eye? I pop dis y-eye stret at you, me kill-a you dead. Come y-open da gett 'fo' me y-eye pop.'

"Lil gal skeer fer true. 'E loose de gett, 'e fair fly. B'er Rabbit done gone! Lil gal daddy bahk. 'E ahx wey is B'er Rabbit. Lil gal say:

"''E done gone, daddy. I hol' gett fas'; 'e is bin-a 'come berry mad. 'E say he gwan pop 'e y-eye at me, shoot-a me dead.' Man say:

"'B'er Rabbit tell-a too big tale. How 'e gwan shoot-a you wit' 'e y-eye? 'E y-eye sem lak turrer folks y-eye. Wun 'e come some mo', you shed dem gett, you hol' um fas'.' Lil gal say yasser.

"Nex' day mawnin', Man go, B'er Rabbit come. 'E is ma'ch in da gett un eat-a dem pea tel 'e kin eat-a no mo'. 'E sta't out; gett shed. 'E no kin come pas'. 'E shek, 'e push, 'e pull; gett shed. Dun 'e holler:

"'Lil gal, lil gal! come y-open da gett. 'Tis berry bad fer treat you' kin lak dis. Come y-open da gett, lil gal. 'Tis full me up wit' sorry wun you do lak dis.'

"Lil gal, 'e no say nuttin'. B'er Rabbit say:

"''E berry bad fer treat you' kin lak dis. Tu'n go da gett, lil gal.' Lil gal say:

"'How you is kin wit' me, B'er Rabbit?'

"'You' gran'daddy foller at' me nuncle wit' 'e dog. Da mek we is kin. Come y-open da gett, lil gal.'"

"Dat ole Rabbit wuz a-talkin', mon!" exclaimed Aunt Tempy, enthusiastically.

"Lil gal no say nuttin' 't all!" Daddy Jack went on, with renewed animation. "Dun B'er Rabbit say:

"'See me long, sha'p toof, lil gal? Me bite-a you troo un troo.' Lil gal say:

"'Me no skeer da toof. 'E bite nuttin' 'tall 'cep' 'e bite grass.' B'er Rabbit say:

"'See me big y-eye? I pop um at you, shoot-a you dead.' Lil gal say:

"Me no skeer da y-eye. 'E sem lak turrer folks y-eye.' B'er Rabbit say:

"'Lil gal, you mek me 'come mad. I no lak fer hu't-a me kin. Look at me ho'n! I run you troo un troo.'

"B'er Rabbit lif 'e two year up; 'e p'int um stret at da lil gal. Lil gal 'come skeer da ho'n; 'e do tu'n go da gett; 'e fly fum dey-dey."

"Well, ef dat don't beat!" exclaimed Aunt Tempy, laughing as heartily as the little boy. "Look at um one way, en Rabbit year does look lak sho' nuff ho'ns."

"Lil gal tu'n go da gett," Daddy Jack continued; "B'er Rabbit gone! Man come bahk; 'e ahx wey is B'er Rabbit. Lil gal cry; 'e say 'e skeer B'er Rabbit ho'n. Man say 'e is hab no ho'n. Lil gal is stan' um down 'e see ho'n. Man say da ho'n is nuttin' 't all but B'er Rabbit year wut 'e yeddy wit'. 'E tell lil gal nex' tam B'er Rabbit come, 'e mus' shed da gett; 'e mus' run fum dey-dey un leaf um shed. Lil gal say yasser.

"Man gone, B'er Rabbit come. 'E is go in da gett; 'e eat-a dem pea tel 'e tire'. 'E try fer go pas' da gett, gett shed. 'E call lil gal; lil gal gone! 'E call, call, call; lil gal no yeddy. 'E try fer fine crack in da palin'; no crack dey. 'E try fer jump over; de palin' too high. 'E 'come skeer; 'e is 'come so skeer 'e squot 'pun da groun'; 'e shek, 'e shiver.

"Man come bahk. 'E ahx wey B'er Rabbit. Lil gal say 'e in da geerden. Man hug lil gal, 'e is lub um so. 'E go in da geerden; 'e fine B'er Rabbit. 'E ketch um—'e ca' um off fer kill um; 'e mad fer true. Lil gal come holler:

"'Daddy, daddy! missus say run dere! 'E wan' you come stret dere!'

"Man tie B'er Rabbit in da bag; 'e hang um on tree lim'. 'E say:

"'I gwan come bahk. I l'arn you fer mek cud wit' me green pea.'

"Man gone fer see 'e missus. Bumbye, B'er 'Possum is bin-a come pas'. 'E look up, 'e ketch glimp' da bag 'pun da lim'. 'E say:

"'Ki! Wut dis is bin-a hang in da bag 'pun da tree-lim'?' B'er Rabbit say:

"'Hush, B'er 'Possum! 'T is-a me. I bin-a lissen at dem sing in da cloud.'

"B'er 'Possum lissen. 'E say:

"'I no yed dem sing, B'er Rabbit.'

"'Hush, B'er 'Possum! How is I kin yeddy dem sing wun you is mek-a da fuss dey-dey?'

"B'er 'Possum, 'e hoi' 'e mout' still, 'cep' 'e do grin. B'er Rabbit say:

"'I yed dem now! I yed dem now! B'er 'Possum, I wish you is yeddy dem sing!'

"B'er 'Possum say 'e mout' water fer yeddy dem sing in da cloud. B'er Rabbit, 'e say 'e is bin-a hab so long tarn 'quaintun wit' B'er 'Possum, 'e le'm yeddy dem sing. 'E say:

"'I git fum da bag. I tu'n-a you in tel you is yeddy dem sing. Dun you is git fum da bag, tel I do come bahk un 'joy mese'f.'

"B'er 'Possum, 'e do clam up da tree; 'e git dem bag, 'e bring um down. 'E tak off da string; 'e tu'n B'er Rabbit go. 'E crawl in un 'e quile up. 'E say:

"'I no yeddy dem sing, B'er Rabbit!'

"'Hi! wait tel da bag it tie, B'er 'Possum. You yed dem soon nuff!' 'E wait.

"'I no yeddy dem sing, B'er Rabbit!'

"'Hi! wait tel I clam da tree, B'er 'Possum. You yed dem soon nuff!' 'E wait.

"'I no yeddy dem sing, B'er Rabbit!'

"'Wait tel I fix um 'pun da lim', B'er 'Possum. You yed dem soon nuff!' 'E wait.

"B'er Rabbit clam down; 'e run 'way fum dey-dey; 'e hide in da bush side. Man come bahk. 'E see da bag moof. B'er 'Possum say:

"'I no yeddy dem sing. I wait fer yed um sing!'

"Man t'ink 'e B'er Rabbit in da bag. 'E say:

"'Ah-yi-ee! I mekky you yed dem sing!'

"Man teka da bag fum da tree-lim'; 'e do slam da bag 'gin' da face da ye't'. 'E tek-a 'e walkin'-cane, un 'e beat B'er 'Possum wut is do um no ha'm tel 'e mos' kill um. Man t'ink B'er Rabbit mus' bin dead by dis. 'E look in da bag; 'e 'tretch 'e y-eye big; 'e 'stonish'. B'er Rabbit, 'e do come fum da bush side; 'e do holler, 'e do laff. 'E say:

"'You no is ketch-a me! I t'ief you' green pea,—I t'ief um some mo',—I t'ief um tel I dead!'

"Man, 'e 'come so mad, 'e is fling hatchet at B'er Rabbit un chop off 'e tail."

At this moment Daddy Jack subsided. His head drooped forward, and he was soon in the land of Nod. Uncle Remus sat gazing into the fireplace, as though lost in reflection. Presently, he laughed softly to himself, and said:

"Dat 's des 'bout de long en de short un it. Mr. Man clip off Brer Rabbit tail wid de hatchet, en it bleed so free dat Brer Rabbit rush off ter de cotton-patch en put some lint on it, en down ter dis day dat lint mos' de fus' t'ing you see w'en Brer Rabbit jump out'n he bed en tell you good-bye."

"But, Uncle Remus, what became of Brother 'Possum?"

Uncle Remus smacked his lips and looked wise.

"Don't talk 'bout Brer 'Possum, honey, ef dat ar Mr. Man wuz nice folks lak we all is, en I aint 'spute it, he tuck'n tuck Brer 'Possum en bobbycue 'im, en I wish I had a great big piece right now. Dat I does."



XXXIII

WHY THE GUINEA-FOWLS ARE SPECKLED

One night, while the little boy was watching Uncle Remus broil a piece of bacon on the coals, he heard a great commotion among the guinea-fowls. The squawking and pot-racking went on at such a rate that the geese awoke and began to scream, and finally the dogs added their various voices to the uproar. Uncle Remus leaned back in his chair and listened.

"I 'speck may be dat 's de patter-rollers gwine by," he said, after a while. "But you can't put no 'pen'unce in dem ar Guinny-hins, 'kaze dey'll wake up en holler ef dey year deyse'f sno'. Dey'll fool you, sho'."

"They are mighty funny, anyhow," said the little boy.

"Dat 's it!" exclaimed Uncle Remus. "Dey looks quare, en dey does quare. Dey aint do lak no yuther kinder chick'n, en dey aint look lak no yuther kinder chick'n. Yit folks tell me," the old man went on, reflectively, "dat dey er heap mo' kuse lookin' now dan w'at dey use' ter be. I year tell dat dey wuz one time w'en dey wuz all blue, 'stid er havin' all dem ar teenchy little spots on um."

"Well, how did they get to be speckled, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy, seeing that the old man was disposed to leave the subject and devote his attention to his broiling bacon.

Uncle Remus did not respond at once. He turned his meat over carefully, watched it a little while, and then adroitly transferred it to the cover of a tin bucket, which was made to answer the purpose of a plate. Then he searched about in the embers until he found his ash-cake, and in a little while his supper was ready to be eaten.

"I aint begrudgin' nobody nothin'," said Uncle Remus, measuring the victuals with his eye; "yit I'm monst'us glad Brer Jack aint nowhar's 'roun', 'kaze dey aint no tellin' de gawm dat ole nigger kin eat. He look shaky, en he look dry up, en he aint got no toof, yit w'ence he set hisse'f down whar dey any vittles, he des nat'ally laps hit up. En let 'lone dat, he ull wipe he mouf en look' roun' des lak he want mo'. Time Miss Sally see dat ole nigger eat one meal er vittles, I boun' you he hatter go back down de country. I aint begrudgin' Brer Jack de vittles," Uncle Remus went on, adopting a more conciliatory tone, "dat I aint, 'kaze folks is got ter eat; but, gentermens! you be 'stonish' w'en you see Brer Jack 'pesterin' 'long er he dinner."

The little boy sat quiet awhile, and then reminded Uncle Remus of the guinea-fowls.

"Tooby sho', honey, tooby sho'! W'at I doin' runnin' on dis-a-way 'bout ole Brer Jack? W'at he done ter me? Yer I is gwine on 'bout ole Brer Jack, en dem ar Guinny-hins out dar waitin'. Well, den, one day Sis Cow wuz a-grazin' 'bout in de ole fiel' en lookin' atter her calf. De wedder wuz kinder hot, en de calf, he tuck'n stan', he did, in he mammy shadder, so he kin keep cool, en so dat one flip un he mammy tail kin keep the flies off'n bofe un um. Atter w'ile, 'long come a drove er Guinnies. De Guinnies, dey howdied, en Sis Cow, she howdied, en de Guinnies, dey sorter picked 'roun' en sun deyse'f; en Sis Cow, she crap de grass en ax um de news er de neighborhoods. Dey went on dis a-way twel 't wa'n't long 'fo' dey year mighty kuse noise out dar t'er side er de ole fiel'. De Guinnies, dey make great 'miration, des lak dey does deze days, en ole Sis Cow fling up 'er head en look all 'roun'. She aint see nothin'.

"Atter w'ile dey year de kuse fuss 'g'in, en dey look 'roun', en bless gracious! stan'in' right dar, 'twix' dem en sundown, wuz a great big Lion!"

"A Lion, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy, in amazement.

"Des ez sho' ez you er settin' dar, honey,—a great big Lion. You better b'leeve dey wuz a monst'us flutterment 'mungs de Guinnies, en ole Sis Cow, she looked mighty skeer'd. De Lion love cow meat mos' better dan he do any yuther kinder meat, en he shake he head en 'low ter hisse'f dat he'll des about ketch ole Sis Cow en eat 'er up, en take en kyar de calf ter he fambly.

"Den he tuck'n shuck he head, de Lion did, en make straight at Sis Cow. De Guinnies dey run dis a-way, en dey run t'er way, en dey run all 'roun' en 'roun'; but ole Sis Cow, she des know she got ter stan' 'er groun', en w'en she see de Lion makin' todes 'er, she des tuck'n drapt 'er head down en pawed de dirt. De Lion, he crope up, he did, en crope 'roun', watchin' fer good chance fer ter make a jump. He crope 'roun', he did, but no diffunce which a-way he creep, dar wuz ole Sis Cow hawns p'intin' right straight at 'im. Ole Sis Cow, she paw de dirt, she did, en show de white er her eyes, en beller way down in 'er stomach.

"Dey went on dis a-way, dey did, twel bimeby de Guinnies, dey see dat Sis Cow aint so mighty skeer'd, en den dey 'gun ter take heart. Fus' news you know, one un um sorter drap he wings en fuzzle up de fedders en run out 'twix' Sis Cow en de Lion. W'en he get dar, he sorter dip down, he did, en fling up dirt des lak you see um do in de ash-pile. Den he tuck'n run back, he did, en time he git back, 'n'er one run out en raise de dus' 'twix' Sis Cow en de Lion. Den 'n'er one, he run out en dip down en shoo up de dus'; den 'n'er one run out en dip down, en 'n'er one en yit 'n'er one, twel, bless gracious! time dey all run out en dip down en raise de dus', de Lion wuz dat blin' twel he aint kin see he han' befo' 'im. Dis make 'im so mad dat he make a splunge at Sis Cow, en de old lady, she kotch 'im on her hawns en got 'im down, en des nat'ally to' intruls out."

"Did she kill the Lion, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy, incredulously.



"Dat she did—dat she did! Yit 't aint make 'er proud, 'kaze atter de Lion done good en dead, she tuck en call up de Guinnies, she did, en she 'low, dey bin so quick fer ter he'p 'er out, dat she wanter pay um back. De Guinnies, dey say, sezee:

"'Don't bodder 'long er we all, Sis Cow,' sezee. 'You had yo' fun en we all had ourn, en 'ceppin' dat ar blood en ha'r on yo' hawn,' sezee, 'dey aint none un us any de wuss off,' sezee.

"But ole Sis Cow, she stan' um down, she did, dat she got ter pay um back, en den atter w'ile she ax um w'at dey lak bes'.

"One un um up en make answer dat w'at dey lak bes', Sis Cow, she can't gi' um. Sis Cow, she up en 'low dat she dunno 'bout dat, en she ax um w'at is it.

"Den de Guinnies, dey tuck'n huddle up, dey did, en hol' er confab wid one er 'n'er, en w'iles dey er doin' dis, ole Sis Cow, she tuck'n fetch a long breff, en den she call up 'er cud, en stood dar chawin' on it des lak she aint had no tribalation dat day.

"Bimeby one er de Guinnies step out fum de huddlement en make a bow en 'low dat dey all 'ud be mighty proud ef Sis Cow kin fix it some way so dey can't be seed so fur thoo de woods, 'kaze dey look blue in de sun, en dey look blue in de shade, en dey can't hide deyse'f nohow. Sis Cow, she chaw on 'er cud, en shet 'er eyes, en study. She chaw en chaw, en study en study. Bimeby she 'low:

"'Go fetch me a pail!' Guinny-hin laff!

"'Law, Sis Cow! w'at de name er goodness you gwine do wid a pail?'

"'Go fetch me a pail!'

"Guinny-hin, she run'd off, she did, en atter w'ile yer she come trottin' back wid a pail. She sot dat pail down," continued Uncle Remus, in the tone of an eye-witness to the occurrence, "en Sis Cow, she tuck 'er stan' over it, en she let down 'er milk in dar twel she mighty nigh fill de pail full. Den she tuck'n make dem Guinny-hins git in a row, en she dip 'er tail in dat ar pail, en she switch it at de fust un en sprinkle 'er all over wid de milk; en eve'y time she switch 'er tail at um she 'low:

"'I loves dis un!' Den she 'ud sing:

"'Oh, Blue, go 'way! you shill not stay! Oh, Guinny, be Gray, be Gray!'

"She tuck'n sprinkle de las' one un um, en de Guinnies, dey sot in de sun twel dey git dry, en fum dat time out dey got dem little speckles un um."



XXXIV

BROTHER RABBIT'S LOVE-CHARM

"Dey wuz one time," said Uncle Remus one night, as they all sat around the wide hearth,—Daddy Jack, Aunt Tempy, and the little boy in their accustomed places,—"dey wuz one time w'en de t'er creeturs push Brer Rabbit so close dat he tuck up a kinder idee dat may be he wa'n't ez smart ez he mout be, en he study 'bout dis plum twel he git humble ez de nex' man. 'Las' he low ter hisse'f dat he better make inquirements—"

"Ki!" exclaimed Daddy Jack, raising both hands and grinning excitedly, "wut tale dis? I bin yerry da tale wun I is bin wean't fum me mammy."

"Well, den, Brer Jack," said Uncle Remus, with instinctive deference to the rules of hospitality, "I 'speck you des better whirl in yer en spin 'er out. Ef you git 'er mix up anywhars I ull des slip in front er you en ketch holt whar you lef' off."

With that, Daddy Jack proceeded:

"One tam, B'er Rabbit is bin lub one noung leddy."

"Miss Meadows, I 'speck," suggested Uncle Remus, as the old African paused to rub his chin.

"'E no lub Miss Meadow nuttin' 't all!" exclaimed Daddy Jack, emphatically. "'E bin lub turrer noung leddy fum dat. 'E is bin lub werry nice noung leddy. 'E lub 'um hard, 'e lub 'um long, un 'e is gwan try fer mek dem noung leddy marry wit' 'im. Noung leddy seem lak 'e no look 'pon B'er Rabbit, un dis is bin-a mek B'er Rabbit feel werry bad all da day long. 'E moof 'way off by 'ese'f; 'e lose 'e fat, un 'e heer is bin-a come out. Bumbye, 'e see one ole Affiky mans wut is bin-a hunt in da fiel' fer root en yerrub fer mek 'e met'cine truck. 'E see um, un he go toze um. Affiky mans open 'e y-eye big; 'e 'stonish'. 'E say:

"'Ki, B'er Rabbit! you' he'lt' is bin-a gone; 'e bin-a gone un lef' you. Wut mekky you is look so puny lak dis? Who is bin hu't-a you' feelin'?'

"B'er Rabbit larf wit' dry grins. 'E say:

"'Shoo! I bin got well. Ef you is see me wun I sick fer true, 't will mekky you heer stan' up, I skeer you so.'

"Affiky mans, 'e mek B'er Rabbit stick out 'e tongue; 'e is count B'er Rabbit pulse. 'E shekky 'e head; 'e do say:

"'Hi, B'er Rabbit! Wut all dis? You is bin ketch-a da gal-fever, un 'e strak in 'pon you' gizzud.'

"Den B'er Rabbit, 'e is tell-a da Affiky mans 'bout dem noung leddy wut no look toze 'im, un da Affiky mans, 'e do say 'e bin know gal sem lak dat, 'e is bin shum befo'. 'E say 'e kin fix all dem noung leddy lak dat. B'er Rabbit, 'e is feel so good, 'e jump up high; 'e is bin crack 'e heel; 'e shekky da Affiky mans by de han'.

"Affiky mans, 'e say B'er Rabbit no kin git da gal 'cep' 'e is mek 'im one cha'm-bag. 'E say 'e mus' git one el'phan' tush, un 'e mus' git one 'gater toof, un 'e mus' git one rice-bud bill. B'er Rabbit werry glad 'bout dis, un 'e hop way fum dey-dey.

"'E hop, 'e run, 'e jump all nex' day night, un bumbye 'e see one great big el'phan' come breakin' 'e way troo da woots. B'er Rabbit, 'e say:

"'Ki! Oona big fer true! I bin-a yeddy talk 'bout dis in me y-own countree. Oona big fer true; too big fer be strong.'

"El'phan' say: 'See dis!'

"'E tek pine tree in 'e snout; 'e pull um by da roots; 'e toss um way off. B'er Rabbit say:

"'Hi! dem tree come 'cause you bin high; 'e no come 'cause you bin strong.'

"El'phan' say: 'See dis!'

"'E rush troo da woots; 'e fair teer um down. B'er Rabbit say:

"'Hoo! dem is bin-a saplin' wey you 'stroy. See da big pine? Oona no kin 'stroy dem.'

"El'phan' say: 'See dis!'

"'E run 'pon da big pine; da big pine is bin too tough. El'phan' tush stick in deer fer true; da big pine hol' um fas'. B'er Rabbit git-a dem tush; 'e fetch um wey da Affiky mans lif. Affiky mans say el'phan' is bin too big fer be sma't. 'E say 'e mus' haf one 'gater toof fer go wit' el'phan' tush.

"B'er Rabbit, 'e do crack 'e heel; 'e do fair fly fum dey-dey. 'E go 'long, 'e go 'long. Bumbye 'e come 'pon 'gater. Da sun shiuen hot; da 'gater do 'joy 'ese'f. B'er Rabbit say:

"'Dis road, 'e werry bad; less we mek good one by da crickside.'

"'Gater lak dat. 'E wek 'ese'f up fum 'e head to 'e tail. Dey sta't fer clean da road. 'Gater, 'e do teer da bush wit' 'e toof; 'e sweep-a da trash way wit' 'e tail. B'er Rabbit, 'e do beat-a da bush down wit' 'e cane. 'E hit lef', 'e hit right; 'e hit up, 'e hit down; 'e hit all 'roun'. 'E hit un 'e hit, tel bumbye 'e hit 'gater in 'e mout' un knock-a da toof out. 'E grab um up; 'e gone fum dey-dey. 'E fetch-a da 'gater toof wey da Affiky mans lif. Affiky mans say:

"''Gater is bin-a got sha'p toof fer true. Go fetch-a me one rice-bud bill.'

"B'er Rabbit gone! 'E go 'long, 'e go 'long, tel 'e see rice-bud swingin' on bush. 'E ahx um kin 'e fly.

"Rice-bud say: 'See dis!'

"'E wissle, 'e sing, 'e shek 'e wing; 'e fly all 'roun' un 'roun'.

"B'er Rabbit say rice-bud kin fly wey da win' is bin blow, but 'e no kin fly wey no win' blow.

"Rice-bud say, 'Enty!'

"'E wait fer win' stop blowin'; 'e wait, un 'e fly all 'roun' un 'roun'.

"B'er Rabbit say rice-bud yent kin fly in house wey dey no win'.

"Rice-bud say, 'Enty!'

"'E fly in house, 'e fly all 'roun' un 'roun'. B'er Rabbit pull de do' shed; 'e look at dem rice-bud; 'e say, 'Enty!'

"'E ketch dem rice-bud; 'e do git um bill, 'e fetch um wey da Affiky mans lif. Affiky mans says dem rice-bud bill slick fer true. 'E tekky da el'phan' tush, 'e tekky da 'gater toof, 'e tekky da rice-bud bill, he pit um in lil bag; 'e swing dem bag 'pon B'er Rabbit neck. Den B'er Rabbit kin marry dem noung gal. Enty!"

Here Daddy Jack paused and flung a glance of feeble tenderness upon 'Tildy. Uncle Remus smiled contemptuously, seeing which 'Tildy straightened herself, tossed her head, and closed her eyes with an air of indescribable scorn.

"I dunner what Brer Rabbit mout er done," she exclaimed; "but I lay ef dey's any ole nigger man totin' a cunjer-bag in dis neighborhood, he'll git mighty tired un it 'fo' it do 'im any good—I lay dat!"

Daddy Jack chuckled heartily at this, and dropped off to sleep so suddenly that the little boy thought he was playing 'possum.



XXXV

BROTHER RABBIT SUBMITS TO A TEST

"Uncle Remus," said the child, "do you reckon Brother Rabbit really married the young lady?"

"Bless yo' soul, honey," responded the old man, with a sigh, "hit b'long ter Brer Jack fer ter tell you dat. 'T aint none er my tale."

"Was n't that the tale you started to tell?"

"Who? Me? Shoo! I aint 'sputin' but w'at Brer Jack tale des ez purty ez dey er any needs fer, yit 't aint none er my tale."

At this, the little boy laid his head upon Uncle Remus's knee and waited.

"Now, den," said the old man, with an air of considerable importance, "we er got ter go 'way back behime dish yer yallergater doin's w'at Brer Jack bin mixin' us up wid. Ef I makes no mistakes wid my 'membunce, de place wharbouts I lef' off wuz whar Brer Rabbit had so many 'p'intments fer ter keep out de way er de t'er creeturs dat he 'gun ter feel monst'us humblyfied. Let um be who dey will, you git folks in a close place ef you wanter see um shed der proudness. Dey beg mo' samer dan a nigger w'en de patter-rollers ketch 'im. Brer Rabbit aint ko no beggin', 'kaze dey aint kotch; yit dey come so nigh it, he 'gun ter feel he weakness.

"W'en Brer Rabbit feel dis a-way, do he set down flat er de groun' en let de t'er creeturs rush up en grab 'im? He mought do it deze days, 'kaze times done change; but in dem days he des tuck'n sot up wid hisse'f en study 'bout w'at he gwine do. He study en study, en las' he up'n tell he ole 'oman, he did, dat he gwine on a journey. Wid dat, ole Miss Rabbit, she tuck'n fry 'im up a rasher er bacon, en bake 'im a pone er bread. Brer Rabbit tied dis up in a bag en tuck down he walkin' cane en put out."

"Where was he going, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy.

"Lemme 'lone, honey! Lemme sorter git hit up, like. De trail mighty cole 'long yer, sho'; 'kaze dish yer tale aint come 'cross my min' not sence yo' gran'pa fotch us all out er Ferginny, en dat 's a monst'us long time ago.

"He put out, Brer Rabbit did, fer ter see ole Mammy-Bammy Big-Money."

"Dat 'uz dat ole Witch-Rabbit," remarked Aunt Tempy, complacently.

"Yasser," continued Uncle Remus, "de ve'y same ole creetur w'at I done tell you 'bout w'en Brer Rabbit los' he foot. He put out, he did, en atter so long a time he git dar. He take time fer ter ketch he win', en den he sorter shake hisse'f up en rustle 'roun' in de grass. Bimeby he holler:

"'Mammy-Bammy Big-Money! O Mammy-Bammy Big-Money! I journeyed fur, I journeyed fas'; I glad I foun' de place at las'.'

"Great big black smoke rise up out er de groun', en ole Mammy-Bammy Big-Money 'low:

"'Wharfo', Son Riley Rabbit, Riley? Son Riley Rabbit, wharfo'?'

"Wid dat," continued Uncle Remus, dropping the sing-song tone by means of which he managed to impart a curious dignity and stateliness to the dialogue between Brother Rabbit and Mammy-Bammy Big-Money,—"wid dat Brer Rabbit up'n tell 'er, he did, 'bout how he fear'd he losin' de use er he min', 'kaze he done come ter dat pass dat he aint kin fool de yuther creeturs no mo', en dey push 'im so closte twel 't won't be long 'fo' dey'll git 'im. De ole Witch-Rabbit she sot dar, she did, en suck in black smoke en puff it out 'g'in, twel you can't see nothin' 't all but 'er great big eyeballs en 'er great big years. Atter w'ile she 'low:

"'Dar sets a squer'l in dat tree, Son Riley; go fetch dat squer'l straight ter me, Son Riley Rabbit, Riley.'

"Brer Rabbit sorter study, en den he 'low, he did:

"'I aint got much sense lef', yit ef I can't coax dat chap down from dar, den hit 's 'kaze I done got some zeeze w'ich it make me fibble in de min',' sezee.

"Wid dat, Brer Rabbit tuck'n empty de provender out'n he bag en got 'im two rocks, en put de bag over he head en sot down und' de tree whar he squer'l is. He wait little w'ile, en den he hit de rocks tergedder—blip!

"Squer'l he holler, 'Hey!'

"Brer Rabbit wait little, en den he tuck'n slap de rocks tergedder—blap!

"Squer'l he run down de tree little bit en holler, 'Heyo!'

"Brer Rabbit aint sayin' nothin'. He des pop de rocks tergedder—blop!

"Squer'l, he come down little furder, he did, en holler, 'Who dat?'

"'Biggidy Dicky Big-Bag!'

"'What you doin' in dar?'

"'Crackin' hick'y nuts.'

"'Kin I crack some?'

"'Tooby sho', Miss Bunny Bushtail; come git in de bag.'

"Miss Bunny Bushtail hang back," continued Uncle Remus, chuckling; "but de long en de short un it wuz dat she got in de bag, en Brer Rabbit he tuck'n kyar'd 'er ter ole Mammy-Bammy Big-Money. De ole Witch-Rabbit, she tuck'n tu'n de squer'l a-loose, en 'low:

"'Dar lies a snake in 'mungs' de grass, Son Riley; go fetch 'im yer, en be right fas', Son Riley Rabbit, Riley.'

"Brer Rabbit look 'roun', en sho' nuff dar lay de bigges' kinder rattlesnake, all quile up ready fer business. Brer Rabbit scratch he year wid he behime leg, en study. Look lak he gwine git in trouble. Yit atter w'ile he go off in de bushes, he did, en cut 'im a young grape-vine, en he fix 'im a slip-knot. Den he come back. Snake 'periently look lak he sleep. Brer Rabbit ax 'im how he come on. Snake aint say nothin', but he quile up a little tighter, en he tongue run out lak it bin had grease on it. Mouf shot, yit de tongue slick out en slick back 'fo' a sheep kin shake he tail. Brer Rabbit, he 'low, he did:

"'Law, Mr. Snake, I mighty glad I come 'cross you,' sezee. 'Me en ole Jedge B'ar bin havin' a turrible 'spute 'bout how long you is. We bofe 'gree dat you look mighty purty w'en youer layin' stretch out full lenk in de sun; but Jedge B'ar, he 'low you aint but th'ee foot long, en I stood 'im down dat you 'uz four foot long ef not mo',' sezee. 'En de talk got so hot dat I come mighty nigh hittin' 'im a clip wid my walkin'-cane, en ef I had I boun' dey'd er bin some bellerin' done 'roun' dar,' sezee.

"Snake aint say nothin', but he look mo' complassy[34] dan w'at he bin lookin'.

"'I up'n tole ole Jedge B'ar,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'dat de nex' time I run 'cross you I gwine take'n medjer you; en goodness knows I mighty glad I struck up wid you, 'kaze now dey won't be no mo' 'casion fer any 'sputin' 'twix' me en Jedge B'ar,' sezee.

"Den Brer Rabbit ax Mr. Snake ef he won't be so good ez ter onquile hisse'f. Snake he feel mighty proud, he did, en he stretch out fer all he wuff. Brer Rabbit he medjer, he did, en 'low:

"'Dar one foot fer Jedge B'ar; dar th'ee foot fer Jedge B'ar; en, bless goodness, dar four foot fer Jedge B'ar, des lak I say!'

"By dat time Brer Rabbit done got ter snake head, en des ez de las' wud drop out'n he mouf, he slip de loop 'roun' snake neck, en den he had 'im good en fas'. He tuck'n drag 'im, he did, up ter whar de ole Witch-Rabbit settin' at; but w'en he git dar, Mammy-Bammy Big-Money done make 'er disappearance, but he year sump'n' way off yander, en seem lak it say:

"'Ef you git any mo' sense, Son Riley, you'll be de ruination ev de whole settlement, Son Riley Rabbit, Riley.'

"Den Brer Rabbit drag de snake 'long home, en stew 'im down en rub wid de grease fer ter make 'im mo' 'soopler in de lim's. Bless yo' soul, honey, Brer Rabbit mought er bin kinder fibble in de legs, but he wa'n't no ways cripple und' de hat."[35]

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

[34] A mixture of "complacent" and "placid." Accent on the second syllable.

[35] A version of this story makes Brother Rabbit capture a swarm of bees. Mr. W. O. Tuggle, of Georgia, who has made an exhaustive study of the Creek Indians, has discovered a variant of the legend. The Rabbit (Chufee) becomes alarmed because he has nothing but the nimbleness of his feet to take him out of harm's way. He goes to his Creator and begs that greater intelligence be bestowed upon him. Thereupon the snake test is applied, as in the negro story, and the Rabbit also catches a swarm of gnats. He is then told that he has as much intelligence as there is any need for, and he goes away satisfied. ———————————————————————————————————



XXXVI

BROTHER WOLF FALLS A VICTIM

"Uncle Remus," said the little boy, one night, when he found the old man sitting alone in his cabin, "did you ever see Mammy-Bammy Big-Money?"

Uncle Remus placed his elbows on his knees, rested his chin in the palms of his hands, and gazed steadily in the fire. Presently he said:

"W'en folks 'gin ter git ole en no 'count, hit look lak der 'membunce git slack. Some time hit seem lak I done seed sump'n' n'er mighty nigh de make en color er ole Mammy-Bammy Big-Money, en den ag'in seem lak I aint. W'en dat de case, w'at does I do? Does I stan' tiptoe en tetch de rafters en make lak I done seed dat ole Witch-Rabbit, w'en, goodness knows, I aint seed 'er? Dat I don't. No, bless you! I'd say de same in comp'ny, much less settin' in yer 'long side er you. De long en de short un it," exclaimed Uncle Remus, with emphasis, "is des dis. Ef I bin run 'crost ole Mammy-Bammy Big-Money in my day en time, den she tuck'n make 'er disappearance dat quick twel I aint kotch a glimp' un 'er."

The result of this good-humored explanation was that the child did n't know whether Uncle Remus had seen the Witch-Rabbit or not, but his sympathies led him to suspect that the old man was thoroughly familiar with all her movements.

"Uncle Remus," the little boy said, after a while, "if there is another story about Mammy-Bammy Big-Money, I wish you would tell it to me all by my own-alone self."

The idea seemed to please the old man wonderfully, and he chuckled over it for several minutes.

"Now, den, honey," he said, after a while, "you hit me whar I'm weak—you mos' sho'ly does. Comp'ny mighty good fer some folks en I kin put up wid it long ez de nex' un, but you kin des take'n pile comp'ny 'pun top er comp'ny, en dey won't kyore de liver complaint. W'en you talk dat a-way you fetches me, sho', en I'll tell you a tale 'bout de ole Witch-Rabbit ef I hatter git down yer on my all-fours en grabble it out'n de ashes. Yit dey aint no needs er dat, 'kaze de tale done come in my min' des ez fresh ez ef 't was day 'fo' yistiddy.

"Hit seem lak dat one time atter Brer Wolf tuck'n steal Brer Rabbit foot, dey wuz a mighty long fallin'-out 'twix' um. Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n got ashy 'kaze Brer Wolf tuck'n tuck he foot; en Brer Wolf, he tuck'n got hot 'kaze Brer Rabbit wuk en wuk 'roun' en git he foot ag'in. Hit keep on dis a-way twel bimeby de ole Witch-Rabbit sorter git tired er Brer Wolf, en one day she tuck'n sont wud ter Brer Rabbit dat she lak mighty well fer ter see 'im.

"Dey fix up der plans, dey did, en 't wa'n't so mighty long 'fo' Brer Rabbit run inter Brer Wolf house in a mighty big hurry, en he 'low, he did:

"'Brer Wolf! O Brer Wolf! I des now come fum de river, en des ez sho' ez youer settin' in dat cheer, ole Big-Money layin' dar stone dead. Less[36] we go eat 'er up.'

"'Brer Rabbit, sho'ly youer jokin'!'

"'Brer Wolf, I'm a-ginin'[37] un you de fatal fack. Come on, less go!'

"'Brer Rabbit, is you sho' she dead?'

"'Brer Wolf, she done dead; come on, less go!'

"En go dey did. Dey went 'roun' en dey got all de yuther creeturs, en Brer Wolf, livin' so nigh, he let all he chilluns go, en 't wa'n't so mighty long 'fo' dey had a crowd dar des lak camp-meetin' times.

"W'en dey git dar, sho' nuff, dar lay ole Big-Money all stretch out on de river bank. Dis make Brer Wolf feel mighty good, en he tuck'n stick he han's in he pocket en strut 'roun' dar en look monst'us biggity. Atter he done tuck'n 'zamine ole Big-Money much ez he wanter, he up'n 'low, he did, dat dey better sorter rustle 'roun' en make a fa'r dividjun. He ax Brer Mink, he ax Brer Coon, he ax Brer 'Possum, he ax Brer Tarrypin, he ax Brer Rabbit, w'ich part dey take, en dey all up'n 'low, dey did, dat bein' ez Brer Wolf de biggest en de heartiest in de neighborhoods er de appetite, dey 'speck he better take de fus' choosement.

"Wid dat Brer Wolf, he sot down on a log, en hang he head ter one side, sorter lak he 'shame' er hisse'f. Bimeby, he up'n 'low:

"'Now, den, folks en fr'en's, sence you shove it on me, de shortes' way is de bes' way. Brer Coon, we bin good fr'en's a mighty long time; how much er dish yer meat ought a fibble[38] ole man lak me ter take?' sezee.

"Brer Wolf talk mighty lovin'. Brer Coon snuff de a'r, en 'low:

"'I 'speck you better take one er de fo'-quarters, Brer Wolf,' sezee.

"Brer Wolf look lak he 'stonish'. He lif' up he han's, en 'low:

"'Law, Brer Coon, I tuck you ter be my fr'en', dat I did. Man w'at talk lak dat aint got no feelin' fer me. Hit make me feel mighty lonesome,' sezee.

"Den Brer Wolf tu'n 'roun' en talk mighty lovin' ter Brer Mink:

"'Brer Mink, many's de day you bin a-knowin' me; how much er dish yer meat you 'speck oughter fall ter my sheer?' sezee.

"Brer Mink sorter study, en den he 'low:

"'Bein' ez you er sech a nice man, Brer Wolf, I 'speck you oughter take one er de fo'-quarters, en a right smart hunk off'n de bulge er de neck,' sezee.

"Brer Wolf holler out, he did:

"'Go 'way, Brer Mink! Go 'way! You aint no 'quaintance er mine!'

"Den ole Brer Wolf tu'n 'roun' ter Brer 'Possum en talk lovin':

"'Brer 'Possum, I done bin tuck wid a likin' fer you long time 'fo' dis. Look at me, en den look at my fambly, en den tell me, ef you be so good, how much er dish yer meat gwine ter fall ter my sheer.'

"Brer 'Possum, he look 'roun', he did, en grin, en he up'n 'low:

"'Take half, Brer Wolf, take half!'

"Den ole Brer Wolf holler out:

"'Shoo, Brer 'Possum! I like you no mo'.'

"Den Brer Wolf tu'n to Brer Tarrypin, en Brer Tarrypin say Brer Wolf oughter take all 'cep' one er de behime quarters, en den Brer Wolf 'low dat Brer Tarrypin aint no fr'en' ter him. Den he up'n ax Brer Rabbit, en Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n 'spon', he did:

"'Gentermuns all! you see Brer Wolf chillun? Well, dey er all monst'us hongry, en Brer Wolf hongry hisse'f. Now I puts dis plan straight at you: less we all let Brer Wolf have de fus' pass at Big-Money; less tie 'im on dar, en le'm eat much ez he wanter, en den we kin pick de bones,' sezee.

"'Youer my pardner, Brer Rabbit!' sez Brer Wolf, sezee; 'youer my honey-pardner!'

"Dey all 'gree ter dis plan, mo' 'speshually ole Brer Wolf, so den dey tuck'n tie 'im onter Big-Money. Dey tie 'im on dar, dey did, en den ole Brer Wolf look all 'roun' en wunk at de yuthers. Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n wunk back, en den Brer Wolf retch down en bite Big-Money on de back er de neck. Co'se, w'en he do dis, Big-Money bleedz ter flinch; let 'lone dat, she bleedz ter jump. Brer Wolf holler out:

"'Ow! Run yer somebody! Take me off! She aint dead! O Lordy! I feel 'er move!'

Brer Rabbit holler back:

"'Nummine de flinchin', Brer Wolf. She done dead; I done year 'er sesso[39] 'erse'f. She dead, sho'. Bite er ag'in, Brer Wolf, bite 'er ag'in!'

"Brer Rabbit talk so stiff, hit sorter tuck de chill off'n Brer Wolf, en he dipt down en bit ole Big-Money ag'in. Wid dat, she 'gun ter move off, en Brer Wolf he holler des lak de woods done kotch a-fier:

"'Ow! O Lordy! Ontie me, Brer Rabbit, ontie me! She aint dead! Ow! Run yer, Brer Rabbit, en ontie me!'

"Brer Rabbit, he holler back:

"'She er sho'ly dead, Brer Wolf! Nail 'er, Brer Wolf! Bite 'er! gnyaw 'er!'

"Brer Wolf keep on bitin', en Big-Money keep on movin' off. Bimeby, she git ter de bank er de river, en she fall in—cumberjoom!—en dat 'uz de las' er Brer Wolf."

"What did Brother Rabbit do?" the little boy asked, after a while.

"Well," responded Uncle Remus, in the tone of one anxious to dispose of a disagreeable matter as pleasantly as possible, "you know w'at kinder man Brer Rabbit is. He des went off some'rs by he own-alone se'f en tuck a big laugh."

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

[36] Let us; let's; less.

[37] G hard.

[38] Feeble.

[39] Say so. ———————————————————————————————————



XXXVII

BROTHER RABBIT AND THE MOSQUITOES

The next night Daddy Jack was still away when the little boy went to see Uncle Remus, and the child asked about him.

"Bless yo' soul, honey! don't ax me 'bout Brer Jack. He look lak he mighty ole en trimbly, but he mighty peart nigger, mon. He look lak he shufflin' 'long, but dat ole nigger gits over groun', sho'. Forty year ergo, maybe I mought er kep' up wid 'im, but I let you know Brer Jack is away 'head er me. He mos' sho'ly is."

"Why, he's older than you are, Uncle Remus!" the child exclaimed.

"Dat w'at I year tell. Seem lak hit mighty kuse, but sho' ez youer bawn Brer Jack is a heap mo' pearter nigger dan w'at ole Remus is. He little, yit he mighty hard. Dat 's Brer Jack, up en down."

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