HotFreeBooks.com
Nights With Uncle Remus - Myths and Legends of the Old Plantation
by Joel Chandler Harris
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Uncle Remus paused and reflected a moment. Then he went on:

"Talkin' 'bout Brer Jack put me in min' 'bout a tale w'ich she sho'ly mus' er happen down dar in dat ar country whar Brer Jack come fum, en it sorter ketch me in de neighborhoods er de 'stonishment 'kaze he aint done up'n tell it. I 'speck it done wuk loose fum Brer Jack 'membunce."

"What tale was that, Uncle Remus?"

"Seem lak dat one time w'en eve'ything en eve'ybody was runnin' 'long des lak dey bin had waggin grease 'pun um, ole Brer Wolf"—

The little boy laughed incredulously and Uncle Remus paused and frowned heavily.

"Why, Uncle Remus! how did Brother Wolf get away from Mammy-Bammy Big-Money?"

The old man's frown deepened and his voice was full of anger as he replied:

"Now, den, is I'm de tale, er is de tale me? Tell me dat! Is I'm de tale, er is de tale me? Well, den, ef I aint de tale en de tale aint me, den how come you wanter take'n rake me over de coals fer?"

"Well, Uncle Remus, you know what you said. You said that was the end of Brother Wolf."

"I bleedz ter 'spute dat," exclaimed Uncle Remus, with the air of one performing a painful duty; "I bleedz ter 'spute it. Dat w'at de tale say. Ole Remus is one nigger en de tale, hit 's a n'er nigger. Yit I aint got no time fer ter set back yer en fetch out de oggyments."

Here the old man paused, closed his eyes, leaned back in his chair, and sighed. After a while he said, in a gentle tone:

"So den, Brer Wolf done dead, en yer I wuz runnin' on des same lak he wuz done 'live. Well! well! well!"

Uncle Remus stole a glance at the little boy, and immediately relented.

"Yit," he went on, "ef I'm aint de tale en de tale aint me, hit aint skacely make no diffunce whe'er Brer Wolf dead er whe'er he's a high-primin' 'roun' bodder'n 'longer de yuther creeturs. Dead er no dead, dey wuz one time w'en Brer Wolf live in de swamp down dar in dat ar country whar Brer Jack come fum, en, mo'n dat, he had a mighty likely gal. Look lak all de yuther creeturs wuz atter 'er. Dey 'ud go down dar ter Brer Wolf house, dey would, en dey 'ud set up en court de gal, en 'joy deyse'f.

"Hit went on dis a-way twel atter w'ile de skeeters 'gun ter git monst'us bad. Brer Fox, he went flyin' 'roun' Miss Wolf, en he sot dar, he did, en run on wid 'er en fight skeeters des es big ez life en twice-t ez natchul. Las' Brer Wolf, he tuck'n kotch Brer Fox slappin' en fightin' at he skeeters. Wid dat he tuck'n tuck Brer Fox by de off year en led 'im out ter de front gate, en w'en he git dar, he 'low, he did, dat no man w'at can't put up wid skeeters aint gwine ter come a-courtin' his gal.



"Den Brer Coon, he come flyin' 'roun' de gal, but he aint bin dar no time skacely 'fo' he 'gun ter knock at de skeeters; en no sooner is he done dis dan Brer Wolf show 'im de do'. Brer Mink, he come en try he han', yit he bleedz ter fight de skeeters, en Brer Wolf ax 'im out.

"Hit went on dis a-way twel bimeby all de creeturs bin flyin' 'roun' Brer Wolf's gal 'ceppin' it's ole Brer Rabbit, en w'en he year w'at kinder treatments de yuther creeturs bin ketchin' he 'low ter hisse'f dat he b'leeve in he soul he mus' go down ter Brer Wolf house en set de gal out one whet ef it's de las' ack.

"No sooner say, no sooner do. Off he put, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he fine hisse'f knockin' at Brer Wolf front do'. Ole Sis Wolf, she tuck'n put down 'er knittin' en she up'n low, she did:

"'Who dat?'

"De gal, she 'uz stannin' up 'fo' de lookin'-glass sorter primpin', en she choke back a giggle, she did, en 'low:

"'Sh-h-h! My goodness, mammy! dat 's Mr. Rabbit. I year de gals say he's a mighty prop-en-tickler[40] gentermun, en I des hope you aint gwine ter set dar en run on lak you mos' allers does w'en I got comp'ny 'bout how much soap-grease you done save up en how many kitten de ole cat got. I gits right 'shame' sometimes, dat I does!'"

The little boy looked astonished.

"Did she talk that way to her mamma?" he asked.

"Shoo, chile! 'Mungs' all de creeturs dey aint no mo' kuse creeturs dan de gals. Ole ez I is, ef I wuz ter start in dis minnit fer ter tell you how kuse de gals is, en de Lord wuz ter spar' me plum twel I git done, yo' head 'ud be gray, en Remus 'ud be des twice-t ez ole ez w'at he is right now."

"Well, what did her mamma say, Uncle Remus?"

"Ole Sis Wolf, she sot dar, she did, en settle 'er cap on 'er head, en snicker, en look at de gal lak she monst'us proud. De gal, she tuck'n shuck 'erse'f 'fo' de lookin'-glass a time er two, en den she tipt ter de do' en open' it little ways en peep out des lak she skeer'd some un gwine ter hit 'er a clip side de head. Dar stood ole Brer Rabbit lookin' des ez slick ez a race-hoss. De gal, she tuck'n laff, she did, en holler:

"'W'y law, maw! hit 's Mr. Rabbit, en yer we bin 'fraid it 'uz some 'un w'at aint got no business 'roun' yer!'

"Ole Sis Wolf she look over 'er specks, en snicker, en den she up'n 'low:

"'Well, don't keep 'im stannin' out dar all night. Ax 'im in, fer goodness sake.'

"Den de gal, she tuck'n drap 'er hankcher, en Brer Rabbit, he dipt down en grab it en pass it ter 'er wid a bow, en de gal say she much 'blige, 'kaze dat 'uz mo' den Mr. Fox 'ud er done, en den she ax Brer Rabbit how he come on, en Brer Rabbit 'low he right peart, en den he ax 'er wharbouts 'er daddy, en ole Sis Wolf 'low she go fine 'im.

"'T wa'n't long 'fo' Brer Rabbit year Brer Wolf stompin' de mud off'n he foots in de back po'ch, en den bimeby in he come. Dey shuck han's, dey did, en Brer Rabbit say dat w'en he go callin' on he 'quaintunce, hit aint feel natchul 'ceppin' de man er de house settin' 'roun' some'rs.

"'Ef he don't talk none,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'he kin des set up ag'in' de chimbly-jam en keep time by noddin'.'

"But ole Brer Wolf, he one er deze yer kinder mens w'at got de whimzies,[41] en he up'n 'low dat he don't let hisse'f git ter noddin' front er comp'ny. Dey run on dis a-way twel bimeby Brer Rabbit year de skeeters come zoonin' 'roun', en claimin' kin wid 'im."

The little boy laughed; but Uncle Remus was very serious.

"Co'se dey claim kin wid 'im. Dey claims kin wid folks yit, let 'lone Brer Rabbit. Manys en manys de time w'en I year um sailin' 'roun' en singin' out 'Cousin! Cousin!' en I let you know, honey, de skeeters is mighty close kin w'en dey gits ter be yo' cousin.

"Brer Rabbit, he year um zoonin'," the old man continued, "en he know he got ter do some mighty nice talkin', so he up'n ax fer drink er water. De gal, she tuck'n fotch it.

"'Mighty nice water, Brer Wolf.' (De skeeters dey zoon.)[42]

"'Some say it too full er wiggletails,[43] Brer Rabbit.' (De skeeters, dey zoon en dey zoon.)

"'Mighty nice place you got, Brer Wolf.' (Skeeters dey zoon.)

"'Some say it too low in de swamp, Brer Rabbit.' (Skeeters dey zoon en dey zoon.)

"Dey zoon so bad," said Uncle Remus, drawing a long breath, "dat Brer Rabbit 'gun ter git skeer'd, en w'en dat creetur git skeer'd, he min' wuk lak one er deze yer flutter-mills. Bimeby, he 'low:

"'Went ter town t'er day, en dar I seed a sight w'at I never 'speckted ter see.'

"'W'at dat, Brer Rabbit?'

"'Spotted hoss, Brer Wolf.'

"'No, Brer Rabbit!'

"'I mos' sho'ly seed 'im, Brer Wolf.'

"Brer Wolf, he scratch he head, en de gal she hilt up 'er han's en make great 'miration 'bout de spotted hoss. (De skeeters dey zoon, en dey keep on zoonin'.) Brer Rabbit, he talk on, he did:

"''T wa'n't des one spotted hoss, Brer Wolf, 't wuz a whole team er spotted hosses, en dey went gallin'-up[44] des lak de yuther hosses,' sezee. 'Let 'lone dat, Brer Wolf, my grandaddy wuz spotted,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.

"Gal, she squeal en holler out:

"'W'y, Brer Rabbit! aint you 'shame' yo'se'f fer ter be talkin' dat a-way, en 'bout yo' own-'lone blood kin too?'

"'Hit 's de naked trufe I'm a-ginin'[45] un you,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee. (Skeeter zoon en come closeter.)

"Brer Wolf 'low 'Well—well—well!' Ole Sis Wolf, she 'low 'Tooby sho'ly, tooby sho'ly!' (Skeeter zoon en come nigher en nigher.) Brer Rabbit 'low:

"'Yasser! Des ez sho' ez youer settin' dar, my grandaddy wuz spotted. Spotted all over. (Skeeter come zoonin' up en light on Brer Rabbit jaw.) He wuz dat. He had er great big spot right yer!'"

Here Uncle Remus raised his hand and struck himself a resounding slap on the side of the face where the mosquito was supposed to be, and continued:

"No sooner is he do dis dan ne'r skeeter come zoonin' 'roun' en light on Brer Rabbit leg. Brer Rabbit, he talk, en he talk:

"'Po' ole grandaddy! I boun' he make you laff, he look so funny wid all dem spots en speckles. He had spot on de side er de head, whar I done show you, en den he had n'er big spot right yer on de leg,' sezee."

Uncle Remus slapped himself on the leg below the knee, and was apparently so serious about it that the little boy laughed loudly. The old man went on:

"Skeeter zoon en light 'twix' Brer Rabbit shoulder-blades. Den he talk:

"'B'leeve me er not b'leeve me ef you min' to, but my grandaddy had a big black spot up yer on he back w'ich look lak saddle-mark.'

"Blip Brer Rabbit tuck hisse'f on de back!

"Skeeter sail 'roun' en zoon en light down yer beyan de hip-bone. He say he grandaddy got spot down dar.

"Blip he tuck hisse'f beyan de hip-bone.

"Hit keep on dis a-way," continued Uncle Remus, who had given vigorous illustrations of Brer Rabbit's method of killing mosquitoes while pretending to tell a story, "twel bimeby ole Brer Wolf en ole Sis Wolf dey lissen at Brer Rabbit twel dey 'gun ter nod, en den ole Brer Rabbit en de gal dey sot up dar en kill skeeters right erlong."

"Did he marry Brother Wolf's daughter?" asked the little boy.

"I year talk," replied Uncle Remus, "dat Brer Wolf sont Brer Rabbit wud nex' day dat he kin git de gal by gwine atter 'er, but I aint never year talk 'bout Brer Rabbit gwine. De day atterwuds wuz mighty long time, en by den Brer Rabbit moughter had some yuther projick on han'."[46]

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

[40] Proper and particular.

[41] In these latter days a man with the whimzies, or whimsies, is known simply as a crank.

[42] The information in parentheses is imparted in a low, impressive, confidential tone.

[43] Is it necessary to say that the wiggletail is the embryo mosquito?

[44] Galloping.

[45] G hard as in give.

[46] This story, the funniest and most characteristic of all the negro legends, cannot be satisfactorily told on paper. It is full of action, and all the interest centres in the gestures and grimaces that must accompany an explanation of Brother Rabbit's method of disposing of the mosquitoes. The story was first called to my attention by Mr. Marion Erwin, of Savannah, and it is properly a coast legend, but I have heard it told by three Middle Georgia negroes. ———————————————————————————————————



XXXVIII

THE PIMMERLY PLUM

One night, when the little boy had grown tired of waiting for a story, he looked at Uncle Remus and said:

"I wonder what ever became of old Brother Tarrypin."

Uncle Remus gave a sudden start, glanced all around the cabin, and then broke into a laugh that ended in a yell like a view-halloo.

"Well, well, well! How de name er goodness come you ter know w'at runnin' on in my min', honey? Mon, you skeer'd me; you sho'ly did; en w'en I git skeer'd I bleedz ter holler. Let 'lone dat, ef I keep on gittin' skeerder en skeerder, you better gimme room, 'kaze ef I can't git 'way fum dar somebody gwine ter git hurted, en deyer gwine ter git hurted bad. I tell you dat right pine-blank.[47]

"Ole Brer Tarrypin!" continued Uncle Remus in a tone of exultation. "Ole Brer Tarrypin! Now, who bin year tell er de beat er dat? Dar you sets studyin' 'bout ole Brer Tarrypin, en yer I sets studyin' 'bout ole Brer Tarrypin. Hit make me feel so kuse dat little mo' en I'd 'a' draw'd my Rabbit-foot en shuck it at you."

The little boy was delighted when Uncle Remus went off into these rhapsodies. However nonsensical they might seem to others, to the child they were positively thrilling, and he listened with rapt attention, scarcely daring to stir.

"Ole Brer Tarrypin? Well, well, well!—

"'W'en in he prime He tuck he time!'

"Dat w'at make he hol' he age so good. Dey tells me dat somebody 'cross dar in Jasper county tuck'n kotch a Tarrypin w'ich he got marks cut in he back dat 'uz put dar 'fo' our folks went fer ter git revengeance in de Moccasin war. Dar whar yo' Unk' Jeems bin," Uncle Remus explained, noticing the little boy's look of astonishment.

"Oh!" exclaimed the child, "that was the Mexican war."

"Well," responded Uncle Remus, closing his eyes with a sigh, "I aint one er deze yer kinder folks w'at choke deyse'f wid names. One name aint got none de 'vantage er no yuther name. En ef de Tarrypin got de marks on 'im, hit don't make no diffunce whe'er yo' Unk' Jeems Abercrombie git his revengeance out'n de Moccasin folks, er whe'er he got it out'n de Mackersons."

"Mexicans, Uncle Remus."

"Tooby sho', honey; let it go at dat. But don't less pester ole Brer Tarrypin wid it, 'kaze he done b'long ter a tribe all by he own-'lone se'f.—I 'clar' ter gracious," exclaimed the old man after a pause, "ef hit don't seem periently lak 't wuz yistiddy!"

"What, Uncle Remus?"

"Oh, des ole Brer Tarrypin, honey; des ole Brer Tarrypin en a tale w'at I year 'bout 'im, how he done tuck'n do Brer Fox."

"Did he scare him, Uncle Remus?" the little boy asked, as the old man paused.

"No, my goodness! Wuss'n dat!"

"Did he hurt him?"

"No, my goodness! Wuss'n dat!"

"Did he kill him?"

"No, my goodness! Lots wuss'n dat!"

"Now, Uncle Remus, what did he do to Brother Fox?"

"Honey!"—here the old man lowered his voice as if about to describe a great outrage—"Honey! he tuck'n make a fool out'n 'im!"

The child laughed, but it was plain that he failed to appreciate the situation, and this fact caused Uncle Remus to brighten up and go on with the story.

"One time w'en de sun shine down mighty hot, ole Brer Tarrypin wuz gwine 'long down de road. He 'uz gwine 'long down, en he feel mighty tired; he puff, en he blow, en he pant. He breff come lak he got de azmy 'way down in he win'-pipe; but, nummine! he de same ole Creep-um-crawl-um Have-some-fun-um. He 'uz gwine 'long down de big road, ole Brer Tarrypin wuz, en bimeby he come ter de branch. He tuck'n crawl in, he did, en got 'im a drink er water, en den he crawl out on t'er side en set down und' de shade un a tree. Atter he sorter ketch he win', he look up at de sun fer ter see w'at time er day is it, en, lo en beholes! he tuck'n skivver dat he settin' in de shade er de sycamo' tree. No sooner is he skivver dis dan he sing de ole song:

"'Good luck ter dem w'at come and go, W'at set in de shade er de sycamo'.'

"Brer Tarrypin he feel so good en de shade so cool, dat 't wa'n't long 'fo' he got ter noddin', en bimeby he drapt off en went soun' asleep. Co'se, Brer Tarrypin kyar he house wid 'im eve'ywhar he go, en w'en he fix fer ter go ter sleep, he des shet de do' en pull to de winder-shetters, en dar he is des ez snug ez de ole black cat und' de barn.

"Brer Tarrypin lay dar, he did, en sleep, en sleep. He dunner how long he sleep, but bimeby he feel somebody foolin' 'long wid 'im. He keep de do' shet, en he lay dar en lissen. He feel somebody tu'nin' he house 'roun' en 'roun'. Dis sorter skeer Brer Tarrypin, 'kaze he know dat ef dey tu'n he house upside down he ull have all sorts er times gittin' back. Wid dat, he open de do' little ways, en he see Brer Fox projickin' wid 'im. He open de do' little furder, he did, en he break out in a great big hoss-laff, en holler:

"'Well! well, well! Who'd 'a' thunk it! Ole Brer Fox, cuter dan de common run, is done come en kotch me. En he come at sech a time, too! I feels dat full twel I can't see straight skacely. Ef dey wuz any jealousness proned inter me, I'd des lay yer en pout 'kaze Brer Fox done fine out whar I gits my Pimmerly Plum.'

"In dem days," continued Uncle Remus, speaking to the child's look of inquiry, "de Pimmerly Plum wuz monst'us skace. Leavin' out Brer Rabbit en Brer Tarrypin dey wa'n't none er de yuther creeturs dat yuvver got a glimp' un it, let 'lone a tas'e. So den w'en Brer Fox year talk er de Pimmerly Plum, bless gracious! he h'ist up he head en let Brer Tarrypin 'lone. Brer Tarrypin keep on laffin' en Brer Fox 'low:

"'Hush, Brer Tarrypin! you makes my mouf water! Whar'bouts de Pimmerly Plum?'

"Brer Tarrypin, he sorter cle'r up de ho'seness in he th'oat, en sing:

"'Poun' er sugar, en a pint er rum, Aint nigh so sweet ez de Pimmerly Plum!'

"Brer Fox, he lif' up he han's, he did, en holler:

"'Oh, hush, Brer Tarrypin! you makes me dribble! Whar'bouts dat Pimmerly Plum?'

"'You stannin' right und' de tree, Brer Fox!'

"'Brer Tarrypin, sho'ly not!'

"'Yit dar you stan's, Brer Fox!'

"Brer Fox look up in de tree dar, en he wuz 'stonish'."

"What did he see in the sycamore tree, Uncle Remus?" inquired the little boy.

There was a look of genuine disappointment on the old man's face, as he replied:

"De gracious en de goodness, honey! Aint you nev' is see dem ar little bit er balls w'at grow on de sycamo' tree?"[48]

The little boy laughed. There was a huge sycamore tree in the centre of the circle made by the carriage way in front of the "big house," and there were sycamore trees of various sizes all over the place. The little balls alluded to by Uncle Remus are very hard at certain stages of their growth, and cling to the tree with wonderful tenacity. Uncle Remus continued:

"Well, den, w'en ole Brer Tarrypin vouch dat dem ar sycamo' balls wuz de ginnywine Pimmerly Plum, ole Brer Fox, he feel mighty good, yit he dunner how he gwine git at um. Push 'im clos't, en maybe he mought beat Brer Tarrypin clammin' a tree, but dish yer sycamo' tree wuz too big fer Brer Fox fer ter git he arms 'roun'. Den he up'n 'low:

"'I sees um hangin' dar, Brer Tarrypin, but how I gwine git um?'

"Brer Tarrypin open he do' little ways en holler out:

"'Ah-yi! Dar whar ole Slickum Slow-come got de 'vantage! Youer mighty peart, Brer Fox, yit somehow er nudder you aint bin a-keepin' up wid ole Slickum Slow-come.'

"'Brer Tarrypin, how de name er goodness does you git um?'

"'Don't do no good fer ter tell you, Brer Fox. Nimble heel make restless min'. You aint got time fer ter wait en git um, Brer Fox.'

"'Brer Tarrypin, I got all de week befo' me.'

"'Ef I tells you, you'll go en tell all de t'er creeturs, en den dat'll be de las' er de Pimmerly Plum, Brer Fox.'

"'Brer Tarrypin, dat I won't. Des try me one time en see.'

"Brer Tarrypin shet he eye lak he studyin', en den he 'low:



"'I tell you how I does, Brer Fox. W'en I wants a bait er de Pimmerly Plum right bad, I des takes my foot in my han' en comes down yer ter dish yer tree. I comes en I takes my stan'. I gits right und' de tree, en I r'ars my head back en opens my mouf. I opens my mouf, en w'en de Pimmerly Plum draps, I boun' you she draps right spang in dar. All you got ter do is ter set en wait, Brer Fox.'

"Brer Fox aint sayin' nothin'. He des sot down und' de tree, he did, en r'ar'd he head back, en open he mouf, en I wish ter goodness you mought er bin had er chance fer ter see 'im settin' dar. He look scan'lous, dat 's de long en de short un it; he des look scan'lous."

"Did he get the Pimmerly Plum, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy.

"Shoo! How he gwine git plum whar dey aint no plum?"

"Well, what did he do?"

"He sot dar wid he mouf wide open, en eve'y time Brer Tarrypin look at 'im, much ez he kin do fer ter keep from bustin' aloose en laffin'. But bimeby he make he way todes home, Brer Tarrypin did, chucklin' en laffin', en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he meet Brer Rabbit tippin' 'long down de road. Brer Rabbit, he hail 'im.

"'W'at 'muze you so mighty well, Brer Tarrypin?'

"Brer Tarrypin kotch he breff atter so long a time, en he 'low:

"'Brer Rabbit, I'm dat tickle' twel I can't shuffle 'long, skacely, en I'm fear'd ef I up'n tell you de 'casion un it, I'll be tooken wid one er my spells whar folks hatter set up wid me 'kaze I laff so loud en laff so long.'

"Yit atter so long a time, Brer Tarrypin up'n tell Brer Rabbit, en dey sot dar en chaw'd terbacker en kyar'd on des lak sho' 'nuff folks. Dat dey did!"

Uncle Remus paused; but the little boy wanted to know what became of Brer Fox.

"Hit 's mighty kuse," said the old man, stirring around in the ashes as if in search of a potato, "but endurin' er all my days I aint nev' year nobody tell 'bout how long Brer Fox sot dar waitin' fer de Pimmerly Plum."

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

[47] Point-blank.

[48] In another version of this story current among the negroes the sweet-gum tree takes the place of the sycamore. ———————————————————————————————————



XXXIX

BROTHER RABBIT GETS THE PROVISIONS

The next time the little boy called on Uncle Remus a bright fire was blazing on the hearth. He could see the light shining under the door before he went into the cabin, and he knew by that sign that the old man had company. In fact, Daddy Jack had returned and was dozing in his accustomed corner, Aunt Tempy was sitting bolt upright, nursing her contempt, and Uncle Remus was making a curious-looking box. None of the negroes paid any attention to the little boy when he entered, but somehow he felt that they were waiting for him. After a while Uncle Remus finished his curious-looking box and laid it upon the floor. Then he lifted his spectacles from his nose to the top of his head, and remarked:

"Now, den, folks, dar she is, en hit 's bin so long sence I uv made one un um dat she make me sweat. Yasser! She did dat. Howsumev', hit aint make no diffunce wid me. Promise is a promise, dough you make it in de dark er de moon. Long time ago, I tuck'n promise one er my passin' 'quaintance dat some er deze lonesome days de ole nigger 'd whirl in en make 'im a rabbit-trap ef he'd des be so good ez to quit he devilment, en l'arn he behavishness."

"Is that my rabbit-trap, Uncle Remus?" exclaimed the child. He would have picked it up for the purpose of examining it, but Uncle Remus waved him off with a dignified gesture.

"Don't you dast ter tetch dat ar trap, honey, 'kaze ef you does, dat spiles all. I'll des hatter go ter wuk en make it bran-new, en de Lord knows I aint got no time fer ter do dat."

"Well, Uncle Remus, you've had your hands on it."

"Tooby sho' I is—tooby sho' I is! En w'at's mo' dan dat, I bin had my han's in tar-water."

"I year talk er dat," remarked Aunt Tempy, with an approving nod.

"Yasser! in de nat'al tar-water," continued Uncle Remus. "You put yo' han' in a pa'tridge nes', en he'll quit dem premises dough he done got 'lev'm dozen aigs in dar. Same wid Rabbit. Dey aint got sense lak de ole-time Rabbit, but I let you know dey aint gwine in no trap whar dey smell folks' han's—dat dey aint. Dat w'at make I say w'at I does. Don't put yo' han' on it; don't tetch it; don't look at it skacely."

The little boy subsided, but he continued to cast longing looks at the trap, seeing which Uncle Remus sought to change the current of his thoughts.

"She bin er mighty heap er trouble, mon, yet I mighty glad I tuck'n make dat ar trap. She's a solid un, sho', en ef dey wuz ter be any skaceness er vittles, I lay dat ar trap 'ud help us all out."

"De Lord knows," exclaimed Aunt Tempy, rubbing her fat hands together, "I hope dey aint gwine ter be no famishin' 'roun' yer 'mungs we all."

"Likely not," said Uncle Remus, "yet de time mought come w'en a big swamp rabbit kotch in dat ar trap would go a mighty long ways in a fambly no bigger dan w'at mine is."

"Mo' speshually," remarked Aunt Tempy, "ef you put dat wid w'at de neighbors mought sen' in."

"Eh-eh!" Uncle Remus exclaimed, "don't you put no 'pennunce in dem neighbors—don't you do it. W'en famine time come one man aint no better dan no yuther man 'ceppin' he be soopless; en he got ter be mighty soople at dat."

The old man paused and glanced at the little boy. The child was still looking longingly at the trap, and Uncle Remus leaned forward and touched him lightly on the shoulder. It was a familiar gesture, gentle and yet rough, a token of affection, and yet a command to attention; for the venerable darkey could be imperious enough when surrendering to the whims of his little partner.

"All dish yer talk 'bout folks pe'shin' out," Uncle Remus went on with an indifferent air, "put me in min' er de times w'en de creeturs tuck'n got up a famine 'mungs deyse'f. Hit come 'bout dat one time vittles wuz monst'us skace en high, en money mighty slack. Long ez dey wuz any vittles gwine 'roun', Brer Rabbit, he 'uz boun' ter git he sheer un um, but bimeby hit come ter dat pass dat Brer Rabbit stomach 'gun ter pinch 'im; en w'iles he gettin' hongry de yuther creeturs, dey 'uz gettin' hongry deyse'f. Hit went on dis a-way twel one day Brer Rabbit en Brer Wolf meet up wid one er n'er in de big road, en atter dey holler howdy dey sat down, dey did, en make a bargain.

"Dey tuck'n 'gree wid one er n'er dat dey sell der mammy en take de money en git sump'n' n'er ter eat. Brer Wolf, he 'low, he did, dat bein' 's hit seem lak he de hongriest creetur on de face er de yeth, dat he sell his mammy fus', en den, atter de vittles gin out, Brer Rabbit he kin sell he own mammy en git some mo' grub.

"Ole Brer Rabbit, he chipt in en 'greed, he did, en Brer Wolf, he tuck'n hitch up he team, en put he mammy in de waggin, en den him en Brer Rabbit druv off. Man come 'long:

"'Whar you gwine?'

"'Gwine 'long down ter town, Wid a bag er co'n fer ter sell; We aint got time fer ter stop en talk, Yit we wish you mighty well!'"

"Did they talk poetry that way, Uncle Remus?" the little boy inquired.

"Shoo! lot's wuss dan dat, honey. Dey wuz constant a-gwine on dat a-way, en ef I wa'n't gittin' so mighty weak-kneed in de membunce I'd bust aloose yer en I'd fair wake you up wid de gwines on er dem ar creeturs.

"Now, den, dey tuck'n kyar Brer Wolf mammy ter town en sell 'er, en dey start back wid a waggin-load er vittles. De day wuz a-wanin' den de sun wuz a-settin'. De win' tuck'n blow up sorter stiff, en de sun look red when she settin'. Dey druv on, en druv on. De win' blow, en de sun shine red. Bimeby, Brer Wolf scrooch up en shiver, en 'low:

"'Brer Rabbit, I'm a-gittin' mighty cole.'

"Brer Rabbit, he laugh en 'low:

"'I'm gittin' sorter creepy myself, Brer Wolf.'

"Dey druv on en druv on. Win' blow keen, sun shine red. Brer Wolf scrooch up in little knot. Bimeby he sing out:

"'Brer Rabbit, I'm freezin'! I'm dat cole I dunner w'at ter do!'

"Brer Rabbit, he p'int ter de settin' sun en say:

"'You see dat great big fier 'cross dar in de woods, Brer Wolf? Well, dey aint nothin' ter hender you fum gwine dar en wommin' yo'se'f en I'll wait yer fer you. Gimme de lines, Brer Wolf, en you go wom yo'se'f all over.'

"Wid dat Brer Wolf, he put out des ez hard ez he kin, fer ter see ef he can't fin' de fier; en w'iles he wuz gone, bless goodness, w'at should Brer Rabbit do but cut off de hosses' tails en stick um down deep in de mud—"

"Le' 'im 'lone, now! Des le' 'im 'lone!" exclaimed Aunt Tempy in an ecstasy of admiration.



"He stick de hosses' tails down in de mud," continued Uncle Remus, "en den he tuck'n druv de waggin 'way off in de swamp en hide it. Den he tuck'n come back, ole Brer Rabbit did, fer ter wait fer Brer Wolf.

"Atter so long a time, sho' 'nuff, yer come Brer Wolf des a-gallin'-up back. Brer Rabbit he hail 'im.

"'Is you wom yo'se'f, Brer Wolf?'

"'Brer Rabbit, don't talk! Dat de mos' 'seetful fier w'at I had any speunce un. I run, en I run, en I run, en de mo' w'at I run de furder de fier git. De nigher you come ter dat fier de furder hit 's off.'

"Brer Rabbit, he sorter scratch hisse'f behime de shoulder-blade, en 'low:

"'Nummine 'bout de fier, Brer Wolf. I got sump'n' yer dat'll wom you up. Ef you aint nev' bin wom befo', I lay you'll get wom dis time.'

"Dis make Brer Wolf sorter look 'roun', en w'en he see Brer Rabbit hol'in' on ter de two hoss-tails, he up'n squall out, he did:

"'Lawdy mussy, Brer Rabbit! Whar my vittles? Whar my waggin? Whar my hosses?'

"'Dey er all right yer, Brer Wolf; dey er all right yer. I stayed dar whar you lef' me twel de hosses gun ter git restless. Den I cluck at um, en, bless gracious, dey start off en lan' in a quicksan'. W'en dey gun ter mire, I des tuck'n tu'n eve'ything a-loose en grab de hosses by de tail, en I bin stan'in' yer wishin' fer you, Brer Wolf, twel I done gone gray in de min'. I 'low ter myse'f dat I'd hang on ter deze yer hoss-tails ef it killt eve'y cow in de islan'. Come he'p me, Brer Wolf, en I lay we'll des nat'ally pull de groun' out but w'at we'll git deze creeturs out.'

"Wid dat, Brer Wolf, he kotch holt er one hoss-tail, en Brer Rabbit, he kotch holt er de yuther, en w'en dey pull, co'se de tails come out'n de mud. Dey stood dar, dey did, en dey look at de tails en den dey look at one n'er. Bimeby Brer Rabbit 'low:

"'Well, sir, Brer Wolf; we pull so hard twel we pull de tails plum out!'

"Ole Brer Wolf, he dunner w'at ter do, but it 'gun ter git dark, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he tell Brer Rabbit good-by, en off he put fer home. Dat ar Brer Rabbit," Uncle Remus went on, "he des tuck'n wait twel Brer Wolf git out'n yearin', en den he went into de swamp en druv de hosses home en git all de vittles, en he aint hatter sell he ole mammy n'er. Dat he aint."



XL

"CUTTA CORD-LA!"

To all appearances Daddy Jack had taken no interest in Uncle Remus's story of the horses' tails, and yet, as soon as the little boy and Aunt Tempy were through laughing at a somewhat familiar climax, the old African began to twist and fidget in his chair, and mumble to himself in a lingo which might have been understood on the Guinea coast, but which sounded out of place in Uncle Remus's Middle Georgia cabin. Presently, however, his uneasiness took tangible shape. He turned around and exclaimed impatiently:

"Shuh-shuh! w'en you sta't fer tell-a dem tale, wey you no tell um lak dey stan'? 'E bery bad fer twis' dem tale 'roun' un 'roun'. Wey you no talk um stret?"

"Well, Brer Jack," said Uncle Remus, smiling good-humoredly upon the queer little old man, "ef we done gone en got dat ar tale all twis' up, de way fer you ter do is ter whirl in en ontwis' it, en we-all folks 'll set up yer en he'p you out plum twel Mars John comes a-hollerin' en a-bawlin' atter dish yer baby; en atter he done gone ter bed, den me en Sis Tempy yer we ull set up wid you plum twel de chickens crow fer day. Dem's de kinder folk we all is up yer. We aint got many swimps en crabs up yer in Putmon county, but w'en it come ter settin' up wid comp'ny en hangin' 'roun' atter dark fer ter make de time pass away, we er mighty rank. Now den, Brer Jack, I done call de roll wid my eye, en we er all yer 'ceppin' dat ar 'Tildy gal, en 't won't be long 'fo' she'll be a-drappin' in. Run over in yo' min', en whar my tale 'uz wrong, des whirl in en put 'er ter rights."

"Shuh-shuh!" exclaimed the old African, "Oona no git dem tale stret. I yed dem wey me lif; 'e soun' lak dis: One tam dem bittle bin git bery skace. Da rice crop mek nuttin'; da fish swim low; da bud fly high. Hard times bin come dey-dey. 'E so hard, dem creeturs do git honkry fer true. B'er Rabbit un B'er Wolf dey come pit bote 'e head tergerrer; dey is mek talk how honkry dey is 'way down in da belly.

"Bumbye, B'er Rabbit, 'e shed 'e y-eye, 'e say dey mus' kill dey gran'mammy. B'er Wolf say 'e mek 'e y-eye come wat'ry fer yeddy da talk lak dat. B'er Rabbit say:

"'Ki, B'er Wolf! da water come in you' y-eye wun you is bin honkry. Me y-eye done bin-a come wat'ry so long tam befo' I bin talky wit' you 'bout we gran'mammy.'

"B'er Wolf, 'e der keep on cryin'; 'e wipe 'e y-eye 'pon 'e coat-sleef. B'er Rabbit, 'e bin say:

"'Ef you is bin tek it so ha'd lak dis, B'er Wolf, 'e bery good fer kill-a you' gran'mammy fus', so you is kin come glad ag'in.'

"B'er Wolf, 'e go dry 'e y-eye un kill 'e gran'mammy, un dey is bin tek 'im gran'mammy off un sell um fer bittle. Dun dey is bin eat dis bittle day un night tell 'e all done gone. Wun-a tam come fer B'er Rabbit fer kill 'e gran'mammy, B'er Wolf, 'e go bisitin' 'im. 'E say:

"'B'er Rabbit, I is bin-a feel honkry troo un troo. Less we kill-a you' gran'mammy.'

"B'er Rabbit lif' up 'e head high; 'e lahff. 'E shekky one year, 'e shed-a one eye. 'E say:

"'Eh-eh, B'er Wolf, you t'ink I gwan kill-a me gran'mammy? Oh, no, B'er Wolf! Me no kin do dat.'

"Dis mek B'er Wolf wuss mad den 'e is bin befo'. 'E fair teer de yet' wit' 'e claw; 'e yowl sem lak Injun mans. 'E say 'e gwan make B'er Rabbit kill 'e gran'mammy nohow.

"B'er Rabbit say 'e gwan see 'im 'bout dis. 'E tek 'e gran'mammy by da han'; 'e lead um way off in da woods; 'e hide um in da top one big cocoanut tree: 'e tell um fer stay deer."

The mention of a cocoanut tree caused the little boy to glance incredulously at Uncle Remus, who made prompt and characteristic reply:

"Dat 's it, honey; dat 's it, sho'. In dem days en in dem countries dey wuz plenty er cocoanut trees. Less we all set back yer en give Brer Jack a livin' chance."

"'E hide 'e gran'mammy in top cocoanut tree," continued Daddy Jack, "un 'e gi' um lilly bahskit wit' cord tie on um. In de day-mawnin', B'er Rabbit, 'e is bin go at da foot da tree. 'E make 'e v'ice fine: 'e holler:

"'Granny!—Granny!—O Granny! Jutta cord-la!'

"Wun 'e granny yeddy dis, 'e let bahskit down wit' da cord, un B'er Rabbit 'e fill um wit' bittle un somet'ing t'eat. Ebry day dey is bin-a do dis t'ing; ebry day B'er Rabbit is come fer feed 'e granny.

"B'er Wolf 'e watch, 'e lissun; 'e sneak up, 'e creep up, 'e do lissun. Bumbye, 'e do yeddy B'er Rabbit call; 'e see da bahskit swing down, 'e see um go back. Wun B'er Rabbit bin-a go 'way fum dey-dey, B'er Wolf, 'e come by da root da tree. 'E holler; 'e do say:

"'Granny!—Granny!—O Granny! Shoot-a cord-la!'

"Da ole Granny Rabbit lissun; 'e bin lissun well. 'E say:

"'Ki! how come dis? Me son is no talky lak dis. 'E no shoot-a da cord lak dat.'

"W'en B'er Rabbit come back da granny is bin-a tell um 'bout somet'ing come-a holler shoot-a da cord-la, un B'er Rabbit, 'e lahff tel 'e is kin lahff no mo'. B'er Wolf, 'e hidin' close; 'e yed B'er Rabbit crackin' 'e joke; 'e is git bery mad.

"Wun B'er Rabbit is gone 'way, B'er Wolf bin-a come back. 'E stan' by da tree root; 'e holler:

"'Granny!—Granny!—O Granny! Jutta cord-la!'

"Granny Rabbit hol' 'e head 'pon one side; 'e lissun good. 'E say:

"'I bery sorry, me son, you bin hab so bad col'. You' v'ice bin-a soun' rough, me son.'

"Dun Granny Rabbit is bin peep down; 'e bin say:

"'Hi! B'er Wolf! Go 'way fum dey-dey. You no is bin fool-a me lak dis. Go 'way, B'er Wolf!'

"B'er Wolf, 'e come bery mad; 'e grin tell 'e tush bin shiuen. 'E go in da swamp; 'e scratch 'e head; 'e t'ink. Bumbye, 'e go bisitin' one Blacksmit', un 'e ahx 'im how kin 'e do fer make 'e v'ce come fine lak B'er Rabbit v'ice. Da Blacksmit', 'e say:

"'Come, B'er Wolf; I run dis red-hot poker in you' t'roat, 'e mekky you talk easy.'

"B'er Wolf say, 'Well, I lak you for mekky me v'ice fine.'

"Dun da Blacksmit' run da red-hot poker in B'er Wolf t'roat, un 'e hu't um so bad, 'tiss-a bin long tam befo' B'er Wolf kin tekky da long walk by da cocoanut tree. Bumbye 'e git so 'e kin come by, un wun 'e git dey-dey, 'e holler:

"'Granny!—Granny!—O Granny! Jutta cord-la!'

"Da v'ice soun' so nice un fine da' Granny Rabbit is bin t'ink 'e B'er Rabbit v'ice, un 'e is bin-a let da bahskit down. B'er Wolf, 'e shekky da cord lak 'e is put some bittle in da bahskit, un dun 'e is bin-a git in 'ese'f. B'er Wolf, 'e keep still. Da Granny Rabbit pull on da cord; 'e do say:

"'Ki! 'e come he'ffy; 'e he'ffy fer true. Me son, 'e love 'e Granny heap.'

"B'er Wolf, 'e do grin; 'e grin, un 'e keep still. Da Granny Rabbit pull; 'e do pull ha'd. 'E pull tel 'e is git B'er Wolf mos' by da top, un dun 'e stop fer res'. B'er Wolf look-a down, 'e head swim; 'e look up, 'e mout' water; 'e look-a down 'g'in, 'e see B'er Rabbit. 'E git skeer, 'e juk on da rope. B'er Rabbit, 'e do holler:

"'Granny!—Granny!—O Granny! Cutta cord-la!'

"Da Granny Rabbit cut da cord, un B'er Wolf is fall down un broke 'e neck."



XLI

AUNT TEMPY'S STORY

The little boy observed that Aunt Tempy was very much interested in Daddy Jack's story. She made no remarks while the old African was telling it, but she was busily engaged in measuring imaginary quilt patterns on her apron with her thumb and forefinger,—a sure sign that her interest had been aroused. When Daddy Jack had concluded—when, with a swift, sweeping gesture of his wrinkled hand, he cut the cord and allowed Brother Wolf to perish ignominiously—Aunt Tempy drew a long breath, and said:

"Dat ar tale come 'cross me des like a dream. Hit put me in mine er one w'at I year w'en I wuz little bit er gal. Look like I kin see myse'f right now, settin' flat down on de h'ath lis'nin' at ole Unk Monk. You know'd ole Unk Monk, Brer Remus. You bleeze ter know'd 'im. Up dar in Ferginny. I 'clar' ter goodness, it make me feel right foolish. Brer Remus, I des know you know'd Unk Monk."

For the first time in many a day the little boy saw Uncle Remus in a serious mood. He leaned forward in his chair, shook his head sadly, as he gazed into the fire.

"Ah, Lord, Sis Tempy!" he exclaimed sorrowfully, "don't less we all go foolin' 'roun' 'mungs' dem ole times. De bes' kinder bread gits sour. W'at's yistiddy wid us wuz 'fo' de worl' begun wid dish yer chile. Dat 's de way I looks at it."

"Dat 's de Lord's trufe, Brer Remus," exclaimed Aunt Tempy with unction, "un I mighty glad you call me ter myse'f. Little mo' un I'd er sot right yer un 'a' gone 'way back to Ferginny, un all on 'count er dat ar tale w'at I year long time ago."

"What tale was that, Aunt Tempy?" asked the little boy.

"Eh-eh, honey!" replied Aunt Tempy, with a display of genuine bashfulness; "eh-eh, honey! I 'fraid you all 'll set up dar un laugh me outer de house. I aint dast ter tell no tale 'long side er Brer Remus un Daddy Jack yer. I 'fraid I git it all mix up."

The child manifested such genuine disappointment that Aunt Tempy relented a little.

"Ef you all laugh, now," she said, with a threatening air, "I'm des gwine ter pick up en git right out er dish yer place. Dey aint ter be no laughin', 'kaze de tale w'at I year in Ferginny aint no laughin' tale."

With this understanding Aunt Tempy adjusted her head-handkerchief, looked around rather sheepishly, as Uncle Remus declared afterwards in confidence to the little boy, and began:

"Well, den, in de times w'en Brer Rabbit un Brer Fox live in de same settlement wid one er 'n'er, de season's tuck'n come wrong. De wedder got hot un den a long dry drouth sot in, un it seem like dat de nat'al leaf on de trees wuz gwine ter tu'n ter powder."

Aunt Tempy emphasized her statements by little backward and forward movements of her head, and the little boy would have laughed, but a warning glance from Uncle Remus prevented him.

"De leaf on de trees look like dey gwine ter tu'n ter powder, un de groun' look like it done bin cookt. All de truck w'at de creeturs plant wuz all parched up, un dey wa'n't no crops made nowhars. Dey dunner w'at ter do. Dey run dis a-way, dey run dat a-way; yit w'en dey quit runnin' dey dunner whar dey bread comin' frun. Dis de way it look ter Brer Fox, un so one day w'en he got a mighty hankerin' atter sumpin' sorter joosy, he meet Brer Rabbit in de lane, un he ax um, sezee:

"'Brer Rabbit, whar'bouts our bread comin' frun?'

"Brer Rabbit, he bow, he did, un answer, sezee:

"'Look like it mought be comin' frun nowhar,' sezee."

"You see dat, honey!" exclaimed Uncle Remus, condescending to give the story the benefit of his patronage; "You see dat! Brer Rabbit wuz allus a-waitin' a chance fer ter crack he jokes."

"Yas, Lord!" Aunt Tempy continued, with considerable more animation; "he joke, un joke, but bimeby, he aint feel like no mo' jokin', un den he up'n say, sezee, dat him un Brer Fox better start out'n take der fammerlies wid um ter town un swap um off for some fresh-groun' meal; un Brer Fox say, sezee, dat dat look mighty fa'r un squar', un den dey tuck'n make dey 'greements.

"Brer Fox wuz ter s'ply de waggin un team, un he promise dat he gwine ter ketch he fammerly un tie um hard un fast wid a red twine string. Brer Rabbit he say, sezee, dat he gwine ter ketch he fammerly un tie um all, un meet Brer Fox at de fork er de road.

"Sho' 'nuff, soon in de mawnin', w'en Brer Fox draw up wid he waggin, he holler 'Wo!' un Brer Rabbit he tuck'n holler back, 'Wo yo'se'f!' un den Brer Fox know dey 'uz all dar. Brer Fox, he tuck'n sot up on de seat, un all er he fammerly, dey wuz a-layin' under de seat. Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n put all he fammerly in de behime een' er de waggin, un he say, sezee, dat he 'speck he better set back dar twel dey git sorter usen ter dey surrounderlings, un den Brer Fox crack he whip, un off dey wen' toze town. Brer Fox, he holler ev'y once in a w'ile, sezee:

"'No noddin' back dar, Brer Rabbit!'

"Brer Rabbit he holler back, sezee:

"'Brer Fox, you miss de ruts en de rocks, un I'll miss de noddin'.'

"But all dat time, bless yo' soul! Brer Rabbit wuz settin' dar ontyin' he ole 'oman un he childun, w'ich dey wuz sev'm uv um. W'en he git um all ontie, Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n h'ist hisse'f on de seat 'long er Brer Fox, un dey sot dar un talk un laugh 'bout de all-sorts er times dey gwine ter have w'en dey git de co'n meal. Brer Fox sez, sezee, he gwine ter bake hoecake; Brer Rabbit sez, sezee, he gwine ter make ashcake.

"Des 'bout dis time one er Brer Rabbit's childun raise hisse'f up easy un hop out de waggin. Miss Fox, she sing out:

"'One frun sev'm Don't leave 'lev'm.'

"Brer Fox hunch he ole 'oman wid he foot fer ter make 'er keep still. Bimeby 'n'er little Rabbit pop up un hop out. Miss Fox say, se' she:

"'One frun six Leaves me less kicks.'

"Brer Fox go on talkin' ter Brer Rabbit, un Brer Rabbit go on talkin' ter Brer Fox, un 't wa'n't so mighty long 'fo' all Brer Rabbit fammerly done pop up un dive out de waggin, un ev'y time one 'ud go Miss Fox she 'ud fit it like she did de yuthers."

"What did she say, Aunt Tempy?" asked the little boy, who was interested in the rhymes.

"Des lemme see—

"'One frun five Leaves four alive;

"'One frun four Leaves th'ee un no mo';

"'One frun th'ee Leaves two ter go free;

"'One frun one, Un all done gone.'"

"What did Brother Rabbit do then?" inquired the little boy.

"Better ax w'at Brer Fox do," replied Aunt Tempy, pleased with the effect of her rhymes. "Brer Fox look 'roun' atter w'ile, un w'en he see dat all Brer Rabbit fammerly done gone, he lean back un holler 'Wo!' un den he say, sezee:

"'In de name er goodness, Brer Rabbit! whar all yo' folks?'

"Brer Rabbit look 'roun', un den he make like he cryin'. He des fa'rly boo-hoo'd, un he say, sezee:

"'Dar now, Brer Fox! I des know'd dat ef I put my po' little childuns in dar wid yo' folks dey'd git e't up. I des know'd it!'

"Ole Miss Fox, she des vow she aint totch Brer Rabbit fammerly. But Brer Fox, he bin wantin' a piece un um all de way, un he begrudge um so dat he git mighty mad wid he ole 'oman un de childuns, un he say, sezee:

"'You kin des make de most er dat, 'kaze I'm a-gwine ter bid you good riddance dis ve'y day'; un, sho' nuff, Brer Fox tuck'n tuck he whole fammerly ter town un trade um off fer co'n.

"Brer Rabbit wuz wid 'em, des ez big ez life un twice ez natchul. Dey start back, dey did, un w'en dey git four er five mile out er town, hit come 'cross Brer Fox min' dat he done come away un lef' a plug er terbacker in de sto', en he say he bleeze ter go back atter it.

"Brer Rabbit, he say, sezee, dat he'll stay en take keer er de waggin, w'ile Brer Fox kin run back un git he terbacker. Soon ez Brer Fox git out er sight, Brer Rabbit laid de hosses under line un lash un drove de waggin home, un put de hosses in he own stable, un de co'n in de smoke-house, un de waggin in de barn, un den he put some co'n in he pocket, un cut de hosses tails off, un went back up de road twel he come ter a quog-mire, un in dat he stick de tails un wait fer Brer Fox.

"Atter w'ile yer he come, un den Brer Rabbit gun ter holler un pull at de tails. He say, sezee:

"'Run yer, Brer Fox! run yer! Youer des in time ef you aint too late. Run yer, Brer Fox! run yer!'

"Brer Fox, he run'd en juk Brer Rabbit away, un say, sezee:

"'Git out de way, Brer Rabbit! You too little! Git out de way, un let a man ketch holt.'

"Brer Fox tuck holt," continued Aunt Tempy, endeavoring to keep from laughing, "un he fetch'd one big pull, un I let you know dat 'uz de onliest pull he make, 'kaze de tails come out un he tu'n a back summerset. He jump up, he did, en 'gun ter grabble in de quog-mire des ez hard ez he kin.

"Brer Rabbit, he stan' by, un drop some co'n in onbeknowns' ter Brer Fox, un dis make 'im grabble wuss un wuss, un he grabble so hard un he grabble so long dat 't wa'n't long 'fo' he fall down dead, un so dat 'uz de las' er ole Brer Fox in dat day un time."

As Aunt Tempy paused, Uncle Remus adjusted his spectacles and looked at her admiringly. Then he laughed heartily.

"I declar', Sis Tempy," he said, after a while, "you gives tongue same ez a lawyer. You'll hatter jine in wid us some mo'."

Aunt Tempy closed her eyes and dropped her head on one side.

"Don't git me started, Brer Remus," she said, after a pause; "'kaze ef you does you'll hatter set up yer long pas' yo' bedtime."

"I b'leeve you, Sis Tempy, dat I does!" exclaimed the old man, with the air of one who has made a pleasing discovery.



XLII

THE FIRE-TEST

"We er sorter bin a-waitin' fer Sis Tempy," Uncle Remus remarked when the little boy made his appearance the next night; "but somehow er n'er look lak she fear'd she hatter up en tell some mo' tales. En yit maybe she bin strucken down wid some kinder ailment. Dey aint no countin' on deze yer fat folks. Dey er up one minnit en down de nex'; en w'at make it dat a-way I be bless ef I know, 'kaze w'en folks is big en fat look lak dey oughter be weller dan deze yer long hongry kinder folks.

"Yit all de same, Brer Jack done come," continued Uncle Remus, "en we ull des slam de do' shet, en ef Sis Tempy come she'll des hatter hol' 'er han's 'fo' 'er face en holler out:

"'Lucky de Linktum, chucky de chin, Open de do' en let me in!'

"Oh, you kin laugh ef you wanter, but I boun' you ef Sis Tempy wuz ter come dar en say de wuds w'at I say, de button on dat ar do' 'ud des nat'ally twis' hitse'f off but w'at 't would let 'er in. Now, I boun' you dat!"

Whatever doubts the child may have had he kept to himself, for experience had taught him that it was useless to irritate the old man by disputing with him. What effect the child's silence may have had in this instance it is impossible to say, for just then Aunt Tempy came in laughing.

"You all kin des say w'at you please," she exclaimed, as she took her seat, "but dat ar Shucky Cordy in de tale w'at Daddy Jack done tole, bin runnin' 'roun' in my min' en zoonin 'in my years all de time."

"Yer too!" exclaimed Uncle Remus, with emphasis. "Dat 's me up en down. Look lak dat ar cricket over dar in de cornder done tuck it up, en now he gwine, 'Shucky-cordy! Shucky-cordy!'"

"Shuh-shuh!" exclaimed Daddy Jack, with vehement contempt, "'e jutta cord-la! 'E no 'shucky-cordy' no'n 't all."

"Well, well, Brer Jack," said Uncle Remus, soothingly, "in deze low groun's er sorrer, you des got ter lean back en make 'lowances fer all sorts er folks. You got ter 'low fer dem dat knows too much same ez dem w'at knows too little. A heap er sayin's en a heap er doin's in dis roun' worl' got ter be tuck on trus'. You got yo' sayin's, I got mine; you got yo' knowin's, en I got mine. Man come 'long en ax me how does de wum git in de scaly-bark.[49] I tell 'im right up en down, I dunno, sir. N'er man come 'long en ax me who raise de row 'twix' de buzzud en de bee-martin.[50] I tell 'im I dunno, sir. Yit, 'kaze I dunno," continued Uncle Remus, "dat don't hender um. Dar dey is, spite er dat,—wum in de scaly-bark, bee-martin atter de buzzud."

"Dat 's so," exclaimed Aunt Tempy, "dat 's de Lord's trufe!"

"Dat ar pullin' at de string," Uncle Remus went on, "en dat ar hollerin' 'bout shucky-cordy"—

"Jutta cord-la!" said Daddy Jack, fiercely.

"'Bout de watsizname," said Uncle Remus, with a lenient and forgiving smile,—"all dish yer hollerin' en gwine on 'bout de watsizname put me in min' er one time w'en Brer Rabbit wuz gwine off fum home fer ter git a mess er green truck.

"W'en Brer Rabbit git ready fer ter go, he call all he chilluns up, en he tell um dat w'en he go out dey mus' fas'n de do' on de inside, en dey mus'n' tu'n nobody in, nohow, 'kaze Brer Fox en Brer Wolf bin layin' 'roun' waitin' chance fer ter nab um. En he tuck'n tole um dat w'en he come back, he'd rap at de do' en sing:

"'I'll stay w'en you away, 'Kaze no gol' will pay toll!'

"De little Rabs, dey hilt up der ban's en promise dat dey won't open de do' fer nobody 'ceppin' dey daddy, en wid dat, Brer Rabbit he tuck'n put out, he did, at a han'-gallop, huntin' sump'n' n'er ter eat. But all dis time, Brer Wolf bin hidin' out behime de house, en he year eve'y wud dat pass, en ole Brer Rabbit wa'n't mo'n out'n sight 'fo' Brer Wolf went ter de do', en he knock, he did,—blip, blip, blip!

"Little Rab holler out, 'Who dat?'

"Brer Wolf he sing:

"'I'll stay w'en you away, 'Kaze no gol' will pay toll!'

"De little Rabs dey laugh fit ter kill deyse'f, en dey up'n 'low:

"'Go 'way, Mr. Wolf, go 'way! You aint none er we-all daddy!'

"Ole Brer Wolf he slunk off, he did, but eve'y time he thunk er dem plump little Rabs, he des git mo' hongry dan befo', en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he 'uz back at de do'—blap, blap, blap!

"Little Rab holler: 'Who dat?'

"Brer Wolf, he up'n sing:

"'I'll stay w'en you away, 'Kaze no gol' will pay toll!'

"De little Rabs dey laugh en roll on de flo', en dey up'n 'low:

"'Go 'way, Mr. Wolf! We-all daddy aint got no bad col' lak dat.'

"Brer Wolf slunk off, but bimeby he come back, en dis time he try mighty hard fer ter talk fine. He knock at de do'—blam, blam, blam!

"Little Rab holler: 'Who dat?'

"Brer Wolf tu'n loose en sing:

"'I'll stay w'en you away, 'Kaze no gol' will pay toll!'

"Little Rab holler back, he did:

"'Go 'way, Mr. Wolf! go 'way! We-all daddy kin sing lots puttier dan dat. Go 'way, Mr. Wolf! go 'way!'

"Brer Wolf he slunk off, he did, en he go 'way out in de woods, en he sing, en sing, twel he kin sing fine ez de nex' man. Den he go back en knock at de do', en w'en de little Rabs ax who dat, he sing dem de song; en he sing so nice, en he sing so fine, dat dey ondo de do', en ole Brer Wolf walk in en gobble um all up, fum de fus' ter de las'.

"W'en ole Brer Rabbit git back home, he fine de do' stannin' wide open en all de chilluns gone. Dey wa'n't no sign er no tussle; de h'a'th 'uz all swep' clean, en eve'ything wuz all ter rights, but right over in de cornder he see a pile er bones, en den he know in reason dat some er de yuther creeturs done bin dar en make hash outen he chilluns.

"Den he go 'roun' en ax um 'bout it, but dey all 'ny it; dey all 'ny it ter de las', en Brer Wolf, he 'ny it wuss'n all un um. Den Brer Rabbit tuck'n lay de case 'fo' Brer Tarrypin. Ole Brer Tarrypin wuz a mighty man in dem days," continued Uncle Remus, with something like a sigh,—"a mighty man, en no sooner is he year de state er de condition dan he up'n call all de creeturs tergedder. He call um tergedder, he did, en den he up'n tell um 'bout how somebody done tuck'n 'stroy all er Brer Rabbit chillun, en he 'low dat de man w'at do dat bleedz ter be kotch, 'kaze ef he aint, dey aint no tellin' how long it'll be 'fo' de same somebody'll come 'long en 'stroy all de chillun in de settlement.

"Brer B'ar, he up'n ax how dey gwine fine 'im, en Brer Tarrypin say dey er allers a way. Den he 'low:

"'Less dig a deep pit.'

"'I'll dig de pit,' sez Brer Wolf, sezee.

"Atter de pit done dug, Brer Tarrypin say:

"'Less fill de pit full er lighter'd knots en bresh.'

"'I'll fill de pit,' sez Brer Wolf, sezee.

"Atter de pit done fill up, Brer Tarrypin say:

"'Now, den, less set it a-fier.'

"'I'll kindle de fier,' sez Brer Wolf, sezee.

"W'en de fier 'gun ter blaze up, Brer Tarrypin 'low dat de creeturs mus' jump 'cross dat, en de man w'at 'stroy Brer Rabbit chilluns will drap in en git bu'nt up. Brer Wolf bin so uppity 'bout diggin', en fillin', en kindlin', dat dey all 'spected 'im fer ter make de fus' trial; but, bless yo' soul en body! Brer Wolf look lak he got some yuther business fer ter 'ten' ter.

"De pit look so deep, en de fier bu'n so high, dat dey mos' all 'fear'd fer ter make de trial, but atter w'ile, Brer Mink 'low dat he aint hunted none er Brer Rabbit chilluns, en wid dat, he tuck runnin' start, en lipt across. Den Brer Coon say he aint hunted um, en over he sailed. Brer B'ar say he feel mo' heavy dan he ever is befo' in all he born days, but he aint hurted none er Brer Rabbit po' little chilluns, en wid dat away he went 'cross de fier. Dey all jump, twel bimeby hit come Brer Wolf time. Den he 'gun ter git skeered, en he mighty sorry 'kaze he dig dat pit so deep en wide, en kindle dat fier so high. He tuck sech a long runnin' start, dat time he git ter de jumpin' place, he 'uz done wo' teetotally out, en he lipt up, he did, en fetch'd a squall en drapt right spang in de middle er de fier."

"Uncle Remus," said the little boy, after a while, "did Brother Terrapin jump over the fire?"

"W'at Brer Tarrypin gwine jump fer?" responded Uncle Remus, "w'en eve'ybody know Tarrypins aint eat Rabbits."

"Well, you know you said everything was different then," said the child.

"Look yer, Brer Jack," exclaimed Uncle Remus, "ef you got any tale on yo' mine, des let 'er come. Dish yer youngster gittin' too long-headed fer me; dat he is."[51]

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

[49] A species of hickory-nut. The tree sheds its bark every year, hence the name, which is applied to both tree and fruit.

[50] The king-bird.

[51] See Uncle Remus: His Songs and his Sayings, p. 79. ———————————————————————————————————



XLIII

THE CUNNING SNAKE

Daddy Jack, thus appealed to, turned half round in his seat, winked his bright little eyes very rapidly, and said, with great animation:

"Hoo! me bin yeddy one sing-tale; me yeddy um so long tam 'go. One tam dere bin one ole Affiky ooman, 'e call 'im name Coomba. 'E go walky troo da woots, 'e walky troo da fiel. Bumbye 'e is bin come 'pon one snake-nes' fill wit' aig. Snake big snake, aig big aig. Affiky oomans is bin want-a dem aig so bahd; 'e 'fraid fer tek um. 'E gone home; 'e is see dem aig in 'e dream, 'e want um so bahd. Wun da nex' day mornin' come, da Affiky oomans say 'e bleeze fer hab dem aig. 'E go 'way, 'e bin-a see da snake-nes', 'e is git-a da aig; 'e fetch um at 'e own house; 'e cook um fer 'e brekwuss.

"Bumbye da snake bin-a come by 'e nes'. Aig done gone. 'E pit 'e nose 'pon da groun', 'e is track da Affiky oomans by 'e own house. Snake come by da Affiky oomans house; 'e ahx 'bout 'e aig. Affiky oomans say 'e no hab bin see no aig. Snake see da skin wut bin 'pon 'e aig; 'e ahx wut is dis. Affiky oomans no say nuttin' 't all. Snake 'e say:

"'Wey fer you come brek up me nes' un tekky me aig?'

"Affiky oomans 'e no say nuttin' 't all. 'E toss 'e head, 'e mek lak 'e no yeddy da snake v'ice, 'e go 'bout 'e wuk. Snake, 'e say:

"'Ooman! you is bin yed me v'ice wun me cry out. You bin tekky me aig; you is bin 'stroy me chillun. Tek keer you' own; tek keer you' own.'

"Snake gone 'way; 'e slick out 'e tongue, 'e slide 'way. Bumbye de Affiky oomans, 'e hab one putty lil pickaninny; 'e lub um ha'd all over. 'E is mine wut da snake say; 'e tote da pickaninny 'roun' 'pon 'e bahck. 'E call um Noncy, 'e tote um fur, 'e lub um ha'd.

"Snake, 'e bin-a stay in da bush-side; 'e watch all day, 'e wait all night; 'e git honkry fer da pickaninny, 'e want um so bahd. 'E bin slick out 'e tongue, 'e bin slide troo da grass, 'e bin hanker fer da pickaninny.

"Bumbye da Affiky oomans tote-a da Noncy til 'e git tire; 'e puff, 'e blow, 'e wuk 'e gill sem lak cat-fish."

Aunt Tempy burst into loud laughter at this remarkable statement.

"Whoever is year de beat er dat!" she exclaimed. "Daddy Jack, you goes on owdashus 'bout de wimmen, dat you does!"

"'E puff, 'e blow, 'e pant; 'e say:

"'Da pickaninny, 'e der git-a big lak one bag rice. 'E der git-a so heffy, me yent mos' know wut fer do. Me yent kin tote um no mo'.'

"Da Affiky oomans is bin-a pit da pickaninny down 'pon da groun'. 'E mek up one sing[52] in 'e head, un 'e l'arn da lilly gal fer answer da sing. 'E do show um how fer pull out da peg in da do'. Snake, 'e is bin lay quile up in da bush; 'e say nuttin' 't all.

"Affiky oomans is l'arn-a da pickaninny fer answer da sing, un wun he sta't fer go off, 'e say:

"Pit da peg in da do' un you no y-open um fer nobody 'cep' you is yeddy me sing.'

"Lil gal, 'e say yassum, un da Affiky oomans gone off. Snake stay still. 'E quile up in 'e quile; 'e yent moof[53] 'e tail. Bumbye, toze night-time, da Affiky oomans come bahck wey 'e lif. 'E stan' by da do'; 'e talk dis sing:

"'Walla walla witto, me Noncy, Walla walla witto, me Noncy, Walla walla witto, me Noncy!'

"'E v'ice 'come finer toze da las' tel 'e do git loud fer true. Da lilly gal, 'e do mek answer lak dis:

"'Andolee! Andoli! Andolo!'

"'E know 'e mammy v'ice, en 'e bin pull out da peg queek. 'E run to 'e mammy; 'e mammy der hung um up. Nex' day, 'e da sem t'ing; two, t'ree, sev'm day, 'e da sem t'ing. Affiky oomans holler da sing; da lilly gal mek answer 'pon turrer side da do'. Snake, 'e lay quile up in da bush. 'E watch da night, 'e lissun da day; 'e try fer l'arn-a da sing; 'e no say nuttin' 't all. Bumbye, one tam wun Affiky oomans bin gone 'way, snake, 'e wait 'til 'e mos' tam fer oomans fer come bahck. 'E gone by da do'; 'e y-open 'e mout'; 'e say:

"'Wullo wullo widdo, me Noncy, Wullo wullo widdo, me Noncy, Wullo wullo widdo, me Noncy!'

"'E try fer mekky 'e v'ice come fine lak da lil gal mammy; 'e der hab one rough place in 'e t'roat, un 'e v'ice come big. Lilly gal no mek answer. 'E no y-open da do'. 'E say:

"'Go 'way fum dey-dey! Me mammy no holler da sing lak dat!'

"Snake, 'e try one, two, t'ree time; 'e yent no use. Lilly gal no y-open da do', 'e no mek answer. Snake 'e slick out 'e tongue un slide 'way; 'e say 'e mus' l'arn-a da sing sho' 'nuff.

"Bumbye, da Affiky oomans come bahck. 'E holler da sing:

"'Walla walla witto, me Noncy, Walla walla witto, me Noncy, Walla walla witto, me Noncy!'

"Lilly gal say: 'Da' me mammy!' 'E answer da sing:

"'Andolee! Andoli! Andolo!'

"Snake, 'e quile up in da chimmerly-corner; 'e hol' 'e bre't' fer lissun; 'e der l'arn-a da sing. Nex' day mornin' da Affiky oomans bin-a gone 'way un lef' da lilly gal all by 'ese'f. All de day long da snake 'e t'ink about da song; 'e say um in 'e min', 'e say um forwud, 'e say um backwud. Bumbye, mos' toze sundown, 'e come at da do'; 'e come, 'e holler da sing:

"'Walla walla witto, me Noncy, Walla walla witto, me Noncy, Walla walla witto, me Noncy!'

"Da lil gal, 'e t'ink-a da snake bin 'e mammy; 'e is answer da sing:

"'Adolee! Andoli! Andolo!'

"'E mek answer lak dat, un 'e y-open da do' queek. 'E run 'pon da snake 'fo' 'e is shum.[54] Snake, 'e bin-a hug da lilly gal mo' sem dun 'e mammy; 'e is twis' 'e tail 'roun' um; 'e is ketch um in 'e quile. Lilly gal 'e holler, 'e squall; 'e squall, 'e holler. Nobody bin-a come by fer yeddy um. Snake 'e 'quees'[55] um tight, 'e no l'em go; 'e 'quees' um tight, 'e swaller um whole; 'e bre'k-a no bone; 'e tekky da lilly gal lak 'e stan'.

"Bumbye da lil mammy come home at 'e house. 'E holler da sing, 'e git-a no answer. 'E come skeer'; 'e v'ice shek, 'e body trimple. 'E lissun, 'e no yeddy no fuss. 'E push de do' y-open, 'e no see nuttin' 't all; da lilly gal gone! Da ooman 'e holler, 'e cry; 'e ahx way 'e lilly gal bin gone; 'e no git no answer. 'E look all 'roun', 'e see way da snake bin-a 'cross da road. 'E holler:

"'Ow, me Lard! da snake bin come swaller me lil Noncy gal. I gwan hunt 'im up; I gwan foller da snake pas' da een' da yet'.'[56]

"'E go in da swamp, 'e cut 'im one cane; 'e come bahck, 'e fine da snake track, un 'e do foller 'long wey 'e lead. Snake 'e so full wit de lilly gal 'e no walk fas'; lil gal mammy, 'e bin mad, 'e go stret 'long. Snake 'e so full wit' da lilly gal, 'e come sleepy. 'E lay down, 'e shed-a 'e y-eye. 'E y-open um no mo'," continued Daddy Jack, moving his head slowly from side to side, and looking as solemn as he could. "Da ooman come 'pon de snake wun 'e bin lay dar 'sleep; 'e come 'pon 'im, un 'e tekky da cane un bre'k 'e head, 'e mash um flat. 'E cut da snake open, 'e fine da lilly gal sem lak 'e bin 'sleep. 'E tek um home, 'e wash um off. Bumbye da lilly gal y-open 'e y-eye, un soon 'e see 'e mammy, 'e answer da sing. 'E say:

"'Andolee! Andoli! Andolo!'"

"Well, well, well!" exclaimed Aunt Tempy, sympathetically. "Un de po' little creetur wuz 'live?"

"Enty!" exclaimed Daddy Jack. No reply could possibly have been more prompt, more emphatic, or more convincing.

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

[52] "'E mek up one sing." She composed a song and taught the child the refrain.

[53] Move; he aint move he tail; he hasn't even moved his tail.

[54] Before he see um.

[55] Squeeze.

[56] Earth. Uncle Remus would say "Yeth." ———————————————————————————————————



XLIV

HOW BROTHER FOX WAS TOO SMART

"Uncle Remus," said the little boy, one night when he found the old man alone, "I don't like these stories where somebody has to stand at the door and sing, do you? They don't sound funny to me."

Uncle Remus crossed his legs, took off his spectacles and laid them carefully on the floor under his chair, and made a great pretence of arguing the matter with the child.

"Now, den, honey, w'ich tale is it w'at you aint lak de mos'?"

The little boy reflected a moment and then replied:

"About the snake swallowing the little girl. I don't see any fun in that. Papa says they have snakes in Africa as big around as his body; and, goodness knows, I hope they won't get after me."

"How dey gwine git atter you, honey, w'en you settin' up yer 'long side er me en de snakes 'way 'cross dar in Affiky?"

"Well, Daddy Jack, he came, and the snakes might come too."

Uncle Remus laughed, more to reassure the child than to ridicule his argument.

"Dem ar snakes aint no water-moccasin, not ez I knows un. Brer Jack bin yer mighty long time, en dey aint no snake foller atter 'im yit."

"Now, Uncle Remus! papa says they have them in shows."

"I 'speck dey is, honey, but who's afear'd er snake stufft wid meal-bran? Not none er ole Miss gran'chillun, sho'!"

"Well, the stories don't sound funny to me."

"Dat mought be, yit deyer funny ter Brer Jack, en dey do mighty well fer ter pass de time. Atter w'ile you'll be a-gwine 'roun' runnin' down ole-Brer Rabbit en de t'er creeturs, en somehow er n'er you'll take'n git ole Remus mix up wid um twel you won't know w'ich one un um you er runnin' down, en let 'lone dat, you won't keer needer. Shoo, honey! you aint de fus' chap w'at I done tole deze yer tales ter."

"Why, Uncle Remus," exclaimed the little boy, in a horrified tone, "I would n't; you know I would n't!"

"Don't tell me!" insisted the old man, "you er outgrowin' me, en you er outgrowin' de tales. Des lak Miss Sally change de lenk er yo' britches, des dat a-way I got ter do w'ence I whirl in en persoo atter de creeturs. Time wuz w'en you 'ud set down yer by dish yer h'a'th, en you'd take'n holler en laugh en clap yo' han's w'en ole Brer Rabbit 'ud kick outen all er he tanglements; but deze times you sets dar wid yo' eyes wide open, en you don't crack a smile. I say it!" Uncle Remus exclaimed, changing his tone and attitude, as if addressing some third person concealed in the room. "I say it! Stidder j'inin' in wid de fun, he'll take'n lean back dar en 'spute 'long wid you des lak grow'd up folks. I'll stick it out dis season, but w'en Chrismus come, I be bless ef I aint gwine ter ax Miss Sally fer my remoovance papers, en I'm gwine ter hang my bundle on my walkin'-cane, en see w'at kinder dirt dey is at de fur een' er de big road."

"Yes!" exclaimed the little boy, triumphantly, "and, if you do, the patter-rollers will get you."

"Well," replied the old man, with a curious air of resignation, "ef dey does, I aint gwine ter do lak Brer Fox did w'en Brer Rabbit showed him de tracks in de big road."

"How did Brother Fox do, Uncle Remus?"

"Watch out, now! Dish yer one er de tales w'at aint got no fun in it."

"Uncle Remus, please tell it."

"Hol' on dar! Dey mought be a snake some'rs in it—one er deze yer meal-bran snakes."

"Please, Uncle Remus, tell it."

The old man never allowed himself to resist the artful pleadings of the little boy. So he recovered his specks from under the chair, looked up the chimney for luck, as he explained to his little partner, and proceeded:

"One day w'en Brer Fox went callin' on Miss Meadows en Miss Motts en de t'er gals, who should he fine settin' up dar but ole Brer Rabbit? Yasser! Dar he wuz, des ez sociable ez you please. He 'uz gwine on wid de gals, en w'en Brer Fox drapt in dey look lak dey wuz mighty tickled 'bout sump'n' n'er Brer Rabbit bin sayin'. Brer Fox, he look sorter jub'ous, he did, des lak folks does w'en dey walks up in a crowd whar de yuthers all a-gigglin'. He tuck'n kotch de dry grins terreckerly. But dey all howdied, en Miss Meadows, she up'n say:

"'You'll des hatter skuse us, Brer Fox, on de 'count er dish yer gigglement. Tooby sho', hit monst'us disperlite fer we-all fer to be gwine on dat a-way; but I mighty glad you come, en I sez ter de gals, s'I, "'Fo' de Lord, gals! dar come Brer Fox, en yer we is a-gigglin' en a-gwine on scan'lous; yit hit done come ter mighty funny pass," s'I, "ef you can't run on en laugh 'fo' home folks," s'I. Dat des 'zactly w'at I say, en I leave it ter ole Brer Rabbit en de gals yer ef 't aint.'

"De gals, dey tuck'n jine in, dey did, en dey make ole Brer Fox feel right splimmy-splammy, en dey all sot dar en run on 'bout dey neighbors des lak folks does deze days. Dey sot dar, dey did, twel atter w'ile Brer Rabbit look out todes sundown, en 'low:

"'Now, den, folks and fr'en's, I bleedz ter say goo' bye. Cloud comin' up out yan, en mos' 'fo' we know it de rain 'll be a-po'in' en de grass 'll be a-growin'.'"

"Why, that's poetry, Uncle Remus!" interrupted the little boy.

"Tooby sho' 't is, honey! tooby sho' 't is. I des let you know Brer Rabbit 'uz a mighty man in dem days. Brer Fox, he see de cloud comin' up, en he up'n 'low he 'speck he better be gittin' 'long hisse'f, 'kaze he aint wanter git he Sunday-go-ter-meetin' cloze wet. Miss Meadows en Miss Motts, en de gals, dey want um ter stay, but bofe er dem ar creeturs 'uz mighty fear'd er gittin' der foots wet, en atter w'ile dey put out.

"W'iles dey 'uz gwine down de big road, jawin' at one er 'n'er, Brer Fox, he tuck'n stop right quick, en 'low:

"'Run yer, Brer Rabbit! run yer! Ef my eye aint 'ceive me yer de signs whar Mr. Dog bin 'long, en mo'n dat dey er right fresh.'

"Brer Rabbit, he sidle up en look. Den he 'low:

"'Dat ar track aint never fit Mr. Dog foot in de roun' worl'. W'at make it mo' bindin',' sezee, 'I done gone en bin 'quainted wid de man w'at make dat track, too long 'go ter talk 'bout,' sezee.

"'Brer Rabbit, please, sir, tell me he name.'

"Brer Rabbit, he laugh lak he makin' light er sump'n' 'n'er.

"'Ef I aint make no mistakes, Brer Fox, de po' creetur w'at make dat track is Cousin Wildcat; no mo' en no less.'

"'How big is he, Brer Rabbit?'

"'He des 'bout yo' heft, Brer Fox.' Den Brer Rabbit make lak he talkin' wid hisse'f. 'Tut, tut, tut! Hit mighty funny dat I should run up on Cousin Wildcat in dis part er de worl'. Tooby sho', tooby sho'! Many en manys de time I see my ole Grandaddy kick en cuff Cousin Wildcat, twel I git sorry 'bout 'im. Ef you want any fun, Brer Fox, right now de time ter git it.'

"Brer Fox up'n ax, he did, how he gwine have any fun. Brer Rabbit, he 'low:

"'Easy 'nuff; des go en tackle ole Cousin Wildcat, en lam 'im 'roun'.'

"Brer Fox, he sorter scratch he year, en 'low:

"'Eh-eh, Brer Rabbit, I fear'd. He track too much lak Mr. Dog.'

"Brer Rabbit des set right flat down in de road, en holler en laugh. He 'low, sezee:

"'Shoo, Brer Fox! Who'd 'a' thunk you 'uz so skeery? Des come look at dish yer track right close. Is dey any sign er claw anywhar's?'

"Brer Fox bleedz ter 'gree dat dey wa'n't no sign er no claw. Brer Rabbit say:

"'Well, den, ef he aint got no claw, how he gwine ter hu't you, Brer Fox?'

"'W'at gone wid he toofs, Brer Rabbit?'

"'Shoo, Brer Fox! Creeturs w'at barks[57] de trees aint gwine bite.'

"Brer Fox tuck'n tuck 'n'er good look at de tracks, en den him en Brer Rabbit put out fer ter foller um up. Dey went up de road, en down de lane, en 'cross de turnip patch, en down a dreen,[58] en up a big gully. Brer Rabbit, he done de trackin', en eve'y time he fine one, he up'n holler:

"'Yer 'n'er track, en no claw dar! Yer 'n'er track, en no claw dar!'

"Dey kep' on en kep' on, twel bimeby dey run up wid de creetur. Brer Rabbit, he holler out mighty biggity:

"'Heyo dar! W'at you doin'?'

"De creetur look 'roun', but he aint sayin' nothin'. Brer Rabbit 'low:

"'Oh, you nee'nter look so sullen! We ull make you talk 'fo' we er done 'long wid you! Come, now! W'at you doin' out dar?'

"De creetur rub hisse'f 'gin' a tree des lak you see deze yer house cats rub 'gin' a cheer, but he aint sayin' nothin'. Brer Rabbit holler:

"'W'at you come pesterin' 'long wid us fer, w'en we aint bin a-pesterin' you? You got de consate dat I dunner who you is, but I does. Youer de same ole Cousin Wildcat w'at my gran'daddy use ter kick en cuff w'en you 'fuse ter 'spon'. I let you know I got a better man yer dan w'at my gran'daddy ever is bin, en I boun' you he ull make you talk. Dat w'at I boun' you.'

"De creetur lean mo' harder 'gin' de tree, en sorter ruffle up he bristle, but he aint sayin' nothin'. Brer Rabbit, he 'low:

"'Go up dar, Brer Fox, en ef he 'fuse ter 'spon' slap 'im down! Dat de way my gran'daddy done. You go up dar, Brer Fox, en ef he dast ter try ter run, I'll des whirl in en ketch 'im.'

"Brer Fox, he sorter jub'ous, but he start todes de creetur. Ole Cousin Wildcat walk all 'roun' de tree, rubbin' hisse'f, but he aint sayin' nothin'. Brer Rabbit, he holler:

"'Des walk right up en slap 'im down, Brer Fox—de owdashus vilyun! Des hit 'im a surbinder, en ef he dast ter run, I boun' you I'll ketch 'im.'

"Brer Fox, he went up little nigher. Cousin Wildcat stop rubbin' on de tree, en sot up on he behime legs wid he front paws in de a'r, en he balance hisse'f by leanin' 'gin' de tree, but he aint sayin' nothin'. Brer Rabbit, he squall out, he did:

"'Oh, you nee'nter put up yo' han's en try ter beg off. Dat de way you fool my ole gran'daddy; but you can't fool we-all. All yo' settin' up en beggin' aint gwine ter he'p you. Ef youer so humble ez all dat, w'at make you come pesterin' longer we-all? Hit 'im a clip, Brer Fox! Ef he run, I'll ketch 'im!'

"Brer Fox see de creetur look so mighty humble, settin' up dar lak he beggin' off, en he sorter take heart. He sidle up todes 'im, he did, en des ez he 'uz makin' ready fer ter slap 'im ole Cousin Wildcat draw'd back en fotch Brer Fox a wipe 'cross de stomach."

Uncle Remus paused here a moment, as if to discover some term strong enough to do complete justice to the catastrophe. Presently he went on:

"Dat ar Cousin Wildcat creetur fotch Brer Fox a wipe 'cross de stomach, en you mought a yeard 'im squall fum yer ter Harmony Grove. Little mo' en de creetur would er to' Brer Fox in two. W'ence de creetur made a pass at 'im, Brer Rabbit knew w'at gwine ter happen, yit all de same he tuck'n holler:

"'Hit 'im ag'in, Brer Fox! Hit 'im ag'in! I'm a-backin' you, Brer Fox! Ef he dast ter run, I'll inabout cripple 'im—dat I will. Hit 'im ag'in!'

"All dis time w'iles Brer Rabbit gwine on dis a-way, Brer Fox, he 'uz a-squattin' down, hol'in' he stomach wid bofe han's en des a-moanin':

"'I'm ruint, Brer Rabbit! I'm ruint! Run fetch de doctor! I'm teetotally ruint!'

"'Bout dat time, Cousin Wildcat, he tuck'n tuck a walk. Brer Rabbit, he make lak he 'stonish' dat Brer Fox is hurted. He tuck'n 'zamin' de place, he did, en he up'n 'low:

"'Hit look lak ter me, Brer Fox, dat dat owdashus vilyun tuck'n struck you wid a reapin'-hook.'

"Wid dat Brer Rabbit lit out fer home, en w'en he git out er sight, he tuck'n shuck he han's des lak cat does w'en she git water on 'er foots, en he tuck'n laugh en laugh twel it make 'im sick fer ter laugh."

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

[57] Gnaws the bark from the trees.

[58] Drain or ditch. ———————————————————————————————————



XLV

BROTHER WOLF GETS IN A WARM PLACE

The little boy thought that the story of how the wildcat scratched Brother Fox was one of the best stories he had ever heard, and he did n't hesitate to say so. His hearty endorsement increased Uncle Remus's good-humor; and the old man, with a broad grin upon his features and something of enthusiasm in his tone, continued to narrate the adventures of Brother Rabbit.

"After Brer Fox git hurted so bad," said Uncle Remus, putting an edge upon his axe with a whetstone held in his hand, "hit wuz a mighty long time 'fo' he could ramble 'roun' en worry ole Brer Rabbit. Der time Cousin Wildcat fetch'd 'im dat wipe 'cross de stomach, he tuck'n lay de blame on Brer Rabbit, en w'en he git well, he des tuck'n juggle wid de yuther creeturs, en dey all 'gree dat dem en Brer Rabbit can't drink out er de same branch, ner walk de same road, ner live in de same settlement, ner go in washin' in de same wash-hole.

"Tooby sho' Brer Rabbit bleedz ter take notice er all dish yer kinder jugglements en gwines on, en he des tuck'n strenken he house, in de neighborhoods er de winders, en den he put 'im up a steeple on top er dat. Yasser! A sho' 'nuff steeple, en he rise 'er up so high dat folks gwine 'long de big road stop en say, 'Hey! W'at kinder meetin'-house dat?'"

The little boy laughed loudly at Uncle Remus's graphic delineation of the astonishment and admiration of the passers-by. The old man raised his head, stretched his eyes, and seemed to be looking over his spectacles right at Brother Rabbit's steeple.

"Folks 'ud stop en ax, but Brer Rabbit aint got time fer ter make no answer. He hammer'd, he nailed, he knock'd, he lamm'd! Folks go by, he aint look up; creeturs come stan' en watch 'im, he aint look 'roun'; wuk, wuk, wuk, from sun-up ter sun-down, twel dat er steeple git done. Den ole Brer Rabbit tuck'n draw long breff, en wipe he forrerd, en 'low dat ef dem t'er creeturs w'at bin atter 'im so long is got any de 'vantage er him, de time done come fer um fer ter show it.

"Wid dat he went en got 'im a snack er sump'n' t' eat, en a long piece er plough-line, en he tole he ole 'oman fer ter put a kittle er water on de fire, en stan' 'roun' close by, en eve'yt'ing he tell 'er not ter do, dat de ve'y t'ing she sho'ly mus' do. Den ole Brer Rabbit sot down in he rockin'-cheer en lookt out fum de steeple fer ter see how de lan' lay.

"'T wa'n't long 'fo' all de creeturs year talk dat Brer Rabbit done stop wuk, en dey 'gun ter come 'roun' fer ter see w'at he gwine do nex'. But Brer Rabbit, he got up dar, he did, en smoke he seegyar, en chaw he 'backer, en let he min' run on. Brer Wolf, he stan' en look up at de steeple, Brer Fox, he stan' en look up at it, en all de t'er creeturs dey done de same. Nex' time you see a crowd er folks lookin' at sump'n' right hard, you des watch um, honey. Dey'll walk 'roun' one er 'n'er en swap places, en dey'll be constant on de move. Dat des de way de creeturs done. Dey walk 'roun' en punch one er 'n'er en swap places, en look en look. Ole Brer Rabbit, he sot up dar, he did, en chaw he 'backer, en smoke he seegyar, en let he min' run on.

"Bimeby ole Brer Tarrypin come 'long, en ole Brer Tarrypin bin in cohoots wid Brer Rabbit so long dat he des nat'ally know dey wuz gwine ter be fun er plenty 'roun' in dem neighborhoods 'fo' de sun go down. He laugh 'way down und' de roof er he house, ole Brer Tarrypin did, en den he hail Brer Rabbit:

"'Heyo, Brer Rabbit! W'at you doin' 'way up in de elements lak dat?'

"'I'm a-sojourneyin' up yer fer ter res' myse'f, Brer Tarrypin. Drap up en see me.'

"''Twix' you en me, Brer Rabbit, de drappin' 's all one way. S'posin' you tu'n loose en come. Man live dat high up bleedz ter have wings. I aint no high-flyer myse'f. I fear'd ter shake han's wid you so fur off, Brer Rabbit.'

"'Not so, Brer Tarrypin, not so. My sta'rcase is a mighty limbersome one, en I'll des let it down ter you.'

"Wid dat, Brer Rabbit let down de plough-line.

"'Des ketch holt er dat, Brer Tarrypin,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'en up you comes, linktum sinktum binktum boo!' sezee."

"What was that, Uncle Remus?" said the little boy, taking a serious view of the statement.

"Creetur talk, honey—des creetur talk. Bless yo' soul, chile!" the old man went on, with a laughable assumption of dignity, "ef you think I got time fer ter stop right short off en stribbit[59] out all I knows, you er mighty much mistaken—mighty much mistaken.

"Ole Brer Tarrypin know mighty well dat Brer Rabbit aint got nothin' 'gin' 'im, yet he got sech a habit er lookin' out fer hisse'f dat he tuck'n ketch de plough-line in he mouf, he did, en try de strenk un it. Ole Brer Rabbit, he holler 'Swing on, Brer Tarrypin!' en Brer Tarrypin, he tuck'n swung on, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he 'uz settin' up dar side er Brer Rabbit.

"But I wish ter goodness you'd 'a' bin dar," continued Uncle Remus, very gracefully leaving it to be inferred that he was there; "I wish ter goodness you'd 'a' bin dar so you could er seed ole Brer Tarrypin w'iles Brer Rabbit 'uz haulin' 'im up, wid he tail a-wigglin' en he legs all spraddled out, en him a-whirlin' 'roun' en 'roun' en lookin' skeer'd.

"De t'er creeturs dey see Brer Tarrypin go up safe en soun', en dey see de vittles passin' 'roun', en dey 'gun ter feel lak dey wanter see de inside er Brer Rabbit steeple. Den Brer Wolf, he hail 'im:

"'Heyo dar, Brer Rabbit! Youer lookin' mighty scrumptious way up dar! How you come on?'

"Brer Rabbit, he look down, he did, en he see who 't is hollerin', en he 'spon':

"'Po'ly, mighty po'ly, but I thank de Lord I'm able to eat my 'lowance.[60] Won't you drap up, Brer Wolf?'

"'Hit 's a mighty clumsy journey fer ter make, Brer Rabbit, yit I don't keer ef I does.'

"Wid dat, Brer Rabbit let down de plough-line, en Brer Wolf kotch holt, en dey 'gun ter haul 'im up. Dey haul en dey haul, en w'en Brer Wolf git mos' ter de top he year Brer Rabbit holler out:

"'Stir 'roun', ole 'oman, en set de table; but 'fo' you do dat, fetch de kittle fer ter make de coffee.'

"Dey haul en dey haul on de plough-line, en Brer Wolf year Brer Rabbit squall out:

"'Watch out dar, ole 'oman! You'll spill dat b'ilin' water on Brer Wolf!'

"En, bless yo' soul!" continued Uncle Remus, turning half around in his chair to face his enthusiastic audience of one, "dat 'uz 'bout all Brer Wolf did year, 'kaze de nex' minit down come de scaldin' water, en Brer Wolf des fetch one squall en turn't hisse'f aloose, en w'en he strak de groun' he bounce des same ez one er deze yer injun-rubber balls w'at you use ter play wid 'long in dem times 'fo' you tuck'n broke yo' mammy lookin'-glass. Ole Brer Rabbit, he lean fum out de steeple en 'pollygize de bes' he kin, but no 'pollygy aint gwine ter make ha'r come back whar de b'ilin' water hit."

"Did they spill the hot water on purpose, Uncle Remus?" the little boy inquired.

"Now, den, honey, youer crowdin' me. Dem ar creeturs wuz mighty kuse—mo' speshually Brer Rabbit. W'en it come down ter dat," said Uncle Remus, lowering his voice and looking very grave, "I 'speck ef youder s'arch de country fum hen-roost to river-bank,[61] you won't fine a no mo' kuser man dan Brer Rabbit. All I knows is dat Brer Rabbit en Brer Tarrypin had a mighty laughin' spell des 'bout de time Brer Wolf hit de groun'."

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

[59] Distribute.

[60] Allowance; ration.

[61] Based on a characteristic negro saying. For instance: "Where's Jim?" "You can't keep up wid dat nigger. Des let night come, en he's runnin' fum hen-roost to river-bank." In other words, stealing chickens and robbing fish baskets. ———————————————————————————————————



XLVI

BROTHER WOLF STILL IN TROUBLE

"En still we er by ourse'fs," exclaimed Uncle Remus, as the little boy ran into his cabin, the night after he had heard the story of how Brother Rabbit scalded Brother Wolf. "We er by ourse'fs en time's a-passin'. Dem ar folks dunner w'at dey er missin'. We er des gittin' ter dat p'int whar we kin keep de run er creeturs, en it keeps us dat busy we aint got time fer ter bolt our vittles skacely.

"I done tell you 'bout Brer Rabbit makin' 'im a steeple; but I aint tell you 'bout how Brer Rabbit got ole Brer Wolf out'n er mighty bad fix."

"No," said the little boy, "you have n't, and that's just what I have come for now."

Uncle Remus looked at the rafters, then at the little boy, and finally broke into a loud laugh.

"I 'clar' ter goodness," he exclaimed, addressing the imaginary third person to whom he related the most of his grievances, "I 'clar' ter goodness ef dat ar chile aint gittin' so dat he's eve'y whit ez up-en-spoken ez w'at ole Miss ever bin. Dat he is!"

The old man paused long enough to give the little boy some uneasiness, and then continued:

"Atter ole Brer Wolf git de nat'al hide tuck off'n 'im on de 'count er Brer Rabbit kittle, co'se he hatter go 'way off by hisse'f fer ter let de ha'r grow out. He 'uz gone so long dat Brer Rabbit sorter 'low ter hisse'f dat he 'speck he kin come down out'n he steeple, en sorter rack 'roun' mungs de t'er creeturs.

"He sorter primp up, Brer Rabbit did, en den he start out 'pun he journeys hether en yan.[62] He tuck'n went ter de crossroads, en dar he stop en choose 'im a road. He choose 'im a road, he did, en den he put out des lak he bin sent fer in a hurry.

"Brer Rabbit gallop on, he did, talkin' en laughin' wid hisse'f, en eve'y time he pass folks, he'd tu'n it off en make lak he singin'. He 'uz gwine on dis a-way, w'en fus' news you know he tuck'n year sump'n'. He stop talkin' en 'gun ter hum a chune, but he aint meet nobody. Den he stop en lissen en he year sump'n' holler:

"'O Lordy! Lordy! Won't somebody come he'p me?'"

The accent of grief and despair and suffering that Uncle Remus managed to throw into this supplication was really harrowing.

"Brer Rabbit year dis, en he stop en lissen. 'T wa'n't long 'fo' sump'n' n'er holler out:

"'O Lordy, Lordy! Please, somebody, come en he'p me.'

"Brer Rabbit, he h'ist up he years, he did, en make answer back:

"'Who is you, nohow, en w'at de name er goodness de marter?'

"'Please, somebody, do run yer!'

"Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n stan' on th'ee legs fer ter make sho' er gittin' a good start ef dey 'uz any needs un it, en he holler back:

"'Whar'bouts is you, en how come you dar?'

"'Do please, somebody, run yer en he'p a po' mizerbul creetur. I'm down yer in de big gully und' dish yer great big rock.'

"Ole Brer Rabbit bleedz ter be mighty 'tickler in dem days, en he crope down ter de big gully en look in, en who de name er goodness you 'speck he seed down dar?"

Uncle Remus paused and gave the little boy a look of triumph, and then proceeded without waiting for a reply:

"Nobody in de roun' worl' but dat ar ole Brer Wolf w'at Brer Rabbit done bin scalted de week 'fo' dat. He 'uz layin' down dar in de big gully, en, bless gracious! 'pun top un 'im wuz a great big rock, en ef you want ter know de reason dat ar great big rock aint teetotally kilt Brer Wolf, den you'll hatter ax some un w'at know mo' 'bout it dan w'at I does, 'kaze hit look lak ter me dat it des oughter mash 'im flat.

"Yit dar he wuz, en let 'lone bein' kilt, he got strenk 'nuff lef' fer ter make folks year 'im holler a mile off, en he holler so lonesome dat it make Brer Rabbit feel mighty sorry, en no sooner is he feel sorry dan he hol' he coat-tails out de way en slid down de bank fer ter see w'at he kin do.

"W'en he git down dar Brer Wolf ax 'im please, sir, kin he he'p 'im wid de removance er dat ar rock, en Brer Rabbit 'low he 'speck he kin; en wid dat Brer Wolf holler en tell 'im fer mussy sake won't he whirl in en do it, w'ich Brer Rabbit tuck'n ketch holt er de rock en hump hisse'f, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he git a purchis on it, en, bless yo' soul, he lif' 'er up des lak nigger at de log-rollin'.

"Hit tu'n out dat Brer Wolf aint hurted much, en w'en he fine dis out, he tuck'n tuck a notion dat ef he ev' gwine git he revengeance out'n Brer Rabbit, right den wuz de time, en no sooner does dat come 'cross he min' dan he tuck'n grab Brer Rabbit by de nap er de neck en de small er de back.

"Brer Rabbit he kick en squeal, but 't aint do no manner er good, 'kaze de mo' w'at he kick de mo' tighter Brer Wolf clamp 'im, w'ich he squoze 'im so hard dat Brer Rabbit wuz fear'd he 'uz gwine ter cut off he breff. Brer Rabbit, he 'low:

"'Well, den, Brer Wolf! Is dish yer de way you thanks folks fer savin' yo' life?'

"Brer Wolf grin big, en den he up'n 'low:

"'I'll thank you, Brer Rabbit, en den I'll make fresh meat out'n you.'

"Brer Rabbit 'low, he did:

"'Ef you talk dat a-way, Brer Wolf, I never is to do yer 'n'er good turn w'iles I live.'

"Brer Wolf, he grin some mo' en 'low:

"'Dat you won't, Brer Rabbit, dat you won't! You won't do me no mo' good turn tel you er done dead.'

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

"'Whar I come fum, Brer Wolf, hit 's agin' de law fer folks fer to kill dem w'at done done um a good turn, en I 'speck hit 's de law right 'roun' yer.'

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse