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Nights With Uncle Remus - Myths and Legends of the Old Plantation
by Joel Chandler Harris
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"Brer Wolf say he aint so mighty sho' 'bout dat. Brer Rabbit say he willin' fer ter lef' de whole case wid Brer Tarrypin, en Brer Wolf say he 'gree'ble.

"Wid dat, dey put out, dey did, en make der way ter whar ole Brer Tarrypin stay; en w'en dey git dar, Brer Wolf he tuck'n tell he side, en den Brer Rabbit he tuck'n tell he side. Ole Brer Tarrypin put on he specks en cle'r up he th'oat, en den he 'low:

"'Dey's a mighty heap er mixness in dish yer 'spute, en 'fo' I kin take any sides you'll des hatter kyar me fer ter see de place whar'bouts Brer Wolf wuz w'en Brer Rabbit foun' 'im,' sezee.

"Sho' 'nuff, dey tuck'n kyar'd ole Brer Tarrypin down de big road twel dey come ter de big gully, en den dey tuck 'im ter whar Brer Wolf got kotch und' de big rock. Ole Brer Tarrypin, he walk 'roun', he did, en poke at de place wid de een' er he cane. Bimeby he shuck he head, he did, en 'low:

"'I hates might'ly fer ter put you all gents ter so much trouble; yit, dey aint no two ways, I'll hatter see des how Brer Wolf was kotch, en des how de rock wuz layin' 'pun top un 'im,' sezee. 'De older folks gits, de mo' trouble dey is,' sezee, 'en I aint 'nyin' but w'at I'm a-ripenin' mo' samer dan a 'simmon w'at's bin strucken wid de fros',' sezee.



"Den Brer Wolf, he tuck'n lay down whar he wuz w'en Brer Rabbit foun' 'im, en de yuthers dey up'n roll de rock 'pun top un 'im. Dey roll de rock 'pun 'im," continued Uncle Remus, looking over his spectacles to see what effect the statement had on the little boy, "en dar he wuz. Brer Tarrypin, he walk all 'roun' en 'roun', en look at 'im. Den he sot down, he did, en make marks in de san' wid he cane lak he studyin' 'bout sump'n' n'er. Bimeby, Brer Wolf, he open up:

"'Ow, Brer Tarrypin! Dish yer rock gittin' mighty heavy!'

"Brer Tarrypin, he mark in de san', en study, en study. Brer Wolf holler:

"'Ow, Brer Tarrypin! Dish yer rock mashin' de breff out'n me.'

"Brer Tarrypin, he r'ar back, he did, en he 'low, sezee:

"'Brer Rabbit, you wuz in de wrong. You aint had no business fer ter come bodderin' 'longer Brer Wolf w'en he aint bodderin' 'longer you. He 'uz 'ten'in' ter he own business en you oughter bin 'ten'in' ter yone.'

"Dis make Brer Rabbit look 'shame' er hisse'f, but Brer Tarrypin talk right erlong:

"'W'en you 'uz gwine down dish yer road dis mawnin', you sho'ly mus' bin a-gwine som'ers. Ef you wuz gwine som'ers you better be gwine on. Brer Wolf, he wa'n't gwine nowhars den, en he aint gwine nowhars now. You foun' 'im und' dat ar rock, en und' dat ar rock you lef 'im.'

"En, bless gracious!" exclaimed Uncle Remus, "dem ar creeturs racked off fum dar en lef' ole Brer Wolf und' dat ar rock."

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

[62] Hither and yon. ———————————————————————————————————



XLVII

BROTHER RABBIT LAYS IN HIS BEEF SUPPLY

"I wonder where Daddy Jack is," said the little boy, one night after he had been waiting for some time for Uncle Remus to get leisure to tell him a story.

Uncle Remus, who was delightfully human in his hypocrisy, as well as in other directions, leaned back in his chair, looked at the little boy with an air of grieved resignation, and said:

"I boun' you does, honey, I boun' you does. Ole Brer Jack look mighty weazly ter de naked eye, but I lay he's a lots mo' likelier nigger dan w'at ole Remus is. De time done gone by w'en a po' ole no-'count nigger lak me kin hol' he han' wid a bran new nigger man lak Brer Jack."

The child stared at Uncle Remus with open-eyed astonishment.

"Now, Uncle Remus! I did n't mean that; you know I did n't," he exclaimed.

"Bless yo' heart, honey! hit don't pester me. I done got de speunce un it. Dat I is. Plough-hoss don't squeal en kick w'en dey puts 'n'er hoss in he place. Brer Jack got de age on 'im but he new ter you. Ole er young, folks is folks, en no longer'n day 'fo' yistiddy, I year you braggin' 'bout how de vittles w'at dey feeds you on up at de big house aint good ez de vittles w'at yuther childun gits. Nummine ole Remus, honey; you en Brer Jack des go right erlong en I'll be much 'blige ef you'll des lemme set in de cornder yer en chunk de fier. Sho'ly I aint pas' doin' dat."

The child was troubled to think that Uncle Remus should find it necessary to depreciate himself, and he made haste to explain his position.

"I thought that if Daddy Jack was here he could tell me a story while you are working, so you would n't be bothered."

A broad grin of appreciation spread over Uncle Remus's face. He adjusted his spectacles, looked around and behind him, and then, seeing no one but the child, addressed himself to the rafters and cobwebs:

"Well! well! well! ef dish yer don't beat all! Gentermens! dish yer little chap yer, he puny in de legs, yit he mighty strong in de head."

He paused, as if reflecting over the whole matter, and then turned to the child:

"Is dat w'at make you hone atter Daddy Jack, honey—des 'kaze you wanter set back dar en lissen at a tale? Now, den, ef you had n't 'a' got me off'n de track, you'd 'a' bin settin' yer lis'nen at one un um dis blessid minnit, 'kaze des time I year talk dat Mars John gwine ter have dat ar long-hornded steer kilt fer beef, hit come 'cross my min' 'bout de time w'ence Brer Rabbit en Brer Fox j'ined in wid one er 'n'er en kilt a cow."

"Killed a cow, Uncle Remus?"

"Des ez sho' ez youer settin' dar," replied the old man with emphasis. "Look lak dey wa'n't no kinder doin's w'at dem ar creeturs wa'n't up ter, mo' speshually ole Brer Rabbit. Day in en day out, fum mawnin' twel night en fum night twel mawnin', he 'uz constant a-studyin' up some bran new kinder contrapshun fer ter let de yuther creeturs know he 'uz some'rs in de neighborhoods.

"Come down ter dat, you kin b'leeve me er not b'leeve me, des ez you er min' ter; you kin take yo' choosement; but ole Brer Rabbit en ole Brer Fox, spite er dey fallin' out, dey tuck'n go inter cahoots en kilt a cow. Seem lak I disremember who de cow b'long ter," continued the old man, frowning thoughtfully, and thus, by a single stroke, imparting an air of reality to the story; "but she sho'ly b'long'd ter some er de neighbors, 'kaze you kin des put it down, right pine-blank, dat Brer Rabbit aint gwine ter kill he own cow, en needer is Brer Fox.

"Well, den, dey tuck'n kilt a cow, en 't wa'n't dey own cow, en alter dey done skunt 'er Brer Rabbit, he up'n 'low, he did, dat ef Brer Fox wanter git de good er de game, he better run home en fetch a tray er sump'n fer put de jiblets in."

"Jiblets, Uncle Remus?"

"Tooby sho', honey. Dats w'at we-all calls de liver, de lights, de heart, en de melt. Some calls um jiblets en some calls um hasletts, but ef you'll lemme take um en kyar um home, you kin des up en call um mos' by any name w'at creep inter yo' min'. You do de namin'," the old man went on, smacking his lips suggestively, "en I'll do de eatin', en ef I'm de loser, I boun' you won't year no complaints fum me.

"But, law bless me! w'at is I'm a-doin'? De time's a-passin', en I'm aint skacely got start on de tale. Dey kilt de cow, dey did, en Brer Rabbit tell Brer Fox 'bout de jiblets, en w'iles Brer Fox gwine on home atter de bucket fer ter put um in, he say ter hisse'f dat Brer Rabbit aint bad ez he crackt up ter be. But no sooner is Brer Fox outer sight dan Brer Rabbit cut out de jiblets, he did, en kyar'd um off en hide um. Den he come back en tuck a piece er de meat en drap blood 'way off de udder way.

"Bimeby yer come Brer Fox wid he bucket, en w'en he git dar Brer Rabbit wuz settin' down cryin'. Mon, he 'uz des a-boohoo-in'. Brer Fox, he 'low:

"'Name er goodness, Brer Rabbit! w'at de marter?'

"''Nuff de marter—'nuff de marter. I wish you'd 'a' stayed yer w'iles you wuz yer—dat I does, Brer Fox!'

"'How come, Brer Rabbit,—how come?'

"'Man come, Brer Fox, en stole all yo' nice jiblets. I bin a-runnin' atter 'im, Brer Fox, but he outrun me.'

"'W'ich a-way he go, Brer Rabbit?'

"'Yer de way he went, Brer Fox; yer whar he drap de blood. Ef you be right peart, Brer Fox, you'll ketch 'im.'

"Brer Fox he drapt de bucket, he did, en put out atter de man w'at tuck de jiblets, en he wa'n't out'n sight good, 'fo' ole Brer Rabbit sail in en cut out all de fat en taller, en kyar' it off en hide it. Atter w'ile, yer come Brer Fox back des a-puffin' en a-pantin'. He aint see no man. Brer Rabbit, he hail 'im:

"'You aint come a minnit too soon, Brer Fox, dat you aint. W'iles you bin gone 'n'er man come 'long en kyar'd off all de taller en fat. He went right off dat a-way, Brer Fox, en ef you'll be right peart, you'll ketch 'im.'

"Brer Fox, he tuck'n put out, he did, en run, en run, yit he aint see no man. W'iles he done gone Brer Rabbit kyar off one er de behime quarters. Brer Fox come back; he aint see no man. Brer Rabbit holler en tell 'im dat 'ne'r man done come en got a behime quarter en run'd off wid it.

"Brer Fox sorter study 'bout dis, 'kaze it look lak nobody yuver see de like er mens folks passin' by dat one lonesome cow. He make out he gwine ter run atter de man w'at steal de behime quarter, but he aint git fur 'fo' he tuck'n tu'n 'roun' en crope back, en he 'uz des in time fer ter see Brer Rabbit makin' off wid de yuther behime quarter. Brer Fox mighty tired wid runnin' hether en yan, en backards en forrerds, but he git so mad w'en he see Brer Rabbit gwine off dat a-way, dat he dash up en ax 'im whar is he gwine wid dat ar beef.

"Brer Rabbit lay de beef down, he did, en look lak he feelin's hurted. He look at Brer Fox lak he feel mighty sorry fer folks w'at kin ax foolish questions lak dat. He shake he head, he did, en 'low:

"'Well, well, well! Who'd 'a' thunk dat Brer Fox would 'a' come axin' me 'bout dish yer beef, w'ich anybody would er know'd I 'uz a-kyar'n off fer ter save fer 'im, so nobody could n't git it?'

"But dish yer kinder talk don't suit Brer Fox, en he tuck'n make a motion 'zef[63] ter ketch Brer Rabbit, but Brer Rabbit he 'gun 'im leg bail, en dar dey had it thoo de woods twel Brer Rabbit come 'pon a holler tree, en inter dat he went, des lak one er deze streaked lizzuds goes inter a hole in de san'."

"And then," said the little boy, as Uncle Remus paused, "along came Brother Buzzard, and Brother Fox set him to watch the hole, and Brother Rabbit said he had found a fat squirrel which he would run out on the other side; and then he came out and ran home."

This was the climax of a story that Uncle Remus had told a long time before, and he looked at his little partner with astonishment not unmixed with admiration.

"I 'clar' ter gracious, honey!" he exclaimed, "ef you hol's on ter yo' pra'rs lak you does ter deze yer tales youer doin' mighty well. But don't you try ter hol' Brer Rabbit down ter one trick, you won't never keep up wid 'im in de 'roun' worl'—dat you won't.

"Ole Brer Buzzard wuz dar, en Brer Fox ax 'im fer ter watch de hole, but he aint bin dar long 'fo' Brer Rabbit sing out:

"'I got de 'vantage un you, dis whet, Brer Buzzard, I sho'ly is.'

"'How dat, Brer Rabbit?'

"''Kaze I kin see you, en you can't see me.'

"Wid dat Brer Buzzard stuck he head in de hole, en look up; en no sooner is he do dis dan Brer Rabbit fill he eyes full er san', en w'iles he gone ter de branch fer ter wash it out, Brer Rabbit he come down outer de holler, en went back ter whar de cow wuz; en mo' dan dat, Brer Rabbit got de ballunce un de beef."

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

[63] As if. ———————————————————————————————————



XLVIII

BROTHER RABBIT AND MR. WILDCAT

"Uncle Remus," said the little boy, after a pause, "where did Brother Rabbit go when he got out of the hollow tree?"

"Well, sir," exclaimed Uncle Remus, "you aint gwine ter b'leeve me, skacely, but dat owdashus creetur aint no sooner git out er dat ar tree dan he go en git hisse'f mix up wid some mo' trouble, w'ich he git mighty nigh skeer'd out'n he skin.

"W'en Brer Rabbit git out'n de holler tree, he tuck'n fling some sass back at ole Brer Buzzard, he did, en den he put out down de big road, stidder gwine 'long back home en see 'bout he fambly. He 'uz gwine 'long—lickety-clickety, clickety-lickety—w'en fus' news you know he feel sump'n' 'n'er drap down 'pun 'im, en dar he wuz. Bless yo' soul, w'en Brer Rabbit kin git he 'membunce terge'er, he feel ole Mr. Wildcat a-huggin' 'im fum behime, en w'ispun in he year."

"What did he whisper, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy.

"Dis, dat, en de udder, one thing en a nudder."

"But what did he say?"

"De way un it wuz dis," said Uncle Remus, ignoring the child's question, "Brer Rabbit, he 'uz gallin'-up down de road, en ole Mr. Wildcat, he 'uz layin' stretch' out takin' a nap on a tree-lim' hangin' 'crosst de road. He year Brer Rabbit come a-lickity-clickitin' down de road, en he des sorter fix hisse'f, en w'en Brer Rabbit come a-dancin' und' de lim', all Mr. Wildcat got ter do is ter drap right down on 'im, en dar he wuz. Mr. Wildcat hug 'im right up at 'im, en laugh en w'isper in he year."

"Well, Uncle Remus, what did he say?" persisted the little boy.

The old man made a sweeping gesture with his left hand that might mean everything or nothing, and proceeded to tell the story in his own way.

"Ole Mr. Wildcat hug Brer Rabbit up close en w'isper in he year. Brer Rabbit, he kick, he squall. Bimeby he ketch he breff en 'low:

"'Ow! O Lordy-lordy! W'at I done gone en done now?'

"Mr. Wildcat, he rub he wet nose on Brer Rabbit year, en make cole chill run up he back. Bimeby he say:

"'O Brer Rabbit, I des nat'ally loves you! You bin a-foolin' all er my cousins en all er my kinfolks, en 't aint bin so mighty long sence you set Cousin Fox on me, en little mo' en I'd a-to' 'im in two. O Brer Rabbit! I des nat'ally loves you,' sezee.

"Den he laugh, en he toofs strak terge'er right close ter Brer Rabbit year. Brer Rabbit, he 'low, he did:

"Law, Mr. Wildcat, I thunk maybe you mought lak ter have Brer Fox fer supper, en dat de reason I sent 'im up ter whar you is. Hit done come ter mighty purty pass w'en folks can't be fr'en's 'ceppin' sump'n' 'n'er step in 'twix' en 'tween um, en ef dat de case I aint gwine ter be fr'en's no mo'—dat I aint.'

"Mr. Wildcat wipe he nose on Brer Rabbit year, en he do sorter lak he studyin'. Brer Rabbit he keep on talkin'. He 'low:

"'Endurin' er all dis time, is I ever pester 'long wid you, Mr. Wildcat?'

"'No, Brer Rabbit, I can't say ez you is.'

"'No, Mr. Wildcat, dat I aint. Let 'lone dat, I done my level bes' fer ter he'p you out. En dough you done jump on me en skeer me scan'lous, yit I'm willin' ter do you 'n'er good tu'n. I year some wild turkeys yelpin' out yan', en ef you'll des lem me off dis time, I'll go out dar en call um up, en you kin make lak you dead, en dey'll come up en stretch dey neck over you, en you kin jump up en kill a whole passel un um 'fo' dey kin git out de way.'



"Mr. Wildcat stop en study, 'kaze ef dey er one kinder meat w'at he lak dat meat is turkey meat. Den he tuck'n ax Brer Rabbit is he jokin'. Brer Rabbit say ef he 'uz settin' off some'rs by he own-'lone se'f he mought be jokin', but how de name er goodness is he kin joke w'en Mr. Wildcat got 'im hug up so tight? Dis look so pleezy-plozzy[64] dat 't wa'n't long 'fo' Mr. Wildcat 'low dat he 'uz mighty willin' ef Brer Rabbit mean w'at he say, en atter w'ile, bless yo' soul, ef you'd 'a' come 'long dar, you'd er seed ole Mr. Wildcat layin' stretch out on de groun' lookin' fer all de wul' des lak he done bin dead a mont', en you'd er yeard ole Brer Rabbit a-yelpin' out in de bushes des lak a sho' 'nuff tukky-hen."

The little boy was always anxious for a practical demonstration, and he asked Uncle Remus how Brother Rabbit could yelp like a turkey-hen. For reply, Uncle Remus searched upon his rude mantel-piece until he found a reed, which he intended to use as a pipe-stem. One end of this he placed in his mouth, enclosing the other in his hands. By sucking the air through the reed with his mouth, and regulating the tone and volume by opening or closing his hands, the old man was able to produce a marvellous imitation of the call of the turkey-hen, much to the delight and astonishment of the little boy.

"Ah, Lord!" exclaimed Uncle Remus, after he had repeated the call until the child was satisfied, "manys en manys de time is I gone out in de woods wid old marster 'fo' de crack er day en call de wile turkeys right spang up ter whar we could er kilt um wid a stick. W'en we fus' move yer fum Ferginny, dey use ter come right up ter whar de barn sets, en mo'n dat I done seed ole marster kill um right out dar by de front gate. But folks fum town been comin' 'roun' yer wid der p'inter dogs twel hit done got so dat ef you wanter see turkey track you gotter go down dar ter de Oconee, en dat 's two mile off."

"Did the Wildcat catch the turkeys?" the little boy inquired, when it seemed that Uncle Remus was about to give his entire attention to his own reminiscences.

"De gracious en de goodness!" exclaimed the old man. "Yer I is runnin' on en dar lays Mr. Wildcat waitin' fer Brer Rabbit fer ter help dem turkeys up. En 't aint take 'im long nudder, 'kaze, bless yo' soul, ole Brer Rabbit wuz a yelper, mon.

"Sho' 'nuff, atter w'ile yer dey come, ole Brer Gibley Gobbler wukkin' in de lead. Brer Rabbit, he run'd en meet um en gun um de wink 'bout ole Mr. Wildcat, en by de time dey git up ter whar he layin', Brer Gibley Gobbler en all his folks wuz jined in a big 'spute. One 'low he dead, 'n'er one 'low he aint, 'n'er one 'low he stiff, udder one 'low he aint, en t'udder 'low he is. So dar dey had it. Dey stretch out dey neck en step high wid dey foot, yit dey aint git too close ter Mr. Wildcat.

"He lay dar, he did, en he aint move. Win' ruffle up he ha'r, yit he aint move; sun shine down 'pun 'im, yit he aint move. De turkeys dey gobble en dey yelp, but dey aint go no nigher; dey holler en dey 'spute, but dey aint go no nigher; dey stretch dey neck en dey lif' dey foot high, yit dey aint go no nigher.

"Hit keep on dis a-way, twel bimeby Mr. Wildcat git tired er waitin', en he jump up, he did, en make a dash at de nighest turkey; but dat turkey done fix, on w'en Mr. Wildcat come at 'im, he des riz in de a'r, en Mr. Wildcat run und' 'im. Den he tuck'n run at 'n'er one, en dat un fly up; en dey keep on dat a-way twel 't wa'n't long 'fo' Mr. Wildcat wuz so stiff in de j'ints en so short in de win' dat he des hatter lay down on de groun' en res', en w'en he do dis, ole Brer Gibley Gobler en all er he folks went on 'bout dey own business; but sence dat day deyer constant a-'sputin' 'long wid deyse'f en eve'ybody w'at come by. Ef you don't b'leeve me," with an air of disposing of the whole matter judicially, "you kin des holler at de fus' Gobbler w'at you meets, en ef he 'fuse ter holler back atter you, you kin des use my head fer a hole in de wall; en w'at mo' kin you ax dan dat?"

"What became of Brother Rabbit, Uncle Remus?"

"Well, sir, Brer Rabbit tuck'n lef' dem low-groun's. W'iles de 'sputin' wuz gwine on, he tuck'n bowed his good-byes, en den he des put out fum dar. Nex' day ole Brer Gibley Gobbler tuck'n sent 'im a turkey wing fer ter make a fan out'n, en Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n sent it ter Miss Meadows en de gals. En I let you know," continued the old man, chuckling heartily to himself, "dey make great 'miration 'bout it."

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

[64] No doubt this means that Brother Rabbit's proposition was pleasant and plausible. ———————————————————————————————————



XLIX

MR. BENJAMIN RAM DEFENDS HIMSELF

"I 'speck we all dun gone en fergot ole Mr. Benjermun Ram off'n our min'," said Uncle Remus, one night, as the little boy went into the cabin with a large ram's horn hanging on his arm.

"About his playing the fiddle and getting lost in the woods!" exclaimed the child. "Oh, no, I have n't forgotten him, Uncle Remus. I remember just how he tuned his fiddle in Brother Wolf's house."

"Dat 's me!" said Uncle Remus with enthusiasm; "dat 's me up en down. Mr. Ram des ez fresh in my min' now ez he wuz de day I year de tale. Dat ole creetur wuz a sight, mon. He mos' sho'ly wuz. He wrinkly ole hawn en de shaggy ha'r on he neck make 'im look mighty servigous,[65] en w'ence he shake he head en snort, hit seem lak he gwine ter fair paw de yeth fum und' 'im.

"Ole Brer Fox bin pickin' up ole Mr. Benjermun Ram chilluns w'en dey git too fur fum home, but look lak he aint never bin git close ter de ole creetur.

"So one time w'en he 'uz comin' on down de road, talkin' 'long wid Brer Wolf, he up'n 'low, ole Brer Fox did, dat he mighty hongry in de neighborhoods er de stomach. Dis make Brer Wolf look lak he 'stonish'd, en he ax Brer Fox how de name er goodness come he hongry w'en ole Mr. Benjermun Ram layin' up dar in de house des a-rollin' in fat.

"Den Brer Fox tuck'n 'low, he did, dat he done bin in de habits er eatin' Mr. Benjermun Ram chillun, but he sorter fear'd er de ole creetur 'kaze he look so bad on de 'count er he red eye en he wrinkly hawn.

"Brer Wolf des holler en laugh, en den he 'low:

"'Lordy, Brer Fox! I dunner w'at kinder man is you, nohow! W'y, dat ar ole creetur aint never hurted a flea in all he born days—dat he aint,' sezee.

"Brer Fox, he look at Brer Wolf right hard, he did, en den he up'n 'low:

"'Heyo, Brer Wolf! manys de time dat you bin hongry 'roun' in deze diggin's en I aint year talk er you makin' a meal off'n Mr. Benjermun Ram,' sezee.

"Brer Fox talk so close ter de fatal trufe, dat Brer Wolf got tooken wid de dry grins, yit he up'n 'spon', sezee:

"'I des lak ter know who in de name er goodness wanter eat tough creetur lak dat ole Mr. Benjermun Ram—dat w'at I lak ter know,' sezee.

"Brer Fox, he holler en laugh, he did, en den he up'n say:

"'Ah-yi, Brer Wolf! You ax me w'at I goes hongry fer, w'en ole Mr. Benjermun Ram up dar in he house, yit you done bin hongry manys en manys de time, en still ole Mr. Benjermun Ram up dar in he house. Now, den, how you gwine do in a case lak dat?' sez Brer Fox, sezee.

"Brer Wolf, he strak de een' er he cane down 'pun de groun', en he say, sezee:

"'I done say all I got ter say, en w'at I say, dat I'll stick ter. Dat ole creetur lots too tough.'

"Hongry ez he is, Brer Fox laugh way down in he stomach. Atter w'ile he 'low:

"'Well, den, Brer Wolf, stidder 'sputin' 'longer you, I'm gwine do w'at you say; I'm gwine ter go up dar en git a bait er ole Mr. Benjermun Ram, en I wish you be so good ez ter go 'long wid me fer comp'ny,' sezee.

"Brer Wolf jaw sorter fall w'en he year dis, en he 'low:

"'Eh-eh, Brer Fox! I druther go by my own—'lone se'f,' sezee.

"'Well, den,' sez Brer Fox, sezee, 'you better make 'as'e,' sezee, ''kaze 't aint gwine ter take me so mighty long fer ter go up dar en make hash out'n ole Mr. Benjermun Ram,' sezee.

"Brer Wolf know mighty well," said Uncle Remus, snapping his huge tongs in order to silence a persistent cricket in the chimney, "dat ef he dast ter back out fum a banter lak dat he never is ter year de las' un it fum Miss Meadows en Miss Motts en de gals, en he march off todes Mr. Benjermun Ram house.

"Little puff er win' come en blow'd up some leafs, en Brer Wolf jump lak somebody shootin' at 'im, en he fly mighty mad w'en he year Brer Fox laugh. He men' he gait, he did, en 't wa'n't 'long 'fo' he 'uz knockin' at Mr. Benjermun Ram do'.

"He knock at de do', he did, en co'se he 'speck somebody fer ter come open de do'; but stidder dat, lo' en beholes yer come Mr. Benjermun Ram 'roun' de house. Dar he wuz—red eye, wrinkly hawn en shaggy head. Now, den, in case lak dat, w'at a slim-legged man lak Brer Wolf gwine do? Dey aint no two ways, he gwine ter git 'way fum dar, en he went back ter whar Brer Fox is mo' samer dan ef de patter-rollers wuz atter 'im.

"Brer Fox, he laugh en he laugh, en ole Brer Wolf, he look mighty glum. Brer Fox ax 'im is he done kilt en e't Mr. Benjermun Ram, en ef so be, is he lef' any fer him. Brer Wolf say he aint feelin' well, en he don't lak mutton nohow. Brer Fox 'low:

"'You may be puny in de min', Brer Wolf, but you aint feelin' bad in de leg, 'kaze I done seed you wuk um.'

"Brer Wolf 'low he des a-runnin' fer ter see ef 't won't mak 'im feel better. Brer Fox, he say, sezee, dat w'en he feelin' puny, he aint ax no mo' dan fer somebody fer ter git out de way en let 'im lay down.

"Dey went on in dis a-way, dey did, twel bimeby Brer Fox ax Brer Wolf ef he'll go wid 'im fer ter ketch Mr. Benjermun Ram. Brer Wolf, he 'low, he did:

"'Eh-eh, Brer Fox! I fear'd you'll run en lef' me dar fer ter do all de fightin'.'

"Brer Fox, he 'low dat he'll fix dat, en he tuck'n got 'im a plough-line, en tied one een' ter Brer Wolf en t'er een' ter he own se'f. Wid dat dey put out fer Mr. Benjermun Ram house. Brer Wolf, he sorter hang back, but he 'shame' fer ter say he skeer'd, en dey went on en went on plum twel dey git right spang up ter Mr. Benjermun Ram house.

"W'en dey git dar, de ole creetur wuz settin' out in de front po'ch sorter sunnin' hisse'f. He see um comin', en w'en dey git up in hailin' distance, he sorter cle'r up he th'oat, he did, en holler out:

"'I much 'blije to you, Brer Fox, fer ketchin' dat owdashus vilyun en fetchin' 'im back. My smoke-'ouse runnin' short, en I'll des chop 'im up en pickle 'im. Fetch 'im in, Brer Fox! fetch 'im in!'

"Des 'bout dat time ole Miss Ram see dem creeturs a-comin', en gentermens! you mought er yeard er blate plum ter town. Mr. Benjermun Ram, he sorter skeer'd hisse'f, but he keep on talkin':

"'Fetch 'im in, Brer Fox! fetch 'im in! Don't you year my ole 'oman cryin' fer 'im? She aint had no wolf meat now in gwine on mighty nigh a mont'. Fetch 'im in, Brer Fox! fetch 'im in!'

"Fus' Brer Wolf try ter ontie hisse'f, den he tuck'n broke en run'd, en he drag ole Brer Fox atter 'im des lak he aint weigh mo'n a poun', en I let you know hit 'uz many a long day 'fo' Brer Fox git well er de thumpin' he got."

"Uncle Remus," said the little boy after a while, "I thought wolves always caught sheep when they had the chance."

"Dey ketches lam's, honey, but bless yo' soul! dey aint ketch deze yer ole-time Rams wid red eye en wrinkly hawn."

"Where was Brother Rabbit all this time?"

"Now, den, honey, don't less pester wid ole Brer Rabbit right now. Des less gin 'im one night rest, mo' speshually w'en I year de seven stares say yo' bed-time done come. Des take yo' foot in yo' han' en put right out 'fo' Miss Sally come a-callin' you, 'kaze den she'll say I'm a-settin' yer a-noddin' en not takin' keer un you."

The child laughed and ran up the path to the big-house, stopping a moment on the way to mimic a bull-frog that was bellowing at a tremendous rate near the spring.

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

[65] Wild; fierce; dangerous; courageous. The accent is on the second syllable, ser-vi-gous; or, ser-vi-gus, and the g is hard. Aunt Tempy would have said "vigrous." ———————————————————————————————————



L

BROTHER RABBIT PRETENDS TO BE POISONED

Not many nights after the story of how Mr. Benjamin Ram frightened Brother Wolf and Brother Fox, the little boy found himself in Uncle Remus's cabin. It had occurred to him that Mr. Ram should have played on his fiddle somewhere in the tale, and Uncle Remus was called on to explain. He looked at the little boy with an air of grieved astonishment, and exclaimed:

"Well, I be bless if I ever year der beat er dat. Yer you bin a-persooin' on atter deze yer creeturs en makin' der 'quaintunce, en yit look lak ef you 'uz ter meet um right up dar in der paff you'd fergit all 'bout who dey is."

"Oh, no, I would n't, Uncle Remus!" protested the child, glancing at the door and getting a little closer to the old man.

"Yasser! you'd des nat'ally whirl in en fergit 'bout who dey is. 'T aint so mighty long sence I done tole you 'bout ole Mr. Benjermun Ram playin' he fiddle at Brer Wolf house, en yer you come en ax me how come he don't take en play it at 'im 'g'in. W'at kinder lookin' sight 'ud dat ole creetur a-bin ef he'd jump up en grab he fiddle en go ter playin' on it eve'y time he year a fuss down de big road?"

The little boy said nothing, but he thought the story would have been a great deal nicer if Mr. Benjamin Ram could have played one of the old-time tunes on his fiddle, and while he was thinking about it, the door opened and Aunt Tempy made her appearance. Her good-humor was infectious.

"Name er goodness!" she exclaimed, "I lef' you all settin' yer way las' week; I goes off un I does my wuk, un I comes back, un I fines you settin' right whar I lef' you. Goodness knows, I dunner whar you gits yo' vittles. I dunner whar I aint bin sence I lef' you all settin' yer. I let you know I bin a-usin' my feet un I been a-usin' my han's. Dat 's me. No use ter ax how you all is, 'kaze you looks lots better'n me."

"Yas, Sis Tempy, we er settin' yer whar you lef' us, en der Lord, he bin a-pervidin'. W'en de vittles don't come in at de do' hit come down de chimbly, en so w'at de odds? We er sorter po'ly, Sis Tempy, I'm 'blige ter you. You know w'at de jay-bird say ter der squinch owl! 'I'm sickly but sassy.'"

Aunt Tempy laughed as she replied: "I 'speck you all bin a-havin' lots er fun. Goodness knows I wish many a time sence I bin gone dat I 'uz settin' down yer runnin' on wid you all. I aint bin gone fur—dat 's so, yit Mistiss put me ter cuttin'-out, un I tell you now dem w'at cuts out de duds fer all de niggers on dis place is got ter wuk fum soon in de mawnin' plum tel bed-time, dey aint no two ways. 'T aint no wuk youk'n kyar' 'bout wid you needer, 'kaze you got ter spread it right out on de flo' un git down on yo' knees. I mighty glad I done wid it, 'kaze my back feel like it done broke in a thous'n pieces. Honey, is Brer Remus bin a-tellin' you some mo' er dem ole-time tales?"

Aunt Tempy's question gave the little boy an excuse for giving her brief outlines of some of the stories. One that he seemed to remember particularly well was the story of how Brother Rabbit and Brother Fox killed a cow, and how Brother Rabbit got the most and the best of the beef.

"I done year talk uv a tale like dat," exclaimed Aunt Tempy, laughing heartily, "but 't aint de same tale. I mos' 'shame' ter tell it."

"You gittin' too ole ter be blushin', Sis Tempy," said Uncle Remus with dignity.

"Well den," said Aunt Tempy, wiping her fat face with her apron: "One time Brer Rabbit un Brer Wolf tuck'n gone off som'ers un kilt a cow, un w'en dey come fer ter 'vide out de kyarkiss, Brer Wolf 'low dat bein's he de biggest he oughter have de mos', un he light in, he did, un do like he gwine ter take it all. Brer Rabbit do like he don't keer much, but he keer so bad hit make 'im right sick. He tuck'n walk all 'roun' de kyarkiss, he did, un snuff de air, un terreckly he say:

"'Brer Wolf!—O Brer Wolf!—is dis meat smell 'zuckly right ter you?'

"Brer Wolf, he cuttin' un he kyarvin' un he aint sayin' nothin'. Brer Rabbit, he walk all 'roun' un 'roun' de kyarkiss. He feel it un he kick it. Terreckly he say:

"'Brer Wolf!—O Brer Wolf!—Dis meat feel mighty flabby ter me; how it feel ter you?'

"Brer Wolf, he year all dat 's said, but he keep on a-cuttin' un a kyarvin'. Brer Rabbit say:

"'You kin talk er not talk, Brer Wolf, des ez youer min' ter, yit ef I aint mistooken in de sign, you'll do some tall talkin' 'fo' youer done wid dis beef. Now you mark w'at I tell you!'

"Brer Rabbit put out fum dar, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' yer he come back wid a chunk er fier, un a dish er salt. W'en Brer Wolf see dis, he say:

"'W'at you gwine do wid all dat, Brer Rabbit?'

"Brer Rabbit laugh like he know mo' dan he gwine tell, un he say:

"'Bless yo' soul, Brer Wolf! I aint gwine ter kyar er poun' er dis meat home tel I fin' out w'at de matter wid it. No I aint—so dar now!'

"Den Brer Rabbit built 'im a fier un cut 'im off a slishe er steak un br'ilte it good un done, un den he e't little uv it. Fus' he'd tas'e un den he'd nibble; den he'd nibble un den he'd tas'e. He keep on tel he e't right smart piece. Den he went'n sot off little ways like he waitin' fer sump'n'.

"Brer Wolf, he kyarve un he cut, but he keep one eye on Brer Rabbit. Brer Rabbit sot up dar same ez Judge on de bench. Brer Wolf, he watch his motions. Terreckly Brer Rabbit fling bofe han's up ter he head un fetch a groan. Brer Wolf cut un kyarve un watch Brer Rabbit motions. Brer Rabbit sorter sway backerds un forrerds un fetch 'n'er groan. Den he sway fum side to side un holler 'O Lordy!' Brer Wolf, he sorter 'gun ter git skeer'd un he ax Brer Rabbit w'at de matter. Brer Rabbit, he roll on de groun' un holler:

"'O Lordy, Lordy! I'm pizen'd, I'm pizen'd! O Lordy! I'm pizen'd! Run yer, somebody, run yer! De meat done got pizen on it. Oh, do run yer!'

"Brer Wolf git so skeer'd dat he put out fum dar, un he wa'n't out er sight skacely 'fo' Brer Rabbit jump up fum dar un cut de pidjin-wing, un 't wa'n't so mighty long atter dat 'fo' Brer Rabbit done put all er dat beef in his smoke-house."

"What became of Brother Wolf?" the little boy inquired.

"Brer Wolf went atter de doctor," continued Aunt Tempy, making little tucks in her apron, "un w'en he come back Brer Rabbit un de beef done gone; un, bless goodness, ef it had n't er bin fer de sign whar Brer Rabbit built de fier, Brer Wolf would er bin mightly pester'd fer ter fine der place whar de cow bin kilt."

At this juncture, 'Tildy, the house-girl, came in to tell Aunt Tempy that one of the little negroes had been taken suddenly sick.

"I bin huntin' fer you over de whole blessid place," said 'Tildy.

"No, you aint—no, you aint. You aint bin huntin' nowhar. You know'd mighty well whar I wuz."

"Law, Mam' Tempy, I can't keep up wid you. How I know you down yer courtin' wid Unk Remus?"

"Yo' head mighty full er courtin', you nas' stinkin' huzzy!" exclaimed Aunt Tempy.

Uncle Remus, strange to say, was unmoved. He simply said:

"W'en you see dat ar 'Tildy gal pirootin' 'roun' I boun' you ole Brer Affikin Jack aint fur off. 'T won't be so mighty long 'fo' de ole creetur'll show up."

"How you know dat, Unk Remus?" exclaimed 'Tildy, showing her white teeth and stretching her eyes. "Hit 's de Lord's trufe; Mass Jeems done writ a letter ter Miss Sally, en' he say in dat letter dat Daddy Jack ax 'im fer ter tell Miss Sally ter tell me dat he'll be up yer dis week. Dat ole Affikin ape got de impidence er de Ole Boy. He dunner who he foolin' 'longer!"



LI

MORE TROUBLE FOR BROTHER WOLF

The next night the little boy hardly waited to eat his supper before going to Uncle Remus's house; and when Aunt Tempy failed to put in an appearance as early as he thought necessary, he did not hesitate to go after her. He had an idea that there was a sequel to the story she had told the night before, and he was right. After protesting against being dragged around from post to pillar by children, Aunt Tempy said:

"Atter Brer Rabbit tuck'n make out he 'uz pizen'd un git all de beef, 't wa'n't long 'fo' he chance to meet ole Brer Wolf right spang in de middle uv de road. Brer Rabbit, he sorter shied off ter one side, but Brer Wolf hail 'im:

"'W'oa dar, my colty! don't be so gayly. You better be 'shame' yo'se'f 'bout de way you do me w'en we go inter cahoots wid dat beef.'

"Brer Rabbit, he up'n ax Brer Wolf how all his folks. Brer Wolf say:

"'You'll fin' out how dey all is 'fo' dis day gone by. You took'n took de beef, un now I'm a-gwine ter take'n take you.'

"Wid dis Brer Wolf make a dash at Brer Rabbit, but he des lack a little bit uv bein' quick 'nuff, un Brer Rabbit he des went a-sailin' thoo de woods. Brer Wolf, he tuck atter 'im, un yer dey had it—fus' Brer Rabbit un den Brer Wolf. Brer Rabbit mo' soopler dan Brer Wolf, but Brer Wolf got de 'vantage er de win', un terreckly he push Brer Rabbit so close dat he run in a holler log.

"Brer Rabbit bin in dat log befo' un he know dey's a hole at de t'er een', un he des keep on a-gwine. He dart in one een' un he slip out de udder. He aint stop ter say goo'-bye; bless you! he des keep on gwine.

"Brer Wolf, he see Brer Rabbit run in de holler log, un he say ter hisse'f:

"'Heyo, dey bin callin' you so mighty cunnin' all dis time, un yer you done gone un shot yo'se'f up in my trap.'

"Den Brer Wolf laugh un lay down by de een' whar Brer Rabbit went in, un pant un res' hisse'f. He see whar Brer B'ar burnin' off a new groun', un he holler un ax 'im fer ter fetch 'im a chunk er fier, un Brer B'ar he fotch it, en dey sot fier ter de holler log, un dey sot dar un watch it till it burn plum up. Den dey took'n shuck han's, un Brer Wolf say he hope dat atter dat dey'll have some peace in de neighborhoods."

Uncle Remus smiled a knowing smile as he filled his pipe, but Aunt Tempy continued with great seriousness:

"One time atter dat, Brer Wolf, he took'n pay a call down ter Miss Meadows, un w'en he git dar un see Brer Rabbit settin' up side uv one er de gals, he like to 'a' fainted, dat he did. He 'uz dat 'stonish'd dat he look right down-hearted all endurin' uv de party.

"Brer Rabbit, he bow'd his howdies ter Brer Wolf un shuck han's 'long wid 'im, des like nothin' aint never happen 'twixt 'um, un he up'n say:

"'Ah-law, Brer Wolf! Youer much mo' my fr'en' dan you ever 'speckted ter be, un you kin des count on me right straight 'long.'

"Brer Wolf say he feel sorter dat a-way hisse'f, un he ax Brer Rabbit w'at make 'im change his min' so quick.

"'Bless you, Brer Wolf, I had needs ter change it,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.

"Brer Wolf, he ax 'im how come.

"'All about bein' burnt up in a holler log, Brer Wolf, un w'en you gits time I wish you be so good ez ter bu'n me up some mo',' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.

"Brer Wolf, he ax 'im how so. Brer Rabbit say:

"'I'm fear'd ter tell you, Brer Wolf, 'kaze I don't want de news ter git out.'

"Brer Wolf vow he won't tell nobody on de top side er de worl'. Brer Rabbit say:

"I done fin' out, Brer Wolf, dat w'en you git in a holler tree un somebody sets it a-fier, dat de nat'al honey des oozles out uv it, un mor'n dat, atter you git de honey all over you, 't aint no use ter try ter burn you up, 'kaze de honey will puzzuv you. Don't 'ny me dis favor, Brer Wolf, 'kaze I done pick me out a n'er holler tree,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.

"Brer Wolf, he wanter put right out den un dar, un Brer Rabbit say dat des de kinder man w'at he bin huntin' fer. Dey took deyse'f off un 't wa'n't long 'fo' dey came ter de tree w'at Brer Rabbit say he done pick out. W'en dey git dar, Brer Wolf, he so greedy fer ter git a tas'e er de honey dat he beg un beg Brer Rabbit fer ter let 'im git in de holler. Brer Rabbit, he hol' back, but Brer Wolf beg so hard dat Brer Rabbit 'gree ter let 'im git in de holler.

"Brer Wolf, he got in, he did, un Brer Rabbit stuff de hole full er dry leaves un trash, un den he got 'im a chunk er fier un totch 'er off. She smoked un smoked, un den she bust out in a blaze. Brer Rabbit, he pile up rocks, un brush, un sticks, so Brer Wolf can't git out. Terreckly Brer Wolf holler:

"'Gittin' mighty hot, Brer Rabbit! I aint see no honey yit.'

"Brer Rabbit he pile on mo' trash, un holler back:

"'Don't be in no hurry, Brer Wolf; you'll see it un tas'e it too.'

"Fier burn un burn, wood pop like pistol. Brer Wolf, he holler:

"'Gittin' hotter un hotter, Brer Rabbit. No honey come yit.'

"'Hol' still, Brer Wolf, hit'll come.'

"'Gimme a'r, Brer Rabbit; I'm a-chokin'.'

"'Fresh a'r make honey sour. Des hol' still, Brer Wolf!'

"'Ow! she gittin' hotter en hotter, Brer Rabbit!'

"'Des hol' right still, Brer Wolf; mos' time fer de honey!'

"'Ow! ow! I'm a-burnin', Brer Rabbit!'

"'Wait fer de honey, Brer Wolf.'

"'I can't stan' it, Brer Rabbit.'

"'Stan' it like I did, Brer Wolf.'

"Brer Rabbit he pile on de trash un de leaves. He say:

"'I'll gin you honey, Brer Wolf; de same kinder honey you wanted ter gimme.'

"Un it seem like ter me," said Aunt Tempy, pleased at the interest the little boy had shown, "dat it done Brer Wolf des right."



LII

BROTHER RABBIT OUTDOES MR. MAN

The little boy had heard Uncle Remus lamenting that his candle was getting rather short, and he made it his business to go around the house and gather all the pieces he could find. He carried these to the old man, who received them with the liveliest satisfaction.

"Now dish yer sorter look lak sump'n', honey. W'en ole Brer Jack come back, en Sis Tempy git in de habits er hangin' 'roun', we'll des light some er dese yer, en folks'll come by en see de shine, en dey'll go off en 'low dat hit 's de night des 'fo' camp-meetin' at ole Remus house.

"I got little piece dar in my chist w'at you brung me long time ergo, en I 'low ter myse'f dat ef shove ever git ter be push,[66] I'd des draw 'er out en light 'er up."

"Mamma says Daddy Jack is coming back Sunday," said the little boy.

"Dat w'at I year talk," replied the old man.

"What did he go off for, Uncle Remus?"

"Bless yo' soul, honey! Brer Jack bleedz ter go en see yo' Unk Jeems. He b'leeve de worl' go wrong ef he aint do dat. Dat ole nigger b'leeve he white mon. He come up yer fum down de country whar de Lord done fersook um too long 'go ter talk 'bout,—he come up yer en he put on mo' a'rs dan w'at I dast ter do. Not dat I'm keerin', 'kaze goodness knows I aint, yit I notices dat w'en I has ter go some'rs, dey's allers a great ter-do 'bout w'at is I'm a-gwine fer, en how long is I'm a-gwine ter stay; en ef I aint back at de ve'y minit, dars Mars John a-growlin', en Miss Sally a-vowin' dat she gwine ter put me on de block."[67]

Perhaps Uncle Remus's jealousy was more substantial than he was willing to admit; but he was talking merely to see what the little boy would say. The child, however, failed to appreciate the situation, seeing which the old man quickly changed the subject.

"Times is mighty diffunt fum w'at dey use ter wuz, 'kaze de time has bin dat ef ole Brer Rabbit had er run'd up wid Brer Jack w'iles he comin' fum yo' Unk Jeems place, he'd outdone 'im des ez sho' ez de worl' stan's. Deze days de Rabbits has ter keep out de way er folks, but in dem days folks had ter keep out der way er ole Brer Rabbit. Aint I never tell you 'bout how Brer Rabbit whirl in en outdo Mr. Man?"

"About the meat tied to the string, Uncle Remus?"

"Shoo! Dat aint a drap in de bucket, honey. Dish yer wuz de time w'en ole Brer Rabbit wuz gwine 'long de big road, en he meet Mr. Man drivin' 'long wid a waggin chock full er money."

"Where did he get so much money, Uncle Remus?"

"Bruisin' 'round en peddlin' 'bout. Mr. Man got w'at lots er folks aint got,—good luck, long head, quick eye, en slick fingers. But no marter 'bout dat, he got de money; en w'en you sorter grow up so you kin knock 'roun', 't won't be long 'fo' some un'll take en take you off 'roun' de cornder en tell you dat 't aint make no diffunce whar de money come fum so de man got it. Dey won't tell you dat in de meeting-house, but dey'll come mighty nigh it.

"But dat aint needer yer ner dar. Mr. Man, he come a-drivin' 'long de big road, en he got a waggin full er money. Brer Rabbit, he come a-lippity-clippitin' 'long de big road, en he aint got no waggin full er money. Ole Brer Rabbit, he up'n tuck a notion dat dey's sump'n' wrong some'rs, 'kaze ef dey wa'n't, he 'ud have des ez much waggin en money ez Mr. Man. He study, en study, en he can't make out how dat is. Bimeby he up'n holler out:

"'Mr. Man, please, sir, lemme ride.'

"Mr. Man, he tuck'n stop he waggin, en 'low:

"'Heyo, Brer Rabbit! how come dis? You comin' one way en I gwine nudder; how come you wanter ride?'

"Brer Rabbit, he up'n scratch hisse'f on de back er de neck wid he behime foot, en holler out:

"'Mr. Man, yo' sho'ly can't be 'quainted 'long wid me. I'm one er dem ar ole-time kinder folks w'at aint a-keerin' w'ich way deyer gwine long ez deyer ridin'.'"

The little boy laughed a sympathetic laugh, showing that he heartily endorsed this feature of Brother Rabbit's programme.

"Atter so long a time," Uncle Remus went on, "Mr. Man 'gree ter let Brer Rabbit ride a little piece. He try ter git Brer Rabbit fer ter ride upon de seat wid 'im so dey kin git ter 'sputin' 'n'er, but Brer Rabbit say he fear'd he fall off, en he des tuck'n sot right flat down in de bottom er de waggin, en make lak he fear'd ter move.

"Bimeby, w'iles dey goin' down hill, en Mr. Man hatter keep he eye on de hosses, Brer Rabbit he tuck'n fling out a great big hunk er de money. Dez ez de money hit de groun' Brer Rabbit holler out:

"'Ow!'

"Mr. Man look 'roun' en ax w'at de marter. Brer Rabbit 'low:

"'Nothin' 't all, Mr. Man, 'ceppin' you 'bout ter jolt my jaw-bone a-loose.'

"Dey go on little furder, en Brer Rabbit fling out 'n'er hunk er de money. W'en she hit de groun', Brer Rabbit holler:

"'Blam!'

"Mr. Man look 'roun' en ax w'at de marter. Brer Rabbit 'low:

"'Nothin' 't all, Mr. Man, 'ceppin' I seed a jaybird flyin' 'long, en I make lak I had a gun.'

"Hit keep on dis a-way twel fus' news you know Mr. Man aint got a sign er money in dat waggin. Seem lak Mr. Man aint notice dis twel he git a mighty fur ways fum de place whar Brer Rabbit drap out de las' hunk; but, gentermens! w'en he do fine it out, you better b'leeve he sot up a howl.

"'Whar my money? Whar my nice money? Whar my waggin full er purty money? O you long-year'd rascal! Whar my money? Oh, gimme my money!'

"Brer Rabbit sot dar en lissen at 'im lak he 'stonish'd. Den he up'n 'low:

"'Look out, Mr. Man! folks'll come 'long en year you gwine on dat a-way, en dey'll go off en say you done gone ravin' 'stracted.'

"Yit Mr. Man keep on holler'n en beggin' Brer Rabbit fer ter gin 'im de money, en bimeby Brer Rabbit, he git sorter skeer'd en he up'n 'low:

"'Sun gittin' low, Mr. Man, en I better be gittin' 'way fum yer. De sooner I goes de better, 'kaze ef you keep on lak you gwine, 't won't be long 'fo' you'll be excusin' me er takin' dat ar money. I'm 'blige' fer de ride, Mr. Man, en I wish you mighty well.'

"Brer Rabbit got de money," continued Uncle Remus, gazing placidly into the fire, "en hit 's mighty kuse ter me dat he aint git de waggin en hosses. Dat 't is!"

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

[66] A plantation saying. It means if hard times get harder. A briefer form is "w'en shove 'come push"—when the worst comes to the worst.

[67] That is to say, put him on the block, and sell him. ———————————————————————————————————



LIII

BROTHER RABBIT TAKES A WALK

"Eve'y time I run over in my min' 'bout the pranks er Brer Rabbit," Uncle Remus continued, without giving the little boy time to ask any more embarrassing questions about Mr. Man and his wagon full of money, "hit make me laugh mo' en mo'. He mos' allers come out on top, yit dey wuz times w'en he hatter be mighty spry."

"When was that, Uncle Remus?" inquired the little boy.

"I min' me er one time w'en de t'er creeturs all git de laugh on 'im," responded the old man, "en dey make 'im feel sorter 'shame'. Hit seem lak dat dey 'uz some kinder bodderment 'mungs' de creeturs en wud went out dat dey all got ter meet terge'er some'rs en ontangle de tanglements.

"W'en de time come, dey wuz all un um dar, en dey hilt der confab right 'long. All un um got sump'n' ter say, en dey talk dar, dey did, des lak dey 'uz paid fer talkin'. Dey all had der plans, en dey jabbered des lak folks does w'en dey call deyse'f terge'er. Hit come 'bout dat Mr. Dog git a seat right close by Brer Rabbit, en w'en he open he mouf fer ter say sump'n', he toofs look so long en so strong, en dey shine so w'ite, dat it feel mighty kuse.

"Mr. Dog, he'd say sump'n', Brer Rabbit, he'd jump en dodge. Mr. Dog, he'd laugh, Brer Rabbit, he'd dodge en jump. Hit keep on dis a-way, twel eve'y time Brer Rabbit'd dodge en jump, de t'er creeturs dey'd slap der han's terge'er en break out in a laugh. Mr. Dog, he tuck'n tuck a notion dat dey 'uz laughin' at him, en dis make 'im so mad dat he 'gun ter growl en snap right smartually, en it come ter dat pass dat w'en Brer Rabbit'd see Mr. Dog make a motion fer ter say a speech, he'd des drap down en git und' de cheer.

"Co'se dis make um laugh wuss en wuss, en de mo' dey laugh de madder it make Mr. Dog, twel bimeby he git so mad he fa'rly howl, en Brer Rabbit he sot dar, he did, en shuck lak he got er ager.

"Atter w'ile Brer Rabbit git sorter on t'er side, en he make a speech en say dey oughter be a law fer ter make all de creeturs w'at got tushes ketch en eat der vittles wid der claws. All un um 'gree ter dis 'cep' hit 's Mr. Dog, Brer Wolf, en Brer Fox.

"In dem days," continued Uncle Remus, "ef all de creeturs aint 'gree, dey put it off twel de nex' meetin' en talk it over some mo', en dat 's de way dey done wid Brer Rabbit projick. Dey put it off twel de nex' time.

"Brer Rabbit got a kinder sneakin' notion dat de creeturs aint gwine do lak he want um ter do, en he 'low ter Brer Wolf dat he 'speck de bes' way fer ter do is ter git all de creeturs ter 'gree fer ter have Mr. Dog mouf sew'd up, 'kaze he toofs look so venomous; en Brer Wolf say dey ull all go in fer dat.

"Sho' 'nuff, w'en de day done come, Brer Rabbit he git up en say dat de bes' way ter do is have Mr. Dog mouf sew'd up so he toofs won't look so venomous. Dey all 'gree, en den Mr. Lion, settin' up in de arm-cheer, he ax who gwine do de sewin'.

"Den dey all up'n 'low dat de man w'at want de sewin' done, he de man fer ter do it, 'kaze den he ull know it done bin done right. Brer Rabbit, he sorter study, en den he 'low:

"'I aint got no needle.'

"Brer B'ar, he sorter feel in de flap er he coat collar, en he 'low:

"'Yer, Brer Rabbit; yer a great big one!'

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

"'I aint got no th'ead.'

"Brer B'ar, he tuck'n pull a rav'lin' fum de bottom er he wescut, en he 'low:

"'Yer, Brer Rabbit; yer a great long one!'

"Ef it had er bin anybody in de roun' worl' he'd er 'gun ter feel sorter ticklish," Uncle Remus went on. "But ole Brer Rabbit, he des tuck'n lay he finger 'cross he nose, en 'low:

"'Des hol' um dar fer me, Brer B'ar, en I'll be much 'blige ter you. Hit 's des 'bout my time er day fer ter take a walk!'"

Uncle Remus laughed as heartily as the child, and added:

"Some folks say de creeturs had de grins on Brer Rabbit 'bout dat time; but I tell you right pine-blank dey aint grin much w'en dey year Brer Rabbit say dat."



LIV

OLD GRINNY-GRANNY WOLF

At last Daddy Jack returned, and the fact that the little boy had missed him and inquired about him, seemed to give the old African particular pleasure. It was probably a new experience to Daddy Jack, and it vaguely stirred some dim instinct in his bosom that impelled him to greet the child with more genuine heartiness than he had ever displayed in all his life. He drew the little boy up to him, patted him gently on the cheek, and exclaimed:

"Ki! I bin want fer see you bery bahd. I bin-a tell you' nunk Jeem' how fine noung man you is. 'E ahx wey you no come fer shum. Fine b'y—fine b'y!"

"Well, ef dat 's de way youer gwine on, Brer Jack, you'll spile dat chap sho'. A whole sack er salt won't save 'im."

"I dunno 'bout dat, Brer Remus," said Aunt Tempy, who had come in. "Don't seem like he bad like some yuther childun w'at I seen. Bless you, I know childun w'at'd keep dish yer whole place tarryfied—dat dey would!"

"Well, sir," said Uncle Remus, shaking his head and groaning, "you all aint wid dat young un dar much ez I is. Some days w'en dey aint nobody lookin', en dey aint nobody nowhar fer ter take keer un me, dat ar little chap dar 'll come down yer en chunk me wid rocks, en 'buze me en holler at me scan'lous."

The little boy looked so shocked that Uncle Remus broke into a laugh that shook the cobwebs in the corners; then, suddenly relapsing into seriousness, he drew himself up with dignity and remarked:

"Good er bad, you can't git 'long wid 'im less'n you sets in ter tellin' tales, en, Brer Jack, I hope you got some 'long wid you."

Daddy Jack rubbed his hands together, and said:

"Me bin yeddy one tale; 'e mekky me lahff tel I is 'come tire'."

"Fer de Lord sake less have it den!" exclaimed Aunt Tempy, with unction. Whereupon, the small but appreciative audience disposed itself comfortably, and Daddy Jack, peering at each one in turn, his eyes shining between his half-closed lids as brightly as those of some wild animal, began:

"One tam B'er Rabbit is bin traffel 'roun' fer see 'e neighbor folks. 'E bin mahd wit' B'er Wolf fer so long tam; 'e mek no diffran, 'e come pas' 'e house 'e no see nuttin', 'e no yeddy nuttin'. 'E holler:

"'Hi, B'er Wolf! wey you no fer mek answer wun me ahx you howdy? Wey fer you is do dis 'fo' me werry face? Wut mekky you do dis?'

"'E wait, 'e lissun; nuttin' no mek answer. B'er Rabbit, 'e holler:

"'Come-a show you'se'f, B'er Wolf! Come-a show you'se'f. Be 'shame' fer not show you'se'f wun you' 'quaintun' come bisitin' wey you lif!'

"Nuttin' 't all no mek answer, un B'er Rabbit 'come berry mahd. 'E 'come so mahd 'e stomp 'e fut un bump 'e head 'pon da fence-side. Bumbye 'e tek heart, 'e y-opun da do', 'e is look inside da house. Fier bu'n in da chimbly, pot set 'pon da fier, ole ooman sed by da pot. Fier bu'n, pot, 'e bile, ole ooman, 'e tek 'e nap.

"Da ole ooman, 'e ole Granny Wolf; 'e cripple in 'e leg, 'e bline in 'e y-eye, 'e mos' deaf in 'e year. 'E deaf, but 'e bin yeddy B'er Rabbit mek fuss at da do', un 'e is cry out:

"'Come-a see you' ole Granny, me gran'son—come-a see you' Granny! Da fier is bin bu'n, da pot is bin b'ile; come-a fix you' Granny some bittle,[68] me gran'son.'"

Daddy Jack's representation of the speech and action of an old woman was worth seeing and hearing. The little boy laughed, and Uncle Remus smiled good-humoredly; but Aunt Tempy looked at the old African with open-mouthed astonishment. Daddy Jack, however, cared nothing for any effect he might produce. He told the story for the story's sake, and he made no pause for the purpose of gauging the appreciation of his audience.

"B'er Rabbit, 'e is bin mek 'ese'f comfuts by da fier. Bumbye, 'e holler:

"'Hi, Granny! I bin cripple mese'f; me y-eye bin-a come bline. You mus' bile-a me in da water, Granny, so me leg is kin come well, un so me y-eye kin come see.'

"B'er Rabbit, 'e mighty ha'd fer fool. 'E bin tek 'im one chunk woot, 'e drap da woot in da pot. 'E bin say:

"'I is bin feelin' well, me Granny. Me leg, 'e comin' strong, me y-eye 'e fix fer see.'

"Granny Wolf, 'e shek 'e head; 'e cry:

"'Me one leg cripple, me turrer leg cripple; me one eye bline, me turrer y-eye bline. Wey you no fer pit me in da pot fer mek me well?'

"B'er Rabbit laff in 'e belly; 'e say:

"'Hol' you'se'f still, me Granny; I fix you one place in da pot wey you is kin fetch-a back da strenk in you' leg un da sight in you' eye. Hol' still, me Granny!'

"B'er Rabbit, 'e is bin tekky da chunk y-out da pot; 'e tekky da chunk, un 'e is bin pit Granny Wolf in dey place. 'E tetch da water, 'e holler:

"'Ow! tekky me way fum dis!'

"B'er Rabbit say 'tiss not da soon 'nuff tam. Granny Wolf, 'e holler:

"'Ow! tekky me way fum dis! 'E bin too hot!'

"B'er Rabbit, 'e no tekky da Mammy Wolf fum da pot, un bumbye 'e die in dey. B'er Rabbit 'e tek 'e bone un t'row um 'way; 'e leaf da meat. 'E tek Granny Wolf frock, 'e tu'n um 'roun', 'e pit um on; 'e tek Granny Wolf cap, 'e tu'n 'roun', 'e pit um on. 'E sed deer by da fier, 'e hol' 'e'se'f in 'e cheer sem lak Granny Wolf.

"Bumbye B'er Wolf is bin-a come back. 'E walk in 'e house, 'e say:

"'Me honkry, Grinny-Granny! Me honkry, fer true!'

"'You' dinner ready, Grin'son-Gran'son!'

"B'er Wolf, 'e look in da pot, 'e smell in da pot, 'e stir in da pot. 'E eat 'e dinner, 'e smack 'e mout'."

The little boy shuddered, and Aunt Tempy exclaimed, "In de name er de Lord!" The old African paid no attention to either.

"B'er Wolf eat 'e dinner; 'e call 'e chilluns, 'e ahx um is dey no want nuttin' 't all fer eat. 'E holler back:

"'We no kin eat we Grinny-Granny!'

"B'er Rabbit, 'e run 'way fum dey-dey; 'e holler back:

"'B'er Wolf, you is bin eat you' Grinny-Granny.'

"B'er Wolf bin-a git so mad 'e yent mos' kin see. 'E yeddy B'er Rabbit holler, un 'e try fer ketch um. 'E feer teer up da grass wey 'e run 'long. Bumbye 'e come 'pon B'er Rabbit. 'E is bin push um ha'd. B'er Rabbit run un-a run tel 'e yent kin run no mo'; 'e hide 'neat' leanin' tree. B'er Wolf, 'e fine um; B'er Rabbit 'e holler:

"'Hi! B'er Wolf! mek 'as'e come hol' up da tree, 'fo' 'e is fall dey-dey; come-a hol' um, B'er Wolf, so I is kin prop um up.'

"B'er Wolf, 'e hol' up da tree fer B'er Rabbit; 'e hol' um till 'e do come tire'. B'er Rabbit gone!"

Daddy Jack paused. His story was ended. The little boy drew a long breath and said:

"I did n't think Brother Rabbit would burn anybody to death in a pot of boiling water."

"Dat," said Uncle Remus, reassuringly, "wuz endurin' er de dog days. Dey er mighty wom times, mon, dem ar dog days is."

This was intended to satisfy such scruples as the child might have, and it was no doubt successful, for the youngster said no more, but watched Uncle Remus as the latter leisurely proceeded to fill his pipe.

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

[68] Victuals. ———————————————————————————————————



LV

HOW WATTLE WEASEL WAS CAUGHT

Uncle Remus chipped the tobacco from the end of a plug, rubbed it between the palms of his hands, placed it in his pipe, dipped the pipe in the glowing embers, and leaned back in his chair, and seemed to be completely happy.

"Hit mought not er bin endurin' er de dog days," said the old man, recurring to Daddy Jack's story, "'kaze dey wuz times dat w'en dey push ole Brer Rabbit so close he 'uz des bleedz ter git he revengeance out'n um. Dat mought er bin de marter 'twix' him en ole Grinny-Granny Wolf, 'kaze w'en ole Brer Rabbit git he dander up, he 'uz a monst'us bad man fer ter fool wid.

"Dey tuck atter 'im," continued Uncle Remus, "en dey 'buzed 'im, en dey tried ter 'stroy 'im, but dey wuz times w'en de t'er creeturs bleedz ter call on 'im fer ter he'p 'em out dey trouble. I aint nev' tell you 'bout little Wattle Weasel, is I?" asked the old man, suddenly turning to the little boy.

The child laughed. The dogs on the plantation had killed a weasel a few nights before,—a very cunning-looking little animal,—and some of the negroes had sent it to the big house as a curiosity. He connected this fact with Uncle Remus's allusions to the weasel. Before he could make any reply, however, the old man went on:

"No, I boun' I aint, en it come 'cross me right fresh en hot time I year talk er Brer Wolf eatin' he granny. Dey wuz one time w'en all de creeturs wuz livin' in de same settlement en usin' out'n de same spring, en it got so dat dey put all dey butter in de same piggin'. Dey put it in dar, dey did, en dey put it in de spring-house, en dey'd go off en 'ten' ter dey business. Den w'en dey come back dey'd fine whar some un been nibblin' at dey butter. Dey tuck'n hide dat butter all 'roun' in de spring-house; dey sot it on de rafters, en dey bury it in de san'; yit all de same de butter 'ud come up missin'.

"Bimeby it got so dey dunner w'at ter do; dey zamin' de tracks, en dey fine out dat de man w'at nibble dey butter is little Wattle Weasel. He come in de night, he come in de day; dey can't ketch 'im. Las' de creeturs tuck'n helt er confab, en dey 'gree dat dey hatter set some un fer ter watch en ketch Wattle Weasel.

"Brer Mink wuz de fus' man 'p'inted, 'kaze he wa'n't mo'n a half a han'[69] no way you kin fix it. De t'er creeturs dey tuck'n went off ter dey wuk, en Brer Mink he tuck'n sot up wid de butter. He watch en he lissen, he lissen en he watch; he aint see nothin', he aint year nothin'. Yit he watch, 'kaze der t'er creeturs done fix up a law dat ef Wattle Weasel come w'iles somebody watchin' en git off bidout gittin' kotch, de man w'at watchin' aint kin eat no mo' butter endurin' er dat year.

"Brer Mink, he watch en he wait. He set so still dat bimeby he git de cramps in de legs, en des 'bout dat time little Wattle Weasel pop he head und' de do'. He see Brer Mink, en he hail 'im:

"'Heyo, Brer Mink! you look sorter lonesome in dar. Come out yer en less take a game er hidin'-switch.'

"Brer Mink, he wanter have some fun, he did, en he tuck'n jine Wattle Weasel in de game. Dey play en dey play twel, bimeby, Brer Mink git so wo' out dat he aint kin run, skacely, en des soon ez dey sets down ter res', Brer Mink, he draps off ter sleep. Little Wattle Weasel, so mighty big en fine, he goes en nibbles up de butter, en pops out de way he come in.

"De creeturs, dey come back, dey did, en dey fine de butter nibbled, en Wattle Weasel gone. Wid dat, dey marks Brer Mink down, en he aint kin eat no mo' butter dat year. Den dey fix up 'n'er choosement en 'p'int Brer Possum fer ter watch de butter.

"Brer Possum, he grin en watch, and bimeby, sho' 'nuff, in pop little Wattle Weasel. He come in, he did, en he sorter hunch Brer Possum in de short ribs, en ax 'im how he come on. Brer Possum mighty ticklish, en time Wattle Weasel totch 'im in de short ribs, he 'gun ter laugh. Wattle Weasel totch 'im ag'in en laugh wusser, en he keep on hunchin' 'im dat a-way twel bimeby Brer Possum laugh hisse'f plum outer win', en Wattle Weasel lef 'im dar en nibble up de butter.

"De creeturs, dey tuck'n mark Brer Possum down, en 'p'int Brer Coon. Brer Coon, he tuck'n start in all so mighty fine; but w'iles he settin' dar, little Wattle Weasel banter 'im fer a race up de branch. No sooner say dan yer dey went! Brer Coon, he foller de tu'ns er de branch, en little Wattle Weasel he take'n take nigh cuts, en 't wa'n't no time 'fo' he done run Brer Coon plum down. Den dey run down de branch, and 'fo' Brer Coon kin ketch up wid 'im, dat little Wattle Weasel done got back ter de noggin er butter, en nibble it up.

"Den de creeturs tuck'n mark Brer Coon down, dey did, en 'p'int Brer Fox fer ter watch de butter. Wattle Weasel sorter 'fear'd 'er Brer Fox. He study long time, en den he wait twel night. Den he tuck'n went 'roun' in de ole fiel' en woke up de Killdees[70] en druv 'roun' todes de spring-house. Brer Fox year um holler, en it make he mouf water. Bimeby, he 'low ter hisse'f dat 't aint no harm ef he go out en slip up on one."

"Dar now!" said Aunt Tempy.

"Brer Fox tuck'n slip out, en Wattle Weasel he slicked in, en bless yo' soul! dar goes de butter!"

"Enty!" exclaimed Daddy Jack.

"Brer Fox he git marked down," continued Uncle Remus, "en den de creeturs tuck'n 'p'int Brer Wolf fer ter be dey watcher. Brer Wolf, he sot up dar, he did, en sorter nod, but bimeby he year some un talkin' outside de spring-house. He h'ist up he years en lissen. Look lak some er de creeturs wuz gwine by, en talkin' 'mungs' deysef'; but all Brer Wolf kin year is dish yer:

"'I wonder who put dat ar young sheep down dar by de chinkapin tree, en I like ter know wharbouts Brer Wolf is.'

"Den it seem lak dey pass on, en ole Brer Wolf, he fergotted w'at he in dar fer, en he dash down ter de chinkapin tree, fer ter git de young sheep. But no sheep dar, en w'en he git back, he see signs whar Wattle Weasel done bin in dar en nibble de butter.

"Den de creeturs tuck'n mark Brer Wolf down, en 'p'int Brer B'ar fer ter keep he eye 'pun de noggin er butter. Brer B'ar he tuck'n sot up dar, he did, en lick he paw, en feel good. Bimeby Wattle Weasel come dancin' in. He 'low:

"'Heyo, Brer B'ar, how you come on? I 'low'd I yeard you snortin' in yer, en I des drapt in fer ter see.'

"Brer B'ar tell him howdy, but he sorter keep one eye on 'im. Little Wattle Weasel 'low:

"'En you got ticks on yo' back, Brer B'ar?'

"Wid dat Wattle Weasel 'gun ter rub Brer B'ar on de back en scratch 'im on de sides, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he 'uz stretch out fast asleep en sno'in' lak a saw-mill. Co'se Wattle Weasel git de butter. Brer B'ar he got marked down, and den de creeturs aint know w'at dey gwine do skacely.

"Some say sen' fer Brer Rabbit, some say sen' fer Brer Tarrypin; but las' dey sent fer Brer Rabbit. Brer Rabbit, he tuck a notion dat dey 'uz fixin' up some kinder trick on 'im, en dey hatter beg mightily, mon, 'fo' he 'ud come en set up 'longside er dey butter.

"But bimeby he 'greed, en he went down ter de spring-house en look 'roun'. Den he tuck'n got 'im a twine string, en hide hisse'f whar he kin keep he eye on de noggin er butter. He aint wait long 'fo' yer come Wattle Weasel. Des ez he 'bout ter nibble at de butter, Brer Rabbit holler out:

"'Let dat butter 'lone!'

"Wattle Weasel jump back lak de butter bu'nt 'im. He jump back, he did, en say:

"'Sho'ly dat mus' be Brer Rabbit!'

"'De same. I 'low'd you'd know me. Des let dat butter 'lone.'

"'Des lemme git one little bit er tas'e, Brer Rabbit.'

"'Des let dat butter 'lone.'

"Den Wattle Weasel say he want er run a race. Brer Rabbit 'low he tired. Wattle Weasel 'low he want er play hidin'. Brer Rabbit 'low dat all he hidin' days is pas' en gone. Wattle Weasel banter'd en banter'd 'im, en bimeby Brer Rabbit come up wid a banter er he own.

"'I'll take'n tie yo' tail,' sezee, 'en you'll take'n tie mine, en den we'll see w'ich tail de strongest.' Little Wattle Weasel know how weakly Brer Rabbit tail is, but he aint know how strong Brer Rabbit bin wid he tricks. So dey tuck'n tie der tails wid Brer Rabbit twine string.

"Wattle Weasel wuz ter stan' inside en Brer Rabbit wuz ter stan' outside, en dey wuz ter pull 'gin' one er n'er wid dey tails. Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n slip out'n de string, en tie de een' 'roun' a tree root, en den he went en peep at Wattle Weasel tuggin' en pullin'. Bimeby Wattle Weasel 'low:

"'Come en ontie me, Brer Rabbit, 'kaze you done outpull me.'

"Brer Rabbit sot dar, he did, en chaw he cud, en look lak he feel sorry 'bout sump'n'. Bimeby all de creeturs come fer ter see 'bout dey butter, 'kaze dey fear'd Brer Rabbit done make way wid it. Yit w'en dey see little Wattle Weasel tie by de tail, dey make great 'miration 'bout Brer Rabbit, en dey 'low he de smartest one er de whole gang."

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

[69] That is, could do no more than half the work of a man.

[70] Killdeers—a species of plover. ———————————————————————————————————



LVI

BROTHER RABBIT TIES MR. LION

There was some comment and some questions were asked by the little boy in regard to Wattle Weasel and the other animals; to all of which Uncle Remus made characteristic response. Aunt Tempy sat with one elbow on her knee, her head resting in the palm of her fat hand. She gazed intently into the fire, and seemed to be lost in thought. Presently she exclaimed:

"Well, de Lord he'p my soul!"

"Dat 's de promise, Sis Tempy," said Uncle Remus, solemnly.

Aunt Tempy laughed, as she straightened herself in her chair, and said:

"I des knowed dey wuz sump'n' 'n'er gwine 'cross my min' w'en I year talk 'bout dat ar sheep by de chinkapin tree."

"Out wid it, Sis Tempy," said Uncle Remus, by way of encouragement; "out wid it; free yo' min', en des make yo'se'f welcome."

"No longer'n Sunday 'fo' las', I 'uz 'cross dar at de Spivey place un I tuck'n year'd a nigger man tellin' de same tale, un I 'low ter myse'f dat I'd take'n take it un kyar' it home un gin it out w'en I come ter pass de time wid Brer Remus un all uv um. I 'low ter myse'f I'll take it un kyar' it dar, un I'll des tell it my own way."

"Well, den," said Uncle Remus, approvingly, "me en dish yer chap, we er willin' en a-waitin', en ez fer Brer Jack over dar, we kin say de same fer him, 'kaze I up en year 'im draw mighty long breff des now lak he fixin' fer ter snort. But you neenter min' dat ole creetur, Sis Tempy. Des push right ahead."

"Ah-h-h-e-e!" exclaimed Daddy Jack, snapping his bright little eyes at Uncle Remus with some display of irritation; "you tek-a me fer be sleep ebry tam I shed-a me y-eye, you is mek fool-a you'se'f. Warrah yarrah garrah tarrah!"[71]

"Brer Remus!" said Aunt Tempy, in an awed whisper, "maybe he's a-cunju'n un you."

"No-no!" exclaimed Daddy Jack, snappishly, "me no cuncher no'n' 't all. Wun me cuncher you all you yeddy bone crack. Enty!"

"Well, in de name er de Lord, don't come a-cunju'n wid me, 'kaze I'm des as peaceable ez de day's long," said Aunt Tempy.

Uncle Remus smiled and closed his eyes with an air of disdain, caught from his old Mistress, the little boy's grandmother, long since dead.

"Tell yo' tale, Sis Tempy," he said pleasantly, "en leave de talk er cunju'n ter de little nigger childun. We er done got too ole fer dat kinder foolishness."

This was for the ear of the little boy. In his heart Uncle Remus was convinced that Daddy Jack was capable of changing himself into the blackest of black cats, with swollen tail, arched back, fiery eyes, and protruding fangs. But the old man's attitude reassured Aunt Tempy, as well as the child, and forthwith she proceeded with her story:

"Hit seem like dat one time w'en Brer Rabbit fine hisse'f way off in de middle er de woods, de win' strike up un 'gun ter blow. Hit blow down on de groun' un it blow up in de top er de timber, un it blow so hard twel terreckerly Brer Rabbit tuck a notion dat he better git out fum dar 'fo' de timber 'gun ter fall.

"Brer Rabbit, he broke en run, un, Man—Sir![72] w'en dat creetur run'd he run'd, now you year w'at I tell yer! He broke un run, he did, un he fa'rly flew 'way fum dar. W'iles he gwine 'long full tilt, he run'd ag'in' ole Mr. Lion. Mr. Lion, he hail 'im:

"'Heyo, Brer Rabbit! W'at yo' hurry?'

"'Run, Mr. Lion, run! Dey's a harrycane comin' back dar in de timbers. You better run!'

"Dis make Mr. Lion sorter skeer'd. He 'low:

"'I mos' too heavy fer ter run fur, Brer Rabbit. W'at I gwine do?'

"'Lay down, Mr. Lion, lay down! Git close ter de groun'!'

"Mr. Lion shake his head. He 'low:

"'Ef win' lierbul fer ter pick up little man like you is, Brer Rabbit, w'at it gwine do wid big man like me?'

"'Hug a tree, Mr. Lion, hug a tree!'

"Mr. Lion lash hisse'f wid his tail. He 'low:

"'W'at I gwine do ef de win' blow all day un a good part er de night, Brer Rabbit?'

"'Lemme tie you ter de tree, Mr. Lion! lemme tie you ter de tree!'

"Mr. Lion, he tuk'n 'gree ter dis, un Brer Rabbit, he got 'im a hick'ry split[73] un tie 'im hard un fast ter de tree. Den he tuck'n sot down, ole Brer Rabbit did, un wash his face un han's des same ez you see de cats doin'. Terreckerly Mr. Lion git tired er stan'in' dar huggin' de tree, un he ax Brer Rabbit w'at de reason he aint keep on runnin', un Brer Rabbit, he up'n 'low dat he gwine ter stay der un take keer Mr. Lion.



"Terreckerly Mr. Lion say he aint year no harrycane. Brer Rabbit say he aint needer. Mr. Lion say he aint year no win' a-blowin'. Brer Rabbit say he aint needer. Mr. Lion say he aint so much ez year a leaf a-stirrin'. Brer Rabbit say he aint needer. Mr. Lion sorter study, un Brer Rabbit sot dar, he did, un wash his face un lick his paws.

"Terreckerly Mr. Lion ax Brer Rabbit fer ter onloose 'im. Brer Rabbit say he fear'd. Den Mr. Lion git mighty mad, un he 'gun ter beller wuss'n one er deze yer bull-yearlin's. He beller so long un he beller so loud twel present'y de t'er creeturs dey 'gun ter come up fer ter see w'at de matter.

"Des soon ez dey come up, Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n 'gun ter talk biggity un strut 'roun', un, Man—Sir! w'en dem yuthers see dat Brer Rabbit done got Mr. Lion tied up, I let you know dey tuck'n walked way 'roun' 'im, un 't wuz many a long day 'fo' dey tuck'n pestered ole Brer Rabbit."

Here Aunt Tempy paused. The little boy asked what Brother Rabbit tied Mr. Lion for; but she did n't know; Uncle Remus, however, came to the rescue.

"One time long 'fo' dat, honey, Brer Rabbit went ter de branch fer ter git a drink er water, en ole Mr. Lion tuck'n druv 'im off, en fum dat time out Brer Rabbit bin huntin' a chance fer ter ketch up wid 'im."

"Dat 's so," said Aunt Tempy, and then she added:

"I 'clare I aint gwine tell you all not na'er n'er tale, dat I aint. 'Kaze you des set dar en you aint crack a smile fum de time I begin. Ef dat'd 'a' bin Brer Remus, now, dey'd 'a' bin mo' gigglin' gwine on dan you kin shake a stick at. I'm right down mad, dat I is."

"Well, I tell you dis, Sis Tempy," said Uncle Remus, with unusual emphasis, "ef deze yer tales wuz des fun, fun, fun, en giggle, giggle, giggle, I let you know I'd a-done drapt um long ago. Yasser, w'en it come down ter gigglin' you kin des count ole Remus out."

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

[71] This is simply "gullah" negro talk intended to be unintelligible, and therefore impressive. It means "One or the other is as good as t'other."

[72] An expression used to give emphasis and to attract attention; used in the sense that Uncle Remus uses "Gentermens!"

[73] Hickory withe. ———————————————————————————————————



LVII

MR. LION'S SAD PREDICAMENT

The discussion over Aunt Tempy's fragmentary story having exhausted itself, Daddy Jack turned up his coat collar until it was as high as the top of his head, and then tried to button it under his chin. If this attempt had been successful, the old African would have presented a diabolical appearance; but the coat refused to be buttoned in that style. After several attempts, which created no end of amusement for the little boy, Daddy Jack said:

"Da Lion, 'e no hab bin sma't lak B'er Rabbit. 'E strong wit' 'e fut, 'e strong wit' 'e tush, but 'e no strong wit' 'e head. 'E bery foolish, 'cep' 'e is bin hab chance ter jump 'pon dem creetur.

"One tam 'e bin come by B'er Rabbit in da road; 'e ahx um howdy; 'e ahx um wey 'e gwan. B'er Rabbit say 'e gwan git fum front de Buckra Man wut bin comin' 'long da road. B'er Rabbit say:

"'Hide you'se'f, B'er Lion; da Buckra ketch-a you fer true; 'e is bin ketch-a you tam he pit 'e y-eye 'pon you; 'e mekky you sick wit' sorry. Hide fum da Buckra, B'er Lion!'

"Da Lion, 'e shekky 'e head; 'e say:

"'Ki! Me no skeer da Buckra Man. I glad fer shum. I ketch um un I kyar um wey I lif; me hab da Buckra Man fer me bittle. How come you bein' skeer da Buckra Man, B'er Rabbit?'

"B'er Rabbit look all 'bout fer see ef da Buckra bin comin'. 'E say:

"'Me hab plenty reason, B'er Lion. Da Buckra Man shoot-a wit' one gun. 'E r'ise um too 'e y-eye, 'e p'int um stret toze you; 'e say bang! one tam, 'e say bang! two tam: dun you is bin git hu't troo da head un cripple in da leg.'

"Lion, 'e shek 'e head; 'e say:

"'Me no skeer da Buckra Man. I grab-a da gun. I ketch um fer me brekwus.'

"B'er Rabbit, 'e lahff; 'e say:

"'Him quare fer true. Me skeer da Buckra, me no skeer you; but you no skeer da Buckra. How come dis?'

"Da Lion lash 'e tail; 'e say:

"'Me no skeer da Buckra, but me skeer da Pa'tridge; me berry skeer da Pa'tridge.'

"B'er Rabbit, 'e lahff tel 'e kin lahff no mo'. 'E say:

"'How come you skeer da Pa'tridge? 'E fly wun you wink-a you' eye; 'e run un 'e fly. Hoo! me no skeer 'bout dem Pa'tridge. Me skeer da Buckra.'

"Da Lion, 'e look all 'bout fer see ef da Pa'tridge bin comin'. 'E say:

"'I skeer da Pa'tridge. Wun me bin walk in da bushside, da Pa'tridge 'e hol' right still 'pon da groun' tel me come dey-dey, un dun 'e fly up—fud-d-d-d-d-d-e-e! Wun 'e is bin do dat me is git-a skeer berry bahd.'"

No typographical device could adequately describe Daddy Jack's imitation of the flushing of a covey of partridges, or quail; but it is needless to say that it made its impression upon the little boy. The old African went on:

"B'er Rabbit, 'e holler un lahff; 'e say:

"'Me no skeer da Pa'tridge. I bin run dem up ebry day. Da no hu't-a you, B'er Lion. You hol' you' eye 'pon da Buckra Man. Da Pa'tridge, 'e no hab no gun fer shoot-a you wit'; da Buckra, 'e is bin hab one gun two tam.[74] Let da Pa'tridge fly, B'er Lion; but wun da Buckra Man come you bes' keep in de shady side. I tell you dis, B'er Lion.'

"Da Lion, 'e stan' um down 'e no skeer da Buckra Man, un bimeby 'e say goo'-bye; 'e say 'e gwan look fer da Buckra Man fer true.

"So long tam, B'er Rabbit is bin yeddy one big fuss in da timber; 'e yeddy da Lion v'ice. B'er Rabbit foller da fuss tel 'e is bin come 'pon da Lion wey 'e layin' 'pon da groun'. Da Lion, 'e is moan; 'e is groan; 'e is cry. 'E hab hole in 'e head, one, two, t'ree hole in 'e side; 'e holler, 'e groan. B'er Rabbit, 'e ahx um howdy. 'E say:

"'Ki, B'er Lion, wey you hab fine so much trouble?'

"Da Lion, 'e moan, 'e groan, 'e cry; 'e say:

"'Ow, ma Lord! I hab one hole in me head, one, two, t'ree hole in me side, me leg bin bruk!'

"B'er Rabbit bin hol' 'e head 'pon one side; 'e look skeer. 'E say:

"'Ki, B'er Lion! I no know da Pa'tridge is so bahd lak dat. I t'ink 'e fly 'way un no hu't-a you. Shuh-shuh! wun I see dem Pa'tridge I mus' git 'pon turrer side fer keep me hide whole.'

"Da Lion, 'e groan, 'e moan, 'e cry. B'er Rabbit, 'e say:

"'Da Pa'tridge, 'e berry bahd; 'e mus' bin borry da Buckra Man gun.'

"Da Lion, 'e groan, 'e cry:

"''E no da Pa'tridge no'n 'tall. Da Buckra Man is bin stan' way off un shoot-a me wit' 'e gun. Ow, ma Lord!'

"B'er Rabbit, 'e h'ist 'e han'; 'e say:

"'Wut I bin tell-a you, B'er Lion? Wut I bin tell you 'bout da Buckra Man? Da Pa'tridge no hu't-a you lak dis. 'E mek-a da big fuss, but 'e no hu't-a you lak dis. Da Buckra Man, 'e no mek no fuss 'cep' 'e p'int 'e gun at you—bang!'"

"And what then?" the little boy asked, as Daddy Jack collapsed in his seat, seemingly forgetful of all his surroundings.

"No'n 't all," replied the old African, somewhat curtly.

"De p'ints er dat tale, honey," said Uncle Remus, covering the brusqueness of Daddy Jack with his own amiability, "is des 'bout lak dis, dat dey aint no use er dodgin' w'iles dey's a big fuss gwine on, but you better take'n hide out w'en dey aint no racket; mo' speshually w'en you see Miss Sally lookin' behine de lookin'-glass fer dat ar peach-lim' w'at she tuck'n make me kyar up dar day 'fo' yistiddy; yit w'en she fine it don't you git too skeer'd, 'kaze I tuck'n make some weak places in dat ar switch, en Miss Sally won't mo'n strak you wid it 'fo' hit'll all come onjinted."

Parts of this moral the little boy understood thoroughly, for he laughed, and ran to the big house, and not long afterwards the light went out in Uncle Remus's cabin; but the two old negroes sat and nodded by the glowing embers for hours afterwards, dreaming dreams they never told of.

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

[74] One gun two times is a double-barrelled gun. ———————————————————————————————————



LVIII

THE ORIGIN OF THE OCEAN

"Uncle Remus," said the little boy, one night shortly after Daddy Jack's story of the lion's sad predicament, "mamma says there are no lions in Georgia, nor anywhere in the whole country."

"Tooby sho'ly not, honey; tooby sho'ly not!" exclaimed Uncle Remus. "I dunner who de name er goodness bin a-puttin' dat kinder idee in yo' head, en dey better not lemme fine um out, needer, 'kaze I'll take en put Mars John atter um right raw en rank, dat I will."

"Well, you know Daddy Jack said that Brother Rabbit met the Lion coming down the road."

"Bless yo' soul, honey! dat 's 'way 'cross de water whar ole man Jack tuck'n come fum, en a mighty long time ergo at dat. Hit 's away off yan, lots furder dan Ferginny yit. We-all er on one side de water, en de lions en mos' all de yuther servigous creeturs, dey er on t'er side. Aint I never tell you how come dat?"

The little boy shook his head.

"Well, sir! I dunner w'at I bin doin' all dis time dat I aint tell you dat, 'kaze dat 's whar de wussest kinder doin's tuck'n happen. Yasser! de wussest kinder doin's; en I'll des whirl in en gin it out right now 'fo' ole man Jack come wobblin' in.

"One time way back yander, 'fo' dey wuz any folks a-foolin' 'roun', Mr. Lion, he tuck'n tuck a notion dat he'd go huntin', en nothin' 'ud do 'im but Brer Rabbit must go wid 'im. Brer Rabbit, he 'low dat he up fer any kinder fun on top side er de groun'. Wid dat dey put out, dey did, en dey hunt en hunt clean 'cross de country.

"Mr. Lion, he'd lam aloose en miss de game, en den Brer Rabbit, he'd lam aloose en fetch it down. No sooner is he do dis dan Mr. Lion, he'd squall out:

"'Hit 's mine! hit 's mine! I kilt it!'

"Mr. Lion sech a big man dat Brer Rabbit skeer'd ter 'spute 'long wid 'im, but he lay it up in he min' fer to git even wid 'im. Dey went on en dey went on. Mr. Lion, he'd lam aloose en miss de game, en ole Brer Rabbit, he'd lam aloose en hit it, en Mr. Lion, he'd take'n whirl in en claim it.

"Dey hunt all day long, en w'en night come, dey 'uz sech a fur ways fum home dat dey hatter camp out. Dey went on, dey did, twel dey come ter a creek, en w'en dey come ter dat, dey tuck'n scrape away de trash en built um a fire on de bank, en cook dey supper.

"Atter supper dey sot up dar en tole tales, dey did, en Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n brag 'bout w'at a good hunter Mr. Lion is, en Mr. Lion, he leant back on he yelbow, en feel mighty biggity. Bimeby, w'en dey eyeleds git sorter heavy, Brer Rabbit, he up'n 'low:

"'I'm a monst'us heavy sleeper, Mr. Lion, w'en I gits ter nappin', en I hope en trus' I aint gwine 'sturb you dis night, yit I got my doubts.'

"Mr. Lion, he roach he ha'r back outen he eyes, en 'low:

"'I'm a monst'us heavy sleeper myse'f, Brer Rabbit, en I'll feel mighty glad ef I don't roust you up in de co'se er de night.'

"Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n change his terbacker fum one side he mouf ter de yuther, he did, en he up'n 'low:

"'Mr. Lion, I wish you be so good ez ter show me how you sno' des' fo' you git soun' asleep.'

"Mr. Lion, he tuck'n draw in he breff sorter hard, en show Brer Rabbit; den Brer Rabbit 'low:

"'Mr. Lion, I wish you be so good ez ter show me how you sno' atter yo done git soun' asleep.'

"Mr. Lion, he tuck'n suck in he breff, en eve'y time he suck in he breff it soun' des lak a whole passel er mules w'en dey whinney atter fodder. Brer Rabbit look 'stonish'. He roll he eye en 'low:

"'I year tell youer mighty big man, Mr. Lion, en you sho'ly is.'

"Mr. Lion, he hol' he head one side en try ter look 'shame', but all de same he aint feel 'shame'. Bimeby, he shot he eye en 'gun ter nod, den he lay down en stretch hisse'f out, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he 'gun ter sno' lak he sno' w'en he aint sleepin' soun'.

"Brer Rabbit, he lay dar. He aint sayin' nothin'. He lay dar wid one year h'ist up en one eye open. He lay dar, he did, en bimeby Mr. Lion 'gun ter sno' lak he sno' w'en he done gone fas' ter sleep.

"W'en ole Brer Rabbit year dis, he git up fum dar, en sprinkle hisse'f wid de cole ashes 'roun' de fier, en den he tuck'n fling er whole passel der hot embers on Mr. Lion. Mr. Lion, he jump up, he did, en ax who done dat, en Brer Rabbit, he lay dar en kick at he year wid he behime foot, en holler 'Ow!'

"Mr. Lion see de ashes on Brer Rabbit, en he dunner w'at ter t'ink. He look all 'roun', but he aint see nothin'. He drap he head en lissen, but he aint year nothin'. Den he lay down 'g'in en drap off ter sleep. Atter w'ile, w'en he 'gun ter sno' lak he done befo', Brer Rabbit, he jump up en sprinkle some mo' cole ashes on hisse'f, en fling de hot embers on Mr. Lion. Mr. Lion jump up, he did, en holler:

"'Dar yo is 'g'in!'

"Brer Rabbit, he kick en squall, en 'low:

"'You oughter be 'shame' yo'se'f, Mr. Lion, fer ter be tryin' ter bu'n me up.'

"Mr. Lion hol' up he han's en des vow 't aint him. Brer Rabbit, he look sorter jubous, but he aint say nothin'. Bimeby he holler out:

"'Phewee! I smells rags a-bu'nin'!'

"Mr. Lion, he sorter flinch, he did, en 'low:

"''T aint no rags, Brer Rabbit; hit 's my ha'r a-sinjin'.'

"Dey look all 'roun', dey did, but dey aint see nothin' ner nobody. Brer Rabbit, he say he gwine do some tall watchin' nex' time, 'kaze he boun' ter ketch de somebody w'at bin playin' dem kinder pranks on um. Wid dat, Mr. Lion lay down 'g'in, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he drap ter sleep.

"Well, den," continued Uncle Remus, taking a long breath, "de ve'y same kinder doin's tuck'n happen. De cole ashes fall on Brer Rabbit, en de hot embers fall on Mr. Lion. But by de time Mr. Lion jump up, Brer Rabbit, he holler out:

"'I seed um, Mr. Lion! I seed um! I seed de way dey come fum 'cross de creek! Dey mos' sho'ly did!'

"Wid dat Mr. Lion, he fetch'd a beller en he jumped 'cross de creek. No sooner is he do dis," Uncle Remus went on in a tone at once impressive and confidential, "no sooner is he do dis dan Brer Rabbit cut de string w'at hol' de banks togedder, en, lo en beholes, dar dey wuz!"

"What was, Uncle Remus?" the little boy asked, more amazed than he had been in many a day.

"Bless yo' soul, honey, de banks! Co'se w'en Brer Rabbit tuck'n cut de string, de banks er de creek, de banks, dey fall back, dey did, en Mr. Lion can't jump back. De banks dey keep on fallin' back, en de creek keep on gittin' wider en wider, twel bimeby Brer Rabbit en Mr. Lion aint in sight er one er n'er, en fum dat day to dis de big waters bin rollin' 'twix' um."

"But, Uncle Remus, how could the banks of a creek be tied with a string?"

"I aint ax um dat, honey, en darfo' yo'll hatter take um ez you git um. Nex' time de tale-teller come 'roun' I'll up'n ax 'im, en ef you aint too fur off, I'll whirl in en sen' you wud, en den you kin go en see fer yo'se'f. But 't aint skacely wuth yo' w'ile fer ter blame me, honey, 'bout de creek banks bein' tied wid a string. Who put um dar, I be bless ef I knows, but I knows who onloose um, dat w'at I knows!"

It is very doubtful if this copious explanation was satisfactory to the child, but just as Uncle Remus concluded, Daddy Jack came shuffling in, and shortly afterwards both Aunt Tempy and 'Tildy put in an appearance, and the mind of the youngster was diverted to other matters.



LIX

BROTHER RABBIT GETS BROTHER FOX'S DINNER

After the new-comers had settled themselves in their accustomed places, and 'Tildy had cast an unusual number of scornful glances at Daddy Jack, who made quite a pantomime of his courtship, Uncle Remus startled them all somewhat by breaking into a loud laugh.

"I boun' you," exclaimed Aunt Tempy, grinning with enthusiastic sympathy, "I boun' you Brer Remus done fine out some mo' er Brer Rabbit funny doin's; now I boun' you dat."

"You hit it de fus' clip, Sis Tempy, I 'clar' ter gracious ef you aint. You nailed it! You nailed it," Uncle Remus went on, laughing as boisterously as before, "des lak ole Brer Rabbit done."

The little boy was very prompt with what Uncle Remus called his "inquirements," and the old man, after the usual "hems" and "haws," began.

"Hit run'd 'cross my min' des lak a rat 'long a rafter, de way ole Brer Rabbit tuk'n done Brer Fox. 'Periently, atter Brer Rabbit done went en put a steeple on top er he house, all de yuther creeturs wanter fix up dey house. Some put new cellars und' um, some slapped on new winder-blines, some one thing and some er n'er, but ole Brer Fox, he tuck a notion dat he'd put some new shingles on de roof.

"Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n year tell er dis, en nothin'd do but he mus' rack 'roun' en see how ole Brer Fox gittin' on. W'en he git whar Brer Fox house is, he year a mighty lammin' en a blammin' en lo en beholes, dar 'uz Brer Fox settin' straddle er de comb er de roof nailin' on shingles des hard ez he kin.

"Brer Rabbit cut he eye 'roun' en he see Brer Fox dinner settin' in de fence-cornder. Hit 'uz kivered up in a bran new tin pail, en it look so nice dat Brer Rabbit mouf 'gun ter water time he see it, en he 'low ter hisse'f dat he bleedz ter eat dat dinner 'fo' he go 'way fum dar.

"Den Brer Rabbit tuck'n hail Brer Fox, en ax 'im how he come on. Brer Fox 'low he too busy to hol' any confab. Brer Rabbit up en ax 'im w'at is he doin 'up dar. Brer Fox 'low dat he puttin' roof on he house 'g'in de rainy season sot in. Den Brer Rabbit up en ax Brer Fox w'at time is it, en Brer Fox, he 'low dat hit 's wukkin time wid him. Brer Rabbit, he up en ax Brer Fox ef he aint stan' in needs er some he'p. Brer Fox, he 'low he did, dat ef he does stan' in needs er any he'p, he dunner whar in de name er goodness he gwine to git it at.

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