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

"Wid dat, Brer Rabbit sorter pull he mustarsh, en 'low dat de time wuz w'en he 'uz a mighty handy man wid a hammer, en he aint too proud fer to whirl in en he'p Brer Fox out'n de ruts.

"Brer Fox 'low he be mighty much erblige, en no sooner is he say dat dan Brer Rabbit snatched off he coat en lipt up de ladder, en sot in dar en put on mo' shingles in one hour dan Brer Fox kin put on in two.

"Oh, he 'uz a rattler—ole Brer Rabbit wuz," Uncle Remus exclaimed, noticing a questioning look in the child's face. "He 'uz a rattler, mon, des ez sho' ez youer settin' dar. Dey wa'n't no kinder wuk dat Brer Rabbit can't put he han' at, en do it better dan de nex' man.

"He nailed on shingles plum twel he git tired, Brer Rabbit did, en all de time he nailin', he study how he gwine git dat dinner. He nailed en he nailed. He 'ud nail one row, en Brer Fox 'ud nail 'n'er row. He nailed en he nailed. He kotch Brer Fox en pass 'im—kotch 'im en pass 'im, twel bimeby w'iles he nailin' 'long Brer Fox tail git in he way.

"Brer Rabbit 'low ter hisse'f, he did, dat he dunner w'at de name er goodness make folks have such long tails fer, en he push it out de way. He aint no mo'n push it out'n de way, 'fo' yer it come back in de way. Co'se," continued Uncle Remus, beginning to look serious, "w'en dat 's de case dat a soon man lak Brer Rabbit git pester'd in he min', he bleedz ter make some kinder accidents some'rs.

"Dey nailed en dey nailed, en, bless yo' soul! 't wa'n't long 'fo' Brer Fox drap eve'yt'ing en squall out:

"'Laws 'a' massy, Brer Rabbit! You done nail my tail. He'p me, Brer Rabbit, he'p me! You done nail my tail!'"

Uncle Remus waved his arms, clasped and unclasped his hands, stamped first one foot and then the other, and made various other demonstrations of grief and suffering.

"Brer Rabbit, he shot fus' one eye en den de yuther en rub hisse'f on de forrerd, en 'low:

"'Sho'ly I aint nail yo' tail, Brer Fox; sho'ly not. Look right close, Brer Fox, be keerful. Fer goodness sake don' fool me, Brer Fox!'

"Brer Fox, he holler, he squall, he kick, he squeal.

"'Laws 'a' massy, Brer Rabbit! You done nailed my tail. Onnail me, Brer Rabbit, onnail me!'

"Brer Rabbit, he make fer de ladder, en w'en he start down, he look at Brer Fox lak he right down sorry, en he up'n 'low, he did:

"'Well, well, well! Des ter t'ink dat I should er lamm'd aloose en nail Brer Fox tail. I dunner w'en I year tell er anyt'ing dat make me feel so mighty bad; en ef I had n't er seed it wid my own eyes I would n't er bleev'd it skacely—dat I would n't!'

"Brer Fox holler, Brer Fox howl, yit 't aint do no good. Dar he wuz wid he tail nail hard en fas'. Brer Rabbit, he keep on talkin' w'iles he gwine down de ladder.

"'Hit make me feel so mighty bad,' sezee, 'dat I dunner w'at ter do. Time I year tell un it, hit make a empty place come in my stomach,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.

"By dis time Brer Rabbit done git down on de groun', en w'iles Brer Fox holler'n, he des keep on a-talkin'.

"'Dey's a mighty empty place in my stomach,' sezee, 'en ef I aint run'd inter no mistakes dey's a tin-pail full er vittles in dish yer fence-cornder dat'll des 'bout fit it,' sez ole Brer Rabbit, sezee.

"He open de pail, he did, en he eat de greens, en sop up de 'lasses, en drink de pot-liquor, en w'en he wipe he mouf 'pun he coat-tail, he up'n 'low:

"'I dunner w'en I bin so sorry 'bout anything, ez I is 'bout Brer Fox nice long tail. Sho'ly, sho'ly my head mus' er bin wool-getherin' w'en I tuck'n nail Brer Fox fine long tail,' sez ole Brer Rabbit, sezee.

"Wid dat, he tuck'n skip out, Brer Rabbit did, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he 'uz playin' he pranks in some yuther parts er de settlement."

"How did Brother Fox get loose?" the little boy asked.

"Oh, you let Brer Fox 'lone fer dat," responded Uncle Remus. "Nex' ter Brer Rabbit, ole Brer Fox wuz mos' de shiftiest creetur gwine. I boun' you he tuck'n tuck keer hisse'f soon ez Brer Rabbit git outer sight en year'n."



While the negroes were talking of matters which the little boy took little or no interest in, he climbed into Uncle Remus's lap, as he had done a thousand times before. Presently the old man groaned, and said:

"I be bless ef I know w'at de marter, honey. I dunner whe'er I'm a-gittin' fibble in de lim's, er whe'er youer outgrowin' me. I lay I'll hatter sen' out en git you a nuss w'at got mo' strenk in dey lim's dan w'at I is."

The child protested that he was n't very heavy, and that he would n't have any nurse, and the old man was about to forget that he had said anything about nurses, when Daddy Jack, who seemed to be desirous of appearing good-humored in the presence of 'Tildy, suddenly exclaimed:

"Me bin yeddy one tale 'bout da tam w'en da lil Bear is bin nuss da 'Gator chilluns. 'E bin mek fine nuss fer true. 'E stan' by dem lilly 'Gator tel dey no mo' fer stan' by."

Seeing that Daddy Jack manifested symptoms of going to sleep, the little boy asked if he would n't tell the story, and, thus appealed to, the old African began:

"One tam dey is bin one ole Bear; 'e big un 'e strong. 'E lif way in da swamp; 'e hab nes' in da holler tree. 'E hab one, two lilly Bear in da nes'; 'e bin lub dem chillun berry ha'd. One day, 'e git honkry; 'e tell 'e chillun 'e gwan 'way off fer git-a some bittle fer eat; 'e tell dem dey mus' be good chillun un stay wey dey lif. 'E say 'e gwan fer fetch dem one fish fer dey brekwus. Dun 'e gone off.

"Da lil Bear chillun hab bin 'sleep till dey kin sleep no mo'. Da sun, 'e der shine wom, 'e mekky lilly Bear feel wom. Da lil boy Bear, 'e rub 'e y-eye, 'e say 'e gwan off fer hab some fun. Da lil gal Bear, 'e say:

"'Wut will we mammy say?'

"Lil boy Bear, 'e der lahff. 'E say:

"'Me gwan down by da crik side fer ketch some fish 'fo' we mammy come.'

"Lil gal Bear, 'e look skeer; 'e say:

"'We mammy say somet'ing gwan git-a you. Min' wut 'e tell you.'

"Lil boy Bear, 'e keep on lahff. 'E say:

"'Shuh-shuh! 'E yent nebber know less you tell um. You no tell um, me fetch-a you one big fish.'

"Lil boy Bear, 'e gone! 'E gone by da crik side, 'e tek 'e hook, 'e tek 'e line, 'e is go by da crik side fer ketch one fish. Wun 'e come dey-dey, 'e see somet'ing lay dey in de mud. 'E t'ink it bin one big log. 'E lahff by 'ese'f; 'e say:

"''E one fine log fer true. Me 'tan' 'pon da log fer ketch-a da fish fer me lil titty.'[75]

"Lil boy Bear, 'e der jump down; 'e git 'pon da log; 'e fix fer fish; 'e fix 'e hook, 'e fix 'e line. Bumbye da log moof. Da lil boy Bear holler:

"'Ow ma Lordy!'

"'E look down; 'e skeer mos' dead. Da log bin one big 'Gator. Da 'Gator 'e swim 'way wit' da lil boy Bear 'pon 'e bahck. 'E flut 'e tail, 'e knock da lil boy Bear spang in 'e two han'. 'E grin wide, 'e feel da lil boy Bear wit' 'e nose; 'e say:

"'I tekky you wey me lif; me chillun is hab you fer dey brekwus.'

"Da 'Gator, 'e bin swim toze da hole in da bank wey 'e lif. 'E come by da hole, 'e ca' da lil boy Bear in dey. 'E is call up 'e chillun; 'e say:

"'Come see how fine brekwus me bin brung you.'

"Da ole 'Gator, 'e hab seben chillun in 'e bed. Da lil boy Bear git skeer; 'e holler, 'e cry, 'e beg. 'E say:

"'Please, Missy 'Gator, gib me chance fer show you how fine nuss me is—please, Missy 'Gator. Wun you gone 'way, me min' dem chillun, me min' um well.'

"Da 'Gator flut 'e tail; 'e say:

"'I try you dis one day; you min' dem lil one well, me luf you be.'

"Da ole 'Gator gone 'way; 'e luf da lil boy Bear fer min' 'e chillun. 'E gone git somet'ing fer dey brekwus. Da lil boy Bear, 'e set down dey-dey; 'e min' dem chillun; 'e wait un 'e wait. Bumbye, 'e is git honkry. 'E wait un 'e wait. 'E min' dem chillun. 'E wait un 'e wait. 'E 'come so honkry 'e yent mos' kin hol' up 'e head. 'E suck 'e paw. 'E wait un 'e wait. Da 'Gator no come. 'E wait un 'e wait. Da 'Gator no come some mo'. 'E say:

"'Ow! me no gwan starf mese'f wun da planty bittle by side er me!'

"Da lil boy Bear grab one da lil 'Gator by 'e neck; 'e tek um off in da bush side; 'e der eat um up. 'E no leaf 'e head, 'e no leaf 'e tail; 'e yent leaf nuttin' 't all. 'E go bahck wey da turrer lil 'Gator bin huddle up in da bed. 'E rub 'ese'f 'pon da 'tomach; 'e say:

"'Hoo! me feel-a too good fer tahlk 'bout. I no know wut me gwan fer tell da ole 'Gator wun 'e is come bahck. Ki! me no keer. Me feel too good fer t'ink 'bout dem t'ing. Me t'ink 'bout dem wun da 'Gator is bin come; me t'ink 'bout dem bumbye wun da time come fer t'ink.'

"Da lil boy Bear lay down; 'e quile up in da 'Gator bed; 'e shed 'e y-eye; 'e sleep ha'd lak bear do wun ef full up. Bumbye, mos' toze night, da 'Gator come; 'e holler:

"'Hey! lil boy Bear! How you is kin min' me chillun wun you is gone fer sleep by um?'

"Da lil boy Bear, 'e set up 'pon 'e ha'nch; 'e say:

"'Me y-eye gone fer sleep, but me year wide 'wake.'

"Da 'Gator flut 'e tail; 'e say:

"'Wey me chillun wut me leaf you wit'?'

"Da lil boy Bear 'come skeer; 'e say:

"'Dey all dey-dey, Missy 'Gator. Wait! lemme count dem, Missy 'Gator.

"'Yarrah one, yarrah narrah, Yarrah two 'pon top er tarrah, Yarrah t'ree pile up tergarrah!'[76]

"Da 'Gator y-open 'e mout', 'e grin wide; 'e say:

"'Oona nuss dem well, lil boy Bear; come, fetch-a me one fer wash un git 'e supper.'

"Da lil boy Bear, 'e ca' one, 'e ca' nurrer, 'e ca' turrer, 'e ca' um all tel 'e ca' six, den 'e come skeer. 'E t'ink da 'Gator gwan fine um out fer true. 'E stop, 'e yent know wut fer do. Da 'Gator holler:

"'Fetch-a me turrer!'

"Da lil boy Bear, 'e grab da fus' one, 'e wullup um in da mud, 'e ca' um bahck. Da 'Gator bin wash un feed um fresh; 'e yent know da diffran.

"Bumbye, nex' day mornin', da 'Gator gone 'way. Da lil boy Bear stay fer nuss dem lil 'Gator. 'E come honkry; 'e wait, but 'e come mo' honkry. 'E grab nurrer lil 'Gator, 'e eat um fer 'e dinner. Mos' toze night, da 'Gator come. It sem t'ing:

"'Wey me chillun wut me leaf you fer nuss?'

"'Dey all dey-dey, Missy 'Gator. Me count um out:

"'Yarrah one, yarrah narrah, Yarrah two 'pon top er tarrah, Yarrah t'ree pile up tergarrah!'

"'E ca' um one by one fer wash un git dey supper. 'E ca' two bahck two tam. Ebry day 'e do dis way tel 'e come at de las'. 'E eat dis one, un 'e gone luf da place wey da 'Gator lif. 'E gone down da crik side tel 'e is come by da foot-log, un 'e is run 'cross queek. 'E git in da bush, 'e fair fly tel 'e is come by da place wey 'e lil titty bin lif. 'E come dey-dey, un 'e yent go 'way no mo'."

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

[75] Sissy.

[76] Here is one, here's another; here are two on top of t'other; here are three piled up together. ———————————————————————————————————



The little boy was not particularly pleased at the summary manner in which the young Alligators were disposed of; but he was very much amused at the somewhat novel method employed by the Bear to deceive the old Alligator. The negroes, however, enjoyed Daddy Jack's story immensely, and even 'Tildy condescended to give it her approval; but she qualified this by saying, as soon as she had ceased laughing:

"I 'clar' ter goodness you all got mighty little ter do fer ter be settin' down yer night atter night lis'nin' at dat nigger man."

Daddy Jack nodded, smiled, and rubbed his withered hands together apparently in a perfect ecstasy of good-humor, and finally said:

"Oona come set-a by me, lil gal. 'E berry nice tale wut me tell-a you. Come sit-a by me, lil gal;'e berry nice tale. Ef you no want me fer tell-a you one tale, dun you is kin tell-a me one tale."

"Humph!" exclaimed 'Tildy, contemptuously, "you'll set over dar in dat cornder en dribble many's de long day 'fo' I tell you any tale."

"Look yer, gal!" said Uncle Remus, pretending to ignore the queer courtship that seemed to be progressing between Daddy Jack and 'Tildy, "you gittin' too ole fer ter be sawin' de a'r wid yo 'head en squealin' lak a filly. Ef you gwine ter set wid folks, you better do lak folks does. Sis Tempy dar aint gwine on dat a-way, en she aint think 'erse'f too big fer ter set up dar en jine in wid us en tell a tale, needer."

This was the first time that Uncle Remus had ever condescended to accord 'Tildy a place at his hearth on an equality with the rest of his company, and she seemed to be immensely tickled. A broad grin spread over her comely face as she exclaimed:

"Oh! I 'clar' ter goodness, Unk Remus, I thought dat ole nigger man wuz des a-projickin' 'long wid me. Ef it come down ter settin' up yer 'long wid you all en tellin' a tale, I aint 'nyin' but w'at I got one dat you all aint never year tell un, 'kaze dat ar Slim Jim w'at Mars Ellick Akin got out'n de speckerlater waggin,[77] he up'n tell it dar at Riah's des 'fo' de patter-rollers tuck'n slipt up on um."

"Dar now!" remarked Aunt Tempy. 'Tildy laughed boisterously.

"W'at de patter-rollers do wid dat ar Slim Jim?" Uncle Remus inquired.

"Done nothin'!" exclaimed 'Tildy, with an air of humorous scorn. "Time dey got in dar Slim Jim 'uz up de chimbly, en Riah 'uz noddin' in one cornder en me in de udder. Nobody never is ter know how dat ar long-leg nigger slick'd up dat chimbly—dat dey aint. He put one foot on de pot-rack,[78] en whar he put de t'er foot I can't tell you."

"What was the story?" asked the little boy.

"I boun' fer you, honey!" exclaimed Uncle Remus.

"Well, den," said 'Tildy, settling herself comfortably, and bridling a little as Daddy Jack manifested a desire to give her his undivided attention,—"well, den, dey wuz one time w'en ole Brer Rabbit 'uz bleedz ter go ter town atter sump'n' 'n'er fer his famerly, en he mos' 'shame' ter go 'kaze his shoes done wo' tetotally out. Yit he bleedz ter go, en he put des ez good face on it ez he kin, en he take down he walkin'-cane en sot out des ez big ez de next un.

"Well, den, ole Brer Rabbit go on down de big road twel he come ter de place whar some folks bin camp out de night befo', en he sot down by de fier, he did, fer ter wom his foots, 'kaze dem mawnin's 'uz sorter cole, like deze yer mawnin's. He sot dar en look at his toes, en he feel mighty sorry fer hisse'f.

"Well, den, he sot dar, he did, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he year sump'n' 'n'er trottin' down de road, en he tuck'n look up en yer come Mr. Dog a-smellin' en a-snuffin' 'roun' fer ter see ef de folks lef' any scraps by der camp-fier. Mr. Dog 'uz all dress up in his Sunday-go-ter-meetin' cloze, en mo'n dat, he had on a pa'r er bran new shoes.

"Well, den, w'en Brer Rabbit see dem ar shoes he feel mighty bad, but he aint let on. He bow ter Mr. Dog mighty perlite, en Mr. Dog bow back, he did, en dey pass de time er day, 'kaze dey 'uz ole 'quaintance. Brer Rabbit, he say:

"'Mr. Dog, whar you gwine all fix up like dis?'

"'I gwine ter town, Brer Rabbit; whar you gwine?'

"'I thought I go ter town myse'f fer ter git me new pa'r shoes, 'kaze my ole uns done wo' out en dey hu'ts my foots so bad I can't w'ar um. Dem mighty nice shoes w'at you got on, Mr. Dog; whar you git um?'

"'Down in town, Brer Rabbit, down in town.'

"'Dey fits you mighty slick, Mr. Dog, en I wish you be so good ez ter lemme try one un um on.'

"Brer Rabbit talk so mighty sweet dat Mr. Dog sot right flat on de groun' en tuck off one er de behime shoes, en loant it ter Brer Rabbit. Brer Rabbit, he lope off down de road en den he come back. He tell Mr. Dog dat de shoe fit mighty nice, but wid des one un um on, hit make 'im trot crank-sided.

"Well, den, Mr. Dog, he pull off de yuther behime shoe, en Brer Rabbit trot off en try it. He come back, he did, en he say:

"'Dey mighty nice, Mr. Dog, but dey sorter r'ars me up behime, en I dunner 'zackly how dey feels.'

"Dis make Mr. Dog feel like he wanter be perlite, en he take off de befo' shoes, en Brer Rabbit put um on en stomp his foots, en 'low:

"'Now dat sorter feel like shoes;' en he rack off down de road, en w'en he git whar he oughter tu'n 'roun', he des lay back he years en keep on gwine; en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he git outer sight.

"Mr. Dog, he holler, en tell 'im fer ter come back, but Brer Rabbit keep on gwine; Mr. Dog, he holler, Mr. Rabbit, he keep on gwine. En down ter dis day," continued 'Tildy, smacking her lips, and showing her white teeth, "Mr. Dog bin a-runnin' Brer Rabbit, en ef you'll des go out in de woods wid any Dog on dis place, des time he smell de Rabbit track he'll holler en tell 'im fer ter come back."

"Dat 's de Lord's trufe!" said Aunt Tempy.

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

[77] Speculator's wagon.

[78] A bar of iron across the fireplace, with hooks to hold the pots and kettles. The original form of the crane. ———————————————————————————————————



Daddy Jack appeared to enjoy 'Tildy's story as thoroughly as the little boy.

"'E one fine tale. 'E mekky me lahff tell tear is come in me y-eye," the old African said. And somehow or other 'Tildy seemed to forget her pretended animosity to Daddy Jack, and smiled on him as pleasantly as she did on the others. Uncle Remus himself beamed upon each and every one, especially upon Aunt Tempy; and the little boy thought he had never seen everybody in such good-humor.

"Sis Tempy," said Uncle Remus, "I 'speck it's yo' time fer ter put in."

"I des bin rackin' my min'," said Aunt Tempy, thoughtfully. "I see you fixin' dat ar hawn, un terreckerly hit make me think 'bout a tale w'at I aint year none un you tell yit."

Uncle Remus was polishing a long cow's-horn, for the purpose of making a hunting-horn for his master.

"Hit come 'bout one time dat all de creeturs w'at got hawns tuck a notion dat dey got ter meet terge'er un have a confab fer ter see how dey gwine take ker deyse'f, 'kaze dem t'er creeturs w'at got tush un claw, dey uz des a-snatchin' um fum 'roun' eve'y cornder."

"Tooby sho'!" said Uncle Remus, approvingly.

"Dey sont out wud, de hawn creeturs did, un dey tuck'n meet terge'er 'way off in de woods. Man—Sir!—dey wuz a big gang un um, un de muster dey had out dar 't wa'n't b'ar tellin' skacely. Mr. Bull, he 'uz dar, un Mr. Steer, un Miss Cow"—

"And Mr. Benjamin Ram, with his fiddle," suggested the little boy.

—"Yes, 'n Mr. Billy Goat, un Mr. Unicorn"—

"En ole man Rinossyhoss," said Uncle Remus.

—"Yes, 'n lots mo' w'at I aint know de names un. Man—Sir!—dey had a mighty muster out dar. Ole Brer Wolf, he tuck'n year 'bout de muster, un he sech a smarty dat nothin' aint gwine do but he mus' go un see w'at dey doin'.

"He study 'bout it long time, un den he went out in de timber un cut 'im two crooked sticks, un tie um on his head, un start off ter whar de hawn creeturs meet at. W'en he git dar Mr. Bull ax 'im who is he, w'at he want, whar he come frum, un whar he gwine. Brer Wolf, he 'low:

"'Ba-a-a! I'm name little Sook Calf!'"

"Eh-eh! Look out, now!" exclaimed 'Tildy, enthusiastically.

"Mr. Bull look at Brer Wolf mighty hard over his specks, but atter a w'ile he go off some'rs else, un Brer Wolf take his place in de muster.

"Well, den, bimeby, terreckerly, dey got ter talkin' un tellin' der 'sperence des like de w'ite folks does at class-meetin'. W'iles dey 'uz gwine on dis a-way, a great big hoss-fly come sailin' 'roun', un Brer Wolf tuck'n fergit hisse'f, un snap at 'im.

"All dis time Brer Rabbit bin hidin' out in de bushes watchin' Brer Wolf, un w'en he see dis he tuck'n break out in a laugh. Brer Bull, he tuck'n holler out, he did:

"'Who dat laughin' un showin' der manners?'

"Nobody aint make no answer, un terreckerly Brer Rabbit holler out:

"'O kittle-cattle, kittle-cattle, whar yo' eyes? Who ever see a Sook Calf snappin' at flies?'

"De hawn creeturs dey all look 'roun' un wonder w'at dat mean, but bimeby dey go on wid dey confab. 'T wa'n't long 'fo' a flea tuck'n bite Brer Wolf 'way up on de back er de neck, un 'fo' he know what he doin', he tuck'n squat right down un scratch hisse'f wid his behime foot."

"Enty!" exclaimed Daddy Jack.

"Dar you is!" said 'Tildy.

"Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n broke out in 'n'er big laugh un 'sturb um all, un den he holler out:

"'Scritchum-scratchum, lawsy, my laws! Look at dat Sook Calf scratchin' wid claws!'

"Brer Wolf git mighty skeer'd, but none er de hawn creeturs aint take no notice un 'im, un 't wa'n't long 'fo' Brer Rabbit holler out ag'in:

"'Rinktum-tinktum, ride 'im on a rail! Dat Sook Calf got a long bushy tail!'

"De hawn creeturs, dey go on wid der confab, but Brer Wolf git skeerder un skeerder, 'kaze he notice dat Mr. Bull got his eye on 'im. Brer Rabbit, he aint gin 'im no rest. He holler out:

"'One un one never kin make six, Sticks aint hawns, un hawns aint sticks!'

"Wid dat Brer Wolf make ez ef he gwine 'way fum dar, un he wa'n't none too soon, needer, 'kaze ole Mr. Bull splunge at 'im, en little mo' un he'd er nat'ally to' 'im in two."

"Did Brother Wolf get away?" the little boy asked.

"Yas, Lord!" said Aunt Tempy, with unction; "he des scooted 'way fum dar, un he got so mad wid Brer Rabbit, dat he tuck'n play dead, un wud went 'roun' dat dey want all de creeturs fer ter go set up wid 'im. Brer Rabbit, he went down dar fer ter look at 'im, un time he see 'im, he ex:

"'Is he grin yit?'

"All de creeturs dey up'n say he aint grin, not ez dey knows un. Den Brer Rabbit, he 'low, he did:

"'Well, den, gentermuns all, ef he aint grin, den he aint dead good. In all my 'speunce folks aint git dead good tel dey grins.'[79]

"W'en Brer Wolf year Brer Rabbit talk dat a-way, he tuck'n grin fum year ter year, un Brer Rabbit, he picked up his hat un walkin'-cane un put out fer home, un w'en he got 'way off in de woods he sot down un laugh fit ter kill hisse'f."

Uncle Remus had paid Aunt Tempy the extraordinary tribute of pausing in his work to listen to her story, and when she had concluded it, he looked at her in undisguised admiration, and exclaimed:

"I be bless, Sis Tempy, ef you aint wuss'n w'at I is, en I'm bad 'nuff', de Lord knows I is!"

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

[79] See Uncle Remus: His Songs and his Sayings, p. 60. ———————————————————————————————————



Aunty Tempy did not attempt to conceal the pleasure which Uncle Remus's praise gave her. She laughed somewhat shyly, and said:

"Bless you, Brer Remus! I des bin a-settin' yer l'arnin'. 'Sides dat, Chris'mus aint fur off un I 'speck we er all a-feelin' a sight mo' humorsome dan common."

"Dat 's so, Sis Tempy. I 'uz comin' thoo de lot des 'fo' supper, en I seed de pigs runnin' en playin' in de win', en I 'low ter myse'f, sez I, 'Sholy dey's a-gwine ter be a harrycane,' en den all at once hit come in my min' dat Chris'mus mighty close at han', en den on ter dat yer come de chickens a-crowin' des now en 't aint nine er'clock. I dunner how de creeturs know Chris'mus comin', but dat des de way it stan's."

The little boy thought it was time enough to think about Christmas when the night came for hanging up his stockings, and he asked Uncle Remus if it was n't his turn to tell a story. The old man laid down the piece of glass with which he had been scraping the cow's horn, and hunted around among his tools for a piece of sandpaper before he replied. But his reply was sufficient. He said:

"One time w'iles Brer Rabbit wuz gwine thoo de woods he tuck'n strak up wid ole Brer Fox, en Brer Fox 'low, he did, dat he mighty hongry. Brer Rabbit 'low dat he aint feelin' dat a-way hisse'f, 'kaze he des bin en had er bait er w'ite muscadimes, en den he tuck'n smack he mouf en lick he chops right front er Brer Fox. Brer Fox, he ax, sezee:

"'Brer Rabbit, whar de name er goodness is deze yer w'ite muscadimes, en how come I'm aint never run 'crosst um?' sezee.

"'I dunner w'at de reason you aint never come up wid um,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee; 'some folks sees straight, some sees crooked, some sees one thing, some sees 'n'er. I done seed dem ar w'ite muscadimes, en let 'lone dat, I done wipe um up. I done e't all dey wuz on one tree, but I lay dey's lots mo' un um 'roun' in dem neighborhoods,' sezee.

"Ole Brer Fox mouf 'gun to water, en he git mighty restless.

"'Come on, Brer Rabbit; come on! Come show me whar dem ar w'ite muscadimes grows at,' sezee.

"Brer Rabbit, he sorter hang back. Brer Fox, he 'low:

"'Come on, Brer Rabbit, come on!'

"Brer Rabbit, he hang back, en bimeby he 'low:

"'Uh-uh, Brer Fox! You wanter git me out dar in de timber by myse'f en do sump'n' ter me. You wanter git me out dar en skeer me.'

"Ole Brer Fox, he hol' up he han's, he do, en he 'low:

"'I des 'clar' 'fo' gracious, Brer Rabbit, I aint gwine do no sech uv a thing. I dunner w'at kinder 'pinion you got 'bout me fer ter have sech idee in yo' head. Come on, Brer Rabbit, en less we go git dem ar w'ite muscadimes. Come on, Brer Rabbit.'

"'Uh-uh, Brer Fox! I done year talk er you playin' so many prank wid folks dat I fear'd fer ter go 'way off dar wid you.'

"Dey went on dat a-way," continued Uncle Remus, endeavoring to look at the little boy through the crooked cow's horn, "twel bimeby Brer Fox promise he aint gwine ter bodder 'long er Brer Rabbit, en den dey tuck'n put out. En whar you 'speck dat ar muscheevous Brer Rabbit tuck'n kyar' Brer Fox?"

Uncle Remus paused and gazed around upon his audience with uplifted eyebrows, as if to warn them to be properly astonished. Nobody made any reply, but all looked expectant, and Uncle Remus went on:

"He aint kyar 'im nowhars in de roun' worl' but ter one er deze yer great big scaly-bark trees. De tree wuz des loaded down wid scaly-barks, but dey wa'n't ripe, en de green hulls shined in de sun des lak dey ben whitewash'. Brer Fox look 'stonish'. Atter w'ile he up'n 'low:

"'Is dem ar de w'ite muscadimes? Mighty funny I aint fine it out 'fo' dis.'

"Ole Brer Rabbit, he scratch hisse'f en 'low:

"'Dems um. Dey may n't be ripe ez dem w'at I had fer my brekkus, but dems de w'ite muscadimes sho' ez youer bawn. Dey er red bullaces[80] en dey er black bullaces, but deze yer, dey er de w'ite bullaces.'

"Brer Fox, sezee, 'How I gwine git um?'

"Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'You'll des hatter do lak I done.'

"Brer Fox, sezee, 'How wuz dat?'

"Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'You'll hatter clam fer 'm.'

"Brer Fox, sezee, 'How I gwine clam?'

"Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'Grab wid yo' han's, clam wid yo' legs, en I'll push behime!'"

"Man—Sir!—he's a-talkin' now!" exclaimed Aunt Tempy, enthusiastically.

"Brer Fox, he clum, en Brer Rabbit, he push, twel, sho' 'nuff, Brer Fox got whar he kin grab de lowmos' lim's, en dar he wuz! He crope on up, he did, twel he come ter whar he kin retch de green scaly-bark, en den he tuck'n pull one en bite it, en, gentermens! hit uz dat rough en dat bitter twel little mo' en he'd 'a' drapt spang out'n de tree.

"He holler 'Ow!' en spit it out'n he mouf des same ez ef 't wuz rank pizen, en he make sech a face dat you would n't b'leeve it skacely less'n you seed it. Brer Rabbit, he hatter cough fer ter keep fum laughin', but he make out ter holler, sezee:

"'Come down, Brer Fox! Dey aint ripe. Come down en less go some'rs else.'

"Brer Fox start down, en he git 'long mighty well twel he come ter de lowmos' lim's, en den w'en he git dar he can't come down no furder, 'kaze he aint got no claw fer cling by, en not much leg fer clamp.

"Brer Rabbit keep on hollerin', 'Come down!' en Brer Fox keep on studyin' how he gwine ter come down. Brer Rabbit, he 'low, sezee:

"'Come on, Brer Fox! I tuck'n push you up, en ef I 'uz dar whar you is, I'd take'n push you down.'

"Brer Fox sat dar on de lowmos' lim's en look lak he skeer'd. Bimeby Brer Rabbit tuck he stan' 'way off fum de tree, en he holler, sezee:

"'Ef you'll take'n jump out dis way, Brer Fox, I'll ketch you.'

"Brer Fox look up, he look down, he look all 'roun'. Brer Rabbit come little closer, en 'low, sezee:

"'Hop right down yer, Brer Fox, en I'll ketch you.'

"Hit keep on dis a-way, twel, bimeby, Brer Fox tuck a notion to jump, en des ez he jump Brer Rabbit hop out de way en holler, sezee:

"'Ow! Scuze me, Brer Fox! I stuck a brier in my foot! Scuze me, Brer Fox! I stuck a brier in my foot!'

"En dat ole Brer Fox," continued Uncle Remus, dropping his voice a little, "dat ole Brer Fox, gentermens! you oughter bin dar! He hit de groun' like a sack er taters, en it des nat'ally knock de breff out'n 'im. W'en he git up en count hisse'f fer ter see ef he all dar, he aint kin walk skacely, en he sat dar en lick de so' places a mighty long time 'fo' he feel lak he kin make he way todes home."

When the little boy wanted to know what became of Brother Rabbit Uncle Remus said:

"Shoo! don't you pester 'bout Brer Rabbit. He kick up he heels en put out fum dar." Then he added: "Dem ar chick'ns crowin' 'g'in, honey. Done gone by nine er'clock. Scoot out fum dis. Miss Sally'll be a-rakin' me over de coals."

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

[80] Another name for muscadines. ———————————————————————————————————



One night the little boy ran into Uncle Remus's cabin singing:

"T-u Turkey, t-u Ti, T-u Turkey Buzzard's eye!"

Uncle Remus, Daddy Jack, Aunt Tempy, and 'Tildy were all sitting around the fire, for the Christmas weather was beginning to make itself rather severely felt. As they made room for the child, Daddy Jack flung his head back, and took up the song, beating time with his foot:

"'T-u Tukry, t-u Ti, T-u Tukry-Buzzud y-eye! T-u Tukry, t-u Ting, T-u Tukry-Buzzud wing!"

"Deyer mighty kuse creeturs," said 'Tildy, who was sitting rather nearer to Daddy Jack than had been her custom,—a fact to which Aunt Tempy had already called the attention of Uncle Remus by a motion of her head, causing the old man to smile a smile as broad as it was wise. "Deyer mighty kuse, an' I'm fear'd un um," 'Tildy went on. "Dey looks so lonesome hit makes me have de creeps fer ter look at um."

"Dey no hu't-a you," said Daddy Jack, soothingly. "You flut you' han' toze um dey fly 'way fum dey-dey."

"I dunno 'bout dat," said 'Tildy. "Deyer bal'-headed, en dat w'at make me 'spize um."

Daddy Jack rubbed the bald place on his head with such a comical air that even 'Tildy laughed. The old African retained his good-humor.

"You watch dem Buzzud," he said after awhile, addressing himself particularly to the little boy. "'E fly high, 'e fly low, 'e fly 'way 'roun'. Rain come, 'e flup 'e wings, 'e light 'pon dead pine. Rain fall, 'e hug 'ese'f wit' 'e wing, 'e scrooge 'e neck up. Rain come, win' blow, da Buzzud bin-a look ragged. Da Buzzud bin-a wink 'e y-eye, 'e say:

"'Wun da win' fer stop blow un da rain fer stop drip, me go mek me one house. Me mek um tight fer keep da rain out; me pit top on strong fer keep da win' out.'

"Dun da rain dry up un da win' stop. Da Buzzud, 'e stan' 'pon top da dead pine. Wun da sun bin-a shine, 'e no mek um no house no'n 't all. 'E stay 'pon da dead pine; 'e 'tretch 'e wing wide open; 'e bin dry hisse'f in da sun. 'E hab mek no house sence 'e bin born. 'E one fool bud."

"En yit," said Uncle Remus, with a grave, judicial air, "I year tell er one time w'en ole Brer Buzzard wa'n't so mighty fur outer de way wid he notions."

"Me yent yeddy tahlk 'bout dis," Daddy Jack explained.

"I 'speck not," responded Uncle Remus. "Hit seem lak dat dey wuz one time w'en Mr. Hawk come sailin' 'roun' huntin' fer sump'n' 'n'er t' eat, en he see Brer Buzzard settin' on a dead lim', lookin' mighty lazy en lonesome.

"Mr. Hawk, sezee, 'How you come on, Brer Buzzard?'

"Brer Buzzard, sezee, 'I'm mighty po'ly, Brer Hawk; po'ly en hongry.'

"Mr. Hawk, sezee, 'W'at you waitin' yer fer ef you hongry, Brer Buzzard?'

"Brer Buzzard, sezee, 'I'm a-waitin' on de Lord.'

"Mr. Hawk, sezee, 'Better run en git yo' brekkus, Brer Buzzard, en den come back en wait.'

"Brer Buzzard, sezee, 'No, Brer Hawk, I'll go bidout my brekkus druther den be biggity 'bout it.'

"Mr. Hawk, he 'low, sezee, 'Well, den, Brer Buzzard, you got yo' way en I got mine. You see dem ar chick'ns, down dar in Mr. Man hoss-lot? I'm a-gwine down dar en git one un um, un den I'll come back yer en wait 'long wid you.'

"Wid dat, Mr. Hawk tuck'n sail off, en Brer Buzzard drop he wings down on de lim' en look mighty lonesome. He sot dar en look mighty lonesome, he did, but he keep one eye on Mr. Hawk.

"Mr. Hawk, he sail 'roun' en 'roun', en he look mighty purty. He sail 'roun' en 'roun' 'bove de hoss-lot—'roun' en 'roun'—en bimeby he dart down at chick'ns. He shot up he wings en dart down, he did, des same ef he 'uz fired out'n a gun."

"Watch out, pullets!" exclaimed 'Tildy, in a tone of warning.

"He dart down, he did," continued Uncle Remus, rubbing his hand thoughtfully across the top of his head, "but stidder he hittin' de chick'ns, he tuck'n hit 'pon de sharp een' un a fence-rail. He hit dar, he did, en dar he stuck."

"Ah-yi-ee!" exclaimed Daddy Jack.

"Dar he stuck. Brer Buzzard sot en watch 'im. Mr. Hawk aint move. Brer Buzzard sot en watch 'im some mo'. Mr. Hawk aint move. He done stone dead. De mo' Brer Buzzard watch 'im de mo' hongrier he git, en bimeby he gedder up he wings, en sorter clean out he year wid he claw, en 'low, sezee:

"'I know'd de Lord 'uz gwineter pervide.'"

"Trufe too!" exclaimed Aunt Tempy. "'T aint bin in my min' dat Buzzard got sense lak dat!"

"Dar's whar you missed it, Sis Tempy," said Uncle Remus gravely. "Brer Buzzard, he tuck'n drap down fum de dead lim', en he lit on Mr. Hawk, en had 'im fer brekkus. Hit 's a mighty 'roun' about way fer ter git chick'n-pie, yit hit 's lots better dan no way."

"I 'speck Hawk do tas'e like chicken," remarked 'Tildy.

"Dey mos' sho'ly does," said Uncle Remus, with emphasis.



"I year tell er one time," said 'Tildy, "w'en ole Mr. Hawk tuck'n kotch Brer Rabbit, but 't aint no tale like dem you all bin tellin'."

"Tell it, anyhow, 'Tildy," said the little boy.

"Well, 't aint no tale, I tell you dat now. One time Brer Rabbit wuz gwine 'long thoo de bushes singin' ter hisse'f, en he see a shadder pass befo' 'im. He look up, en dar 'uz Mr. Hawk sailin' 'roun' en 'roun'. Time he see 'im, Brer Rabbit 'gun ter kick up en sassy 'im.

"Mr. Hawk aint pay no 'tention ter dis. He des sail all 'roun' en 'roun'. Eve'y time he sail 'roun', he git little closer, but Brer Rabbit aint notice dis. He too busy wid his devilment. He shuck his fis' at Mr. Hawk, en chunk'd at 'im wid sticks;[81] en atter w'ile he tuck'n make out he got a gun, en he tuck aim at Mr. Hawk, en 'low'd, 'Pow!' en den he holler en laugh.

"All dis time Mr. Hawk keep on sailin' 'roun' en 'roun' en gittin' nigher en nigher, en bimeby down he drapt right slambang on Brer Rabbit, en dar he had 'im. Brer Rabbit fix fer ter say his pra'rs, but 'fo' he do dat, he talk to Mr. Hawk, en he talk mighty fergivin'. He 'low he did:

"'I 'uz des playin', Mr. Hawk; I 'uz dez a-playin'. You oughtn' ter fly up en git mad wid a little bit er man like me.'

"Mr. Hawk ruffle up de fedders on his neck en say:

"'I aint flyin' up, I'm a-flyin' down, en w'en I fly up, I'm a-gwine ter fly 'way wid you. You bin a-playin' de imp 'roun' in dis settlement long 'nuff, en now ef you got any will ter make, you better make it quick, 'kaze you aint got much time.'

"Brer Rabbit cry. He say:

"'I mighty sorry, Mr. Hawk, dat I is. I got some gol' buried right over dar in fence cornder, en I wish in my soul my po' little childuns know whar 't wuz, 'kaze den dey could git long widout me fer a mont' er two.'

"Mr. Hawk 'low, 'Whar'bouts is all dis gol'?'

"Brer Rabbit low, 'Right over dar in de fence-cornder.'

"Mr. Hawk say show it ter 'im. Brer Rabbit say he don't keer ef he do, en he say:

"'I'd 'a' done show'd it ter you long 'fo' dis, but you hol' me so tight, I can't wink my eye skacely, much less walk ter whar de gol' is.'

"Mr. Hawk say he fear'd he gwineter try ter git 'way. Brer Rabbit say dey aint no danger er dat, 'kaze he one er deze yer kinder mens w'en dey er kotch once deyer kotch fer good.

"Mr. Hawk sorter let Brer Rabbit loose, en dey went todes de fence-cornder. Brer Rabbit, he went 'long so good dat dis sorter ease Mr. Hawk min' 'bout he gittin' 'way. Dey got ter de place en Brer Rabbit look all 'roun', en den he frown up like he got some mighty bad disap'intment, en he say:

"'You may b'lieve me er not, Mr. Hawk, but we er on de wrong side er de fence. I hid dat gol' some'rs right in dat cornder dar. You fly over en I'll go thoo.'

"Tooby sho' dis look fa'r, en Brer Rabbit, he crope thoo' de fence, en Mr. Hawk flew'd 'cross. Time he lit on t'er side, Mr. Hawk year Brer Rabbit laugh."

The little boy asked what Brother Rabbit laughed for, as 'Tildy paused to adjust a flaming red ribbon-bow pinned in her hair.

"'Kaze dey wuz a brier-patch on t'er side de fence," said 'Tildy, "en Brer Rabbit wuz in dar."

"I boun' you!" Aunt Tempy exclaimed. "He 'uz in dar, en dar he stayed tel Mr. Hawk got tired er hangin' 'roun' dar."

"Ah, Lord, chile!" said Uncle Remus, with the candor of an expert, "some er dat tale you got right, en some you got wrong."

"Oh, I know'd 't wa'n't no tale like you all bin tellin'," replied 'Tildy, modestly.

"Tooby sho' 't is," continued Uncle Remus, by way of encouragement; "but w'iles we gwine 'long we better straighten out all de kinks dat'll b'ar straightenin'."

"Goodness knows I aint fittin' ter tell no tale," persisted 'Tildy.

"Don't run yo'se'f down, gal," said Uncle Remus, encouragingly; "ef dey's to be any runnin' down let yuther folks do it; en, bless yo' soul, dey'll do 'nuff un it bidout waitin' fer yo' lettin'.

"Now, den, old man Hawk,—w'ich dey call 'im Billy Blue-tail in my day en time,—ole man Hawk, he tuck'n kotch Brer Rabbit des lak you done said. He kotch 'im en he hilt 'im in a mighty tight grip, let 'lone dat he hilt 'im so tight dat it make Brer Rabbit breff come short lak he des come off'n a long jurney.

"He holler en he beg, but dat aint do no good; he squall en he cry, but dat aint do no good; he kick en he groan, but dat aint do no good. Den Brer Rabbit lay still en study 'bout w'at de name er goodness he gwine do. Bimeby he up'n 'low:

"'I dunner w'at you want wid me, Mr. Hawk, w'en I aint a mouf full fer you, skacely!'

"Mr. Hawk, sezee, 'I'll make way wid you, en den I'll go ketch me a couple er Jaybirds.'

"Dis make Brer Rabbit shake wid de allovers, 'kaze ef dey's any kinder creetur w'at he nat'ally 'spize on de topside er de yeth, hit 's a Jaybird.

"Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'Do, pray, Mr. Hawk, go ketch dem Jaybirds fus', 'kaze I can't stan' um bein' on top er me. I'll stay right yer, plum twel you come back,' sezee.

"Mr. Hawk, sezee, 'Oh-oh, Brer Rabbit, you done bin fool too many folks. You aint fool me,' sezee.

"Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'Ef you can't do dat, Mr. Hawk, den de bes' way fer you ter do is ter wait en lemme git tame, 'kaze I'm dat wil' now dat I don't tas'e good.'

"Mr. Hawk, sezee, 'Oh-oh!'

"Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'Well, den, ef dat won't do, you better wait en lemme grow big so I'll be a full meal er vittles.'

"Mr. Hawk, sezee, 'Now youer talkin' sense!'

"Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'En I'll rush 'roun' 'mungs' de bushes, en drive out Pa'tridges fer you, en we'll have mo' fun dan w'at you kin shake a stick at.'

"Mr. Hawk sorter study 'bout dis, en Brer Rabbit, he beg en he 'splain, en de long en de short un it wuz," said Uncle Remus, embracing his knee with his hands, "dat Brer Rabbit tuck'n git loose, en he aint git no bigger, en needer is he druv no Pa'tridges fer Mr. Hawk."

"De Lord he'p my soul!" exclaimed 'Tildy, and this was the only comment made upon this extraordinary story.

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

[81] That is to say, threw sticks at Mr. Hawk. ———————————————————————————————————



All this talk about Hawks and Buzzards evidently reminded Daddy Jack of another story. He began to shake his head and mumble to himself; and, finally, when he looked around and found that he had attracted the attention of the little company, he rubbed his chin and grinned until his yellow teeth shone in the firelight like those of some wild animal, while his small eyes glistened under their heavy lids with a suggestion of cunning not unmixed with ferocity.

"Talk it out, Brer Jack," said Uncle Remus; "talk it out. All nex' week we'll be a-fixin' up 'bout Chris'mus. Mars Jeems, he's a-comin' up, en Miss Sally'll have lots er yuther comp'ny. 'Tildy yer, she'll be busy, en dish yer little chap, he won't have no time fer ter be settin' up wid de ole niggers, en Sis Tempy, she'll have 'er han's full, en ole Remus, he'll be a-pirootin' 'roun' huntin' fer dat w'at he kin pick up. Time's a-passin', Brer Jack, en we all er passin' wid it. Des whirl in en gin us de upshot er w'at you got in yo' min'."

"Enty!" exclaimed Daddy Jack, by way of approval. "One time dey bin two bud. One bin sma't bud; da turrer, 'e bin fool bud. Dey bin lif in da sem countree; da bin use in da sem swamp. Da sma't bud, 'e is bin come 'pon da fool bud; 'e bin tahlk. 'E bin say:

"'Ki! you long in da leg, you deep in da craw. You bin 'tan' well; you bin las' long tam.'

"Fool bud, 'e look proud, 'e toss 'e head; 'e say:

"'Me no mekky no brag.'

"Sma't bud, 'e say:

"'Less we try see fer how long tam we is kin go 'dout bittle un drink.'

"Fool bud, 'e 'tretch 'e neck, 'e toss 'e head; 'e say:

"'All-a right; me beat-a you all day ebry day. Me beat-a you all da tam.'

"Sma't bud, 'e say:

"'Ef you bin 'gree wit' dis, less we tek we place. You git 'pon da crik-side un tekky one ho'n, I git 'pon da tree y-up dey, un tekky nurrer ho'n. Less we 'tan' dey-dey tel we see how long tam we is kin do 'dout bittle un drink. Wun I blow 'pon me ho'n dun you blow 'pon you' ho'n fer answer me; me blow, you blow, dun we bote blow.'

"Fool bud walk 'bout big; 'e say:

"'Me will do um!'

"Nex' day mornin' come. Da sma't bud bin tekky one ho'n un fly 'pon da tree. De fool bud bin tekky one nurrer ho'n un set by da crik-side. Dey bin sta't in fer starf deyse'f. Da fool bud, 'e stay by da crik-side wey dey bin no'n 't all fer eat; 'e no kin fin' no bittle dey-dey. Sma't bud git in da tree da y-ant un da bug swa'm in da bark plenty. 'E pick dem ant, 'e y-eat dem ant; 'e pick dem bug, 'e y-eat dem bug. 'E pick tel 'e craw come full; he feel berry good.

"Fool bud, 'e down by da crik-side. 'E set down, 'e come tire'; 'e 'tan' up, 'e come tire'; 'e walk 'bout, 'e come tire'. 'E 'tan' 'pon one leg, he 'tan' 'pon turrer; 'e pit 'e head need 'e wing; still he come tire'. Sma't bud shed 'e y-eye; 'e feel berry good. Wun 'e come hongry, 'e pick ant, 'e pick bug, tel 'e hab plenty, toze dinner-time 'e pick up 'e ho'n, 'e toot um strong—

"'Tay-tay, tenando wanzando waneanzo!'

"Fool bud craw bin empty, but 'e hab win'. 'E tekky da ho'n, 'e blow berry well; he mek um say:

"'Tay-tay tenando wanzando olando!'

"Sma't bud pick ant plenty; 'e git full up. 'E wait tel mos' toze sundown; 'e blow 'pon da ho'n—

"'Tay-tay tenando wanzando waneanzo!'

"Fool bud mek answer, but 'e come weak; 'e yent hab eat nuttin' 't all. Soon nex' day mornin' sma't bud tek 'e ho'n un toot um. 'E done bin eat, 'e done bin drink dew on da leaf. Fool bud, 'e toot um ho'n, 'e toot um slow.

"Dinner-time, sma't bud bin tek 'e ho'n un blow; 'e yent bin honkry no'n 't all; 'e hab good feelin'. Fool bud toot um ho'n; 'e toot um slow. Night tam come, 'e no toot um no mo'. Sma't bud come down, 'e fin' um done gone dead.

"Watch dem 'ceitful folks; 'e bin do you bad."[82]

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

[82] Mrs. H. S. Barclay, of Darien, who sends this story, says it was told by a native African woman, of good intelligence, who claimed to be a princess. She had an eagle tattoed on her bosom—a sign of royalty. ———————————————————————————————————



"Dat tale," said Uncle Remus, "puts me in min' er de time w'en ole Brer Tarrypin had a tussel wid Brer Mink. Hit seem lak," he went on, in response to inquiries from the little boy, "dat dey bofe live 'roun' de water so much en so long dat dey git kinder stuck up long wid it. Leasways dat 'uz de trouble wid Brer Mink. He jump in de water en swim en dive twel he 'gun ter b'leeve dey wa'n't nobody kin hol' der han' long wid 'im.

"One day Brer Mink 'uz gwine long down de creek wid a nice string er fish swingin' on he walkin'-cane, w'en who should he meet up wid but ole Brer Tarrypin. De creeturs 'uz all hail feller wid ole Brer Tarrypin, en no sooner is he seed Brer Mink dan he bow 'im howdy. Ole Brer Tarrypin talk 'way down in he th'oat lak he got bad col'. He 'low:

"'Heyo, Brer Mink! Whar you git all dem nice string er fish?'

"Brer Mink 'uz mighty up-en-spoken in dem days. He 'low, he did:

"'Down dar in de creek, Brer Tarrypin.'

"Brer Tarrypin look 'stonish'. He say, sezee:

"'Well, well, well! In de creek! Who'd er b'leev'd it?'

"Brer Mink, sezee: 'Whar I gwine ketch um, Brer Tarrypin, ef I aint ketch um in de creek?'

"Ole Brer Tarrypin, sezee: 'Dat 's so, Brer Mink; but a highlan' man lak you gwine in de creek atter fish! Hit looks turrible, Brer Mink—dat w'at it do; hit des looks turrible!'

"Brer Mink, sezee: 'Looks er no looks, dar whar I got um.'

"Brer Tarrypin sorter sway he head fum side ter side, en 'low:

"'Ef dat de case, Brer Mink, den sho'ly you mus' be one er dem ar kinder creeturs w'at usen ter de water.'

"'Dat 's me,' sez Brer Mink, sezee.

"'Well, den,' sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee, 'I'm a highlan' man myse'f, en it's bin a mighty long time sence I got my foots wet, but I don't min' goin' in washin' 'long wid you. Ef youer de man you sez you is, you kin outdo me,' sezee.

"Brer Mink, sezee: 'How we gwine do, Brer Tarrypin?'

"Ole Brer Tarrypin, sezee: 'We 'ull go down dar ter de creek, en de man w'at kin stay und' de water de longest, let dat man walk off wid dat string er fish.'

"Brer Mink, sezee: 'I'm de ve'y man you bin lookin' fer.'

"Brer Mink say he don't wanter put it off a minnit. Go he would, en go he did. Dey went down ter creek en make der 'rangerments. Brer Mink lay he fish down on der bank, en 'im en ole Brer Tarrypin wade in. Brer Tarrypin he make great 'miration 'bout how col' he water is. He flinch, he did, en 'low:

"'Ow, Brer Mink! Dish yer water feel mighty col' and 't aint no mo'n up ter my wais'. Goodness knows how she gwine feel w'en she git up und' my chin.'

"Dey wade in, dey did, en Brer Tarrypin say, sezee:

"'Now, den, Brer Mink, we'll make a dive, en de man w'at stay und' de water de longest dat man gits de fish.'

"Brer Mink 'low dat 's de way he look at it, en den Brer Tarrypin gun de wud, en und' dey went. Co'se," said Uncle Remus, after a little pause, "Brer Tarrypin kin stay down in de water longer'n Brer Mink, en Brer Mink mought er know'd it. Dey stay en dey stay, twel bimeby Brer Mink bleedz ter come up, en he tuck'n kotch he breff, he did, lak he mighty glad fer ter git back ag'in. Den atter w'ile Brer Tarrypin stuck he nose out er de water, en den Brer Mink say Brer Tarrypin kin beat 'im. Brer Tarrypin 'low:

"'No, Brer Mink; hit 's de bes' two out er th'ee. Ef I beats you dis time den de fish, deyer mine; ef I gits beated, den we kin take 'n'er trial.'

"Wid dat, down dey went, but Brer Tarrypin aint mo'n dove 'fo' up he come, en w'iles Brer Mink 'uz down dar honin' fer fresh a'r, he tuck'n gobble up de las' one er de fish, ole Brer Tarrypin did. He gobble up de fish, en he 'uz fixin' fer ter pick he toof, but by dis time Brer Mink bleedz ter come up, en ole Brer Tarrypin, he tuck'n slid down in de water. He slid so slick," said Uncle Remus, with a chuckle, "dat he aint lef' a bubble. He aint stay down long, n'er, 'fo' he come up en he make lak he teetotally out er win'.

"Ole Brer Tarrypin come up, he did, en look 'roun', en 'fo' Brer Mink kin say a wud, he holler out:

"'Youer nice man, Brer Mink! Youer mighty nice man!'

"'W'at I done now, Brer Tarrypin?'

"'Don't ax me. Look up dar whar you bin eatin' dem fish en den ax yo'se'f. Youer mighty nice man!'

"Brer Mink look 'roun' en, sho' 'nuff, de fish done gone. Ole Brer Tarrypin keep on talkin':

"'You tuck'n come up fust, en w'iles I bin down dar in de water, nat'ally achin' fer lack er win', yer you settin' up chawin' on de fish w'ich dey oughter bin mine!'

"Brer Mink stan' 'im down dat he aint eat dem fish; he 'ny it ter de las', but ole Brer Tarrypin make out he don't b'leeve 'im. He say, sezee:

"'You'll keep gwine on dis a-way, twel atter w'ile you'll be wuss'n Brer Rabbit. Don't tell me you aint git dem fish, Brer Mink, 'kaze you know you is.'

"Hit sorter make Brer Mink feel proud 'kaze ole Brer Tarrypin mix 'im up wid Brer Rabbit, 'kaze Brer Rabbit wuz a mighty man in dem days, en he sorter laugh, Brer Mink did, lak he know mo' dan he gwine tell. Ole Brer Tarrypin keep on grumblin'.

"'I aint gwine ter git mad long wid you, Brer Mink, 'kaze hit 's a mighty keen trick, but you oughter be 'shame' yo'se'f fer ter be playin' tricks on a ole man lak me—dat you ought!'

"Wid dat ole Brer Tarrypin went shufflin' off, en atter he git outer sight he draw'd back in he house en shot de do' en laugh en laugh twel dey wa'n't no fun in laughin'."



The next time the little boy had an opportunity to visit Uncle Remus the old man was alone, but he appeared to be in good spirits. He was cobbling away upon what the youngster recognized as 'Tildy's Sunday shoes, and singing snatches of a song something like this:

"O Mr. Rabbit! yo' eye mighty big— Yes, my Lord! dey er made fer ter see; O Mr. Rabbit! yo' tail mighty short— Yes, my Lord! hit des fits me!"

The child waited to hear more, but the song was the same thing over and over again—always about Brother Rabbit's big eyes and his short tail. After a while Uncle Remus acknowledged the presence of his little partner by remarking:

"Well, sir, we er all yer. Brer Jack and Sis Tempy en dat ar 'Tildy nigger may be a-pacin' 'roun' lookin' in de fence-cornders fer Chris'mus, but me en you en ole Brer Rabbit, we er all yer, en ef we aint right on de spot, we er mighty close erroun'. Yasser, we is dat; mo' speshually ole Brer Rabbit, wid he big eye and he short tail. Don't tell me 'bout Brer Rabbit!" exclaimed Uncle Remus, with a great apparent enthusiasm, "'kaze dey aint no use er talkin' 'bout dat creetur."

The little boy was very anxious to know why.

"Well, I tell you," said the old man. "One time dey wuz a monst'us dry season in de settlement whar all de creeturs live at, en drinkin'-water got mighty skace. De creeks got low, en de branches went dry, en all de springs make der disappearance 'cep'n one great big un whar all de creeturs drunk at. Dey'd all meet dar, dey would, en de bigges' 'ud drink fus', en by de time de big uns all done swaje der thuss[83] dey wa'n't a drap lef' fer de little uns skacely.

"Co'se Brer Rabbit 'uz on de happy side. Ef anybody gwine git water Brer Rabbit de man. De creeturs 'ud see he track 'roun' de spring, but dey aint nev' ketch 'im. Hit got so atter w'ile dat de big creeturs 'ud crowd Brer Fox out, en den 't wa'n't long 'fo' he hunt up Brer Rabbit en ax 'im w'at he gwine do.

"Brer Rabbit, he sorter study, en den he up 'n tell Brer Fox fer ter go home en rub some 'lasses all on hisse'f en den go out en waller in de leafs. Brer Fox ax w'at he mus' do den, en Brer Rabbit say he mus' go down by de spring, en w'en de creeturs come ter de spring fer ter git dey water, he mus' jump out at um, en den atter dat he mus' waller lak he one er dem ar kinder varment w'at got bugs on um.

"Brer Fox, he put out fer home, he did, en w'en he git dar he run ter de cubbud[84] en des gawm hisse'f wid 'lasses, en den he went out in de bushes, he did, en waller in de leafs en trash twel he look mos' bad ez Brer Rabbit look w'en he play Wull-er-de-Wust on de creeturs.

"W'en Brer Fox git hisse'f all fix up, he went down ter de spring en hide hisse'f. Bimeby all de creeturs come atter der water, en w'iles dey 'uz a-scuffin' en a-hunchin', en a-pushin' en a-scrougin', Brer Fox he jump out'n de bushes, en sorter switch hisse'f 'roun', en, bless yo' soul, he look lak de Ole Boy.

"Brer Wolf tuck'n see 'im fus', en he jump spang over Brer B'ar head. Brer B'ar, he lip back, en ax who dat, en des time he do dis de t'er creeturs dey tuck'n make a break, dey did, lak punkins rollin' down hill, en mos' 'fo' youk'n wink yo' eye-ball, Brer Fox had de range er de spring all by hisse'f.

"Yit 't wa'n't fur long, 'kaze 'fo' de creeturs mov'd fur, dey tuck'n tu'n 'roun', dey did, en crope back fer ter see w'at dat ar skeery lookin' varment doin'. W'en dey git back in seein' distuns dar 'uz Brer Fox walkin' up en down switchin' hisse'f.

"De creeturs dunner w'at ter make un 'im. Dey watch, en Brer Fox march; dey watch, en he march. Hit keep on dis a-way twel bimeby Brer Fox 'gun ter waller in de water, en right dar," continued Uncle Remus, leaning back to laugh, "right dar 'uz whar Brer Rabbit had 'im. Time he 'gun ter waller in de water de 'lasses 'gun ter melt, en 't wa'n't no time skacely 'fo' de 'lasses en de leafs done all wash off, en dar 'uz ole Brer Fox des ez natchul ez life.

"De fus' Brer Fox know 'bout de leafs comin' off, he year Brer B'ar holler on top er de hill:

"'You head 'im off down dar, Brer Wolf, en I'll head 'im off 'roun' yer!'

"Brer Fox look 'roun' en he see all de leafs done come off, en wid dat he make a break, en he wa'n't none too soon, n'er, 'kaze little mo' en de creeturs 'ud 'a' kotch 'im."

Without giving the little boy time to ask any questions, Uncle Remus added another verse to his Rabbit song, and harped on it for several minutes:

"O Mr. Rabbit! yo' year mighty long— Yes, my Lord! dey made fer ter las'; O Mr. Rabbit! yo' toof mighty sharp— Yes, my Lord! dey cuts down grass!"

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

[83] Assuaged their thirst.

[84] Cupboard. ———————————————————————————————————



The little boy wanted Uncle Remus to sing some more; but before the old man could either consent or refuse, the notes of a horn were heard in the distance. Uncle Remus lifted his hand to command silence, and bent his head in an attitude of attention.

"Des listen at dat!" he exclaimed, with some show of indignation. "Dat aint nothin' in de roun' worl' but ole man Plato wid dat tin hawn er his'n, en I boun' you he's a-drivin' de six mule waggin, en de waggin full er niggers fum de River place, en let 'lone dat, I boun' you deyer niggers strung out behime de waggin fer mo'n a mile, en deyer all er comin' yer fer ter eat us all out'n house en home, des 'kaze dey year folks say Chris'mus mos' yer. Hit 's mighty kuse unter me dat ole man Plato aint done toot dat hawn full er holes long 'fo' dis.

"Yit I aint blamin' um," Uncle Remus went on, with a sigh, after a little pause. "Dem ar niggers bin livin' 'way off dar on de River place whar dey aint no w'ite folks twel dey er done in about run'd wil'. I aint a-blamin' um, dat I aint."

Plato's horn—a long tin bugle—was by no means unmusical. Its range was limited, but in Plato's hands its few notes were both powerful and sweet. Presently the wagon arrived, and for a few minutes all was confusion, the negroes on the Home place running to greet the new-comers, who were mostly their relatives. A stranger hearing the shouts and outcries of these people would have been at a loss to account for the commotion.

Even Uncle Remus went to his cabin door, and, with the little boy by his side, looked out upon the scene,—a tumult lit up by torches of resinous pine. The old man and the child were recognized, and for a few moments the air was filled with cries of:

"Howdy, Unk Remus! Howdy, little Marster!"

After a while Uncle Remus closed his door, laid away his tools, and drew his chair in front of the wide hearth. The child went and stood beside him, leaning his head against the old negro's shoulder, and the two—old age and youth, one living in the Past and the other looking forward only to the Future—gazed into the bed of glowing embers illuminated by a thin, flickering flame. Probably they saw nothing there, each being busy with his own simple thoughts; but their shadows, enlarged out of all proportion, and looking over their shoulders from the wall behind them, must have seen something, for, clinging together, they kept up a most incessant pantomime; and Plato's horn, which sounded again to call the negroes to supper after their journey, though it aroused Uncle Remus and the child from the contemplation of the fire, had no perceptible effect upon the Shadows.

"Dar go de vittles!" said Uncle Remus, straightening himself. "Dey tells me dat dem ar niggers on de River place got appetite same ez a mule. Let 'lone de vittles w'at dey gits from Mars John, dey eats oodles en oodles er fish. Ole man Plato say dat de nigger on de River place w'at aint got a fish-baskit in de river er some intruss[85] in a fish-trap aint no 'count w'atsomever."

Here Uncle Remus suddenly slapped himself upon the leg, and laughed uproariously; and when the little boy asked him what the matter was, he cried out:

"Well, sir! Ef I aint de fergittenest ole nigger twix' dis en Phillimerdelphy! Yer 't is mos' Chris'mus en I aint tell you 'bout how Brer Rabbit do Brer Fox w'ence dey bofe un um live on de river. I dunner w'at de name er sense gittin' de marter 'long wid me."

Of course the little boy wanted to know all about it, and Uncle Remus proceeded:

"One time Brer Fox en Brer Rabbit live de on river. Atter dey bin livin' dar so long a time, Brer Fox 'low dat he got a mighty hankerin' atter sump'n' 'sides fresh meat, en he say he b'leeve he make 'im a fish-trap. Brer Rabbit say he wish Brer Fox mighty well, but he aint honin' atter fish hisse'f, en ef he is he aint got no time fer ter make no fish-trap.

"No marter fer dat, Brer Fox, he tuck'n got 'im out some timber, he did, en he wuk nights fer ter make dat trap. Den w'en he git it done, he tuck'n hunt 'im a good place fer ter set it, en de way he sweat over dat ar trap wuz a sin—dat 't wuz.

"Yit atter so long a time, he got 'er sot, en den he tuck'n wash he face en han's en go home. All de time he 'uz fixin' un it up, Brer Rabbit 'uz settin' on de bank watchin' 'im. He sot dar, he did, en play in de water, en cut switches fer ter w'ip at de snake-doctors,[86] en all dat time Brer Fox, he pull en haul en tote rocks fer ter hol' dat trap endurin' a freshet.

"Brer Fox went home en res' hisse'f, en bimeby he go down fer ter see ef dey any fish in he trap. He sorter fear'd er snakes, but he feel 'roun' en he feel 'roun', yit he aint feel no fish. Den he go off.

"Bimeby, 'long todes de las' er de week, he go down en feel 'roun' 'g'in, yit he aint feel no fish. Hit keep on dis a-way twel Brer Fox git sorter fag out. He go en he feel, but dey aint no fish dar. Atter w'ile, one day, he see de signs whar somebody bin robbin' he trap, en he 'low ter hisse'f dat he'll des in 'bout watch en fine out who de somebody is.

"Den he tuck'n got in he boat en paddle und' de bushes on de bank en watch he fish-trap. He watch all de mornin'; nobody aint come. He watch all endurin' er atter dinner; nobody aint come. 'Long todes night, w'en he des 'bout makin' ready fer ter paddle off home, he year fuss on t'er side de river, en lo en beholes, yer come Brer Rabbit polin' a boat right todes Brer Fox fish-trap.

"Look lak he dunner how to use a paddle, en he des had 'im a long pole, en he'd stan' up in de behime part er he boat, en put de een' er de pole 'gin' de bottom, en shove 'er right ahead.

"Brer Fox git mighty mad w'en he see dis, but he watch en wait. He 'low ter hisse'f, he did, dat he kin paddle a boat pearter dan anybody kin pole um, en he say he sho'ly gwine ketch Brer Rabbit dis time.

"Brer Rabbit pole up ter de fish-trap, en feel 'roun' en pull out a great big mud-cat; den he retch in en pull out 'n'er big mud-cat; den he pull out a big blue cat, en it keep on dis a-way twel he git de finest mess er fish you mos' ever laid yo' eyes on.

"Des 'bout dat time, Brer Fox paddle out fum und' de bushes, en make todes Brer Rabbit, en he holler out:

"'Ah-yi! Youer de man w'at bin robbin' my fish-trap dis long time! I got you dis time! Oh, you nee'nter try ter run! I got you dis time sho'!'

"No sooner said dan no sooner done. Brer Rabbit fling he fish in he boat en grab up de pole en push off, en he had mo' fun gittin' 'way fum dar dan he y-ever had befo' in all he born days put terge'er."

"Why did n't Brother Fox catch him, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy.

"Shoo! Honey, you sho'ly done lose yo' min' 'bout Brer Rabbit."

"Well, I don't see how he could get away."

"Ef you'd er bin dar you'd er seed it, dat you would. Brer Fox, he wuz dar, en he seed it, en Brer Rabbit, he seed it, en e'en down ter ole Brer Bull-frog, a-settin' on de bank, he seed it. Now, den," continued Uncle Remus, spreading out the palm of his left hand like a map and pointing at it with the forefinger of his right, "w'en Brer Rabbit pole he boat, he bleedz ter set in de behime een', en w'en Brer Fox paddle he boat, he bleedz ter set in de behime een'. Dat bein' de state er de condition, how Brer Fox gwine ketch 'im? I aint 'sputin' but w'at he kin paddle pearter dan Brer Rabbit, but de long en de shorts un it is, de pearter Brer Fox paddle de pearter Brer Rabbit go."

The little boy looked puzzled. "Well, I don't see how," he exclaimed.

"Well, sir!" continued Uncle Remus, "w'en de nose er Brer Fox boat git close ter Brer Rabbit boat all Brer Rabbit got ter do in de roun' worl' is ter take he pole en put it 'gin' Brer Fox boat en push hisse'f out de way. De harder he push Brer Fox boat back, de pearter he push he own boat forrerd. Hit look mighty easy ter ole Brer Bull-frog settin' on de bank, en all Brer Fox kin do is ter shake he fist en grit he toof, w'iles Brer Rabbit sail off wid de fish."

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

[85] Interest.

[86] Dragon-flies. ———————————————————————————————————



The arrival of the negroes from the River place added greatly to the enthusiasm with which the Christmas holidays were anticipated on the Home place, and the air was filled with laughter day and night. Uncle Remus appeared to be very busy, though there was really nothing to be done except to walk around and scold at everybody and everything, in a good-humored way, and this the old man could do to perfection.

The night before Christmas eve, however, the little boy saw a light in Uncle Remus's cabin, and he interpreted it as in some sort a signal of invitation. He found the old man sitting by the fire and talking to himself:

"Ef Mars John and Miss Sally 'specks me fer ter keep all deze yer niggers straight deyer gwine ter be diserp'inted,—dat dey is. Ef dey wuz 'lev'm Remuses 't would n't make no diffunce, let 'long one po' ole cripple creetur lak me. Dey aint done no damage yit, but I boun' you by termorrer night dey'll tu'n loose en tu'n de whole place upside down, en t'ar it up by de roots, en den atter hit 's all done gone en done, yer'll come Miss Sally a-layin' it all at ole Remus do'. Nigger aint got much chance in deze yer low-groun's, mo' speshually w'en dey gits ole en cripple lak I is."

"What are they going to do to-morrow night, Uncle Remus?" the little boy inquired.

"Now w'at make you ax dat, honey?" exclaimed the old man, in a grieved tone. "You knows mighty well how dey done las' year en de year 'fo' dat. Dey tuck'n cut up 'roun' yer wuss'n ef dey 'uz wil' creeturs, en termorrer night dey'll be a-hollin' en whoopin' en singin' en dancin' 'fo' it git dark good. I wish w'en you go up ter de big house you be so good ez ter tell Miss Sally dat ef she want any peace er min' she better git off'n de place en stay off twel atter deze yer niggers git dey fill er Chris'mus. Goodness knows, she can't 'speck a ole cripple nigger lak me fer ter ketch holt en keep all deze yer niggers straight."

Uncle Remus would have kept up his vague complaints, but right in the midst of them Daddy Jack stuck his head in at the door, and said:

"Oona bin fix da' 'Tildy gal shoe. Me come fer git dem shoe; me come fer pay you fer fix dem shoe."

Uncle Remus looked at the grinning old African in astonishment. Then suddenly the truth dawned upon him and he broke into a loud laugh. Finally he said:

"Come in, Brer Jack! Come right 'long in. I'm sorter po'ly myse'f, yit I'll make out ter make you welcome. Dey wuz a quarter dollar gwine inter my britches-pocket on de 'count er dem ar shoes, but ef youer gwine ter pay fer um 't won't be but a sev'mpunce."

Somehow or other Daddy Jack failed to relish Uncle Remus's tone and manner, and he replied, with some display of irritation:

"Shuh-shuh! Me no come in no'n 't all. Me no pay you se'mpunce. Me come fer pay you fer dem shoe; me come fer tek um 'way fum dey-dey."

"I dunno 'bout dat, Brer Jack, I dunno 'bout dat. De las' time I year you en 'Tildy gwine on, she wuz 'pun de p'ints er knockin' yo' brains out. Now den, s'pozen I whirls in en gins you de shoes, en den 'Tildy come 'long en ax me 'bout um, w'at I gwine say ter 'Tildy?"

"Me pay you fer dem shoe," said Daddy Jack, seeing the necessity of argument, "un me tek um wey da lil 'Tildy gal bin stay. She tell me fer come git-a dem shoe."

"Well, den, yer dey is," said Uncle Remus, sighing deeply as he handed Daddy Jack the shoes. "Yer dey is, en youer mo' dan welcome, dat you is. But spite er dat, dis yer quarter you flingin' 'way on um would er done you a sight mo' good dan w'at dem shoes is."

This philosophy was altogether lost upon Daddy Jack, who took the shoes and shuffled out with a grunt of satisfaction. He had scarcely got out of hearing before 'Tildy pushed the door open and came in. She hesitated a moment, and then, seeing that Uncle Remus paid no attention to her, she sat down and picked at her fingers with an air quite in contrast to her usual "uppishness," as Uncle Remus called it.

"Unk Remus," she said, after awhile, in a subdued tone, "is dat old Affikin nigger bin yer atter dem ar shoes?"

"Yas, chile," replied Uncle Remus, with a long-drawn sigh, "he done bin yer en got um en gone. Yas, honey, he done got um en gone; done come en pay fer 'm, en got um en gone. I sez, sez I, dat I wish you all mighty well, en he tuck'n tuck de shoes en put. Yas, chile, he done got um en gone."

Something in Uncle Remus's sympathetic and soothing tone seemed to exasperate 'Tildy. She dropped her hands in her lap, straightened herself up and exclaimed:

"Yas, I'm is gwine ter marry dat ole nigger an' I don't keer who knows it. Miss Sally say she don't keer, en t'er folks may keer ef dey wanter, en much good der keerin' 'll do um."

'Tildy evidently expected Uncle Remus to make some characteristic comment, for she sat and watched him with her lips firmly pressed together and her eyelids half-closed,—an attitude of defiance significant enough when seen, but difficult to describe. But the old man made no response to the challenge. He seemed to be very busy. Presently 'Tildy went on:

"Somebody bleedz to take keer er dat ole nigger, en I dunner who gwine ter do it ef I don't. Somebody bleedz ter look atter 'im. Good win' come 'long hit 'ud in about blow 'im 'way ef dey wa'n't somebody close 'roun' fer ter take keer un 'im. Let 'lone dat, I aint gwineter have dat ole nigger man f'ever 'n 'ternally trottin' atter me. I tell you de Lord's trufe, Unk Remus," continued 'Tildy, growing confidential, "I aint had no peace er min' sence dat ole nigger man come on dis place. He des bin a-pacin' at my heels de whole blessed time, en I bleedz ter marry 'im fer git rid un 'im."

"Well," said Uncle Remus, "hit don't s'prize me. You marry en den youer des lak Brer Fox wid he bag. You know w'at you put in it, but you dunner w'at you got in it."

'Tildy flounced out without waiting for an explanation, but the mention of Brother Fox attracted the attention of the little boy, and he wanted to know what was in the bag, how it came to be there, and all about it.

"Now, den," said Uncle Remus, "hit 's a tale, en a mighty long tale at dat, but I'll des hatter cut it short, 'kaze termorrer night you'll wanter be a-settin' up lis'nen at de kyar'n's on er dem ar niggers, w'ich I b'leeve in my soul dey done los' all de sense dey ever bin bornded wid.

"One time Brer Fox wuz gwine on down de big road, en he look ahead en he see ole Brer Tarrypin makin' he way on todes home. Brer Fox 'low dis a mighty good time fer ter nab ole Brer Tarrypin, en no sooner is he thunk it dan he put out back home, w'ich 't wa'n't but a little ways, en he git 'im a bag. He come back, he did, en he run up behime ole Brer Tarrypin en flip 'im in de bag en sling de bag 'cross he back en go gallin'-up back home.

"Brer Tarrypin, he holler, but 't aint do no good, he rip en he r'ar, but 't aint do no good. Brer Fox des keep on a-gwine, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he had ole Brer Tarrypin slung up in de cornder in de bag, en de bag tied un hard en fas'.

"But w'iles all dis gwine on," exclaimed Uncle Remus, employing the tone and manner of some country preacher he had heard, "whar wuz ole Brer Rabbit? Yasser—dats it, whar wuz he? En mo'n dat, w'at you 'speck he 'uz doin' en whar you reckon he wer' gwine? Dat 's de way ter talk it; whar'bouts wuz he?"

The old man brought his right hand down upon his knee with a thump that jarred the tin-plate and cups on the mantel-shelf, and then looked around with a severe frown to see what the chairs and the work-bench, and the walls and the rafters, had to say in response to his remarkable argument. He sat thus in a waiting attitude a moment, and then, finding that no response came from anything or anybody, his brow gradually cleared, and a smile of mingled pride and satisfaction spread over his face, as he continued in a more natural tone:

"Youk'n b'leeve me er not b'leeve des ez youer min' ter, but dat ar long-year creetur—dat ar hoppity-skippity—dat ar up-en-down-en- sailin'-'roun' Brer Rabbit, w'ich you bin year me call he name 'fo' dis, he wa'n't so mighty fur off w'iles Brer Fox gwine 'long wid dat ar bag slung 'cross he back. Let 'lone dat, Brer Rabbit 'uz settin' right dar in de bushes by de side er de road, en w'ence he see Brer Fox go trottin' by, he ax hisse'f w'at is it dat creetur got in dat ar bag.

"He ax hisse'f, he did, but he dunno. He wunder en he wunder, yit de mo' he wunder de mo' he dunno. Brer Fox, he go trottin' by, en Brer Rabbit, he sot in de bushes en wunder. Bimeby he 'low ter hisse'f, he did, dat Brer Fox aint got no business fer ter be trottin' 'long down de road, totin' doin's w'ich yuther folks dunner w'at dey is, en he 'low dat dey won't be no great harm done ef he take atter Brer Fox en fine out w'at he got in dat ar bag.

"Wid dat, Brer Rabbit, he put out. He aint got no bag fer ter tote, en he pick up he foots mighty peart. Mo'n dat, he tuck'n tuck a nigh-cut, en by de time Brer Fox git home, Brer Rabbit done had time fer ter go 'roun' by de watermillion-patch en do some er he devilment, en den atter dat he tuck'n sot down in de bushes whar he kin see Brer Fox w'en he come home.

"Bimeby yer come Brer Fox wid de bag slung 'cross he back. He onlatch de do', he did, en he go in en sling Brer Tarrypin down in de cornder, en set down front er de h'ath fer ter res' hisse'f."

Here Uncle Remus paused to laugh in anticipation of what was to follow.

"Brer Fox aint mo'n lit he pipe," the old man continued, after a tantalizing pause, "'fo' Brer Rabbit stick he head in de do' en holler:

"Brer Fox! O Brer Fox! You better take yo' walkin'-cane en run down yan. Comin' 'long des now I year a mighty fuss, en I look 'roun' en dar wuz a whole passel er folks in yo' watermillion-patch des a-tromplin' 'roun' en a-t'arin' down. I holler'd at um, but dey aint pay no 'tention ter little man lak I is. Make 'a'se, Brer Fox! make 'a'se! Git yo' cane en run down dar. I'd go wid you myse'f, but my ole 'oman ailin' en I bleedz ter be makin' my way todes home. You better make 'a'se, Brer Fox, ef you wanter git de good er yo' watermillions. Run, Brer Fox! run!'

"Wid dat Brer Rabbit dart back in de bushes, en Brer Fox drap he pipe en grab he walkin'-cane en put out fer he watermillion-patch, w'ich 't wer' down on de branch; en no sooner is he gone dan ole Brer Rabbit come out de bushes en make he way in de house.

"He go so easy dat he aint make no fuss; he look 'roun' en dar wuz de bag in de cornder. He kotch holt er de bag en sorter feel un it, en time he do dis, he year sump'n' holler:

"'Ow! Go 'way! Lem me 'lone! Tu'n me loose! Ow!'

"Brer Rabbit jump back 'stonish'd. Den 'fo' you kin wink yo' eye-ball, Brer Rabbit slap hisse'f on de leg en break out in a laugh. Den he up'n 'low:

"'Ef I aint make no mistakes, dat ar kinder fuss kin come fum nobody in de roun' worl' but ole Brer Tarrypin.'

"Brer Tarrypin, he holler, sezee: 'Aint dat Brer Rabbit?'

"'De same,' sezee.

"'Den whirl in en tu'n me out. Meal dus' in my th'oat, grit in my eye, en I aint kin git my breff, skacely. Tu'n me out, Brer Rabbit.'

"Brer Tarrypin talk lak somebody down in a well. Brer Rabbit, he holler back:

"'Youer lots smarter dan w'at I is, Brer Tarrypin—lots smarter. Youer smarter en pearter. Peart ez I come yer, you is ahead er me. I know how you git in de bag, but I dunner how de name er goodness you tie yo'se'f up in dar, dat I don't.'

"Brer Tarrypin try ter splain, but Brer Rabbit keep on laughin', en he laugh twel he git he fill er laughin'; en den he tuck'n ontie de bag en take Brer Tarrypin out en tote 'im 'way off in de woods. Den, w'en he done dis, Brer Rabbit tuck'n run off en git a great big hornet-nes' w'at he see w'en he comin' long—"

"A hornet's nest, Uncle Remus?" exclaimed the little boy, in amazement.

"Tooby sho', honey. 'T aint bin a mont' sence I brung you a great big hornet-nes', en yer you is axin' dat. Brer Rabbit tuck'n slap he han' 'cross de little hole whar de hornets goes in at, en dar he had um. Den he tuck'n tuck it ter Brer Fox house, en put it in de bag whar Brer Tarrypin bin.

"He put de hornet-nes' in dar," continued Uncle Remus, lowering his voice, and becoming very grave, "en den he tie up de bag des lak he fine it. Yit 'fo' he put de bag back in de cornder, w'at do dat creetur do? I aint settin' yer," said the old man, seizing his chair with both hands, as if by that means to emphasize the illustration, "I aint settin' yer ef dat ar creetur aint grab dat bag en slam it down 'g'in de flo', en hit it 'g'in de side er de house twel he git dem ar hornets all stirred up, en den he put de bag back in de cornder, en go out in de bushes ter whar Brer Tarrypin waitin', en den bofe un um sot out dar en wait fer ter see w'at de upshot gwine ter be.

"Bimeby, yer come Brer Fox back fum he watermillion-patch en he look lak he mighty mad. He strak he cane down 'pun de groun', en do lak he gwine take he revengeance out'n po' ole Brer Tarrypin. He went in de do', Brer Fox did, en shot it atter 'im. Brer Rabbit en Brer Tarrypin lissen', but dey aint year nothin'.

"But bimeby, fus' news you know, dey year de mos' owdashus racket, tooby sho'. Seem lak, fum whar Brer Rabbit en Brer Tarrypin settin' dat dey 'uz a whole passel er cows runnin' 'roun' in Brer Fox house. Dey year de cheers a-fallin', en de table turnin' over, en de crock'ry breakin', en den de do' flew'd open, en out come Brer Fox, a-squallin' lak de Ole Boy wuz atter 'im. En sech a sight ez dem t'er creeturs seed den en dar aint never bin seed befo' ner sence.

"Dem ar hornets des swarmed on top er Brer Fox. 'Lev'm dozen un um 'ud hit at one time, en look lak dat ar creetur bleedz ter fine out fer hisse'f w'at pain en suffin' is. Dey bit 'im en dey stung 'im, en fur ez Brer Rabbit en Brer Tarrypin kin year 'im, dem hornets 'uz des a-nailin' 'im. Gentermens! dey gun 'im binjer!

"Brer Rabbit en Brer Tarrypin, dey sot dar, dey did, en dey laugh en laugh, twel bimeby, Brer Rabbit roll over en grab he stomach, en holler:

"'Don't, Brer Tarrypin! don't! One giggle mo' en you'll hatter tote me.'

"En dat aint all," said Uncle Remus, raising his voice. "I know a little chap w'ich ef he set up yer 'sputin' 'longer me en de t'er creeturs, he won't have much fun termorrer night."

The hint was sufficient, and the little boy ran out laughing.



The day and the night before Christmas were full of pleasure for the little boy. There was pleasure in the big house, and pleasure in the humble cabins in the quarters. The peculiar manner in which the negroes celebrated the beginning of the holidays was familiar to the child's experience, but strange to his appreciation, and he enjoyed everything he saw and heard with the ready delight of his years,—a delight, which, in this instance, had been trained and sharpened, if the expression may be used, in the small world over which Uncle Remus presided.

The little boy had a special invitation to be present at the marriage of Daddy Jack and 'Tildy, and he went, accompanied by Uncle Remus and Aunt Tempy. It seemed to be a very curious affair, but its incongruities made small impression upon the mind of the child.

'Tildy wore a white dress and had a wreath of artificial flowers in her hair. Daddy Jack wore a high hat, which he persisted in keeping on his head during the ceremony, and a coat the tails of which nearly dragged the floor. His bright little eyes glistened triumphantly, and he grinned and bowed to everybody again and again. After it was all over, the guests partook of cake baked by Aunt Tempy, and persimmon beer brewed by Uncle Remus.

It seemed, however, that 'Tildy was not perfectly happy; for, in response to a question asked by Aunt Tempy, she said:

"Yes'm, I'm gwine down de country 'long wid my ole man, an' I lay ef eve'ything don't go right, I'm gwineter pick up en come right back."

"No-no!" exclaimed Daddy Jack, "'e no come bahck no'n 't all. 'E bin stay dey-dey wit' 'e nice ole-a man."

"You put yo' pennunce in dat!" said 'Tildy, scornfully. "Dey aint nobody kin hol' me w'en I takes a notion, 'cep'n hit 's Miss Sally; en, goodness knows, Miss Sally aint gwine ter be down dar."

"Who Miss Sally gwine put in de house?" Aunt Tempy asked.

"Humph!" exclaimed 'Tildy, scornfully, "Miss Sally say she gwine take dat ar Darkess[87] nigger en put 'er in my place. An' a mighty nice mess Darkess gwine ter make un it! Much she know 'bout waitin' on w'ite folks! Many's en many's de time Miss Sally'll set down in 'er rockin'-cheer en wish fer 'Tildy—many's de time."

This was 'Tildy's grievance,—the idea that some one could be found to fill her place; and it is a grievance with which people of greater importance than the humble negro house-girl are more or less familiar.

But the preparations for the holidays went on in spite of 'Tildy's grievance. A large platform, used for sunning wheat and seed cotton, was arranged by the negroes for their dance, and several wagon-loads of resinous pine—known as lightwood—were placed around about it in little heaps, so that the occasion might lack no element of brilliancy.

At nightfall the heaps of lightwood were set on fire, and the little boy, who was waiting impatiently for Uncle Remus to come for him, could hear the negroes singing, dancing, and laughing. He was just ready to cry when he heard the voice of his venerable partner.

"Is dey a'er passenger anywhar's 'roun' yer fer Thumptown? De stage done ready en de hosses a-prancin'. Ef dey's a'er passenger 'roun' yer, I lay he des better be makin' ready fer ter go."

The old man walked up to the back piazza as he spoke, held out his strong arms, and the little boy jumped into them with an exclamation of delight. The child's mother gave Uncle Remus a shawl to wrap around the child, and this shawl was the cause of considerable trouble, for the youngster persisted in wrapping it around the old man's head, and so blinding him that there was danger of his falling. Finally, he put the little boy down, took off his hat, raised his right hand, and said:

"Now, den, I bin a-beggin' un you fer ter quit yo' 'haveishness des long ez I'm a-gwinter, en I aint gwine beg you no mo', 'kaze I'm des teetotally wo' out wid beggin', en de mo' I begs de wuss you gits. Now I'm done! You des go yo' ways en I'll go mine, en my way lays right spang back ter de big house whar Miss Sally is. Dat 's whar I'm a-gwine!"

Uncle Remus started to the house with an exaggerated vigor of movement comical to behold; but, however comical it may have been, it had its effect. The little boy ran after him, caught him by the hand, and made him stop.

"Now, Uncle Remus, please don't go back. I was just playing."

Uncle Remus's anger was all pretence, but he managed to make it very impressive.

"My playin' days done gone too long ter talk 'bout. When I plays, I plays wid wuk, dat w'at I plays wid."

"Well," said the child, who had tactics of his own, "if I can't play with you, I don't know who I am to play with."

This touched Uncle Remus in a very tender spot. He stopped in the path, took off his spectacles, wiped the glasses on his coat-tail, and said very emphatically:

"Now den, honey, des lissen at me. How de name er goodness kin you call dat playin', w'ich er little mo' en I'd er fell down on top er my head, en broke my neck en yone too?"

The child promised that he would be very good, and Uncle Remus picked him up, and the two made their way to where the negroes had congregated. They were greeted with cries of "Dar's Unk Remus!" "Howdy, Unk Remus!" "Yer dey is!" "Ole man Remus don't sing; but w'en he do sing—gentermens! des go 'way!"

All this and much more, so that when Uncle Remus had placed the little boy upon a corner of the platform, and made him comfortable, he straightened himself with a laugh and cried out:

"Howdy, boys! howdy all! I des come up fer ter jine in wid you fer one 'roun' fer de sakes er ole times, ef no mo'."

"I boun' fer Unk Remus!" some one said. "Now des hush en let Unk Remus 'lone!" exclaimed another.

The figure of the old man, as he stood smiling upon the crowd of negroes, was picturesque in the extreme. He seemed to be taller than all the rest; and, notwithstanding his venerable appearance, he moved and spoke with all the vigor of youth. He had always exercised authority over his fellow-servants. He had been the captain of the corn-pile, the stoutest at the log-rolling, the swiftest with the hoe, the neatest with the plough, and the plantation hands still looked upon him as their leader.

Some negro from the River place had brought a fiddle, and, though it was a very feeble one, its screeching seemed to annoy Uncle Remus.

"Put up dat ar fiddle!" he exclaimed, waving his hand. "Des put 'er up; she sets my toof on aidje. Put 'er up en les go back ter ole times. Dey aint no room fer no fiddle 'roun' yer, 'kaze w'en you gits me started dat ar fiddle won't be nowhars."

"Dat 's so," said the man with the fiddle, and the irritating instrument was laid aside.

"Now, den," Uncle Remus went on, "dey's a little chap yer dat you'll all come ter know mighty well one er deze odd-come-shorts, en dish yer little chap aint got so mighty long fer ter set up 'long wid us. Dat bein' de case we oughter take 'n put de bes' foot fo'mus' fer ter commence wid."

"You lead, Unk Remus! You des lead en we'll foller."

Thereupon the old man called to the best singers among the negroes and made them stand near him. Then he raised his right hand to his ear and stood perfectly still. The little boy thought he was listening for something, but presently Uncle Remus began to slap himself gently with his left hand, first upon the leg and then upon the breast. The other negroes kept time to this by a gentle motion of their feet, and finally, when the thump—thump—thump of this movement had regulated itself to suit the old man's fancy, he broke out with what may be called a Christmas dance song.

His voice was strong, and powerful, and sweet, and its range was as astonishing as its volume. More than this, the melody to which he tuned it, and which was caught up by a hundred voices almost as sweet and as powerful as his own, was charged with a mysterious and pathetic tenderness.

The fine company of men and women at the big house—men and women who had made the tour of all the capitals of Europe—listened with swelling hearts and with tears in their eyes as the song rose and fell upon the air—at one moment a tempest of melody, at another a heart-breaking strain breathed softly and sweetly to the gentle winds. The song that the little boy and the fine company heard was something like this—ridiculous enough when put in cold type, but powerful and thrilling when joined to the melody with which the negroes had invested it:


Hit 's a mighty fur ways up de Far'well Lane, My honey, my love! You may ax Mister Crow, you may ax Mr. Crane, My honey, my love! Dey'll make you a bow, en dey'll tell you de same, My honey, my love! Hit 's a mighty fur ways fer to go in de night, My honey, my love! My honey, my love, my heart's delight— My honey, my love!

_Mister Mink, he creep twel he wake up de snipe, My honey, my love! Mister Bull-Frog holler,_ Come-a-light my pipe _, My honey, my love! En de Pa'tridge ax,_ Aint yo' peas ripe? My honey, my love! Better not walk erlong dar much atter night, My honey, my love! My honey, my love, my heart's delight— My honey, my love!_

_De Bully-Bat fly mighty close ter de groun', My honey, my love! Mister Fox, he coax 'er,_ Do come down! My honey, my love! Mister Coon, he rack all 'roun' en 'roun', My honey, my love! In de darkes' night, oh, de nigger, he's a sight! My honey, my love! My honey, my love, my heart's delight— My honey, my love!_

Oh, flee, Miss Nancy, flee ter my knee, My honey, my love! 'Lev'm big fat coons lives in one tree, My honey, my love! Oh, ladies all, won't you marry me? My honey, my love! Tu'n lef', tu'n right, we 'ull dance all night, My honey, my love! My honey, my love, my heart's delight— My honey, my love!

De big Owl holler en cry fer his mate, My honey, my love! Oh, don't stay long! Oh, don't stay late! My honey, my love! Hit aint so mighty fur ter de Good-by Gate, My honey, my love! Whar we all got ter go w'en we sing out de night, My honey, my love! My honey, my love, my heart's delight— My honey, my love!

After a while the song was done, and other songs were sung; but it was not long before Uncle Remus discovered that the little boy was fast asleep. The old man took the child in his arms and carried him to the big house, singing softly in his ear all the way; and somehow or other the song seemed to melt and mingle in the youngster's dreams. He thought he was floating in the air, while somewhere near all the negroes were singing, Uncle Remus's voice above all the rest; and then, after he had found a resting-place upon a soft warm bank of clouds, he thought he heard the songs renewed. They grew fainter and fainter in his dreams until at last (it seemed) Uncle Remus leaned over him and sang


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

[87] Dorcas. ———————————————————————————————————

Transcriber's Note: Punctuation and inconsistencies in language and dialect found in the original book have been retained. In a later edition, "uch ti!" on Page 159 appears as "Ki!".


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