"'Brer Fox, whar you git so much nice beef?' sezee, en den Brer Fox he up'n 'spon', sezee:
"'You come ter my house termorrer ef yo' fokes ain't too sick, en I kin show you whar you kin git plenty beef mo' nicer dan dish yer,' sezee.
"Well, sho nuff, de nex' day fotch Brer Rabbit, en Brer Fox say, sezee:
"'Der's a man down yander by Miss Meadows's w'at got heap er fine cattle, en he gotter cow name Bookay,' sezee, 'en you des go en say Bookay, en she'll open her mouf, en you kin jump in en git des as much meat ez you kin tote,' sez Brer Fox, sezee.
"'Well, I'll go 'long,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'en you kin jump fus' en den I'll come follerin' atter,' sezee.
"Wid dat dey put out, en dey went promernadin' 'roun' 'mong de cattle, dey did, twel bimeby dey struck up wid de one dey wuz atter. Brer Fox, he up, he did, en holler Bookay, en de cow flung 'er mouf wide open. Sho nuff, in dey jump, en w'en dey got dar, Brer Fox, he say, sezee:
"'You kin cut mos' ennywheres, Brer Rabbit, but don't cut 'roun' de haslett,' sezee.
"'Den Brer Rabbit, he holler back, he did: I'm a gitten me out a roas'n-piece,' sezee.
"'Roas'n, er bakin', er fryin',' sez Brer Fox, sezee, 'don't git too nigh de haslett,' sezee.
"Dey cut en dey kyarved, en dey kyarved en dey cut, en w'iles dey wuz cuttin' en kyarvin', en slashin' 'way, Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n hacked inter de haslett, en wid dat down fell de cow dead.
"'Now, den,' sez Brer Fox, 'we er gone, sho,' sezee.
"'W'at we gwine do?' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.
"'I'll git in de maul,' sez Brer Fox, 'en you'll jump in de gall,' sezee.
"Nex' mawnin' yer cum de man w'at de cow b'long ter, and he ax who kill Bookay. Nobody don't say nuthin'. Den de man say he'll cut 'er open en see, en den he whirl in, en twan't no time 'fo' he had 'er intruls spread out. Brer Rabbit, he crope out'n de gall, en say, sezee:
"'Mister Man! Oh, Mister Man! I'll tell you who kill yo' cow. You look in de maul, en dar you'll fine 'im,' sezee.
"Wid dat de man tuck a stick and lam down on de maul so hard dat he kill Brer Fox stone-dead. W'en Brer Rabbit see Brer Fox wuz laid out fer good, he make like he mighty sorry, en he up'n ax de man fer Brer Fox head. Man say he ain't keerin', en den Brer Rabbit tuck'n brung it ter Brer Fox house. Dar he see ole Miss Fox, en he tell 'er dat he done fotch her some nice beef w'at 'er ole man sont 'er, but she ain't gotter look at it twel she go ter eat it.
"Brer Fox son wuz name Tobe, en Brer Rabbit tell Tobe fer ter keep still w'iles his mammy cook de nice beef w'at his daddy sont 'im. Tobe he wuz mighty hongry, en he look in de pot he did w'iles de cookin' wuz gwine on, en dar he see his daddy head, en wid dat he sot up a howl en tole his mammy. Miss Fox, she git mighty mad w'en she fine she cookin' her ole man head, en she call up de dogs, she did, en sickt em on Brer Rabbit; en ole Miss Fox en Tobe en de dogs, dey push Brer Rabbit so close dat he hatter take a holler tree. Miss Fox, she tell Tobe fer ter stay dar en mine Brer Rabbit, w'ile she goes en git de ax, en w'en she gone, Brer Rabbit, he tole Tobe ef he go ter de branch en git 'im a drink er water dat he'll gin 'im a dollar. Tobe, he put out, he did, en bring some water in his hat, but by de time he got back Brer Rabbit done out en gone. Ole Miss Fox, she cut and cut twel down come de tree, but no Brer Rabbit dar. Den she lay de blame on Tobe, en she say she gwineter lash 'im, en Tobe, he put out en run, de ole 'oman atter 'im. Bimeby, he come up wid Brer Rabbit, en sot down fer to tell 'im how 'twuz, en w'iles dey wuz a settin' dar, yer come ole Miss Fox a slippin' up en grab um bofe. Den she tell um w'at she gwine do. Brer Rabbit she gwineter kill, en Tobe she gwineter lam ef its de las' ack. Den Brer Rabbit sez, sezee:
"'Ef you please, ma'am, Miss Fox, lay me on de grinestone en groun off my nose so I can't smell no mo' w'en I'm dead.'
"Miss Fox, she tuck dis ter be a good idee, en she fotch bofe un um ter de grinestone, en set um up on it so dat she could groun' off Brer Rabbit nose. Den Brer Rabbit, he up'n say, sezee:
"'Ef you please, ma'am, Miss Fox, Tobe he kin turn de handle w'iles you goes atter some water fer ter wet de grinestone,' sezee.
"Co'se, soon'z Brer Rabbit see Miss Fox go atter de water, he jump down en put out, en dis time he git clean away."
"And was that the last of the Rabbit, too, Uncle Remus?" the little boy asked, with something like a sigh.
"Don't push me too close, honey," responded the old man; "don't shove me up in no cornder. I don't wanter tell you no stories. Some say dat Brer Rabbit's ole 'oman died fum eatin' some pizen- weed, en dat Brer Rabbit married ole Miss Fox, en some say not. Some tells one tale en some tells nudder; some say dat fum dat time forrerd de Rabbits en de Foxes make fren's en stay so; some say dey kep on quollin'. Hit look like it mixt. Let dem tell you w'at knows. Dat w'at I years you gits it straight like I yeard it."
There was a long pause, which was finally broken by the old man:
"Hit's 'gin de rules fer you ter be noddin' yer, honey. Bimeby you'll drap off en I'll hatter tote you up ter de big 'ouse. I hear dat baby cryin', en bimeby Miss Sally'll fly up en be a holler'n atter you"
"Oh, I wasn't asleep," the little boy replied. "I was just thinking."
"Well, dat's diffunt," said the old man. "Ef you'll clime up on my back," he continued, speaking softly, "I speck I ain't too ole fer ter be yo' hoss fum yer ter de house. Many en many's de time dat I toted yo' Unk Jeems dat away, en Mars Jeems wuz heavier sot dan w'at you is."
BIG 'possum clime little tree. Dem w'at eats kin say grace. Ole man Know-All died las' year. Better de gravy dan no grease 'tall. Dram ain't good twel you git it. Lazy fokes' stummucks don't git tired. Rheumatiz don't he'p at de log-rollin'. Mole don't see w'at his naber doin'. Save de pacin' mar' fer Sunday. Don't rain eve'y time de pig squeal. Crow en corn can't grow in de same fiel'. Tattlin' 'oman can't make de bread rise. Rails split 'fo' bre'kfus'll season de dinner. Dem w'at knows too much sleeps under de ash-hopper. Ef you wanter see yo' own sins, clean up a new groun'. Hog dunner w'ich part un 'im'll season de turnip salad. Hit's a blessin' de w'ite sow don't shake de plum-tree. Winter grape sour, whedder you kin reach 'im or not. Mighty po' bee dat don't make mo' honey dan he want. Kwishins on mule's foots done gone out er fashun. Pigs dunno w'at a pen's fer. Possum's tail good as a paw. Dogs don't bite at de front gate. Colt in de barley-patch kick high. Jay-bird don't rob his own nes'. Pullet can't roost too high for de owl. Meat fried 'fo' day won't las' twel night. Stump water won't kyo' de gripes. De howlin' dog know w'at he sees. Blin' hoss don't fall w'en he follers de bit. Hongry nigger won't w'ar his maul out. Don't fling away de empty wallet. Black-snake know de way ter de hin nes'. Looks won't do ter split rails wid. Settin' hens don't hanker arter fresh aigs. Tater-vine growin' w'ile you sleep. Hit take two birds fer to make a nes'. Ef you bleedzd ter eat dirt, eat clean dirt. Tarrypin walk fast 'nuff fer to go visitin'. Empty smoke-house makes de pullet holler. W'en coon take water he fixin' fer ter fight. Corn makes mo' at de mill dan it does in de crib. Good luck say: "Op'n yo' mouf en shet yo' eyes." Nigger dat gets hurt wukkin oughter show de skyars. Fiddlin' nigger say hit's long ways ter de dance. Rooster makes mo' racket dan de hin w'at lay de aig. Meller mush-million hollers at you fum over de fence. Nigger wid a pocket-hankcher better be looked atter. Rain-crow don't sing no chune, but you k'n 'pen' on 'im. One-eyed mule can't be handled on de bline side. Moon may shine, but a lightered knot's mighty handy. Licker talks mighty loud w'en it git loose fum de jug. De proudness un a man don't count w'en his head's cold. Hongry rooster don't cackle w'en he fine a wum. Some niggers mighty smart, but dey can't drive de pidgins ter roos'. You may know de way, but better keep yo' eyes on de seven stairs. All de buzzards in de settlement 'll come to de gray mule's funer'l. You k'n hide de fier, but w'at you gwine do wid de smoke? Termorrow may be de carridge-driver's day for ploughin'. Hit's a mighty deaf nigger dat don't year de dinner-ho'n. Hit takes a bee fer ter git de sweetness out'n de hoar-houn' blossom. Ha'nts don't bodder longer hones' folks, but you better go 'roun' de grave-yard. De pig dat runs off wid de year er corn gits little mo' dan de cob. Sleepin' in de fence-cornder don't fetch Chrismus in de kitchen. De spring-house may freeze, but de niggers 'll keep de shuck-pen warm. 'Twix' de bug en de bee-martin 'tain't hard ter tell w'ich gwineter git kotch. Don't 'sput wid de squinch-owl. Jam de shovel in de fier. You'd see mo' er de mink ef he know'd whar de yard dog sleeps. Troubles is seasonin'. 'Simmons ain't good twel dey 'er fros'-bit. Watch out w'en you'er gittin all you want. Fattenin' hogs ain't in luck.
I. REVIVAL HYMN
OH, whar shill we go w'en de great day comes, Wid de blowin' er de trumpits en de bangin' er de drums? How many po' sinners'll be kotched out late En fin' no latch ter de golden gate? No use fer ter wait twel termorrer! De sun mus'n't set on yo' sorrer, Sin's ez sharp ez a bamboo-brier- Oh, Lord! fetch de mo'ners up higher!
W'en de nashuns er de earf is a stan'in all aroun, Who's a gwineter be choosen fer ter w'ar de glory-crown? Who's a gwine fer ter stan' stiff-kneed en bol'. En answer to der name at de callin' er de roll? You better come now ef you comin'— Ole Satun is loose en a bummin'— De wheels er distruckshun is a hummin'— Oh, come long, sinner, ef you comin'!
De song er salvashun is a mighty sweet song, En de Pairidise win' blow fur en blow strong, En Aberham's bosom, hit's saft en hit's wide, En right dar's de place whar de sinners oughter hide! Oh, you nee'nter be a stoppin' en a lookin'; Ef you fool wid ole Satun you'll git took in; You'll hang on de aidge en get shook in, Ef you keep on a stoppin' en a lookin'.
De time is right now, en dish yer's de place— Let de sun er salvashun shine squar' in yo' face; Fight de battles er de Lord, fight soon en fight late, En you'll allers fine a latch ter de golden gate. No use fer ter wait twel termorrer, De sun musn't set on yo' sorrer— Sin's ez sharp ez a bamboo-brier, Ax de Lord fer ter fetch you up higher!
II. CAMP-MEETING SONG *
OH, de worril is roun' en de worril is wide— Lord! 'member deze chillun in de mornin'—
Hit's a mighty long ways up de mountain side, En dey ain't no place fer dem sinners fer ter hide, En dey ain't no place whar sin kin abide, W'en de Lord shill come in de mornin'! Look up en look aroun', Fling yo' burden on de groun', Hit's a gittin' mighty close on ter mornin'! Smoove away sin's frown— Retch up en git de crown, W'at de Lord will fetch in de mornin'!
De han' er ridem'shun, hit's hilt out ter you— Lord! 'member dem sinners in de mornin'! Hit's a mighty pashent han', but de days is but few, W'en Satun, he'll come a demandin' un his due, En de stiff-neck sinners 'll be smotin' all fru- Oh, you better git ready for de mornin'! Look up en set yo' face To'ds de green hills of grace 'Fo' de sun rises up in de mornin'— Oh, you better change yo' base, Hits yo' soul's las' race For de glory dat's a comin' in de mornin'!
De farmer gits ready w'en de lan's all plowed For ter sow dem seeds in de mornin' De sperrit may be puny en de flesh may be proud, But you better cut loose fum de scoffin' crowd, En jine dose Christuns w'at's a cryin' out loud Fer de Lord fer ter come in de mornin'! Shout loud en shout long, Let de eckoes ans'er strong, W'en de sun rises up in de mornin'! Oh, you allers will be wrong Twel you choose ter belong Ter de Marster w'at's a comin' in de mornin'!
*In the days of slavery, the religious services held by the negroes who accompanied their owners to the camp-meetings were marvels of earnestness and devotion.
III. CORN-SHUCKING SONG
OH, de fus' news you know de day'll be a breakin'— (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango! *1) An' de fier be a burnin' en' de ash-cake a bakin', (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) An' de ho'n 'll be a hollerin' en de boss 'll be a wakin'— (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) Better git up, nigger, en give yo'se'f a shakin'— (Hi O, Miss Sindy Ann!)
Oh, honey! w'en you see dem ripe stars a fallin'— (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) Oh, honey! w'en you year de rain-crow a callin'— (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) Oh, honey! w'en you year dat red calf a bawlin'— (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) Den de day time's a creepin' en a crawlin'— (Hi O, Miss Sindy Ann!)
For de los' ell en yard *2 is a huntin' for de mornin', (Hi O! git long! go 'way!) En she'll ketch up wid dus 'fo' we ever git dis corn in— (Oh, go 'way, Sindy Ann!)
Oh, honey! w'en you year dat tin horn a tootin' (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) Oh, honey, w'en you year de squinch owl a hootin'— (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) Oh, honey! w'en you year dem little pigs a rootin'— (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) Right den she's a comin' a skippin' en a scootin'— (Hi O, Miss Sindy Ann!)
Oh, honey, w'en you year dat roan mule whicker— (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) W'en you see Mister Moon turnin' pale en gittin' sicker— (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) Den hit's time for ter handle dat corn a little quicker— (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) Ef you wanter git a smell er old Marster's jug er licker— (Hi O, Miss Sindy Ann!)
For de los' ell en yard is a huntin' for de mornin' (Hi O! git long! go 'way!) En she'll ketch up wid dus 'fo' we ever git dis corn in— (Oh, go 'way, Sindy Ann!) You niggers 'cross dar! you better stop your dancin'— (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) No use for ter come a flingin' un yo' "sha'n'ts" in— (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) No use for ter come a flingin' un yo' "can't's" in— (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) Kaze dey ain't no time for yo' pattin' nor yo' prancin'! (Hi O, Miss Sindy Ann!)
Mr. Rabbit see de Fox, en he sass um en jaws um— (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) Mr. Fox ketch de Rabbit, en he scratch um en he claws um— (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) En he tar off de hide, en he chaws um en he gnyaws um— (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) Same like gal chawin' sweet gum en rozzum— (Hi O, Miss Sindy Ann!) For de los' ell en yard is a huntin' for de mornin' (Hi O! git 'long! go 'way!) En she'll ketch up wid dus 'fo' we ever git dis corn in— (Oh, go 'way, Sindy Ann!)
Oh, work on, boys! give doze shucks a mighty wringin'— (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) 'Fo' de boss come aroun' a dangin' en a dingin'— (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) Git up en move aroun'! set dem big han's ter swingin'— (Hey O! Hi O! Up'n down de Bango!) Git up'n shout loud! let de w'ite folks year you singin'! (Hi O, Miss Sindy Ann!)
For de los' ell en yard is a huntin' for de mornin' (Hi O! git long! go 'way!) En she'll ketch up wid dus 'fo' we ever git dis corn in. (Oh, go 'way Sindy Ann!)
*1 So far as I know, "Bango" is a meaningless term, introduced on account of its sonorous ruggedness. *2 The sword and belt in the constellation of Orion.
IV. THE PLOUGH-HANDS' SONG (JASPER COUNTY—1860.)
NIGGER mighty happy w'en he layin' by co'n— Dat sun's a slantin'; Nigger mighty happy w'en he year de dinner-ho'n— Dat sun's a slantin'; En he mo' happy still w'en de night draws on— Dat sun's a slantin'; Dat sun's a slantin' des ez sho's you bo'n! En it's rise up, Primus! fetch anudder yell: Dat ole dun cow's des a shakin' up 'er bell, En de frogs chunin' up 'fo' de jew done fell: Good-night, Mr. Killdee! I wish you mighty well! —Mr. Killdee! I wish you mighty well! —I wish you mighty well!
Do co'n 'll be ready 'g'inst dumplin' day— Dat sun's a slantin'; But nigger gotter watch, en stick, en stay— Dat sun's a slantin'; Same ez de bee-martin watchin' un de jay— Dat sun's a slantin'; Dat sun's a slantin' en a slippin' away! Den it's rise up, Primus! en gin it turn strong; De cow's gwine home wid der ding-dang-dong— Sling in anudder tetch er de ole-time song: Good-night, Mr. Whipperwill! don't stay long! —Mr. Whipperwill! don't stay long! —Don't stay long!
V. CHRISTMAS PLAY-SONG (MYRICK PLACE, PUTNAM COUNTY 1858.)
Hi my rinktum! Black gal sweet, Same like goodies w'at de w'ite folks eat; Ho my Riley! don't you take'n tell 'er name, En den ef sumpin' happen you won't ketch de blame; Hi my rinktum! better take'n hide yo' plum; Joree don't holler eve'y time he fine a wum. Den it's hi my rinktum! Don't git no udder man; En it's ho my Riley! Fetch out Miss Dilsey Ann!
Ho my Riley! Yaller gal fine; She may be yone but she oughter be mine! Hi my rinktum! Lemme git by, En see w'at she mean by de cut er dat eye! Ho my Riley! better shet dat do'— De w'ite folks 'll bleeve we er t'arin up de flo'.
Den it's ho my Riley! Come a siftin' up ter me! En it's hi my rinktum! Dis de way ter twis' yo' knee!
Hi my rinktum! Ain't de eas' gittin' red? De squinch owl shiver like he wanter go ter bed; Ho my Riley! but de gals en de boys, Des now gittin' so dey kin sorter make a noise. Hi my rinktum! let de yaller gal lone; Niggers don't hanker arter sody in de pone. Den it's hi my rinktum! Better try anudder plan; An' it's ho my Riley! Trot out Miss Dilsey Ann!
Ho my Riley! In de happy Chris'mus time De niggers shake der cloze a huntin' for a dime. Hi my rinktum! En den dey shake der feet, En greaze derse'f wid de good ham meat. Ho my Riley! dey eat en dey cram, En bimeby ole Miss 'll be a sendin' out de dram. Den it's ho my Riley! You hear dat, Sam! En it's hi my rinktum! Be a sendin' out de dram!
VI. PLANTATION PLAY-SONG (PUTNAM COUNTY—1856.)
HIT'S a gittin' mighty late, w'en de Guinny-hins squall, En you better dance now, ef you gwineter dance a tall, Fer by dis time termorrer night you can't hardly crawl, Kaze you'll hatter take de hoe ag'in en likewise de maul— Don't you hear dat bay colt a kickin' in his stall? Stop yo' humpin' up yo' sho'lders do! Dat'll never do! Hop light, ladies, Oh, Miss Loo! Hit takes a heap er scrougin' For ter git you thoo— Hop light, ladies, Oh, Miss Loo!
Ef you niggers don't watch, you'll sing anudder chune, Fer de sun'll rise'n ketch you ef you don't be mighty soon; En de stars is gittin' paler, en de ole gray coon Is a settin' in de grape-vine a watchin' fer de moon. W'en a feller comes a knockin' Des holler—Oh, shoo! Hop light, ladies, Oh, Miss Loo! Oh, swing dat yaller gal! Do, boys, do! Hop light, ladies, Oh, Miss Loo!
Oh, tu'n me loose! Lemme 'lone! Go way, now! W'at you speck I come a dancin' fer ef I dunno how? Deze de ve'y kinder footses w'at kicks up a row; Can't you jump inter de middle en make yo' gal a bow? Look at dat merlatter man A follerin' up Sue; Hop light, ladies, Oh, Miss Loo! De boys ain't a gwine W'en you cry boo hoo— Hop light, ladies, Oh, Miss Loo!
VII. TRANSCRIPTIONS *1
1. A PLANTATION CHANT
Hit's eighteen hunder'd forty-en-fo', Christ done open dat He'v'mly do'— An' I don't wanter stay yer no longer; Hit's eighteen hunder'd forty-en-five, Christ done made dat dead man alive— An' I don't wanter stay yer no longer. You ax me ter run home, Little childun— Run home, dat sun done roll— An' I don't wanter stay yer no longer.
Hit's eighteen hunder'd forty-en-six, Christ is got us a place done fix— An' I don't wanter stay yer no longer; Hit's eighteen hunder'd forty-en-sev'm Christ done sot a table in Hev'm An' I don't wanter stay yer no longer. You ax me ter run home, Little childun— Run home, dat sun done roll— An' I don't wanter stay yer no longer.
Hit's eighteen hunder'd forty-en-eight, Christ done make dat crooked way straight— An' I don't wanter stay yer no longer; Hit's eighteen hunder'd forty-en-nine, Christ done tu'n dat water inter wine— An' I don't wanter stay yer no longer. You ax me ter run home, Little childun— Run home, dat sun done roll— An' I don't wanter stay yer no longer.
Hit's eighteen hunder'd forty-en-ten, Christ is de mo'ner's onliest fr'en'— An' I don't wanter stay yer no longer; Hit's eighteen hunder'd forty-en-lev'm, Christ 'll be at de do' w'en we all git ter Hev'm— An' I don't wanter stay yer no longer. You ax me ter run home, Little childun— Run home, dat sun done roll— An' I don't wanter stay yer no longer.
*1 If these are adaptations from songs the negroes have caught from the whites, their origin is very remote. I have transcribed them literally, and I regard them as in the highest degree characteristic.
2.A PLANTATION SERENADE
DE ole bee make de honey-comb, De young bee make de honey, De niggers make de cotton en co'n, En de w'ite folks gits de money.
De raccoon he's a cu'us man, He never walk twel dark, En nuthin' never 'sturbs his mine, Twel he hear ole Bringer bark.
De raccoon totes a bushy tail, De 'possum totes no ha'r, Mr. Rabbit, he come skippin' by, He ain't got none ter spar'.
Monday mornin' break er day, W'ite folks got me gwine, But Sat'dy night, w'en de sun goes down, Dat yaller gal's in my mine.
Fifteen poun' er meat a week, W'isky for ter sell, Oh, how can a young man stay at home, Dem gals dey look so well?
Met a 'possum in de road— Bre' 'Possum, whar you gwine? I thank my stars, I bless my life, I'm a huntin' for de muscadine.
VIII. THE BIG BETHEL CHURCH
DE Big Bethel chu'ch! de Big Bethel chu'ch! Done put ole Satun behine um; Ef a sinner git loose fum enny udder chu'ch, De Big Bethel chu'ch will fine um!
Hit's good ter be dere, en it's sweet ter be dere, Wid de sisterin' all aroun' you— A shakin' dem shackles er mussy en' love Wharwid de Lord is boun' you.
Hit's sweet ter be dere en lissen ter de hymns, En hear dem mo'ners a shoutin'— Dey done reach de place whar der ain't no room Fer enny mo' weepin' en doubtin'.
Hit's good ter be dere w'en de sinners all jine Wid de brudderin in dere singin', En it look like Gaberl gwine ter rack up en blow En set dem heav'm bells ter ringin'!
Oh, de Big Bethel chu'ch! de Big Bethel chu'ch, Done put ole Satun behine am; Ef a sinner git loose fum enny udder chu'ch De Big Bethel chu'ch will fine um!
IX. TIME GOES BY TURNS
DAR'S a pow'ful rassle 'twix de Good en de Bad, En de Bad's got de all—under holt; En w'en de wuss come, she come i'on-clad, En you hatter hol' yo' bref for de jolt.
But des todes de las' Good gits de knee-lock, En dey draps ter de groun'—ker flop! Good had de inturn, en he stan' like a rock, En he bleedzd for ter be on top.
De dry wedder breaks wid a big thunder-clap, For dey ain't no drout' w'at kin las', But de seasons w'at whoops up de cotton crap, Likewise dey freshens up de grass.
De rain fall so saf' in de long dark night, Twel you hatter hol' yo' han' for a sign, But de drizzle w'at sets de tater-slips right Is de makin' er de May-pop vine.
In de mellerest groun' de clay root 'll ketch En hol' ter de tongue er de plow, En a pine-pole gate at de gyardin-patch Never 'll keep out de ole brindle cow.
One en all on us knows who's a pullin' at de bits Like de lead-mule dat g'ides by de rein, En yit, somehow or nudder, de bestest un us gits Mighty sick er de tuggin' at de chain.
Hump yo'se'f ter de load en fergit de distress, En dem w'at stan's by ter scoff, For de harder de pullin', de longer de res', En de bigger de feed in de troff.
A STORY OF THE WAR
WHEN Miss Theodosia Huntingdon, of Burlington, Vermont, concluded to come South in 1870, she was moved by three considerations. In the first place, her brother, John Huntingdon, had become a citizen of Georgia—having astonished his acquaintances by marrying a young lady, the male members of whose family had achieved considerable distinction in the Confederate army; in the second place, she was anxious to explore a region which she almost unconsciously pictured to herself as remote and semi- barbarous; and, in the third place, her friends had persuaded her that to some extent she was an invalid. It was in vain that she argued with herself as to the propriety of undertaking the journey alone and unprotected, and she finally put an end to inward and outward doubts by informing herself and her friends, including John Huntingdon, her brother, who was practicing law in Atlanta, that she had decided to visit the South.
When, therefore, on the 12th of October, 1870—the date is duly recorded in one of Miss Theodosia's letters—she alighted from the cars in Atlanta, in the midst of a great crowd, she fully expected to find her brother waiting to receive her. The bells of several locomotives were ringing, a number of trains were moving in and out, and the porters and baggage-men were screaming and bawling to such an extent that for several moments Miss Huntingdon was considerably confused; so much so that she paused in the hope that her brother would suddenly appear and rescue her from the smoke, and dust, and din. At that moment some one touched her on the arm, and she heard a strong, half-confident, half-apologetic voice exclaim:
"Ain't dish yer Miss Doshy?"
Turning, Miss Theodosia saw at her side a tall, gray-haired negro. Elaborating the incident afterward to her friends, she was pleased to say that the appearance of the old man was somewhat picturesque. He stood towering above her, his hat in one hand, a carriage-whip in the other, and an expectant smile lighting up his rugged face. She remembered a name her brother had often used in his letters, and, with a woman's tact, she held out her hand, and said:
"Is this Uncle Remus?"
"Law, Miss Doshy! how you know de ole nigger? I know'd you by de faver; but how you know me?" And then, without waiting for a reply: "Miss Sally, she sick in bed, en Mars John, he bleedzd ter go in de country, en dey tuck'n sont me. I know'd you de minnit I laid eyes on you. Time I seed you, I say ter myse'f, 'I lay dar's Miss Doshy,' en, sho nuff, dar you wuz. You ain't gun up yo' checks, is you? Kaze I'll git de trunk sont up by de 'spress waggin."
The next moment Uncle Remus was elbowing his way unceremoniously through the crowd, and in a very short time, seated in the carriage driven by the old man, Miss Huntingdon was whirling through the streets of Atlanta in the direction of her brother's home. She took advantage of the opportunity to study the old negro's face closely, her natural curiosity considerably sharpened by a knowledge of the fact that Uncle Remus had played an important part in her brother's history. The result of her observation must have been satisfactory, for presently she laughed, and said:
"Uncle Remus, you haven't told me how you knew me in that great crowd."
The old man chuckled, and gave the horses a gentle rap with the whip.
"Who? Me! I know'd you by de faver. Dat boy er Mars John's is de ve'y spit en immij un you. I'd a know'd you in New 'Leens, let lone down dar in de kyar-shed."
This was Miss Theodosia's introduction to Uncle Remus. One Sunday afternoon, a few weeks after her arrival, the family were assembled in the piazza enjoying the mild weather. Mr. Huntingdon was reading a newspaper; his wife was crooning softly as she rocked the baby to sleep; and the little boy was endeavoring to show his Aunt Dosia the outlines of Kennesaw Mountain through the purple haze that hung like a wonderfully fashioned curtain in the sky and almost obliterated the horizon. While they were thus engaged, Uncle Remus came around the corner of the house, talking to himself.
"Dey er too lazy ter wuk," he was saying, "en dey specks hones' fokes fer ter stan' up en s'port um. I'm gwine down ter Putmon County whar Mars Jeems is—dat's w'at I'm agwine ter do."
"What's the matter now, Uncle Remus?" inquired Mr. Huntingdon, folding up his newspaper.
"Nuthin' 'tall, Mars John, 'ceppin deze yer sunshine niggers. Dey begs my terbacker, en borrys my tools, en steals my vittles, en hit's done come ter dat pass dat I gotter pack up en go. I'm agwine down ter Putmon, dat's w'at."
Uncle Remus was accustomed to make this threat several times a day, but upon this occasion it seemed to remind Mr. Huntingdon of something.
"Very well," he said, "I'll come around and help you pack up, but before you go I want you to tell Sister here how you went to war and fought for the Union.—Remus was a famous warrior," he continued, turning to Miss Theodosia; "he volunteered for one day, and commanded an army of one. You know the story, but you have never heard Remus's version."
Uncle Remus shuffled around in an awkward, embarrassed way, scratched his head, and looked uncomfortable.
"Miss Doshy ain't got no time fer ter set dar an' year de ole nigger run on."
"Oh, yes, I have, Uncle Remus!" exclaimed the young lady; "plenty of time."
The upshot of it was that, after many ridiculous protests, Uncle Remus sat down on the steps, and proceeded to tell his story of the war. Miss Theodosia listened with great interest, but throughout it all she observed—and she was painfully conscious of the fact, as she afterward admitted—that Uncle Remus spoke from the standpoint of a Southerner, and with the air of one who expected his hearers to thoroughly sympathize with him.
"Co'se," said Uncle Remus, addressing himself to Miss Theodosia, "you ain't bin to Putmon, en you dunner whar de Brad Slaughter place en Harmony Grove is, but Mars John en Miss Sally, dey bin dar a time er two, en dey knows how de lan' lays. Well, den, it 'uz right long in dere whar Mars Jeems lived, en whar he live now. When de war come long he wuz livin' dere longer Ole Miss en Miss Sally. Ole Miss 'uz his ma, en Miss Sally dar 'uz his sister. De war come des like I tell you, en marters sorter rock along same like dey allers did. Hit didn't strike me dat dey wuz enny war gwine on, en ef I hadn't sorter miss de nabers, en seed fokes gwine outer de way fer ter ax de news, I'd a 'lowed ter myse'f dat de war wuz 'way off 'mong some yuther country. But all dis time de fuss wuz gwine on, en Mars Jeems, he wuz des eatchin' fer ter put in. Ole Miss en Miss Sally, dey tuck on so he didn't git off de fus' year, but bimeby news come down dat times wuz gittin' putty hot, en Mars Jeems he got up, he did, en say he gotter go, en go he did. He got a overseer fer ter look atter de place, en he went en jined de army. En he 'uz a fighter, too, mon, Mars Jeems wuz. Many's en many's de time," continued the old man, reflectively, "dat I hatter take'n bresh dat boy on a counter his 'buzin' en beatin' dem yuther boys. He went off dar fer ter fight, en he fit. Ole Miss useter call me up Sunday en read w'at de papers say 'bout Mars Jeems, en it ho'p 'er up might'ly. I kin see 'er des like it 'uz yistiddy.
"'Remus,' sez she, 'dish yer's w'at de papers say 'bout my baby,' en den she'd read out twel she couldn't read fer cryin'. Hit went on dis way year in en year out, en dem wuz lonesome times, sho's you bawn, Miss Doshy—lonesome times, sho. Hit got hotter en hotter in de war, en lonesomer en mo' lonesomer at home, en bimeby 'long come de conscrip' man, en he des everlas'nly scoop up Mars Jeems's overseer. W'en dis come 'bout, ole Miss, she sont atter me en say, sez she:
"'Remus, I ain't got nobody fer ter look arter de place but you,' sez she, en den I up'n say, sez I:
"'Mistiss, you kin des 'pen' on de ole nigger.'
"I wuz ole den, Miss Doshy—let lone w'at I is now; en you better b'leeve I bossed dem han's. I had dem niggers up en in de fiel' long 'fo' day, en de way dey did wuk wuz a caution. Ef dey didn't earn der vittles dat season den I ain't name Remus. But dey wuz tuk keer un. Dey had plenty er cloze en plenty er grub, en dey wuz de fattes' niggers in de settlement.
"Bimeby one day, Ole Miss, she call me up en say de Yankees done gone en tuck Atlanty—dish yer ve'y town; den present'y I year dey wuz a marchin' on down todes Putmon, en, lo en behol's! one day, de fus news I know'd, Mars Jeems he rid up wid a whole gang er men. He des stop long nuff fer ter change hosses en snatch a mouffle er sump'n ter eat, but 'fo' he rid off, he call me up en say, sez he:
"'Daddy'—all Ole Miss's chilluns call me daddy—'Daddy,' he say, ''pears like dere's gwineter be mighty rough times 'roun' yer. De Yankees, dey er done got ter Madison en Mounticellar, en 'twon't be many days 'fo' dey er down yer. 'Tain't likely dey'll pester mother ner sister; but, daddy, ef de wus come ter de wus, I speck you ter take keer un um,' sezee.
"Den I say, sez I: 'How long you bin knowin' me, Mars Jeems?' sez I.
"'Sence I wuz a baby,' sezee.
"'Well, den, Mars Jeems,' sez I, 'you know'd 'twa'nt no use fer ter ax me ter take keer Ole Miss en Miss Sally.'
"Den he tuck'n squoze my han' en jump on de filly I bin savin' fer 'im, en rid off. One time he tu'n roun' en look like he wanter say sump'n', but he des waf' his han'—so—en gallop on. I know'd den dat trouble wuz brewin'. Nigger dat knows he's gwineter git thumped kin sorter fix hisse'f, en I tuck'n fix up like de war wuz gwineter come right in at de front gate. I tuck'n got all de cattle en hosses tergedder en driv' um ter de fo'-mile place, en I tuck all de corn en fodder en w'eat, en put um in a crib out dar in de woods; en I bilt me a pen in de swamp, en dar I put de hogs. Den, w'en I fix all dis, I put on my Sunday cloze en groun' my axe. Two whole days I groun' dat axe. De grinestone wuz in sight er de gate en close ter de big 'ouse, en dar I tuck my stan'.
"Bimeby one day, yer come de Yankees. Two un um come fus, en den de whole face er de yeath swawm'd wid um. De fus glimpse I kotch un um, I tuck my axe en march inter Ole Miss settin'-room. She done had de sidebo'd move in dar, en I wish I may drap ef 'twuzn't fa'rly blazin' wid silver—silver cups en silver sassers, silver plates en silver dishes, silver mugs en silver pitchers. Look like ter me dey wuz fixin' fer a weddin'. Dar sot Ole Miss des ez prim en ez proud ez ef she own de whole county. Dis kinder ho'p me up, kaze I done seed Ole Miss look dat away once befo' w'en de overseer struck me in de face wid a w'ip. I sot down by de fier wid my axe tween my knees. Dar we sot w'iles de Yankees ransack de place. Miss Sally, dar, she got sorter restless, but Ole Miss didn't skasely bat 'er eyes. Bimeby, we hear steps on de peazzer, en yer come a couple er young fellers wid strops on der shoulders, en der sodes a draggin' on de flo', en der spurrers a rattlin'. I won't say I wuz skeer'd," said Uncle Remus, as though endeavoring to recall something he failed to remember, "I won't say I wuz skeer'd, kaze I wuzzent; but I wuz took'n wid a mighty funny feelin' in de naberhood er de gizzard. Dey wuz mighty perlite, dem young chaps wuz; but Ole Miss, she never tu'n 'er head, en Miss Sally, she look straight at de fier. Bimeby one un um see me, en he say, sezee:
"'Hello, ole man, w'at you doin' in yer?' sezee.
"'Well, boss,' sez I, 'I bin cuttin' some wood fer Ole Miss, en I des stop fer ter worn my han's a little,' sez I.
"'Hit is col', dat's a fack,' sezee.
"Wid dat I got up en tuck my stan' behime Ole Miss en Miss Sally, en de man w'at speak, he went up en worn his han's. Fus thing you know, he raise up sudden, en say, sezee:
"'W'at dat on yo' axe?'
"'Dat's de fier shinin' on it,' sez I.
"'Hit look like blood,' sezee, en den he laft.
"But, bless yo' soul, dat man wouldn't never laft dat day ef he'd know'd de wukkins er Remus's mine. But dey didn't bodder nobody ner tech nuthin', en bimeby dey put out. Well, de Yankees, dey kep' passin' all de mawnin' en it look like ter me dey wuz a string un um ten mile long. Den dey commence gittin' thinner en thinner, en den atter w'ile we hear skummishin' in de naberhood er Armer's fe'y, en Ole Miss 'low how dat wuz Wheeler's men makin' persoot. Mars Jeems wuz wid dem Wheeler fellers, en I know'd ef dey wuz dat close I wa'n't doin' no good settin' 'roun' de house toas'n my shins at de fier, so I des tuck Mars Jeems's rifle fum behime de do' en put out ter look atter my stock.
"Seem like I ain't never see no raw day like dat, needer befo' ner sence. Dey wa'n't no rain, but de wet des sifted down; mighty raw day. De leaves on de groun' 'uz so wet dey don't make no fuss, en I got in de woods, en w'enever I year de Yankees gwine by, I des stop in my tracks en let un pass. I wuz stan'in' dat away in de aidge er de woods lookin' out cross a clearin', w'en— piff!—out come a little bunch er blue smoke fum de top er wunner dem big lonesome-lookin' pines, en den—pow!
"Sez I ter myse'f, sez I: 'Honey, you er right on my route, en I'll des see w'at kinder bird you got roostin' in you,' en w'iles I wuz a lookin' out bus' de smoke—piff! en den—bang! Wid dat I des drapt back inter de woods, en sorter skeerted 'roun' so's ter git de tree 'twixt' me en de road. I slid up putty close, en wadder you speck I see? Des ez sho's you er settin' dar lissenin' dey wuz a live Yankee up dar in dat tree, en he wuz a loadin' en a shootin' at de boys des ez cool es a cowcumber in de jew, en he had his hoss hitch out in de bushes, kaze I year de creetur tromplin' 'roun'. He had a spy-glass up dar, en w'iles I wuz a watchin' un 'im, he raise 'er up en look thoo 'er, en den he lay 'er down en fix his gun fer ter shoot.
"I had good eyes in dem days, ef I ain't got um now, en way up de big road I see Mars Jeems a comm'. Hit wuz too fur fer ter see his face, but I know'd 'im by de filly w'at I raise fer 'im, en she wuz a prancin' like a school-gal. I know'd dat man wuz gwineter shoot Mars Jeems ef he could, en dat wuz mo'n I could stan'. Many's en many's de time dat I nuss dat boy, en hilt 'im in dese arms, en toted 'im on dis back, en w'en I see dat Yankee lay dat gun 'cross a lim' en take aim at Mars Jeems I up wid my ole rifle, en shet my eyes en let de man have all she had."
"Do you mean to say," exclaimed Miss Theodosia, indignantly, "that you shot the Union soldier, when you knew he was fighting for your freedom?"
"Co'se, I know all about dat," responded Uncle Remus, "en it sorter made col' chills run up my back; but w'en I see dat man take aim, en Mars Jeems gwine home ter Ole Miss en Miss Sally, I des disremembered all 'bout freedom en lammed aloose. En den atter dat, me en Miss Sally tuck en nuss de man right straight along. He los' one arm in dat tree bizness, but me en Miss Sally we nuss 'im en we nuss 'im twel he done got well. Des 'bout dat time I quit nuss'n 'im, but Miss Sally she kep' on. She kep' on," continued Uncle Remus, pointing to Mr. Huntingdon, "en now dar he is."
"But you cost him an arm," exclaimed Miss Theodosia.
"I gin 'im dem," said Uncle Remus, pointing to Mrs. Huntingdon, "en I gin 'im deze"—holding up his own brawny arms. "En ef dem ain't nuff fer enny man den I done los' de way."
I. JEEMS ROBER'SON'S LAST ILLNESS
A Jonesboro negro, while waiting for the train to go out, met up with Uncle Remus. After the usual "time of day" had been passed between the two, the former inquired about an acquaintance.
"How's Jeems Rober'son?" he asked.
"Ain't you year 'bout Jim?" asked Uncle Remus.
"Dat I ain't," responded the other; "I ain't hear talk er Jem sence he cut loose fum de chain-gang. Dat w'at make I ax. He ain't down wid de biliousness, is he?"
"Not dat I knows un," responded Uncle Remus, gravely. "He ain't sick, an' he ain't bin sick. He des tuck'n say he wuz gwineter ride dat ar roan mule er Mars John's de udder Sunday, an' de mule, she up'n do like she got nudder ingagement. I done bin fool wid dat mule befo', an' I tuck'n tole Jim dat he better not git tangle up wid 'er; but Jim, he up'n 'low dat he wuz a hoss- doctor, an' wid dat he ax me fer a chaw terbacker, en den he got de bridle, en tuck'n kotch de mule en got on her—Well," continued Uncle Remus, looking uneasily around, "I speck you better go git yo' ticket. Dey tells me dish yer train goes a callyhootin'."
"Hol' on dar, Uncle Remus; you ain't tell me 'bout Jim," exclaimed the Jonesboro negro.
"I done tell you all I knows, chile. Jim, he tuck'n light on de mule, an' de mule she up'n hump 'erse'f, an den dey wuz a skuffle, an' w'en de dus' blow 'way, dar lay de nigger on de groun', an' de mule she stood eatin' at de troff wid wunner Jim's gallusses wrop 'roun' her behime-leg. Den atterwuds, de ker'ner, he come 'roun', an' he tuck'n gin it out dat Jim died sorter accidental like. Hit's des like I tell you: de nigger wern't sick a minnit. So long! Bimeby you won't ketch yo' train. I got ter be knockin' long."
II. UNCLE REMUS'S CHURCH EXPERIENCE
THE deacon of a colored church met Uncle Remus recently, and, after some uninteresting remarks about the weather, asked:
"How dis you don't come down ter chu'ch no mo', Brer Remus? We er bin er havin' some mighty 'freshen' times lately."
"Hit's bin a long time sence I bin down dar, Brer Rastus, an' hit'll be longer. I done got my dose."
"You ain't done gone an' unjined, is you, Brer Remus?"
"Not zackly, Brer Rastus. I des tuck'n draw'd out. De members 'uz a blame sight too mutuel fer ter suit my doctrines."
"How wuz dat, Brer Remus?"
"Well, I tell you, Brer Rastus. W'en I went ter dat chu'ch, I went des ez umbill ez de nex' one. I went dar fer ter sing, an' fer ter pray, an' fer ter wushup, an' I mos' giner'lly allers had a stray shin-plarster w'ich de ole 'oman say she want sont out dar ter dem cullud fokes 'cross de water. Hit went on dis way twel bimeby, one day, de fus news I know'd der was a row got up in de amen cornder. Brer Dick, he 'nounced dat dey wern't nuff money in de box; an' Brer Sim said if dey wern't he speck Brer Dick know'd whar it disappeared ter; an' den Brer Dick 'low'd dat he won't stan' no 'probusness, an' wid dat he haul off an' tuck Brer Sim under de jaw—ker blap!—an' den dey clinched an' drapped on de flo' an' fout under de benches an' 'mong de wimmen.
"'Bout dat time Sis Tempy, she lipt up in de a'r, an' sing out dat she done gone an tromple on de Ole Boy, an' she kep' on lippin' up an' slingin' out 'er han's twel bimeby—blip!—she tuck Sis Becky in de mouf, an' den Sis Becky riz an' fetch a grab at Sis Tempy, an' I 'clar' ter grashus ef didn't 'pear ter me like she got a poun' er wool. Atter dat de revivin' sorter het up like. Bofe un um had kin 'mong de mo'ners, an' ef you ever see skufflin' an' scramblin' hit wuz den an' dar. Brer Jeems Henry, he mounted Brer Plato an' rid 'im over de railin', an' den de preacher he start down fum de pulpit, an' des ez he wuz skippin' onter de platform a hym'-book kotch 'im in de bur er de year, an I be bless ef it didn't soun' like a bung-shell'd busted. Des den, Brer Jesse, he riz up in his seat, sorter keerless like, an' went down inter his britches atter his razer, an' right den I know'd sho' nuff trubble wuz begun. Sis Dilsey, she seed it herse'f, an' she tuck'n let off wunner dem hallyluyah hollers, an' den I disremember w'at come ter pass.
"I'm gittin' sorter ole, Brer Rastus, an' it seem like de dus' sorter shet out de pannyrammer. Fuddermo', my lim's got ter akin, mo' speshully w'en I year Brer Sim an' Brer Dick a snortin' and a skufflin' under de benches like ez dey wuz sorter makin' der way ter my pew. So I kinder hump myse'f an' scramble out, and de fus man w'at I seed was a pleeceman, an' he had a nigger 'rested, an' de fergiven name er dat nigger wuz Remus."
"He didn't 'res' you, did he, Brer Remus?"
"Hit's des like I tell you, Brer Rastus, an' I hatter git Mars John fer to go inter my bon's fer me. Hit ain't no use fer ter sing out chu'ch ter me, Brer Rastus. I done bin an' got my dose. W'en I goes ter war, I wanter know w'at I'm a doin'. I don't wanter git hemmed up 'mong no wimmen and preachers. I wants elbow-room, an I'm bleedzd ter have it. Des gimme elbow-room."
"But, Brer Remus, you ain't—"
"I mout drap in, Brer Rastus, an' den ag'in I moutn't, but w'en you duz see me santer in de do', wid my specs on, you k'n des say to de congergashun, sorter familious like, 'Yer come ole man Remus wid his hoss-pistol, an' ef dar's much uv a skuffle 'roun' yer dis evenin' you er gwineter year fum 'im.' Dat's me, an' dat's what you kin tell um. So long! Member me to Sis Abby."
III. UNCLE REMUS AND THE SAVANNAH DARKEY
THE notable difference existing between the negroes in the interior of the cotton States and those on the seaboard—a difference that extends to habits and opinions as well as to dialect—has given rise to certain ineradicable prejudices which are quick to display themselves whenever an opportunity offers. These prejudices were forcibly, as well as ludicrously, illustrated in Atlanta recently. A gentleman from Savannah had been spending the summer in the mountains of north Georgia, and found it convenient to take along a body-servant. This body- servant was a very fine specimen of the average coast negro— sleek, well-conditioned, and consequential—disposed to regard with undisguised contempt everything and everybody not indigenous to the rice-growing region—and he paraded around the streets with quite a curious and critical air. Espying Uncle Remus languidly sunning himself on a corner, the Savannah darkey approached.
"I'm sorter up an' about," responded Uncle Remus, carelessly and calmly. "How is you stannin' it?"
"Tanky you, my helt' mos' so-so. He mo' hot dun in de mountain. Seem so lak man mus' git need*1 de shade. I enty fer see no rice-bud in dis pa'ts."
"In dis w'ich?" inquired Uncle with a sudden affectation of interest.
"In dis pa'ts. In dis country. Da plenty in Sawanny."
"Da plenty in Sawanny. I enty fer see no crab an' no oscher; en swimp, he no stay 'roun'. I lak some rice-bud now."
"You er talkin' 'bout deze yer sparrers, w'ich dey er all head, en 'lev'm un makes one mouffle,*2 I speck," suggested Uncle Remus. "Well, dey er yer," he continued, "but dis ain't no climate whar de rice-birds flies inter yo' pockets en gits out de money an' makes de change derse'f; an' de isters don't shuck off der shells en run over you on de street, an' no mo' duz de s'imp hull derse'f an' drap in yo' mouf. But dey er yer, dough. De scads 'll fetch um."
"Him po' country fer true," commented the Savannah negro; "he no like Sawanny. Down da, we set need de shade an' eaty de rice-bud, an' de crab, an' de swimp tree time de day; an' de buckra man drinky him wine, an' smoky him seegyar all troo de night. Plenty fer eat an' not much fer wuk."
"Hit's mighty nice, I speck," responded Uncle Remus, gravely. "De nigger dat ain't hope up 'longer high feedin' ain't got no grip. But up yer whar fokes is gotter scramble 'roun' an' make der own livin', de vittles w'at's kumerlated widout enny sweatin' mos' allers gener'ly b'longs ter some yuther man by rights. One hoe- cake an' a rasher er middlin' meat las's me fum Sunday ter Sunday, an' I'm in a mighty big streak er luck w'en I gits dat."
The Savannah negro here gave utterance to a loud, contemptuous laugh, and began to fumble somewhat ostentatiously with a big brass watch-chain.
"But I speck I struck up wid a payin' job las' Chuseday," continued Uncle Remus, in a hopeful tone.
"Wey you gwan do?"
"Oh, I'm a waitin' on a culled gemmun fum Savannah—wunner deze yer high livers you bin tellin' 'bout."
"I loant 'im two dollars," responded Uncle Remus, grimly, "an' I'm a waitin' on 'im fer de money. Hit's wunner deze yer jobs w'at las's a long time."
The Savannah negro went off after his rice-birds, while Uncle Remus leaned up against the wall and laughed until he was in imminent danger of falling down from sheer exhaustion.
*1 Underneath. *2 Mouthful.
TURNIP SALAD AS A TEXT
As Uncle Remus was going down the street recently he was accosted by several acquaintances.
"Heyo!" said one, "here comes Uncle Remus. He look like he gwine fer ter set up a bo'din-house."
Several others bantered the old man, but he appeared to be in a good humor. He was carrying a huge basket of vegetables.
"How many er you boys," said he, as he put his basket down, "is done a han's turn dis day? En yit de week's done commence. I year talk er niggers dat's got money in de bank, but I lay hit ain't none er you fellers. Whar you speck you gwineter git yo' dinner, en how you speck you gwineter git 'long?"
"Oh, we sorter knocks 'roun' an' picks up a livin'," responded one.
"Dat's w'at make I say w'at I duz," said Uncle Remus. "Fokes go 'bout in de day-time an' makes a livin', an' you come 'long w'en dey er res'in' der bones an' picks it up. I ain't no han' at figgers, but I lay I k'n count up right yer in de san' en number up how menny days hit'll be 'fo' you 'er cuppled on ter de chain- gang."
"De ole man's holler'n now sho'," said one of the listeners, gazing with admiration on the venerable old darkey.
"I ain't takin' no chances 'bout vittles. Hit's proned inter me fum de fus dat I got ter eat, en I knows dat I got fer ter grub for w'at I gits. Hit's agin de mor'l law fer niggers fer ter eat w'en dey don't wuk, an' w'en you see um 'pariently fattenin' on a'r, you k'n des bet dat ruinashun's gwine on some'rs. I got mustard, en poke salid, en lam's quarter in dat baskit, en me en my ole 'oman gwineter sample it. Ef enny you boys git a invite you come, but ef you don't you better stay 'way. I gotter muskit out dar w'at's used ter persidin' 'roun' whar dey's a cripple nigger. Don't you fergit dat off'n yo' mine."
V. A CONFESSION
"W'AT'S dis yer I see, great big niggers gwine 'lopin' 'roun' town wid cakes 'n pies fer ter sell?" asked Uncle Remus recently, in his most scornful tone.
"That's what they are doing," responded a young man; "that's the way they make a living."
"Dat w'at make I say w'at I duz—dat w'at keep me grum'lin' w'en I goes in cullud fokes s'ciety. Some niggers ain't gwine ter wuk nohow, an' hit's flingin' way time fer ter set enny chain-gang traps fer ter ketch um."
"Well, now, here!" exclaimed the young man, in a dramatic tone, "what are you giving us now? Isn't it just as honest and just as regular to sell pies as it is to do any other kind of work?"
"'Tain't dat, boss:' said the old man, seeing that he was about to be cornered; 'tain't dat. Hit's de nas'ness un it w'at gits me."
"Oh, get out!"
"Dat's me, boss, up an' down. Ef dere's ruinashun ennywhar in de known wurril, she goes in de comp'ny uv a hongry nigger w'at's a totin' pies 'roun.' Sometimes w'en I git kotch wid emptiness in de pit er de stummuck, an' git ter fairly honin' arter sumpin' w'at got substance in it, den hit look like unto me dat I kin stan' flat-footed an' make more cle'r money eatin' pies dan I could if I wuz ter sell de las' one 'twixt dis an' Chris'mus. An' de nigger w'at k'n trapes 'round wid pies and not git in no alley-way an' sample um, den I'm bleedzd ter say dat nigger out- niggers me an' my fambly. So dar now!"
VI. UNCLE REMUS WITH THE TOOTHACHE
WHEN Uncle Remus put in an appearance one morning recently, his friends knew he had been in trouble. He had a red cotton handkerchief tied under his chin, and the genial humor that usually makes his aged face its dwelling-place had given way to an expression of grim melancholy. The young men about the office were inclined to chaff him, but his look of sullen resignation remained unchanged.
"What revival did you attend last night?" inquired one.
"What was the color of the mule that did the hammering?" asked another.
"I always told the old man that a suburban chicken coop would fall on him," remarked some one.
"A strange pig has been squealing in his ear," suggested some one else.
But Uncle Remus remained impassive. He seemed to have lost all interest in what was going on around him, and he sighed heavily as he seated himself on the edge of the trash-box in front of the office. Finally some one asked, in a sympathetic tone:
"What is the matter, old man? You look like you'd been through the mill."
"Now you 'er knockin'. I ain't bin thoo de mill sence day 'fo' yistiddy, den dey ain't no mills in de lan'. Ef wunner deze yer scurshun trains had runned over me I couldn't er bin wuss off. I bin trompin' 'roun' in de lowgroun's now gwine on seventy-fi' year, but I ain't see no sich times ez dat w'at I done spe'unst now. Boss, is enny er you all ever rastled wid de toofache?"
"Oh, hundreds of times! The toothache isn't anything."
"Den you des played 'roun' de aidges. You ain't had de kine w'at kotch me on de underjaw. You mout a had a gum-bile, but you ain't bin boddered wid de toofache. I wuz settin' up talkin' wid my ole 'oman, kinder puzzlin' 'roun' fer ter see whar de nex' meal's vittles wuz a gwineter cum fum, an' I feel a little ache sorter crawlin' 'long on my jaw-bone, kinder feelin' his way. But de ache don't stay long. He sorter hankered 'roun' like, en den crope back whar he come fum. Bimeby I feel 'im comin' agin, an' dis time hit look like he come up closer—kinder skummishin' 'roun' fer ter see how de lan' lay. Den he went off. Present'y I feel 'im comin', an' dis time hit look like he kyar'd de news unto Mary, fer hit feel like der wuz anudder wun wid 'im. Dey crep' up an' crep' 'roun', an, den dey crope off. Bimeby dey come back, an' dis time dey come like dey wuzzent 'fear'd er de s'roundin's, fer dey trot right up unto de toof, sorter 'zamine it like, an' den trot all roun' it, like deze yer circuous hosses. I sot dar mighty ca'm, but I 'spected dat sump'n' wuz gwine ter happ'n."
"And it happened, did it?" asked some one in the group surrounding the old man.
"Boss, don't you fergit it," responded Uncle Remus, fervidly. "W'en dem aches gallop back dey galloped fer ter stay, an' dey wuz so mixed up dat I couldn't tell one fum de udder. All night long dey racked an' dey galloped, an' w'en dey got tired er rackin' an' gallopin', dey all close in on de ole toof an' thumped it an' gouged at it twel it 'peared unto me dat dey had got de jaw-bone loosened up, an' wuz tryin' fer ter fetch it up thoo de top er my head an' out at der back er my neck. An' dey got wuss nex' day. Mars John, he seed I wuz 'stracted, an' he tole me fer ter go roun' yere an' git sump'n' put on it, an' de drug man he 'lowed dat I better have 'er draw'd, an' his wuds wuzzent more'n col' 'fo' wunner deze yer watchyoumaycollums— wunner deze dentis' mens—had retched fer it wid a pa'r er tongs w'at don't tu'n loose w'en dey ketches a holt. Leas'ways dey didn't wid me. You oughter seed dat toof, boss. Hit wuz wunner deze yer fo'-prong fellers. Ef she'd a grow'd wrong eend out'ard, I'd a bin a bad nigger long arter I jin'd de chu'ch. You year'd my ho'n!"
VII. THE PHONOGRAPH
"UNC REMUS," asked a tall, awkward-looking negro, who was one of a crowd surrounding the old man, "w'at's dish 'ere w'at dey calls de fonygraf—dish yer inst'ument w'at kin holler 'roun' like little chillun in de back yard?"
"I ain't seed um," said Uncle Remus, feeling in his pocket for a fresh chew of tobacco. "I ain't seed um, but I year talk un um. Miss Sally wuz a readin' in de papers las' Chuseday, an' she say dat's it's a mighty big watchyoumaycollum."
"A mighty big w'ich?" asked one of the crowd.
"A mighty big w'atsizname," answered Uncle Remus, cautiously. "I wuzzent up dar close to whar Miss Sarah wuz a readin', but I kinder geddered in dat it wuz one er deze 'ere w'atzisnames w'at you hollers inter one year an it comes out er de udder. Hit's mighty funny unter me how dese fokes kin go an' prognosticate der eckoes inter one er deze yer i'on boxes, an' dar hit'll stay on twel de man comes long an' tu'ns de handle an' let's de fuss come pilin' out. Bimeby dey'll git ter makin' sho' nuff fokes, an' den dere'll be a racket 'roun' here. Dey tells me dat it goes off like one er deze yer torpedoes."
"You year dat, don't you?" said one or two of the younger negroes.
"Dat's w'at dey tells me," continued Uncle Remus. "Dat's w'at dey sez. Hit's one er deze yer kinder w'atzisnames w'at sasses back w'en you hollers at it."
"W'at dey fix um fer, den?" asked one of the practical negroes.
"Dat's w'at I wanter know," said Uncle Remus, contemplatively. "But dat's w'at Miss Sally wuz a readin' in de paper. All you gotter do is ter holler at de box, an' dar's yo' remarks. Dey goes in, an' dar dey er tooken and dar dey hangs on twel you shakes de box, an' den dey draps out des ez fresh ez deze yer fishes w'at you git fum Savannah, an' you ain't got time fer ter look at dere gills, nudder."
VIII. RACE IMPROVEMENT
"Dere's a kind er limberness 'bout niggers dese days dat's mighty cu'us," remarked Uncle Remus yesterday, as he deposited a pitcher of fresh water upon the exchange table. "I notisses it in de alley-ways an on de street-cornders. Dey er rackin' up, mon, deze yer cullud fokes is."
"What are you trying to give us now?" inquired one of the young men, in a bilious tone.
"The old man's mind is wandering," said the society editor, smoothing the wrinkles out of his lavender kids.
Uncle Remus laughed. I speck I is a gittin' mo frailer dan I wuz 'fo' de fahmin days wuz over, but I sees wid my eyes an' I years wid my year, same ez enny er dese yer young bucks w'at goes a gallopin' roun' huntin' up devilment, an' w'en I sees de limberness er dese yer cullud people, an' w'en I sees how dey er dancin' up, den I gits sorter hopeful. Dey er kinder ketchin' up wid me."
"How is that?"
"Oh, dey er movin'," responded Uncle Remus. "Dey er sorter comin' 'roun'. Dey er gittin' so dey bleeve dat dey ain't no better dan de w'ite fokes. W'en freedom come out de niggers sorter got dere humps up, an' dey staid dat way, twel bimeby dey begun fer ter git hongry, an' den dey begun fer ter drap inter line right smartually; an' now," continued the old man, emphatically, "dey er des ez palaverous ez dey wuz befo' de war. Dey er gittin' on solid groun', mon."
"You think they are improving, then?"
"You er chawin' guv'nment now, boss. You slap de law onter a nigger a time er two, an' larn 'im dat he's got fer to look after his own rashuns an' keep out'n udder fokes's chick'n-coops, an' sorter coax 'im inter de idee dat he's got ter feed 'is own chilluns, an' I be blessed ef you ain't got 'im on risin' groun'. An', mo'n dat, w'en he gits holt er de fack dat a nigger k'n have yaller fever same ez w'ite folks, you done got 'im on de mo'ners' bench, an' den ef you come down strong on de p'int dat he oughter stan' fas' by de fokes w'at hope him w'en he wuz in trouble de job's done. W'en you does dat, ef you ain't got yo' han's on a new-made nigger, den my name ain't Remus, an' ef dat name's bin changed I ain't seen her abbertized."
IX. IN THE ROLE OF A TARTAR
A CHARLESTON negro who was in Atlanta on the Fourth of July made a mistake. He saw Uncle Remus edging his way through the crowd, and thought he knew him.
"Howdy, Daddy Ben?" the stranger exclaimed. "I tink I nubber see you no mo'. Wey you gwan? He hot fer true, ain't he?"
"Daddy who?" asked Uncle Remus, straightening himself up with dignity. "W'ich?"
"I know you in Char'son, an' den in Sewanny. I spec I dun grow away from 'membrance."
"You knowed me in Charlstun, and den in Savanny?"
"He been long time, ain't he, Daddy Ben?"
"Dat's w'at's a pesterin' un me. How much you reckon you know'd me?"
"He good while pas'; when I wer' pickaninny. He long time ago. Wey you gwan, Daddy Ben?"
"W'at does you season your recollection wid fer ter make it hol' on so?" inquired the old man.
"I dunno. He stick hese'f. I see you comin' 'long 'n I say 'Dey Daddy Ben.' I tink I see you no mo', an' I shaky you by de han'. Wey you gwan? Dey no place yer wey we git wine?"
Uncle Remus stared at the strange darkey curiously for a moment, and then he seized him by the arm.
"Come yer, son, whar dey ain't no folks an' lemme drap some Jawjy 'intment in dem years er yone. You er mighty fur ways fum home, an' you wanter be a lookin' out fer yo'se'f. Fus and fo'mus, you er thumpin' de wrong watermillion. You er w'isslin' up de wrong chube. I ain't tromped roun' de country much. I ain't bin to Charlstun an' needer is I tuck in Savanny; but you couldn't rig up no game on me dat I wouldn't tumble on to it de minit I laid my eyeballs on you. W'en hit come to dat I'm ole man Tumbler, fum Tumblersville—I is dat. Hit takes one er deze yer full-blooded w'ite men fur ter trap my jedgment. But w'en a nigger comes a jabberin' 'roun' like he got a mouf full er rice straw, he ain't got no mo' chance long side er me dan a sick sparrer wid a squinch-owl. You gutter travel wid a circus 'fo' you gits away wid me. You better go long an' git yo' kyarpet-sack and skip de town. You er de freshest nigger w'at I seen yit."
The Charleston negro passed on just as a police-man' came up.
"Boss, you see dat smart Ellick?"
"Yes, what's the matter with him?"
"He's one er deze yer scurshun niggers from Charlstun. I seed you a-stannin' over agin de cornder yander, an' ef dat nigger'd a draw'd his monty kyards on me, I wuz a gwineter holler fer you. Would you er come, boss?"
"Why, certainly, Uncle Remus."
"Dat's w'at I 'low'd. Little more'n he'd a bin aboard er de wrong waggin. Dat's w'at he'd a bin."
X. A CASE OF MEASLES
"YOU'VE been looking like you were rather under the weather for the past week or two, Uncle Remus," said a gentleman to the old man.
"You'd be sorter puny, too, boss, if you'd er bin whar I bin."
"Where have you been?"
"Pear ter me like eve'ybody done year 'bout dat. Dey ain't no ole nigger my age an' size dat's had no rattliner time dan I is."
"A kind of picnic?"
"Go long, boss! w'at you speck I be doin' sailin' 'roun' ter dese yer cullud picnics? Much mo' an' I wouldn't make bread by wukkin' fer't, let 'lone follerin' up a passel er boys an' gals all over keration. Boss, ain't you year 'bout it, sho' 'nuff?"
"I haven't, really. What was the matter?"
"I got strucken wid a sickness, an' she hit de ole nigger a joe- darter 'fo' she tu'n 'im loose."
"What kind of sickness?"
"Hit look sorter cu'ous, boss, but ole an' steddy ez I is, I tuck'n kotch de meezles."
"Oh, get out! You are trying to get up a sensation."
"Hit's a natal fack, boss, I declar' ter grashus ef 'tain't. Dey sorter come on wid a col', like—leas'ways dat's how I commence fer ter suffer, an' den er koff got straddle er de col'—one dese yer koffs w'at look like hit goes ter de foundash'n. I kep' on linger'n' 'roun' sorter keepin' one eye on the rheumatiz an' de udder on de distemper, twel, bimeby, I begin fer ter feel de trestle-wuk give way, an' den I des know'd dat I wuz gwineter gitter racket. I slipt inter bed one Chuseday night, an' I never slip out no mo' fer mighty nigh er mont'.
"Nex' mornin' de meezles 'd done kivered me, an' den ef I didn't git dosted by de ole 'oman I'm a Chinee. She gimme back rashuns er sassafac tea. I des natchully hankered an' got hongry atter water, an ev'y time I sing out fer water I got b'ilin' hot sassafac tea. Hit got so dat w'en I wake up in de mornin' de ole 'oman 'd des come long wid a kittle er tea an' fill me up. Dey tells me 'roun' town dat chilluns don't git hurted wid de meezles, w'ich ef dey don't I wanter be a baby de nex' time dey hits dis place. All dis yer meezles bizness is bran'-new ter me. In ole times, 'fo' de wah, I ain't heer tell er no seventy-fi'- year-ole nigger grapplin' wid no meezles. Dey ain't ketchin' no mo', is dey, boss?"
"Oh, no—I suppose not."
"'Kase ef dey is, you k'n des put my name down wid de migrashun niggers."
XI. THE EMIGRANTS
WHEN Uncle Remus went down to the passenger depot one morning recently, the first sight that caught his eye was an old negro man, a woman, and two children sitting in the shade near the door of the baggage-room. One of the children was very young, and the quartet was altogether ragged and forlorn-looking. The sympathies of Uncle Remus were immediately aroused. He approached the group by forced marches, and finally unburdened his curiosity.
"Whar is you m'anderin' unter, pard?"
The old negro, who seemed to be rather suspicious, looked at Uncle Remus coolly, and appeared to be considering whether he should make any reply. Finally, however, he stretched himself and said:
"We er gwine down in de naberhoods er Tallypoosy, an we ain't makin' no fuss 'bout it, nudder."
"I disremember," said Uncle Remus, thoughtfully, "whar Tallypoosy is."
"Oh, hit's out yan," replied the old man, motioning his head as if it was just beyond the iron gates of the depot. "Hit's down in Alabam. When we git dar, maybe well go on twel we gits ter Massasip."
"Is you got enny folks out dar?" inquired Uncle Remus.
"None dat I knows un."
"An' you er takin' dis 'oman an' deze chillun out dar whar dey dunno nobody? Whar's yo' perwisions?" eying a chest with a rope around it.
"Dem's our bedcloze," the old negro explained, noticing the glance of Uncle Remus. "All de vittles what we got we e't 'fo' we started."
"An' you speck ter retch dar safe an soun'? Whar's yo' ticket?"
"Ain't got none. De man say ez how dey'd pass us thoo. I gin a man a fi'-dollar bill 'fo' I lef' Jonesboro, an' he sed dat settled it."
"Lemme tell you dis," said Uncle Remus, straightening up indignantly: "you go an' rob somebody an' git on de chain-gang, an' let de 'oman scratch 'roun' yer an' make 'er livin'; but don't you git on dem kyars—don't you do it. Yo' bes' holt is de chain-gang. You kin make yo' livin' dar w'en you can't make it no whars else. But don't you git on dem kyars. Ef you do, you er gone nigger. Ef you ain't got no money fer ter walk back wid, you better des b'il' yo' nes' right here. I'm a-talkin' wid de bark on. I done seed deze yer Arkinsaw emmygrants come lopin' back, an' some un 'em didn't have rags nuff on 'em fer ter hide dere nakidness. You leave dat box right whar she is, an, let de 'oman take wun young un an you take de udder wun, an' den you git in de middle er de big road an' pull out fer de place whar you come fum. I'm preachin' now."
Those who watched say the quartet didn't take the cars.
XII. AS A MURDERER
UNCLE Remus met a police officer recently.
"You ain't hear talk er no dead nigger nowhar dis mawnin', is you, boss?" asked the old man earnestly.
"No," replied the policeman, reflectively. "No, I believe not. Have you heard of any?"
"'Pears unter me dat I come mighty nigh gittin' some news bout dat size, an' dat's w'at I'm a huntin' fer. Bekaze ef dey er foun' a stray nigger layin' 'roun' loose, wid 'is bref gone, den I wanter go home an' git my brekfus' an' put on some clean cloze, an' 'liver myse'f up ter wunner deze yer jestesses er de peace, an git a fa'r trial."
"Why, have you killed anybody?"
"Dat's w'at's I'm a 'quirin' inter now, but I wouldn't be sustonished ef I ain't laid a nigger out some'rs on de subbubs. Hit's done got so it's agin de law fer ter bus' loose an' kill a nigger, ain't it, boss?"
"Well, I should say so. You don't mean to tell me that you have killed a colored man, do you?"
"I speck I is, boss. I speck I done gone an' done it dis time, sho.' Hit's bin sorter growin' on me, an' it come ter a head dis mawnin', 'less my name ain't Remus, an' dat's w'at dey bin er callin' me sence I wuz ole er 'nuff fer ter scratch myse'f wid my lef' han'."
"Well, if you've killed a man, you'll have some fun, sure enough. How was it?"
"Hit wuz dis way, boss: I wuz layin' in my bed dis mawnin' sorter ruminatin' 'roun', when de fus news I know'd I year a fus' 'mong de chickens, an' den my brissels riz. I done had lots er trubble wid dem chickens, an' w'en I years wun un um squall my ve'y shoes comes ontied. So I des sorter riz up an' retch fer my ole muskit, and den I crope out er de back do', an' w'atter you reckin I seed?"
"I couldn't say."
"I seed de biggest, blackest nigger dat you ever laid eyes on. He shined like de paint on 'im was fresh. He hed done grabbed fo' er my forwardes' pullets. I crope up nigh de do', an' hollered an' axed 'im how he wuz a gittin' on, an' den he broke, an' ez he broke I jammed de gun in de small er his back and banged aloose. He let a yell like forty yaller cats a courtin', an' den he broke. You ain't seed no nigger hump hisse'f like dat nigger. He tore down de well shelter and fo' pannils er fence, an' de groun' look like wunner deze yer harrycanes had lit dar and fanned up de yeath."
"Why, I thought you killed him?"
"He bleedzed ter be dead, boss. Ain't I put de gun right on 'im? Seem like I feel 'im give way w'en she went off."
"Was the gun loaded?"
"Dat's w'at my ole 'oman say. She had de powder in dar, sho', but I disremember wedder I put de buckshot in, er wedder I lef' um out. Leas'ways, I'm gwineter call on wunner deze yer jestesses. So long, boss."
XIII. HIS PRACTICAL VIEW OF THINGS
"BRER REMUS, is you heern tell er deze doin's out yer in de udder eend er town?" asked a colored deacon of the church the other day.
"W'at doin's is dat, Brer Ab?"
"Deze yer signs an' wunders whar dat cullud lady died day 'fo' yistiddy. Mighty quare goin's on out dar, Brer Remus, sho's you bawn."
"Sperrits?" inquired Uncle Remus, sententiously.
"Wuss'n dat, Brer Remus. Some say dat jedgment day ain't fur off, an' de folks is flockin' 'roun' de house a hollerin' an' a- shoutin' des like dey wuz in er revival. In de winder glass dar you kin see de flags a flyin', an' Jacob's lather is dar, an' dar's writin' on de pane w'at no man can't read—leas'wise dey ain't none read it yit."
"W'at kinder racket is dis you er givin' un me now, Brer Ab?"
"I done bin dar, Brer Remus; I done seed um wid bofe my eyes. Cullud lady what wuz intranced done woke up an' say dey ain't much time fer ter tarry. She say she meet er angel in de road, an' he p'inted straight fer de mornin' star, an' tell her fer ter prepar'. Hit look mighty cu'us, Brer Remus."
"Cum down ter dat, Brer Ab," said Uncle Remus, wiping his spectacles carefully, and readjusting them—"cum down ter dat, an' dey ain't nuthin' dat ain't cu'us. I ain't no spishus nigger myse'f, but I 'spizes fer ter year dogs a howlin' an' squinch- owls havin' de agur out in de woods, an' w'en a bull goes a bellerin' by de house den my bones git col' an' my flesh commences fer ter creep; but w'en it comes ter deze yer sines in de a'r an' deze yer sperrits in de woods, den I'm out—den I'm done. I is, fer a fack. I bin livin' yer more'n seventy year, an' I year talk er niggers seein' ghos'es all times er night an' all times er day, but I ain't never seed none yit; an' deze yer flags an' Jacob's lathers, I ain't seed dem, nudder."
"Dey er dar, Brer Remus."
"Hit's des like I tell you, Brer Ab. I ain't 'sputin' 'bout it, but I ain't seed um, an' I don't take no chances deze days on dat w'at I don't see, an' dat w'at I sees I got ter 'zamine mighty close. Lemme tell you dis, Brer Ab: don't you let deze sines onsettle you. W'en old man Gabrile toot his ho'n, he ain't gwineter hang no sine out in de winder-panes, an when ole Fadder Jacob lets down dat lather er his'n you'll be mighty ap' fer ter hear de racket. An' don't you bodder wid jedgment-day. Jedgment- day is lierbul fer ter take keer un itse'f."
"Dat's so, Brer Remus."
"Hit's bleedzed ter be so, Brer Ab. Hit don't bodder me. Hit's done got so now dat w'en I gotter pone er bread, an' a rasher er bacon, an' nuff grease fer ter make gravy, I ain't keerin' much w'edder fokes sees ghos'es er no."
XIV. THAT DECEITFUL JUG
UNCLE REMUS was in good humor one evening recently when he dropped casually into the editorial room of "The Constitution," as has been his custom for the past year or two. He had a bag slung across his shoulder, and in the bag was a jug. The presence of this humble but useful vessel in Uncle Remus's bag was made the occasion for several suggestive jokes at his expense by the members of the staff, but the old man's good humor was proof against all insinuations.
"Dat ar jug's bin ter wah, mon. Hit's wunner deze yer ole timers. I got dat jug down dar in Putmon County w'en Mars 'Lisha Ferryman wuz a young man, an' now he's done growed up, an' got ole an' died, an' his chilluns is growed up an' dey kin count dere gran'chilluns, an' yit dar's dat jug des ez lively an' ez lierbul fer ter kick up devilment ez w'at she wuz w'en she come fum de foundry."
"That's the trouble," said one of the young men. "That's the reason we'd like to know what's in it now.
"Now you er gittin' on ma'shy groun'," replied Uncle Remus. "Dat's de p'int. Dat's w'at make me say w'at I duz. I bin knowin' dat jug now gwine on sixty-fi' year, an' de jug w'at's more seetful dan dat jug ain't on de topside er de worrul. Dar she sets," continued the old man, gazing at it reflectively, "dar she sets dez ez natchul ez er ambertype, an' yit whar's de man w'at kin tell w'at kinder confab she's a gwineter carry on w'en dat corn-cob is snatched outen 'er mouf? Dat jug is mighty seetful, mon."
"Well, it don't deceive any of us up here," remarked the agricultural editor, dryly. "We've seen jugs before."
"I boun' you is, boss; I boun' you is. But you ain't seed no seetful jug like dat. Dar she sets a bellyin' out an' lookin' mighty fat an' full, an' yit she'd set dar a bellyin' out ef dere wuzzent nuthin' but win' under dat stopper. You knows dat she ain't got no aigs in her, ner no bacon, ner no grits, ner no termartusses, ner no shellotes, an' dat's 'bout all you duz know. Dog my cats ef de seetfulness er dat jug don't git away wid me," continued Uncle Remus, with a chuckle. "I wuz comm' 'cross de bridge des now, an' Brer John Henry seed me wid de bag slung onter my back, an' de jug in it, an' he ups an' sez, sezee:
"'Heyo, Brer Remus, ain't it gittin' late for watermillions?'
"Hit wuz de seetfulness er dat jug. If Brer John Henry know'd de color er dat watermillion, I speck he'd snatch me up 'fo' de confunce. I 'clar' ter grashus ef dat jug ain't a caution!"
"I suppose it's full of molasses now," remarked one of the young men, sarcastically.
"Hear dat!" exclaimed Uncle Remus, triumphantly "hear dat! W'at I tell you? I sed dat jug wuz seetful, an' I sticks to it. I bin knowin' dat—"
"What has it got in it?" broke in some one; "molasses, kerosene, or train-oil?"
"Well, I lay she's loaded, boss. I ain't shuk her up sence I drapt in, but I lay she's loaded."
"Yes," said the agricultural editor, "and it's the meanest bug- juice in town—regular sorghum skimmings."
"Dat's needer yer ner dar," responded Uncle Remus. "Po' fokes better be fixin' up for Chris'mus now w'ile rashuns is cheap. Dat's me. W'en I year Miss Sally gwine 'bout de house w'isslin' 'W'en I k'n read my titles cle'r—an' w'en I see de martins swawmin' atter sundown—an' w'en I year de peckerwoods confabbin' togedder dese moonshiny nights in my een er town—en I knows de hot wedder's a breakin' up, an' I know it's 'bout time fer po' fokes fer ter be rastlin' 'roun' and huntin' up dere rashuns. Dat's me, up an down."
"Well, we are satisfied. Better go and hire a hall," remarked the sporting editor, with a yawn. "If you are engaged in a talking match you have won the money. Blanket him somebody, and take him to the stable."
"An' w'at's mo'," continued the old man, scorning to notice the insinuation, "dough I year Miss Sally w'isslin', an' de peckerwoods a chatterin', I ain't seein' none er deze yer loafin' niggers fixin' up fer ter 'migrate. Dey kin holler Kansas all 'roun' de naberhood, but ceppin' a man come 'long an' spell it wid greenbacks, he don't ketch none er deze yer town niggers. You year me, dey ain't gwine."
"Stand him up on the table," said the Sporting editor; "give him room."
"Better go down yer ter de calaboose, an' git some news fer ter print," said Uncle Remus, with a touch of irony in his tone. "Some new nigger mighter broke inter jail."
"You say the darkeys are not going to emigrate this year?" inquired the agricultural editor, who is interested in these things.
"Shoo! dat dey ain't! I done seed an' I knows."
"Well, how do you know?"
"How you tell w'en crow gwineter light? Niggers bin prom'nadin' by my house all dis summer, holdin' dere heads high up an' de w'ites er dere eyeballs shinin' in de sun. Dey wuz too bigitty fer ter look over de gyardin' palm's. 'Long 'bout den de wedder wuz fetchin' de nat'al sperrits er turkentime outen de pine-trees an' de groun' wuz fa'rly smokin' wid de hotness. Now that it's gittin' sorter airish in de mornin's, dey don't 'pear like de same niggers. Dey done got so dey'll look over in de yard, an' nex' news you know dey'll be tryin' fer ter scrape up 'quaintence wid de dog. W'en dey passes now dey looks at de chicken-coop an' at der tater-patch. W'en you see niggers gittin' dat familious, you kin 'pen' on dere campin' wid you de ballunce er de season. Day 'fo' yistiddy I kotch one un um lookin' over de fence at my shoats, an' I sez, sez I:
"'Duz you wanter purchis dem hogs?'
"'Oh, no,' sezee, 'I wuz des lookin' at dere p'ints.'
"'Well, dey ain't p'intin' yo' way, sez I, 'an', fuddermo', ef you don't bodder longer dem hogs dey ain't gwineter clime outer dat pen an' 'tack you, nudder,'" sez I.
"An' I boun'," continued Uncle Remus, driving the corn-cob stopper a little tighter in his deceitful jug and gathering up his bag—"an' I boun' dat my ole muskit 'll go off 'tween me an' dat same nigger yit, an' he'll be at de bad een', an' dis seetful jug'll 'fuse ter go ter de funer'l."
XV. THE FLORIDA WATERMELON
"LOOK yer, boy," said Uncle Remus yesterday, Stopping near the railroad crossing on Whitehall Street, and gazing ferociously at a small colored youth; "look yer, boy, Ill lay you out flat ef you come flingin' yo' watermillion rimes under my foot—you watch ef I don't. You k'n play yo' pranks on deze yer w'ite fokes, but w'en you come a cuttin' up yo' capers roun me you 'll lan' right in de middle uv er spell er sickness—now you mine w'at I tell you. An' I ain't gwine fer ter put up wid none er yo' sassness nudder—let 'lone flingin' watermillion rimes whar I kin git mixt up wid um. I done had nuff watermillions yistiddy an' de day befo'."
"How was that, Uncle Remus?" asked a gentleman standing near.
"Hit wuz sorter like dis, boss. Las' Chuseday, Mars John he fotch home two er deze yer Flurridy watermillions, an him an' Miss Sally sot down fer ter eat um. Mars John an' Miss Sally ain't got nuthin' dat's too good fer me, an' de fus news I know'd Miss Sally wuz a hollerin' fer Remus. I done smelt de watermillion on de a'r, an' I ain't got no better sense dan fer ter go w'en I years w'ite fokes a-hollerin'—I larnt dat w'en I wa'n't so high. Leas'ways I galloped up ter de back po'ch, an' dar sot de watermillions dez ez natchul ez ef dey'd er bin raised on de ole Spivey place in Putmon County. Den Miss Sally, she cut me off er slishe—wunner deze yer ongodly slishes, big ez yo' hat, an' I sot down on de steps an' wrop myse'f roun' de whole blessid chunk, 'cep'in' de rime." Uncle Remus paused and laid his hand upon his stomach as if feeling for something.
"Well, old man, what then?"
"Dat's w'at I'm a gittin' at, boss," said Uncle Remus, smiling a feeble smile. "I santered roun' 'bout er half nour, an den I begin fer ter feel sorter squeemish—sorter like I done bin an, swoller'd 'bout fo' poun's off'n de ruff een' uv er scantlin'. Look like ter me dat I wuz gwineter be sick, an' den hit look like I wuzzent. Bimeby a little pain showed 'is head an' sorter m'andered roun' like he wuz a lookin' fer a good place fer ter ketch holt, an' den a great big pain jump up an' take atter de little one an' chase 'im 'roun' an' 'roun,' an' he mus' er kotch 'im, kaze bimeby de big pain retch down an' grab dis yer lef' leg—so—an' haul 'im up, an' den he retch down an grab de udder one an' pull him up, an' den de wah begun, sho nuff. Fer mighty nigh fo' hours dey kep' up dat racket, an' des ez soon ez a little pain 'ud jump up de big un 'ud light onter it an' gobble it up, an' den de big un 'ud go sailin' roun' huntin' fer mo'. Some fokes is mighty cu'us, dough. Nex' mornin' I hear Miss Sally a laughin', an' singin' an' a w'isslin' des like dey want no watermillions raise in Flurridy. But somebody better pen dis yer nigger boy up w'en I'm on de town—I kin tell you dat."
XVI. UNCLE REMUS PREACHES TO A CONVERT
"DEY tells me you done jine de chu'ch," said Uncle Remus to Pegleg Charley.
"Yes, sir," responded Charley, gravely, "dat's so."
"Well, I'm mighty glad er dat," remarked Uncle Remus, with unction. "It's 'bout time dat I wuz spectin' fer ter hear un you in de chain-gang, an', stidder dat, hit's de chu'ch. Well, dey ain't no tellin' deze days whar a nigger's gwineter lan'."
"Yes," responded Charley, straightening himself up and speaking in a dignified tone, "yes, I'm fixin' to do better. I'm preparin' fer to shake worldliness. I'm done quit so'shatin' wid deze w'ite town boys. Dey've been a goin' back on me too rapidly here lately, an' now I'm a goin' back on dem."
"Well, ef you done had de speunce un it, I'm mighty glad. Ef you got 'lijjun, you better hol' on to it 'twel de las' day in de mornin'. Hit's mighty good fer ter kyar' 'roun' wid you in de day time an' likewise in de night time. Hit'll pay you mo' dan politics, an' ef you stan's up like you oughter, hit'll las' longer dan a bone-fellum. But you wanter have one er deze yer ole-time grips, an' you des gotter shet yo' eyes an' swing on like wunner deze yer bull-tarrier dogs."
"Oh, I'm goin' to stick, Uncle Remus. You kin put your money on dat. Deze town boys can't play no more uv dere games on me. I'm fixed. Can't you lend me a dime, Uncle Remus, to buy me a pie? I'm dat hongry dat my stomach is gittin' ready to go in mo'nin."
Uncle Remus eyed Charley curiously a moment, while the latter looked quietly at his timber toe. Finally, the old man sighed and spoke:
"How long is you bin in de chu'ch, son?"
"Mighty near a week," replied Charley.
"Well, lemme tell you dis, now, 'fo' you go enny fudder. You ain't bin in dar long nuff fer ter go 'roun' takin' up conterbutions. Wait ontwell you gits sorter seasoned like, an' den I'll hunt 'roun' in my cloze an' see ef I can't run out a thrip er two fer you. But don't you levy taxes too early."
Charley laughed, and said he would let the old man off if he would treat to a watermelon.
XVII. AS TO EDUCATION
As Uncle Remus came up Whitehall Street recently, he met a little colored boy carrying a slate and a number of books. Some words passed between them, but their exact purport will probably never be known. They were unpleasant, for the attention of a wandering policeman was called to the matter by hearing the old man bawl out:
"Don't you come foolin' longer me, nigger. You er flippin' yo' sass at de wrong color. You k'n go roun' yer an' sass deze w'ite people, an' maybe dey'll stan' it, but w'en you come a-slingin' yo' jaw at a man w'at wuz gray w'en de fahmin' days gin out, you better go an' git yo' hide greased."
"What's the matter, old man?" asked a sympathizing policeman.
"Nothin', boss, 'ceppin I ain't gwineter hav' no nigger chillun a hoopin' an' a hollerin' at me w'en I'm gwine long de streets."
"Oh, well, school-children—you know how they are.
"Dat's w'at make I say w'at I duz. Dey better be home pickin' up chips. W'at a nigger gwineter larn outen books? I kin take a bar'l stave an' fling mo' sense inter a nigger in one minnit dan all de schoolhouses betwixt dis en de State er Midgigin. Don't talk, honey! Wid one bar'l stave I kin fa'rly lif' de vail er ignunce."
"Then you don't believe in education?"
"Hit's de ruinashun er dis country. Look at my gal. De ole 'oman sont 'er ter school las' year, an' now we dassent hardly ax 'er fer ter kyar de washin' home. She done got beyant 'er bizness. I ain't larnt nuthin' in books, 'en yit I kin count all de money I gits. No use talkin', boss. Put a spellin'-book in a nigger's han's, en right den en dar' you loozes a plow-hand. I done had de speunce un it."
XVIII. A TEMPERANCE REFORMER
"Yer come Uncle Remus," said a well-dressed negro, who was standing on the sidewalk near James's bank recently, talking to a crowd of barbers. "Yer come Uncle Remus. I boun' he'll sign it."
"You'll fling yo' money away ef you bet on it," responded Uncle Remus. "I ain't turnin' nothin' loose on chu'ch 'scriptions. I wants money right now fer ter git a pint er meal."
"An' I ain't heppin fer ter berry nobody. Much's I kin do ter keep de bref in my own body."
"'Tain't dat, nudder."
"An' I ain't puttin' my han' ter no reckommends. I'm fear'd fer ter say a perlite wud 'bout myself, an' I des know I ain't gwine 'roun' flatter'n up deze udder niggers."
"An' 'tain't dat," responded the darkey, who held a paper in his hand. "We er gittin' up a Good Tempeler's lodge, an' we like ter git yo' name."
"Eh-eh, honey! I done see too much er dis nigger tempunce. Dey stan' up mighty squar' ontwell dere dues commence ter cramp um, an' dey don't stan' de racket wuf a durn. No longer'n yistiddy I seed one er de head men er one er dese Tempeler's s'cieties totin' water fer a bar-room. He had de water in a bucket, but dey ain't no tellin' how much red licker he wuz a totin'. G'long, chile—jine yo' s'ciety an' be good ter yo'se'f. I'm a gittin' too ole. Gimme th'ee er fo' drams endurin' er de day, an' I'm mighty nigh ez good a tempunce man ez de next un. I got ter scuffle fer sump'n t'eat."
XIX. AS A WEATHER PROPHET
UNCLE REMUS was enlightening a crowd of negroes at the car-shed yesterday.
"Dar ain't nuthin'," said the old man, shaking his head pensively, "dat ain't got no change wrote on it. Dar ain't nothin dat ain't spotted befo' hit begins fer ter commence. We all speunces dat p'overdence w'at lifts us up fum one place an' sets us down in de udder. Hit's continerly a movin' an a movin'."
"Dat's so!" "You er talkin' now!" came from several of his hearers.
"I year Miss Sally readin' dis mawnin," continued the old man, "dat a man wuz comin' down yer fer ter take keer er de wedder— wunner deze yer Buro mens w'at goes 'roun' a puttin' up an' pullin' down."
"W'at he gwine do 'roun' yer?" asked one.
"He's a gwineter regelate de wedder," replied Uncle Remus, sententiously. "He's a gwineter fix hit up so dat dere won't be so much worriment 'mong de w'ite fokes 'bout de kinder wedder w'at falls to dere lot."
"He gwine dish em up," suggested one of the older ones, "like man dish out sugar.
"No," answered Uncle Remus, mopping his benign features with a very large and very red bandana. "He's a gwineter fix um better'n dat. He's a gwineter fix um up so you kin have any kinder wedder w'at you want widout totin' her home."
"How's dat?" asked some one.
"Hit's dis way," said the old man, thoughtfully. "In co'se you knows w'at kinder wedder you wants. Well, den, w'en de man comes long, w'ich Miss Sally say he will, you des gotter go up dar, pick out yo' wedder an' dere'll be a clock sot fer ter suit yo' case, an' w'en you git home, dere'll be yo' wedder a settin' out in de yard waitin' fer you. I wish he wuz yer now," the old man continued. "I'd take a pa'r er frosts in mine, ef I kotched cold fer it. Dat's me!"
There were various exclamations of assent, and the old man went on his way singing, "Don't you Grieve Atter Me."
XX. THE OLD MAN'S TROUBLES
"WHAT makes you look so lonesome, Brer Remus?" asked a well- dressed negro, as the old man came shuffling down the street by James's corner yesterday.
"You er mighty right, I'm lonesome, Brer John Henry. W'en a ole nigger like me is gotter paddle de canoe an' do de fishin' at de same time, an' w'en you bleedzd ter ketch de fish an' dassent turn de paddle loose fer ter bait de hook, den I tell you, Brer John, you er right whar de mink had de goslin'. Mars John and Miss Sally, dey done bin gone down unto Putmon County fer ter see der kinfolks mighty nigh fo' days, an' you better bleeve I done bin had ter scratch 'roun' mighty lively fer ter make de rashuns run out even.
"I wuz at yo' house las' night, Brer Remus," remarked Brer John Henry, "but I couldn't roust you outer bed."
"Hit was de unseasonableness er de hour, I speck," said Uncle Remus, dryly. "'Pears unto me dat you all chu'ch deacons settin' up mighty late deze col' nights. You'll be slippin' round arter hours some time er nudder, an you'll slip bodaciously inter de calaboose. You mine w'at I tell you."
"It's mighty col' wedder," said Brer John Henry, evidently wishing to change the subject.
"Col'!" exclaimed Uncle Remus; "hit got pas' col' on der quarter stretch. You oughter come to my house night 'fo' las'. Den you'd a foun' me 'live an' kickin'."
"Well, I tell you, Brer John Henry, de col' wuz so col', an' de kiver wuz so light, dat I thunk I'd make a raid on Mars John's shingle pile, an' out I goes an totes in a whole armful. Den I gits under de kiver an' tells my ole 'oman fer ter lay 'em onto me like she was roofin' a house. Bimeby she crawls in, an' de shingles w'at she put on her side fer ter kiver wid, dey all drap off on de flo'. Den up I gits an' piles 'em on agin, an' w'en I gits in bed my shingles draps off, an' dat's de way it wuz de whole blessid night. Fus' it wuz me up an' den de ole 'oman, an' it kep' us pow'ful warm, too, dat kinder exercise. Oh, you oughter drapt roun' 'bout dat time, Brer John Henry. You'd a year'd sho' nuff cussin'!"
"You don't tell me, Brer Remus!"
"My ole 'oman say de Ole Boy wouldn't a foun' a riper nigger, ef he wer' ter scour de country fum Ferginny ter de Alabam'"
XXI. THE FOURTH OF JULY
UNCLE REMUS made his appearance recently with his right arm in a sling and his head bandaged to that extent that it looked like the stick made to accompany the Centennial bass-drum. The old man evidently expected an attack all around, for he was unusually quiet, and fumbled in his pockets in an embarrassed manner. He was not mistaken. The agricultural editor was the first to open fire:
"Well, you old villain! what have you been up to now?"
"It is really singular," remarked a commencement orator, "that not even an ordinary holiday—a holiday, it seems to me, that ought to arouse all the latent instincts of patriotism in the bosom of American citizens—can occur without embroiling some of our most valuable citizens. It is really singular to me that such a day should be devoted by a certain class of our population to broils and fisticuffs."
This final moral sentiment, which was altogether an impromptu utterance, and which was delivered with the air of one who addresses a vast but invisible audience of young ladies in white dresses and blue sashes, seemed to add to the embarrassment of Uncle Remus, and at the same time to make an explanation necessary.
"Dey ain't none er you young w'ite men never had no 'casion fer ter strike up wid one er deze Mobile niggers?" asked Uncle Remus. "'Kaze ef you iz, den you knows wharbouts de devilment come in. Show me a Mobile nigger," continued the old man, an I'll show you a nigger dat's marked for de chain-gang. Hit may be de fote er de fif' er July, er hit may be de twelf' er Jinawerry, but w'en a Mobile nigger gits in my naberhood right den an' dar trubble sails in an' 'gages bode fer de season. I speck I'm ez fon' er deze Nunited States ez de nex' man w'at knows dat de Buro is busted up; but long ez Remus kin stan' on his hin' legs no Mobile nigger can't flip inter dis town longer no Wes' P'int 'schushun an' boss 'roun' 'mong de cullud fokes. Dat's me, up an' down, an' I boun' dere's a nigger some'rs on de road dis blessid day dat's got dis put away in his 'membunce."
"How did he happen to get you down and maul you in this startling manner?" asked the commencement orator, with a tone of exaggerated sympathy in his voice.
"Maul who?" exclaimed Uncle Remus, indignantly. "Maul who? Boss, de nigger dat mauled me ain't bo'nded yit, an' dey er got ter have anudder war 'fo one is bo'nded."
"Well, what was the trouble?"
"Hit wuz sorter dis way, boss. I wuz stannin' down dere by Mars John Jeems's bank, chattin' wid Sis Tempy, w'ich I ain't seed 'er befo' now gwine on seven year, an' watchin' de folks trompin' by, w'en one er deze yer slick-lookin' niggers, wid a bee-gum hat an' a brass watch ez big ez de head uv a beerbar'l, come long an' bresh up agin me—so. Dere wuz two un um, an' dey went long gigglin' an' laffin' like a nes'ful er yaller-hammers. Bimeby dey come long agin an' de smart Ellick brush up by me once mo'. Den I say to myse'f, 'I lay I fetch you ef you gimme anudder invite.' An', sho' 'nuff, yer he come agin, an' dis time he rub a piece er watermillion rime under my lef' year."
"What did you do?"
"Me? I'm a mighty long-sufferin' nigger, but he hadn't no mo'n totch me 'fo' I flung dese yer bones in his face." Here Uncle Remus held up his damaged hand triumphantly. "I sorter sprained my han', boss, but dog my cats if I don't bleeve I spattered de nigger's eyeballs on de groun', and w'en he riz his count'nence look fresh like beef-haslett. I look mighty spindlin' an' puny now, don't I, boss?" inquired the old man, with great apparent earnestness.
"Well, you des oughter see me git my Affikin up. Dey useter call me er bad nigger long 'fo' de war, an hit looks like ter me dat I gits wuss an' wuss. Brer John Henry say dat I oughter subdue my rashfulness, an' I don't 'spute it, but tu'n a Mobile nigger loose in dis town, fote er July or no fote er July, an', me er him, one is got ter lan' in jail. Hit's proned inter me."