THE NEXT time the little boy sought Uncle Remus out, he found the
old man unusually cheerful and good-humoured. His rheumatism
had ceased to trouble him, and he was even disposed to be
boisterous. He was singing when the little boy got near the cabin,
and the child paused on the outside to listen to the vigorous but
mellow voice of the old man, as it rose and fell with the burden of
the curiously plaintive songa senseless affair so far as the words
were concerned, but sung to a melody almost thrilling in its
Han me down my walkin-cane
(Hey my Lily! go down de road!),
Yo true lover gone down de lane
(Hey my Lily! go down de road!).
The quick ear of Uncle Remus, however, had detected the
presence of the little boy, and he allowed his song to run into a
recitation of nonsense, of which the following, if it be rapidly
spoken, will give a faint idea:
Ole Mer Jackson, fines confraction, fell down stars fer to git
satisfaction; big Bill Fray, he rule de day, eveything he call fer
come one, two by three. Gwine long one day, met Johnny Huby,
ax him grine nine yards er steel fer me, tole me wich he couldnt:
den I hist im over Hiekerson Dickersons barn-doors; knock im
ninety-nine miles under water, wen he rise, he rise in Fike straddle
un a hanspike, en I lef im dar smokin er de hornpipe, Juba reda
seda breda. Aunt Kate at de gate; I want to eat, she fry de meat en
gimme skin, wich I fling it back agin. Juba!
All this, rattled off at a rapid rate and with apparent seriousness,
was calculated to puzzle the little boy, and he slipped into his
accustomed seat with an expression of awed bewilderment upon
Hits all des dat away, honey, continued the old man, with the air
of one who had just given an important piece of information. En
wen you bin casn shadders long ez de ole nigger, den youll fine
out whos wich, en wichs who.
The little boy made no response. He was in thorough sympathy
with all the whims and humors of the old man, and his capacity for
enjoying them was large enough to include even those he could not
understand. Uncle Remus was finishing an axe-handle, and upon
these occasions it was his custom to allow the child to hold one
end while he applied sand-paper to the other. These relations were
pretty soon established, to the mutual satisfaction of the parties
most interested, and the old man continued his remarks, but this
time not at random:
Wen I see deze yer swell-head folks like dat oman wat come en
tell yo ma bout you churkiin at her chilluns, wich yo ma make
Mars John strop you, hit make my mine run back to ole Brer Bar.
Ole Brer Bar, he got de swell-headedness hissef, en ef der wuz
enny swinkin, hit swunk too late fer ter hep ole Brer Bar. Leas
ways dats wat dey tells me, en I aint never yearn it sputed.
Was the Bears head sure enough swelled, Uncle Remus?
Now you talkin, honey! exclaimed the old man.
Goodness! what made it swell?
This was Uncle Remuss cue. Applying the sand-paper to the
axe-helve with gentle vigor, he began.
One time when Brer Rabbit wuz gwine lopin home from a frolic
wat dey bin havin up at Miss Meadowss, who should he happin
up wid but ole Brer Bar. Gose, atter wat done pass twix um dey
want no good feelins tween Brer Rabbit en ole Brer Bar, but Brer
Rabbit, he wanter save his manners, en so he holler out:
Heyo, Brer Bar! how you come on? I aint seed you in a coons
age. How all down at yo house? How Miss Brune en Miss
Who was that, Uncle Remus? the little boy interrupted.
Miss Brune en Miss Brindle? Miss Brune wuz Brer Bars ole
oman, en Miss Brindle wuz his gal. Dat wat dey call urn in dem
days. So den Brer Rabbit, he ax him howdy, he did, en Brer Bar,
he spon dat he wuz mighty poy, en dey amble long, dey did,
sorter familious like, but Brer Rabbit, he keep one eye on Brer
Bar, en Brer Bar, he study how he gwine nab Brer Rabbit. Las
Brer Rabbit, he upn say, sezee:
Brer Bar, I speck I got some bizness cut out fer you, sezee.
What dat, Brer Rabbit? sez Brer Bar, sezee.
Wiles I wuz cleanin up my new-groun day fo yistiddy, sez Brer
Rabbit, sezee, I come cross wun-ner deze yer ole time bee-trees.
Hit start holler at de bottom, en stay holler plum der de top, en de
honeys des natally oozin out, en ef youll drap yo gagements en
go longer me, sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, youll git a bait datil las you
en yo fambly twel de middle er nex mont, sezee.
Brer Bar say he much oblije en he bleeve hell go long, en wid
dat dey put out fer Brer Rabbits newgroun, wich twant so mighty
fur. Leasways, dey got dar atter wile. Ole Brer Bar, he low dat he
kin smell de honey. Brer Rabbit, he low dat he kin see de
honey-koam. Brer Bar, he low dat he can hear de bees a zoonin.
Dey stan roun en talk biggity, dey did, twel bimeby Brer Rabbit,
he upn say, sezee:
You do de clim-in, Brer Bar, en Ill do de rushin roun; you
clime up ter de hole, en Ill take dis yer pine pole en shove de
honey up whar you kin git er, sezee.
Ole Brer Bar, he spit on his hans en skint up de tree, en jam his
head in de hole, en sho nuff, Brer Rabbit, he grab de pine pole, en
de way he stir up dem bees wuz sinfuldats wat it wuz. Hit wuz
sinful. En de bees dey swawmd on Brer Bars head, twel fo he
could take it outn de hole hit wuz done swell up bigger dan dat
dinner-pot, en dar he swung, en ole Brer Rabbit, he dance roun en
Tree stan high, but honey mighty sweet|
Watch dem bees wid stingers on der feet.
But dar ole Brer Bar hung, en ef his head aint swunk, I speck he
hangin dar yitdat wat I speck.