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Full text of "At the big house : where Aunt Nancy and Aunt 'Phrony held forth on the animal folks"

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STEPHEN Bo WEEKS 

CLASS OF 1886; PH.D. THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY 

liEMAlRY 

OF THE 

UMVERSmY ©F WME CMOIUNA 
HE WEEKS €(0)]L1LECTII(DN 

CAEOLENIIANA 




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This book must not 
be taken from the 
Library building. 




AT THE BIG HOUSE 



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w. 



AT THE 
BIG HOUSE 



Where Aunt Nancy and Aunt 'Phrony 
Held Forth on the Animal Folks 



By 

ANNE VIRGINIA CULBERTSON 



Illustrated by 
E. AVARDE BLAISDELL 



INDIANAPOLIS 

THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS 



?*-• 



Copyright 1904 
Thf Bobbs-Merrill Company 



April 



PRESS OF 
BRAUNWORTH & CO. 
BOOKBINDERS AND PRINTERS 
BROOKLYN, N, Y. 



CONTENTS 



Going Down to Uncle Henry's 

Mr. Fox's Funeral 

Mr. Fox and Molly Hare Go Fishing 

Mr. Hare Imitates Mr. Bear 

The Friendship of Mr. Bear and Mis' Turkey 

The Toad, the Grasshopper and the Rooster 

Mr. Terrapin Gets the Nose-bleed 

How the 'Possum's Tail Became Bare 

Whv the 'Possum Has Black Ears 

How Mr. Terrapin Lost His Beard 

How Mr. Terrapin Lost His Plumage and Whistle 

Mis' Cat and Mr. Frisky Mouse 

Mr. Hare Tries to Get a Wife 

How Mr. Hare Lost His Horns 

Why the Titmouse Has a Blunt Tongue 

The Woman Who Married an Owl 

Mr. Mud-turtle's Adventure 

Why the Flounder is Flat 

Brother Squirrel and Moll}" Hare 
Mr. Hare and Mr. Flint Rock 
Mr. Wildcat Goes Turkey-hunting 
Mr. Fox Turns Farmer 
Can ad i and the Wolves 
The Story of a Giant 
Whv the Buzzard is Bald 



Page 




1 


Negro 


6 


Negro 


15 


Indian 


26 


Indian 


34 


Negro 


41 


Negro 


49 


Indian 


56 


Indian 


63 


Indian 


70 


Indian 


78 


Negro 


86 


Indian 


93 


Indian 


100 


Indian 


106 


Indian 


115 


Indian 


122 


Negro 


129 


Negro 


135 


Indian 


141 


Indian 


1-18 


Negro 


155 


Indian 


164 


Indian 


169 


Indian 


177 



CONTENTS 



]Mis' Goose Deceives Mr. Bear 

Mr. Bear Tends Store for Mr. Fox 

A Star Story 

Why Crabs Walk Backward 

The Origin of the Cat 

The Dragon and the Tliunder 

The Tlaniwa 

The 'Possum and the Grub-worm 

Mr. Bear and Mr. Terrapin Go Courting 

Molly Cotton-tail Steals Mr. Fox's Butter 

The Lazy Fox 

Mr. Hare, Mr. Mink and Mis' Duck 

The Humming-bird and the Tobacco 

Why Moles Have Hands 

The Fox and the Duck 

Why the Ground-hog Has a Short Tail 

Mr. Hare, Mr. Wildcat and Mr. Otter 

Mr. Hare and Mr. Elephant 

The Toad and the Terrapin 

The Mocking-bird and the Dry-fly 

The Saucy Young Frog 

The Crane and the Humming-bird 

The Fox and the Hot Potatoes 

The Funeral of Mr. Dog 

How the Deer Lost His Upper Teeth 

The Hare Disappears For Ever 



Page 

Negro 186 

Negro 194 

Indian 201 

Negro 207 

Negro 215 

Indian 222 

Indian Til 

Indian 232 

Negro 237 

Negro 245 

Negro 253 

Indian 260 

Indian 268 

Negro 273 

Negro 279 

Indian 284 

Indian 290 

Negro 297 

Negro 302 

Negro 308 

Negro 314 

Indian 321 

Negro 327 

Negro 333 

Indian 338 

Indian 342 



INTRODUCTION 

The stories presented in this volume were found 
chiefly among the negroes of southeastern Yirginii'. 
and the Cherokee Indians of Xorth Carolina. It is 
possible that a few of the Indian stories belong to the 
Creeks, as some of them were obtained from an Indian 
who, while living among the Cherokees, was said by 
them to be a Creek; but this was a point on which 
he declined to commit himself. In the mountains of 
the extreme west of Xorth Carolina the writer listened" 
to stories wonderfully like those of "Uncle Eemus," 
falling from the lips of venerable Indians with a 
strange effect of familiarity. Here was "the Eabbit/^ 
the same lively, merry, tricksy, resourceful, quite rep- 
rehensible and utterly irresistible fellow as in Mr. Har- 
ris^ delightful negro tales. It seems odd that the two 
races, so different in temperament and characteristics, 
should assume exactly the same attitude, distinctly a 
humorous one, toward the timorous rabbit, perhaps 
the scariest "li'l fool creetur" of them all, and glorify 
him as the most valiant of heroes. It may be somewhat 
easier to understand in the light of the fact that the 
rabbit was an important hero-god in the mythologies 
of both races. 

Both the Indian and the negro stories are presented 
in negro dialect in order more strongly to emphasize 
the resemblance between them — so marked as to give 



mTRODLXTIOX 

rise to the supposition that one race borrowed from 
the other, though which, in that case, was origi- 
nator and which borrower it would be difficult to say. 
Scientists, for the most part, believe each race to have 
originated its own stories, while others are of the opin- 
ion that all such tales were born in the morning of 
time in some common cradle of our kind. 

The reader will have no difficulty in separating the 
two sets of stories. The source of each is noted in the 
table of contents, and, moreover, those of Indian origin 
are all told by an elderly negress, Aunt 'Phrony, who 
is supposed to be Indian on the father^s side and negro 
on the mother's, — a not unusual admixture of race in 
the old davs of the South; while the nearro tales are 
told by a woman of purely African descent, old Aunt 
N'ancy. In the case of the Indian stories, it has been 
thought not inconsistent with the unities to give them 
a large flavor of negro life and character, since a half- 
breed, such as the one imasfined, would have been, bv 
law, a slave like her mother, brought u^^ amongst the 
negroes and partaking of their ways, speech and char- 
acteristics. 

Let no one suppose that Indians have not a sense of 
humor. They laughed heartily as they told these sto- 
ries and were visibly disappointed if their auditors 
failed to catch the point and to laugh with them. It 
mav be of interest to observe how in the storv of "Mr. 
Mud-turtle's Adventure" the Indian has made the tur- 
tle effect his escape by exactly the same ruse as that 
practised by the rabbit in the famous "Tar Baby" story. 

A point of difference noticed by the writer was that 
in the Indian stories of which the rabbit was the hero 



IXTRODrCTIOX 

he was always represented to be of the male persuasion, 
while in the negro tales of the same class the chief 
actor was usually "01' Molly Hyar'/' or "Mis' Hyar'/' 
or ^^Mis' Molly Cotton-tail." In fact, the negroes of 
Virginia seldom refer to "the rabbit"; almost alwaj's 
it is "or hyar'." 

The negro has borrowed some stories from ^sop's 
fables and adapted them to suit himself. An example 
is given in this volume in the story of "The Fox and 
the Hot Potatoes/' plainly an adaptation of the famous 
story of the cat's paw, the monkey and the roasted 
chestnuts. The writer found a number of others, in- 
cluding "The Fox and the Grapes/^ "Fox and Rooster," 
and "The Sick Lion." 

In conclusion it should be said that these stories 
were all collected from persons well on in years, unable 
to read and without opportunity of access to books. 
They are confessedly "edited," for all who have col- 
lected folk-tales will know the crude form in which they 
are obtained, usually a bare, brief outline, though now 
and then one falls in with a genuine raconteur. The aim 
has been to imitate, as far as possible, the style of the 
latter, while jealously preserving the original outlines, 
so as not to impair their value as folk-lore. To those 
who would study the imagination of primitive peoples 
these stories should have some value, if for no other 
reason than that they add a few more to the stock of 
this class, the opportunities for gathering which grow 
less and less with each year and soon will cease alto- 
gether. 

Anne Viegixia Culbertsox. 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 



GOIXG DOWN TO UISTCLE IIENEY^S 

The three children, Xed of ten, Janey of eight, and 
Kit, the yellow-haired laddie of five, were wild with 
delight at the prospect of a yisit to their nncle on the 
old plantation where their mother had been reared; for 
little Kit had never been there, and the others were 
too young to recollect a former visit. Their mother 
had married and gone North to live some time before 
the Civil War. Then came the troubled years of strife, 
when it was unsafe for her to venture with her little 
brood into the war-swept, storm-beaten section of 
southern Virginia where her old home was situated. 
Now, however, the struggle had been over for a year, 
and she felt a great longing to see home once more, to 
know what familiar and cherished objects had survived 
the wreckage of war, and to give her children a glimpse 
of the old order of things before it should disappear 
for ever. She had told them so much of the place and 
of her life there, that they* felt as if they were going 
to visit some well-known spot, and in particular were 
filled with liveliest anticipations of hearing for them- 
selves, and in the proper surroundings, the old darky 
songs and tales of which she had tried to give them 
some idea. 

1 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

The days rolled around all too slowly for the impa- 
tient little people^ but at last they were off. First came 
the railroad trip, then the night ride on a steamer 
down the great bay, and in the morning another rail- 
w^ay journe}'-, this time through pine woods for the 
most part, on a little narrow-gage train whose engine 
seemed to be picking and choosing its path and getting 
out of the way of the trees as it zigzagged in and out 
between them. 

They were met at the rude little station by a wagon 
and a pair of stout farm-horses, instead of the carriage 
and blooded pair of other days. The children piled 
in on the straw at the bottom of the wagon, and thought 
it great fun to dodge the uncertain movements of the 
trunks as they jolted along over a rather rough country 
road, which took them for miles through the tall, slim, 
fragrant pines that looked so dark and somber when 
viewed from a distance, but which nevertheless let in 
plentiful rays of sunlight to flicker and dance over the 
soft carpet of brown needles beneath. 

It was almost sunset before they came in sio^ht of 
the house, which was wholly unpretentious but entirely 
comfortable, as was the case with many a plantation 
home of the old days. Situated on a slight eminence, 
it was surrounded by a huge open expanse whose only 
boundary was a far, dark rim of pines. 

In the center of the lawn was a huge oak tree, a per- 
fect giant of his race, which had looked benignantly 
down on the same family for a hundred and fifty 
years, old when the founder bought the land from the 
Indians, yet still full of life and vigor, bidding fair to 
remain through many another generation of the puny 

2 



GOIXG DOWX TO UNCLE HEXRY'S 

race of men. He towered so high above everything else 
that he was first to wave a stately salute to the rising 
sun and last to nod a grave good-night as the beams 
disappeared behind the pine trees. The morning rays 
always found him, like some benevolent patriarch, giv- 
ing shelter to a little company of cows and sheep and 
snow-white geese; and as the sun slipped gradually 
around his trunk to its goal in the west, there was never 
an hour of the day in which his shady hospitality was 
not claimed by some living creature, while the shadow 
of his trunk marked the flight of time like some huge 
sun-dial whose face was half the lawn. It was impos- 
sible to regard him as a mere tree ; he made you think 
of a vigorous, "grand old man", and after you had 
known him a while, he seemed like an important mem- 
ber of the familv. 

Dotted about the lawn were the various "offices," and 
farther back, the "quarters", where a hundred or more 
negroes used to be lodged in the old, busy days, when 
everything was manufactured on the plantation, from 
linsey-woolsey to cart-wheels, and everything needful 
raised, even the indigo for dyeing the home-made cloth. 

As the wagon jolted across the lawn, the children 
stood up and waved their handkerchiefs to the little 
party assembled in the front porch. Waiting to re- 
ceive them stood Uncle Henry, tall, broad-shouldered, 
cheery and hearty. There, too, we're the dogs, barking 
and capering and giving noisy welcome, and a little in 
the background was one whom they could not fail to 
recognize, so often had they heard her described, — a fat, 
smiling, broad-faced negress, comfortable and sleek, 
with eyes beaming and white teeth shining. Aunt 

3 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

Xancy, tlieir mother's old ^'"mammy". The children 
were lifted down amid hiiggings and kissings from 
Uncle Henry, fawning and frolicking from the dogs, 
and lastly Aunt Nancy fell on them and took them 
to her ample bosom and made much ado over her 
"young Miss^ chillen". 

Presently the servants began running to and fro car- 
rying steaming dishes from the "cook-house" to the 
"big house", and before long the children were seated 
about the fine old mahogany table, which had dispensed 
hospitality to at least four generations, and were 
eagerly discussing hoe-cake and dodger, "egg-brea^ 
and muffin, waffle and fried chicken, together with other 
staple delicacies, familiar and unfamiliar. They were 
waited upon, meanwhile, by "Coonie", the house-boy, son 
of Eliza, the cook, who watched every mouthful taken 
with absorbed interest, and grinned as if each new 
depredation on the piled-up plates was a fresh compli- 
ment to his mother's skill in cookery. 

When supper was over and the children were being 
put to bed, Aunt Nancy's smiling face appeared in the 
doorway, and she declared that she must have 
"anu'rr squint at dem chillen" before she took herself off 
for the night. "Blessid lambs !" said she, "de ve'y spit 
an' imidge er dey maw, 'scusen de li'l bit whar favers 
dey gran'paw an' ol' Mis' an' dey Uncle Hinry. Del- 
laws !• I nuver think in de days w'en I tucken Miss 
Janey on my knee an' got her raidy fer baid, an' den 
tuck her in an' sot down by her an' tell her tales ontwel 
she drap off ter sleep, I nuver think, naw ma'am, dat 
I gwine live ter see her wid a hull passel er li'l chillen 
husse'f, naw'm, dat 1 didn'." 

4 



GOIXG DOWN" TO UNCLE HENRY^S 

At the mention of stories the children sat up in bed, 
clasping their arms about their knees with chins rest- 
ing on top^ looking eagerly at her, like so many ani- 
mated interrogation points. "Please tell us some 
stories," they begged, and Janey declared that she did 
not believe she could possibly go to sleep in a strange 
bed, unless, as her mother used to do, she fell asleep 
on a story. 

Aunt Nancy giggled and laughed until her body 
rocked from side to side. ^'"Well, ef dis ain' de beatenes' 
lot," said she, "ter 'mence on me *bout tales de ve'y 
fus^ night I sot eyes on ^em. Jes' ^zackly de way dey maw 
useter kyar' on, fer all de worF." But it did not take 
much coaxing to start her. Drawing up an old splint- 
bottomed chair, she sat down between the two beds and 
announced that she believed she would "splunge inter 
de bizness" by telling them the story of 



l^r: 



ME. FOX'S FUNEEAL 



"In de ol' days/' she began^ "dar wnz two er de 
creeturs whar wuz alluz fallin' out wid one nn'rr, an' 
seein' who kin git ahaid nv tu'rr one, an' settin' all 
sawts er traps an' lay-overs-fer-ter-ketch-meddlers. 
Dese two creeturs wuz neener mo' ner less dan Mis' 
Molly Cotton-tail — w'ich some calls 'er ol' Molly 
Hyar' — an' Mistah Slickry Sly-fox. Sometimes one 
wuz in de lead, sometimes tu'rr, but mos' in ginly 
Mis' Molly she camed out ahaid, fer dat seem ter be 
de speshul gif er de ladiz, ter git der own way wid der 
breens stidder dey fistes. Menfolks is kind er clumsy 
an' lumbersome 'bout sech ez dat, an' mos' times gins 
deyse'fs erway fo' dey gits half thu. 

"One day he come 'crost 'er w'en she'z right good an' 
tired, settin' in de broom-saidge fiel', down by de ol' 
sawmill, an' he gin 'er chase thu de woods an' inter de 
swamp an' out inter de fiel' on tu'rr side, 'twel she wuz 
all blown an' clean stove-up. ^Oh me ! my !' sez she 
ter husse'f, sez she, ^I reckon dish 3^er's whar I gotter 
turn up my li'l toes an' gin up de ghos', sho' 'nuff, 
'kase I kain't run nu'rr step, no use ter try. Well, I 
hope some nice nigger man gwine git dish yer lef 
behime foot er mine an' kyar' hit roun' wid him tei 
keep de boogers off.' " 

Here the children interrupted to make inquirie 



MR. FOX'S rrXERAL 

about the rabbit's left hind foot, of whose wonderful 
powers they never had happened to hear. 

"Dellaws !'' exclaimed Aunt Xancy, "niiver yearn tell 
er de lef behime foot nv a grave-yard rabbit ? Whar you 
been livin' all dese 'ears? Wy, dat's de mos' pow'ful 
cunjer in de worl'. Jes' kyar' one'r dem in yo' pockit 
an' vouse safe ez vou kin be in dish ver suffer in', dvin' 
worl'. Hit keeps off witches an" lia'nts an' jaeky-my- 
lantums an' boogers in gin'l, an' hit brings good luck 
an' keeps away bad luck, an' hit keeps mean, low-down 
folks fum puttin' spells on you an' trickin' you. But 
hit wu'ks bofe wavs, fer ef vou lose dat foot an' some 
one else gits hit, dey kin do jes' 'bout w'at dey wants 
wid you.^ An' you mus'n' on no kyount let no pusson 
teck dat rabbit foot in han' an' tetch you wid hit, fer 
ef you do, sunip'n" mighty bad gwine happen to you, 
dat's jes' ez sho' ez I'm a-settin' yer runnin' on 'bout 
dat cunjer. 

"Xow whar wuz I at ? Oh, vas, whar Mis' Mollv wuz 
all tuckered out an' 'bout ter gin up de game. Well, 
jes' den, ez de luck had hit, she yearn a gre't blowin' er 
hawns an' a lot er houn's givin' tongue a fur ways off, 
an' she knowed dat de hunters wuz som'ers roun', so 
she ga'rrd husse'f toge'rr an' putt out in dat d'reckshun, 
an' bless goodness ef she ain' tole ol' Fox right in de 
midse er de dogs an' de bosses an' de hunters, an' den 
she double an' git outen de way in shawt order. I tell 
you, Mistah Slickry Sly had a mighty clost shave dat 
time, an' he ain' fergive Mis' ^lolly. He laid hit up 
in his min' erg'in 'er an' 'clared he wuz gwine git even 
wid her ef he ain' do anu'rr lick dat winter. 

"He set by de fire an' study an' study 'bout hit, wid 

7 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

his haid on his han' an' his jaw drapt open, twel he 
g(^t sort or run down an' liis appentite gin out. Mis' 
Fox she wuz worrited 'bout him, same time dat she wuz 
putt out wid him fer settin' on his ha'nches doin' 
nuttin' an' lettin' lier dus' roun' atter de vittles. Las', 
one day slie tucken de broom an' shnk hit at 'im, an' 
sez she, ^Git outen my sight, yon mis'able shif'less 
creetur. Ef you go an' stir yo'se'f roun' an' wu'k a 
li'l, hit mought start yo' blood ter goin' erg'in, an' kyore 
you, fer you done got a bone disease, w'ich dey calls hit 
lazy-hones, an' I'm a-gwineter kyore you right yer an' 
now, dat I is, fer I ain' want no fun'l 'bout dis house, 
dat I ain', wid all de strouds an' de coffins an' de flow's 
an' de hearsts; an' de vittles whar de mo'ners 'stroy at 
de settin'-up. Cos' me mo' dan you uver been wuf, suh.' 
An' wid dat she brought de broom, ker-smack ! down on 
Mistah Sly-fox's haid. 

"Wen she say de wu'd ^fun'l/ dat gin 'im a idee. 
He laid dar widout movin', lak he wuz sho'-'nuff daid, 
an' he let her pick 'im up 'an putt 'im on de baid. He 
laid dar a w'ile lis'nin' at 'er go on, wringin' her han's 
an' crA'in' ^0 lawd ! lawd I w'at a wicked ooman I 
is ! Done kilt my po' sick husban' ! AY'at I gwine do ! 
Oh, mussy me, w'at is I gwine do !' 

"Fox he wuz might'ly tickled an' let 'er run on a 
w'ile. He say ter hisse'f, *Dish yer's whar I fin' out how 
de ol' ooman gwine 'have husse'f w'en she's a widdy.' 
Den he open he eyes lak he wuz pow'ful fibble an' roll 
'em up in his haid, an' sezee : "^Ol' ooman, I fergives 
you fer dis, 'deed I does. I kain't 'spec ter las' much 
longer ; lemme ax you, bef o' I goes, ter gimme a decint 
fun'l, wid all de fixin's, an' I w^ant a sarmint preached 

8 



MR. FOX'S rUXEEAL 

fer me, too, ef you hatter putt off de preaeliin' part 
fer a 'ear, so's't you kin pay fer hit. An' I wants you, 
please ma'am, ter ^4te all de nabers ter de settin'-up, 
even Mis' Molly Cotton-tail, 'kase I done fergive her, 
too, an' you mus' sen' her wu'd dat I gwine lay mo' 
peace'ble in my grave ef she'll come ter de settin'-up. 
An' I wants you ter have plenty er vittles fer de 
mo'ners, 'kase I ain' want no pusson ter go 'way f'um 
my fun'l an' say he's hongry,' 

"Mis' Fox she jes' lit out inter cryin' an' wringin' 
her han's erg'in, but she gin de promuss. She say, sez 
she : ''01' man, vou kin die easv, fer I o:in vou de wu'd 
uv a po' widdy ooman dat you is gwine have ev'ything 
dat b'longs wid a fus'-class fun'l, all de trimmin's an' 
de fixin's th'owed in, ef I hatter wu'k my ting-ers ter 
de bone over de wash-tub ter pay fer 'em, you is so. 
Don' you let dat idee keep you ling'in' on yer in taw- 
ment ; I done gin 3'ou my wu'd, an' dat orter be 'nuff ter 
let you down inter de grave on flow'y baids uv ease, 
'deed hit ort.' 

"Fox he thanked her, an' den he fetched a big groan 
an' rolled over on his back an' turnt his toes up in de 
air an' lav dar ez stiff an' start ez ef de href er life 
clean gone outen him. Den Mis' Fox she wipe her 
eyes on her sleeve an' whu'l in an' git ev'ything raidy 
fer de settin'-up. She kill a chicken an' bile a ham an' 
cook a mess er greens, an' den she tuck an' sont noration 
ter de nabers ter come ter de settin'-up. Den she turn in 
an' fix up de house, an' las' uv all she gin her 'tention 
ter de cawpse, an' w'en she git thu wid 'im he sut'n'y 
look mo' harnsum dan he done w'en he wuz walkin' 
thu dis vale er tears. She sont off fer de coffin an' de 

1) 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

flow's, an' w'cn de mo'ners got dar ter do de settin' up, 
ev'ything wiiz good an' raidy. 

"Well, she gin 'em a good bait er vittles, an' dey sot 
np endurin' er de night a-mo'nin' an' a-groanin' an' 
a-dronin', an' ev'y onct in a w'iles de widdy 'ud th'ow 
her ap'un over her haid an' bus' inter tears an' rock 
back an' fo'th an' kvar on twel some er de men-folks 
'ud come an' console wid 'er, an' den she'd pick husse'f 
up a li'l. Slickry he kep' one eye an' one year open, 
an' he ketched her runnin' on wid Mistah Coon a li'l 
an' lookin' at 'im mighty sweet w'en she see de res' 
wan't lookin'. ^Uh-huh!' sezee ter hisse'f, ^dat's how 
de win' blow, do hit? 'Tain' gin ter ev'y man ter see 
w'at kind er widdy he gwine leave behime. Eunnin' 
on wid ol' Coon right bef o' mv face an' eves ! Well 
ef I don' pay her off fer dat, my name ain' Slickry Sly- 
fox. Widdy indeed ! Xot fer long, ef she have de sesso.' 
An' 'twuz all he cu'd do not ter git up right den an' dar 
an' pick a quo'il wid 'er. 

"All thu de night de mo'ners kep' hit up, rockin' 
back an' fo'th an' singin' lak dis, m-um-ah-um-m, 
m-um-ah-um-m." 

Here Aunt Nancy imitated the peculiarly mournful, 
monotonous dirge indulged in by the negroes at their 
"settin'-ups," consisting of only a few notes without 
words, hummed through closed lips, and wailed with 
such persistent dolefulness through the long night that 
the effect is indescribabl}^ harrowing as w^ell as melan- 
choly. Presently she resumed her story. 

"Yas, dey kep' hit up all night, dough now an' den 
dey'd stop fer a li'l set-to wid de vittles. W'en de mawn- 
in' come, all un 'em 'scusin' one er two er de wimmin- 

10 



ME. FOX^S FUXERAL 

folks went home ter dress fer de fun'l. Long to'des 
twelve^ 3'er dey comes ag'in, dress up in all de fine doin's 
dev kin lay der lian's on. I ^spec' oV ^lis' B'ar wuz 
^bout de fines' one, she have on a pink silk dress, low- 
neck-an'-shawt-sleeves, wid a trail an' a pink sunshade 
ter match, but Mis' Panter run 'er right clost, 'kase she 
have on a white tall'ton wid flounctes f'um top ter bot- 
tom an' bows er raid ribbon wid streamers behime. De 
gemmen all have on neckties an' white cotton gloves, 
an' raid hank'chers stickin' outer der pockits. I tell 
you dat wuz a funl ! Dey all come in an' dey howdied 
a li'l wid Mis' Fox an' she telled 'em she wuz proud ter 
see ^em dar, an' den she gin 'em cheers an' ev'b'dy sot 
down. 

"Las' some un say: ^I 'clar' ter gracious. Sis' Molly 
Cotton-tail ain' comed yit. AYunner w'at mek her so 
late ? Any you-all seed 'er on de way yer ? Eeckon she 
done stop ter prink husse'f up.' Xo pusson ain' seed 
'er, so some 'un say dey bes' sing a chune w'ile dey 'uz 
waitin', an' wid dat dey struck inter Zion Weep a-LoWj 
an' I tell you, honeys, dey made sho'-'nuff music, wid 
de ladiz kyar'yin' de air an' de men-folks doin' de 
dronin'." 

Here the children again interrupted to ask Aunt 
Xancy if she knew Zion Weep a-Low, and to beg that 
they might hear how the creatures sang it at the funeral 
of Mr. Fox. Xothing loath. Aunt Xancy sang it with 
camp-meeting fervor, notes long drawn out, with many 
an "oh" and "ah," and shakes and quavers impossible 
to describe. 

"Well," the old woman resumed, "dey sung dat 
sper'chil plumb thu an' yit Mis' Molly ain' come, so 

11 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

dey had solemn conclave fer a w'ile an' den de preacher 
he got up an' cle'rd his th'oat a time er two an' 'menced 
talkin' 'bout ^listah Fox. He say, ^Sinner fren's, I 
wanster call yo' 'tention ter dis cawpse; you kin see fer 
yo'se'fs w'at a nice cawpse hit is, wid real white gloves, 
kid, suh, on de han's, an' flow's strewed all up an' down 
'im; an' I wants y'all ter teck p'tickler notuss er dat, 
fer dat gwine Tarn 3'ou how hit pays ter be hones' an' 
indush'ous, 'kase ef he ain' been dat-a-way he oon had 
no sech a fun'l ez w'at dis is, wid me yer too, inter de 
bargum, ter gin 'im a send-off, all nice an' proper, 
w'ich Sis' Fox, de wife er de diseased, she a-goin' ter 
pay me fer hit on time, I oon keep her waitin' fer de 
fun'l sarmint twel nex' 'ear, naw suh.' 

"Some er de mo'ners fetched a groan an' some er de 
ol' men an' wimmin 'spon' f'um de cornders, TTea, 
lawd ! hones' an' indush'ous, dat's de trufe !' an' Mis' 
Fox gin a squeal an' fell back in her cheer an' de fun'l 
hatter stop 'twel dey cu'd bring 'er to wid a go'de er 
water. Jes' den, who shu'd putt 'er haid in de do' but 
Mis' Molly Hyar', but she wuz too smart an' know 
Mistah Slickry Sly too well ter putt her foot inside 
de do'. She wuz all dress' off in black, wid a big bawnet, 
an' a mo'nin' veil mo'n a yard long streamin' down 'er 
back, an' she 'uz kyar'yin' a big white hank'cher wid a 
black bawder. 

"She howdied wid 'em a li'l an' den she stan' outside 
an' look in at de cawpse wid her haid on one side an' 
her mouf drord down lak she 'uz mighty 'flicted 'bout 
dis, an' she say, she do, moppin' her eyes now an' den 
wid de hank'cher, ^Po' Brer Fox, po' Brer Fox ! I 
sut'n'y nuver 'spected ter see 'im lak dis. I done fer- 

12 



MR. FOX'S FUXERAL 

give 'im all de hard feelin's dat has pass' hetwix' us. 
He sut'n'y is a nice cawpse, Sis' Fox, an' one dat you 
gwine be proud uv all de res' er yo' days. I has on'y 
one fault ter fin' wid 'im, an' dat is, his han's ain' crost ; 
I done yearn my granny say, an' she wuz a mighty 
knowin' ooman, dat de han's uv a cawpse mus' alluz 
be folded, look lak 'tain' a sho'-'nuff cawpse lessen de 
han's is crost.' 

"At dat ol' Mistah Slickry Slv tuck an' slip one 
han' 'cross tu'rr an' laid dar lookin' ez innercent ez 
a lamb, but, bless yo' soul, dat 'uz 'nuff fer Miss Molly, 
she knowed den dat 'twuz jes' de way she 'spicioned all 
erlong, an' dat Slickry wuz nuver mo' erlive in his life. 
She jes' tucken leg-bail fer her 'scape outen dat, 
an' erway she go wid her mo'nin' veil streamin' out 
behime 'er in de win'. Fox he jumped up an' upsot de 
preacher an' spilt all de flow's and tuck after 'er, hard 
ez he cu'd split, but he was sort er hilt back by de good 
elo'es an' de white kid gloves, an' sidesen dat he wuz 
sort er stiff an' weak f'um layin' still so long, wid 
nuttin' ter eat inter de bargum, so he ain' see mo'n de 
een' uv 'er veil gwine roun' a cornder. 

"Dey do say dat fun'l come mighty nigh mekin' 
trouble in de Fox fambly, fer he useter th'ow hit up ter 
de ol' ooman, ev'y now an' den, dat she done kyar' on 
wid Mistah Coon right in front er de cawpse uv 'er 
own husban'. But she knowed how ter shet 'im up ; she 
alluz say : ' 'Twant no cawpse ! dough hit orter bin, 
seein' all hit done cos' me. Xo 'spectable cawpse oon 
do no sech a low-down way, a mannerly cawpse 'ud 'a 
knowed w'at wuz 'spected uv hit an' stayed daid. An' 
all dem mo'ners doin' all dat mo'nin' an' settin' up fer 

13 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 



nuttin' ! I boun' you w'en yo' time sho'-'nuff comes I 
won't l)c able tor fin' mo'ners 'nuff in disli yer k3^ounty 
ter burry you deeint. Folks ain' lak ter has der feelin's 
disapp'inted dat-a-way! Don' a^ou talk ter me, long ez 
we owin' money on dat f un'l yit !' 



V >f 



14 






MR. FOX AXD MOLLY HARE GO FISHIXG 



When Aunt Xancy had finished the tale of ^[r. Fox's 
funeral there were no signs of sleep in the bright eyes 
fixed upon her face, and three piping little voices began 
to make pleas for just one more story. 

G'long Vay f'um yer/' said she, with a chuckle, 
y'all boun' ter keep me gwine on all night, I sees 
dat. Huccome yo' eyes so wide open? Atter all dat 
trabblement you bin doin', de San' Man orter bin yer 
long 'fo' dis. Wa't you reckon yo' maw gwine say ter 
dis all-night bizness ?" 

"Oh, she won't care if we have just one more, will 
you. Mamma?" came in anxious chorus. "And you 
know. Mamma," said Janey, "you used to do this way, 
too ; you said you did, yourself." 

]\Iamma stood in the doorway a moment, smiling and 
convicted. "Well, just one more. Mammy, remember, 
only one. Don't let them coax you for another," she 
said as she went downstairs to Uncle Henry. 

Aunt Xancy looked as pleased as the children, but 
she made pretense of being completely run aground 
for stories, in order that she might hear the little 
voices raised in protest and entreaty. 

"Aw, pshaw !" said Xed, "I know better'n that, for 
Mamma says you know enough stories to fill a book." 

"Well, mebbe I does an' mebbe I doesn'," said the old 

15 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

woman, ^^ut liowsomuvor dat mav be, mv min' done 
let 'em all rnn out^ same 'z water thu a sieve;, lessen 
hits one lil one dat kind er git ketched in a cornder uv 
my 'membance. Jes' a li'l tale 'bout de time w'en Mis- 
tali Fox an' ^lis' Molly Cotton-tail went fishin' toge'rr. 

"Atter Mis' ^lolly done turn de tables on 'im at de 
fun'l, he kep' on studyin' an' studyin' an' schemin' an' 
schemin' ter git even wid 'er. Folks dat met up wid 
him in de woods knowed he wuz up ter sump'n', 'kase 
he went trottin' b}', not stoppin' long 'nuff ter 'spon' 
howdy, lookin' so knowin' outen dem slant-up eyes er 
his'n, wid his face all drord up inter wrinkles, dat dey 
cu'd see he wuz plannin' out some sort er cussishness, an' 
dey tuck good kyare ter keep outen de way. Even w'en 
he wuz foolin' de dogs, settin' up on a ol' log wid his 
tongue hangin' out, jes' ez still 'z ef he wuz daid, so't 
dey'd pass 'im by, he wuz studyin', studyin' 'bout Mis' 
Molly. Same way w'en he went down ter de orchud 
ter git 'im a chickin. Mighty hard wu'k ter git de 
chickins down f'um de tree, but still 'tain' drive Mis' 
Molly outen he min'. 

"How does de fox git chickins outen de trees ? Umph, 
honeys ! dat sut'n'y is a sight in de worl' ! Ef you 
onct see dat you ain' gwine fergit hit in a hurry. Well, 
one'r dese yer cloudy nights he comes 'long un'need 
de tree whar de fowels is roostin' an' fin's 'em all fas' 
asleep, an' he knows dat ain' gwine do, 'kase dey locks 
der claws tight roun' de limb an' goes ter sleep, an' de 
claws stay locked ontwel dey wakes up. He know he 
'bleeged ter rouse 'em 'fo' he kin git 'im one. So he 
gins a sharp bark an' jumps up, an' w'en dey 'mence 
ter cackle he 'mence ter succle roun' an' roun' un'need 

16 



ME. FOX AXD MOLLY HARE GO FISHIXG 

de tree, faster an' faster, jumpin' an' barkin'. De 
chickins dey turn an' twis' der haids ter watch 'im, 
an' las' some fool fowel dat's kind er weak in her haid 
gits so dizzy dat she jes' draps right down an' he gob- 
bles 'er up in a jiff. Yassuh, he's a gre't schemer. He 
nuver do anything in a hurry, jes' plan hit all out good 
an' den teck his time to hit. He say he gwine git 
even wid Molly Hyar' yit if it teck 'im twel Chris'mus, 
an' 'twuz gittin' 'long to'des dat time befo' he wuz raidy 
fer 'er. 

"One col' mawnin' he went streakin' thu de woods, 
lif'in' up one paw an' stoppin' ter lissen fer de dogs 
now an' den, but de coas' w^uz cle'r an' he kep' on 'twel 
he got ter Mis' Molly's. He knock on de do' but she 
ain' year 'im kase she wuz busy rockin' two er de 
chillen whar wuz sick, an' singin' at de top uv 'er 
voice ter drown de noise de urr chillen wuz makin' ez 
dey racket roun' de house, playin' boss an' leap-frog- an' 
ketcher, an' cuffin' an' tusslin' 'twel ol' man Hyar' wuz 
'bleeged ter leave de ol' ooman de bag ter hoi' an' teck 
his pipe an' go an' set on de bench outside de do' ter 
git some peace an' comfu't. 

"Mis' Hyar' kep' on singin' at de top uv 'er voice : 

'Oh Bunny is my hahy. 

Bunny is my lamb, 
I loves my Bunny better 

Dan^a gre't big dish er ham. 

'Oh Honey is my baby. 

Honey is my lamb, 
I loves my Honey better 

Dan a gre't big roas'ed yam/ 
17 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 



u i^ 



^Drat dish yer Bunny an' Honey/ sez Fox ter his- 
se'f, sezee, Svimmin-folks sut'n'y does mek fools er 
deyse'fs over dey chillen, an' meks de chillen fools, inter 
de bargum.' Wid dat he fotched a big lick on de do' 
wid his walkin'-stick an' Mis' Molly gin a scream an' 
jumped so't she mos' drapt Bunny an' Honey. She ax 




'im fer ter come in, an' she sut'n'y wuz s'prise w'en she 
see who 'twuz, but she ain' let on, not her; dat wan't 
her way. She mek 'er manners an' ax 'im fer ter git a 
cheer fer hisse'f, 'kase he cu'd see dat her ban's wuz full, 
an' den she 'mence ter run on 'bout de wedder same 'z 
folks does dese days w'en dey ain' know w'at else ter 
say. 

"Fox he wuz mighty p'lite an' mannerly an' chock 

18 



ME. FOX AXD MOLLY HARE GO FISHIXG 

full er pooty talk. He say, ^'Clar' ter goodness, Mis' 
Molly Cotton-tail, you sut'n^y does look snipshus. 'Pears 
lak you git younger an' younger ev'y 'ear, you sut'n'y 
does, ma'am.' 

"Molly snicker, but she wan't tucken in by liim. She 
say, ^Hysh, man ! Better not let Mis' Fox year you go 
on dat-a-way ! 'Sidesen dat, I knows I ain' no mo' ter 
look at dese days dan a lean crow wid a graveyard 
cough.' 

" SSho ! Mis' Moll}',' sezee, ^'ou ain' do yo'se'f jestice, 
'deed you ain'. I nuver has see you lookin' better. I'll 
back you 'gins' all de triflin' young gals roun' dese dig- 
gin's,' sezee. He run on dat-a-way ontwel he think he 
got her good an' please', an' den he say, ^Mis' Hyar', I 
done call roun' ter see ef you oon lak ter go fishin'. I 
knows a monst'ous fine place, whar de fishes is thicker'n 
blackba'ies in a natch, an' I teck tou risrht dar ef you 
sesso. 'Tain' no fur wavs, neener.' 

"Mis' Hyar' she say, she do, 'Thanky, ]\Iistah Slickry ; 
thanky, suh. I wish ter gracious I could go wid you, 
but YOU see how 'tis. Yer's Bunny an' Honey sick on 
my ban's; real croupyfied, dey is, an' de urr chillen 
cuttin' up lak de ol' Harry, an' all my wu'k layin' roun' 
loose. I 'clar' dem chillen gwine run me 'stracted. 
You Blinker I you Winker ! come yer, bofe un you, an' 
set yo'se'fs down by de chimbly an' stop dat uverlas'in' 
scufflin' I Jumper an' Thumper, I wants you ter come 
yer an' shake ban's wid ]\Iistah Slickry Sly-fox an' do 
lak you had some raisih', stidder gwine on wid dat fist- 
an'-skull-fight right in front er de comp'ny.' 

"De chillen done lak she tol' 'em, an' Fox he kep' on 
'suadin' an' 'suadin'. Mis' Molly mighty fond er gwine 

19 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

roun' 'joyin' liusse'f an' she ain' none too fond er 
hoiisewu'k, so las' she say, ^Well, Mistah Sly-fox, I 
dunno how in de worl' I gwine wid you, 'deed I don'. 
But mebbe I kin git de ol' man ter look atter de chillen, 
an" ef I leave plenty er pollygollic an' squilts an' hoar- 
houn'-an'-boneset tea fer Bunny an' Honey, I reckon 
dey'll git on, an' I kin set out a col' snack fer 'em all 
'twel I git back.' 

"So she call de ol' man ter come in an' min' de 
chillen, an' I tell you he come right slow, draggin' his 
footses an' knockin' de ashes outen his pipe. She show 
him de vittles an' gin him de pollygollic an' squilts an' 
de hoarhoun'-an'-boneset tea an' tol' him ter dose 
Bunny an' Honey ev'y time de}' cried. AVid dat de 
chillen all set up a turr'bl' squall, but she ain' pay no 
'tention, jes' tucken her shawl an' a ol' baskit an' putt 
out fer de branch wid Slickry Sly-fox. 

"On de way she say, 'Mussy me, Mistah Slickry, w'at 
we gwine do fer poles an' lines ? I wuz so boddered up, 
gittin' Vay f'um dem chillen, dat I ain' think nuttin' 
'bout poles an' lines.' 

" 'Xemmine,' sez de Fox, sezee, ^I done tuck kyare er 
dat. I kain't be pestered kyar'yin' poles an' lines back 
an' fo'th, so I keeps 'em hid 'way in a ol' holler tree 
nigh de branch. I'll fit you out all right. Mis' Molly; 
don' you 'sturb yo'se'f 'bout dat.' 

"Dev went 'lono^ mio^htv fren'ly an' familious, an' ol' 
Fox git so monst'ous p'lite dat las' he say, ^I 'clar' ter 
gracious, ]\Iis' j\Iolly, you mus' 'scuse me fer bein' so 
onmannerly ez ter let you kyar' dat baskit. 'Tain' fitten 
fer a lady lak you ter do dat. Please, ma'am, ter lemme 
tote de baskit.' 

20 



MR. FOX AND MOLLY HABE GO FISHIXG 

"Mis^ Molly she gin ^im back jes' ez good 'z he sont. 
She say, '^^Deed, Mistah Fox, I kain't nohows think er 
lettin' a gemman lak you be seed totin' a baskit; you 
mus'n' name dat ter me no mo'/ 

"Fox he 'sist an' 'sist, an' Molly she kep' on makin' 
out she ain' want 'im ter kyar' de baskit, but las' she 
han' hit over to him, dough ef dey'd bin anything in hit. 
Mis' Molly 'd a-seed 'im furder 'fo' she'd a-let 'im tote 
hit; she done know 'im too well fer dat. 

"Las' dey come ter de branch, an' Fox he putt de 
baskit on de groun' an' sot down on a log ter ketch his 
win' befo' he got ter wu'k. Mis' Molly she wuz honin' 
ter begin de fishin', so she say dat ef he'll jes' tell 'er 
whar de poles an' lines wuz hid, she'd go an' fotch 'em 
an' git de bait raidy. 

"Fox he say, ^So do. Mis' Molly ; so do. Jes' go up de 
branch yonner a li'l ways an' look in dat ol' holler 
sickymo' dar an' you'll fin' a lot er poles an' tackle, an' 
you kin jes' teck yo' ch'ice.' 

"She went skitin' up de bank an' poked 'er haid inter 
de sickymo' tree, lookin' fer de poles. Bless goodness, 
'twan't none dar ! an' w'at's mo' 'tain' nuver bin none. 
She think mebbe she done gone ter de wrong tree, so she 
went traipsin' roun' ter ev'y sickymo' she see on de bank 
an' git husse'f all frazzle out widout findin' nair' pole 
er line, w'ile ol' Fox sot up on de log smokin' an' laugh- 
in' ter hisse'f over Mis' Molly an' de poles. 

^Tjas' she come back an' tol' 'im dar wan't no sicky- 
mo' wid poles inside, an' he say, he do, ^Wat dat. Mis' 
Molly? You tell me you kain't fine dem poles? I'se 
'bleeged ter see dat wid my own eyes 'fo' I kin b'lieve 
hit,' an' wid dat he pull hisse'f up an' mosey ter de sick- 

21 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

vmo'. Wen lie git clar he poke his haid inside an' den 
dror hit out an' squat down on his ha'nches an' drap his 
jaw open lak he'z so s'prise he kain't talk. Las' he say, 
^Well, Mis' Molly! I'se dat flabbergasted I sca'cely kin 
git my bref. On'y yist'd'y I wuz yer, an' dem poles wuz 
all safe an' soun', an' now some no-kyount, consum- 
bunkshus thief-er-de-worl' done bin yer an' he'p hisse'f 
ter my propputty. I wish I had 'im yer dis minnit. 
I 'clar' ter you I'd jes' natchelly wear dem poles out on 
his hide, dat I would ! Seem lak a half-way decint 
pusson orter lef me jes' one pole ter putt me in min' 
er de res'. I nuver knowed no pusson dat mean befo', 
lessen 'twuz de man whar shave hisse'f jes' befo' he die, 
so's'ter cheat de barber outen de job. Yer you, Mis' 
Molly, done come all dis way ter go fishin', an' nair' pole 
er tackle fer you. Hit sut'n'y is a shame.' 

"Mis' Molly feel kind er saw'y fer 'im, so she say, 
'^Oh, nemmine, Mistah Slickry Sly. I ain' min' dat so 
much, but I is sort er disapp'inted not ter teck home 
some fish ter de chillens, 'kase I know dey all fixin' dey 
moufs fer a nice mess dis evenin'.' 

"Fox he study a w'ile an' den he say, ^Well, I tell you. 
Mis' Hyar', ef you be willin' ter fish lak I does, now an' 
den, mebbe we kin git a mess fer de chillen yit. N'ow 
you set up yer on de bank a minnit an' I show you dat 
ef you jes' got de gumption, you kin git de fish widou^ 
no tackle. Hits dat-a-way in de fishin' bizness, any- 
hows ; you kin have all de pole an' line you wa ..ster, but 
ef you ain' got de gumption you ain' git de fish.' 

"Wid dat he wag hisse'f down de bank an' stan' on 
de aidge wid his nose near de water, peerin' in, an' 'long 
come a fool young fish dat ain' know 'nuff ter know 

23 



MR. FOX AXD MOLLY HAEE GO FISHIXG 

w'at 'twuz stanniir st3'arin' in at "er. 01' Fox aiii' move 
a muscle 'twel cle fish wuz right beneaf his nose. Den 
he splunge one paw in an' swipe cle fish out an' Ian' 'er 
in de baskit "fo' she kin fiop 'er fins twict. 

"He call Mis' ]\Iolly down ter see, an' she wuz plumb 
tickelt ter def wid de way he done kotch dat fish. She 
say, 'Well, ef uver I see de beat er dat sence I bin chaw- 
in' vittles ! Mistah Sly-fox, Fse 'bleeged fer ter git you 
ter Tarn me dat way er fishin' ; hit beats de cl' way all 
holler.' 

"Fox he sav, ' 'Tain' no trick 't all ter do dat. All 
you gotter do is ter putt yo' nose down in de water an' 
keep jes' ez still 'z dat rock yonner, an' de fus' fish you 
see beneaf yo' nose, jes' swipe yo' paw in an' git 'er.' 

"Mis' Molly she do lak he tell 'er, an' stan' dar wid 
'er nose poke down so's't hit fetched de water, fer ol' 
Fox ain' let on to *er dat he kep' his nose jes' outen de 
reach er de water. She stood dar an' she stood dar, but 
no fish ain' come 'long, fer ol' Slickry he keep up a loud 
talkin' an' make all de rackit he kin so's'ter scare de 
fishes awa3^ She stan' dar an' she stan' dar, an' hit git 
'long to'des night an' turn colder an' colder, an' las' Mis' 
Molly git tired an' say she b'lieve she 'bout raidy ter gin 
up an' go home. But Fox he aig 'er on an' tell 'er not 
ter budge, 'kase he sho' dat w'en de fishes come out ter 
git der supper dey boun' ter come dat way. Water git 
colder an' colder all de time, an' Mis' Molly 'gun ter 
shake, an' her toofs chatter lak she have de ager. Las' 
she say, ^ 'Deed, Mistah Sly-fox, I kain't stan' dis no 
longer ; 'deed I kain't. I gotter quit dis minnit er drap 
yer in my tracks ; dat I has.' 

"Fox he chuckle ter hisse'f lak he know sump'n 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

mighty funny^ an' he say, sezee, Tome Tong, den, Mis' 
Molly; 'tis mos' night. I reckon yo' chillen an' yo' ol' 
man be 'spectin' you long 'fo' dis.' Wid dat he pick up 
de baskit wid de fish in hit an' mek up de bank. Mis' 
Molly she wuz gwine foller, but, bless yo' soul, w'en she 
go ter lif 'er haid, she foun' dat her nose done froze 
fas' ter de water, 'kase de ice bin makin' all de time she 
wuz stannin' dar, an' oI' Fox know dat mighty well 
w'en he call 'er down de bank. She pull an' she haul, 
an' she kick an' she thrash, but 'twan't no use ; dar she 
vraz an' dar she stay. 

"Fox he wuz up de bank jes' laughin' an' kyar'yin 
on. He git so full er laugh an' fun dat las' he tuck ter 
chasin' he own tail roun' an' roun' in a succle, jes' 
'zackly de wav de dogs does. Mis' Molly she vear 'im 
gwine on, an' she sing out, ^Dat's all right ! You got 
yo' innin's fer onct in yo' life. High time you did done 
dat, seein' how many times I done fool you, but I ses 
ter you dat you gwine laugh on de wrong side er yo' 
mouf befo' I gits thu wid you, sho' ez my name's Molly 
Hyar' ; dat you is !' 

"She kep' on twis'in' an' turnin' an' tryin' ter wu'k 
'er nose free, but 'twuz long time 'fo' she got hit a-loose, 
an' den she hatter leave a piece er de skin stickin' ter 
de ice. W'en Fox see she wuz onloose he stop chasin' 
his tail roun' an' pick up de baskit an' light out f'um 
dar widout stoppin' ter say far'-A'ou-well, an' 'twuz long 
time 'fo' he had de insurance ter come whar Mis' Mollv 
wuz. 

" '^Um-umph !' she say, ez she g'long home, ^dis sarve 
me right fer bein' sech a fool 'bout fishin'. Fishermens 
ain' got no sense, nohows. Seem lak de chanct er gittin' 

24- 



MR. FOX AXD MOLLY HARE GO FISHIXG 

one'r dem li'l scaly-backed creeturs jes' crowds ev'ything 
else clean outen der haids. Yer me, no fish, nose all 
skunt "up, dish yer th'ee-mile walk befo^ me an' a hongry 
ol' man an' cross chillen at de een' nv hit. Atter dis I 
gwine stay home an' do de eatin' an' let some un else 
do de ketchin'.' 

"Wid dat she light out fer home, wid her nose jes' 
a-achin' her so's't she kain't nohows hoi' hit still. She 
keep a-twitchin' an' a-wn'kkin' hit ter git some ease, 
but seem lak she nuver git clean over dat spe'yunce, 
'kase de hyar's been twitchin' der noses uver sence. 
Sometimes hit look lak dey's mekin' faces at you an' 
actin' sort er scawnful, but 'tain' so; hit's jes' 'kase ol' 
Mis' Hyar' got her nose fros'ed dat time she went fishin' 
wid Slickry Sly-fox. 

"An' now I gotter quit, fer I year yo' maw callin'. 
ya'am, comin', jes' ez soon 'z I kin git dese chillen good 
an' tuck up in baid. 



}y 



26 



MR. HAEE IMITATES MR. BEAR 

The next morning, after breakfast, the children heard 
a strange voice in the region of the back porch and went 
out to investigate. Aunt 'Phrony had come up to the 
house to beg for quilt pieces, and as she sat on the porch- 
steps, waiting until her wants could be attended to, the 
children saw her for the first time. She was tall and 
thin and very straight, with high cheek-bones and 
piercing dark eyes. She wore a red handkerchief about 
her neck and large brass rings in her ears, and she 
claimed Indian blood, in proof of which she was in the 
habit of calling attention to her hair, saying " ^twan^t 
no nigger-wool." In fact, while it was closely kinked, 
its jetty tint and finer texture distinguished it from the 
coarse and rusty-black hair of the pure African type. 
When questioned as to her ancestr}^, she would say, if 
in a communicative mood : "Yas, Mars' Torm done 
buyed me and brung me up yer f'um Nawf Ca'liny. 
My daddy wuz a Nawf Ca'liny Injun, a Churryl^ee, an' 
my mammy she wuz a slave-ooman, dat huccome me ter 
be bawn a slave. Ef she'd a-bin a Injun an' him a slave, 
den I'd bin bawn free, 'kase de chillen alluz b'longed 
wid dey mammy; she free, dey free; she slave, dey 
slaves." 

As Aunt 'Phrony sat with folded arms, gazing off at 
the rim of pines that formed a green horizon about the 

26 



MR. HARE i:\riTATES MR. BEAR 

plantation, she looked rather forbidding, very different 
from the fat and laughter-loving Aunt Xancy. The 
children did not venture near until she pretended to be 
suddenly aware of their presence and condescended to 
say, "Is dese Miss Janey's chillen, whar I done year 
tell ^bout comin^ down ter see dey Uncle Hinry? Come 
yer an' lemme see ef air' one er you favers yo' maw. 
Huh-uh ! jSTair' one half ez good-lookin' ez der maw, er 
uver gwine be. But I dunno ez we kin 'spec' dat f'um 
chillen dese days." 

Notwithstanding this unfavorable verdict. Aunt 
'Phrony thawed by degrees, and presently Ned ventured 
to ask if she knew any tales. She shook her head. 
"Who? Me? Reckon I got sump'n else ter do 'sides 
studyin' 'bout tales. W^at kind er tales you talkin' 
'bout r 

"Why, about the animals," explained Janey; "tales 
like those Aunt Xancy tells us." 

At the bare mention of Xancy, Aunt 'Phrony pricked 
up her ears, for the two women were ancient and im- 
memorial foes. Plantation gossip said that Aunt 
Xancy had coolly married out of hand the very man on 
whom Aunt 'Phrony had fixed her young affections, and 
had never been pardoned for doing so. 

"Dellaws !" she sniffed, "dat ooman bin tellin' vou-all 
tales? Mis'able ol' nigger tales, I be boun'. Ef I wan't 
gittin' so bad in my 'memb'ance an' so shawt in de bref 
I cu'd whu'l in an' tell you heap er Injun tales whar I 
useter year my daddy tell ; dey beats all de nigger tales 
uver wuz knowed." 

"Did any of the Indian stories have a rabbit in 
them?" asked Xed. 

27 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

"Rabbit?" said she. "You mean oV Hyar'? We ain' 
call im 'Rabbit' yer in Ferginny; jes' 'oV Hyar'/ er 
'Mis' Molly Hyar'/ er 'Mis' Molly Cotton-tail.' De 
creetur go by all dem names. Dar wuz a Injun hyar' 
an' a nigger hyar', an' de Injun hyar' cu'd do mos' any- 
thing de nigger one cu'd, an' mo', too, inter de bargum." 

"Aunt 'Phrony," said Janey, who was a little diplo- 
mat, "won't you please tell us some of the things he 
did, so that we can see if he was anything like Aunt 
Nancy's hare?" 

'Phrony's pride was aroused. Determined not to be 
outdone by Nancy, she sat for a while thinking and 
then began : 

"In de ol' times de Hvar' wuz de bes' known er de 
creeturs an' de bigges' man uv all, an' dis huccome so: 
he have de o'if er mummickin' anyb'dv an' ev'yb'dy, 
an' he go roun' 'mongs' de humans lettin' on he 'z dis 
pusson an' dat pusson an' tu'rr pusson, an' doin' all 
sorts er harm an' mekin' all kin's er mischief dat-a-way. 
Las' de people git tired er dis an' dey say dey ain' gwine 
stan' hit no longer, so dey git up a big hunt an' chase 
'im clean outen dat kyountry. Den he go 'way off ter 
nu'rr place, whar dey ain' know 'im, an' set out ter 
bamboozle de creeturs same 'z he bin doin' wid de hu- 
mans, mekin' out he 'z fus one thing an' den nu'rr, an' 
mummickin' ev'ything he see folks do er year 'em say. 
Dar wuz one time w'en dem smarty ways come nigh 
bein' de def uv 'im, an' dat w'at I gwine tell you 'bout. 

"One day he wuz gwine down de road, jiggitty-jig, 
wid one vear turnt ter de back an' one ter de front, 
so's't he kain't miss yearin' ev'ything dat go on. w'en 
all ter onct he seed Mistah Growly Grum-b'ar comin', 

28 



MR. HAEE IMITATES MR. BEAR 

lookin' mighty big an' empawtant. Hyar' ain' nuver 
met up wid 'im befo' an' he feel kind er jubous 'bout 'im, 
so he scrouch down b}^ de side er de road in de hopes 
Mistah B'ar ain' gwine notuss 'im. But B'ar he wall 
his eye roun' an' ketch sight uv 'im^ an' he stop an' look 
down at 'im outen de cornder uv his eye, lak Hyar' so 
small he sca'cely kin see 'im, an' den he say, ^Souls an' 
bodies ! who dis li'l feller skulkin' yer by de side de 
road ? Is I uver see you befo' ? I kain't seem ter 'mem- 
ber hit, but den I done knowed so many creeturs in my 
time dat you kain't 'spec' me ter weight down my min' 
wid 'em all. Co'se dey all 'members me; dey kain't 
he'p doin' dat, I reckon, but dey mus'n' git hu'ted in 
der feelin's ef I kain't kvar' ^em all on mv min'.' 

"Hyar' boun' ter mek hisse'f 'greeable ef he kin, so 
he say, '^J^aw, suh; I ain' nuver have de good luck ter 
meet up wid you befo', but ef I had, I cu'dden 'spec' a 
sho'-'nuff gemman lak you is ter 'member no sech trash 
ez w'at I is. I bin yearin' dis long time dat you is de 
bigges' man roun' dese parts, an' I has bin might'ly sot 
on mekin' 3^0' 'quaintance.' 

"B'ar right please' wid dat sort er talkin' an' he ax 
Hyar' ter walk 'long wid 'im a w'iles so dey kin git 
'quainted. 01' Hyar' go sidlin' 'long wid 'im, tryin' 
ter teck big steps lak him, mighty 'feard dem big feet 
gwine tromple on 'im, but bowin' an' scrapin' an' sayin', 
'Yassuh !' ^Jesso, suh !' ^I b'lieve you, suh !' ontwel Mis- 
tah Growly Grum think he's Big-man-me fer sho'. An' 
I tell y'all chillen, noiv, dat's de way ter git on wid 
folks. Jes' you sing small an' let dem In^ar' de heft er 
de chune. 

"'01' man B'ar git mo' an' mo' empawtant an' g'long 

29 



AT THE BIG HOrSE 

puffin' out his chist an' layin' down cle law wid one paw 
slapped on tu'rr, ontwel dey git ter his house. He done 
mek wp his min' by dat time dat Hyar' wuz de bes' 
comp'ny he met up wid in a long time, so he 'vite him 
ter come in an' have some dinner. Hvar' sav he ain' 




kyare ef he do, an' he go an' set down by de fire w^'iles 
Mistah Growly Grum stir roun' 'mongs' de pots an' de 
kittles. 

"All de time dinner wuz cookin' ol' Hyar' wuz jes' 
a-layin' hit outer Mistah B'ar wid his flattersome talk. 



30 



MR. HARE IMITATES MR. BEAR 

Sezee, ^"Well, a'oii sutVy is a cook f um 'way back. I 
con b'lieve secli a bioj man ez w'at you is . cu'd be so 
handy ef I ain' see hit fer myse'f.' 

"Dar wuz a pot er peas on bilin'^ an' B'ar look roun' 
on all de she'fs fer some fat ter putt in wid 'em, but 
'twan't none dar. Den he tucken out a knife an' sharp 
hit up a li'l, an' ol' man Hvar's heart jump up in his 
mouf w'en he see dat. 'Name er gracious !' sezee ter his- 
se'f, 'lemme git outen dis ! 'Pears ter me he gittin' 
raidy ter kyarve me up fer de dinner. Jes' my luck ! 
Stidder gittin' sump'n ter eat, I is gwineter git et my- 
se'f.' 

"But B'ar wan't studyin' 'bout him. He jes' walk up 
ter de pot an' cut a li'l gash in his neck an' let de grease 
run inter de peas. 'Tain' hu*t him 't all, 'kase de b'ars 
gits mighty fat in de fall off'n de mast whar draps f 'um 
de trees. Dey jes' stuffs deyse'fs den, so't dey kin sleep 
all thu de winter widout wakin' up ter git sump'n ter 
eat; lives off'n cler own fat, dey does, all thu de col' 
wedder. Well, B'ar's fat wuz so monst'ous thick jes' 
den dat he ain' feel de cut, an' g'long gittin' de dinner 
ez ef he ain' even got a scratch on 'im. 

"or Hyar' wuz might'ly please' an' clap his ban's an' 
kick his heels on de cheer-rungs, and mek gre't 'miration. 
He say 'twuz de bandies' 'rangemint he uver see, ter 
kyar' yo' bacon roun' wid 3^ou in yo' own hide, an' he 
'low ter hisse'f, right den an' dar, dat he gwine do de 
same thing er bus'. 

"Den dey drord up cheers an' sot down ter de table, 
an' Mistah Hyar' 'mence gwine on 'bout de dinner. He 
say, 'You mus' 'sense me ef I ax fer nu'rr he'p er dem 
peas. I lak ter look after my manners, but 'deed yo' 

31 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

cookin' done druv 'em clean outen my min'. Yo' fat 
got a flavor to hit dat suit my tas'e prezackly; 'deed hit 
have.' 

"He run on dat-a-way, an' all de time he wuz jes' 
a-honin' ter try de same trick hisse'f, so las' he tell 
Mistah B'ar he gwine gin a dinin' nex' day an' he ax 
'im will he come 'roun' an' he'p 'stroy vittles. He say 
he got a nice mess er peas he gwine treat him wid, but, 
bless yo' soul, de peas wuz right dat minnit in his naber- 
folkses gyardins. 

"B'ar he say he come ef nuttin' hinner, an' Hyar' go 
kitin' back ter steal de peas fer de dinin'. 

"Nex' day Hyar' go out ter meet Mistah B'ar an' 
bringed 'im in an' fetched a cheer an' gin 'im a pipe. 
He go cavawtin' roun' de room lak he's on springs, 
showin' off w'at a spry, handy man he wuz. He git de 
peas on bilin' an' den he look roun' in de cubberd fer 
de fat. Las' he say, ^Well, I'll be snickered ! ef I ain' 
fergit de fat fer dem peas. Now, w'at I gwine do? 
Kain't gin you ol' po'-trash vittles wddout no grease 
in 'em.' Wid dat he ups an' tecks a knife an' walks 
over ter de pot an' cuts a li'l gash in his neck. Lo, be- 
holst you ! nair' smidgin' er grease drap out, but, mussy 
me ! how de blood done spurt all over de ha'th, an' li'l 
mo' he'd bin a goner ef Mistah B'ar ain' bin dar ter bine 
him up an' doctor him atterwu'ds. B'ar wuz a right 
smart uv a doctor in dem days, fer he spen' so much 
time out in de laurel dat he know all 'bout yarbs an' 
sech ez dat. 

"Wen Hyar' w^uz on his footses ag'in, gwine roun' de 
house mighty limp an' low-down-in-de-valley, Mistah 
B'ar gin him a sho'-'nuff tongue-lashin'. Sezee, ^You 

32 



ME. HAEE IMITATES ME. BEAE 

moughter knowed dey wan't no grease in a mis' able lean 
creetur lak you is. Yer / is, all fat up fer de winter; 
dat de time w'en I gotter lay roim' an' snooge an' have 
no chanct ter pick np vittles. But yon is on de go, 
keepin' de paf hot f'um 'ear's een' ter 'ear's een. I lak 
ter know how you 'spec's ter lay up fat ? Wat mek you 
think, anvhows, dat you kin do de same ez me, vou 
po' li'l knee-high-to-a-hoppah-grass ? Um-umph! w'at 
sort er worl' dish yer be ef all mens kin do de same 
things ? You bes' g'long now an' 'tend ter yo' own biz- 
ness, an' set dis down in yo' 'memb'ance, dat dar ain' 
no pusson mek mo' mistakes er git mo' laugh at dan de 
man whar tries ter be tu'rr folks stidder bein' hisse'f. 
You year me talkin'.' " 



OQ 
•>-- 



THE FRIENDSHIP OF ME. BEAE AND MIS' 

TUEKEY 

"Well," said Ned, when Aunt 'Phrony had finished 
the story of how the hare imitated the bear, "1 always 
thought that bears were cross and ate people up. I 
should think the hare would have been afraid to have 
him doctor him. I wouldn't want any old bear to come 
fooling around me." 

"Who 'f card? Hyar'? Him! Naw, suh !" said Aunt 
'Phronv, "he ain' knowin' w'at 'tis ter be 'feard er 
anything in dis 'varsil worl'. Sidesen dat, I done tol' 
you he sof'-sawder ol' Mistah B'ar an' gin 'im 'nuff 
sweet talk ter fill a honey-gum. But Hyar' he wuz mo' 
diff'nt f'um tu'rr creeturs. 'Twan't safe fer de res' un 
'em ter fool wid Mistah B'ar; 'deed hit wan't. Dat 
putt me in min' er de time w'en Mis' Tukkey think she 
gwine mek f ren's wid 'im, an' dis how hit happen : 

"B'ar useter live in de low-groun's an' wu'k fer his 
livin' same 'z tu'rr folks, but atter w'iles he git tired er 
dat, an' sezee, '1 jes' 'bout b'lieve I gwine quit wu'k an' 
go whar I kin git me 'nuff ter do me widout usin' so 
much elber-grease in de gittin'. W'at de use er livin', 
anyhows, ef you gotter spen' all yo' time dustin' 'roun' 
atter sump'n jes' ter keep de href er life in you? Naw, 
suh ! 'tain' wuf de w'ile, lessen vou kin do a lot er restin' 
up an' have some fun inter de bargum.' 

'So he g'long off up inter de big mountains an' hide 

3-1 



<((, 



MPt. BEAR AXD :\riS' TURKEY 

hisse'f erway in de laurel an' res' an' sleep jes' w'en he 
feel lak hit, an' de balims er de time go romantin' up 
an' down de mountains kind er slow an' lazv, sort er 
studyin' whar he gwine putt his foot down nex', 'joyin' 
hisse'f might'ly, widout doin' no wu'k 't all, jes' pickin' 
up sump'n ter eat ez he trabel 'long, an' dat wan't hard. 
He 'uz 'tickler fond er 'lasses an' sweet apples, 'kase he 
got a mighty sweet toof, but honey wuz de dish w^'at hit 
'im in de bull's-eye an' go ter de right spot ev'y time. 
He wuz willin' ter tra])el miles ter fin' 'im some honey, 
but ef he kain't fin' any, den de nex' bes' thing wuz a 
mess er raid ants. He'd sleep all day long on er ridge 
in de wo'm summer days, but ef nu'rr b'ar come dat-a- 
way an' fetched 'im a li'l tap in his sleep, he'd r'ar up on 
his behime laigs an' den dey'd have hit, fer all de worl' 
lak dese yer prize-fighters, boxin' an' cuffin', an' wres'lin' 
'twel one'r dem wuz th'own. Den tu'rr un 'ud grab 'im 
by de th'oat an' growl an' growl 'twel you'd 'a thought 
he 'z gwine eat 'im up, but pres'n'y he'd onclinch an' let 
'im go wid one las' growl ter tell 'im, ^You better not 
fool wid me erg'in, suh.' 

"He live 'long dat-a-way, eatin' an' sleepin', wid a 
li'l walkin' an' fightin' th'owed in, 'twel one day he met 
up wid a li'l ol' fool wil' tukkey. She was mincin' an' 
tippin' 'long, fer all de worl' lak dat no-kyount gal er 
Aunt Xancy's w'en she git on her Sunday clo'es. 

"Pres'n'y she see Mistah B'ar, an' stidder bein' 'feard, 
lak she orter bin ef she had a grain er sense in dat li'l 
ol' haid er her'n, she 'mence ter mek gre't 'miration. 
He look so big an' strong she think he mus' be a mon- 
st'ous fine man, an' dar whar she git fooled, lak lots er 
wimmins I bin knowin'. 

35 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 



(d 



'She hop up in front er him an' say, ' 'Sense me, 3Iis- 
tah Growly Grum, snh^ ef I axes you ter stop a minnit 
an' lemme look at you. Lan' er de livin' ! I nuver is 
see a man tall ez w'at you is. An' how big an' strong 
you looks, an' dat long brown fur you wears on yo' hide 
sho' is harnsum. Please, suh^ lemme walk 'long wid 
you li'l ways an' look at you some mo' ?' 

"B'ar kind er growl sump'n nu'rr way down in his 
th'oat an' she tucken hit fer yes an' go tippin' an' 
mincin' 'long mo' wusser dan befo', mighty proud ter 
let tu'rr folks on de mountain see 'er in sech comp'ny. 
Wen dey git ter Mistah B'ar's house, she stick her haid 
in de do' an' w'en she see all de dirt an' de mess, for he 
wuz too mawtal lazy uver ter clean up de house, she 
say, she do, ^Oh, me ! oh, my ! Mistah Growly Grum- 
b'ar, you sut'n'y does need a ooman ter look atter you 
an' cook yo' vittles an' tidy up de house. Please, suh, 
ter lemme stay an' wu'k fer you, an' de on'ies' thing I 
ax is de priv'lidge er settin' an' lookin' at you w'en I 
isn' busy.' 

"B'ar say ter hisse'f, ^Dish yer a sho'-'nuif bawn fool, 
but mebbe she kin wait on me, so I reckon I let her stay, 
fer a w'ile, anyhows.' 

"So he say to 'er, ^Well, Mis' Tukke}^ sence you is so 
pow'ful sot on hit, I s'pose you kin stay ; but you mus"n' 
look at me too often, 'kase I ain' use ter bein' stvar'd 
at an' I dunno w'at I mought do ef I got riled.' 

"Mis' Tukkey say she do 'er lookin' w'iles he'z ersleep, 
so he tell er ter stay ef she wanter. 

"Den she whu'l in an' clean up de house, an' cook 'im 
a good dinner, an' w^'en he tucken a nap she git 'er a 



36 



ME. BEAR AXD MIS' TUEKEY 

li'l bush an* keep cle flies off en him, an' set an' look an' 
look ez ef she ain' nuver gwine see 'im erg'in. 

"She kep' hit up dat-a-way fer so long time, an' git 
wusser an' wusser 'bout liim ev'y day ontwel at las' she 
dunno how in do worF she gwine keejD f um lookin' 
at 'im w'iles he wuz 'wake. 

"Now B"ar he had de fashion er gwineter sleep ev'y 
day 'bout de time he 'mence ter git a li'l hongry, an' 
so he wuz mighty ap' ter dream 'bout sump'n nu'rr ter 
eat, an' w'atsomuver he dream *bout, dat de thing he 
'bleeged ter have w'en he wake up, an' he alluz g'longed 
out an' got hit. 

"Mis' Tukkev fin' dis out, so ev'v dav w'en he wake 
up she step to'des 'im an' say, 'Mistah Growly Grum, 
Mistah Growlv Grum, w'at vou done dream 'bout dis 
time? Please fer to tell me, suh, so I kin know w'at 
fixin's ter git raidy ter go wid hit fer dinner.' 

"B'ar he 'ud tell her, an' den go 'way an' git w'at- 
somuver hit mought be. 

"Mis' Tukkey git so sot-up on kyount er 'sociatin' wid 
Mistah B'ar dat tu'rr creeturs cu'd sca'cely putt up wid 
her foolishness, but w'en dey talk hit over dey alluz 
tell one nu'rr dat sumjD'n 'bleeged fer ter happen ter 
teck down her fedders. 

"I done tol' you she git mo'n mo' sot on Mistah B'ar, 
an' kep' squintin' at 'im 'roun' de cornders an' cuttin' 
her eye at 'im w'en he wan't lookin' ontwel de wunner 
is dat he ain' ketch 'er long befo'. But his eyes wuz 
set so clost toge'rr, same ez wid all de b'ars, dat hit 
mek him near-sighted, an' ef he see you a li'l piece off 
he ain' kin tell you f'um a stump. But Mis' Tukkey 



37 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

git so owdacious dat atter w'iles he do ketch 'er, an' he 
soon git tired nv her an' her foolishness. He ain' 
sayin' nuttin', *kase he wan't knowin' jes' w'at he gwine 
do 'bout hit. Las', one day, he see her lookin' at him jes' 
ez he wuz wakin' up f um his nap. 

"She walk up ter him, same 'z alluz, an' say, ^Mistah 
B'ar, Mistah B'ar, w'at you done dream 'bout dis day?' 
An' dat ininnit hit come inter his haid dat he gwine 
fix 'er den an' dar. 

"He strotch hisse'f a li'l lak he wan't quite thu wid 
his nap an' den he eye 'er up an' down an' he say, 'Mis' 
Tukkey,' sezee, 'you is growed tol'ble plump an' fat, I 
see, sence you bin stayin' in my house an' quit yo' 
runnin' up an' down de mountains.' 

"Mis' Tukkey kind er snigger an' look down, 'kase 
she mighty please' ter have him notuss 'er. 'Yassuh,' 
sez she, 'I b'lieve I is growed mo' plumper dan w'at I 



wuz.' 



a c 



'Ysls, ma'am! you sho'ly has fat up,' sezee, 'an' now 
I ax you dis,' sezee, 'ain' I tucken you in my house an' 
fed you an' gin you shelter, an' ain' you promuss dat 
you oon look at me 'scusin' w'en I wuz sleepin', an' isn' 
you done bruk yo' wu'd ?' 

"Mis' Tukkey she stannin' on one foot lookin' mighty 
oneasy, an' she say, she do : ' 'Deed, Mistah B'ar, you 
mus' 'scuse me dis time, 'deed you mus', 'kase I kain't 
he'p hit, 'deed I kain't.' 

"Den he riz up f'um whar he wuz settin' an' he say, 
way down deep in his th'oat jes' ez growly ez he kin, 
'You mus' 'scuse me, too. Mis' Tukkey; I kain't he'p 
myse't, 'deed I kain't. You ax me w'at is I dream, I 
tells you I done dream "tukkey," an' you knowin' me 

38 



MR. BEAR AXD MIS' TURKEY 

well 'miff ter know dat w'en I dream tukkey I 'bleeged 
ter eat tukkey/ an' wid dat he fell 'pun 'er an' she 
scuffle some an' de fedders flew'd 'roun' a li'l an' den 
ev'y thing mighty quiet, 'kase she done gone whar she 
cu'd see de inside er Mistah B'ar stidder de outside. De 
ereeturs whar she bin puttin' on airs wid say hit sarve 
'er right fer tryin' ter keep comp'ny wid 'er betters." 







"I think that was a real mean old bear to eat her up 
after she waited on him and did so much for him, don't 
you, Aunt 'Phrony ?" said Janey. 

"Laws-a-mussy, chil'," said Aunt 'Phrony, who had 
had unfortunate matrimonial experiences, "w'en you is 
ol' ez w'at I is, mebbe you'll fin' out dat ef a man wants 

39 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

ter git slied uv a ooman, he ain' gwine think ^bout w'at 
she been doin' fer 'im, he jes' fergit ev'ything 'ceptin' 
dat he do wanter git shed uv er, dat's 'nuff fer him, 
an' lie don' let dat outen his min' ontwel he done finish 
de bizness. 

"Seem ter me I year yo' maw callin' me, an' I reckon 
I bes' mosey 'long upstairs ef I 'spec's ter git me any 
quilt-pieces dis day." 



40 



THE TOAD, THE GEASSHOPPER AND THE 

EOOSTER 



Aunt Xancy lived in a little cabin on the edge of the 
woods, not far from the ''big house/' The children 
were not long in finding her whereabouts and in making 
the acquaintance of her granddaughter, Cass}^ an over- 
grown girl of seventeen, who was just beginning to have 
what Aunt Xanc}' called "fool notions'' about dress 
and beaux; and also that of her dog. Bouncer, a lean, 
hungry and disreputable hound by whom she set much 
store on account of his pedigree and "p'ints." Just what 
his valuable points were, no one but Xancy had ever 
been able to discover, though many a neighbor whose 
evening meal had been snatched in a twinkling beneath 
his very eyes could bear witness to points which were 
considered distinctly undesirable. 

The little cabin was scrupulously clean within and 
held many things which the children had never seen 
before — the gay patch-work quilts on the beds, the 
strings of red peppers hanging from the rafters, the 
curious old salt-gourd, polished and dark as mahogany 
from years of service. The path and dooryard were 
swept clean, and at one side was a little garden in 
which flourished homely old-fashioned flowers, mari- 
gold, zinnias, larkspurs, princess' feather, cockscomb 
and hollyhocks, hardy and gay, needing no coaxing to 

41 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

cheer these humble folk with their coarse, bright beauty. 
Next to Bouncer in Aunt Xancy's affections were her 
precious "posies"; Cassy had to content herself with 
third place. The little people fell into the habit of 
paying frequent visits to this cozy spot, always finding 
a warm welcome from Aunt Nancy and often getting 
the treat of a story besides. The first time they visited 
her she celebrated the occasion by relating certain do- 
ings of the toad, the grasshopper and the rooster. 

"I reckon dar wan't no mo' livelier creeturs in de 
oV times/^ she began, "dan w'at dem th'ee wuz. Mis^ 
Hoppah-grass, w'icht some un 'em called her 'Mis^ Pop- 
eyes,' 'long er her bulgy eyes, she wuz a gre't darnser, 
darnse roun' in de grass all day long, an' dar wuz some 
talk er havin' 'er up befo' de meetin' 'longer her triflin' 
ways. Toad-frog he spen' all his time gwine huntin' 
atter bugs an' sech, an' de way he git roun' over de 
groun' wuz a caution ter snakes. He ain' stop ter walk, 
jes' natehully lipt up f \im one place an' went ker-swish ! 
thu de air an' lit on de nex' place. I let you know he 
wuz a soople man in dem days, clat he wuz. He wuz a 
curisome sort er creetur, anyways. Jes' lak de toad-frogs 
dese days, he had two little bags er white juice right back 
uv his eyes, an' ef anything got atter 'im er tried ter 
ketch 'im, he Jes' spurted dat juice right out on 'em an' 
dey wuz glad ter let him 'lone. You kain't 'suade no dog 
ter tackle a toad, he ain' wanter git dat p'ison sprinkelt 
on ^im. Toad-frog he wuz p'tickler 'bout his dress, too ; 
git 'im a new suit er clo'es ev'y now an' den, jes' lak 
de toad-frogs does now. Fus' dey 'mence splittin' up 
de back an' den dey know hits time ter pull off de ol' 
clo'es, w'icht dey skins 'em down over der legs jes' lak 

42 



THE TOAD AND THE EOOSTER 

Mars' ^ed do his li'l trousers, an' cTey pulls an' hauls, 
usin' cler nioufs ter he'j^ pull, an' w'en de ol' clo'es is 
off dey rolls 'em up in a bunnel an' jes' natchully swol- 
lers 'em, dat dey does; I done seed 'em wid my own 
eves. 

"Chicken-roostah he wuz a monst'ous fine puffawmer 
wid his voice ; he ain' do much but practuss hit, an' he 
wuz dat proud he kain't wait fer de daylight, but git 
up early in the mawnin' an' wake tu'rr folks long 'fo' 
day singin' : 

'Cock-a-doodle-deecUe-doo, 

I Jcin sing mo' loud dan you, 

Coclc-a-deedle-doodle-dee, 

Git up an lissen, folks, ter me!* 

"1 ain' hatter tell you dat folks wan't likin' 'im any 
too well, 'kase he alluz 'mence his singin' Jes' 'bout de 
time w'en dey wants ter turn over an' have nu'rr li'l 
snooge. Sidesen dat, dey think he'z a kin' uv a ol' 
hypermocrit, 'kase he sa'nter 'long wid Mis' Hen an' 
de chillens, 'tendin' lak he'z he'pin' scratch fer de livin', 
an' de on'ies thing he do wuz ter light in, w'en Mis' 
Hen gin a cackle ter say she done foun' a bug er a 
wu'm, an' snatch hit way f'um 'er 'fo' she kin say Jack 
Robumsum. 

"After w'iles dey git tu'rr creeturs down on 'em, 
'long er all der singin' an' darnsin' an' no-kyount, shif '- 
less ways, an' w'en dey see dat, dey think mebbe hit 
time ter turn over a new leaf an' whu'l in an' 'arn der 
livin'. So de}^ git toge'rr an' have a confab an' mek 
up der min's dat dey gwine run a farm in cahoots. 

43 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

Roostah he wiiz 'p'intecl ter be de ploAv-han', dat 'kase 
he have sech strong claws jes' fitten fer ter scratch up 
de groun' wid ; Toad-frog he wuz ter be de hoe-han^, 
an' Mis' Hoppah-grass she wuz ter stay home an' do 
de cookin' an' look atter de house. 

"Dey 'vide de 'vidjun er de wu'k dis-a-way fer so 
long time, an' dey git on mighty well an' wuz might'ly 
please', 'kase de new wan't rub off yit, but pres'n'y Mis' 
Hoppah-grass she git kind er tired an' lazy, fer she ain' 
nuver do a lick er work befo' in all her bawn days. 
She drap de skillit an' fall back in a cheer an' putt 
her footses on a stool an' tie her haid up in a hank'cher 
an' say she feelin' so ailified dat she know she in fer 
a spell er sickness, but dey neenter sen' fer de doctor, 
'kase she sho' she gwine die, anyhows, an' she wanter 
teck her own time to hit an' not be hurried inter de 
nex' worl' bv all dat truck he mek folks swoller. She 
mought 'z well die easy, she say. She talk 'bout de 
doctor plumb scannelous, 'kase she ain' want him ter 
come dar an' let out de news dat de on'ies thing w'at 
ail her wuz laziness. 

"Den she dim' up on de baid an' laid dar groanin' 
an' kyar'yin on, an' de men-folks stan' roun' an' look 
at 'er a w'ile, sort er he'pless, an' den dey ses, ^Well, I 
reckon dar ain' nuttin' we-all kin do,' an' dey g'long off 
ter wu'k. Eoostah he wuz plowin' in a fur fiel' an' 
Toad-frog he wuz hoein' near de house, so dey 'gree dat 
he better git dinner. Dat huccome he hatter do de 
hoein' an' de cookin' an' tidy up de house, let 'lone 
waitin' on Mis' Hoppah-grass; she fin' sump'n fer 'im 
ter do ev'y five minnits endurin' er de day. 

"Dey kep' hit up dat-a-way ontwel he wuz wo'n ter 

44 



THE TOAD AXD THE ROOSTER 

a frazzle, an' he say he 'bleeged ter have siTmp'n er 
ru'rr ter churr him wp an' drive de tire away. 'Bout 
dat time he earned 'cross de rim iiv a ol' meal-sifter an' 
dat putt a notion in his min'. He tucken de rim an' 
strotch a piece er sheepskin over hit, an' den he got 
him a piece er fence-rail an' whittle hit down an' fasten 
hit on de rim. Pres'n'v he fin' a ol' cow-hawn an' he 
wu'k dat up inter pegs, an' den he git him some cat- 
gut strings an' strotch 'em 'cross de sifter. Den he screw 
'em up wid de cow-hawn pegs 'twel he git 'em in chune 
an' las' he swipe one han' 'crost de strings, an' suz ! she 
'mence ter talk, an' 'twuz a sho'-'nuff banjer ! one'r dem 
reg'ler ol' plinketty-plunketty nigger banjers whar got 
mo' git-up-an'-git to 'em, w'en it come to de marter er 
foot-shakin', dan any er dese yer shiny, primp-up ban- 
jers whar hangs in de sto' winders an' tries ter git 
folks ter walk in an' buy 'em. Nigger know better'n 
dat! 

"W'en Mistah Toad-frog git de banjer chune up jes' 
'zackly ter suit 'im, he set outside de do' ev'y day w'ile 
de dinner cookin' an' pick dese yer darnsin' chunes 
whar mek even chu'ch members feel lak dey jes' nat- 
chully 'bleeged ter git up an' knock time wid der f ootses. 
One day w'ile he wuz pickin', he think he year a soun' 
er darnsin' on de flo' inside. 'Day er grace !' sezee, ^is 
my years done trick me, er is dat darnsin' ? Kain't be 
Mis' Hoppah-grass, 'kase she too po'ly. Hit 'bleeged 
ter he^ dough, fer she's de on'ies pusson in dar.' He stop 
playin', darnsin' stop; he go on, darnsin' go on. He 
putt his year down an' lissen at de banjer ter see ef 
anything rattle, — banjer she wu'kkin' all right, den he 
hnow 'twuz Mis' Hoppah-grass. He ain' let on, an' he 

45 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 



wait on 'er jes' de same, but w'en Chickin-roostah come 
home, Toad-frog tucken him off a liT wa^^s an' he say, 
']Mistah Eoostah, w'en you comes ter dinner to-morrer, 
don' you git up on de fence an' crow lak you bin doin' 
ter lemme know hit's time ter dish up de vittles ; stidder 
dat, you creep up sofly w'iles I pick, an' peek in thu 
de do'.' 

" ^Well, befo' de king !' sez de Roostah, sezee, Sva't's in 
de win' now, Mistah Toad-frog?' 

" 'Xemmine,' sez de Toad-frog, ^you g'long an' do lak 
I tells you, an' I boun' you see a sight fer sore eyes.' 






.,J 







id 



'So de nex' day w'en Eoostah come home ter dinner, 
stidder crowin' ter say he be dar soon, he crope up ter 
de do' an' peeked in thu de crack w'ile Toad-frog pick 
de banjer 'twel she plumb talk, an' wish't I mought die! 

46 



THE TOAD AXD THE BOOSTER 

ef dar wan't Mis^ Hoppah-grass, darnsin' roim' de room 
jes^ ez well ^ez she uver wuz. She caper aii she twis' ari 
she turn an' she do de back-step an' cut de pigeon-wing 
an' wound up wid de double-shuffle. Las' uv all she 
lipt up an' cracked her heels toge'rr an' spun clean 
roun' in de air befo' she lit on her footses. 

"Eoostah ain' sa}dn' nuttin', he jes' beckon ter Toad- 
frog. He nuver stop pickin', but tiptoed ter de do' an' 
cut one eye thu de crack, an' got dar in time ter see 'er 
do de hi2:h-iump. Dcv wuz dat outdone dev kain't say 
nuttin', jes' hunch one nu'rr wid der elbers. Den Toad- 
frog fell back on de bench an' went on pickin', an' 
Eoostah he go an' git up on de bench an' crow lak he 
alluz do jes' befo' dinner. 

"Wen she year 'im crow, Mis' Hoppah-grass lipt back 
in baid an' drord up de kivers an' done lak she ain' kin 
move ban' er foot. Den Roostah walk in an' come up 
to'des de baid an' he say, sezee, ^Wellum, how you come 
on dis mawnin' ?' 

"She wuz pantin' so f'um de darnsin' dat she sca'cely 
kin git her bref, so she roll her eyes up in her haid an' 
say, ^So po'ly, sca'ce kin talk.' 

" ^Dat 'ar's a burnin' fib !' sezee. ^I boun' you I mek 
you git up f 'um dat an' walk, Mis' Pop-eyes V sezee. 

"She jump outen de baid an' mek fer de do', an' 
Roostah he lit out after her, an' dey sut'n'y had it den, 
fer she wuz a sho'-'nuff jumper an' he wuz one'r dese yer 
shawt-legged mens whar do lak dey gwine fall all over 
deyse'fs w'en dey runs fas'. De}^ went stavin' thu de 
yard an' over de fence an' 'crost a fiel' an' den back 
ergin, an' he nigh mos' chase 'er down de well. Den 
she mek fer de grass an' think she gwine hide 'way 

47 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

f'um him dar, but ho putt on a big bus' er speed an' 
kotched an' et her jes' ez she wiiz slippin' inter de 
grass. 

"I reckon y'all done seed de chickin-roostahs chasin' 
de hoppah-grasses befo' now, an' dish yer I been tellin' 
you is de reason dey does so. Dey ain' fergit her 'ceit- 
fulness, an' seem lak de}^ jes' natchully kain't leave a 
hoppah-grass 'lone w'en dey sees 'er, boun' ter run her 
down er die." 



48 



ME. TEEEAPIX GETS THE NOSE-BLEED 



"Xow, Aunt Xanc}'/' said Janey, when the old woman 
had finished her story about the deceitful grasshopper, 
"we just aren't going until you tell us another story/' 

"Hi yi ! w'at kind er talk is dis I year outen de mouf 
Tiv a li'l white lady !" exclaimed Aunt Xancy, who, while 
secretly flattered at having her little friends linger, was 
such a stickler for politeness that she could not let a 
breach of it pass. Very zealous indeed were the old 
mammies about forming the manners of the children 
under their charge, and very high the standard of po- 
liteness which they felt should belong to the "quality.'' 
So she went on: "Is dat a pooty way ter ax fer nu'rr 
story? Sidesen dat, is I said anything 'bout yo' goin' 
home ? Xaw, suh, an' I oon say nuttin' ef y'all set dar 
'twel de day er judgmen'. I don' treat my comp'ny dat- 
a-way. I hopes I know my manners better'n ter ax my 
comp'ny ter go home, lak a li'l gal ax de Thomp- 
son chillen tu'rr day w'en she git huffed wid 'em." 

Gassy had been watching the pots and pans simmering 
on the hearth in preparation for the modest dinner, 
closely watched in turn by the greedy Bouncer, who lay 
close to the hearth with his nose in his paws, appar- 
ently asleep, but with one eye on the dinner. Every 
time she passed. Gassy administered a little furtive pun- 
ishment, at which Bouncer each time raised up the voice 
of complaint. 

49 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 



<'^ 



Look yer, gal," Aunt Xancy finally inqnired, "w'at 
ails dat dog er mine?'' Cassy answered innocently, 
" 'Deed I dunno, granny, he 'pears ter be mighty oneasy, 
startin' an' yappin' dat-a-way in his sleep." 

"Well, you come outside yer^, wid we-all, an' I boun' 
you my dog git long all right," commanded Aunt 
Xancy. 

"Law, granny," said the girl, "you know mighty well 
dat ef I leave Bouncer in dar wid de dinner he gwine 
git hisse'f outside uv , hit in th'ee shakes uv a sheep's 
tail." 

"Well, den," said the old woman, "jes' you bring de 
dog out yer wid you whar I kin keep my eye on bote un 
you; I ain' gwine have my dog cuffed by no j)usson, 
lessen I sees fit ter do hit myse'f." 

With that, Cassy and the reluctant Bouncer came out 
and joined the little circle about the doorstep. Bouncer 
on the extreme edge, watching his chance to steal into 
the house unperceived. They effected a welcome diver- 
sion, for Janey was feeling rather guilty over her incivil- 
ity to the Thompson children. AYhen Cassy and Bouncer 
had subsided. Aunt Nancy resumed her story telling, 
relating the adventures of Molly Cotton-tail and Mr. 
Terrapin while on a hunting expedition. 

"Hit happen dis-a-way," she began. "One time Mis' 
Molly Cotton-tail an' Mistah Tarr'pin wuz tol'ble 
fren'ly fer a right smart uv a spell, an' w'ile things wuz 
gwine on lak dat. Mis' Molly she met up wid him one 
day an' she say: ^Mistah Tarr'pin, I dunno how 'tis 
wid you, suh, but I is sort er tired er de vittles I bin 
havin', jes' dese yer peas an' cabbage an' gyardin'- 
truck in gin'l, 'long wid a li'l grass. I knows you bin 

50 



MR. TEREAPIX GETS THE NOSE-BLEED 

havin' de same sort er stuff an' seem ter me you looks a 
li'l pincllin'. Ef we eu'd jes' go huntin' an' git ow'se'fs a 
li'l fraish meat, I boun' you we'd pick up an' feel sprucy 
right off.' 

"Tarr'pin ain' bin notussin' dat he felt bad, but w'en 
Miss Molly talk dat-a-way he felt sort er doncey an' 
painyfied dat minnit, an' he say he spec' 'twould do 
him good ter have a li'l meat-vittles, so wid dat dey up 
an' went huntin' toge'rr. Dey go up an' down de woods, 
perusin' roun' fer w'at dey kin fin', an' w'iles dey 
sa'nter 'long Mis' Hyar' she wuz talkin' an' argyfyin' 
wid Tarr'pin 'bout dis an' dat, tryin' her bes' ter ag- 
gervex him, 'kase she wuz chock full er talk an' mighty 
please' w'en she kin fin' an3'body ter 'spute wid her. 
She ain' git much sassif action f'um Mistah Tarr'pin, 
^kase he wan't no gre't shakes at talkin' an' he lak ter 
do ev'ything slow an' easy, 'twuz come-day, go-day wid 
him. 

"Mis' Molly so tucken up wid her own talk dat she 
ain' notuss w'at gwine on, an' dat de reason she ain' 
see Mis' Panter comin'. She bin rampagin' up an' down 
de woods huntin' fer sump'n ter eat, an' 'bout de time 
she git so hungry she sca'cely kin stan' hit, she seed 
'em comin'. '^Hyar' uv my whiskers !' sez she, '^dis whar 
I gwine whu'l in an' git me my dinner. Two Ivin's er 
meat ter onct, lawsy, lawsy, w'at luck I is havin' !' She 
see dey ain' kotch sight uv 'er yit, so she mek has'e ter 
strotch husse'f 'cross de road an' 'tend lak she daid. 

"Molly Cotton-tail so busy talkin' dat she ain' see 
Mis' Panter yit, but w'en dey git ter whar she wuz 
layin' 'cross de road, Mis' Molly say : ^Jumpin' Jehosh- 
aphat ! ef we ain' got de luck dis day, Mistah Tarr'pin, 

51 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

den you kin call me a sinner. Yer meat all raidy ter 
ow' lian's, an' fraish kilt^, too, ef I ain' mek no mistake, 
'kase she wo'm yit/ 

"Den Tarr'pin lie say, sezee: ^I 'spec' you is right, 
Mis' Moll}^ you mos' in gin'ly is. But dish yer w'at 
troublin' me : I kaint see how we gwine tote dis meat 
home, 'kase look lak she monst'ous haivy.' 

"Mis' Hyar' she putt her haid on one side, an' cock 
one year up an' tu'rr down an' look fus' at Panter an' 
den at Tarr'pin, lak she wuz medjin' 'em bofe. Las' 
she 'low, she do, ^Mistah Tarry-long Tarr'pin, you know 
I is a soon ooman an' a willin' ooman, but I ain' got 
much strenk in de back-bone. Now you got de hardes' 
back-bone an' de bigges' back-bone fer yo' size uv any 
man whar I knows, an' 'pears ter me dat ef I kin jes' 
git her laid 'cross you an' git you started, mebbe we 
kin mek out ter tote her home.' 

"Tarr'pin 'gree ter dis, so he run his haid unner Mis' 
Panter an' Mis' Molly gin her a shove, an' dar she wuz. 
Den ol' Tarr'pin move off, an' ef he wuz a slow man 
befo' I dunno w'at you call him now, slower dan 'lasses 
in Jinnawary. Mis' Hyar' mek out dat she wuz shovin' 
behime, but stidder dat she mount up on de kyarkiss 
an' po' ol' Tarr'pin drug her 'long, too. 'Bout dat time 
he say, ^]\Iussy me ! Mis' ^lolly, seem lak dis meat done 
got heap haivier all ter onct !' 

" ^In co'se, Mistah Tarr'pin,' sez de Hyar', sez she, 
^in co'se dat 'bleeofed ter be de wav, fer de kvarkiss 
gittin' mo' colder all de time, an' de daider she is de 
haivier she boun' ter be.' 

" ^I reckon dasso,' sez de Tarr'pin, sezee, an' he 
g'long pantin' an' puffin', ^but I let you know,' sezee, 

52 



MR. TEERAPIX GETS THE XOSE-BLEED 

^dish yer de bigges' contrac^ I is iiver iinnertooken, an' 
hit's de fus' an' de las' er de kin', I let you know datf 

"All de time dcv 'z gwine 'long, Mis' Panter she jes' 
retch down one claw an' scratch, scratch, scratch mighty 
sof'ly on ol' Tarr'pin's neck, so't he sca'cely feel hit, 
an' pres'n'y de blood 'gun ter drip, drip, drip. Atter 
w'ile Tarrpin he seed de blood drippin' an' he 'spose 
'twuz a fit er de nose-bleed, so he call out, ^Hi I Mis' 
Molly, I done tote so hard I'se tucken wid de nose- 
bleed, an' I be 'bleeged ter stop at de branch an' sta'nch 
de bleedin',' sezee. 

" ^All right,' sings out Mis' Hyar', an' she dim' down 
f'um de kyarkiss an' come roun' ter de front an' done 
lak she bin pushin' hard all de way an' wuz plumb wo' 
out. She he'p onload an' den she squat down by Panter 
w'ile Tarr'pin go ter de branch ter wash de blood off. 
or Tarr'pin fin' 'twan't no nose-bleed; stidder dat 
sump'n done cut his neck mos' off. 'Bout dat time, 
w'en he 'z feelin' mighty weak an' skeery. Mis' Panter 
she gin a spring at him an' she think she done got him 
dat time, 'kase he 'z too weak ter git 'way f'um her. 
But sho I ol' man Tarr'pin wan't bawn yist'd'y. He 
jes' gin a roll an' over he went inter de water, an' den 
he wuz safe, fer Mis' Panter wuz lak all de res' er de 
cats, she don' go in de water ef she kin he'p hit, she 
ain' got no use fer gittin' her paws wet. Wen Mis' 
Panter see Tarr'pin wuz clean gone she say ^Well, I get- 
ter have my dinner, come w'at may, go w'at may; so 
I 'spose I hatter putt up wid dat mis'able lean' li'l Mis' 
Molly Hyar', mighty po' pickins s\ie is, I be boun'.' 

"Wen Mis' Hyar' see de kyarkiss git up an' spring 
atter Tarr'pin, she wuz dat s'prise' her eyes fair jump 

53 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

outcn her liaid an' growcd big an' roiin' ez saucers^ an' 
slie jcs' squat dar on de bank mo'n half palyze ontwel 
she seed Mis' Panter done tnrnt her 'tention on her. 
'Um-iunph ! gimme leg-bail outen dis !' sez she ter hus- 
se'f, an' she mek tracks fer a ol' holler tree nigh de 
bank. She wuz a mighty spry ooman, but dis wuz one 
time w'en hit come nigh bein' good-by-Mis'-Molly-Cot- 
ton-tail, 'kase Mis' Panter wuz so clost onter her dat w'en 
she run inter de tree she nab her by de tail an' bit hit 
plumb off. An' dat huccome you see all her fambly 
gwine roun' uver sence den wid sech a mis'able lil 
tuff er white hva'r in de place uv a tail. I reckon you 
done year folks call 'em cotton-tails 'fo' now, but I don' 
'spose you is uyer year de ol' song whar run on *bout 
de creeturs' tails, sump'n lak dis: 

Raccoons tail got rings all roun, 

'Possum's tail go hare, 
or Hijar' got no tail at all. 

Nut tin' hut a huncli er Jiya'r. 

^^Xex' time y'all meet up wid a oV Tarr'pin, ef you 
tek de trouble ter look you kin see dat he's made in a 
mighty curisome way 'bout de neck, an' dis tale I jes' 
tol' you 'splains de wharf o'. Dat lil ridge all roun' 
is whar de blood git crusted atter Mis' Panter saw 
mos' thu. IJyer sence den his haid look lak hit jes' 
kind er scrunched down in his neck an' mought drap 
off ef you shuk him right hard." 

"An' didn't Mis' Panter ever get any good dinner?" 
asked little Kit, evidently sorry for the hungry ^ladam 
Panther. 

54 



MR. TEREAPIX GETS THE XOSE-BLEED 



<i^ 



^Xow lissen at de baby !" cried Aunt Xancy. ^^Bless 
yo^ soul, honey, I reckon you kin let Mis' Panter alone 
fer fillin' husse'f up, sooner er later. She wuz dat kin' 
uv a creetur; she ain' gwine stop 'twel she do fin' 
sump'n nu'rr. But dis wuz de time wen she ain' git 
Mistah Tarr'pin ner Mis' Hyar' neener, 'scusen de een' 
uv her tail." 

Just then there was a thud inside the cabin, which 
Aunt Xancy and Cassy both seemed to associate with the 
absence of Bouncer, who had taken advantage of the 
absorbing climax of the story to steal in unperceived. 
They hastened in, only to see Bouncer hurriedly disap- 
pear through the back door with a ham-bone in his 
mouth. Aunt Xancy was full of wrath, but it was all 
directed toward Cassy instead of the dog. "Look-a-yer, 
gal," said she, "ain' I tol' you 'fo' now 'bout houn' 
dogs ? You know how dey is ; dey kaint he'p de way 
dey's made. You orter be 'shame er yo'se'f ter temp' 
de po' dog dat-a-way wid de dinner. Anybody whar 
leave good vittles settin' on de ha'th orter know w'at 
she gotter 'spec'. I give you good warnin', gal, after 
dis you gotter keep de dinner outen de reach er dat dog, 
er I gwine know de reason w'y." 



55 



HOW THE TOSSUM'S TAIL BECAME BARE 

The children, in roaming through the woods one day, 
came in siglit of the little clearing where Annt 'Phrony's 
cabin stood, so hidden in the midst of tall pines that 
its existence was unsuspected nntil you were fairly 
on it. The old woman was in her tobacco-patch, stoop- 
ing down and looking the plants over carefully, leaf by 
leaf, in search of insects. 

The children ran toward her as fast as their little 
legs could carry them, crying : "Oh ! there's Aunt 
'Phrony ! there's Aunt 'Phronv ! Please, Aunt 'Phrony, 
stop and tell us a story." 

She went on with her work, looking up at the children 
sidewise, now and then, and muttering as if half to her- 
self : "Dunno no mo' tales, dese chillen done drug 'em 
all outen me long befo' now. Sidesen dat, s'pose I 
stops my wu'k, who gwine git dis 'baccy? W'y, de 
bugs an' de wu'ms, dat who. An' w'en de winter done 
come an' I wanster set 'long side de fire wid my pipe, 
whar I gwine git me any 'baccy? Kin y'all tell me 
dat ?" 

"Buy it," suggested Janey; "there's lots and lots of 
stores in town where they don't sell anything else." 

Aunt 'Phrony raised her hands and rolled her eyes. 
"Fer de Ian' sake !" said she, "does v'all think I made 
er money? Ain' I knowin' dat dar's plenty sto's an' 

56 



HOW THE TOSSUM'S TAIL BECAME BARE 

plenty 'baccy, but cle money ain' so plent}^, I kin tell 
yon. AVhar you reckon I git de money?'' 

'"Out of my bank," piped up little Kit, nodding 
his head so fast that the yellow curls bobbed and danced 
on his shoulders, "out of my 'ittle bank. I'se dot Tev- 
enty-five coppers in it, an' I'll div 'em all to Aunt 
'Phrony when the naughty bugs and worms eat up her 
'baccy/ 'Es I will!" 

The old woman's heart was softened by the generosity 
of the little boy, so she stopped work and gave him a 
hug, saying : "Bless de baby ! now jes' fer dat I gwine 
gin him a story all fer hisse'f, dat I is. Ef you 'haves 
3^o'se'fs, de res' er you kin lissen, too, I reckon, but I 
wants y'all ter know dat dis tale b'longs ter de li'l boy 
whar settin' right yer by me. 

"I nigh mos' think I gwine tell 'bout ol' 'Possum 
an' his doin's, 'kase he's de man whar seem ter riz up in 
front er my min' dis day. Ef y'all ain' seed him, 
y'ain' knowin' dat he got a tail mos' ez long ez w'at 
he is, an' dat bare dat Mistah Rat hatter git up early 
in de mawnin' ter show de ekal uv hit. But in de day 
an' time whar I tells you 'bout, hit wan't dat-a-way. 
His tail wuz jes' ez big an' bushy an' harnsum ez de 
one ol' Mistah Slickry Sly-fox have sech a time hidin' 
Vay f'um de houn's an' de hunters. An' ef he wan't 
proud er dat tail, den I dunno proud w'en I see hit. 
Nair' fine day dat ol' Mistah Poky 'Possum ain' go 
perawderin' thu de woods wid dat tail hilt high up in 
de air fer tu'rr creeturs ter look at an' mek 'miration 
over. He g'long switchin' hisse'f sump'n lak Miss Janey 
do w'en she git on dat new raid dress. De creeturs 
dey stood hit fer so long time, an' den dey call a meetin' 

57 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

ter talk de bizness over an' see w'at dev gwine do ^Dout 
hit. ^kase dey wiiz all er one min', dat snmp'n 'hleeged 
ter be done. 

'^^Mistali Creechy Cricket he wnz dar, tr^dn' ter keep 
a still tongue in his haid long 'nnff ter year w'at tn'rr 
folks wuz savin', but 'twuz mio^htv hard wu*k, 'kase he 
wuz one'r dese yer talky-talky mens whar wanster keep 
der chins goin' all de time. He nuver let his oF ooman 
slip in a wu'd f'um one 'ear's een' ter tu'rr; you ain' 
nuver 3'ear a chirp yit outen Mis' Cricket. Ev'y now 
an' den endurin' er de meetin' he let out a chirp, an' 
dar whar he putt his foot in hit, fer w'en tu'rr creeturs 
yearn him, dat gin ^em a notion, an' dey ses ter one 
nu'rr, *Hi ! he de one ter git atter ol' 'Possum an' gin 
'im a sho'-'nuff tongue-lashin' an' tell 'im jes^ prezackly 
w'at we-all thinks uv 'im.' 

"So dey name hit ter Cricket, but he shake his haid 
an' say, ^Huh-uh, gemmen, I lak mighty well ter 'com- 
modate vou 'bout dis, but me an' Mistah 'Possum done 
fall out some sev'l 'ears back, an' sence den I ain' bin 
speakin' wid 'im — w'en I kin he'p hit.' Eight dar tu'rr 
creeturs nudge one nu'rr an' wij^e off a grin on der 
coat-sleeves, fer dey knowed Cricket jes' 'bleeged ter 
let out a chirp now an' den, 'kase he got one'r dese yer 
tongues whar hung in de middle an' wags at bofe een's. 

" ^Sho ! sho !' dey ses, '^Mistah Creechy, is you sho'- 
'nuff mad wid 'im ?' He say, he do, 'Dat I is ! an' you 
say good reason w'y w'en I tells you 'bout hit. I wuz 
hoppin' 'long one day, quiet an' peace'ble, not sayin' 
nuttin' ter no pusson, w'en I seed 'im come prancin' 
down de road, wavin' his tail an' actin' misfhtv airish. 
Dat sight kind er rile me, an' mebbe I sniffed an' let 

58 



HOW THE TOSSUM^S TAIL BECAME BARE 

out a chirp er two an' ses ^^um-iimph !" I ain' so 
slio' 'bout dat. But howsomuver dat mouglit be, he 
stoj) me an' ses, "Mistah Creechy Cricket, I done bin 
wantin' a talk wid you dis long time. I gotter tell you, 
fer de good er de hull passel er creeturs, dat yo' voice 
ain' true, you is mo' times offen de key dan on hit, an' me 
an' all de res' be might'ly 'bleeged ef you goes off som'ers 
by yo'se'f ter do dat uverlas'in' practussin' whar keeps 
folks f'um gittin' dey natchel slumbers. I ain' git a 
wink er sleep dese fo' nights han' runnin'." I ses ter 
you, gemmen, clat I wuz plumb riled by dat, 'kase not 
long befo' I spen' de night practussin' my voice nigh 
de holler tree whar ol' man 'Possum sleep, an' I 'clar' 
ter you, I done year him snore f'um de dark ontwel de 
daylight, an' w'at's mo' he snore so loud dat I kain't 
year my own voice an' ain' knowin' whe'rr I sing OV 
Hunderd er S'arcliin Praises, let 'lone keepin' on 
de key. I ujd an' tol' him 'bout de snorin', but he ain' 
b'lieve me an' jes' laugh in my face an' walk off, fer 
I tell y'all hit heap mo' easier ter mek a man think 
black is white dan ter mek him b'lieve he uver snored 
a snore ; he alluz gwine putt de blame on some urr 
pusson.' 

"Cricket git so mad 'bout den dat he kain't say nuttin' 
fer a minnit, an' de creeturs crowd roun' him an' aig 
him on. 'Well, Mistah Cricket,' dey ses, 'he sho' did 
gin you imp'ence ! Dat 'nuff ter aggervex you ! Now de 
time fer you ter git even wid de sassy trash, an' we-all 
gwine back you up.' • 

"Dey git him so wu'k up dat las' he say he do de 
job, but he oon tell 'em how, 'ceptin' dat he ain' gwine 
have no wu'ds wid 'im. Den he hurry way f'um de 

59 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

meetin', 'kase he know cf he stay long 'nnff he 'bleeged 
ter tell someb'dv w'at he gwine do. 

"Dat night he crope np ter de holler tree whar 'Pos- 
sum wuz sleepin' an' went ter wii'k on dat tail er his'n. 
He tucken one hya'r at a time an' gnor hit mos' thu, an' 
dey wuz so many in de tail dat 'twuz a all-night job, 
an' ef he ain' bin sech a soon man he oon git thu den. 
He talk 'way ter hisse'f all de time. 'Possum sho' would 
'a yearn him.;, ^ceptin' dat he snore all night widout 
even stoppin' ter turn over. Yit w'en ol' man Coon 
call nex' mawnin' ter ax him howdv, he sav he feelin' 
mighty po'ly an' ain' sleep nair' a wink endurin' er de 
night. I done bin year humans talk lak dat befo' now, 
an^ dey's mio^htv tetchv ef vou tells 'em dev slep' mo'n 
dey think fer. Dat's one'r de times an' 'casions w'en 
you kin fool yo'se'f mo' easier dan not, 'kase co'se w'en 
3^ouse 'sleep you dunno nuttin' 't all 'bout hit. 

"W'en de sun git good an' up, Mistah 'Possum go out, 
same'z he bin doin', fer ter show hisse'f off befo' de face 
an' eyes er de creeturs. He wus prancin' 'long, mon- 
st'ous biggitty, wid his tail hilt high in de air, w'en he 
git ter a damp, swampish place whar kind er gin him de 
sniffles. He fetch a big sneege whar shuk him up all 
over, an' I 'clar' ter you dat w'en he git thu ev'y single 
hya'r done drap offen his tail an' lef hit bare an' smoove 
ez de p'am er yo' li'l han'. 

"He ain' knowin' nuttin' 't all 'bout dat, dough, an' 
g'long airish ez uver twel he come ter whar Mistah 
Cricket an' a passel er de creeturs wuz layin' low fer him 
ter pass, 'kase Cricket done tol' 'em 'bcut w'at he done, 
an' dey knowed de hya'rs wan't gwine stick on dar 
long. 

60 




DEY SEED 'possum SWITCHIX' DOWN DE ROAD 



HOW THE TOSSUM'S TAIL BECAME BARE 

^"^When dey seed 'Possum switchin' down de road, 
showin' off dat oV bare tail lak 'twuz gre't shakes, anMie 
not knowin' any diff'ns, dey bus' out laugh in' so hard 
dat some un 'em 'bleeged ter lean up 'gin de trees, an' 
some un 'em git so sore dey hatter hoi' on ter der sides 
ter ketch bref. Cricket so pleas' dat he kain't hoi' his 
tongue, an' he chirp up loud 'z he kin, 

'/ do7ie done hit, I done done hit, 
Nair a hya'r is lef upun hitf 

" 'Possum ain' knowin' w'at Cricket mean by dat, but 
tu'rr creeturs shet him up, an' den dey smoove down der 
grins an' w^ait for de ol' feller ter come up, jes' kind er 
snortin' an' snickerin' a li'l behime one han' ez dey say, 
^Heyo, Mistah Poky 'Possum, whar dat tail er yo'n? 
Wat dat 'ar you drag behime ? 'Clar' ef dat don' beat 
my time ! You sho' is lef yo' tail at home, you sho' is ! 
Yo' tail nuver look dat-a-way; mus' b'long ter Mistah 
Eat ! Lan' er gracious ! 'Possum done bin ter de bar- 
ber an' got him a clean shave dis time !' 

"Las' 'Possum look behime, an' gre't-day-in-de- 
mawnin' ! ef t'wan't nuttin' dar but jes' de ghos' uv his 
ol' tail. He felt so 'shame' uv hit an' uv de way he bin 
showin' off dat he drap down right den an' dar an' let 
on lak he wuz daid. An' sence dat time, w'ensomuver he 
see folks comin' he git ter thinkin' 'bout dat bare tail 
an' 'memb'in' how fine hit useter be an' how biggitty 
he useter ac' 'bout hit, an' he feel so mossified over hit 
all dat he alluz drap down an' roll over an' 'tend dat 
de bref er life done gone outen him. Heap er times he 
fool folks whar ain' knowin' him. 

61 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 



<i-\ 



^Disli yer tale 'splains how 'tis 'Possum come ter 
change his ways, an' stidcler sleepin' in de night-time he 
sleep all day an' walk all night so's't his bare tail kain't 
be seed. Folks whar hunt him gotter go by night an' 
kyar' torches wid 'em so's't dey kin th'ow a light on him 
and let him know dey sees dat ol' bare tail. 

"Wen de creeturs seed him layin' dar lookin' lak he 
sho'-'nnff daid, dey felt kind er saw'y fer him, an' dey 
go roiin' sayin' ter one nu'rr dat de}^ reckon he wan't 
sech a monst'ous fool atter all. But Cricket he mighty 
sharp an' up-ter-snuff, an' he kind er have his 'spicions 
er 'Possum, so he stay hidin' roun' w'en de res' go 'way, 
an' bimeby he see 'im git up an teck nu'rr look at de tail 
an' go slinkin' off in de bresh. Den Cricket jump up 
on a high bush an' sing at de top er his voice : 

'I done done liit, I done done liit, 
Nair a liycir is lef upun hit/ 



cc 



^An' he so might'ly please' wid w'at he done dat he bin 
keepin' up dat song uver sence, an' you kin year him 
at hit all night long, lessen you sleep ez soun' an' snore 
ez loud ez w'at ol' man 'Possum useter." 



62 



WHY THE TOSSUM HAS BLACK EAES 

The children were becoming proficient in the art of 
obtaining stories, and Janey in particular had early dis- 
covered that a successful method of getting another was 
to ask questions about the last one, so she made haste to 
say : 

"Aunt ^Phron}', after the 'Possum's tail became bare 
were the animals friendly with him, and did they like 
him any better ?" 

"Law bless you, honey," she said, "he wuz a chana^e' 
man, he wuz dat. He ain' have nuttin' lef ter give 
hisse'f de hio^hfalutins 'bout, an' he mio:htv 'shame' uv 
his foolishness, so he go roun' grinnin' at ev'y pusson 
he meet an' tryin' to curry favor wid ev'yb'dy, an' he 
bin doin' dat uver sence. I boun' you he'd grin at you- 
all ef he met up wid you. Tu'rr creeturs git so dey 
kind er lak him, an' dey ses ter one nu'rr dat he sut'n'y 
look ter be a pleasan' sort er pusson. Sidesen dat, he 
ain' have nuttin' lef fer 'em ter be enviable 'bout, an' 
hit heap mo' easier ter lak folks whar ain' got nuttin' 
you wants an' ain' seem ter be no mo' empawtant dan 
w'at vou is. 

"So dey treat 'Possum kind er decent, an' las' him an' 
^listah Tarry-long Tarr'pin git ter be mighty thick. 
Hit wuz 'long to'des de fall er de 'ear, jes' after fros', 
w'en de 'simmons is ripe, an' ol' man 'Possum wuz 
lookin' right plump an' fat, 'kase he bin gawjin' hisse'f 

63 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

wid 'simmons. 'Possums is pow'ful fond iiv 'em, an' dat 
de reason, I reckon, dat some folks calls 'em ^ 'possum- 
apples' 'stidder 'simmons. But whatsumuver name you 
calls 'em bv, I knows dcA^ meks misrhtv sfood 'simmou 
beer." Here she began humming as if to herself, 

"Sezee ter liissef, '^Yid right good l-yare 
Til meh two gallo7is er 'simmon heer/ " 

Ned, who was very fond of music, begged Aunt 
'Phrony to give them the whole song, which she finally 
did, protesting, however, that " 'twan't nuttin' but one'r 
dese yer ol'-time nonsense songs, nohow," and that it 
had nothing to do with the 'Possum, but was all about 
a lazy person whose habits cost him his lady-love. It 
w^as called 



THE YOUNG MAN WHO WOULDN'T MAKE CORN 



Gwine sing a li'l song, an Hain vey long. 
All ^hout a young man dat oon meJc cawn; 
De reason w'y I nuver cud tell, 
^Kase dis young man ivuz alluz ivell. 

He go ter his farm an lie peep in. 
Grass an de hog-weeds up ter his chin. 
Grass an' de hog-weeds growed so high 
Dey meh dis young man fer ter sigh. 

Goes ter his neares' nal)er's house. 
Goes a-co'tin', ez ive-all s'pose; 
De gal wuz a peart un, sho'z yo' hairn, 
Sez she, 'Young man, has you hoed yo' cawnf 

64 



WHY THE 'POSSUM HAS BLACK EARS 

'Oh, no, no, no,' wuz his reply, 
'I think hit's time I laid hit hy,' 
But hefo' he plant, hit wuz July, 
An' in Septemher he laid hit hy. 

In October dar come a ichite fros'. 
An' de seed uv caivti dis young man los'; 
Sez de gal, Tse single, an so icill remain, 
Fer a lazy man I icon't maintain.' 

One fruit tree on his farm dar grew. 
An ev'y 'ear bore some good fruit, too; 
Sezee ter hisse'f, 'Wid right good kyare 
I'll mek two gallons er 'simmon beer.' 




AT THE BIG HOUSE 

"But nemmine de beer, lemme git back ter de tale. 
W^en Tarr'piii see how fat ^Possum look, he say, ^See 
yer, Brer Poky 'Possum, seem ter me you lookin' right 
plump an' peart dese days, an' yer me, so po' dat you 
kin see ev'y bone in my body; jes' feel me if y'ain' 
b'lieve me. I is a plumb skillitin. I wish you tell me, 
suh, w'at you bin doin' ter fat up dat-a-way.' 

"Den 'Possum grin' an' he say, sezee, ^Dat my sekert, 
but you is my' f ren' an' I don' min' tellin' you. Well, 
suh, I gits dis-a-way in de fall 'long er de 'simmons. 
'Simmons is ripe den, an' dar ain' nuttin' ekal to 'em 
fer puttin' de kiverin' on a man's bones. I sut'n'y is 
saw'y ter see you look so swivel up an' pindlin', an' ef 
you kin keep a still tongue in yo' haid, I tek you out 
one'r dese nights an' git you a mess er 'simmons. 'T won't 
do ter let tu'rr creeturs know, 'kase dey oon be 'nuff ter 
go roun'; mebbe you has notuss dat dar ain' no mo' 
sca'cer tree dan de 'simmon tree.' 

"Tarr'pin say: 'I sut'n'y is s'prise. I bin thinkin' 
'simmons wan't wuff shucks fer eatin', 'kase onct I 
tucken one in my mouf, an' suz ! she drord so dat my 
mouf swunk up 'twel I wuz 'feard I wan't nuver gwine 
be able ter tek in a good moufful er vittles ag'in.' 

"'Possum laugh fit ter kill at de idee er Mistah 
Tarr'pin eatin' green 'simmons. Sezee : ' 'Tain' ev'y pus- 
son got de sense ter tek things at de right time; seem 
lak mos' un 'em mus' grab right in, an' dar whar dey 
come out missin'. I reckon dat how 'simmons come ter 
have sech a bad name wid mos' folks. But de fros' done 
bin yer now. Brer Tarry-long, an' 'simmons is prime, 
an' ef you won't tell, I tek you 'long wid me dig ve'y 
night.' 

66 



WHY THE TOSSmi HAS BLACK EAES 

"OF Tarr'pin he say, 'I cross my heart, siih, dat I 
won't tell, Meed an' Meed, an' double 'deed.' So dat 
night 'Possum tueken him thu de woods ter a tall tree 
whar wuz jes' ez full er 'simmons ez she kin stick. 
*Xow, den, Mistah Tarr'pin,' sezee, '^you gvrine stay do^^^l 
yer on de groun' an' I gwine climb de tree an' shake 
fer you.' He went a-kitin' up de tree, swingin' f um one 
limb ter tu'rr by dat long tail er his'n, whar he cu'd 
wrop roun' things heap easier sence de hya's all fell 
off, 'twel he fair' mek ol' Tarr'pin's haid swim. He 
shake an' he shake an' he shake, an' de 'simmons fall an' 
dey fall an' dey fall, an' all de time he shuk he wuz 
singin' : 

*" 'Possum's up de 'simmon tree. 

Go 'long, Josey ; 
Oil, please, Mistah 'Possum, ter shaJce fer me. 

Go 'long, Josey, go 'lotig. 

De tree mighty tall, an' de limb mighty hare. 

Go 'long, Josey; 
Teh hyare, Mistah 'Possum, tek kyare, tele hyare. 

Go 'long, Josey, go 'long. 

I houn you, oV 'Possum gwine tek good hyare. 

Go 'long, Josey; 
Dough de tree mighty tall, an de limb mighty bare. 

Go 'long, Josey, go 'long. 

He wrop his tail all roun de limb. 

Go 'long, Josey; 
You hin shall e de 'simmons, but you hain't shahe him. 

Go 'long, Josey, go 'long.' 
67 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 



ic i^ 



'Possum wu*k on so busy dat he done fergit ev'y- 
thing else, an' pres'n'}' he git ter shakin' harder an' 
harder an' singin' louder an' louder. 'Bout den Mistah 
Wolf come lopin' 'long thu de woods an' yeard him. 
^Now, w'at kind er outlan'ish gwines on is dis, in de 
daid er night?' sezee ter hisse'f ; '^I'se 'bleeged ter turn 
outen my way an' see 'bout dis.' 

"Wen he git ter de tree he see po' ol' Tarr'pin stuffin' 
hisse'f, an' he say, sezee, ^Mistah Tarr'pin, w'at sort er 
lay-out is you got dar ?' Tarr'pin say, he do, ^Oh, dish 
yer jes' a li'l medincin I'se tekin' 'kase I'se kind er run 
down an' po'ly.' 

"Wolf he 'low hit look ter him ez ef some er dat 
medincin 'ud 'gree wid him might'ly. Sezee, "^I think 
hit nigh 'bout jes' suit my case,' an' wid dat he wade 
plumb inter de 'simmons an' et 'em up so fas' dar wan't 
none lef fer Mistah Tarr'pin, 'kase lie nuver hurry 
'bout anything, not even de puttin' 'way uv his vittles. 

" 'Possum up in de tree seed w'at gwine on below, an' 
sezee ter hisse'f, ^Now dis de time an' 'casion w'en I 
gwine fix Mistah Wolf so's't he kain't gobble up urr 
folkses 'simmons fer one w'ile, mis'able ol' big mouf !' 

"He tuck an' tuck a rock he kyar'd wid him, an' he 
wrop his tail good an' tight 'roun' a limb, an' he lean 
outen de tree so'ster tek good aim, an' he drap hit so 
close ter ol' Wolf dat li'l mo' she'd 'a hit him on de nose. 
Wolf year her fall ker-chug ! an' she thump so haivy he 
think hit mus' be mighty big 'simmon, an' he 'low ter 

r 

hisse'f dat he gotter have dat un ter fill up de las' 
chink uv his stummick. He 'z dat greedy he ain' stop 
ter bite ner tas'e ner chew; he jes' swoller her hull, 
an' stidder gwine down, dar she stuck ; he kain't gulp her 

68 



WHY THE 'POSSUM HAS BLACK EAES 

down ner cough her up ; clar she wuz an' dar she stay. 
He roll, he waller, he kick, lie cough, he try ter call fer 
he'p, but 'tain' no use, an' I let you know 'twan't long 
'fo' he stop kickin' an' strotch hisse'f out an' jes' 
natchelly die fer de want er href. 

"Den 'Possum he skunt down do tree in a hurry an' 
'zamine' de kvarkiss ter see ef he'z sho'-*nuff daid. 
^Um-umph I' sezee, *^look lak dat medincin ain' 'gree wid 
Mistah Wolf well 'z he think fer. Dat 'z a monst'ous 
big pill he try ter swoller, but w'en folks come 'long yer 
an' fin' him dey kain't blame us, fer dey'll see de 'sim- 
mons stickin' ter his mouf, an' den dev'll know he wuz 
dat big a fool he ain' kin tell de diff'ns 'twix' 'simmons 
an' flint rocks. Le's we hurry up an' git outen dis, but 
'fo' I goes I gwine cut off his years an' tek 'em home ter 
my fambly, 'kase dey ain' gwine b'lieve hit lessen dey 
sees hit.' 

"De fambly wuz might'ly sot up over de killin' er 
Mistah Wolf, an' 'Possum tuck ter wearin' de years 
stuck on over his own. Dat huccome de wolfs ter 
'spicion who kilt der daddy, an' dar come mighty nigh 
bein' trouble. 

"I done fergit ter tol' you dat Wolf had black 
years, an' dat w'y de Injun folks, uver sence 'Possum 
bin wearin' dem borryed years, calls him ^de animuel 
wid de black years.' My daddy he wuz a Injun, an' he 
done tol' me de tale an' de name er de 'possum in Churry- 
hee, but hit soun' so curisome I done fergit hit. An' 
now vou-all bes' run 'long home, mos' time fer vo' din- 
ner, an' lemme look after de bugs on dish yer 'baccy- 
patch er mine. 



69 



>? 



HOW MR. TEREAPIX LOST HIS BEARD 



The "cook-house'' stood at some little distance from 
the "big house/' and every evening after supper it was 
full of light and noise and laughter. The light came 
from the fire on the huge hearth, above which hung the 
crane and the great iron pots which Eliza, the cook, 
declared were indispensable in the practice of her art. 
To be sure, there was a cook-stove, but 'Liza was wedded 
to old ways and maintained there was nothing "stove 
cooked" that could hope to rival the rich and nutty 
flavor of ash cake, or greens %'iled slow an' long over 
de ha'th, wid a piece er bacon in de pot." 

The noise and laughter came from a circle of dusky 
and admiring friends, for Aimt 'Liza was a great favorite 
with everybody on the plantation, and though hunch- 
backed and homely, had, nevertheless, had her pick, as 
she was fond of boasting, of the likeliest looking men on 
the place; and though she had been twice wedded and 
twice widowed, aspirants were not wanting for the posi- 
tion now vacant for a third time. Indeed, not long be- 
fore, a member of the family, on going to the cook-house 
to see why dinner was so late, had discovered one Sam, 
the burly young ox-cart driver, on his knees, pleading 
very earnestly wdth the elderly and humpbacked little 
cook, while dinner simmered on and on, unnoticed and 



70 



HOW ME. TEEEAPI^^ LOST HIS' BEAED 

forgotten. AVlien remonstrated with she said that she 
was " 'bleeged ter have co'tin' times ez well ez de 
res' er folks/' and intimated that in affairs of the heart 
these things were apt to happen at any time or place, 
and that if a gentleman chose an inopportune moment 
" 'twan't her fault/'' and no one could, with any show of 
reason, expect her not to pay attention to him. She 
ruled everybody, her white folks included, though just 
how she did it no one could sav, unless she was one of 
those commanding spirits and born leaders who some- 
times appear even in the humblest walks of life. It is 
possible that her uncommonly strong will compelled the 
affections of her male admirers, but it is also possible 
that she condescended to flatter, and it is certain that she 
fed them well. 

One night, between supper and bedtime, the children 
heard the sound of a banjo proceeding from the cook- 
house. Thev had never ventured into Aunt 'Liza's do- 
main before, but the plinketty-plunk of the banjo, the 
sound of patting and the thud of feet keeping time to 
the music drew them irresistibly. Aunt N^ancy was there, 
in the circle about the embers, as was also her old-time 
foe. Aunt 'Phrony, and the banjo was in the hands of 
Tim, a plow-boy, celebrated as being the best picker 
for miles around. Lastly, there were Aunt 'Liza and her 
latest concjuest, Sam, whose hopes she could not have en- 
tirely quenched or he would not have beamed so com- 
placently on the assembled company. 

There was a hush as the three little heads appeared in 
the doorway, but the children begged them to go on, 
and so Tim picked away for dear life and Sam did a 



71 



AT THE Bia HOUSE 

wonderful doublo-sliuflle with the pigeon-wing thrown 
in. Then Tim sang a phmtation song about *^'Cindy 
Ami^^ that ran something lilv:e this : 

Fse gwine doivn ter Richmond, 
ril tell you w'at hit's for: 
Fse gwine doivn ter Richmond 
Fer ter try an' end dis war. 

Refrain: An -a you good-by, Cindy, Cindy, 
Good-by, Cindy Ann; 
An -a you good-by, Cindy, Cindy, 
Fse givine ter Rappahan. 

I con ma'y a po' gal, 
Fll tell de reason w'y: 
Her nech so long an sl'iimy 
Fse 'feard she nuver die. 



Refrain. 



I oon ma'y a rich gal, 
Fll tell de reason w'y: 
Behase she dip so much snuff 
Her motif is nuver dry. 

Refrain. 

I ru'rr ma'y a young gal, 
A apple in her han', 
Dan ter ma'y a widdy 
Wid a house an a lot er lan\ 

Refrain. 
72 



HOW MR. TEREAPIX LOST HIS BEARD 

At the reference to a "widch"*' he winked at the 
others and looked sio:nificantlY at Sam and Aunt 'Liza. 
Then he declared it was the turn of the ladies to amuse 
the gentlemen. Aunt Xancv and Aunt 'Phronv cried, 
"Hysh ! Go 'way, man ! Wat ken we-all do ? Done got 
too ol' f er foolishness ; leave dat ter de gals \" But 
^Liza was not inclined to leave the entertainment of 
gentlemen to "gals," whom she declared to ])e, for the 
most part, ''wuf'less trunnel-baid trash." 

"Come, come, Sis' 'Phronv, an' you, too, Sis' Xancy," 
said she, "you knows dar ain' nn'rr pusson on de place 
kin beat you bofe in der marter uv tellin' tales. I ain' 
nuver have de knack myse"f, but I knows a good tale 
w'en I years hit, an' I bin gittin' myse'f fixed fer one 
uver sence you comed in." 

The children added their petitions, seconded by Tim 
and Sam. Aunt Xancy looked as if she were feeling 
around in the dusk of half-forgotten things for a dimly 
remembered story, joerceiving which the nimbler-witted 
Aunt 'Phronv made haste to sav that she believed she 
knew a story which might please the company if they 
were not too hard to suit. They politely protested that 
such was far from being the case, whereupon she began 
the story of how the Terrapin lost his beard. 

"L"m-umph !" snorted Aunt Xancy, "who uver year 
tell uv a tarr'pin wid a by'ud I" 

"Look-a-ver, ooman," said 'Phronv, "who tellin' dis, 
me er you? You s'pose I'se talkin' 'bout de li"l ol' no- 
kvount tarr'pins dev has dese davs ? Xaw, suh ! I'se 
tellin' 'bout de ol' time Tarr'pin whar wuz a gre't chieft 
an' a big fighter, an' w'ensomuver tu'rr creeturs come 
roun' an' try ter pay him back, he jes' drord his haid in 



^3 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

his shell an' dar lie wiiz. Dish yer ain' no ol' nigger 
tale, neener, dish yer a Injun tale whar my daddy done 
tor me w'en I wan't no bigger'n Miss Janey. He say dat 
sidesen de by'ud, Tarr'pin had big wattles hangin' down 
beneaf his chin, jes' lak de tukkey-gobblers has dese 
days. Him an' Mistah Wi'yiim Wir-tiikkey wuz 
mighty good fronts dem times, an' Tnkkey he thought 
Tarr'pin wuz a monst'ous good-lookin' man. He useter 
mek gre't 'miration an' say, ^Mistah Tarry-long Tarr'pin, 
you sut'n'v is a harnsum man. Dar ain' nu'rr creetur 
in dese parts got such a by'ud an' wattles ez w'at you 



is.' 



"^ 



^Den Tarr'pin he'd stroke down de by'ud an' swell 
out de wattles an' say, ^Sho ! sho ! Mistah Tukkey, you 
done praise dese yer heap mo'n w'at dey is wuf,' but all 
de same he wuz might'ly please', fer dar's nuttin' lak a 
li'l bit er flatt'ry fer ilin' up de j'ints an' mekin' folks 
limbersome in der feelin's. 

"Tukkey git ter thinkin' so much 'bout de by'ud an' 
de wattles dat seem ter him ez ef he kain't git long 
nohows lessen he have some fer hisse'f, 'kase in dem days 
de gobblers ain' have none. He study an' he study, but 
he kain't see whar he kin git 'em, an' de mo' he study de 
mo' he hone alter 'em. Las' he git so sharp set atter 'em 
dat he ain' kyare how he git 'em, jes' so he git 'em, an' 
den he mek up his min' he gwine tek 'em 'way f'um 
Tarr'pin. So one day w'en he met up wid him in de road 
he stop him an' bob his haid an' mek his manners mighty 
p'litely, an' he say, sezee, ^Mawnin', Mistah Tarry-long, 
mawnin'. How you come on dis day? I ain' hatter ax 
you, dough, 'kase you done look so sprucy wid yo' by'ud 
all comb' out an' yo' wattles puff' up. I wish, suh, you 

74 



HOW MR. TERRAPIN LOST HIS BEARD 

lemme putt ^em on fer a minnit, so's't I kin see ef I 
becomes ^em ez good ez w'at you does/ 

"Or man Tarr'pin mighty easy-goin' an' 'commo- 
datin', so he say, 'W'y, sut'n'y, Mistah Tukkey, you kin 
tek 'em an' welcome fer a w'iles.' So Tukkey he putts 
'em on an' moseys down ter de branch ter look at hisse'f 
in de water. ^Whoo-ee!' sezee ter hisse'f, *^ain' I de 
caution in dese yer fixin's ! I'se saw'y fer de gals now, 
I sut'n'y is, 'kase w'at wid my shape an' dish yer by'ud 
an' wattles, dar gwine be some sho'-'nuff heart-smashin' 
roun' dese diggin's, you year me sesso !' 

"Den he go struttin' back, shakin' de by'ud an' swellin' 
out de wattles an' jes' mo'n steppin' high an' prancin' 
w'ile he sing : 

'Cle'r outen de way fer oV Dan Tuclcer, 
Youse too late ter git yo' supper." 

"Den he say, sezee, ^Mistah Tarr'pin, please, suh, ter 
lemme keep dese yer? I b'lieve I becomes 'em mo'n 
w'at you does, 'kase my neck so long an' thin seem lak 
I needs 'em ter set hit off mo'n w'at you does wid dat 
shawt li'l neck er yo'n whar you keeps tuck 'way in yo' 
shell half de time, anyways. Sidesen dat, you is sech a 
runt dat you g'long draggin' de by'ud on de groun', an' 
fus' news you know hits 'bleeged ter be wo' out. You 
bes' lemme have hit, 'kase I kin tek good kyare uv hit.' 

"Den Tarr'pin say, sezee, 'I lak ter 'commodate you, 
Mistah Tukkey, but I ain' see how I kin. I done got 
so use ter runnin' my fingers thu de by'ud an' spittin' 
over hit w'en I'se settin' roun' thinkin' er talkin' dat I 
dunno how I kin do widout hit, an' I kain't git long, no- 

75 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

liow, widout swellin' up cle wattles wVn I git tetclied in 
my feelin's. Sidesen dat, I kin tek kyare er de by'ud, ef 
I is a runt ; I bin doin' it a good w'ile, an' she ain' wo' 
out yit. So please, suli, ter lian' me over my fixin's.' 

" ^Not w'iles I got any wind lef in me fer runnin'/ 
sez de Tukkey, sezee, an' wid dat he went a-scootin', ol' 
man Tarr'pin atter him, hot-foot. Dey went scrabhlin' 
up de mountains an' down de mountains, an' 'twuz pull 
Dick, pull devil, fer a w'ile. Dey kain't neener one uv 
'em climb up ve'y fas', but w'en dey git ter de top, Tuk- 
key he fly down an' Tarr'pin he jes' natchully turn over 
an' roll down. But Tukkey git de start an' keep hit. 
Wen Tarr'pin roll to de bottom uv a mountain den 
he'd see Tukkey at de top er de nex' one. Dey kep' hit 
up dis-a-way 'cross fo' ridges, an' las' Tarr'pin he plumb 
wo' out an' he see he wan't gwine ketch up at dat rate, 
so he gin up fer dat day. Den he go an' hunt up de 
cunjerers an' ax 'em fer ter he*p him. He say, ^Y'all 
know dat by'ud an' wattles er mine ? Well, I done loan 
'em to ^listah Wi'yum Wil'-tukke}^, 'kase he wuz my 
fren' an' he done ax me to. An' now he turn out ter be 
no-kyount trash, an' w'at I gwine do ? You bin knowin' 
I is a slow man, an' if I kain't git some he'p, I hatter say 
good-by by'ud an' wattles.' " 

"What are ^cunjerers,' Aunt 'Phrony?" said N'ed. 

"Well now, honey," said she, "I dunno ez I kin jes' 
rightly tell you, but deys w'at de Injuns calls ^medincin- 
men,' an' dey doctors de sick folks an' he'ps de hunters 
ter git game an' de gals ter git beaux, an' putts spells 
on folks an' mek 'em do jes' 'bout w'at dey want 'em to. 
An' so dese yer cunjerers dey goes off by derse'fs an' 
has a confab an' den dey come back an' tell Mistah 

76 






HOW MR. TERRAPIX LOST HIS BEARD 

Tarr'pin dat dev reckon dev done fix Mistali Tukkey dis 
time. 

'' ^Wat yon done wid him ?' sezee. 

" ^We ain' ketch 'im/ dev ses, Ve lef dat fer yon, dat 
ain^ ow' bizness, bnt we done fix him up so't yon kin do 
de ketchin' yo'se'f .^ 

^Wat has you done to him, den ?' sezee. 
^Son/ dey ses, Ve done putt a lot er li'l bones in 
his laigs, an' dat gwine slow him up mightily, an' we 
'pends on you ter do de res', "kase we knows dat you is a 
gre't chieft.' 

"Den Tarr'pin amble long 'bout his bizness an' neener 
stop ner res' ontwel he met uj^ wid Tukkey onct mo'. 
He ax fer his by'ud an' wattles ag'in, but Tukkey jes' 
turnt an' stept out f'um dat, Tarr'pin atter him. But 
seem lak de cunjerers thought Mistah Tarr'pin wuz 
faster'n w'at he wuz, er dat Mistah Tukkey 'z slower'n 
w'at he wuz, 'kase Tarr'pin ain' nuver ketch up wid him 
yit, an' w'ats mo', de tarr'pin s is still doin' widout 
by'uds an' wattles an' de gobblers is still wearin' *em 
an' swellin' roun' showin' off ter de gals, steppin' ez high 
ez ef dem li'l bones w'at de cunjerers putt dar wan't still 
in der laigs, an' struttin' lak dey wuz sayin' ter ev'y 
pusson dey meets : 

'Cler Olden de way fer oV Dan Tucker, 
Youse too late ter git yo' supper f " 



77 



HOW MR. TEREAPIX LOST HIS PLUMAGE 

AND WHISTLE 



"Well/^ said Janey, as Aunt Throny finished telling 
of the loss of Mr. Terrapin's beard. ^'I saw a terrapin 
the other day^ and it didn't look as though it ever had 
had a beard or wattles. I thought it was real ugly." 

"Law, chil'," answered the storv-teller, "vou kain't 
tell w'at one'r dese yer creeturs bin in de times pas' jes' 
by lookin' at 'em now. W^'y, de day's bin w'en ol' man 
Tarr'pin wuz plumb harnsum. He done bin trick' out 
er mo'n jes' his by'ud an' wattles, I kin tell you." 

"Oh, please do tell us !" cried Janey, and little Kit 
came and leaned on her knees and looked up into her 
face and echoed, " 'Es, please to tell us." 

Thus besieged. Aunt 'Phrony consented to tell how the 
Terrapin lost his plumage and his whistle. 

"I done tol' you," said she, "Tarr'pin wuz onct a 
harnsum man, an' dat de sho'-'nuff trufe, fer he had 
nice, sof tedders all over his body an' a fine, big, 
spreadin' tail, an' his eyes wuz mighty bright an' his 
voice wuz de cle'res' whustle you uver yearn. He wuz 
a gre't man in dem days, I tell you dai, an' his house 
wuz chock full er all sorts er fine fixin's. He had sof 
furs ter set on an' long strings er shells fer money, an' 
clo'es all imbroider' wid dyed pokkypine quills, an' he 

78 



HOW ME. TEPtEAPIX LOST HIS TLUMAGE 

had spears an' bows an' arrers an' cleer-hawns, an' I 
dunno w"at all sidesen dat. 

^'In dem days de Quail wnz a homely, no-kyount 
creetur, wid sca'cely any fedders, an' a shawt, stumpy 
tail, an' no voice wuf speakin' uv. He wuz po', too, 
an' nob'dy tuck much notuss uv him, jes' call him 'dat 
'ar ol' Bob White,' an' he go wannerin' up an' down de 
kyountry all bv his lonesome. 

"One day he come 'long pas' Mistali Tarr'pin's house, 
an' he peek in thu de do', he did, an' w'en he see all de 
fine doin's, seem lak he kain't tek his eye 'way f um de 
crack. Den he seed Tarr'pin comin' down de road 
home, an' he 'low ter hisse'f, he did, dat dish yer de 
harnsumes' man w'at he uver seed, an' he be puffickly 
sassified ef he cu'd look jes' lak dat. He git mo' an' mo' 
enviable uv 'im an' tuck ter hangin' 'roun' de naber- 
hood, peekin' an' peerin' in at Tarr'pin w'enuver he git 
de chanct. Las' he say ter hisse'f dat he jes' natchully 
'bleeged ter have dem fedders an' dat tail an' whustle, 
but he ain' knowin' jes' how ter git 'em, so he g'long off 
ter ax de he'}) uv a wise ol' Wolf whar live 'way, 'way 
up on de mountain an' whar wuz one'r dem cunjerers I 
done tol' you 'bout. Ez he went 'long he wuz fixin' up 
a tale ter tell Wolf, an' w'en he git ter de kyave whar 
de cunjerer live he knock an' Wolf 'spon', Tome in !' in 
sech a deep, growly voice dat li'l Quail felt kind er 
skeery, an' he feel mo' skeery yit w'en he go hoppin' in 
an' see Wolf settin' dar wid bones strow^ed all roun' 
him, an' showin' dem long, white toofs er his ev'y time 
he open his mouf. But he perch hisse'f up in front er 
Wolf, an' he say in a voice dat wuz right trim'ly, 
'Howdy, L^ncle Wolf, howdy ! I done comed all de way 

79 



AT THE BIG IIOrSE 

up yer ter ax vo' he'p, 'kase I knows clar ain' nair' 
nii'rr man on dis mountain wliar knows half ez much 
ez w'at you does. Please, suh, tell me w'at ter do.' 

" ^Bob White, you is a li'l ol' fool/ sez Wolf, sezee, 
liow kin I tell you w'at ter do w'en you ain' tol' me 
w'at 'tis you wants T 

"Den Quail he git li'l mo' pearter, an' he try ter mek 
Wolf feel please', so he say, ^Laws-a-mussy ! Uncle Wolf, 
I done fergit dat, but I reckon I do so 'kase you is dat 
smart I thought you mought know widout me tellin'.' 

" ^Drap dat foolishness,' sez Wolf, sezee, '^an' lemme 
know w'at you comed atter.' But all de same he wan't 
too smart ner too ol' ter feel please' wid de flatt'ry; 
show me de man whar is; lots uv 'em gits ketched by 
dat, nuttin' mo' ner less," and here Aimt 'Phrony cast 
a scornful glance at Xancy, who answered it by a toss of 
the head. 

"Well, den," she resumed, "Quail start inter de mean- 
ness he bin hatchin' up, an' he say, sezee, 'Uncle Wolf, 
deys a man down dar below whar gittin' ter be danger- 
some. He's rich an' goodlookin', an' a gre't chieft an' a 
sho'-'nuff fighter, an' he kin do 'bout w'at he please wid 
tu'rr creeturs. A man lak dat boun' ter w^u'k mischief. 
Now, suh, ef you sesso, 'pears ter me hit be mighty good 
notion ter tek 'way his good looks an' dat pleasan' voice 
whar he uses ter 'suade de people wid, an' gin 'em ter 
some er de quiet an' peace'ble folks whar ain' all de time 
stickin' derse'fs ter de front an' tryin' ter lead de people. 
Now yer I is, you bin knowin' me dis good w'ile, an' 
you knows my numbility an' submissity, an' ef you mek 
me de one ter do de deed an' den give me de fixin's fer 
my trouble, I gwine feel dat I kain't ve'y well refuge 

80 



HOW MR. TEERAPIX LOST HIS PLUMAGE 

^em." Plight dar he putt his haid on one side an' look up 
at Wolf mighty meek an* innercent. 

"Wolf he say he gwine think "bout hit, an' he tell 
Quail ter come hack im seven days an' git de arnser. 
So Quail he go hippitty-hoppin' down de mountains, 
thinkin' he bin mighty smart, an' wunnerin' ef he kin 
Stan' hit ter wait seven mo' days befo' he rob po' ol' 
Tarr'pin. 

"Wolf he went off higher yit, ter de top er de moun- 
tain fer ter ax de 'pinion er seven urr wolfs mo' older 
an' wiser dan w*at he wuz. Dey talked an' dey 'sputed 
toge'rr fer seven days an' nights. Den Wolf come back 
an' Quail made has'e up ter see him ag'in. He say Quail 
mus' go ter Tarr'pin's house at midnight an' do jes' lak 
he tell 'im to, er hit be wusser fer him, stidder better. 
Quail lissen an' say he gwine do jes' lak he tell 'im, an' 
wid dat he g'long off. Jes' at de stroke er midnight, 
w'en de bats wuz a-flyin' an' de squinch-owls hootin' 
an' de jacky-my-lantums trabellin' up an' down, he 
knock on Mistah Tarr'pin's do' an' gin out dat he wuz 
a trabeller whar comed a fur ways an' wuz pow'ful 
tired an' hongry. 

"Tarr'pin wuz a kin' man, so he 'vited him in an' 
gin him sump'n ter eat an' drink an' made him set 
down on de sof furs, 'kase he felt saw'y fer any pusson 
so po' an' ugly ez w'at Quail wuz. Den he say, ^You 
mus' be tired after yo' journeyin', lemme rub you a 
w'iles.' He rub de ugly, rough creetur fer so long time, 
an' den Quail sez, sezee, '^You sut'n'y is kin', but I 
ain' wanter tire you out. I is res'ed now, so please, suh, 
ter lemme rub you a li'l.' He rub an' he rub Tarr'pin 
wid one han', an' all de time he wuz rubbin' hisse'f 

81 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

wid de iirr. Dat-a-wa}' he rub all de fedders offen 
Tarr'pin onter liis own se'f. Den he rub down 
Tarr'pin^s tail 'twel "twan't nnttin' but a li'l roun', 
sharp-pointed stump^ an' at de same time he wuz rnbbin' 
his own tail wid tu'rr han' an' puttin' Tarr'pin's fine, 
spreadin' tail onter his own li'l stump. Hit wuz plumb 
dark, so't Mistah Tarr'pin ain' see w'at bin done, an' 
sidesen dat he wuz pow'ful sleepy f um de rubbin'. Den 
Quail say he 'bleeged ter lay down 'kase he mus' git 
him a early start in de mawnin'. 

"Befo' sun-up he wuz stirrin' an' he say he mus' be 
gittin' 'long. Tarr'pin go ter de do' wid him an' den 
Quail say, sezee, ']\Iistah Tarr'pin, I year you has a 
monst'ous fine whustle, I lak mighty well ter year hit 
befo' I go.' 

'^' '^Wy sut'n'y,' sez de Tarr'pin, sezee, an' wid dat he 
whustle long an' loud. Quail lissen at him wid all his 
years, an' den he say : '^Well, dog my cats, ef I ain' beat ! 
Yo' voice is de prezack match er mine.' 

" '^You don' sesso ! lemme year you whustle,' sez 
Tarr'pin, sezee. 

" *^Dat I w^ill,' sez Quail, ^but lemme go off li'l ways 
an' show you how fer I kin mek myse'f yearn,' sezee. 
He sesso 'kase lie'z gittin' mighty 'feerd dat Tarr'pin 
gwine fin' out his fedders wuz gone. So he go 'way off 
inter de bushes an' whustle, an' sho' nuff, 'twuz jes' lak 
Mistah Tarr'pin's voice. Den Tarr'pin try ter whustle 
back, but lo, beholst you ! his voice clean gone, nuttin' 
lef but a li'l hiss, an' hit done stav dat-a-wav clean 
ontwel dis day. 'Twuz gittin' daylight, an' he look 
down uv a suddint an' dar he wuz ! wid nair' a smidgin' 
uv a fedder on his back. He feel so bad he go inter de 

82 



HOW MR. TEREAPIX LOST HIS PLUMAGE 

house an' cry ontwel his eyes wuz so raid dat dey stayed 
dat-a-way iiver sence. 

"Den Mis' Tarr'pin she say^ ''Is you a chieft, er is 
you a ol' ooman? Wh}Ti't you go atter dat man an' 
gin him a lambastin' an' git back w'at b'long to you?' 
He feel kind er 'shame'^ so he pull hisse'f toge'rr an' go 
out ter see w'at he kin do. To' long he fin' out dat 
de cunjerers bin at wu'k, so he know he gotter have 
he'p, an' he go an' git all tu'rr tarrpins ter he'p him. 
Dey went ter de ol' wolfs, de cunjerers, an' dey ses : 'We 
is a slow people an' you is a swif people, but nemmine 
dat, we dvar's you-all to a race, an' ef vou-all wins, den 
you kin kill we-all; an' ef we-all wins, den we gwine 
exescoot you. An' ef you ain' dast ter tek up dis dyar', 
den ev'yb'dy gwine know 3'ou is cowerds.' 

"Co'se de wolfs tucken de dyar' up, an' hit wuz 'greed 
de race wuz ter be over seben mountain ridges, an' dat 
hit wuz ter be run 'twix' one wolf an' one tarr'pin, de 
res' ter look on. 

'^W'en de day come, ol' Tarr'pin he tuck an' fix up 
dis trick; he git six urr tarr'pins whar look jes' lak him, 
an' he hide one away in de bresh on top uy each er 
de six mountains, an' he hide hisse'f away on top er 
de sebent'. Jes' befo' Wolf git ter de top er de fus' 
mountain, de tarr'pin whar wuz hidin' dar crawl outen 
de bresh an' git ter de top fus' an' gin a whoop, an' 
went oyer a li'l ways an' hid in de bresh ao^'in. Wolf 
think dat mighty cur'ous, but he keep on, an' 'twuz 
jesso at ey'y one, an' at de las' ridge co'se Tarr'pin 
jes' walk hisse'f outen de bresh an' gin a gre't whoop 
ter let ey'yb'dy know he done won de race. 

'Den de tarr'pins mek up der min's ter kill de wolfs 

83 



ii^ 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

by fire, so dey pen 'em all in a big kyave on de moun- 
tain an' dey bring bresh an' wood an' pile in front uv 
hit, a pile nios' ez high ez de mountain, an' den dey 
set fire to hit, an' de \yolfs howl an' de fire hit spit an' 
sputter an' hiss an' crack an' roar, an' all de creeturs 
on de mountain set up a big cry an' run dis-a-way an' 
dat ter git outen de fire ; dey wuz plumb 'stracted, an' 
liit soun' lak all de wil' beas'es in creation wuz turnt 
aloose an' trvin' w'ich kin yell de loudes'. But de 
tarr'pins jes' drord inter der shells an' sot dar safe 
an' soun', an' watched de fire burn an' de smoke an' de 
flame roll in' inter de kvave. 

"De wolfs dev howled an' dev howled an dey howled, 
an' de lil ones dey cried an' dey cried an dey cried, 
an' las' de ol' ones felt so bad 'bout de chillen dat dey 
'gun ter kill 'em off so's't dey ain' suffer no mo'. Wen 
de tarr'pins see dat, dey wuz saw'y, an' dey mek up der 
min's ter let de res' off, so dey turnt 'em aloose f'um 
de kyaye. But lots uy 'em had died in dar, an' dat 
huccome dar ain' so many wolfs now ez dey useter be. 
Some wuz nearer ter de fire dan tu'rrs an' got swinged, 
an' some got smoked black, an' dat w'y, ontwel dis day, 
some wolfs is black an' some gray an' some white, an' 
some has longer, bushier tails dan tu'rrs. Dey got so 
hoarse wid all dat cryin' dat der yoices bin nuttin' but 
a howl uyer sence. 

"Quail he year w'at gwine on, an' he tucken hisse'f 
outen dat kyountry fas' ez his laigs cu'd kyar' him, so 
Tarr'pin nuyer got back de fedders ner de whustle, an' 
ef you goes out inter de fiel' mos' any day you kin see 
Quail gwine roun' in de stolen fedders an' year him 
whustle : 

84 



HOW MR. TEREAPIX LOST HIS PLUMAGE 

'Bol) WJiite, do right! do right! 
Do right! do right, Boh White!' 

jes' ez sassy ez ef he bin doin' right all his da3's, an' ez 
ef he bin raised wid dat voice stidder stealin' hit way 
f'um oF man Tarr'pin." 



85 



MIS' CAT AND ME. FRISKY MOUSE 

"Gre't king !" said 'Liza when Aunt 'Phrony had fin- 
ished the story of Mr. Terrapin's losses; "gre't king! 
Tarr'pin sho' had trials an' trihilashuns, same ez we-all 
po' sinners is bawn ter go tliu wid in dish yer vale er 
tears. Dat sut'n'y wnz a fine tale, Sis' 'Phrony, an' 
now we gwine lissen ter Sis' Nancy, 'kase long ez I bin 
knowin' her she alluz got sump'n wuf yearin'. Ain' 
dat de trufe now ?" appealing to the circle and meeting 
with polite confirmation from everybody except Annt 
'Phrony, for it may be accepted as an axiom that there 
is not room enough for two professional story-tellers at 
the same fireside, especially if they chance to be ancient 
foes. 

"'Sense me, please, Sis' 'Liza, I'se feelin' kind er tiz- 
zicky dis evenin'," said Nancy, a little offended at not 
having had a hearing before. 

'Phrony sniffed contemptuously. "Umph ! tizzicky !" 
said she in an audible aside, "dat a new name fer hit. 
Whyn't she say she gittin' ol' an' losin' her 'memb'ance ?" 

Aunt Nancy snorted and tossed her head defiantly. 
"01' ! who ol' ? Well, ef dat don' beat bob-tail ! Wen 
you-all knows dat ooman wuz a li'l ol' no-kyount pic- 
caninny, runnin' roun' yer wid her hy'ar stickin' out in 
pigtails all over her haid, long befo' I wuz bawnded. 
Sho! I reckon I 'members mo' tales dan w'at she is 

86 



Mis^ CAT a:n"d me. feisky mouse 

uver year de names uv, so many dat I dunno wbar tor 
begin, but I blieve I gwine gin yon one dat tell 'bout 
a fool ooman whar plate her pennunce on de wu'd uv 
a man an' fin' husse'f lef out in de col'/' here she 
looked significantly at Aunt 'Phrony, "an' de name er 
de tale is ^Mis' Cat an' Mistah Frisky-mouse/ 

"Onct dey wuz a li'l mouse bin livin' down a dark 
hole fer a right smart uv a spell, an' gnorrin' an' gnor- 
rin' ter git thu inter de room whar folks wuz livin'. Las' 
he git clean thu an' he skip out middle ways de flo' an' 
darnse an' caper an' kyar' on, an' set up on his ha'nches 
an' ju"k his haid, fus' dis-a-way an' den dat-a-way, an' 
drap . down on all f o's an' run inter de cornders, an' 
peek an' peer ev'ywhars wid dem li'l bright eyes er his'n. 
Dar wan't no pusson 't all in de room, 'scusin' a big ol' 
cat whar wuz snoogin' an' snorin' by de fire, an' he step 
so light he wan't 'feard er wakin' her. ^Holy Moses !' 
sezee ter hisse'f, ^dish yer my chanct, sho' ez I'm a livin' 
sinner ! Look out, ol' lady, any ooman dat go ter sleep 
over her dinner kain't kvount on hit bein' dar w'en she 
wake up; naw, ma'am, dinners too sca'ce fer dat; dey 
ain' layin' 'roun' loose ev'y day in de week. I mus' let 
out dish yer belt er mine er I ain' gwine be able ter 
crowd hit all in.' 

"Wid dat he tiptoe up ter de plate whar settin' by 
de fire an' nibble away fer dear life on Mis' Cat's dinner. 
Den he go darnsin' roun' some mo', an' he feel so gaily 
an' so sot up 'kase he done finish de job er gnorrin', dat 
he say he b'lieve he gwine on a frolic, an' he jes' 
natchully 'bleeged ter have some whisky. He go sniffin' 
an' snufFm' roun', an' las' he spy a jimm^gohn er whis- 
ky settin' up on a high she'f. But, bless you, he wan't 

87 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

gwine let dat hinner him^ for I ses to you, gemmen an' 
ladiz, dat ef a man's sot on gittin' a dram, he gwine 
climb a mountain er dig down ter de baid-rock but 
w'at he gwine git de wufiess truck, an' nuver stop ter 
think 'bout hit bein' any trouble, neener. 

"So he skunt up ter de she'f an' dim' ter de mouf 
er de jug an' perched on de rim an' 'gun ter sip de whis- 
ky. He dip down an' git a moufful an' den th'ow back 
his haid an' smack his lips an' lick de draps offen his 
whiskers. ^Lan' ! Ian' !' sezee, Mish yer de stuff I bin 
jes' natchully honin' fer dis long time. Seem lak hit 
go prezackly ter de right spot an' limber me up might'ly 
in my feelin's.^ Den de dram 'gun ter mount up in 
his haid an' he done fergot w^har he wuz an' 'menced 
ter sing a snatch f um a ol'-time drammin' song, whar 
runs dis-a-way : 

'Mammy tuch a hig dram. 

Daddy tuch a ivliopper. 
When hit come ter my turn 

I hatter lick de stopper.' 

"Jes' den his footses slip an' down he go, ker-chug ! 
inter de whisky. He spit an' he sputter an' scrabble 
roun' tryin' ter git out, but 'twan't no use. Gentermans ! 
dat 'uz one time w'en he git his fill er whisky. ^My 
Ian' !' sezee ter hisse'f , ^dish yer's jes' de way you fin' 
mos' things in dis life: heap mo' easy ter git in dan 
'tis ter git out. 'Pears lak dese white folks got mighty 
li'l sense, puttin' der drams inter ol', slickry-sided bot- 
tles. How kin dey 'spec' mouses ter git in an' out er 
sech contrapshuns, I lak ter know.' He see he wuz 

88 



MIS' CAT AXD ME. FRISKY MOUSE 

filliif up so fas' dat sump'n gotter be done, so he squeak 
out at de top uv his voice : 'Mis' Cat ! Oh, Mis' Cat ! 
Hi, Mis' Cat! Please, ma'am, ter he'p me outen dis 
whisky !' 

"Cat she open her eyes an' blink a li'l, kind er slow 
an' sleepy, an' las' she say: 'Is my years done 'ceive 
me, er is I year a mouse ? Mebbe I done dream hit.' 

" 'Naw'm, dat you didn' !' sings out Mistah Frisky- 
mouse. ' 'Twuz a sho'-'nuff mouse, an' I'se him, up 
yer in de whisky, an' I wants you, pleasfe ma'am, ter 
climb up an' he'p me out.' 

" 'Well, uv all de imp'ence !' sez Mis' Cat ter husse'f, 
sez she, 'an' dat's de same li'l rascal whar done runned 
'way f'um me mo' times dan I kin kyount. Him ter 
call on me fer he'p!' Den she say out loud: 'Mistah 
Frisky-mouse, I sut'n'y 'd lak ter 'bleege you 'bout dis, 
but I gotter tell you, I think hit sarve you right ter 
drown in dat whisky, 'kase you wuz stealin' de white 
folkses dram w'en you drapt in. Yas, I think hit be 
'bout right fer you ter be lef ter die in de midse er 
yo' sin, ef I mought 'spress myse'f dat-a-way.' 

"Mis' Cat wag her haid an' look solium; she done 
fergit how many times she bin roguin' it in de white 
folkses cream-jug. Slie wan't de one whar git ketched 
dis time, so she ac' mighty pious over Mistah Mouse's 
thievin'. 

"He baig an' he baig an' he baig, an' las' she say, 
'Well, I he'p you out dis time, ef you promuss me you 
set by de fire an' dry yo'se'f good, befo' you go.' Eight 
dar she wunk one eye at de fire an' smack' her lips 
an' sez she ter husse'f, sez she, 'I gwine git me a mouse 
dis trip, sho' ez shootin'/ 

89 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

"In co'se Mouse he gin de promnss, 'kase ^twuz mighty 
nigh time's-np wid him, yit he wan't so fur gone but 
w'at he wunk de one eye whar wuz still 'bove liquor an' 
ses' ter hisse'f, 'Yas'm, yas, ma'am., jesso, ma'am, but 
I have you fer ter know dat I wan't bawnded yistiddy 
ner de day befo', ner de day befo' dat, an' I ain' 'spec' 
ter die ter-day ner to-morrer ner de day atter/ 

"Soon 'z he gin de promuss, ]\Iis' Cat she lipt up on 
de she'f an' retched a paw down in de jimmy John an' 
fished 'im out, an' suz ! he sut'n'y wuz a mis'able lookin' 
creetur, wid ev'y hya'r on him plastered down close ter 
his li'l ol' lean body, an' de whisky drappin' f um 
nose an' eyes an' mouf. She cu'd 'a et him den an' 
dar, but she wanter have a li'l fun wid him fus', same 
ez cats alluz does wid de mouses befo' dey eats 'em. 
Seem lak dey inj'ys 'em heap mo' ef dey kin skeer 'em 
good fus', an' den let 'em git mos' away, an' den kotch 
'em ag'in, an' maul an' pull an' wool 'em roun' 'twel de 
mouses is glad ter be et up an' putt puten der mis'ry. 
So she tucken him an' putt him down by de fire, an' 
den she turn her back an' walk over ter tu'rr side whar 
she kin set an' watch him ter see dat he ain' git 'way. 
Suz ! her back no sooner turnt dan Mistah Frisky-mouse 
jes' tucken his foot in his han' an' went clii^pin' over 
ter de hole quicker 'n a streak er greast lightnin', an' 
Mis' Cat she look roun' jes' in time ter see de een' uv 
his tail gwine down de hole. 

" ^Hi, dar !' sez she, ^ain' you gin me yo' wu'd ter set 
by de fire ontwel you dry de whisky offen yo' hide ? Is 
dis de way you keeps yo' wu'd? Does you call dat 
hon'able, atter I done he'p you out?' 

^^Mouse he whu'l 'roun' in de hole jes' so he kin poke 

90 



MIS' CAT AXD ME. FRISKY MOUSE 

his nose an' eyes out a lil wavs an' see her settin' dar 
wid one han' lif up, shakin' hit at him an' lookin* lak 
she plumb scannelize. He sa}^, he do, ^Keep my wu'd ! 
AVho? Me? Huh-uh, Mis' Cat, heap ru'rr lose my wu'd 
dan ter lose my life. Sidesen dat, you knowed I bin 
drinkin' ; 'deed you done foun' me clean unner de in- 
floons er whisky, an' you done yearn fo' now, ^kase 
you is no kitten, dat whisk}^ meks mens mighty onre- 




liable, dat hit do.' He git ter snickerin' an' laughin' 
so't he kain't say nuttin' mo', so he go scootin' down 
de hole an' leaye Mis' Cat settin' dar wid one paw in 
de air an' her jaw drapt wide open. 

"'De mis'able, ongrateful, owdaeious li'l sinner,' sez 
she. Jes' den Mistah Frisky-mouse he scoot back fer 
a minnit an' see her settin' dar lookin' foolish, an' he 
laugh an' he yell an' he holler, an' jes' w'en she mek a 
dab at 'im wid 'er paw, he turnt tail an' went c'reerin' 
down de hole, singin' back at de top er his yoice : 

91 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

'Ho, lio! Mis' Cat, I tliouglit tjou'z slicher 
Dan ter 'pend on de icu'd uv a man in liquor. 



f y> 



"Dear me/' said Janey, "what a nauglitv little mouse. 
AVas he really, really tipsy?'' 

"Sho !" said Aunt Xancy, ^^le wan't so tipsy but w'at 
he knowed dat Mis' Cat wuz atter him an' sot on 
ketchin' 'im, an' he knowed 'nuff ter git 'way f um her, 
so I reckon he wan't so tipsy atter all. Dat's de way 
wid some wimmins," and here she rolled her eves mean- 
ingly at Aunt 'Phrony, "dey ain' got de sense ter hide 
hit w'en dey's tryin' ter ketch a man, an' de man he 
gits skeered an' quits, an' den de ooman goes an' putts 
de blame on some urr gal. I tell you, honeys, you kin 
run atter a man all you please, but you mus'n' let him 
'spishun hit er de game's up. 

"But T kain't stay 3^er runnin' on all night, an' dat 
sut'n'y is yo' maw I year callin'. Ef y'all don' g'long 
back ter de house, I boun' you she gin you a dose er 
w'at Paddy gin de drum ; y'all know w'at dat wuz." 



92 



ME. HARE TRIES TO GET A WIFE 

One dav the children's mother told them that she 
was going to spend a few days at a plantation some 
miles away, taking with her Aunt Xancy, who was anx- 
ious to pay a little visit to a daughter living in that 
neighborhood. Aunt Throny, she told them, had prom- 
ised to come and look after them during her absence. 

"Oh please, mamma,'' they begged, "let Aunt 'Phrony 
take us nutting? She told us one day that she knew 
where there were just lots and lots of walnuts." So it 
was arranged that they should take a luncheon with 
them and make a day of it. Aunt 'Phrony being perfectly 
willing, for her Indian blood showed itself not only in 
her appearance, but in her love for a free out-of-door 
life, and her fondness for tramping. She would readily 
give up a day's work at any time to discharge some 
wholly insignificant errand which involved a walk of 
many miles. 

The day was a bright and beautiful one in October, 
warm, yet with a faint nip of last night's frost linger- 
ing in the air. They made a fine little procession through 
the woods, Aunt 'Phrony leading, followed by children, 
a darky with baskets, her grandson "Wi'yum," and lastly 
the dogs, frisking and frolicking and darting away every 
now and then in pursuit of small game. A very weary 
and hungry little party gathered about the baskets at 

93 



AT THE BIG HOrSE 

one o'clock, and throe little pairs of white hands were 
stained almost as brown as those of Aunt Throny and 
"William. But everybody was happy, and there was a 
nice pile of walnuts to go back in the large bag which 
William had brought for the purpose. The dogs sat 
around and looked longingly on, a squirrel frisked has- 
tily across a log near by, the birds chattered in the 
trees high above and looked curiously down on the 
intruders, and presently a foolish hare went scurrying 
across the. path, so near the dogs that they sat stilly 
amazed at his presumption, and forbore to chase him. 

"Hi! there goes 'ol' Hyar' M" shouted Xed; "I'm 
going to see if I can't catch him." But he soon gave up 
the hopeless chase. 

"Was that your ^ol' Hvar',' Aunt 'Phronv; your ol' 
Hyar' you tell us all about ?" asked little Kit. 

"Bless de chil' !" said she. "Naw, 'twuz de ol', ol' 
Hyar' I done tol' you 'bout, de gre't-gre't-gre't-sump'n- 
ru'rr grandaddy er dis one, I reckon." 

"Aunt 'Phrony," said Janey, "couldn't you tell us 
some more about the old hare while we sit here and 
get rested ?" 

"Xow de laws-a-muss}^," said 'Phrony, "ef we gwine 
'mence on de ol' tales I reckon I mou^lit ez w^ell mek 
up my min' ter spen' de res' er de day right yer on dis 
spot," and she leaned back against a pine tree and 
closed her eyes resignedly. Presently she opened them 
to ask, "Is I uver tol' you 'bout de time Mistah Hyar' 
try ter git him a wife? I isn'? Well, den, dat de one 
I gwine gin you dis trip. Hit happen dis-a-way : Hyar^ 
he bin flyin' all 'roun' de kyountry fer right long time, 
frolickin' an' cuttin' up, jes' a no-kyount bachelder, 

94 



ME. HAEE TPJES TO GET A WIFE 

an' las' he git kind or tired uv hit, an' he see all tn'rr 
ereeturs gittin' ma'ied an' he tucken hit inter his haid 
dat 'twuz time he sottle down an' git him a wife ; so he 
primp hisse'f up an' slick his hya'r down wid b'ar- 
grease an' stick a raid hank'cher in his ves'-pockit an' 
pick him a button-hole f um a lad3''s gyarden, an' den 
he go co'tin' dis gal an' dat gal an' tu'rr gal. He 'mence 
wid de good-lookin' ones an' wind up wid de ugly ones^ 
but 'twan't nair' one dat 'ud lissen to 'im, 'kase he done 
done so many mean tricks an' wuz sech a hyarum- 
skyarum dat dey wuz all 'feard ter tek up wid 'im, an' 
so dey shet de do' in his face w'en he git ter talkin' 
sparky, dough dar wan't no pusson cu'd do dat sort er 
talkin' mo' slicker 'n Vat he cu'd. But he done gin 
de ereeturs jes' li'l too much 'havishness, so 'twan't no 
use. 

"He think de marter all over an' he say ter hisse'f: 
^Dem fool gals dunno w'at dey missin', but ef dey s'pose 
I gwine gin up an' stay single, dey done fool derse'fs 
dis time. I ain' gwine squatulate wid 'em ner arg}'fy 
ner beg no mo', but I gwine whu'l right in an' do 



sump'n.' 



fitter he study a w'ile he slap one han' on his knee, 
an' he 'low, he do : 'Dat's de ticket I dat's de ticket ! I 
reckon dey'll fin' ol' man Hyar' ain' sech a fool ez he 
looks ter be, after all.' 

"He go lopin' all roun', leavin' wu'd at ev'y house 
in de kyountry dat a big meetin' bin hilt an' a law 
passed dat ev'yb'dy gotter git ma'ied, young an' ol', 
rich an' po', high an' low. He say ter hisse'f, 'EvyVdy, 
dat mean me, too, so dish yer whar I boun' ter git me 
a wife.' 

95 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

^*De croeturs place der '^pennance on him, dough he 
done tncken 'em in so often, an' on de 'pinted day dey 
met toge'rr; de gals all dress' np in der Sunday clo'es 
an' de mens fixed up mighty sprucy, an' sech a pickin' 
an' choosin' you nuver see in all yo' hawn days. De gals 
dey all stan' up in line an' de men go struttin' mighty 
higgitty up an' down befo' 'em, showin' off an' makin' 
manners an' sayin', 'Howdy, ladiz, howdy, howdy !' An' 
de gals dey'd giggle an' twis' an' putt a finger in de 
cornders er der moufs, an' w^'en a man step up ter one 
uv 'em ter choose her out, she'd fetch 'im a li'l tap an' 
say, 'Hysh I g'way f'um yer, man ! better lemme 'lone !' 
an' den she'd giggle an' snicker some mo', but I let you 
know she wuz sho' ter go wid him in de een'. 

"All dis time Hyar' wuz gwine up an' down de line, 
bowin' an' scrapin' an' tryin' ter mek hisse'f 'greeable 
ter ev'yb'dy, even de daddies an' de mammies er de gals, 
whar wuz lookin' on f'um tu'rr side. Dar wuz whar he 
miss hit, 'kase w'ile he wuz talkin' ter de mammy uv 
a mighty likely li'l gal whar he think 'bout choosin', 
lo an' beholst, de choosin' wuz all over, an' w'en Mistah 
Hyar' turnt roun' dar want nair' a gal lef, an' ev'y 
man have a wife asseptin' him. 

"Den dey hilt a big darnsin' an' feastin', an' ev'yb'dy 
wuz happy an' in a monst'ous good humor, de gals 'kase 
dey done got ma'ied, an' de paws an' de maws 'kase dey 
done got redd er de gals, — ev'yb'dy 'scusin' Hyar'. Dey. 
mek lots er game uv 'im, an' w'en dey darnse pas', dey 
sings out : 'Heyo ! Mistah Hyar', huecome you ain' 
darnse ?' 'Brins^ vo' wife, ol' man, an' line in de fun !' 
'Hi ! yi ! Mistah Hyar', you done ma'y off ev'yb'dy else 
an' stay single yo'se'f ? Well, dat de meanes' trick you 

96 




?: 



7, 



5^ 



>^ 



r. 



■fj. 



MR. HARE TRIES TO GET A WIFE 

done played us jit ! 'tain' fair !' An' dey snicker an' run 
on 'twel Hyar' wisli he ain' nuver year de wu'd ma'y. 

"Atter w'ile dey got tired er darnsin' an' tucken der 
new wifes an' went off home leavin' Hyar' all by hisse'f, 
an' I tell you he feel right lonesome. He git a bad 
spell er de low-downs an' go squanderin' roun' thu de 
woods wid his years drapt an' his paws hangin' limp, 
studyin' how he kin git revengemint. Las' he pull his- 
se"f toge'rr an' he say : 'Come, Hyar', dis ain' gwine do. 
Is you done fool ev'yb'dy all dese 'ears an' den let yo'se'f 
git fooled by a passel er gals? Xaw, suh ! I knows 
w'at I gwine do dis ve'y minnit. Ef I kain't git me a 
gal, I kin git me a widd}^ an' some folks laks dem de 
bes', anyhows. Ef you ma'y a widdy, she got some er 
de foolishness knock' outen her befo' you hatter tek her 
in han'.' 

"Wid dat he step out ez gaily ez you please. He go 
an' knock at de do' uv ev'y house, an' w'en de folks 
come ter de do' dey say, 'W'y, howdy, Mistah Hyar', 
whar you bin keepin' yo'se'f all dis time?' He say, he 
do : "^Oh, I bin tendin' ter de 'fairs er de kyountry, an' I 
is sont unter you ez a messenger. I is saw'y ter tell 
you dey done hilt nu'rr big meetin' an' mek up der 
min's de worl' gittin' too many creeturs in hit, so dey 
pass de law dat dar mus' be a big battle, an' you is all 
ter meet toge'rr at de 'pinted time, an' each man mus' 
fall 'pun de man nex' him an' try fer ter kill 'im.' 

"De creeturs assept dis wid submissitty, dey ain' 
'spicion Hyar' 't all. On de 'pinted day dey met toge'rr, 
an' each wuz raidy ter defen' hisse'f. Hyar' wuz dar 
lak all de res', an' ef you'd 'a seed all de spears an' bows 
an' arrers he kvarrv, an' all de knifes stickin' in his 

97 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

belt, you'd 'a thought he wiiz de bigges' fighter dar. 
But sho ! Wen de fightin' begin, hit wuz far'-you-well, 
gentermans ! 'Twan't no Hyar' dar ; he jes' putt out 
tight 'z he kin go. W^en dey see him goin' dey sing out : 
'Hi, dar! Mistah HyarM Whar you gwine? Whyn't 
you stay wid we-all an' fight dis out T 

"Hyar' ain' stop ter talk, he jes' look roun' over his 
shoulder w'iles he 'z runnin' an' he say, sezee : 'De man 
I wanster kill, he done runned 'way an' I'se atter him, 
hot-foot, de mis'able cowerd. Kain't stop ter talk; git 
outen my way, ev'yb'dy, 

'Cle'r de trad', fer yer me comin', 
Tse oV Buster ivliar keep things hummin'. 



> > 



"Wen de battle wuz over, de creeturs miss Hyar', an' 
dey say he mus' be 'mongs' de kilt, so dey go roun' 
lookin' at de daid, but 'twan't no Hyar' dar. Dey hunt 
ev'ywhar fer him an' las' dey foun' him squattin' in de 
bresh, tremlin' ez ef he have de ager an' nigh mos' 
skeert ter def. Dey drug him outen dat an' dey ses: 
'So dish yer's Buster whar keep things hummin' ! Well, 
we gwine mek you hum dis time, sho' 'nufi^. You putts 
we-all ter fightin' an' gits heap er good men kilt off, an' 
yer you settin' tuck 'way safe in de bresh. We gwine 
hole you 'sponsible fer dis, an' we gotter know de whar- 
fo's, too.' 

"Den ol' Hyar' he up an' 'f ess he done de hull bizness 
so's't de kyountry mought be full er widdies an' he 
git him his pick fer a wife, fer he 'lowed widdies wan't 
gwine be so p'tickler ez de gals. De creeturs jes' nat- 
chully hilt up der ban's at him, dey wuz plumb outdone. 

98 



MR. HAEE TEIES TO GET A WIFE 

'^De owdacioiis vilyun !' dey ses, ^we boim' ter exescoot 
him on de spot an' git shed uv 'im onct fer all.' But he 
baig mighty hard an' some iiv 'em think he be wuss 
punish ef dey jes' gins 'im a good hidin' an.' lets 'im 
live on alone, a mis'able ol' bachelder, widout no pusson 
ter tek notuss uv 'im, 'kase in co'se none er de widdies 
wuz gwine ma'y a cowerd." 

"Why, Aunt 'Phrony," said 'Ned, ^'he must have found 
a wife at last, for how about Mis' Molly Hyar' ?" 

^•'Shucks I" said she, "is / uver tol' vou 'bout Mis' 
Mollv Hvar'? jSTaw, suh, she b'lonpis in dem ol' nisfojer 
tales whar Xancy tells you. De Injun tales ain' say 
nuttin' 'bout no wife er his'n. He wuz too gre't a fighter 
an' too full er 'havishness uver ter sottle down wid a 
wife ; an' now lemme finish de tale. 

"Dey gin him a turr'ble trouncin' an' den turnt him 
aloose, an' stidder gittin' him a wife he got him a hide 
dat smart f'um haid ter heels; but w'en my daddy tell 
dat tale he useter een' her up dis-a-way, ^An' mebbe 
Hyar' git de bes' uv 'em, atter all, 'kase w'en you git a 
hidin', de smart's soon over, but w'en you git a wife, 
de mis'ry done come ter stay.' " 



99 



HOW MR. HARE LOST HIS HORN'S 



<iy 



^Well, I say !" said Ned, when Aunt Throny had fin- 
ished telling of Mr. Hare's failure to get a wife, "who'd 
think such a little old thing as a hare could make so 
much mischief?" 

"Li'l ol' thing! him? not in dem days, chil'," said 
the old woman. "Ain' I tol' joii, tu'rr night, dat de 
creeturs wan't lak dey is now? Wy, Hyar' he wuz a 
big man, I tell you, an' he had hawns; yas liawns, slio'- 
'niiff hawns, jes' lak de deers has. 'Deed, de deer-hawns 
useter b'long on his haid, 'twel tu'rr creeturs done 
tucken 'em 'way f'um 'im. I gwine tell you "bout dat 
ef you promuss not ter pester me 'bout no mo' tales fer 
one w'ile." 

Of course the children promised, and the old woman, 
with head thrown back against the tree and a dreamy 
look in her eyes, as if she were contemplating those 
far-off days when the hare was the great hero of many 
a tale told by the camp-fires of her father's people, 
began the story of the lost horns. 

"I done tol' you," she commenced, "dat H^'ar' useter 
wear hawns, an' dis huccome he ter lose 'em. At fus' 
he ain' have none, but he git ter be seeh a big man an' 
sech a smart man dat de creeturs look up ter him 
might'ly, an' dey wanter do sump'n ter show der re- 
gyards uv 'im, 'kase dish yer wuz befo' he git so trickish ; 

100 



HOW MT^. HARE LOST HIS HORXS 

so dev have w'at dev call a kyouncil an' talk hit all 
over an' agree ter gin him a harnsnm pair er hawns, 
thinkin' dat sech a smart creetur boiin' ter mek good 
use uv 'em. So dey call him up an' dey ses, ^Mistah 
Hyar', we done 'cide ter putt dese hawns on you, an' 
we wants you ter 'member dat we nuver putts 'em on any 
but tiptop men an' natchel-bawn runners, an' we 'specs 
you ter keep up yo' good name in dis marter. Now 
lessee w'at you kin do wid 'em.' 

"Dey gin him de wu'd an' 'way he went, but mebbe 
de hawns mek 'im feel sort er onbalance in de haid er 
somehows outer kelter, 'kase stidder runnin' lak he use- 
ter he went wid a sort er hop, skip an' jump, an' in de 
place er gwine up an' down de medders whar him an' 
Mistah Dapple-deer useter kite roun' toge'rr, mighty 
good fren's, he jes' tucken ter de bresh an' dey ain' see 
him no mo' fer so long time. 

"De creeturs say ter one nu'rr, ^Wat in de name er 
goodness done corned over Mistah Hyar'? He useter 
live out in de open 'long wid Mistah Deer, 'havin' his- 
se'f lak a 'sponsible pusson, an' now he done quit we-all, 
an' lawd on'v knows whar he is at. Look-a-ver, Mistah 
Dapple-deer, we gwine 'p'int you ter hunt up yo' fren' 
an' bring 'im back ter dis kyouncil. Kin we 'pend on 
you fer dis, suh ?' 

"Deer he say: ^Well, I ain' mek no promuss; dat 
ain' my way. Makin' an' breakin' is bofe pow'f ul easy ; 
but ef I sesso, den I gwine do so, an' I say dis much : I 
gwine do w'at I kin, but mebbe you has notuss dat foils 
is 'bout de mos' onsu't'n truck w'at dev is ; I mousht 
arnser fer Mistah Hyar' yist'd'y, but I kain't tell w'at 
he gwine do to-morrer.' 

101 



AT THE BICr HOUSE 



<(^ 



'\Ye\l, svh, he go an' lie hunt an^ he hunt an' he 
hunt. Fus' he look in de medders, no Mistah Hyar'; 
den he look in de woods^ no Mistah H3^ar' ; den he tuck 
ter lookin' in "de bresh, an' dar he wuz, settin' up on 
his 'hime laigs an' gnorrin' a locus' twig, jes' ez oncon- 
sarn' ez ef he bin livin' dar all his life." 

Ned interrupted to say, "What in the world did he 
want to gnaw a locust twig for ?" 

"Oh, dat wuz fer his front .toofs. He teck a twig er 
de black locus', 'kase dat good an' hard, an^ he gnor an' 
he gnor, ter keep his front toofs groun' down ; fer ef 
he ain' do dat dey'd grow so long he cu'dden use 'em, 
Meed dey would. Well, he wuz grindin' way on de 
twig an' he year Deer comin' an' he say, ^Howdy, Mistah 
Dapple-deer, howdy,' widout even so much ez turnin' 
his haid. 

" ^Well, uv all de news !' sez Deer, sezee, Sv'at you 
doin' yer so fur f "um de place whar you b'longs ter ?' 

" ^Jes' gittin' my toofs in good fix,' sezee, gnorrin' on 
ez ef he nuver 'spec' ter git nu'rr locus' twig. 

" "^Come 'long outen yer,' sez Deer, Mis no place fer a 
man er yo' breens an' unnerstannin' ; come out yer in 
de open an' show yo'se'f. W'at mek you wanter skulk 
an' hide yo'se'f in de bresh ?' 

" Tired er de open,' sez Hyar', sezee, ^tired er runnin' 
races ; tired er gwine all 'roun' creashun ter fin' vittles. 
Gwine stay right in yer w^har I kin fin' 'em handy; 
gwdne teck things easy f'um dis on. Ef dese yer breens 
er mine whar you talk 'bout is good fer anything, dey 
tell me dat w'uk don' 'gree wid me, nohow.' 

"Deer he 'suade an' he 'suade, but 'twan't no use, an' 
las' Hyar' git kind er riley an' he say, he do : 'Don' 3^ou ^ 

102 



i 

i 




HOWDV, MI8TAH DAPPLE-DEER, HOWDY 



HOAV ^m. HAEE LOST HIS HORXS 

'suade me no mo'. 'My min' done mek up. You better 
lemme 'lone, 'kase now I got me dese hawns I is kind er 
dangersome, an' you bes' not git in a fist-an'-skull fight 
^'id me, 'kase ders no tellin' whar you niought bring 
up. on de p'int er dese hawns, I dunno ; I ain' 'sponsible 
fer 'em/ an' wid dat he shuk de hawns servigrous at po' 
ol' Deer. 

" ^Well, ef dat ain' de gre'tes' howdy-do !' sez Deer, 
sezee. ^An' dish yer wuz de man I done place my 'pen- 
nance on an' think wuz my f ren' ! Xemmine, g'long 
an' do de way you wanster; I done wash my ban's er 
de bizness. De fool-killer better come dis 'way, dough, 
right quick, "kase dars a good size job waitin' fer him 
riglit close ter dese diggin's, an' I jes' 'bout b'lieve I 
gwine leave wu'd fer him whar ter call, ez I g'long back.' 

"Wid dat he sa'nter off a li'l ways, thinkin' mebbe 
Hyar' gwine f oiler. Xaw suh ! he jes' sot dar an' went 
on gnorrin'. Wen Deer see dat, he succle 'roun' thu 
de woods a piece an' come up behime ol' Hyar' an' 
grab 'im back er de hawns an' go lopin' off wid 'im ter 
de kyouncil. 

" ^Set down de pris'ner,' dey ses ter Mistah Deer. 
Deer putt him down an' he sot dar jes' ez ca'm ez you 
please, still gnorrin' on a li'l locus' twig he bringed 
wid 'im. ^Mawnin',' sezee, ^gemmen, mawnin'. Hope 
I sees y'all right well. Y'all lookin' tol'ble, hope you 
feelin' dat-a-way, dough "look" an' "feel" 'spute wid one 
nu'rr mighty often in dis worP. Yer me, all stove up 
wid de rheumatiz, dough I 'spec' you oon b'lieve hit 
jes' ter look at me.' 

'De kyouncil ain' pay no 'tention ter his gwines-on. 



103 



ii- 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 
Tris'ner, has you anything ter say fer yo'se'f ?' dey ax 



'im. 



" Tlenty/ sezee, cool ez a cowcumber, 'did any pusson 
uver see de time w'en I kain't wag my tongue wid de 
bes'? But ef you mean ^bout dem hawns, I ain' got 
nair' wu'd ter say, 'ceptin' dat you done putt 'em on 
me too suddintly. Seem like dey kind er goes ter my 
haid an' mek me wanter do diff'nt f um w'at I uver 
has befo'. Y'all 'd orter let dem hawns grow on me, 
liT at a time, so's't I moughter got use' to 'em.' Den 
he set back on his ha'nches an' look lak 'twan't none er 
his bizness an' he wan't kyarin' w'at dey done wid 'im. 

"De kyouncil lean der haids on der ban's an' study 
'bout de marter, an' las' dey ses, 'Mebbe we done mek 
too much has'e in dis bizness, so we ain' gwine be too 
hard on you, but we p'intedly ses ter you dat you kain't 
keep dem hawns; we 'bleeged ter teck 'em 'way f'um 
you an' gin 'em ter some pusson dat gwine mek good 



use uv 'em.' 



m 



^OV Hyar' he say, sezee: 'Gemmen, dat suit me to 
a hya'r, 'kase dey is too big fer dis chil' an' mek him 
feel kind er top-haivy.' 

"So dey ondone 'em offen Hyar', an' den dey call up 
Deer an' ses, 'Mistah Dapple-deer, you done stuck by 
de kyouncil an' you done done yo' juty in the place whar 
we putt you an' you has foun' Mistah Hyar' an' bringed 
him back ter we-all, an' so now we gwine gin you dese 
hawns fer de reward er yo' sarvices.' 

"So Deer he go tippin' up an' kneel down an' dey 
fasten de hawns on 'im. Um-umph ! No sooner done 
dan he scrabble ter his footses an' gin a boun' an' went 
jumpin' off inter de bresh, an' dar whar he bin livin' 

104 



HOW MR. HARE LOST HIS HORXS 

uver sence. Onct in a whiles you kin see him cross de 
open, but he do hit in a mighty big hurry, I tell you, 
jes^ two er tlree monst'ous jumps an' he git clean 'cross 
a big fiel', an' even den he sca'cely uver cross lessen de 
dogs is atter 'im, an' he ain' see no urr way ter git 
outen dey road. 

"Hyar' he squat dar an' look atter Mistah Deer, an' 
he laugh an' he laugh, an he laugh 'twel he fall over 
an' roll on de groun'. Den de kyouncil dey ses, "^Mistah 
Hyar', we wants you ter set up, suh, an' quit dis 'havish- 
ness; dar ain' nuttin' ter laugh 'bout in dis bizness, 
^kase de kyouncil done los' nu'rr good member.' 01' 
H^-^r' he set up an' he bow an' he scrape an' he say, he 
do, ' 'Scuse me, gemmen, but I hatter laugh w'en I think 
'bout de effec' er dem hawns on sech a well behave' pus- 
son ez Dapple-deer. Dish yer gwine I'arn y'all, I reckon, 
dat 'tain' safe ter pile up de honors on a man's haid 
too suddintly, dey kain't stan' hit. Y'all j)lease 'scuse 
me ef I run 'long atter Dapple-deer, 'kase I done had 
a tas'e er livin' in de bresh an' you mus'n' 'spec ter see 
me often out yer in de open. So long, gemmen, so 
long !' He run off inter de bresh an' stay dar, befo' 
dey kin say Jack Robumsum, an' dat w^at all de hyar's 
bin doin' uver sence." 



105 



WHY THE TITMOUSE HAS A BLUNT TONGUE 

The children sat perfectly quiet after Aunt Throny 
had finished telling them about how Mr. Hare lost his 
horns, for they remembered that they had promised not 
to "pester" for more. But the story-teller was in an 
amiable mood, and, without solicitation, went on to re- 
late another tale, in which Mr. Hare figured again. 

"Onct," she said, "ol' Hyar' wuz livin' ^way off in de 
mountains, so high up dat he cu'd look out over de 
kyountry an' see ev'y thing an* know jes' 'zackly w'en 
anything wuz gwine on. Ev'y time he seed a big smoke 
he knowed a fire bin built an' dat sump'n er nu'rr wuz 
in de wind, so he 'ud jes' light out fer de place, an' 
w'en he git dar he alluz start np some trouble er ru'rr. 

"One time dar wuz a heap er sickness 'mongs' de peo- 
ple, an' so dey went ter wu'k an' had a medincin'- 
darnse." 

The little folks wanted to know what a medicine dance 
might be. 

"Oh, honeys !" Aunt 'Phrony exclaimed, "I tell you 
a medincin'-darnse wuz one big time, dat hit wuz ! My 
daddy done tol' me all 'bout hit. Dey mos' in gin'ly 
hilt de darnse in de fall, dem Injun folks, but sometimes 
'twuz in de spring, an' ef dar wuz any dese yer ketchin' 
diseases 'roun', dey hilt hit mos' any time ter keep off 
de sickness. My daddy's people b'lieve ev'ything dat 

106 



WHY THE TITMOUSE HAS A BLUXT TOXGUE 

grows got some use in sickness. Dey ses dat long, long 
time ago de anermnels got toge^rr an' made up der min's 
dat dar wuz too many mens in de worl', so dey putt der 
haids toge'rr and got up a pow'ful lot er diseases fer 
ter kill off de people. Den all de growin' things, w'en 
dey got de news er dis, dey ses, ^AYe-all is de fren's er 
men, we gwine gin 'em w'at he'p we kin in dis marter.' 
So each er de trees an' de bushes an' de yarbs an' de 
grasses an' de mosses dey 'greed ter gin a kyore fer some 
one'r de diseases de anermuels done brung 'pun de people. 
An' de people got so dat dey knowed 'bout dese kyores, 
an' dat huccome dey have de medincin'-darnse. 

"I done tol' you 'twus a mighty big time. De medin- 
cin' men dey'd ga'rr de yarbs an' git de medincin' raidy, 
an' den de leader he'd git up an' sing sump'n at de res' er 
de medincin' men, an' den dey'd 'spon' back at 'im wid 
some mo' singin'. Dey'd keep hit up dat-a-way a w'ile 
an' den de darnse wuz hilt. An' all de time hit wuz 
gwine on de people wuz drinkin' de medincin'. Hit 
wuz pass' roun' to 'em wid seven dippers in each mess er 
de medincin', an' ev'y pusson 'bleeged ter teck some. 
Dey kep' de darnse up fo' days, an' de fo'th day dey 
hatter go widout eatin' all day long. W'ensomuver dey 
have de medincin'-darnse dey alluz foller hit up wid 
de eagle-darnse an' de pigeon-darnse, an' each un 'em 
las' fo' days. In de eagle-darnse dey use de eagle-fed- 
ders, an' daddy say 'twuz a fine sight, all dem eagle- 
fedders, each un 'em tip' off wid a li'l bit er fur f'um de 
deer's tail. Dem wuz gran' times, I tell you ! 

"Well, I done tol' you dar wuz a lot er sickness an' 
de people wuz holdin' one'r dem medincin'-darnses, an' 
ol' Hyar' off up in de mountains see de smoke er de 

107 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

fires an' come down ter jine in de fun. "Wen he fin' 
out ^bout de sickness, hit come inter his min' ter play 
doctah, so he go roun' savin' he wuz a gre't medincin' 
man an' axin' folks ter putt out der tongues. He'd say, 




^r^ 



'Come yer, suh, an' putt out yo' tongue, fur 'z you kin, 
don' be 'shame' er de lenk uv hit, 'tain' ev'yb'dy got sech 
a good swoUerer ez dat.' Den he'd come a li'l closter 
an' teck de tongue in his han' an' say, ^Sho ! sho ! yo' 
t-ongue mighty coated, suh. 'Pears lak yo' stummick 
kain't be wu'kkin' lak she orter; lessee 'bout dis.' Wid 

108 



WHY THE TITMOrSE HAS" A BLrXT TOXGUE 

dat he'd gin de tongue a snatch dat pull her clean out 
by de roots. He kilt two er th'ee pussons dat-a-way 
an' den tucken hisse'f off an' hid in de big mountains 
whar dev kain't fin' him. 

"De people dey wuz plumb outdone, so dey hilt a 
kyouncil an' mck up der min's dey wuz gwine ketch 
'im an' fix him so's't de fus' thing he knowed he oon 
know nuttin'. Dey sa}', ^De bes' way ter git 'im down 
f \im de mountains be ter build a fire/ so dey all got 
toge'rr an' built a monst'ous big fire, fus' lightwood an' 
den bresh an' den logs, an' dey kep' pilin' her up an' 
pilin' her up 'twel you cu'd see de light fer miles. Dat 
fetched 'im. But he wuz too smart an' too skittish 
not ter know dev wuz lavin' fer 'im, so he tucken his 
medjures 'cordin'. He have de power ter turn hisse'f 
inter mos' anything he wanter, so he jes' tucken de 
shape uv a b'ar an' come scrunchin' 'long an' squat 
down by de fire. De people wuz hid off in de bresh wid 
der bows an' arrers, but w'en dev see 'twan't nuttin' but 
a b'ar dey ses, ^We ain' have no qu'oil wid Mistah B'ar. 
Jes' we let him 'lone an' save ow' arrers fer dat mis'able 
ol' Hvar'.' So dev done dat, an' Hvar' he sot dar an' sot 
dar, sort er darin' 'em ter come on, but dey ain' 'spicion 
nuttin' an' after w'ile he got tired an' moseyed 'long 
back ter de mountains leavin' 'em settin' dar watchin' 
an' layin' fer 'im. 

"Dey kep' on buildin' fires an' he kep' on comin' an' 
settin' by 'em, fus' in one shape an' den in anu'rr 'twel 
las' de people 'gun ter see thu de dodge an' dey ses, 
^Well, suh, de fool-killer orter come 'long yer an' 'tend 
ter we-all, we sut'n'y has ac' lak plumb ijits, lettin' dat 
ol' rapskallion come yer night after night an' set by de 

109 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

fire an' wo'm hisse'f an' do lak he own de place. We ain' 
got no sense 't all or we'd a knowed 'twan't nob'dy else 
in de worF. I bonn' you he bin havin' a good laugh 
'bout us wid de nabers w'en he got home. 'Twon't do 
ter let dis run on no longer^ fer ef we does, he sho' ter 
git we-all inter hot water somehow er nu'rr. Now de 
on'ies wa}^ we kin mek sho' 'bout dis is jes' ter set back 
in de bresh an' let fly at any creetur whar come an' squat 
hisse'f by dat fire. We mus' jes' s'roun' de fire an' let 
de arrers zip him f um ev'y side.' 

"Den dey went ter wu'k an' sont noration all thu de 
kyountry dat ev'y pusson w^har kin hannle a bow an' 
arrer mus' come ter de meetin' dat night, even de li'l 
boys wuz t-er jine in. All dat day de men an' de boys 
wuz keepin' der ban's in, shootin' at marks, an' de wim- 
mins an' de chillen wuz bringin' de bresh an' de wood 
an' pilin' hit high fer de fire. Soon ez 'twuz dark dey 
lit 'er, an' my ! how she blaze ! I reckon you nuver seed 
no sech a fire ez dat wuz. Dar wan't no wind, an' de 
flame she jes' went a shootin' up in de air, an' ol' Hyar' 
he see hit, 'way off in de mountains, an' he rub his 
ban's toge'rr an' he say, sezee, ^Nabers, I kain't stay 
home dis night, I tell you dat, p'in'-blank. Dars some 
kind er shindig gwine on down dar, by de lookin's er dat 
fire, an' I'se 'bleeged ter know w'at 'tis an' mebbe tek 
a han' in hit.' 

"De nabers dey say, 'Yas, reckon 'twon't do fer you 
ter stay home one night, some 'un might 'spicion dat 
you wuz a decent, sottled sort er pusson ef you done 
dat. Bes' g'long an' keep up de name you done mek 
fer yo'se'f .' 

"Sezee ter hisse'f, ^Dog-my-cats ef I kyare,' an' wdd 

110 



WHY THE TITMOUSE HAS A BLUNT TOXGUE 

dat he riz up in his tracks an' putt out fer cle low groun's 
so fas' dat he sca'cely touch' groun' betwix' jumps. 

"Jes' befo' he got dar he tuck an' change hisse'f inter 
nu'rr shape an' went r'arin' an' chargin' up ter de fire 
lak he wuz pow'ful big an' empawtant. De people come 
miofhtv nis^h bein' tuck in by him ao:'in, Ijut de leader gin 
de signal an' dey close in on 'im, whoopin' an' yellin', an' 
ketched him jes' ez he wuz tryin' ter slip inter de bresh. 
No sooner is dey tetch 'im dan he turnt back inter his 
own shape, an' dey ses, "^Uh-huh, now we foun' you, suh, 
an' finders is keepers, you done ATarn dat all yo' life. 
Xeenter kick, suh, we ain' min' dat. No use ter thump 
de groun' wid yo' behime foot, neener, 'kase der ain' 
none er yo' folks widin call.' 

"Wid dat dey drug him 'way an' tied him to a saplin'. 
Den dey all stood off an' tuck aim an' de arrers jes' 
come a-whizzin' thu de air, zippety-zip, an' struck ol' 
Hyar' mos' ev'y time. He wuz too big a cunjerer ter be 
'feard er dem li'l ol' arrers, so he jes' stood dar laughin'. 
W'en a arrer struck him hit 'ud jes' glance off widout 
hu'tin' him an' he do lak a flea bin an' bit him. Sezee, 
T"m-umph ! is dat nu'rr flea done bit me ? 'Pears lak 
I got a mighty big crap er fleas dis season, keep me 
pow'ful busy ; 'scuse me, gemmen, ef I ain' ez mannerly 
ez w'at I mos' in gin'ly is, dough I kin do dis an' lissen 
at you, too, at one an' de same time.' 

"He wunk one eye at 'em an' wuz dat peart an' sassy 
dat de people fair' foam at de mouf an' dey say, ^Dish 
yers a sho'-'nuff cunjerer an' 'tain' no use ow' tryin' ter 
kill 'im by owse'fs. Le's we send off ter one'r ow' med- 
incin' men an' ax 'im w'at we bes' do ter kill dis owda- 
cious creetur.' 

Ill 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

"Dev kep' him tied up tcr de tree an' sont off ter de 
medincin' man, an' he say, *^Go back an' tell 'em ter shoot 
him in de haid.' So dey all tuck der bows an arrers an' 
aimed at de haid. Bless goodness, 'twnz wuss dan befo'. 
Hyar' jes' stood dar an' nuver even wnnk his eyeleds 
ner twitched his whiskers, an' de arrers dey jes' fell off 
lak water f um a duck's back. Dey seed 'twan't no use 
keepin' dat up, so dey sont off ter de medincin' man 
ag'in an' ax him fer ter please putt his min' ter wu'k an' 
he'p 'em outer der fix, 'kase ol' Hyar' ain' daid yit ner 
showin' nair' sign er dyin', an' he 'bleeged ter git way 
f um 'em an' do a lot er meanness vit ef dev kain't kill 
'im. 

"De medincin'. man study fer a w'ile an' den he say, 
"Well, you-all go back an' tell 'em I say dat de on'ies' 
way dey kin kill dat creetur is ter shoot him in de paw, 
dey kin try f'um now 'twel nuver an' dey kain't do hit 
no way but dat, an' dey neenter try.' 

"Dey went back an' kyar'd de wu'd, an' all de men 
an' boys got der bows an' arrers raidy ag'in an' de leader 
gin de wu'd, ^Go !' Dey all p'inted der arrers at ol' man 
Hyar' an' let 'em fly toge'rr, an' Hyar' he knowed dat 
his time done come, but I tell you he died right game, 
sassy ter de ve'y las', axin' 'em w'y dey ain' think er 
doin' dat-a-way sooner. 

"Atter he wuz daid an' dey see how easy 'twuz ter kill 
'im, dey git kind er mad 'kase dey ain' do hit sooner, 
an' dey ses, ^Xow, w'y in de name er common sense did 
dat medincin' man putt us on de wrong track, tellin' us 
ter shoot ol' Hvar' in de haid, w^'v ain' he tol' us ter 
shoot him in de paw ?' 

"De mo' dey thought 'bout hit de madder dey got, 

112 



WHY THE TITMOUSE HAS A BLUXT TOXGUE 

an' las' dey ses, ^Dat wuz a might}^ 'ceitful, low-down 
trick, an' seem lak we orter punish 'im fer dat, 'kase 
ef we lets hit go, he '11 git so we kain't putt no 'pennance 
on him 't all an' he ain' be no kind er he'p ter we-alL' 

"De medincin' man he wnz neener mo' ner less dan de 
li'l bu'd whar we calls de '^chick-a-dee.' De Injuns calls 
him Thick-a-lee-lee,' w'ich soun' mighty nigh de same. 
Dey go off an' fin' him settin' np on a branch, an' call 
him down an' ax him w'at do he mean bv bein so 'ceit- 
fnl an' puttin' 'em on de wrong track. He ain' have 
nair' wn'd ter say fer hisse'f, dough mos' in gin'l he 
wuz right talky. He jes' hang his li'l haid an' look 
at 'em outen de cornder uv his eye. I 'spec' dey moughter 
kilt 'im ef he 'd gin 'em any sass, but 'kase he ac' lak 
he "vsoiz saw'y dey oon do dat. Dey ses, Thick-a-lee-lee, 
suh, you bin cunjerin' fer we-all dis long time an' we 
done place ow' 'pennance on yo' wu'd an' now you Ijin 
riffht 'ceitful wid us. 'Kase you done tol' us a fib we 
gwine teck an' cut off de een' uv yo' tongue w'at you tol' 
hit wid, an' dat gwine call hit ter yo' min' ev'y time 
you is temp'ed ter tell a fib.' 

"So dey tuck an' tuck Chick-a-lee-lee an' cut off de tip 
een' uv his tongue an' dat huccome Chick-a-lee-lees have 
blunt tons^ues uver sence dat time. An' uver sence den 
dey bin tryin' ter curry faver wid de humans an' mek 
'em fersfit w'at dev done. Dev laks ter be near folks, 
an' dey mek derse'fs mighty useful stroyin' de bugs an' 
de wu'ms offen de fruit trees. Even w'en de snow is on 
de groun' dey come hoppin' roun' de houses, an' dey look 
might'ly please' ef you tek notuss uv 'em. Dey sets der 
haids on one side an' looks up at you outer dey li'l bright 
eyes an' axes, 

113 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

Chich-a-Iee ? Chiclc-a-lee ? 
Is you fren's ivid me? 
Ef you isn you orter he! 
Cliich-a-lee-lee f ChicTc-a-he-lee 9 
Chiclc-a-lee r '' 

As she finished the story, Aunt Thronv looked around 
and saw her grandson stretched out on the ground be- 
hind her, fast asleep. "Wi^yum ! AYi'yum ! Hi, Wi'yum V^ 
she called without effect. "Wake up, Wi'yum ! You 
year me, suh ! Time I come dar an' walk up an' down 
yo' body a time er two, I reckon you wake up ! I thought 
dat fotch you, suh. Jes' you g'long dis minnit an' 
ga'rr up dem nuts an' putt 'em in de bag, an' I 'spec' 
you-all chillen bes' he'p me git de baskits an' things 
to2:e'rr an' 2:0 down ter de branch an' wash vo' face an' 
ban's, 'kase yo' Uncle Hinry be plumb scannelize ef I 
brings you home lookin' lak dat. Den we mus' be 
movin' outen dis ef we gwine git home befo' sundown; 
dat is/' as she saw signs of reluctance, "lessen you 
wanster stay yer all night long wid some er de creeturs 
I done tol' you 'bout." 



114 



THE WOMAX WHO MAERIED AX OWL 



"\Mien the children got home from the nutting expe- 
dition and had eaten supper, they sat around discon- 
tentedly, wishino^ everv few minutes that their mother 
had returned. 

"I wish mamma would come back," said Xed. "I 
never know what to do in the evening when she isn't 
home." 

"I ^low 'bout de bes' you-all kin do is ter lemme putt 
vou ter baid," said Aunt Thronv. 

'^^Don't want to go to bed," "I'm not sleep}^," "Want 
to stay up," came in chorus from three pairs of lips. 

"You chillen is -Rnisser dan night owls," said the old 
woman. "Ef you keeps on wid dis settin'-up-all-night 
bizness, I boun' some er you gwine turn inter one'r dese 
yer big, fussy owls wid yaller eyes styarin', jes' de way 
li'l Mars Kit doin' dis veV minnit, tryin' ter keep hisse'f 
awake. An' dat 'mines me uv a owl whar turnt hisse'f 
inter a man, an' ef a owl kin do dat, w'ats ter hinner 
one'r you-all turnin' inter a owl, I lak ter know ? So you 
bes' come 'long up ter baid, an' ef you is right spry 
gettin' raidy, mebbe I'll whu'l in an' tell you 'bout dat 
owl." 

The little procession moved upstairs, Coonie, the 
house-boy, bringing up the rear with an armful of sticks 
and some fat splinters of lightwood, . which were soon 

115 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

blazing with an oily sputter. Coonie scented a story, 
and his bullet pate was bent over the fire an unnecessa- 
rily long time, as he blew valiant puffs upon the flames 
which no longer needed his assistance, and arranged and 
rearranged his skilfully piled sticks. 

'^Quit dat foolishness, nigger,^^ said ^Phrony at last, 
'^an' set down on de ha^th an^ ^have yo'se'f. Ef you 
wanter stay, whyn't you sesso, stidder blowin' yo'se'f 
black in de face ? Now, den, ef y'all raidy, I gwine be- 
gin. 

"Dish yer w'at I gwine tell happen at de time er de 
'ear w'en de Injuns wuz havin' der green-cawn darnse, 
an' I reckon you-all 'bout ter ax me w'at dat is, so I 
s'pose I mought ez well tell you. 'Long in Angus' w'en 
de Injuns stopped wu'kkin de cawn, w'at we call ^layin' 
by de crap,' den dey cu'd mos' times tell ef 'twuz gwine- 
ter be a good crap, so dey 'mence ter git raidy fer de 
darnse nigh a month befo'han'. De}^ went ter de med- 
incin' man an' axed him fer ter 'pint de day. Den 
medincin' man he sont out runners ter tell ev'b'dy, an' 
de runners de}^ kyar'd 'memb'ance-strings wid knots 
tied all 'long 'em, an' give 'em ter de peo^^le fer ter he'p 
'em 'member. De folks dey'd cut off a knot f'um de 
string each day, an' w'en de las' one done cut off, den 
dey know de day fer de darnse wuz come. An' de med- 
incin' man he sont out hunters, too, fer ter git game, 
an' mo' runners fer ter kyar' hit ter de people so's't 
dey mought cook hit an' bring hit in. 

"W'en de time come, de people ga'rred toge'rr an' 
de medincin' man he tucken some er de new cawn an' 
some uv all de craps an' burnt hit, befo' de people 
wuz 'lowed ter eat. any. After de burnin', den he tucken 

116 



THE WOMAX WHO MAREIED AN" OWL 

a year er cawn in one han' an^ ax fer blessin's an' 
good craps wid dat han', w'ile lie raise up tu'rr lian' ter 
de storm an' de win' an' de liail an' baig 'em not ter 
bring evil 'pun de people. Atter dat, dey all made der 
bre'kfus' offen roas'in'-years er de new cawn an' den de 
darnse begun an' lasted f o' days an' f o' nights ; de men 
dress' up in der bes' an' de gals wearin' gre't rattles tied 
on der knees, dat shuk an' rattled wid ev'y step. 

"De gal whar I gwine tell 'bout wuz on her way home 
on de fo'th night, an' she wuz pow'ful tired, 'kase dem 
rattles is monst'ous haivy, an' she bin keepin' hit up fo' 
nights han' runnin'. She wuz gwine thu a dark place 
in de woods w'en suddintly she seed a young man all 
wrop up in a sof gray blankit an' leanin' 'gins' a tree. 
His eyes wuz big an' roun' an' bright, an' dey seemed ter 
bu'n lak fire. Dem e3^es drord de gal an' drord de gal 
'twel she wan't 'feard no mo', an' she come nearer, an' 
las' he putt out his arms wrop up in de gray blanket 
an' drord her clost 'twel she lean erg'in him, an' she look 
up in de big, bright cats an' she say, ^Whar is you, whar 
is you?' An' he say, ^Oo-goo-coo, Oo-goo-coo.' Dat wuz 
de QYvMYTxhee name fer '^owl,' but de gal ain' pay no 
'tention ter dat, for mos' er de Injun men wuz name' 
atter bu'ds an' beas'eses an' sech ez dat. Atter dat she 
useter go out ter de woods ev'y night ter see de young 
man, an' she alluz sing out ter him, ^Whar is you, whar 
is you?' an' he'd arnser, ^Oo-goo-coo, Oo-goo-coo.' Dat 
wuz de on'ies wu'd he uver say, but de gal thought 'twuz 
all right, fer she done mek up her min' dat he 'longed 
ter nu'rr tribe er Injuns whar spoke diff'nt f'um her 
own people. Sidesen dat, she love' him, an' w'en gals 
is in love dey think ev'ything de man do is jes' 'bout 

117 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

riglit, an' dcse ycr co' tin-couples is no gre't han's fcr 
talkin'^ nohow. 

"De gal's daddy wuz daid an' her an' her mammy live 
all "lone, so las' she mek np her min' dat it be heap 
mo' hand}^ ter have a man ronn' de house, so she up 
an'- tell her mammy dat she done got ma'ied. Her 
mammy say, 'You is, is you? Well, who de man?' De 
gal say *^Oo-goo-coo.' 'Well, den,' sez her mammy, 'I 
reckon you bes' bring home dish yer Oo-goo-coo an' see 
ef we kain't mek him useful. A li'l good game, now an' 
den, 'ud suit my mouf right well. We ain' have nair' 
pusson ter do no huntin' fer us sence yo' daddy died.' 

" 'Mammy,' sez de gal, 'I'se 'bleeged ter tell you dat 
my husban' kain't speak ow' langwidge.' 

"'All de better,' sez her mammy, sez she. "Dar ain' 
gwine be no trouble 'bout dat, 'kase I kin do talkin' 
'nuff fer two, an' I ain' want one dese yer back-talkin' 
son-in-laws, nohow.' 

"So de nex' night de gal went off an' comed back late 
wid de young man. Her mammy ax him in an' gin 
him a seat by de fire, an' dar he sot all wrop up in his 
blankit, wid his haid turnt 'way f'um de light, not sayin' 
nuttin' ter nob"'d3^ An de fire died down an' de wind 
blewed mo'nful outside, an' dar he sot on an' on, an' 
w'en de wimmins went ter sleep, dar he wuz settin', 
still. But in de mawnin' w^'en dey wolfed up he wuz 
gone, an' dey ain' see hya'r ner hide uv 'im all day. 

"De nex' night he come erg'in and bringed a lot er 
game wid 'im, an' he putt dat down at de do' an' set 
hisse'f down by de fire an' stay dar, same ez befo', not 
sayin' nair' wu'd. Dat kind er aggervex de gal's mammy 
at las', 'kase she wuz one'r dese yer wimmins whar no 

118 



THE WOMAX WHO MAREIED AX OAYL 

sooner gits w^at cley ax fer clan dey ain' kyare ^bout hit 
no mo'. She want son-in-hi^v whar kain't talk^ she git 
him, an' den she want one whar kin arnser back. She 
gittin' kind er jubous 'bout him, but she 'feared ter say 
anything fer fear he quit an' she git no mo' game. 

"Thu'd night he come onct mo' wid a passel er game, 
an' she mighty cur'ous 'bout him by dat time. She say 
ter husse'f, ^"Well I ef I ain' got de curisomest son-in-law 
in dese diggin's, den I miss de queschin. I wunner w"at 
mek him set wid his face turnt f'um de fire an' blinkin' 
his eyes all de time ? I wimner w'v he ain' nuver onloose 
dat blankit, an' w'y he g'longs off 'fo' de daylight an' 
nuver comes back 'twel de dark.' 

" '^Oh, mammy,' sez de gal, sez she, 'ain' I tol' you 
he kain't speak ow' langwidge, an' I 'spec' he done come 
f'um dat wo'm kvountry whar we year tell l^out, 'way off 
yonner, an' dat huccome he hatter keep his blankit 
roun' him. I reckon he o^it so tired huntin' all day, no 
wunner he hatter blink his eyes ter keep 'em open.' 

"But her mammy wan't sassified, 'kase hit mio^hty 
hard ter haid off one'r dese yer pryin' wimmins, so she 
go outside an' ga'rr ujd some lightwood splinters an' 
th'ow 'em on de fire, dis-away, all uy a suddint." Here 
the old woman rose and threw on a handful of lightwood, 
which blazed up with a great sputtering, and in the 
strong light she stood before the fire enacting the part 
of the scared Owl for the delighted yet half-startled 
children. 

"An' w'en she th'owed hit on,^' Aunt 'Phrony pro- 
ceeded, "de fire blaze an' spit an' sputter jes' lak dis do, 
an' de ooman she fotched a yell an' cried out, she did, 
'Lan' er de mussiful I Wat cur'ous sort er wood is dish 

119 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

yer dat ac' lak dis?' De Owl he wiiz startle' an' he look 
roim' Slid dint, dis-a-way, over his shoulder, an' de wim- 
mins dey let out a turr'ble screech, 'kase dey seed 'twan't 
nuttin' but a big owl settin' dar blinkin'. 

"Owl seed he wuz foun' out, an' he riz up an' give his 
gre't, wide wings a big flop, lak dis, an' swoop out de 
do' cryin' ^Oo-goo-coo ! Oo-goo-eoo !' ez he flewed off inter 
de darkness." Here x\unt 'Phrony spread her arms like 
wings and made a swoop half-way across the room to the 
bedside of the startled children. "An'/^ she continued, 
"de wind howl mo'nful all night long, an' seem ter de 
gal an' her mammy lak 'twuz de voice of po' Oo-goo-coo 
mo'nin' fer de gal he love." 

"And didn't he ever come back ?" said I^ed. 

"Naw, suh, dat he didn'. He wuz too 'shame' ter 
come back, an' he bin so 'shame' er de trick uver sence 
dat he hide hisse'f way in de daytime an' nuver come out 
'twel de dusk, an' den he go sweepin' an' swoopin' 'long 
on dem gre't big sof wdngs, so quiet dat he ain' mek de 
ghos' uv a soun', jes' looks lak a big shadder flittin' 
roun' in de dusk. He teck dat time, too, 'kase he know 
dat 'bout den de li'l fiel' mouses an' sech ez dat comes 
out an' 'mences ter run roun', an' woe be unter 'em ef 
dey meets up wid Mistah Owl ; deys a-goner, sho'." 

"But how could they think an owl was a man ?" asked 
Janev. 

"Well, honey, de tale ain' tell dat, but I done study 
hit out dis-a-way, dat mo'n likely de gal bin turnin' up 
her nose at some young Injun man, an' outer spite he 
done gone an' got some witch ter putt a spell on her 
so's't de Owl 'ud look lak a man an' she 'ud go an' 
th'ow husse'f awav on a ol' no-kvount bu'd. Yas, I 

120 



THE WOMAX WHO MARRIED AX OWL 

reckon dat wiiz 'bout cle way. An' now y'all l3etter shet 
up dem peepers er you'll be gittin' lak de owls^ no good 
in de daytime, an' wantin' ter be up an' prowlin' all 
night." 



121 



MR. MUD-TUETLE"S ADVENTURE 

The next day tlie children went down to the river for 
the first time^, under the guidance and protection of 
William, who knew the short cut through the low- 
grounds and just which were the places where you were 
most likely to get a bite, for the river and he were old 
and dear acquaintances and had communed together 
through many a long, sunny day. The river had im- 
parted many of its choicest secrets to him, for there is 
no one with whom Madam Xature lives on closer terms 
of intimacy and sympathy than with that wholly un- 
trammeled and entirely natural animal, known as "The 
Bov.^^ 

William was the possessor of a vast store of infor- 
mation dear to the heart of childhood, and was never 
better pleased than when called upon to impart some 
of his knowledge to the less enlightened. He knew and 
could imitate the notes of the birds and the cries of the 
beasts. He could tell when spring was approaching or 
summer departing by the arrival or departure of certain 
birds, or the preparations made by certain animals. He 
could tell time by looking at the sun and was learned in 
weather-signs. He had other information, besides, of a 
lesser but more practical sort, for he knew the where- 
abouts of a shellbark hickorv, the onlv one for miles 
around, and had located a persimmon tree whose crop 

122 



MR. MUD-TURTLE'S ADYEXTURE 

never failed and whose fruit was described as "mon- 
st'ous'^ for size. He l^new how to make a running noose, 
and could lasso a fleeing calf with the ease born of 
long practice. He was an authority on jack-knives, and 
could carve peach-stone baskets, make slings and whis- 
tles and manufacture bows and arrows. He was well up 
in marbles and knew Just how many "commies" to give 
for an "ally,'^ and how many allies for a "glassy," and 
if he pla3^ed "for keeps" was pretty sure to do all the 
keeping. 

"Jack-straws" and "mumble-the-peg" were also among 
his lighter accomplishments, but the one which 
exalted him most in the eves of the children was his 
skill as a bareback rider. As he rode a big horse to 
wat^r, sitting sidewise, whooping and digging his naked 
feet into the animal to urge him to greater speed, their 
admiration was unbounded. Yet this was not the end 
of his resources, for he could take you to a wonderful 
grapevine swing, in which you could swing perilously out 
over the edge of a deep hollow, holding your breath fear- 
fully until you landed on terra fir ma again ; or he could 
pilot you to an old peach-tree which exuded enough gum 
to supply a dozen children; or he could take you to a 
place where Indian arrow-heads were still to be found; 
and added to all this, he knew a spot in the garden 
where the youthful fishermen could always find worms 
for bait. 

He was important and happy as he marshaled his 
little company down to the bank of the dark, sluggish 
river that, like some noiselessly gliding snake, wound 
in and out beneath the cypresses and the pines. He chose 
a safe sjDot for the children, near a shallow, and baited 

123 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

hooks all around^ and then, removing himself a short dis- 
tance, sat immovable, j^ole in hand and bait in mouth, 
waiting for a bite with all the patient impatience of the 
born ano-ler. 

His little companions found too much to look at 
and wonder about and talk over to make a success 
at fishing, and they sadly interfered with his sport ; but 
after a wdiile they tired of waiting for a bite and wan- 
dered up and down the bank in search of shells and 
bright pebbles and all the other treasures which generous 
rivers lay out upon their banks within reach of small 
hands. Then they wandered a little way into the bushes 
in search of woodland treasures, and at last, growing 
tired, they rested beneath a tree, while little Kit laid his 
head in Janey's lap and fell fast asleep. Here Aunt 
'Phrony found them when she came to say that dinner 
was ready. 

"Whar dat boy Wi'yum?^^ she asked; ^^fishin' yit, 1*11 
be boun' ! Jes^ let him git a pole in his han^ an' he nuver 
know ef he's 'wake er sleep er full er empty. Wi'yum ! 
You Wi'yum ! Kain't you arnser me, er is I gotter come 
dar an' stomp all over you !" 

However, she was not forced to administer correction 
in that comprehensive form, for just then Wi'yum gave 
an excited vrhoop, as though to announce something im- 
portant, and on hurrying down they found him in the act 
of securing a good-sized mud-turtle. Aunt 'Phrony lent 
her aid, in as great a state of excitement as Wi'yum 
himself, whom she advised to be very careful or he might 
lose his turtle, for "mud-turkles," she said, were "mighty 
slickry an' onsut'n, an' lessen you keeps a sharp eye 



124 



MR. MUD-TrETLE'S ADVEXTrEE 

on ^em dev may ffit Vav f "um you, same ez dat trickish 
ol' Mistah Mud-turkle git 'way f'um de creetiirs one 
time w'en dev thought dey sho'-'nuff had 'im. Ef y'all 
hurry up yo' cakes an' ga'rr yo' trash toge'rr an' come 
''lonor home dis ve'v minnit, mebbe I'll tell you dat tale 
ez we go 'long/' 

The treasures so disrespectfully referred to as "trash" 
were caught up in great haste and the homeward proces- 
sion formed. Wi yum leading the way^ proudly bearing 
the mud-turtle. 

"Well, ez I wuz sayin'," the old woman went on, 
"Mistah Mud-turkle he wuz a mighty slickry man. an' 
he bin up ter mo' tricks dan you kin shake a stick at, 
an' he git right onpop'lous wid de creeturs. He knowed 
dey wuz sort er layin' fer 'im, an' ev'ry now an' den he'd 
come up f'um de bottom er de riyer an' ketch 'em on de 
bank watchin' fer 'im. Den he'd kick his behime laigs 
up in de air at 'em an' diye down wid a gre't splash. 
Atter a li'l he'd come up ag'in, unner de shadder uy a 
big lily pad, an' lay jes' below de top er de water wid his 
snout out ter git de air, watchin' de creeturs whar wuz 
layin' fer him. Wen dey wan't lookin' he'd climb up on 
de loo- a2:'in, an' ef dey showed sims er mekin' a snatch 
at 'im, down he'd go wid anu'rr splash. 

"One time dey ketched 'im w'en he bin mo' rantanker- 
ous dan uyer befo', an' dey ses to 'im, '^Mistah Mud- 
turkle, we is ye'y saw'y we hatter speak so plain ter you, 
but de trufe is we done gin you a long rope an' now 
3'ou is come ter de plumb een' uy hit an' we kain't pay 
out no mo', we 'bleeged ter pull you up shawt on de 
road you is gwine, an' we'se sut'n'y saw'y ter fotch you 



125 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

up wid a ju'k but we done made up ow' min's dat we 
mus' do hit emejiatel}^, so we gwine exescoot you on 
de spot/ 

"Or Mud-turkle he ^suade an' he 'suade an' he *suade, 
but 'twan't no use, an' las' he say, '^Gemmen, dish yer is 
mighty hard on bofe un us, 'kase I 'low dat you ain' 
hone ter do dis an' I knows I ain' hone ter have hit done, 
but ef exescoot is de T\^ud, w'y den exescoot mus' be de 
deed. But I ax y'all, gemmen, 'kase jou is fambl}^ men, 
same ez me, ter please lemme go home an' bid far'well 
ter my ol' ooman an' de chillens.' 

"Den he drord down one er his th'ee pairs er eyelcds 
an' sot dar lookin' jes' ez sleepy ez you please an' ez 
harmless ez ef he ain' nuver kotched an' et even so much 
ez a frog er a tadpole. 

"De creeturs wuz might'ly tickled by w'at he ax 'bout 
goin' home ter bid far'well, but dey wan't tucken in by 
hit, so dey ses, ^Saw'3^ not ter 'commodate you, but to- 
day's right yer an' to-morrer's right dar, an' de bu'd in 
de han' 's wuf two in de bush, so you mought ez well mek 
yo' reddymints an' say yo' pra'rs, 'kase we is gwine putt 
you in de midse er dish yer big fire we buildin' up, an' 
dat '11 mek sho' you kain't cut no mo' er yo' highf alutins 
in dese diggin's.' 

"Turkic he wuz kind er cas' down fer a minnit, an' sot 
dar wid his jaw drapt, but pres'n'y he git a notion dat 
perk him up might'ly, an' he say, ^Sho ! you-all done 
tucken so much trouble 'bout dat fire dat I is mos' 
'shame' ter tell you, yo' wu'k ain' gwine 'mount ter 
shucks, 'kase I wuz bawnded an' brunged up in de fire, 
an' ef dar is one place mo'n a nu'rr whar I feels at home, 
hits spang in de fire.' 

126 







O 
O 

S3 



Si 






MR. MUD-TURTLE'S ADVEXTURE 

"Den de creeturs go off lil ways an' have a confab, 
an' den dey come back an' putt a big pot er water on 
de fire, an' w'en bit git ter bilin', dey ses, ^Well, Mistah 
Mud-turkle, yo' time is sho'ly come now, fer onet yon 
strike dat bilin' water we gwine th'ow you in, bit '11 be 
good-by, ^listali ^lud-turkle.' 

"Den he sa}", sezee, ^Gemmen, I'se saw'y ter see you 
was'e so much er yo' time on a no-kyount creetur lak 
me, so I gwine tell you you kain't kill me dat-a-way. T 
a in' min' ef you putt me in de pot, 'kase all I gotter 
do be ter scrabble roun' a li'l an' kick out my footses, 
an' I got sech strenk in 'em dat firs' news you know de 
pot be over an' mo'n likely some er you-all whar ain' got 
a shell on you be scalt stidder me. I'se saw'y ter upsot 
yo' plans, but I be boun' ter upsot de pot, dat's de gospel 
trufe.* 

"By dat time de creeturs wuz kind er outdone, an' dey 
say, T/b's we-all tek de mis'able ol' bag-er-shucks an' 
th'ow him ker-smack inter de river, I boun' you dat be 
big 'nuff so's't he kain't kick outen hit.' 

"Or Turkic he snicker ter hisse'f w'en he year dat, 
'kase he see dey done fergot he b'long in de river. Den 
he say wid a turr'ble whine in his voice, '^Oh, please, 
gemmen, fer de love er mussy don' you go fer ter th'ow 
me in de river. Kill me any way you wanter, but not 
dat ; seem lak I kain't stan' hit ter be at de bottom er de 
col', dark river.' 

"He kep' gwine on dat-a-way 'kase he knowed de 
creeturs be sho' ter putt him dar ef dey think he ain' 
•wanter go, but in co'se de river wuz prezackly de place 
whar he b'long an' whar he wanter be. 

"Sho' 'nufi ! dey tucken him by de tail an' drug him 

127 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

down to (le river, liim baiggin' all de time, ^Oh, please, 
siih, lemme go ! Please don' do me dis-a-way ! Lemme 
off dis time an' I ain' do so no mo' !' De creetnrs ain' pay- 
no 'tention but go right on an' th'ow him inter de deepes' 
place whar dey kin fin'. Wen he git ter de bottom he 
laid dar still ez a mouse, not even so mnch ez twitchin' 
his tail, an' dey thought he wuz sho'-'nufE daid an' went 
of? an' lef him. 

"Wen dey git of? a piece, he open one eye mighty 
kyarfiil an' wall hit roun' a li'l an' seed de coas' w^nz 
cle'r. Den he 'gun ter climb out on tn'rr bank. Wen 
he wuz clean up on de bank an' knowed dey cu'dden git 
'cross to him, he fetched a big whoop, an' w'en dey turn 
roun' ter look he sing out, ^Hi, yi ! gemmen, how is dish 
ver fer a exescooshun ? Come 'lons^ over ver an' exescoot 
me some mo' ! I'se feelin' tol'ble lively fer a cawpse, 
I is !' An' wid dat he fotched anu'rr whoop an' dove 
down de bank inter water, haid fo'most, an' lef 'em dar 
fair foamin' at de mouf. An' I reckon we better be 
hurryin' 'long li'l faster'n we has bin, er 'Liza she be 
foamin' at de mouf, too, 'kase you done kep' de dinner 
waitin'. Cooks is mighty tetchy 'bout dat." 



128 



WHY THE FLOUXDER IS FLAT 



The children's mother returned the next morning, 
■with Aunt IsTancy, and the latter greeted her little 
charges with much hugging and many warm words of 
affection. "Come yer, my honey-buds, my sugar lumps, 
my apple-dumplin's, come yer ter yo' ol' Aunt Nancy an' 
gimme a good, tight hug ! Bless my soul, dese yer de 
sweetes' things I seed sence I bin gone. Bless dis baby's 
heart, I ain' seed no sech yaller curls ez dem, dat I ain' ! 
Gimme nu'rr hug ! Um-umph ! I dunno w'at de ol' 
ooman gwine do w'en dese chillen go off an' leaye her. 
'Spec' she hatter foller 'long wid 'em. Come yer ag'in 
an' lemme see ef dat 'Phrony bin keepin' y'all good an' 
clean." 

All day she kept them on their best behavior by telling 
them that she had heard two new stories while she was 
away, which she proposed to tell them that evening if 
the}' had been good enough to deserve it. 

That night when she was putting them to bed they 
inquired anxiously if their conduct had been all that 
she could desire, and if the stories were to be forthcom- 
ing. Janey, by way of a clincher, informed her that 
Aunt 'Phrony had been telling them stories every night, 
"and sometimes in the day-time, too." 

Aunt Xancy appeared to pay no attention to this, but 
it nevertheless had the desired effect of hastening the 
story-telling. 

129 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

"Dese tales/' she said, "I yearn f um a tide-water 
nigger; one whar live in ol' Gloiicaster, by de salt 
water, all liis life. Dat hiiccome one'r de tales is 'bout 
fishes, an' mo' 'special w'y de flounder is flat. You 
know nios' er de fishes jes' stan's up on der narrer 
aidges an' cuts thu de water dat-a-way, but de flounders 
dey lays flat 'cross de water an' goes flounderin' 'long, 
so-fashion. Dey sut'n'y is curisome creeturs, 'cordin' 
ter w'at dat man tol' me. He say dar haids look jes' 
lak dey wuz all wrench' roun' ter one side, wid de two 
eyes growin' on one side, stidder bofe, de way 'tis wid 
mos' fishes, an' der moufs look lak dey growed crooked, 
too. An' stidder bein' de same color on bofe sides, dey're 
white beneaf an' dark on top, jes' de color er de mud 
banks dey lays on at de bottom er de water. Bein' ez 
dey lays low dat-a-way dey ain' hatter watch out beneaf 
'em, jes' hatter keep on de lookout fer sump'n up above 
'em, an' so dem eyes on de top side jes' suit 'em pre- 
zackty. 

"Well, dat Gloucester man he sav dat onct dar wuz 
noration sont out thu all de rivers an' de Gre't Bav — 
dat mean de Chisapeake — dat de fishes mus' meet to- 
ge'rr an' choose 'em a king whar wuz ter be King of all 
de Fishes. De big fish ac' mighty uppitty w'en dey 
year dis. Dey snort an' flap der tails an' jump outen 
de water an' say : *^Umph ! leave dat ter de small fry, 
we-all is kings a'raidy. Folks dat kin do ez dey please, 
an' go whar dey please an' ketch an' eat up de .li'l fish 
w'en dey please, an' ain' k3^are whe'rr de wind blow er 
de sun shine, an' kin swim slow er swim fas' an' ride 
on de big waves out inter de deej) waters ; w'}^, dem folks 
is sho'-'nuff kings an' ain' got no use fer jes' de name 

130 



WHY THE FLOUNDEE IS FLAT 

uv hit. ^Deed dem is de on'ies kings w'at dey is ; tu'rr 
kin^ is jest de sarvants er de people. ^Scuse we-all f um 
sech ez dat. Let de small fry choose a king fer deyse'fs, 
ef dey wanster. I boun' you dis marter gwine stir up 
a big mess 'mongs' ^em an' keep 'em 'sputin' fer a mont' 
er Sundays.' 

"So de small fry met toge'rr^ down ter de las' li'l 
minner, an' dev comed f'um fur an' f'um near, f'um 
ev'y li'l river dat run inter de Gre't Bay, an' f'um ev'y 
part er de bay hitse'f, an' f'um de deep \yater an' f'um 
de slialler, an' dey comed roundin' de p'int in shoals an' 
shoals, so many dat you cu'd sca'cely see de water fer de 
fishes, an' dey sailed on up inter Mob Jack Bay whar 
de meetin' wuz ter be. I tell you dat mus' 'a bin a 
gre't sight. An' ez dey swim 'long der fins made sech a 
noise cuttin' thu de water, 'kase dar wuz so many uv 'em, 
dat hit soun' lak de sides uv a monst'ous big ship cuttin' 
an' swishin' thu de water. 

"Wen dey wuz all ga'rrd toge'rr you nuver year no 
sech a splashin' an' dashin' in all yo' bawn days. Dey 
dart 3^er an' dar an' back an' fo'th an' up an' down, an' 
dey talk an' dey talk an dey talk, but dey kain't seem ter 
mek up der min's, 'kase de trufe wuz dat ev'y las' man 
er de lot thought he orter be king. Th'ee er f o' 'ud putt 
der haids toge'rr an' whusper an' say, ^Well, suh, who 
you think gwine be made de king ?' ^Who is yo' chyce fer 
de place ?' ^N"ow what you think 'bout dat feller so-an'- 
so? I kin see he's atter de job, dat's plain ez a pike- 
staff, but I bin knowin' him uver sence he wuz a minner ; 
'deed we wuz bawnded an' brunged up in de same 
shaller, an' I kain't see nuttin' to 'im. I be boun' ef I 
gwine gin my vote ter no sech a numbskull ez dat.' 

131 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

'^W'en dev ax one nu'rr ^Wlio is yo' chyce?' eacli im 
^em 'spec' ter year tii'rr say, 'WV, you, suh, you is de 
ve'y man ter suit de place.' But each fish want de 
place fer hisse'f, so dey jes' shake der haids an' say: 
'Dunno! dunno nuttin' 't all 'bout hit. Dese things 
mighty hard ter fin' out. You nuver kin tell who gwine 
come out on top.' 

'^Las/ li'l AMiite Perch git kind er tired foolin' roun' 
so long, an' he tell 'em he gotter be swimmin' 'long 
to'des home, fer he live over on do Eastern Sho' an' 
mus' git dar fo' dark, 'kase he say dar wuz ev'y chanct 
in de worl' dat he git nipped up by some er de big fish 
ef he travel atter sundown. So he 'low : 'Gemmen, I'se 
a numble an' onignoran' man an' may irrepresent my- 
se'f, but sence none er you speak out in de meetin', I 
ffwine do hit mvse'f. I name to vou my fren' Mistah 
Billv-fish. He de bes' man I knows fer ter teck dis 
place whar seem ter be gwine baiggin' 'mongs' y'all. 
Le's we mek him king an' gin him de name er King 
Billy.' 

"Dar wuz gre't 'miration all tliu de meetin' over dat 
talk er White Perch. Sech a whus.perin' an' confabbin' 
an' haid-shakin', you nuver see de beat ; an' dey waggled 
der fins an' der tails an' bio wed water thu der gills 
'twel Mob Jack Bay wuz all uv a foam. But dey wuz 
all so sot on bein' king dat nob'dy speak up an' name 
any urr fish. Den dey kep' still a w'ile an' thought 
over de marter, 'kase dey hate might'ly ter gin up de 
notion er bein' king derse'fs, but dey seed de time wuz 
gwine by an' nuttin' done, so dey 'gree at las' an' mek 
Billy-fish king, an' all crowd roun' an' pass de time er 



132 



WHY THE FLOUXDER IS FLAT 

day wid ^im an' call 'im "^King Billy/ An' he ^Yuz de 
king in dcm waters fer 'ears an' 'ears-, an' he have a big 
fambly er chillen, an' ter dis day you kin fin' lots er his 
folks in de Gre't Bay an' in all de li'l bays an' rivers. 

"De Flounder done corned ter de meetin' feelin' sho' 
de people gwine teck him fer king, an' w'en he year 
'em callin' Billy-fish ^King Billy,' he wuz dat mad he 
turnt raid in de gills. "^Mis'able li'l Billy-fish !' sezee ; 
^ter think er dat creetur bein' made king w'en he dunno 
'nuff ter teck good kyare uv hisse'f, let 'lone lookin' 
atter urr folks. An' ver me whar know mo'n he uver 
gwine fergit, an' dey done pass me over same'z I ain' 
bin yer. I ain' gwine be boss' by no li'l ol' no-k3^ount 
billy-fish ; now you year me talkin' ! Not much bigger'n 
a minner ! Him ter have^de say er me? Xaw, sub, not 
w'ile my name's Floppy Flounder !' 

"AVid dat he gin his haid a toss ter one side an' puffed 
out his gills an' said ^Sho-o-o !' an' lo beholst you, he 
gin his haid sech a pow'ful ju'k dat hit jes' stayed ter 
one side an' he ain' nuver bin able ter git hit back 
ag'in ; so he hatter go swimmin' 'long wid de fiat side up. 

"W'en tu'rr fish see dat, dey think he jes' doin' hit 
'kase he mad, an' dey ses ter one nu'rr : 'Hi ! ol' Floppy 
Flounder gittin' mighty biggity, gwine roun' yer wid 
his haid all r'ared ter one side, jes' 'kase we-all ain' 
mek him king. I boun' his ol' neck git tired an' he be 
glad ter turn hit ])ack 'fo' long.' 

"But pres'n'y dey fin' out he kain't git hit back no- 
hows, an' den dey felt saw'y fer him an' tried ter he'p 
him turn hit 'roun', but 'twan't no use, she'z dar ter 
stay ; an' so de po' creetur bin gwine roun' dat way uver 






AT THE BIG HOUSE 

sence, an' people year iiv him fur an' wide, an' w'en dey 
wanter say anytliing's flat dey say hit's *^flat ez a 
flounder.' 

" Tears ter me/' the old woman added, with a mean- 
ing glance at Janey, " 'pears ter me I done seed a li'l 
gal tossin' her haid at her mammy dis ve'y day, an' I 
ses ter myse'f, den an' dar, dat I gwine tell her de tale 
er de Flonnder, so's't she know w'at mought happen 
ef she keep dat up. Chillen's haids ain' stuck on no 
closeter dan fishes' haids, I reckon ; so dey bes' be kyar- 
ful w'at dey does wid 'em." 



134 



BEOTHER SQUIREEL AND MOLLY HARE 



Ci^ 



Xow, den/^ said Aunt ^N'ancy, when she had finished 
the story of the Flounder, "I reckon y'all done had ^nuff 
f er dis night, isn^ you T^ 

"Xo, we liaven't/' said jSTed, with an injured air. 
"You said you'd tell two to-night if we were good ; and 
so I didn't do lots of things I wanted to, and I was 
careful about getting over the fences and only snagged 
my trousers once, just a teenty little hole." 

"And I only took one piece of pie for dinner; I said 
^Xo, thank you,' when they offered me another, but I 
wanted it all the time," said Janey, "and there were 
lots of things I could have done if I hadn't been trying 
to behave, and I'll go and do 'em to-morrow if 3'ou don't 
do what you said you would." 

The old woman looked at Janey over her huge, brass- 
rimmed spectacles with as severe an expression as her 
good-natured face could assume. 

"Well, I ain' de one gwine be hurt by yo' nortiness," 
she said, ^T3ut ef I done promuss you two tales, den I 
gwine gin you two, 'kase I ain' gwine back on my wu'd, 
even w'en chillen ac's kind er uppish wid me an' gits 
ter talkin' onmannerly. Dis tale is 'bout Brer Squ'l 
an' Mis' Molly Hyar', an' hit wuz telled ter me by de 
same man whar tell me 'bout de Flounder an' tu'rr 
fishes. 

135 



AT THE Bia HOUSE 

"He say dat in de ol'^ ol' times, Mis' Moll}^ Hyar' 
iiseter wunner w'y *twuz w'eii her an' Brer Squ'l look so 
much hik one niv'rr, dat he live up in a tree an' she live 
down on de groun'. ^I'se ev'y bit ez good ez he is/ she say 
ter hnsse'f. '^I 'spose he feel mighty biggitty 'kase he live 
"up dar in de tree, an' I reckon he kind er look down on 
gronn'-walkers lak me. But I boun' you I gwine teck 
him down a peg er two nex' time I see 'im. Mis'able 
li'l skeezicks ! So proud er dat bushy tail dat he all 
time r'arin' hit up clean over his haid so's't folks kin 
see hit.' She talk dat-a-way 'kase she right tetchy 'bout 
her own tail whar got nipt off shawt one'r dem times 
w'en she wuz up ter some uv her 'havishness. 

"Las', one da}', she met up wid 'im at de foot uv a 
tree. He wuz settin' up gnorrin' a nut an' turnin' hit 
roun' an' roun' in his li'l paws. She stop' an' squat 
down on her ha'nches an' pass de time er day wid "im. 
^Howdy, Brer Squ'l/ she say, an' he stop' gnorrin' an' 
hilt de nut in one li'l paw an' 'spon', ^^Howd}', ma'am, 
howdy,' 'kase he wuz a mighty mannerly li'l feller an' 
oon go on eatin' w'iles dar wuz a lady roun'. 

"Den, he say : ^Mis' Molly, won't you please, ma'am, 
come up ter my house in de tree an' mek yo'se'f comf "ble 
an' at home? I be proud ter see you in my house, 
ma'am.' 

" ^N'aw, thanky, suh,' sez she ; '^I come a right fur 
ways to-day, an' I ain' feel ekal ter de climbin' ; ain' ez 
young ez I onct wuz. Brer Squ'l.' She talk dat-a-Way 
'kase she ain' wanter let on dat she wan't use ter climbin' 
trees. 

"Pres'n'y she say, sort er sniffin' an' turnin' up her 
nose all de time she talkin': 'Brer Squ'l, you an' me 

136 



BEOTHER SQUIEREL AXD MOLLY HAEE 

sut'n'y look sump'n lak one nu'rr, but seem ter me hit's 
oiry skin deep; we ain' ac' nuttin' 't all de same. You 
eats nuts an' I eats o:yardin-truck ; you liyes in a hole 
in de tree, an' I liyes in a hole in de groun' ; an' I 
reckon I kin do a heap er tilings you kain't do. 'Pears 
ter me 'bout de on'ies' thing you kin do is ter run up 
a tree.' 

^'Brer Squ'l he drap de nut an' hang bote paws, kind 
er meek an' numl^le, an' he say, sezee : Tur be hit f'um 
me ter say dat I is de ekal uy a nice lady lak Mis' 
]\Iolly Hyar'. But please, ma'am, ter show me some er 
de things you kin do, 'kase I done year tell dat you is 
a monst'ous spry ooman.' 

"Molly she snigger at dat an' say : ^G'long 'way f'um 
yer. Brer Squ'l, w'at you wanter bamboozle a po' ooman 
fer, wid yo' flattersome wu'ds? You men-folks orter 
be 'shame' er yo'se'f ; 'deed you ort.' 

"Squ'l he say, sezee : ^Wellum, you kin b'lieye hit er 
not, but I alluz means w'at I sez; an' de nabers'll all 
tell you de same. I wuz bawnded yer, las' 'ear, an' 
brung up right in dis tree, an' dey all knows me right 
well.' 

" '^Well, ef you talkin' de trufe,' sez she, sniggerin' 
a2:'in lak she still feel kind er backwu'ds 'bout hit, doush 
all de time she wuz jes' a-honin' ter show husse'f off; 
Veil, ef dat de trufe, den I gwine whu'l in an' show 
you some tricks whar is tricks sho'-'nuff; hit teks me 
ter do 'em.' "Wid dat she turnt husse'f aloose, an' uy 
all de gwines-on you uyer see, dem tuck de lead. She 
go kitin' long a piece, an' den all uy a suddint she 
r'ar up on her ha'nches an' do lak she lissen ; den she 
gin a monst'ous jump an' go on, an' den she hide, an' 

137 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

den come out ag'in ; an' den she double lak de dogs atter 
'er an' she wantcr git 'way f um 'em, an' she dat spr}^ 
an' soople seem lak she do all dem tricks widout half 
tryin'. 

"Brer Squ'l he monst'ous p'lite, an' he watch her 
clost an' pay good 'tention an' wuz mighty please' wid 
ev'ything. He clap his li'l paws an' say: '^Good fer 
you, Mis' Molly Hyar ! You sut'n'y is a sho'-'nuff 
jumper! I boun' dar ain' nair' dog in dese parts kin 
run you down, Mis' Molly.' 

"She say: '^Oh shucks! dis ain' nuttin' 'tall. Wait 
'twel I show you w'at's w'at.'- An' wid dat she 'mence 
all oyer ag'in an' putt in all de extry licks she cu'd think 
uy, scootin' in an' out 'mongs' de trees an' de bushes so 
fas' dat you cu'dden see no laigs ner feet, jes' look lak 
a wad er fur dat wuz bein' chunked roun' fer fun. 

"Las', Squ"l lie 'feard she gwine tire husse'f all out, 
'kase he wuz a kin'-hearted li'l feller, an' he say, sezee, 
'Thanky, Mis' Molly, thanky, ma'am. I much 'blees^ed 
ter you fer showin' me yo' tricks, an' I owns up dat I 
kain't do one un 'em. But niebbe, ma'am, you lak ter 
see me run up a tree; fer you done tol' de trufe w'en 
you ses dat's 'bout all I kin do.' 

"But, bless yo' soul, he kin do heap mo'n dat, on'y 
he wuz one'r dese jqv modes' mens whar thinks mo' uv 
urr folks' doin's dan dey does uy der own, but I let you 
know dat lots er times dey kin do mo' dan de peoples 
whar meks sech 'miration oyer derse'fs. 

"He kite up de tall tree same'z ef he wuz runnin' on 
de groun', an' w'en he git dar he do all sawts er things. 
He pick nuts an' swing back an' fo'th on de een' uv a 
limb, an' jump f'um one tree to anu'rr widout losin' 

138 




BRER SQr'L CLAP Ulli Ll'[, I'AWS 



BROTHER SQUIRREL AXD MOLLY HARE 

his baluns er fallin' onct. Den he spread out his fo' 
laigs wide ez he kin an' jump f um de highes' limb 
clean to the groun' widout hurtin' him 't all, an' wuz up 
de tree ag'in befo' Mis' Molly cu'd wink her eyeleds. 
Nex', he run down de tree haid fo'most, Jes' ez easy ez 
he run up. Den back ag'in ter swing some mo' an' 
hang on by one paw an' turn a somerset on de- limb, an' 
a hull passel uv urr tricks. 

"Mis' Hyar' she wan't so pleasan' an' p'lite ez Brer 
Squ'i bin. She ain' say nuttin' nice 'bout his tricks, jes' 
set down dar below, squatulatin' wid 'im an' rollin' her 
eyes up an' wringin' her paws an' sayin' over an' over 
ag'in : "^Brer Squ'l don' min', he kill hisse'f ! Brer 
Squ'l don' min', he kill hisse'f! Gwine fall ker-smack 
down an' snag hisse'f on dis stump ! Please, suh, ter 
stop ! hit gin me de flirtation er de heart ter see you do 
dat-a-way ! I gwine go right 'long home dis minnit ef 
you don' quit dem gwines-on an' come down f'um dar.' 
She go on lak dat 'kase she ain' got sense 'nuff ter 
know he wuz jes' ez much at home up dar ez w'at she 
wuz on de groun', an' dat his tricks wuz jes' ez natchel 
an' easy fer him ez w'at hern wuz fer her. De trouble 
wid her wuz she think she know hit all. 

"Pres'n'y Mis' Jinny Wren, whar live up in de same 
tree an' wuz gre't fren's wid Brer Squ'l, she git tired er 
lis'nin' at Mis' Hyar's foolishness, an' she say ter hus- 
se'f, she do, '^I gwine mek up a song 'bout dat fool ooman 
an' sing hit out good an' loud, so's't she'll know some- 
b'dy else year her gwines-on sidesen dat nice li'l Brer 
Squ'l whar don' 'spicion nob'dy. I 'low hit teck one 
ooman ter see daylight thu anu'rr. Dese mens don' 
seem ter be up ter de bizness.' 

139 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

"Wid dat she cle'rd her th'oat a li'l an' sung a note 
er two ter git de pitch;, an' den she stick her haid outen 
a hole in de tree an' sing out loud 'z she kin, 

'Squ'l he jump fum limh ter limh, 
OV Hyar sot an looh at him; 
OV Hyar say onto husse'f, 
Dat Squl don min he lall hisse'f. 



> }> 



"And what did Molly Hare do then ?" asked Xed. 

"Law, honey, she wuz dat mad at bein' overyearn by 
nu'rr ooman dat she jes' ga'rrd husse'f toge'rr an' lit 
out fer home, same 'z I gotter do dis ve'y minnit er my 
oF man be sendin' one'r de gran'chillen ter fin' mc. 
Y'all better putt dem haids clean down on de pillers, 
fer y'ain' gwine year nu'rr wu'd outen my mouf dis 
night/^ 

Here she discovered that little Kit had fallen fast 
asleep with his arms over his head, and she stopped to 
lay them down, muttering to herself "Um-umph ! jes' 
look at dat chil' wid his arms over his haid. Good tiling 
I seed 'im. He mought er stayed dat-a-way all night, 
an' den de goodness on'y knows w'at moughter hap- 
pened to 'im, 'kase any pusson dat sleeps wid his arms 
over his head is jes' callin' down bad luck on hisse'f 
ev'y minnit er de time. Luck is sech a skittish sort e:* 
thing dat I don' b'lieve in foolin' wid hit ner teckin' any 
resks. Some folks ain' b'lieve in signs, but I bin 
watchin' 'em all my life, an' seed so m_any un 'em come 
true dat I gwine be on de safe side, fer ef dcy don' come 
true 'bout one thing dey boun' come true 'bout nu'rr. 



140 



^^ 



MR. HARE AXD MR. FLIXT ROCK 

One evening the children heard the sound of a banjo 
in the cook-house and begged to be allowed to go out 
again and listen. 

"Well, I declare," said their mother, "yon children 
are getting so you don't care about being with white 
folks at all : your mother has to play second fiddle these 
days. I don't know what she is going to do for some lit- 
tle children to love her if it keeps up like this." 

Kit ran to her, and, throwing his little arms about 
her, gave her a good hug, as if to reassure her, and Ned 
said they would have to make the most of their time, 
as they would presently go back home where there would 
be no negroes and no stories, when he and the other two 
would try to "'make it up to her." 

"Very well," said their mother, "since you are going 
to make it up to me, I suppose I shall have to let you 
go, but you must promise not to stay late." 

They "found Tim, the plow-boy, playing and singing 
for the benefit of the assembled company, among whom 
was Aunt Xancy's granddaughter, Cassy. She had been 
off that dav to the nearest countrv store to trade, carrv- 
ing what she called a "haid-turn" ; a haid-turn being a 
small amount of produce, as much as could easily be 
carried on the head, which was to be exchanged for 
groceries or dry goods. Cassy was still decked out in 

141 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

her best dress of black and yellow calico with a marvel- 
ous garnishing of flying red ribbons. It seemed as if 
Tim's song was especially addressed to the young lady, 
for, as he "picked" industriously and threw his head 
back and opened his mouth to its fullest extent, he kept 
his eyes steadily on her face, as if to note the effect of 
his song. 

li'l 'liza jane. 



a 



I got a house in Baltimo\ 

Li'l 'Liza Jane; 
Po'cli behime an' po'cji hefo\ 

Li'l 'Liza Jane. 

I got a huggy an' a hoss, 

Li'l 'Liza Jane; 
Come 'long, honey, an' he der boss, 

Li'l 'Liza Jane. 

I got a house an a track er Ian', 

Li'l 'Liza Jane; 
Shake yo' foot an clap yo' han , 
. Li'l 'Liza Jane. 

Come, my love, an go wid me, 

Li'l 'Liza Jane; 
An-a ive irill go ter Tennessee, 

Li'l 'Liza Jane. 



Cassy and Tim were not an openly acknowledged 
"co'tin-couple," and it was, therefore, not etiquette for 
her to encourage him too obviously, so she tossed her 

143 



ME. HAEE AXD MR. FLIXT ROCK 
head and said that she had not come there to hear anv 

ft/ 

"oF co'tin'-songs/*^ but in the hope of listening to some 
stories. Eliza, the cook, as usual, took the part of the 
gentlemen. Said she, "Gal, de white folks cu'd git 'long 
widout butter on der bread, but dey ain' wanter, an' 
we-all cu'd git 'long widout songs, but we ain' wanter. 
You s'pose yo' 'pinion gr^'ine mek any diff'ns ter Tim? 
Sho I g'way, gal, mens got sump'n else ter study 'bout 
sidesen w'at you does lak an' w'at you doesn' lak. But 
ef YOU rio^ht sot on vearnin' tales, mebbe we kin coax 
Sis' 'Phronv to favor the comp'nv." 

Aunt 'Phrony said that she might be able to remember 
something if they would give her a little time in which 
to think it up, and Janey begged that it might be some- 
thinoj about the much admired "01' Hvar'." 

"Xow, den," said the story-teller presently, "ef you 
wanter year 'bout oF man Hyar', I reckon I mought ez 
well tell you 'bout de time he met up wid Flint Rock, 
'kase I kain't 'member dat I has uver tol' you dat befo'. 

"One time Hyar' he year dat de creeturs wuz gwine 
have a big darnse, an' noration bin sont roun' dat de 
queschin wuz ter be 'cided w'ich un 'em have de fines' 
dress, an' he say ter hisse'f, he do, 'Umph I I gotter have 
a han' in dis thing, sho'. Dey kain't run dat 'sputation 
lessen I'se dar ter he'p 'em out. I ain' bin lopin' roun' 
de kyountry all dese 'ears fer nuttin', neener; I boun' 
you I gwine be ez well dress' ez de nex' un.' 

"So he tuck an' primp hisse'f up ter look ez harnsum 
ez he kin, an' set off fer de darnse, an' he had hit in min' 
dat ef he run 'cross any creetur on de way whar have a 
finer suit er clo'es dan his, he gwine light in an' git hit 
'way ef he kin. 

143 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

"He go clippin' 'long thu de kyountry, jes' ez full er 
mischief cz a aig is er meat, an' w'en he kain't fine nut- 
tin' else ter do he tromple on ev'y po' li'l bug an' wu'm he 
see an' switch de haids offen all de flow's ez he pass. He 
trabel an' he trabel an' he trabel, an' las' de night come 
down an' ketched him a fur ways f'um de place whar de 
darnse wuz gwine be hilt, so he say ter hisse'f dat bein' 
ez dat wuz a strange kyountry an' he dunno de way 
ve'y well, he bes' camp out fer de night. 

" 'Bout dat time he met up wid Flint Eock, a gre't big 
ol' man wid gray hya'r, settin' down by de side uv de 
road. He wuz so ol' dat de moss wuz growin' on his back, 
an' he wuz so full er rheumatiz f'um settin' out in de 
damp dat he kain't move fu'm one spot lessen some one 
come 'long an' gin him a shove. He wuz a mighty sol- 
lumcholly an' sev'yur lookin' ol' man, but co'se Hyar' he 
wan't faze' by dat, so he walk right up in front uv him 
an' stan' wid his ban's in his pockits an' say, *^Howdy, 
Mistah Flint Eock; how does yo' bones seem ter stan' 
de rackit dese days ?' 

"Flint Eock he 'spon', 'Howdy, Mistah Hyar'— I 
b'lieve dats you, ef I ain' mek no mistake. But I ain' 
'zackly sho', 'kase my eyesight done fail me right much 
de las' 'ear er so. How does I fin' mvse'f? Miditv 
po'ly, suh, mighty po'ly. Ef you'd bin settin' out yer 
in de sun an' de rain an' de wind an' de wedder, in de fog 
an' in de damp ez manv 'ears ez w'at I is vou be chock- 
full er rheumatiz, too. Yit I ain' complainin', an' I 
mek out ter enj'y myse'f yit. Wen I wuz younger an' 
went rollin' thu dis onfren'ly worl' I had a heap er fun 
an' seed a lot er sights, but now I done sottle down yer, 
an' yer I stay, an' things is kind er good ter de ol' man, 

144 



MR. HAEE AXD MR. FLIXT ROCK 

atter all. De li'l vouns: orpeen thinofs, ferns an' sech, 
dey creeps up clost ter mv footses an' stays dar, an' de 
lizzu'ds dey comes out an' lavs down on mv back ter 
wo'm derse'fs in de sun, an' de li'l bu'ds dey lights on 
me now an' den an' stays 'long 'nuil ter say ^howdy.' I 
jes' wall my eye up at de sun ez I set yer, an' he blink 
down at me right fren'ly an' wo'm up m}' back so's de 
niis'ry mos' qitit me. De mosses dey is tryin' ter kiver 
me up so's't I kain't feel de col' wedder in my j'ints. 
Wen hits wo'm de wind come 'long an' cool me oif;, 
an' de rain gin me a washin' now an' den, an' lots er 
de creeturs stops ez dey go by an' lays down in de shade 
er me ter git cool, an' I pass de time er day wid 'em an' 
git all de news. I jes' set yer an' look an' lissen, an' I 
see an' rear mo'n a'Ou uver dream uv "mono's' de bu'ds an' 
de beas'eses an' de bugs an' de wu'ms an' de flow's, 
'kase de ol' man set yer so quiet dey think he mus' be 
'sleep, an' dey goes on same 'z ef I wan't roun'. Yas, 
Mistah Hj^ar', I cu'd tell you heap ef I wanter.' 

" ^Well,' sez de Hyar,' sezee, ''dat suit my time 'zackly, 
'kase I wuz kyountin' on spendin' de night wid you, suh, 
an' I reckon you ain' gwine kyare ef I build me a li'l 
fire right 'long side er you, so's't I kin keep wo'm. De 
nights gittin' right chilly.' 

" ^Bat dey is,' sez Flint Rock, sezee ; ^I got a crick in 
my back a-raidy. Goodness on'y knows how I gwine git 
tliu nu"rr winter. I 'spec' one'r dese yer hard freezes 
gwine come "long an' jes' 'bout break me all up. I look 
ter see dat happen. You g'long an' build dat fire an' 
we kin set an' talk an' me wo'm up my ol' bones at de 
same time.' 

"Hyar' he build de fire, an' git him a piece er wood, 

145 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

an' all de time Flint Rock wuz gwine on talkin', Hyar' 
he wuz settin' dar wu'kkin' 'way on de wood. 

"Las' Flint Rock he say, sezee, ^Mistah Hyar', please, 
suh, ter 'sense de cnr'osity nv a ol' man, but mought I 
ax w'at is dat you mekin' ?' 

"Hyar' he say, ^W'y, sut'n'y, suh; dish yer's a maul 
an' dis a waidge.' 

"Flint Rock he 'spon', ^Yas, so 'tis, so 'tis, I see dat 
now. You mus' 'sense me axin', 'kase my sight so bad. 
But mought I ax you, suh, w'y you mekin' dat maul 
an' dat waidge ?' 

" ^Wy, suh,' sez Hyar', sezee, 'I'se a mighty in- 
dush'ous man, an' hit go 'gins' de grain fer me ter set 
an' hoi' my ban's, so w'iles I lissen at you I jes' do dis 
ter keep my ban' in an' pass away de time.' 

"Pres'n'y Hyar' 'sense hisse'f an' say he mus' git 
nu'rr li'l bit er wood, an' den he go off an' fin' hisse'f 
a place whar he kin hide w'en he wanter. He fin' a 
li'l kyave, an' den he walk back ter de camp, an' dar 
wuz ol' Flint Rock, fas' asleep by de fire. Wid dat he 
tuck an' tuck de waidge an' putt hit at Flint Rock's 
year an' hit de waidge a monstrous clip wid de maul, 
wow ! an' ol' Mistah Flint Rock bus' in mo'n a hunderd 
pieces. De pieces flewed high up an' 'menced ter fall 
thu de air, swish ! zish ! zoum ! An' w'en he see dat, 
Hyar' lit out f'um dar an' hid hisse'f in de kyave. 

'^ ^Umph !' sezee ter hisse'f, sezee, ^I done save' de ol' 
man de trouble er waitin' fer de fros' ter break him up. 
He orter thank me fer puttin' him outen his mis'ry fo' 
de real col' wedder come on, dat's de trufe.' After w'ile 
he say, ^Lan' er libbutty ! dis slow wu'k waitin' yer in 
de dark fer ol' Flint Rock ter git thu fallin'. Wen I 

146 




o 

o 



'4 

o 






SI 



5H 



•«5 



ME. HAEE AXD ME. FLIXT EOCK 

fotched 'im dat lick I ain' have no notion he gwine fly 
in li'l bits lak dat, but hit right hard ter tell w^at some 
folks gwine do 'twel you tries "em. 'Pears ter me he 
orter be thu f allin' by now ; I gwine look out an' see.' 

"Wid dat he poke his haid out. De las' piece wuz 
fallin', an' suz I ef you'll blieve me, hit tuck ol' Hvar' 
plumb on de een' er de nose, and dat huccome he bin 
gwine roun' wid a bent nose uver sence, an' all time 
drorin' hit up an' down lak he 'feard nu'rr rock gwine 
teck him on the een' uv hit mos' any minnit.' " 

"WTiy, Aunt Xancy told us the reason Molly Hare's 
nose worked all the time was because she got it frozen," 
Xed exclaimed. 

"Wat I know 'bout Molly Hyar' ?" said 'Phrony, with 
scorn and some indignation. "How many mo' times is 
I got'ter tell you I ain' know nuttin' 'bout no Molly 
H3'ar? Dis de one de Injuns tell 'bout, an' he ain' 
nuyer have no wife 't all, fur 'z I know. I done tol' you 
he wuz a oF bachelder; ef he'd had a wife ter keep 'im 
straight he oon bin in so much mischief." 



147 



ME. WILDCAT GOES TUEKEY-HUXTIXG 



"Landy !" said Cassv, after the story of old man Flint 
Rock, "ef dat H3^ar' a in' beat all creashun. Seem lak 
he got mo' gumption dan all tu'rr creeturs putt toge'rr. 
Sho ! gimme a man lak ]\Iistah Hyar^ ^vhar got plenty 
er git up an' sperit to *im." And she tossed her head and 
looked scornfully at Tim. 

"Look yer, gal I" said 'Liza, "you dunno w'at you 
talkin' ^bout. Ef you kin lay yo' han' on a good, stiddy 
man, you better teck him an' thank yo' stars. Dese yer 
lively, gaily folks lak Mistah Hyar' does well ^nuff ter 
pass 'way de time wid, now an' den, l^ut w'en hit comes 
ter livin' wid 'em, dat's anu'rr marter. Sidesen dat, dey 
git kotch up wid ev'y now an' den, jes' lak Sis' 'Phrony 
bin tellin' you. Mistah Hyar' wan't so smart but w'at he 
git his nose good an' smash." 

"Wellum," said Tim, in his slow drawl, "I bin studyin' 
heap 'bout de creeturs, an' I bin wunnerin' ef dey don' 
none un 'em play dese yer tricks asseptin' ol' Hyar'." 

"Bless yo' soul," answered 'Phrony, "dey all un 'cm 
had pranks, mo' er less, some mo', some less. Xow dar 
]\Iistah Sly-fox, he kind er prankish sometimes, an' 
Mistah Tarr'pin, too, an' I 'members one time w'en 
Mistah Wil'cat tucken hit in min' ter play a trick, 
dough to be sho' dat wuz sort er in de line er bizness, 
w'en he wuz out fer de puppus er gittin' hisse'f a din- 



ner." 



148 



MR. WILDCAT GOES TUEKEY-HUXTIXG 

Cooiiie, the house-boy, was sitting on the hearth, lean- 
ing against the chimney jamb, head thrown back, more 
than half asleep, but at the mention of dinner he sat 
up and rubbed his eyes and asked, sleepily: "Dinner? 
Dinner raidy ? Maw, is I year you say dinner ?" 

"Xaw, dat you ain^,'' said 'Liza. "I done fill you up 
wid vittles no mo'n a hour ago, an' yer you is axin' fer 
mo'. 'Pears lak I kain't keep you filled; you is wusser 
dan any ol' wil'cat dat uver tromped de woods. Go 
on. Sis' 'Phrony, an' tell us 'bout Mistah Wil'cat an' 
his dinner." 

"I done tol' you he wuz out fer de puppus er fillin' 
up," ^Phrony went on, "an' he wuz dat hongry hit 'pear 
ter him he wan't nuttin' but one big holler f'um de top 
uv his haid ter de tip uv his tail, one'r dese yer hollers 
whar.jes' natchelly mek a man git up an' hump hisse'f 
ontwel hits filled. He go traipsin' up an' down, lookin' 
behime ev'y bush an' up ev'y tree an' yit he kain't fin' 
nuttin'. Las' he got so mad he 'gun ter gnash his toofs 
an' spit an' snarl an' hump his back up an' rub 'gin' de 
trees, an' all de time his eyes wuz shinin' lak plumb balls 
er fire, an' he wuz dat rantankerous dat no pusson 'ud 
want ter meet up wid 'im. 

"Bout dat time he seed a flock uv wil'-tukkies, an' he 
'low ter hisse'f dat tukkey 'ud jes' 'bout fit de size er 
his mouf, dough he ain' knowin' how he gwine git at 
'em. He crope up an' he crope up, an' las' he wuz near 
'nuff ter watch 'em. Dev wuz hol'in' a darnse, de 
funnies' you uver see er year tell 'bout. Der tails wuz 
all spread out lak a fan an' de gobblers wuz all puff' up 
an' struttin' fit ter kill, w'iles de ladiz wuz mekin' gre't 
'miration over 'em an' follerin' after 'em, steppin' high 

149 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

lak dcy t\'iiz trompin' on aigs, an^ gwine roun' an' roim' 
in a succle, lookin' mighty proud an' kyar'yin' der haids 
high in de air an' balancin' wid der necks at ev'y step. 

"Wil'cat grin so't he show ev'y toof in his haid^ an' 
he say ter hisse'f, sezee, TTm-umph ! some dem ladiz 
gwine laugh on de wrong side der moufs 'fo' long. Ef 
dey on'y knowed w'at comin' dey'd quit dat foolishness 
an' use dem laigs ter git outen dis. Good thing fer me 
dey is fools. I reckon I'd have mighty po' pickin's ef 
der wan't so many fool creeturs gwine up an' down de 
face er de yearf .' 

^^De tukkies wuz darnsin' down in a li'l holler, an' 
^Yil'cat he crope roun' ter de top er de hill an' tucken 
de game bag whar he bringed wid 'him, an' crawled inter 
hit. Den he turnt hisse'f aloose an' rolled over an' over 
down de hill, bimpitty, bumpitty, bampitty, bim ! an' 
lan'ed right in de midse er de tukkies. 

"Dey wuz dat 'stonish dey ain' know w'at ter do, but 
w'en de bag stan' up on een' an' 'gun ter r'ar an' charge 
roun', dem po' creeturs wuz plumb stunded, too 'stracted 
even ter run. No wunner dey wuz dat-a-way, fer uv all 
de doin's anyb'dy uver see, Mistah Wil'cat's tuck de 
lead. Ter see nuttin' but a ol' bag jumpin' high in de 
air an' turnin' somersets an' rollin' on de groun' an' 
den gittin' up an' doin' all sawts er steps, dat 'ud 'a bin 
jes' too much fer any pusson, let 'lone dem fool tukkies. 

"W'en he git 'em kind er daze' an' 'stracted he step 
outen de bag an' he say, sezee, ^Howdy, ladiz an' gem- 
men, howdy ! I hope I sees you well an' in de enj'ymint 
er good healt'. I seed you down yer havin' a pow'ful 
good time, an' I had de insurance ter jine you an' give 
you a eenvite ter teck a roll down hill in dish yer bag er 

150 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

mine. You-all think darnsin' is fun, but hits mighty 
po' shucks long side er de sport er roUin' down hill in a 
bag. Dem whar ain' tried hit dunno nuttin' ^t all 'bout 
hit, an' w'ats mo', dey ain' givine know lessen dey tries 
hit. Come one, come all ! Step up, ladiz an' gemmen ; 
de fus' one in gits de fus' ride. I'll tote you ter de top 
er de hill an' give you a shove down. Dellaws ! w'at 
y'all hang back fer? Y'all so p'lite I 'spec' you 'feard 
you be onmannerly ef you gits in fus'. Nemmine 'bout 
dat, I'll gin you ev'y one a whu'l. Step in, step in, my 
time mighty val'able. I gotter be movin' outer dis 'fo' 
long an' I dunno w'en I gwine come dis way ag'in. Yon 
dunno w'at 3'er missin' ef you let dis chanct slip by. 
Sho' ! I thought y'all had sense 'nuff ter know a good 
thing w'en you seed hit.' 

"Two er th'ee er de ladiz mek up der min's dey'd lak 
ter try de new sport, jes' out er cur'osity, an' dey went 
tippin' up to'des Mistah Wil'cat whar he'z hol'in' de 
monf er de bag open. Jes' den a ol' gobbler step up 
befo' em. 'Twuz Mistah Wi'yum Wil'-tukkey, jes' a 
struttin' an' a puffin'. His fedders wuz shinin' in de 
sunlight lak brunze, an' his laigs wuz raid an' his neck 
blue, wid warts stannin' out over hit, an' he have on de 
fine by'ud an' wattles whar he stole 'way f\im Mistah 
Tarry-long Tarr'pin. He sut'n'y look harnsum, an' he 
sut'n'y ac' lak he knowed hit. He step up befo' de 
ladiz an' bresh 'cm ter one side an' say, '^Naw, ladiz, 
rollin' down hill ain' no fitten 'musemint fer wimmins ; 
leave dat fer de mens. G'long home an' tend ter y'all's 
famblies. Ef de trufe wuz knowed, I 'spec yo' chillen is 
all scattered out inter de bresh by derse'f s dis ve'y minnit 



152 



ME. WILDCAT GOES TUEKEY-HUXTIXG 

wliar sump'n boun' ter git 'em. 'Spectable wimmins 
darnsin' at yo' time er life ! Wimmin-fnlks ain' got no 
bizness w'ay f *um home^ nohows ; sho' ter git inter mis- 
chief an' do sump'n nu'rr dat ain' fitten fer 'em ter do. 
Set still an' 'have yo'se'fs an' let de men-folks 'tend ter 
de runnin' roun'. Lawdy, lawdy ! I kain't see w'y you 
all de time wantin' ter do lak de men-folks does !' 

*^^Yid dat he flounce hisse'f inter de bag, an' Wil'cat 
he dror de strings in a jiff, an' de way he lit out f'um 
dat place inter de low-groun's wuz a caution ter de 
beholdens. Ez he go chargin' thu de bresh he yell back, 
'Good by, ladiz, saw'y ter run off wid de haid er de 
fambly, but y'all mus'n' fault me fer dat. He would 
be de fus' in de bag. Dat w*at he git fer not bein' p'lite 
'nuff ter let de ladiz have fus' chanct. Ladiz fus' ev'y 
time, I ses ! Dat's me. Whoop-ee I good-by, ev'yb'dy ! 
see y'all ag'in some urr time w'en I git hongry.' 

"De tukkies dey flewed up wid a gre't cryin' an' flut- 
teration, an' dey wan't seed no mo' in dat place, I kin 
tell you, ner nob'dy uver bin able ter 'suade one ter putt 
haid in a bag sence dat time ; dey done 'member hit too 
well. Dey flewed off gobblin' an' gabblin', an' one ol' 
un she say ter tu'rrs, ''Uli-huh ! 'pears lak some er de 
mens gits inter trouble w'en dey g'way f'um home, well 
ez de wimmins. I don' see but w'at we got jes' ez much 
sense ez dat ol' Wi'yum Wil'-tukkey, after all. I reckon 
he'd lak ter change places wid us dis ve'y -minnit.' 

"Xu'rr ol' un she say, T^as, lawd ! dat de way wid de 
mens, all time excusin' we-all er cur'osity, w'en, ef de 
trufe wuz knowed, we kain't hoi' a cannel to 'em in dat 
marter, y'all done seed dat fer yo'se'fs right now. But 



153 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

I reckon ef he cu'd come back yer dis ve'y minnit, w'icli 
pra'se de Lawd he kain't, he'd say dat we done putt de 
notion in his haid by steppin' np ter de bag.' 

"An' dey all flapped der wings an' ses, 'Yas, lawd!' 
'Trufe, too!' ^I boun' you !'" 



154 



MR. FOX TUEXS FAEMER 

"Wlien Aunt Tlirony had finished telling how the 
Wil'cat cano^ht ^Ir. William "Wild-turkev it was Aunt 
Xancy's turn to entertain the company. The children 
reminded her of a storv she had once told them about 
certain shrewd practices of ^Ir. Hare's by which he cir- 
cumvented Mr. Sly-fox, and they wanted to know why 
it was that he always got ahead of the other animals. 

"I dunno jes' huccome so/' she said, ^H^ut 'pears ter 
me dem gre't big eyes an' dem long years is w'at he'p 
him out ; he see an' year mo' wid 'em in a minnit dan 
urr folks knowin' in a week, an' den he set up on his 
ha'nches an' wu'k his nose, sort er so, an' study w'at 
use he kin putt hit all to in de way er meanness, all de 
time lookin' jes' ez meek an' innercent ez a lamb." 

^'^Were he and the fox friends afterwards ?" asked Xed. 
"I bet I'd a-thrashed him good if he came fooling around 
me." 

^^Well," said Aunt Xancy, "dey kind er, sort er patch 
hit up, but der feelin's wuz wu'kkin' un'need all de Vile 
an' boun' ter riz up ter de top sometime, same 'z dish yer 
barm I putts inter de wheat-bread. But Fox he 'low ter 
hisse'f dat mebbe he kin mek use er ol' Hyar' an' git 
evin wid him at one an' de same lick, so one day he call 
roun' at ol' man Hyar's, an' atter dey pass de time er 
da}^, he say, Olistah Hyar', I gittin' mighty tired er dish 

155 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

yer hiintin' an' fisliin' bizness. Hits hard wu'k, suh, 
hard wu'k, an' niv ol' ooman she gittin'- kind er raspy 
'kase I ain' bring home mo' vittles ter her an' de chillens. 
I tell her dis mawnin' I b'lieve I gwine go in de f armin' 
bizness, an' she tucken ter de notion, but she say I 
kain't do hit by myse'f, dat I 'bleeged ter have he'p, an' 
she 'low, she did, dat mebbe me an' you cu'd go in 
cahoots in dis marter, fer hit well knowin' ter ev'y- 
b'dy dat you is a gre't han' fer all sorts er gyardin- 
truck.' 

"Eight dar Fox grin ter hisse'f, 'kase hit wuz de sho'- 
'nuff trufe dat Hyar' wuz fond er gyardin-truck, mo' 
'special w'at come outen urr f olkses gyardins. 

"Mis' Molly Hyar' she wuz doin' chores roun' de house, 
stoppin' now an' den wid her ban's on her hips ter lissen 
at 'em talk er ter cuff one'r de chillens, fer Bunny an' 
Honey wuz rollin' in de ashes on de ha'th, an' Jumper 
an' Thumper wuz playin' leap-frog, an' Winker an' 
Blinker wuz tryin' ter pull de water-pail over. She go 
roun' behime her ol' man an' hunch him in de back 
an' whusper in his year, ^Spunk up, now, Mistah Hyar', 
an' tell him you go in cahoots wid 'im, 'kase dish yer's 
yo' chanct ter fool 'im ag'in.' 

"So Hyar' he do lak he studyin' 'bout hit, an' las' he 
say, sezee, ^Well, I dunno 'bout dis g3^ar din-truck, 'kase 
hit pe'ish out in de col' wedder; I bin studyin' 'bout 
lettin' dat go an' raisin' me a cawn crap dat las' all thu 
de winter.' He say dat 'kase he knew mighty well he 
gwine live offen urr folkses gyardins in de summer, but 
he ain' knowin' w'at he gwine do, 'zackly, 'bout vittles 
fer de winter. 

"Fox say dat he 'gree ter de cawn crap, an' den Hyar' 

156 



ME. FOX TUEXS FAEMER 

lean his liaicl on his han' an' clo lak he study some mo'. 
Las' he say, sezee, ^I dunno w'at we gwine do 'bout 
plowin'. De groun' orter be bruk up dis ve'y day, an' 
yer me all lame' up f \im dat las' spell er rheumatiz. I 
be mighty saw'y ter see you start in by yo'se'f, but I 
kain't see de way outen hit. I ^low de wedder gwine be 
li'l wo'mmer atter w'iles an' den I kin light in an' do de 
wu'k er two mens ter mek up fer dis.' 

"Fox kind er 'spicion dat Hyar' was foolin' him, but 
he wuz de green han' in de farmin' bizness an' hatter 
be showed how ter do de wu'k, so he kain't say nuttin'. 
He tromp all day over de rough clods, drivin' de plow, 
'twel his han's wuz all blistu'd, an' he wuz dat tired he 
hatter hoi' outer de plow hannels ter keep f um drap- 
pin'. All dat time ol' man Hyar' wuz settin' at home 
in de arm-cheer, smokin' an' teckin' hit easy. He 'ud 
grin ter hisse'f ev'y now an' den, an' w'en Mis' Hyar' 
ax him w'at de marter, he 'ud tell her, ^Oh, nuttin, nut- 
tin' 't all, jes' a li'l spazzum er de jaw, 'twon't las', 
don' 'mount ter nuttin', nohow.' But Mis' Hvar' too 
smart ter be tucken in dat-a-way; she knowed sump'n 
wuz up, an' she go off moufin' ter husse'f, ^Shucks ! ef 
dar's one thing I hate mo'n anu'rr hits ter see a fool 
man settin' up laughin' ter hisse'f w'en nob'dy else 
knows w'at de joke is; looks too triflin' fer any use. 
'Pears lak he mus' be laughin' at you er else at de empty 
air, one'r de two, an' nob'dy but a plumb ijit gwine do 
dat las'.' 

"W'en plantin' time come, Hyar' drug hisse'f out ter 
de fiel' an' let de cawn run thu his fingers lak he'z so 
weak he kain't hoi' outer liit. Den, all ter onct, he wuz 
tucken wid a fit er de shivers an' trimmle lak a aspum, 

157 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

an' he say he b'lieve he gittin' de bone-break fever^ an' 
he 'bleeged ter go home an' git on de baid. 




"Wen de time done come ter wii'k de cawn, Hvar' 
tncken a hoe an' g'longed ter one een' uv a row an' tol' 
Fox ter begin at tn'rr een', an' den dey'd meet in de mid- 
dle, an' dat way each man be sho' ter do half. I let you 

158 



ME. FOX TUEXS FARMER 

know lie wiiz mifrhtv slow at his een' er de row an' w'en 
dey wuz 'bout ter meet, he 'nience ter sing songs an' 
tell tales an* cnt sech shines dat ol' Fox ain' notuss 
how li'l wu"k bin done at dat een' er de line. Wen 
Hyar' see he done srot Fox's min' clean offen de wn'k, 
he tuck him b}^ de shoulder, right fren'lv an' familious, 
an' turn him roun' tu'rr way, an' den he say: ^Well, 
well, ol' man, you hasn' come near half-way, but you 
does mighty well fer a green han'. Jes' you g'long 
back ter de een' er de nex' row, an' w'en we meets ag'in, 
lessee ef you kain't git li"l mo' nearer ter de middle.' 

"Ef Fox had look behime "im he 'ud 'a knowed he 
bin fooled, but he ain' haye de sense ter do dat, so he go 
trudgin' an' trampin' all de way down de row, w'iles 
Hyar' he gin a hop, skip an' jump an' wuz back in his 
place in a jiff, 'kase he ain' haye fur fer ter go. 

"Dey kep' hit up dat-a-way ontwel shuckin' time, w'en 
dey wuz ter 'yide de crap. Den Hyar' he say, sezee, ^I 
done had de mos' spe'yunce an' sidesen dat 1 is good at 
figgers, so I reckon I bes' do de kyountin' an' let you 
do de shuckin'.' So Mistah Fox he sot down below an' 
pullt de shucks offen de cawn an' th'owed de years up 
ter ol' Hyar', whar wuz stannin' up in de cawn-crib ter 
ketch 'em. 

"He k3^ount straight fer li'l w'ile, 'kase he seed Fox 
cuttin' his eye up at 'im ey'y now an' den, l)ut pres'n'y, 
w'en he think he got 'im offen de scent an' de cawn 'gin 
ter pile up roun' 'im so't Fox cu'dden see 'im ye'y 
well, he lit out inter meanness ag'in an' start ter 
kyountin' wrong. All de time he wuz singin' a ol'-time 
shuckin'-song whar run lak dis : 

159 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

'Husl--o up an'-a-liusli-o down, 
An-a-liusl'o, liusl'-o all aroun. 
Turn, ladiz, turnj turn. 
Somebody's at de ivinderf 

"W^en he sing ^hiisk-o up/ he kotch a year er cawn, 
an' w'en he sing ^husk-o down/ he mek lak he th'ow hit 
on Fox's heap, but stidder dat he pass hit roun' behime 
him w'en he say ^husk-o, husk-o all aroun'/ an' w'en he 
say ^Turn, ladiz, turn, turn/ he drap hit sof ly outer 
his own heap. He do dat ev'y urr time, an' I ses ter 
you dat w'en dey got thu, ol' man Fox come out at de 
li'l een' er de hawn, wid a pow'ful po' showin' er cawn. 

"Fox scratch his haid an' feel mighty jubous. He 
say, 'Yer I is, done wu'k day in an' day out, rain er 
shine. Done plow, done sow, done hoe, done harves', 
an' dish yer li'l heap er cawn all I got ter show fer hit. 
Sump'n wrong, sump'n 'bleeged ter he wrong, yit I 
kain't jes' prezackly putt my paw on hit, I boun' ol' 
Hyar' know mighty well w'at 'tis. But 'tain' no use 
ter ax him ques'hins ner argyfy, 'kase he boun' ter slip 
outen hit, somehow. I wish 't I had 'im yer dis ve'y 
minnit, de trash-er-de-worl' ! I boun' I'd teck de natchel 
hide offen 'im.' 

"Jes' 'bout den Hyar' come sa'nterin' 'long an' year 
de las' wu'ds whar Mistah Fox done say. ^Who dat you 
gwine teck de hide offen him ?' sezee. ^Oh, nuttin' 't all, 
Mistah Hyar', nuttin' 't all ; jes' one'r my chillens whar 
bin talkin' up sassy ter his maw w'iles I bin 'way f um 
home, farmin'. Chillen gittin' mighty 'sumptions dese 
days, Mistah Hyar' ; mighty 'sum*ptious, suh ; an' we-all 
mus'n' spare de rod lessen we wants ter spile de chil'.' 

160 



MR. FOX TUEXS FARMER 

"In co'se Hvar' wan't tucken in bv dat talk 'bout do 
'havishness er ^listah Fox's chil', but he pass hit over 
an' say, might}^ fren'ly: 'Mistah Slickry Sly-fox, how 
'bout dat 'tater crap uv ow'n? "We mus' be gittin' dat 
in soon er Jack Fros' gwine come 'long an' git de good 
nv hit bef o' we-all.' 

"Dat wnz de time Fox think he see de chanct ter git 
ahaid er ol' Hyar'. He wnz dat green 'bout farmin' he 
ain' know dat de good part er de 'tater crap wuz un'need 
de groun' ; he think de good part's on top, same ez wid 
de cawn crap, w'ich wuz de on'ies one he know anything 
'bout; so he sa}^, "^Yell, Mistah Hyar', ef hit be 'greeable 
unter you, I'd lak ter spar' you all dat kyountin' biz- 
ness you done went thu wid wid de cawn, an' so I ses 
le's we 'vide up de 'tater crap dis-a-way : me tek all dat's 
in sight, you tek all dat's outer sight ; me all dat's 'bove 
de groun', you all dat's un'need hit.' 

"Hyar' wuz dat tickelt he kain't keep his face straight, 
so he turn his back an' say, ^ 'Scuse me jes' one minnit, 
Mistah Slickry, I got a bite, an' I'se 'bleeged ter tend 
ter hit.' His sides shuk so't he'z feard Fox might see 
'im an' back outen de bargum. But Fox so please' wid 
de notion er comin' hit over ol' Hyar' dat he ain' notuss 
nuttin'. 

"Hyar' turn roun' pres'n'y an' do lak he study li'l 
bit, an' den he say: 'Mistah Fox, I reckon I hatter 
'gree ter dis 'rangemint, fer you done wu'k right fait'ful, 
but 'pears lak hit kind er one-sided, 'kase ev'yb'dy know- 
in' dat 'tater-tops mek mighty tasty greens, same time 't 
dey knows de wuf'lessness er de roots. Xemmine, I 
gwine do lak you sez.' 

"Den Fox go all thu de 'tater-patch cuttin' off de 

161 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

tops, an^ Hvar' foller long atter 'im diggin' up de 
roots, an' bofe nn *om wnz so please' wid w'at dey doin' 
dat dey hatter stop ev j now an' den an' go off li'l ways 
ter laugh. Den dey'd come back an' be mighty sof- 
soapy, an' offer ter he'p one nu'rr, an' den wn'k on 
'twel dey 'bleeged ter bns' ont ag'in. Las' dey wuz thn, 
an' Fox went trundlin' off home, staggerin' miner de 
gre't load er 'tater-tops he wuz kyar'yin' on his haid. 
Wen he git dar he wish he done stay 'way, fer Mis' 
Fox she know mo' 'bout sech ez dat dan he' ol' man did. 
She say, 'Wat you got dar, all wilt' up ?' 

"He say : -' 'Tater-tops. Mek fine greens.' 

"Den she jes' natchelly putt her mouf on 'im an' 
let 'im know w'at she think. 

"'I boun' dat wuf'less Hyar' done tol' j-ou dat,' sez 
she, 'an' w'at's mo', I 'low dat ol' ooman er his'n, dat 
ol' Molly Cotton-tail, done putt him up to hit ; drat dat 
ooman !' sez she. 'Me settin' home yer slavin' fer you 
an' de chillens w'iles you off on dat farmin' bizness, an' 
now we-all gotter go hongry an' let dem hyar's nibble 
up all de 'taters you done wu'k so hard ter raise. Wat 
is I done dat I hatter be tied to a man so onignoran' 
he dunno 'taters grows un'need de groun', an' so shif - 
less dat he let me an' my chillens 2:0 hongry ? I reckon 
you bes' let farmin' 'lone an' go back ter yo' huntin' an' 
fishin', dat is, ef you got sense 'nuff ter keep ol' man 
Hyar' f'um gittin' han's on ev'ything, atter you done 
bag hit.' 

"He ain' say nuttin'; he wuz dat outdone he kain't 
even jaw de ol' ooman, but f'um dat time ontwel dis 
day an' gineration, no pusson uver 3'ear tell er Mistah 



162 



ME. FOX TUEXS FARMEE 

Slickry Slv-fox mcddlin' wid farmin'. Ilvar' done kvore 
him er dat. 

"An' now I gottcr mosey home," added the old 
woman with a huge yawn which she politely, but vainly, 
tried to smother, "an' I reckon you chillen better be 
movin', too, er de San' ^lan gwine ketch you betwix' 
yer an' de house, an' you won't git home dis night." 



16 



o 



CANADI AND THE WOLVES 



One clay the children dropped into Aunt 'Phrony's 
cabin and found her sitting before the fire with her 
dog, Snap, curled up at her feet and her quilt pieces 
lying all about, engaged in putting together a gorgeous 
and complicated pattern which she called the '^^Sun- 
flower Patch." Snap was the lean and ill-favored hunting 
dog that lived with Aunt ^Phrony on terms of armed 
neutrality; when she showed him the broom, he showed 
her his teeth, and the matter under dispute was usually 
dropped then and there. She valued him not for his 
character, but for his accomplishments as a hunter. He 
valued her as the giver of food and shelter and appar- 
ently there was no love lost between them ; yet with that 
curious sort of loyalty which often prevails in families. 
Aunt Tlirony would permit no one to asperse her dog 
but herself. It was not safe even to agree with her 
when she chose to speak her mind about him. When 
she stirred him with her foot to make room about the 
fire for the children, he gave an angry snarl and got up 
and walked off with an air of injured dignity which 
suited his style of dogship exactly. No doubt he knew 
that such was the case, for he chose to wear that manner 
the greater part of the time and only unbent in the 
excitement of the chase. 

Tlague take de dog," said his owner., "dar's no livin' 

164 



i'l 



CAXADI AXD THE WOLVES 

wid de onmannerly beas'. He gits mo' cross an' re- 
vingeful all de time. Ef he live 'long 'nuf? I 'spec' he 
git ez bad ez de wolfs whar useter wu'k fer Canadi. 
'Pears ter me dat de wolfs an' de dogs is mighty clost 
akin, anyhow, 

"You ax me who wuz Canadi ? Well, now, he wuz in 
a ol', ol' Injun tale whar I useter year w'en I wuz a 
li'l gal in Xawf Ca'liny. Canadi he wuz a gre't hunter ; 
sech a gre't man an' a gre't hunter dat de people ain' 
b'lieve he wuz 'zackly human. His name means, in de 
Churry^Te talk, Tucky fer Game.' De big game an' 
de li'l game he cu'd fine an' kill 'em all, nemmine how 
dev hide demse'fs 'wav f'um 'im in de woods an' de 
mountains an' de kyaves, an' ev'y one er de bu'ds an' 
beas'eses an' de fishes wuz 'feard er Canadi : dev wuz 
dat. 

"De wolfs and Canadi wuz gre't f ren's ; 'deed dey wuz 
all his sarvants an' he wuz de marster an' dey min' 
jes' w'at he say. He useter go out an' fin' de game, 
an' de wolfs dey'd wait an' ketch hit an' bring hit home. 
Dey's gre't on dat. Dey kin run an' run widout gittin' 
tired er losin' der wind, an' dey kin run down mos' 
anything dat run on laigs. So w'en dey wanster ketch 
some creetur dey jes' gits toge'rr an' runs an' runs him 
ontwel he's all beat out an' stove up, an' den dey nabs 
'im. Dev sut'n'v is a mean lot, mean ez dev kin stick 
in der skins, wid der ol' green eyes an' der long tongues 
lollin' out an' der gre't toofs a-shinin'. 'Sense me f'um 
meetin' up wid 'em atter dark. But Canadi he wan't 
^zackly human, so he wan't 'feard un 'em : 'deed dey 
wuz 'feard er him an' dey ain' dast ter disobey him. 

"One day he call 'em ter come an' go wid 'im, 'kase 

165 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

he wuz gwine out atter big game an' lie want ^em tcr 
foller clost. He ain' feed 'em den, 'kase he knowed 
dey hunted better w'en dey wuz hongry, but he alluz 
gin 'em a part er w'at dey brung home. Well,, dey 
went on an' dey went on, up inter de big mountains, 
an' las' Canadi come 'cross a turr'ble creetur whar live 
in a kyave, an' he lef de wolfs ter skeer hit out an' 
fetch hit to *im, an' den went on 'bout his bizness. 

"De wolfs dey skeered de creetur out an' lo an' behol' 
'twuz a gre't sarpint. But, bless goodness, he ain' have 
no notion er gittin' outer de way ; he jes' come a-r'arin' 
outer de kyave an' splunged right inter de midse er de 
wolfs, an' I tell you dey had hit den. De fur flewed 
an' de wolfs howled an' de sarpint hissed 'twel de 
mountains plumb shuk an' de stones come a-rollin' 
down de sides. Las' de sarpint bit one'r de wolfs an' 
kilt 'im, an' de res' got skeered an' went lopin' off an' 
lef 'im dar. 

"Dat wuz de fus' time dey fail sence dey bin doin' 
huntin' fer Canadi, an' dey ses ter one nu'rr, 'Canadi 
mus' 'a had a han' in dis.' Dey knowed he wuz a gre't 
cunjerer an' dey 'spicioned dat he done putt a spell on 
de wolf whar got kilt. Dey study 'bout hit an' study 
'bout hit an' git mo' an' mo' 'spicious 'twel las' dey 
'clar' dat dey sut'n'y gwine revinge derse'fs an' kill 
Canadi, an' den dey 'gun ter lay der plans ter do dat. 

"Canadi he wan't a cunjerer fer nuttin', an' he soon 
foun' out w'at dey wuz up ter, an' he call 'em all roun' 
an' sav, sezee: 'Mv fren's, ain' I bin vo' marster fer 
dis long time, an' ain' I treat you de bes' I knows how ? 
Ain' I p'int out all de game ter you an' ain' I gin you 
all a sheer uv hit ? Ain' I treat you f a'r an' squar' ?' 

166 



CANADI AXD THE WOLVES 

"Dey liatter own up, 'kase ^twuz de trufe, an' dey 
look sort er 'shame' er deyse'fs. Den Canadi go on an' 
he say, sezee : ' 'Twuz yo' own foolishness done de mis- 
chief, dat w'at 'twuz. You know de way I done I'arn 
you ter hunt is ter pussue atter de creetur 'twel hit all 
tire' out an' den s'roun' hit an' all fall 'pun hit toge'rr. 
But dat sarpint wan't tire' out a-tall, an' w'en you seed 
hit show fight, den wuz de time w'en you orter done de 
gitten outer de way. I ses ter you, an' I don' want you 
ter fergit hit, dat hit's a gre't thing in dis w^orl' ter 
know jes' w'en ter run. Hit teks good hoss-sense ter 
know dat. Fools fights befo' dey thinks, an' tu'rr folks 
thinks befo' dey fights. Quit dis 'havishness an' cle'r 
out 'twel I wants you, an' don' lemme year no mo' 'bout 
layin' plans ag'in me, er I putt sech a spell on you dat 
you'll ketch de nuver-git-overs.' 

"De wolfs went slinkin' off, an' fer a li'l w'ile dey 
thought 'twuz jes' de sarpint dat kilt der fren', an' so 
dey ses : ^Now le's we watch ow' chanct an' git redd er 
dat p'ison-mean creetur whar done kilt ow' fren'. I 
boun' you w'en we git thu wid 'im dar ain' gwine be a 
piece uv 'im lef big 'nuff ter quile an' onquile hitse'f.' 

"So dey putt a watch on 'im an' las', one day, dey 
ketched 'im fas' asleep sunnin' hisse'f on a rock jes' 
outside de kyave an' one un 'em tucken him by de back 
er de neck, so's't he kain't bite an' de res' jump on 'im, 
an' dey mek shawt wu'k er dat sarpint; 'deed dey did. 
Dat sassified 'em fer a w'ile an' den dey 'gun ter 
'spicion Canadi ag'in, 'kase onct dese yer 'spicions gits 
inter de haid, dey sticks closeter dan cockle-burs in 
sheep's wool, an' w'en hit comes ter gittin' 'em out, 
someb'dy mos' sho' ter git hurted in der feelin's, same 

167 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

cz you git hurtcd in do fingers w'en you pulls out de 
cockle-burs. Dey 'gun ter dog roun' an' watch 'im an' 
play 'im tricks, stealin' f um him an' eatin' up all de 
game he sont 'em alter, 'twel las' he see 'twan't no good 
an' dat dey gwine do him harm ef he don' git shed uv 
'cm; so he call 'em all up an' he say, ^You-all is de 
meanes', hongries', 'ceitfules' creeturs on de face er de 
yearf, an' I gwine wash my han's uv you an' gin you 
yo' walkin' papers dis ve'y minnit. You kin quit my 
sarvice an' you kain't nuver git back in hit no mo', fer 
a fren' los' is a inimy foun', an' now we know whar w^e 
gwine stan' f um dis time fo'th.' 

'^^Wid dat he p'int his finger an' de wolfs dey know 
he mean jes' w'at he say, an' dey go slinkin' off thu de 
woods, snappin' an' snarlin' at one nu'rr an' stoppin' 
now an' den ter howl back some sass at Canadi, an' 
w'ensomuver dey met, after dat, dey wuz alluz inimies, 
jes' lak Canadi say 'twuz gwine be; an' f'um dat on de 
wolfs hatter fin' der own game an' Canadi hatter do 
his own killin'; an' sence den de wolfs ain' nuver bin 
no kind er use ter men, 'kase dey is alluz 'ceitful an' 
cruel an' revingeful." 



168 



THE STORY OF A GIAXT 

There was silence for a while in the little cabin, after 
the story of Canadi, during which Aunt Throny sat 
gazing thoughtfully into the fire, having raked the em- 
bers together under the hickory log and blown them 
into flame. At last she said, giving vent to her thoughts 
of the past few minutes : "I reckon ef we cu*d jes' 
know all de curisome things an' people an' creeturs 
whar bin on dis yearf an' quit hit fer good, we'd be dat 
'stonish' we ain' kin b'lieve ow' own senses. I 3'earn tell 
'bout de giants an' de ^li*l people' whar useter be, so't 
I know folks wan't alluz de way dey is now, an' my 
daddy's people dey tells lots er tales 'bout creeturs whar 
useter live in de ol' days an' now is clean pe'ish offen 
de face er de j^arf. Seem lak ef all dem folks an' dem 
creeturs cu'd come back, dey oon know hit fer de same 
place, an' dey'd be dat disapp'inted an' home-hongry de 
hull posse-cum-tat 'ud jes' lay down ag'in an' go back 
ter bones an' dus'. I done year so much 'bout 'em dat 
I kain't git 'em outen my haid, an' seem lak I kain't 
git my own cornsent ter leave dis worl' widout knowin' 
jes' who an' w'at bin yer befo' I camed. I mought ez 
well quit studyin' 'bout hit, dough, fer dar ain' no mo' 
chanct er knowin' dat dan dar is er knowin' who an' 
w'at gwine come atter I'se gone." 

"Did they really have people and animals then that 
we don't have now ?" said Xed. 

169 



AT THE BIG HOrSE 

The old woman answered with an emphatic nod that 
said more than words, and intimated that she knew far 
more on the subject than she was ever likely to tell. 

"Please tell us about some of the old-time people/' 
the boy urged, while the other two crowded close to her 
knees and looked up into her face with the interest they 
did not put into language. 

"Le's see/' she said thoughtfully ; "I b'lieve I 'member 
one 'bout a giant. How does y'all think dat 'ud suit yo' 
notion ?" 

Of course the children declared that a giant would 
be the very thing, so Aunt 'Phrony proceeded: "You 
know de Bible ses, ^Dar wuz giants in dem days/ so 
'tain' no use fer no pusson ter say he don' b'lieve in 
giants; 'kase ef de Bible sez dar wuz giants, den dar 
wuz giants. 'Tain' say w'at days, but co'se hit mus' 'a 
bin de same days whar de Injuns knowed 'bout. But 
'pears lak befo' all de giants wuz gone dar wuz some 
folks dat wuz small, lak we-all; so dat de worl' wuz 
kind er mix up, some big, some li'l. In dem days de 
folks built der houses raise' up th'ee er fo' feet f'um de 
groun' on blocks er wood. Dar wuz a man an' his wife 
had one'r dem houses, an' dey had a daughter whar 
wuz a mighty likely, pooty gal. 

"Well, suh, w'at do dat mis'able gal do but teck hit 
inter her haid ter ma'y a giant. De ol' folks dey 'suade 
an' dey 'suade 'er, but 'tain' no use ; fer w'en a gal onct 
gits sot on de wrong man, de on'ies kyore is ter let her 
ma'y him an' fin' out her mistake, w'icht some time she 
do an' sometime she don', but w'ichuver 'tis, she ain' 
gwine let on. Dat's de gre't bizness in life wid lots er 
wimmins — not ter let on. Ef dey did^ my gracious, 

170 



THE STORY OF A GIANT 

w'at sort er wor? ^ud dish yer be ! No livin' in hit ef 
de wimmins onct turnt der tongues aloose ^bout der 
men-folks. De on^ies comfu't in de marter is dat nut- 
tin' kin hoi' 'em back f'um turnin' 'em aloose right at 
de mens w'en no one else roun' ter year 'em. Tongues 
wag all de harder 'kase dey bin hilt back de res' er de 
time." So Aunt 'Phrony, the victim of an unhappy 
marriage, rambled on to herself rather than to the chil- 
dren, whose presence she had almost forgotten in her 
moralizings on matrimony, in which she was prone to 
indulge whenever the subject came up. 

She brought herself back to her story with a jerk, 
saying: "AYell, dat gal she done ma'y de giant, an' ef 
she wuz saw'y fer hit she ain' let on to her daddy an' 
her mammy. De}^ live near her in one'r dem cur'ous 
li'l houses set up on blocks, an' ev'y day she come ter 
see 'em an' pass de time er day wid 'em an' ax 'em 
how dey did, but dey nuver sot eyes on de giant any 
mo'n ef he wan't in de Ian' er de livin'. Dev think dat 
sort er cur'ous, but dey ain' dast ter say nuttin' ter de 
gal, 'kase she done hoi' her haid high an' look sort er 
fierce 'bout de eyes w'enuver dey try ter bring de talk 
roun' to'des him. 

"Ev'y mawnin' w'en dey come outside de do', dar 
wuz a daid deer a-layin' on de groun', er mebbe hit 'ud 
be a daid tukkey all raidy fer cookin'. Dey 'mence ter 
think dish yer wuz a son-in-law wuf havin' after all, 
but still dey wunner an' dey wunner dat dey ain' see 
him, an' dey sez ter one nu'rr: ^Wat time you reckon 
dat man git up ter go huntin'? 'Kase nemmine how 
early we git up we nuver kin ketch 'im.' 

"All de same, dey et up de deers an' de tukkies, an^ 

171 



AT THE BICt house 

den doY sot down an' dey studied an' dey studied 'bout 
der cur'ous big son-in-law 'twel seem lak dey kain't git 
him outen der haids fer a minnit. 

"Wen dey got outer wood de giant he'd fin' out 'bout 
hit^ an' fus' news dey knowed he'd drag home a big 
tree f'um de woods, roots an' all, jes' ez eas}^ ez ef 
'twan't nuttin' but a stick er wood, an' leave hit whar 
dey kin git hit. Yit dey nuver year no noise ner ketch 
him doin' de draggin' ; so dey kep' on wunnerin' an' 
wunnerin' an' studyin' an' studyin', but dey kep' on, 
all de same, burnin' de wood he bringed 'em. Some- 
times dey sez, ^Well, he ain' sech a bad son-in-law, atter 
all'; an' yit ag'in de ol' ooman she'd say: ''Jes' 'pears 
ter me I kain't stan' dish yer no longer. Hit gin me 
de creeps, 'deed hit do, ter know dat man whar 
so tall he hatter double up ter git in thu de do', an' so 
strong he kin drag an' pull trees, roots an' all, is 
a-dustin' roun' ow' house in de night, an' hether an' 
yon thu de w^oods, fetchin' an' kyar'yin', an' we nuver 
seein' 'im anv mo'n ef he wuz a sperrit. I don' kvare 
w'at come ner w'at go, jes' so I kin see hit, but w'en 
things git ter spookin' roun' in de dark, den I'se done 
fer.' 

"De ol' man he say, sezee, ^Same way wid me, ol' 
ooman, but long'z he ain' did no harm yit an' done 
save me a lot er elbergrease, I'se gwine keep my mouf 
shet a w'ile longer an' see w'at happen.' 

"Things went on dat-a-way an' went on dat-a-way, 
de giant fetchin' de deers an' de tukkies an' de fire- 
wood, de ol' folks eatin' de game an' burnin' de wood 
an' wunnerin' an' wunnerin' an' studyin' an' studyin' 
'bout de giant. Ev'y day de gal come ter see 'em, an' 

172 



THE STORY OF A GIANT 

ev'y day befo' she come dey ses ter one nu'rr dat dey 
gwine ax her 'bout de giant, an' ev'y day w'en she git 
dar dey ain' do hit. Las', de gal have a li'l chiF an' 
she bring hit fer her daddy an' mammy ter see, an' dey 
mek gre't 'miration over hit, same'z de gran'daddies an' 
gran'mammies alluz does, -an' de gal she look mighty 
please' an' proud, same'z de young mammies alluz does 
w'en dey's showin' off der babies. 

"Atter de gal tucken de chil' home, de ol' ooman sez 
ter de ol' man: ^Dat sho' is a fine chil', hit sho' is, 
but I wanter ax you dis : is you year dat chil' let out 
de fus' smidgin uv a squeal? is you now? Fer ef you 
is, I ain'; not de ghos' uv a whimper, suh; not one. 
An' I have my 'pinion uv a baby whar ain' cry. Don' 
talk ter me 'bout good babies ! Ef dey ain' cry, I knows 
dey ain' human. Sump'n cur'ous 'bout dat baby, an' 
dat gal kin hug hit up all she wanster, but ez fer me, 
I'se 'feard un hit, an' I ain' gwine tetch hit fer fear I 
git some kind er spell putt on me ; 'deed I ain'.' 

"De ol' man he say : ^Well, you know I ain' much on 
totin' babies, nohow; alluz 'pears ter me dey gwine 
drap ter pieces on my ban's, an' I let you know I ain' 
gwine tetch dis un ; seem lak I kain't feel dat hit's any 
a-kin er mine. Jes' lak you ses, sump'n cur'ous 'bout 
dat chil', an' I reckon we bes' go slow 'twel we fin' out 
w'at 'tis.' 

"Dey kep' on gittin' skeerder an' skeerder an' de gal 
she kep' on bringin' de chil' ter see 'em ev'y mawnin'. 
Dey had mighty oneasy times tryin' ter be mannerly 
an' keep on de right side er de gal an' yit not tetch de 
chil'. Las' de gal see how 'twuz, an' she got hurted in 
her feelin's an' went home an' tol' de giant dat her 

173 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

maw an' her paw wuz 'feard er de baby. Den de giant 
he got hurted in his feelin's^ an' co'se his feelin's wuz 
bigger'n her'n an' hurted him wusser^ an' he jes' rave 
an' he kyave. He sa}^: ^Yer I bin fetchin' game an' 
wood fer vo' daddy an' mammy an' jDomperin' 'em up 
'twel dey ain' have nuttin' ter do^ an' den dey ac' lak 
dis. Yer I wuz gwine roun' dat house ev'y niglit an' 
cu'd jes' a knock hit over wid my lis' same'z you smash 
a aig-shell, er blow hit down wid my bref ; jes' one puff 
'ud a sont hit over in a jiff. But I ain' do nuttin' 't all 
'ceptin' ter he'p 'em, an' yer dey hatter go an' git 
skeer'd er mv chil'. Dev is skeer'd er me, too ; I knows 
dat; dat don' mek no diffens, but w'en hit come ter 
gittin' skeery 'bout dat po' li'l chil', I gwine gin 'em 
sump'n ter git skeery 'bout, sho' 'nuff; I gwine show 
'em huccome.' 

"Den de gal she saw'y she done tol' him 'bout her 
daddy an' her mammy, an' she 'suacle an' 'suade him 
ter let 'em off, 'twel las' he promuss he let 'em 'lone, 
but he say : ^I tell you p'in'-blank dat ef I lets 'em off, 
I ain' gwine stay yer an' see 'em turn up der noses at 
my chil' ; dat I ain'. I jes' gwine teck him an' putt out 
f'um yer an' go so fur off dat dey ain' nuver gwine set 
eyes on him ag'in; you kin jes' mek up yo' min' ter dat.' 
Den he rave an' he kyave some mo' an' skeert de gal 
mos' outen her wits. Her daddv an' her mammv vearn 
de soun' an' ses ter one nu'rr dat dar mus' be a thunder- 
storm gwine on up in de mountains. 

"De gal she baig an' she baig, an' she say dat ef he 
teck de baby, she gwine go, too. Giant ain' sayin' nuttin', 
jes' toss his long hya'r an' stomp his gre't footses an' 
g'long 'bout his bizness. 

174 



THE STOEY OF A GIAXT 

"One day w'iles de gal wuz 'way, de giant lie tueken 
de baby an' putt out f um dar tight'z he cu'd go. Wen 
de gal got home an' foun' de baby gone, she knowed he 
done tueken hit, an' I tell you dar wuz some tall cuttin'- 
up 'bout den. She tear her hya'r an' cry an' scream 
an' go on 'twel de nabers come a-runnin' an' her paw 
an' her maw stood dar lookin' on an' sayin' : Tli-huh ! 
now YOU see dat ! Ain' we toF you so w'en you wanter 
ma'y dat good-f er-nuttin' giant ? ^lebbe, nex' time, you 
gwine pay some 'tention ter we-all.' 

"Gal went on cry in' an' wringin' her ban's, an' las' 
she say she gwine git up an' foller de giant an' fin' him 
ef she kin. So she start of5 an' she go an' she go an' 
she go, follerin' de giant's tracks, fer dey wuz so mon- 
st'ous biof deY wuz miditY easY ter fin'. She went thu 
de woods an' de fiel's an' up de hills an' down de hills, 
an' de wind in de pines kep' mo'nin', ^Gone ! gone !' an' 
de water in de branches call out OYer de stones, ^Gone ! 
gone !' an' de bu'ds chirp ^Gone ! gone I' an' de squ'l up 
de tree drap a nut down at her an' squeak out ^Gone ! 
gone!' an' ev'thing keep hit up dat-a-way 'twel de 
ooman wuz plumb 'stracted. 

"Las', w'en she wuz clean beat out, wid her footses 
sore an' her ban's all scratch' up an' bleedin' f* um de 
deYil's-shoe-string, w'ich some folks calls hit de bamboo- 
brier, she see de giant's tracks on one side de branch an' 
she look 'cross an' see dat 'tain' come out on tu'rr side, 
an^ so she think he mus' be som'ers roun' dar. She look 
up de branch, an' sho' 'nuff, dar he wuz, settin' on a rock 
in the midse er de water wid de chil' in his arms. She 
ain' say nuttin'. jes' turn roun' an' steal thu de woods 
'twel she come out right across f'um w'ar she done seed 

175 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

de giant settin'. Bless gracious ! he wan't dar, not him. 
He knowed w'at she wuz up ter jes' ez well ez ef some 
un done tol' 'im, so he tucken de chi? an' made one big 
step thu de water^, swish I an' sot down on nu'rr rock 
fu'ther up. De gal she look up an' see him; den she 
try de same trick ag'in, stealin' up on him thu de woods, 
but he jes' showed all detoofs in his haid in a big grin 
an' shet 'em to wid a snap an' tucken anu'rr big step 
thu de water an' sot down on a gre't rock wid de water 
a-fussin' an' a-foamin' all roun' him an' de baby, Dat 
mek her fair' wil' an' she try ter fool 'im ag'in. But 
'tain' so easy ter fool a giant, an' he kep" on tollin' her 
an' tollin' her up de stream 'twel she wuz nigh mos' 
daid an' hatter gin up de chase an' go back. All de way 
home she kep' wringin' her han's an' cryin' ^Gone ! gone V 
an' de wind an' de water an' de bu'ds in de tree-tops 
dey all call back at her ^Gone ! gone !' lak dey felt 
mighty saw'y fer her. 

"De nabers dey say it sarve her right fer not bein' 
sassified ter ma'y a man uv her own people. ^Small man 
wan't good 'nuff fer 'er/ dey ses ; ^hatter have big man, 
huh? Eeckon she ain' gwine have sech big notions de 
nex' time.' 

*^^Gal she useter go out inter de woods ev'y now an' 
den ter see ef she kin see any sign er de giant an' de 
baby, but ev'y time she come back cryin' ^Gone ! gone !' 
an' de wind an' de water an' de bu'ds arnser her back 
ev'y time, an' you kin year 'em sayin' hit down ontwel 
dis day ef you jes' stop an' stan' still an' lissen a w'ile." 



176 



WHY THE BUZZAED IS BALD 

Little Kit was fascinated by the story of the giant, 
possibly because it reminded him of his favorite story 
of Jack-the-giant-killer. He climbed up on Aunt 'Phro- 
ny^s lap, put his little arms about her neck, and laying 
his soft, pink cheek against her dusky one, begged for 
^^anuzzer giant story." Aunt ^Phrony's was not a very 
responsive nature, but she could not resist the endear- 
ments of the pretty baby-boy. She hugged him fast, 
stroking his curls and declaring he should have what 
he wanted if she had to "bust her breens" to recall it for 
him. Her brains stood the strain, however, for she 
soon announced to the little boy, "Now, den, my lamb, 
my honey-bud, I gwine gin you a story 'bout de race 
^twix' Mistah Deer an' Mistah Tukkey, an' w^'ile 'tain' 
so much all 'bout a giant, yit dar's a giant comes inter 
hit. 

^^One time de Deer an' de Tuklvcy wuz gwine have a 
race. Mos' er de creeturs thought dish yer wuz plumb 
reedikelous, 'kase de Deer wuz knowed ez de swif'es' 
uv all de beas'eses an' hit seem ter dem dat Tukkey 
wuz settin' hisse'f up might'ly ter race wid sech a run- 
ner ez w'at de Deer wuz knowed ter be. Dey ses, ^Um- 
umph! jes' look at dat feller's li'l haid an' you kin see 
w'y he talk foolish ; ain't got room fer mo'n a thimble- 
ful er breens. He dunno B f'um bull's foot. Struts 

177 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

roun' an^ swells hisse'f up an' looks mighty proud an' 
biggitty, but jes' let him open his mouf an' talk an' you 
kin look in thu de crack an' fin' out how empty his haid 
is inside/ 

"But yit^ atter all, de Tukkey vraz a right swif bu'd 
in dem days, an' so w'en de creeturs all met toge'rr ter 
bet on de race dar wuz some un 'em w'at putt der bets on 
de Tukkey." 

"I thought betting was wrong/' interrupted little Miss 
Janey, with her most knowing air. 

"So 'tis, so 'tis," said Aunt 'Phrony. "Is you uver 
year me say 'twuz right? Hits plumb wrong, but de 
creeturs done hit, jes' the same ez men does; you kain't 
'spec' dem ter be better dan w'at men is, dough I ain' 
so sho', atter all, but w'at dey is better. De beas'eses 'ud 
be 'shame' ter kyar' on de way some humans does, dat 
dey would. x4nyhows, de creeturs sut'n'y bet on dat race. 
Ev'yb'dy wuz dar, an' some er de fowels betted on de 
Deer an' some er de beas'eses betted on de Tukkev, but 
mos' er de bu'ds wuz fer der own man, Mistah Tukkey, 
an' mos' er de beas'eses wuz fer Mistah Deer. 

"Mistah Coon wuz struttin' roun', mighty empaw- 
tant, tryin' ter git folks ter bet wid 'im. ^I lay you five 
ter one on Mistah Deer; come on any un you dat ain' 
'f card ter putt up,' sezee, ^I'se teckin' all de bets I kin git 
dis mawnin'. 

" '^Done !' sez de Owl, sezee, an' dey bofe went an' 
han'ed over der proputty ter de wimmin-folks dat wuz 
teckin' charge er all de stuff whar bin betted; dar wuz 
a gre't pile uv hit layin' on de groun' wid de wimmins 
keepin' gyard over hit. Lots er things changed ban's 
dat day, I kin tell you. Even Mistah Ant done brung 

178 






WHY THE BUZZAED IS BALD 

sTimp'n ter putt up, an' 'twuz neener mo' ner less dan 
a daid caterpiller, dough you cu'd sca'cely tell hit fer 
dat, 'kase he done pull out ev'y single hya'r so's't he cu'd 
drag hit down de hole whar he live.'' 

"Pshaw ! Aunt 'Phrony," said Xed, "ants don't really 
do that, do they ?" 

Well, 1 dunno w'at-all ants does," she answered, 
hut I knows I saw some dat I wuz watchin' one day 
do dat ve'y thing. Dey brung Mistah Caterpillar ter de 
ant-hill an' tried ter drag him down de hole wid all his 
fuzz on, an' w'en dey foun' dat oon do, dey jes' natchelly 
went ter wu'k an' pulled ev'y hya'r out, an' w'ats mo' 
dey lef 'em layin' in two straight lines on each side er 
de body, an' den dey drug him down de hole. Dem ants 
is de smartes' creeturs in de worl', ef dey is 'mongs' de 
li'les'. 

"Well, now, 'bout dat race. Ev'ybd'y wuz dar, an' 
dar wuz a gran' talkin' an' buzzin' an' hummin' f um 
ev'y sort er voice dat de creeturs talk in, an' dar wuz 
some fussin' an' quoilin'; dat sho' ter be wharuver any 
bettin' gwine on. 01' Buzzu'd he wuz settin' up on a 
bare limb waitin' ter gin de wu'd fer de race ter 'mence, 
'kase he wuz 'p'inted fer ter be de. jedge. Jes' den up 
come a giant ter watch de race, an' he j^ear Mistah Lion 
gwine struttin' an' r'arin' 'bout, an' he lissen ter w'at 
he say. 

" ^Hi, yi !' sez de Lion, sezee, ^I ain' gwine putt up 
none er my propputty. W'ats a li'l bit er truck lak dat 
in yon' pile, whar no pusson wants, atter all? I'se so 
sho' Mistah Deer gwine beat dat I'se willin' ter putt up 
my life 'gins' any fool dat '11 resk his life on dat numb- 
skull, Mistah Wi'yum Wil'-tukkey. Eeckon I orter 

179 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

know how fas' Mistah Dapple-deer kin go ; I done chase 
him often 'nuff / 




"Nob'dy spoke up, 'kase dey wuz all mighty 'feard er 
Mistah Lion an' know dey ain' got much chanct w'en hit 
come ter tryin' der life 'gins' his. So ev'thing wuz 

180 



WHY THE BUZZAED IS BALD 

mighty quiet all ter onct, an' Lion he kep' on roarin' 
an' struttin' an' axin' some un ter bet cler life wid him. 
Jes' den 'long come a giant, one'r dese yer sho'-'nnff 
giants whar got strenk 'nuff ter pull up a hill b}' de 
roots an' walk off wid hit ef de}^ wanster. He year w'at 
Lion sayin' an' he tuck up de bet. '1 putts my life on 
de Tukkey/ sezee. ^I'se yo' man, Mistah Lion, an' I 
don' kyare who knows hit, dats me. I'll putt my life 
'gins' de hull kit an' bilin', ef you sesso, an' not turn a 
hva'r in de doin',' sezee. 

"Lion he gin a scawnful sniff dat wuz half snort an' 
half roar, an' he say, he do, ^Well, ef dat don' beat bob- 
tail ! Dish yer human creetur ter set hisse'f up 'gin' 
me ! Seem lak I sca'cely kin keep f'um diggin' my 
claws inter him dish yer ve'y minnit. Some er j^ou fel- 
lers bes' come an' hoi' me down 'twel de race is over,' 
sezee. I let yer know dat none er de fellers ^cepted dat 
eenvite, dough; dey lef him ter hisse'f, walkin' up an' 
down, frailin' de air wid his, tail an' wu'kkin' his claws 
in an' out lak he 'z gittin' good an' raidy. 

"Jes' 'bout den ol' Jedge Bizzy Buzzu'd he gin de 
wu'd ter start, an' den Deer an' Tukkey wuz off lak shots, 
an' ev'yb'dy craned der necks atter 'em an' fergot all 
'bout de Lion an' de giant. At fus' Deer he wuz way in 
de lead, but 'long 'bout middle-ways er de co'se Tukkey 
he 'mence ter creep up on 'im, an' bless goodness, he 
kotch up an' kep' even wid him an' jes' 'fo' dey got ter de 
een' ef he ain' come out a deer's lenk ahaid uv him. 
All dem whar bin bettin' on de Tukke}^ sont up a gre't 
cheer, an' Jedge Bizzy Buzzu'd he say, sezee, T/adiz an' 
gemmen, feller creeturs er dese diggings, you done seed 
fit ter 'p'int me ter de 'pawtant office er jedge on dis 

181 



AT THE BTG HOUSE 

'casion, w'ich office I clone fill ter de bes' er my disabil'ty, 
an' I hope hit gwine be sassifact'ry ter yon all w'en I 
'nonnce dat ow' fren', IMistah Wi'yum Wil'-tnkkey is 
de winner er dis race, all fa'r an' squar', comin' ont 
jes' one lenk ahaid nv ow' 'spected fren', Mistah Dapple- 
deer. You is all now reques' ter step np ter de pile an' 
teck yo' goods whar you betted f er ; de ladiz gwine see dat 
yon git w'at comin' ter you. I don' wanter year 'bout 
none er you snougin' an' snatchin' w'at don' b'long to 
you. Le's be mannerly 'bout dis. You, Mistah Lion ! 
You, Mistah Giant ! Come 'way f um dat pile ! You 
got no bizness dar. Yo' 'greemint wuz ter bet yo' lif es on 
dis, an' we-all wanster see you come on an' fill de con- 
trac'. I'se settin' yer ter see fa'r play an' I gwine do hit, 
ef I hatter be turn down at de nex' 'leckshun fer doin' 
hit. Dats w'at a jedge is fer, ter see fa'r play, an' I 
wants y'all ter know hit. Dis way, Mistah Lion ; dis way, 
Mistah Giant.' 

"Den de giant he step fo'th an' he say, sezee, ^Well, 
Mistah Lion, dish yer's whar I reckon I gotter teck yo' 
life.' 

"Lion he roar hisse'f hoarse an' bristle up his mane, 
an' he say, sezee, ^Now lissen at dat fool man ! He ain' 
nuver run up ag'in my claws er he oon talk lak dat. 
Jes' wait ontwel I hook 'em inter him an' you '11 year 
him laugh on tu'rr side uv his mouf. Who dat you 
gwine teck his life? Me? Now I stan's befo' all dese 
folks an' I axes you ter come on an' do hit.' 

"Wid dat de giant he retch down an' pick up de Lion 
by de scruff er de neck an' dash him hard on de groun', 
an' w'en dey all come a-runnin', dar wuz de gre't Mistah 
Lion stretch out on de yearf, stone daid. Dey ail mek 

182 



WHY THE BUZZARD IS BALD 

gre't ^miration, but dev ain^ was'e many tears over 'im, 
'kase dey wiiz all so "feard iiv him, dat mos' uv ^em wuz 
glad ter git shed iiv him. 

^^Jedge BizzY Buzzu'd he mek 'em a li'l speech. Ho 
say, sezee, ^My fren's, ef I ain' stuck ter my p'int an' 
done my jooty, dish yer ramp in', r'arin', rippin', roar in*, 
boasin', tearin' creetur 'ud be livin' dis ve'y mi unit 
ter set y'all shakin' an' quakin'. Dars no 'nyin' dat 
fac*; I wants y'all ter 'member dat nex' time you 
has 'casion ter 'p'int anu'rr jedge. An' now I mus' 
come down offen dis perch an' tell y'all "so long," 'kase I 
sees some mighty p'tickler bizness waitin' fer me over 
yonner in dat fur fiel'.' 

"Wid dat Jedge Buzzu'd flopped his wings an' flowed 
off an' lef de creeturs ter talk de marter over, an' I 
boun' you der tongues wagged scannelous. De fowels 
whar betted on Mistah Dapple-deer an' los' wuz plumb 
'stunded wid de 'cision Jedge Buzzu'd mek in de case. 
^Lawdv, lawdv I' dev sez, ^te think er dat ol' ninkum 
settin' up ter know mo'n we-all an' passin' jedgments fer 
us I We'll be switched ef we set down unner no sech ez 
dat. Xow see yer, w'at we gwine do 'bout dis ? j\Iistah 
Tarr3'-long Tarr'pin, you orter be de one ter teck dat 
fowel down, 'kase you done owe him a gredge uver sence 
de time he mek de 'cision 'gins' you w'en you race wid 
de hummin'-bu'd. Mistah Lion he daid an' gone; he 
kain't sottle Jedge Buzzu'd's hash fer him, so now we 
gwine putt ow' 'pennance on you.' 

"Tarr'pin he study a w'ile an' den he say, ^Gemmen, 
I wish you ain' spring dis on me so suddintly. Seem 
lak hit drive all de idees outen my haid. You orter 
tol' me 'bout dis sooner, den mebbe I mous^hter had 

183 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

sump'n raicl3\ Y'all have ter wait now ontwel I sees 
my way cle'r. Time, time, gimme time; seem lak I 
ain' niiver had 'luiff er clat yit. But ef you'll do dat, 
I'll promuss ter do de bes' I kin, an' dats all I ken do.' 

"Dev sez to 'im, 'Teck all de time dev is, Mistah 
Tarry-long, jes' so yon fix him out in de een'. Grit 
yo'se'f a good raidy an' den whu'l in an' teck him down 
so fur 't he'll know jes' who he is.' 

"Wid dat dey all up an' go home, an' f um dat time 
on Tarry-long he study an' he study an' he study 'bout 
Jedge Bizzy Buzzu'd. Las' one day he come 'long an' 
seed ol' Buzzu'd layin' fas' asleep in de heat er de day, 
teckin' a noonin' under a tree. He erope up closter an' 
he year Buzzu'd snorin' 'wav lak a steam inlin' an' ev'v 
now an' den lettin' out a li'l puff er a snort. ^De laws 
an' de prophits !' sezee, 'lissen at dat ol' man, 'nuff ter 
'sturb de hull naberhoods. Nemmine, suits mv time 
prezackly.' 

"He sot dar a w'ile laughin' at Jedge Buzzu'd, 'kase 
he look plumb reedikelous wid his footses stickin' up in 
de air an' his mouf wide open. Den he crope up an" he 
crope up an' he try ol' Buzzu'd by ticklin' 'im on de toes, 
but de Jedge wuz so fas' asleep dat he jes' drord 'em up 
a li'l an' gin a extry loud puff an' den went on 'tendin' 
ter his breathin'. Den Tarr'pin he crope up closter yit 
an' tuck a hull han'ful er li'l insec's an' putt 'em on 
Buzzu'd's haid, an' den he crope off an' went home fas' 
ez he cu'd, w'ich 'twan't no faster dan de law 'low. 

"Jedge Buzzu'd sut'n'y had a time wid his haid. Dem 
norty li'l insec's ain' lef him no peace day ner night, 
an' de long an' de shawt uv hit wuz dat he los' ev'y 
hya'r outen his haid, an' he bin gwine roun' bald-haided 

184 



WHY THE BUZZAED IS BALD 

uver sence. You kin see 'im mos' any day in de ^ear 
perch' np in a oF daid tree, wid his haid all bare ter de 
sun an' de wind an' de rain, lookin' mighty sollumcholly 
an' thinkin' over dem ol' days w'en he ac' de part er 
jedge fer de ereeturs an' dey snatch him bald-haided fer 
his pains." 



185 



MIS' GOOSE DECEIVES ME. BEAR 

The children, not content with the society of Aimt 
Nancy in the morning, when she made their toilets, or 
in the evening, when she put them to bed, used to make 
her a visit now and then at her cabin. One morning 
they found her busy carrying in pumpkins from the 
little field behind her house. Ned thought it would be 
fun to kick them along like footballs, but Nancy said 
that pumpkins were made for eating, not for kicking, 
and that unless the children went about it in the right 
way she did not care about their help. Janey, with a 
shrewd eye to business, said they would all three turn 
to and help, if she would promise to tell them a story 
when the pumpkins were all stored. The bargain was 
clinched, and four pairs of hands made short work of 
the pumpkins. Then they all sat down in the doorway 
of the little cabin, and Aunt Nancy said that the pump- 
kins had reminded her of a tale in which Mr. Bear got 
fooled by Mis' Goose. 

"You chillen done yearn tell," she began, "dat gooses 
is kind er foolish, silly sort er fowels, an' I wanter tell 
you right yer an' now dat dey got heap mo' sense dan 
some er de folks whar calls names at 'em, an' ez fer de 
ganders, I'se yit ter see de human man teck de kyare uv 
his wife an' fambly dat dat ol' gander, yonner, do uv 
his'n. He he'p de goose ter bull' her nes', an' dey teck 

186 



MIS' GOOSE DECEIVES ME. BEAE 

some or de down f'um der breastes an' line de nes'^ jes 
ez wo'm an' white an' pooty ez kin be, an' den she set on 
hit, an' he keeps gyard at de hen-house do' an' ef any 
pusson come near he beat his wings at 'em an' do his bes' 
ter drive 'em 'way. An' w'en she go off ter eat an' res' 
husse'f he jes' natchelly squat down on de aigs an' keep 
'em wo'm ontwel she git back. Mebbe y'all has yearn de 
gooses cry out in de night. Well, dat's w'en dey change 
gyard, for dey sets a watch all thu de night an' w'en- 
uver dey changes, de watchman gins out a cur'ous cry 
ter say dey's changin' gyard an' ev'ything gwine on 
all right. Yas, suh, gooses ain' de gooses folks bin 
callin' 'em all dese 'ears. An' I let you know dat big 
an' lumbersome ez Mistah B'ar wuz, dar wuz a time 
w'en Mis' Goose got plumb de bes' uv 'im. 

"She wuz gwine waddlin' 'long one day wid her chil- 
len all strung out in a long line behime her. De gos- 
lin's wuz right young an' she wuz teckin' 'em down ter 
de branch fer ter I'arn 'em ter swim. She wuz mighty 
proud uv 'em, an' she wuz gwine long wid her haid 
r'ared up, shooin' 'em ev'y now an' den ter keep 'em in 
de straight paf, an' cacklin' so's't ev'yb'dy cu'd year 'er : 
^You Fluff! You Puff! You Buff! You year me? 
I want y'all ter keep in de paf. Yon's a dog ; you better 
stick clost ter me ef 3^ou know w'at good fer you !' So 
Fluff an' Puff an' Buff an' all de res' er de chillen 
dey turnt der toes in an' went waddlin' 'long in a 
straight line down ter de branch. 

"'Bout dat time dey met up wid ol' man B'ar. Re 
wuz stayin' out in de woods all by his lonesome, an' 
w'en he see Mis' Goose gwine 'long wid all dat nice 
fambly ter keep her comp'ny, he git strucken wid de 

187 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

notion dat lie want a fanibly, too, ter teck roim' wid 'im 
an' chiir him np an' drive 'way de low-downs. So he 
s'lute Mis' Goose mighty p'litely, tetchin' his paw ter 
his hat an' sayin', '^Mawnin', Mis' Goose; mawnin', 
ma'am ; I hope I sees yon weU/ 

"Slie gin a li'l hiss an' spread her wings an' done 
lak she gwine rim at 'im, 'kase she wan't 'feard er no 
pusson, an' she mighty tetchy w'en she lookin' atter 
her chillen. But pres'n'y she see dat de ol' man wanter 
be fren'ly wid her, so she putt her wings down an' bob 
her haid, an' she say, she do, ^How you come on yo'se'f, 
Mistah B'ar ?' 

"He 'low, he do, dat he wuz kind er ailified, an' dat 
he feel de need uv a fambly ter keep him f um gittin' 
lonesome. ^W'en I seed you comin' down de paf wid 
dat nice, big fambly er yo'n. Mis' Goose,' sezee, H ses 
ter myse'f, sez I, "Dat's de kyore I bin needin' fer dese 
yer low sperrits er mine, dough I ain' bin knowin' w'at 
'twuz. I gwine ax her, dis ve'y minnit, please ma'am, 
ter tell me how I kin git me a fambly lak her'n." ' Mis' 
Goose she turnt her haid roun' on de side an' cut one 
eye up at 'im, de way gooses does — 'kase dey nuver 
seem ter look at you outen bofe eyes at onct — an' she 
see he mean w'at he say ; so she mek arnser, she do, 
^Well, suh, I done hatch out dese chillen f'um de aigs.' 

" ^Is dasso?' sezee. '^Wellum, I be might'ly 'bleeged 
ef you tell me whar I kin git me some aigs.' 

"Right dar Mis' Goose wuz tucken wid a notion dat 
mek her laugh an' laugh on de eenside, so's she sca'cely 
cu'd stan' on one foot lak she bin doin' ; she hatter putt 
bofe on de groun' so's't she kin stan' stiddy. But she 
ain' dyare laugh out loud, an' she nuver even smile 

188 




*'yek ])E aics, mistah b'ar" 



I 



MIS' GOOSE DECEIVES MR. BEAR 

w'ile she tell him: 'Lawdy! lawdy! Mistah B'ar, I 
swan ter man I I knows de ve'y contrapshun whar 
gwine suit. Over yon* in de fiel' is a hull nes"ful er 
aigs jes' waitin' fer some un ter set on 'em. I wish I"d 
bin able ter have unnertooken dat job myse'f, but you 
see my ban's right full a'raidy wid dese yer twelve li'l 
chillen er mine, an' I'se feelin' right po'ly. too. f um 
settin' so long on de aigs. Done los' my flaish, sub, 
done los' my flaish, an' my appentite a in' w'at 'twuz. 
I'se 'bleeged ter be hones' wid you, sub, an' let you 
know dat dish yer settin's hard wu'k, sub, dat hit is.' 

"B"ar he say, 'Bless yo' soul. Mis' Goose, I ain' look 
ter git me nuttin' in dish yer suff'rin', dyin' worl' wid- 
out I wu'k fer hit. an' ef a delikin ladv lak you kin 
stan' hit, I reckon I kin, big an' strong ez w'at I is.' 

"Mis' Goose she say, 'Well, come on den, ef 3^ou sesso,' 
an' she tuck an' led deway ter a fiel' whar dar wuz a 
pile er pun'kins in a fence cornder, an' she say, she do : 
'Yer de aigs, Mistah B'ar. Xow, suh, lemme see you 
set on 'em. You gotter kiver 'em ev'y one wid yo' body 
an' keep 'em nice an' wo'm, else dey ain' gwine hatch 
out, an' you have all yo' trouble fer nuttin'.' 

"Or man B'ar he squat down on de pun'kins an' he 
quile hisse'f fus' dis-a-way an' den dat-a-way, an' dror 
his laigs up an' den putt 'em down, an' den git up an' 
tu'n clean roun' an' squat ag'in. Jes' w'en he think he'z 
all fix', yer come a pun'kin rollin' out fus' one side an' 
den tu'rr. ^lis' Goose she dyin' ter laugh, but she ain' 
dast ter. an' las' she whu'l in an' he'p git him fix'. Den 
she go off down de paf wid her fambly, laughin' so't 
she kain't speak, w'en she met up wid ^lis' ^lolly Cotton- 
tail. Mis' Molly wait a li'l, an' den she say : 'You is a 

189 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

sho'-'nuff goose^ sho' nuff ! Wyn't you speak up lak you 
had some sense an' lemme know de joke?^ 

"Las' Mis' Goose tell 'er, an' she yell an' she holler 
nn' hoi' outer her sides. She ain' stop tcr say good-by, 
but jes' went' stavin' long de paf 'twel she come ter de 
fence cornder an' seed ol' B'ar. She let on she ain' 
know w'at he'z up to, an' she say, 'Heyo, Mistah B'ar, 
w'at you doin' dar, suh, layin' in de fence cornder dis 
time er day?' 

"He say: ''Jes' res'in' myse'f, Mis' Molly; jes' res'in' 
myse'f. Done come a fur ways an' I'se tryin' ter ketch 
my wind ag'in.' 

"She say, sez she, ^Dis a mighty fine day ; I wish you 
come fer a walk wid me/ 

"He say he too tired, an' den she say she wait ^twel 
he git res'ed. He baig her not ter teck so much trouble, 
an' she say 'twan't no trouble 't all, an' dey run on lak 
dat, pow'ful p'lite, but all de time B'ar he wuz pestered 
ter know how he gwine git shed uv her, an' he wuz 
'feard ev'y minnit dat a pim'kin wuz gwine roll out 
f'um beneaf him. 

"All de time Molly Cotton-tail sca'ce kin keep her 
face straight, but las' she got tired er de fun an' putt 
out fer home, tellin' him she be back to-morrer ter see 
ef he wuz res'ed up. 

"Sho' 'nuff, back she earned, an' she say, sez she, 
^Heyo, Mistah B'ar, I stopped 'long ter tell you I done 
foun' a tree up de road a mile er so, an' hit's dat chock 
full er honey dat 'twon't hoi' nu'rr drap, an' ef you 
sesso, I'll go right 'long wid you an' show you de way.^ 

"B'ar he lick his chops an' do lak he gwine git up. 
Den he 'member de pun'kins an' drap back, an' he say, 

190 



MIS' GOOSE DECEIVES MR. BEAR 

he do: 'Thanky ma'am, Mis' Molly, thanky ma'am. 
I'se feelin' too painyfied ter go wid you dis mawnin^ 
call roun' ag'in, ma'am, an' I go wid you, sho', 'kase 
you knows I is 'tickler fond uv honey.^ 

"Molly she hang roun', an' B'ar he try ter git her 
ter g'long, but she tell him she ain' press' fer time, an' 
dat her ol' man an' de chillens gwine keep 'twel she git 
home. Ev'y day she come back an' ax him is he well 
'nuff ter go atter de honey, an' ev'y day he say, he do, 
^You mus' 'scuse me dis mawnin', ^lis' Molly, you sho' 
mus'; de sperrit's willin' but de flaish mighty weak,, 
ma'am, mighty weak.' 

"Las' she say, sez she, ^I b'lieve you, suh ; you sut'n'y 
has growed weak an' thin an' pindlin' ; you is nuttin^ 
mo' dan de shadder er Mistah B'ar.' 

"B'ar he gin a groan, 'kase he knowed 'twuz de trufe. 
He ain' bin off de nes' ter git him vittles, 'kase he 'feard 
de aisrs mouaht fjit col', an' he wuz nidi 'bout starved. 
He ain' dast ter move, neener, fer fear de aigs roll f'um 
un'need. Hit 'pear ter him he kain't stan' hit ter keep 
still nu'rr minnit. Mis' Molly Cotton-tail knowed dat 
right well, but she kep' on naggin' an' naggin' at him 
'twel he say ^Drat de ooman, I wish I ain' nuver think 
'bout gittin' me a fambly.' • 

"Las', one day, he kain't stan' hit no longer an' he 
riz up an' turnt hisse'f roun', but he wuz so weak dat 
he jes' fell back outer de pun'kins, an' some uv 'em roll 
out f'um un'need an' de res' wuz all squshed up, 'kase 
dey'd 'menced ter git sof by dat time. B'ar he groan an' 
he moan an' he cry ah' he roll on de groun' an' dig bofe 
fistes in his eyes. 'Bout den Mis' Molly come 'long an' 
year de gwines-on, an' she stop an' hang over de fence 

191 



AT THE BIG HOrSE 

Hendin' lak she mighty saw'y. She sa}^ sez she, ^Lawsy, 
]\[istah B'ar, w'at does I see, suh; an' w'at is de 'casion 
UY all dis misTy ?' 

" ^0 lawd ! lawd I' sezee, ^my po' fambly ; my po' 
famblv !' an' wid dat he bus' out ter crvin' asf'in. Wen 
he git so's't he kin talk, he say: 'Mis' Molly Cot- 
ton-tail, I ax you, ma'am, fer ter look at dem aigs whar 
I bin settin' on all dis time, an' whar I 'lowed I gwine 
hatch out inter a nice li'l fambly. You sees fer yo'se'f 
how mos' uv 'em all sqush' up, an' de res' done roll 'way 
f 'um me an' git stone col'. An' yer me all hongry an' 
thu'sty an' wo' ter de bone, all fer nuttin'.' 

"At dat he crv mo' louder dan befo'. Den Mis' Mollv 
ain' try ter keep in no longer. She lean up ag'in de 
fence an' she yell an' she holler. ^Hev, lawd !' 
sez she, ^he call dem aigs I dem big ol' rotten pun'- 
kins is aigs ! Well, live an' I'arn, sez I ! Yer me bin 
'lowin' all dese 'ears dat dem things wuz pun'kins, 
an' now I fine dev is aiofs. Ef I'd a-knowed w'at you 
wuz up ter all dis time, suh, I'd a-bringed you some er 
dat honey whar I bin tellin' you 'bout, 'kase you mus' 
be mighty hongry by dis time. Dish yer settin' bizness 
is mighty tryin', I year tell, so tryin' dat de mens mos' 
in gin'ly leaYCs hit ter de ladiz. Lemme know nex' 
time you gwine hatch out a fambly, an' I try ter he'p 
you out in de marter er Yittles. You'se a plumb skil- 
lintin ; you sho' is !' 

"01' B'ar gittin' kind er rile up by dat time, an' do 
lak he gwine teck after her. She lit out f'um dat, but 
she see he wuz too weak ter foller her, so she run back 
for a minnit an' stuck her haid thu de fence, an' sez 
she, kind er roll in' one eye on de pun'kins an' one on 

192 



MIS' GOOSE DECEIVES MR. BEAR 

liim: ^I"m-iimp]i ! ^Tistah B'ar, (11^ siit'n'y is a pity, 
'kase ef dcm aig? had on'v hatch out, yo' fambly 
moughter bin some punlins, sho' 'nuff.' " 



19 



o 



ME. BEAR TEXDS STOEE FOR MR. FOX 

"Aunt Xancy," said Xed^ after the story of the hear 
and the pumpkins^, "I wish you'd tell me what relation 
Mollv Cotton-tail was to Mr. Hare." 

"Relation?" she asked; "you mean w'at a-kin wuz 
she? Xo kin' 'i all, 'scusin' by ma'iage; ^kase she wuz 
his wife, chil' ; an' atter she live wid him so long time, 
she got ez trickish ez w'at he wuz, an' dat's sayin' a 
heap. She wuz a mighty smart ooman, an' she knowed 
how ter read an' write, an', w'at's mo', she cu'd mum- 
mick de writin' er mos' any pusson she wanter, an' dat 
come nigh gittin' her inter a hull passel er trouble 
onct, but she wuz so slick she wiggle out jes' in time. 
Hit wuz lak dis : Fox he done tried his ban' at huntin' 
an' fishin' an' farmin' widout mekin' much uv a fist at 
any un 'em, an' las' he set him up a li'l sto' at de cross- 
roads; one'r dese yer sto's whar de folks brings a li'l 
haid-turn er truck an' trades hit fer bacon an' meal. 

"One day Mis' ]\[olly Cotton-tail, she done runned 
outer sump'n ter eat, an' de chillen wuz hongry an' 
baiggin' fer vittles. She say to husse'f : ^Dese chillen 
gwine run me 'stracted. I hatter stay home yer an' 
lissen at all der bodderment w'iles der paw goes cavawt- 
in' roun' de kyountry enj'yin' hisse'f might'ly. 'Tain' 
fair. But nemmine, I gotter feed dese chillen, an' I 
knows w'at I gwine do.' 

194 



UTl. BEAR TEXDS STOEE FOR MR. FOX 

"Wid dat she sot down an' tucken a piece er paper 
an' a ink-bottle an' a quill, an' she stuck de quill behime 
one year an' sot dar studyin' an' runnin' her fingers 
thu her hya'r 'twel she got de marter all fix up in her 
niin'. Den she tucken de quill an' writ a order ter 
Mistah Fox fer a bag er meal an' a shoulder er meat, 
an' she tuck an' signed Mis' Fox's name to hit, jes' 
'zackly de way she done seed Mis' Fox write her name 
one time. Den she sot down in de do' an' wait fer some 
pusson ter pass by. Fus' news you know, yer come Mis- 
tah B'ar amblin' down de road. By dat time he fergit 
how Mis' Molly done laugh at him 'bout de pun'kins, 
an' w'en she mek her manners to him, nice an' proper, 
he arnser mighty p'litely. She ain' knowin' how he 
gwine treat 'er, but w'en she see 'twuz all right she 
'mence muchin' him, 'kase she wuz a gre't ban' ter flatter 
folks, an' w'en she git things wu'k up ter de proper 
p'int, she say : ^ 'Scuse me, Mistah B'ar, I is 'sentially 
a backwu'd ooman an' I hates ter ax favers, but my 
chillen is hongry an' no vittles in de house an' der paw 
f'um home. I be might'ly 'bleeged, suh, ef you leave 
dis order fer me at de cross-roads sto' an' bring me de 
vittles on yo' way back.' 

"B'ar he sav 'twon't be no trouble, an' he tucken de 
order an' lef hit at de sto' an' den got de bacon an' 
meal on de way back an' fetched hit ter Mis' Molly. 
'Twan't long 'fo' 'twuz all et up, an' 'twan't long, neener, 
'fo' Mistah Fox fin' out de vittles w^uz lef wid Mis' 
Molly stidder wid his own ol' ooman, an' he 'clar' he 
gwine git even wid 'er fer forgin' his ol' ooman's name. 

"Mis' Hyar' she ain' knowin' he foun' her out, go one 
day she go inter de sto' ter trade, biggitty ez you please, 

195 



AT THE BlCr HOUSE 

an^ he up an' ax 'er fer ter keep sto' a minnit w'iles he 
step out. She kind er smell a mouse, an' she tell him 
she ain' got time fer ter tarry. Den he tucken her b}- 
de scruff er de neck an^ tie her up good an' tight, an' he 
sa}^ sezee: '^Uh-huh! Forge my ol' ooman's name, 
will you ? Eat up my meal and bacon, hey ? Trash er 
de worP ! I gwine go out an' git me a cowhide an' gin 
you de bes' larrupin' you uver has had er uver is gwine 
ter git.' 

"He went out an' lef 'er dar studyin' 'bout de fix 
she wuz in, an' mos' pussons 'ud 'a felt skeerder an' 
skeerder ev'y minnit, but, bless yo' soul. Mis' Hyar' 
wan't faze' by hit. She start in ter hummin' one'r dese 
gaily ol' darnsin' chunes an' pattin' wid her footses, 
^kase her han's wuz tied behime her. Las' she bus' out 
at de top UY her voice inter de wu'ds er de song : 

^Sam, Sam wuz a funny oV man. 
Fried his meat in a fryin pan. 
Combed his haid wid a wagon-wheel. 
Died wid de toofache in his heel/ 

" 'Bout dis time some un come sa'nterin' down de 
road an' year de noise an' poke his haid in de do.' Who 
shu'd dat be but Mistah B'ar, an' he say, sezee, *Hey, 
Mis' Molly Cotton-tail, w'at de meanin' er all dis racket, 
an' w'at you doin' all snarl' up in dat rope ?' 

" ^Well,' she 'low, ^I come yer ter git some colamel 
fer my sick chil', an' Mistah Sly-fox he up an' tell me 
he gwine gin a party at his house to-night, an' he ax 
me fer ter stay an' jine in de fun, an' I 'low I kain't, 
^kase I hatter git back ter my chil', an' he 'low dat dey 

196 



MR. BEAR TEXDS STORE FOR MR. FOX 

kain't git long widout my comp'ny nohows, an' clat he 
believe I'se too stuck up ter "sociate wid his fambly an' 
jes' mek up dat tale 'bout de sickness er my chil'. I 
kep' on tellin' him I kain't stay, an' las' I say I go home 
an' teck de cohimel wid me an' see how de chil' is, an' 
come back. But he 'low, he did, dat a bu"d in de han' 
wuz wuf two in de bush, so he tucken de rope an' tie me 
up dis-a-way 'twel night. Den he step out ter mek 
some reddyments fer de party, an' he ax me fer ter mind 
de sto' w'iles he's gone. Yer I is, settin' yer tryin' ter 
keep my min' of? ni}' po' sick chil' by singin' an' 
knockin' time. You ain' nuver bin a mammy, Mistah 
B'ar, er 3'ou'd know jes' how I'm feelin' dis ve'y minnit,' 
an' right dar she let two big tears fall down on de fio', 
ker-splash ! 

"B'ar felt mighty saw'y w'en he see dat ; mens is 
right easy tucken in by a few li'l ol' tears, an' he say 
dat he ontie her, ef she say de wu'd, an' let her go. 
She say, ^Yas, suh, but Mistah Fox he done 'spec' me ter 
see dat nuttin' git stole outer de sto'; w'at I gwine do 
'bout dat ?' 

"B'ar he 'low dat he ain' min' tendin' sto' a li'l, an' 
she tell him, 'Go ahaid, den, an' ontie me.' Den she say 
he better let her tie him up in de same place so's't he 
kain't change his min' 'bout stayin' fer de party. B'ar 
say he wan't hankerin' after any gay doin's, but ef dar 
wuz any vittles ter be 'stroyed at de party, he wuz de 
man fer de place. So he let ^Mis' ^Molly tie him up an' 
den she went clippin' down de road, stoppin' at de turn 
long 'nuff ter sing out: '0 Mistah B'ar! Mistah 
B'ar, I hope you enj'y yo'se'f at de party! Dey tell 
me hit gwine be mighty small an' s'lect. 'Tain' s'prise 

197 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

me ef you hatter do mos' er de darnsin' yo'se'f/ Wid 
dat she went a-kitin'^ an' den she slip inter de bresh an' 
double an' come back an' squat down by de sto' ter 
lissen. 

"Pres'n'y yer come Mistah Fox lopin' back wid a 
gre't cowhide in his han', an' he wuz mo'n s'jDrise' w'en 
he see ol' B'ar all squoge up an' tied fas' in de place 
whar he done lef Mis' Molly Cotton.-tail. ^Laws-a- 
mussy !' sezee, Vat in de name er de ring-tail-roarers is 
de meanin' er dish yer piece er bizness? Who done tie 
you up dis-a-way ? Dat Molly Hyar', I be boun' !' 

" 'De same/ sez de B'ar, sezee. 

" 'Huccome dat ?' sez de Fox, sezee. 

" '\Yell, suh/ Mistah B'ar say, '^she tell me you done 
tie her up ter mek her stay fer yo' party to-night, an' 
she say she natchelly pinin' ter git home ter her sick 
young un, an' she cry a li'l an' baig a li'l, an' las' I tell 
her I jes' ^z lief teck her place an' tend de sto' an' go 
ter de party.' 

"Fox he curl his mufstarsh an' twis' de een' up an' 
look at ol' B'ar outen de cornder uv his eye an' he say : 
*Uli-huh, is dasso? You tol' her dat, did you? You 
willin' ter stay ter de party? Well, ef dat de case, kin 
you tell me w'y she hatter go ter Tfu'k an' do you up in 
all dem hard knots ?' 

"B'ar he say: 'Dat's all right. I turn her a-loose, 
an' den she tie me up dis-a-way 'kase she laugh an' 
say I mought change my min' 'bout stayin' fer de 
party, so she bes' mek sho' uv me, fer you so hard up 
fer fren's 'mongs' de creeturs dat you hatter do dis-a- 
way ter git anyb'dy ter come.' 

"Dat mek Fox madder'n a hatter, dough he ain' so 

198 




mis' molly let two big tears fall ker-splash 



ME. BEAE TEXDS STOEE FOE ME. FOX 

mad but w'at he kin laugli an' holler an' slap his han' 
on his knee. '^Lawd ! lawd !' sezee, ^ef dat ain' one smart 
ooman ! Well, suh, de on'ies party I wuz gwineter gin 
wnz a hidin'-part}', an' me an' her an' dish yer cow- 
hide wuz de on'ies folks eenvited, an' now, suh, sence 
you done let de chief mo'ner go, w'y dish yer gwine be 
3'o' chanct ter do de cryin'.' 

"Wid dat lie whu'l de ol' rawhide roun' thu de air 
'twel she snap lak a snappin'-turkle, an' bring her down 
on Mistah B'ar's back, zip ! zip I zim ! B*ar he r'ared 
an' he charged an' he tore an' he swore an' ha growled 
an' he howled, but 'twan't no use. Mis' Molly she done 
tied him up good an' fas'. Fox he done whup him an' 
whup him 'twel de hide hung oifen him in plumb rib- 
ands. Fox kep' on 'twel he got him right much skunt 
up, an' all de time he wuz jawin' him wid ev'y lick. ^1 
gwine I'arn you some sense, you gre't big lan'-lubber ! 
Gwine I'arn 3'ou not tor be tucken in by ev'y li'l ol' ooman 
whar kin pump de water outen her eyes in th'ee shakes 
uv a sheep's tail ! Gwine I'arn you not ter meddle in urr 
folkses mixes. You is de ve'y man whar comed yer an' 
bringed me dat order f'um my ol' ooman whar nuver 
come f'um her 't all, an' 'tw^z you toted off de meal an' 
bacon ter ol' Molly Cotton-tail. Ain' you know dat 
ooman well 'nuff by dis time ter know dat you gwine 
git in trouble ef you don' keep 'way f'um her? You 
ol' 'nuff ter know better, 'deed you is ; an^diow I gwine 
I'arn you.' 

"01' B'ar he git ter cryin^, an' ev'y time de whip come 
down he let out a big 'Boo-hoo I' Mis' Molly she wuz 
settin' outside lis'nin', an' ev'y time he say ^Boo-hoo !' 
she laugh ^Ho-ho !' at de same minnit, so dey ain' year 

199 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

lier 't all. Wen Fox turnt Mistah B'ar a-loose, she wuz 
off outen dat in a jiffy, an^ B'ar ain' see her fer one long 
spell. He hatter sta}^ home an' nuss his hide for a w'ile, 
an' he vow ter goodness dat he gwine frail Molly good 
nex' time he meet up wid her. "^Mis'able li'l fippenny- 
bit/ sezee, ^ler ter git a gre't big man lak me a th'ashin' 
f 'um dat ol' Slickry Sly-fox ! I knock 'em bof e inter 
de middle er nex' week nex' time I ketch 'em, dog me ef 
I don'.' 

"Las', one da}^ Molly seed him comin' down de road, 
an' she turnt off inter de bresh an' scooted thu a shawt 
cut 'twel she got way beyont him. Den she hop inter 
de middle er de road an' sing out, "^Heyo, Mistah B'ar, 
how you enj'y yo'se'f at Mistah Fox's party? I done 
yearn dat you sing mo' louder an' jump mo' higher dan 
any urr man at de doin's. Xo pusson 'ud think dat jes' 
ter look at you gwine 'long so solium an' stiddy. You 
kain't tell, doughy mens is mighty 'ceivin' ; ^tain' safe fer 
us po' wimmins ter place ow' 'pennance on yo' looks.' 
Wid dat she gin her behime laigs a flirt in de air an' 
went splungin' inter de bresh ag'in^ lak 01' Harry hisse'f 
wuz after her, w'ich mebbe he wuz, an' puttin her up ter 
all her mischief." 



200 



A STAR STORY 



One evening the children encountered Aunt 'Phrony 
sitting in the doorway of the cook-house, gazing in- 
tentl}^ at the stars which twinkled overhead like so many 
huge fireflies. She was so absorbed that she did not 
seem to notice them until Janey softly twitched her 
apron and begged to know what she was looking at. 

"Lookin^ at de stars," she said. 

"What for?" asked Janey, who was alwa3's as full of 
questions as the proverbial "Yankee." 

"'Kase I wanter," said Aunt 'Phrony. 

"What makes you want to ?" persisted the relentless 
Janey. 

"W'at mek you wanter ax me so many queschins ; kin 
you tell me dat ?" said the old woman, suddenly turning 
the tables on Miss Janey. 

" 'Cause I want to know," answered the irrepressible 
little questioner. 

The old woman heaved a sigh of resignation as she 
said : "Well, I s'pose I mought ez well kyave in fus' ez 
las', 'fo' I git my life jes' natchelly pestered outen me. 
I wuz settin' yer lookin' at de stars, tryin' ter pick out de 
ones whar my daddy useter tell me tales 'bout, mo' 
'special de, seven li'l stars whar he say wuz onct seven 
li'l Injun boys." Here she pointed out to the children 
the cluster of stars known as the Pleiades and showed 

201 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

them how six of the stars were very close together in- 
deed, while the seventh was a little removed from the 
rest. This she explained h}^ saying that one was the 
youngest boy, who had lagged behind, not being quite 
able to keep up with the others. 

"De tale runs on lak dis," she said : "Dese yer seven 
li"l boys wuz sort er scampish li'l chaps, all timfe runnin' 
an' playin', no notion 't all er mekin' derse'fs useful, 
sump'n de way some chillen is dese days. Dey all un 
'em had bows an' arrers an' dey wuz mighty good shots, 
dat dey wuz. Dey useter practuss shootin' at marks an' 
th'owin' things up inter de air an' shootin' 'em 'fo' dey 
fall to de groun'. Dey had one game dey wuz pow'ful 
fond er plajdn' ; dey wuz at hit mawnin', noon an' night, 
an' 'twuz lak dis: One un 'em 'ud th'ow a cawn-stalk 
up in de air, an' dey'd all shoot der arrers at hit, an' 
w'ichuver come de clostes' 'ud git all de arrers dat bin 
shot. Shootin' fer keeps, dey wuz. 

"Dey live wid der ol' gran'mammy, an' she wuz too 
ol' ter do much wu'k, an' dar wan't no men-folks in de 
house ter shoot game fer her, so de vittles wuz right 
sca'ce sometimes. Dem mis'able li'l boys, ef dey''d a-turnt 
der arrers a-loose at de deer an' de bu'ds an' sech ez dat, 
stidder at no-kyount cawn-stalks, dey moughter he'p der 
granny out an' gin her all de game she want. Not dem ! 
'twuz shoot, shoot all day long at de cawn-stalks stidder 
at w'at run in de woods. Wen night come dey'd march 
home jes' ez biggitty ez you please an' hongry ez houn's 
an' 'spec' der granny ter feed 'em same ez dey bin wu'k- 
kin' hard all day. 

'^'Las' de ol' ooman git sort er outdone, an' she say, 
'I know w'at I gwine do ter fix dese chillen off an' I'arn 

202 



A STAR STORY 

^em a lesson. De on'ies thing dey gwine git f um me 
dis night is cawn-stalk soup ; dey lak cawn-stalks so well 
dat I gwine gin 'em der fill fer onct/ So she ga'rrd a 
lot er de oF stalks an' pnt 'em on an' b'iled 'em, an' 
w'en de boys come traipsin' in, hongry ez wolfs, she putt 
de new soup bef o' 'em. Dey dabbed in in a mighty hurry 
an' tuck big mouffuls, an' den sech mekin' faces an' sech 
spittin' an' sputterin' you nuver seed. De fus' li'l boy 
he clap his han' ter his mouf an' he say, ^M !' Second 
li'l boy say, ^Hm !' Thu'd lil boy say, ^Whew !' Fo'th 
li'l boy say, ^Oo-oo-oo !' Fif lil boy say, Tf !' Sixt' li'l 
boy say, ^Bf !' Sevent' li'l boy say nuttln' 't all, 'kase 
his mouf all scalted an' he kain't. 

" ^W'ats de marter ?' sez der granny, sez she, ^^ain' 
y'all lak dat cawn-stalk stchew ? 'Tain' poss'bl' you kin 
git too much er cawn-stalks, don' tell me dat, 'kase I 
ain' gwine b'lieve hit. Saw'y I kain't gin you any dese 
urr vittles. Dish yer stchew gwine be yo' stay an' stan'- 
by 'twel you quit yo' foolin' an' set ter wu'k an' bring 
me home some game. Long 'fo' yo' daddy wuz ol' ez 
you-all he useter bring me home bu'ds an' squ'ls an' 
hyar's. I dunno w'at de marter wid chillen dese days; 
seem lak dey gittin' mo' an' mo' trouble an' less an' less 
use ter de growd-ups. I wunner ef de time gwine come 
w'en you git too lazy ter eat? Naw, sub, I don' reckon 
dat'll uver happen in my day. Wats de good er me 
stuffin' an' stuffin' y'all jes' ter mek you grow up inter 
lazy, wufless men-folks; an' ef a Injun man kain't 
hunt, I ax you w'at is he good fer, den? He let de 
wimmin folk do ev'ything but dat, an' now yer you 
wants ter mek me tu'n in an' do dat, too.' 

"De li'l boys ain' say nair' wu'd, jes' picked up der 

203 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

bows an' arrers an' putt out f um de house tight ez dey 
kin go, de oldeses' boy in de lead, an' las' uv all de 
vouns^eses' boy, whar wuz li'l an' shawt an' fat, an' 
kain't run fas' ez tu'rrs. 

" 'Now, w'at in de name er goodness tecks dem chillen 
outen de house at dis time er night,' sez granny, sez she. 
'Whar is dey gwine an' w'at dey gwine do ? Come back 
yer, chillen ! Come back yer, 'fo' I teck a stick an' go 
atter you!' She go ter de do' an' call an' call an' call 
'em, loud ez she kin, but dey ain' pay no 'tention 't all, 
jes' let on dey ain' year her an' run all de faster. 

" 'Mussy me'!' she say, 'has I gotter pick up my ol' 
bones an' try ter ketch dem chillen ? Come back yer, you- 
all, ef you know w'at bes' fer yo' hides. Ef I hatter come 
dar I tan you black an' blue. Y'all bin sp'ilin' fer a good 
frailin' dis long time, an' ef I does hatter come dar, 
111 walk up an' down yo' kyarkiss a time er two an' gin 
you sech a lambastin' dat even de dogs in dis naberhoods 
ain' gwine know you.' 

"Chillen ain' pay no 'tention, so de ol' ooman she 
tucken a long href an' ga'rrd a long switch an' putt out 
atter de boys. All ter onct, w'ile she wuz chasin' 'em 
she seed 'em 'mence ter riz up f'um de groun', an' she 
stop shawt an' open her eyes an' mouf wide an' hoi' up 
her han's at de sight an' call out fer 'em ter stop. But 
bless goodness, dey kain't stop, an' w'ats mo', dey 'gun 
ter whu'l roun' in de air w'iles dey went up, an' de}'' 
whu'l faster an' faster 'twel hit mek der oi' granny 
plumb dizzy ter look at 'em. Dey cried an' dey hilt out 
der han's ter der granny, but 'twan't no use ; she cu'dden 
he'p 'em. Dey whizzed so fas' dat dey jes' look lak black 
specks ez dey went up. Dey go up, up, up, whu'lin' an^ 

204 



A STAK STOEY 

whu'lin^ an' wliu'lin'. 'twel las' dey hit ker-smack ag'in 
de sky, an' dey wuz gwine so hard dat dey jes' stuck fas', 
an' dar dey bin nver sence. Dey kain't git a-loose ; dar 
dey is, pris'ners, all bekase dey wuz sassy an' ugly 
an' ain' niin' der granny. 

^'De po' ol' ooman ain' nuver see 'em no mo' ; she live 
on all 'lone in de house, an' w'en de nights wuz cle'r 
she'd set in de do' an'trv ter mek out de seven li'l stars 
whar she knowed wuz de norty li'l chillen. She'd set 
dar an' rock back an' fo'th an' look up at de stars an' 
say, To' li'l chillen, po' li'l fellers, wunner will dey 
uver come back ter de jeaTi ag'in. Ef dey wuz yer right 
now I boun' you I'd gin 'em one good feed an' no ques- 
chins axed, neener.' 

"But dey nuver come back no mo'. Fer a long time 
nob'dy know w'at become uv 'em, but las' de ol' ooman 
kain't keep de sekert no longer, an' she call de nabers' 
chillen roun' her an' p'int out de seven stars an' tell 'em 
jes' how hit happen. 

"So all cle li'l chillen tucken ter watchin' dem stars 
w'en de. nights wuz cle'r 'nuff. Wen dey see one'r de 
seven gin a twinkle dey'd say 'twuz 'kase he jes' shot a 
arrer outen his bow. An' de ol' ooman died, an' de li'l 
naber chillen growed up an' died, an' der chillen died, 
too, an' so on an' so on down ontwel dis time, yit dem 
li'l Injun boys is still stuck fas' in de sky. 

"Ef you'll look up dar now you kin see 'em, all clost 
toge'rr, 'scusin' de youngeses' one ; he so li'l an' his laigs 
so shawt dat he got lef behime de res', and dat huccome 
he ain' right wid 'em. Ef you look sharp you kin see 
'em shootin' a arrer now an' den ; you'll know dat by de 
twinkle. 

205 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 



in 



"^Disli yer tale orter Tarn joii dat siimp'n sho' ter hap- 
pen ter chillen whar is lazy an' cross an' sassy ter de 
growed-iips, Dey boun' ter git stuck fas' som'ers, dough 
mebbe 'twon't be in de skv. I has knowed sech chillen 
ter git fasten ter de baidpost er lock" up in de closet. 
'Tain' so fur aways^ but hit seem ter arnser de puppus," 
and here she looked meanino^lv at "Wi-vum," who was 
in disgrace for having run oS and stayed all day at the 
cross-roads store without leave. 

She rolled her eyes up toward the stars again and 
said musinfflv, "I lak ter know how manv er deni ol' 
tales 'bout de stars is true, er ef dey ain' true, who 'twuz 
dat fus' got up de stories. Mus' a bin long, long time 
ago, for no pusson seem ter 3'ear nuttin' lak dat dese 
days." 

The children asked if there were other stories about 
the stars. 

" 'Deed, dat dey is," she answered. "Daddy knowed a 
heap 'bout de mawnin' star an' de evenin' star an' a lot 
uv urrs, but hit bin so long sence I year ^em dat I kain't 
rightly call 'em ter min'. I don' 'spec' I'd 'a'membered 
dis un ef Wi-yum's gwines on ain' putt me in de min' 
uv hit. Seem lak you kain't git so far back in de ol' 
times but w'at you year tell 'bout norty chillen, jes' de 
same ez in dis day an' generation; de crap nuver fails 
ner gins out, w'atuver else gits sca'ce. 



}> 



206 



WHY CRABS WALK BACKWARD 

One morning the children were playing out in a cold, 
drizzlino: rain, and Aunt Xancv had several times ad- 
vised them to come in without effect. 

"Y'all gwine ketch yo' deaf," she said, "an' den whar'll 
you be? Don' come 'roun' me wid yo' aches an' yo' 
pains an' yo' sniffin' an' barkin', 'kase I ain' gwine teck 
up my time wid chillen whar dunno 'nuff ter come in 
outen cle rain ; 'tain' wuff my w'iles." 

"It isn't raining much ; we won't take cold," they pro- 
tested, but Aunt Xancy continued her harangue, with 
now and then the threat of an appeal to higher author- 
ity. At last she changed her methods. "Well, I thought 
I knowed some tol'bl' good chillens, but I sees I done 
mek a mistake ; I sees you is a set er know-hit-alls, whar 
kin give p'ints ter yo' maw an' yo' Uncle Hinry an' all 
de growed-ups, let 'lone a ol' ooman lak me. De times 
is mo' diff'nt f um w'at dey wuz. In my day an' ginera- 
tion de ol' folks had charge er dis worl', but now de 
vouno* folks done tucken de reins in ban' an' de ol' folks 
gotter go jes' w'en an' whar dey sesso. Dey jes' lets us 
live on top de yearf an' dats 'bout all. Things gittin' 
so topsy-turv}" hit mek my ol' haid spin roun'. Dar ain' 
bin nuttin' lak hit sence de day w'en young Mistah Crab 
think he know mo' dan de One whar done mek him." 

The children pricked up their ears at the prospect of 

207 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

a possible story, but it would not do to capitulate too 
soon^ so they went on playing with half of their attention 
directed to i\.unt Xancy, as she stood beguilingly in the 
doorway. 

"Xemmine/'' she said, "Crab done met wid his come- 
uppance ^long er his smarty ways, an' I boun' you some 
chillen gwine do de same ef dey ain' stop dish yer 
foolishness an' come right in outer de wet. Does y'all 
think you wuz raise' in de duck-pond an' kin shed de. 
water same ez ef you had fedders an' walked wid a 
waddle an' talked wid a quack ? I gwine wash my ban's 
er de hull bizness. I done said de las' wu'd, an' y'all 
kin sta}^ out yer 'twel you gits water-soaked, lak dem oV 
logs down in de swamp, fer all I kyare." 

With that she disappeared from the doorway, followed 
by the children, eager to make peace and to learn the 
story of the naughty Mr. Crab. Dry shoes and stockings 
were first in order, and then, her little charges seated 
with her about the fire. Aunt Xancy leaned comfortably 
back, ready to satisfy their curiosity. 

"Xow I 'spec' you chillen s'pose dis yearf alluz bin 
jes' de way 'tis now," she began, ^^ut w'en you git ol' 
'nuff ter read yo' Bible you gwine fin' out dat der 
wuz a day an' time w^'en dar wan't no yearf a-tall an' 
de Lawd jes' hatter set ter wu'k an' mek hit all f'um de 
bottom er de lowes' sea ter de top er de highes' moun- 
tain. Wats mo', dar wan't no bushes ner trees ner grass 
ner fiow's ; He hatter mek 'em all, an' atter He git 'em 
done hit look so fraisli an' green an' bloomy dat hit seem 
lak der orter be sump'n er ru'rr ter walk roun' an' look 
at hit an' mek 'miration over hit. So den He set ter 
wu'k on de creeturs. 

308 



WHY CEABS WALK BACKWAED 

"Honeys, dat wuz a big job ! He jes' had one pattern 
ter go by, an' all dar wuz to hit wuz body, laigs, haid an' 
tail, an' yit He done mek 'em ev'y one diff'nt. He gin 
some un 'em fur an' some fedders an' some jes' nuttin' 
but de naked hide; an' some got long, bushy tails, an' 
some come mighty nigh gittin' no tails 't all. He strotch 
de laigs fer some an' lef 'em shawt fer urrs, an' putt on 
a li'l mo' claw yer an' a li'l less dar, an' took a pinch er 
dis off yer an' stuck a dab er dat on dar; an' gin dis 
bu'd mo' wing-fedders an' dat un mo' tail-fedders, an' 
changed His min' 'bout some er de naked 'uns an' 
kivered 'em wid scales, an' got out his paint box an' bresh 
an' tetched 'em up yer an' dar, an' las' dey wuz all done, 
'scusin' der haids, an' dey wuz ev'y las' one diff'nt f um 
tu'rr. He sort er run shawt er goods w'en He git ter 
Mistah Snake an' Mistah Wu'm, so dem creeturs got 
neener fur ner fedders ner laigs ner f ootses. 

^'T tol' you dey wuz all done 'scusin' de haids. Well, 
de Lawd tuck an' putt 'em in a row in front uv 'im, an' 
den He sot ter wu'k on de haids. He lef dat ter de las', 
'kase He knowed 'twuz de mos' empawtant, an' 'kase He 
cu'd tell dat-a-way w'ich sort er haid gwine bes' suit 
w'ich sort er creetur. He knowed 'twuz a ticklish job 
an' dat He mought sp'ile de hull bizness ef He ain' kyar- 
ful. Same ez wid de bodies. He jes' had one pattern — 
two eyes, two years, a nose an' a mouf — yit, same ez wid 
de bodies. He made 'em all diff'nt — nose long er shawt, 
mouf big er li'l, eyes close toge'rr er fur apart, years 
long er shawt, sharp toofs er blunt toofs er no toofs 
a-tall. De older you chillen gits de mo' you gwine ax 
vo'se'fs how 'tis dat ev'v man, ooman an' chil' you meets 
has jes' got two eyes an' a nose an' a mouf, an' yit you 

209 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

kin go up de yearf an' down de yearf an' you ain' gwine 
fin' nair' two faces jes' zackly de same.. An' dats de 
way 'tis wid de creeturs, too. Dey may look de same 
ter us, but I boun' you dev looks ies' ez diff'nt in 
de face ter one nnrr ez w'at we-all does ter ow' own 
kin'. Now dars dat houn' dog er mine, old Bouncer; 
dat 'ar dog so smart he mouglit jes' ez well be human ; 
I ain't got nair' fault ter fin' wid him, 'scusin' dat 
he will trifle wid de ash-cakes w'en my back is turnt; 
but dat I gotter 'spec' f'um him, 'kase 'tain' poss'bl' 
ter fill up de kyarkiss uv a houn' dog, 'tain' de nater 
er de beas' ter feel fill' up. Well, suh, w'en I go 
up ter de co'te-house on co'te-day an' teck dat dog wid 
me — w'ich I mos' in gin'ly does, 'kase I knows he wanstcr 
see his own kin' now an' den, same 'z I does mine — he 
jes' gins one look inter de face uv ev'y dog he meets up 
wid, an' dat minnit he knows ef he done seed him bef o', 
an' ef he has, he stops an' tells him howdy, an' ef hits 
a strange dog, he knows by dat one look whe'rr de dog 
is a shif "less, low-down cur, er whe'rr hits wuf de w'ile 
ter mek his 'quaintance. Ef 'tain', mebbe he'll gin him 
a nab, jes' ter let him know his betters is passin', er 
mebbe he'll go r'arin' by widout even turnin' his haid, 
jes' ter let him see dat he's too low-down fer Bouncer 
ter notuss, let 'lone bark at. 

"Lessee, how fur 'long wuz I wid de tale? Yas, uh- 
huh, whar de creeturs wuz all made an' done an' stan- 
nin' up in a row fer der haids ter be putt on. I tell you 
dat wuz a mighty ticklish time w'en de Lawd have all de 
haids pile' up, waitin' fer de owners, 'kase hit moughter 
bin dat de wrong haid an' body got toge'rr, er dey 



210 



WHY CRABS WALK BACKWARD 

moiighter bin j'ined slanchways, er dey moughter bin a 
po' fit, but den dish yer wiiz de Lawd doin' dis, so in 
co'se dar wan't gwine be no slip-np. 

" Tome yer, Lion/ sez de Lawd, sezee, 'an' lemme putt 
yo' haid on ; hits monst'ous haivy ; don' keep me waitin'/ 

"So Lion he walked right up an' got his haid on in a 
jiff, an' den shuk his mane an' gin one big roar an' went 
splungin' off inter de woods. 

" Tome yer, Ef alent,' sez de Lawd, sezee, an' wid dat 
Efalent walk up an' git his haid on an' go twis'in' an' 
curlin' his trunk an' raisin' up his voice 'twel de groun' 
plumb shuk wid de soun'. 

" Tome yer, Hoss,' sez de Lawd, sezee, an' wid dat 
Hoss prance up' an' git his haid on an' go off neighin' 
an' r'arin' an' kickin' up his heels same 'z de bosses over 
3^onner in de paster. 

" Tome yer. Cow,' sez de Lawd, sezee, an' Mis' Cow 
sa'nter up an' git her haid an' go off shakin' her hawns 
an' chewin' her cud an' mooin' lak she might'ly please' 
wid husse'f . 

" Tome yer. Dog,' sez de Lawd, sezee, an' wid dat Dog 
he go trottin' up an' git his haid putt on an' go off 
waggin' his tail an' flappin' his years an' barkin' at 
ev'vb'dv he meet. 

"Jesso 'twuz wid all de creeturs, f um de Efalent 
down ter li'l ol' ^lis' Ant, an' dey wuz all please' an' 
sassified, but w'en hit come ter de turn er Mistah Crab, 
he hilt back, an' he say, 'Naw, suh, 'sense me, suh, ef 
I ain' come forwu'd.' 

"Tu'rr creeturs wuz all scannelize' at his imp'ence, 
an' dey nudge him an' tell him ter go 'long an' quit his 
foolishness. 

211 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

'^^Come 3^er, Crab/' sez de Lawcl, sezee, ^an' lemme 
year w'at 'senses you kin mek fer dis 'havishness.' 

"Wid dat Crab picked up his body on dem long, spind- 
ly laigs er his'n, an' went sidlin' an' teeterin' up in front 
er de Lawd, fer all de worl' ez ef he wu^ walkin' on 
stilts. 

" Tlease, suh/ sezee, ^you mus' 'sense me, suh, but I 
ain' want yon ter putt my haid on me; I knows 'tain' 
gwine feel comf'ble. I wanster putt my own haid on, 
'kase hit stan' ter reason dat I mus' know better'n any- 
one else w'en hit feels jes' right.' 

"Ef you'll b'lieve me, dar he stood, sassy ez a jay-bird, 
'sputin' an' argyfyin' 'twel de Lawd wuz plumb wo' out 
wid him an' gin him de haid, right side up, jes' de way 
'twnz ter be putt on. Crab he tucken hit inter his claws 
an' hysted hit up even wid his body an' clapped hit on. 
^Ouch !' sezee, ^dat kain't be right, feels sort er lop- 
sided,' an' wid dat he gin hit a li'l hitch ter one side. 
Mo' wusser dan befo' ! '^Shucks !' sezee, ^dat won' do ; 
feel lak I sort er whopper- jawed,' an' he gin hit nn'rr 
li'l hitch. He kep' hit up dat-a-way 'twel he had de haid 
on plumb upside down an' den he wuz sassified, an' wid- 
out so much ez ^thanky' de ongrateful creetur putt out 
fer whar he camed f'nm, w'ich 'twnz down by de sea 
sho'. 

"But bless 3^0' soul, his idees wuz all turnt upside 
down 'long wid his haid, an' w'at did he done but run 
backwn'ds stidder forwu'ds. 

" ^Lawsy !' sezee, ^seem lak I ain' gittin' over de groun' 
same ez tu'rr creeturs. Wats de marter wid me ! Look 
lak ev'ything runnin' way f'nm me stidder gittin' closter 
to hit. 'Spec' I better go back an' ax 'bout dis.' 

213 



WHY CEABS WALK BACKWAED 

"Well, suli, he had de insurance .ter go backin' hisse'f 
up in front er de Lawd an' ax Him 'bout de marter, l)ut 
de Lawd jes' shet spang down on him an' tol' 'im dat 
sence he done tucken his haid in his own ban's he mus' 
stan' de commonsqinces ef 'twan't putt on right. 

"Uver sence den de crabs bin doin' der runnin' back- 
wu'ds, an' ev'y now an' den )^ou' 11 see 'em stop an' do 
lak dey sort er 'stracted by hit an' slide off a li'l ter one 
sides an' fiddle roun' wid dem spidery laigs a li'l, an' 
den go on erg'in. an' folks tells me dat ef crabs gits one'r 
dem laigs hurted dey kin jes' drap hit off, easy ez wink, 
an' grow anu'rr jes' ez good ter teck hits place, dat dey 
kin ; an' I kain't see w'y 'tain' fix up so 't folks kin do de 
same, 'kase 'pears ter me dat folks got jes' 'z much use fer 
laigs ez w'at crabs is, an' mebbe mo' so. But 'tain' no use 
ter ax queschins 'bout de runnin'-gear er dish yer worl', 
'kase dey ain' gwine be arnsered, an' 'tain' gwine change 
de fac' dat crabs kin grow new laigs an' folks kain't. 
Ef you turn outer vo' waA' a li'l after one'r dem crabs he 
gwine gin you a nip ef he git de chanct, an' he look jes' 
ez mad, skeedaddlin' backwu'ds over the san', ez ef he 
had a spite 'gins' de hull creashun 'kase he hatter walk 
backwu'ds. An' I ses ter you, dats de way wid dese 
mulish folks all de worl' over ; tecks der own wav 'bout 
ev'ything, an' den w'en hit don' 'gree wid 'em, wanster 
teck der spite out on urr folks. Heap easier ter git mad 
wid urr folks dan 'tis wid yo'se'f. 

"Xow dat's de tale, jes' ez 'twuz tol' me by a gal f'um 
Baltimo', an' I reckon she orter knowed all 'bout hit, 
'kase dey tells me Baltimo' is a gre't place fer crabs an' 
oysters an' all sech truck ez dat w'at we don' grow in 
dis kvountv." 

213 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

Just then little Kit gave Aunt Nancy an unlucky hit 
on the elbow from a stick with which he was playing. 
She seemed more put out than the occasion warranted, 
but explained it by saying that if your crazy-bone was 
hit you were sure to be disappointed. Ned, who was a 
very matter-of-fact young person, inclined to believe 
only in the things he saw, wanted to know if she really 
believed in signs like that. As on a previous occasion, 
she expressed firm faith and added that she believed 
there was scarcely anything which happened that was 
not a sio^n if vou onlv knew how to read it aright. 

"Urr folks," she said, "has tuck notuss er dat sidesen 
me, an' dey done putt 'em inter rhymes an' jingles an' 
sech, so 't folks kin 'member 'em better. Mebbe I kin 
gin you some un 'em. Lessee, dar's one ses, 

^Riglit lian itch, rub on wood 

An' say, come good, come good, come good; 

Lef lian' itch, rub on brass 

An' say, come fas', come fas', come fas'.' 

"Ef you'll say dem wu'ds an' blow on yo' han' an' den 
shet hit tight you gwine git a present, sho', sooner er 
later. Ef yo' years itch, some un talkin' 'bout you an' 
you mus' say ter yo'se'f, 

^Tall' good, good betide you; 
Talk bad, devil ride you.'_ 

"Ef yo' eye itch, you gwine see a stranger, an' ef yo' 
mouf itch you gwine git a kiss f 'um a stranger. Sho ! 
dar's mo' signs dan you kin shake a stick at, but you 
kain't 'spec' me ter think 'em all up ter onct. I done gin 
you 'nuff fer one time." 

214 



THE OKIGIX OF THE CAT 



The children liked Aunt Xancy's account of the crea- 
tit)n so well that thev bes^o-ed for more alono" the same 
line, and Aunt Xancy readily obliged them, though her 
dignity seemed to require that she should begin, as she 
often did, with a make-believe protest. 

"I ^clar' you-all dunno w'en ter stop," she said, ^l3ut I 
s'pose I gotter mek up my min' to hit, fer a po' ol' 
nigger ooman lak me, w'en she gits wid a set er chillen 
lak you-all, ain' got no mo' chanct fer havin' her own 
way dan a chicken-fedder in a harrvcane." 

She put more wood on the fire, fanned the coals into 
a l^laze with a huge turke3'-wing, afterward sweeping 
the hearth clean with the same implement, administered 
correction to the insinuating Bouncer, who had followed 
her up to the ^^big house'' and installed himself, by al- 
most imperceptible degrees, in the warmest place before 
the fire, and settled herself to begin a new story, — one 
that concerned the origin of the cat. 

"Dese yer cats," she said, "ain' got no call ter sling 
on airs an' putt up der backs at folks de way dey does, 
'kase dey wuz de las' er de creeturs ter be made, long 
after all de res', an' dey orter know der place an' 'have 
derse'fs 'cordin'. Xot dem ! Dey wants de bes' uv 
ev'thing wharuver dev goes, an' ef dev kain't a^it hit 
by hook, den dey gits hit by crook. Seem ter think dat 

215 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

meat-platters an' cream-jugs wiiz made on piippus fer 
dem ter nab der livin' f um, an' de softes' cushoms made 
fer 'em ter lay on, an' you kain't git dem idees outen der 
haids. 

•^^Mos' times you kin subjue a dog, but de cat she jes' 
comes bobbin' up ag'in, springy ez a injy-rubber ball. 
Ef you don' b'lieve dat, jes' watch ol' Snip, dat ol' 
yaller torm cat uv Aunt 'Phrony's. She kain't do nuttin' 
wid him ; she done met her match fer meanness in dat 
cat, an' I reckon dat huccome she keep him. Dat cat 
ain' 'feard er nuttin' ner nob'dy; he do jes' 'zackly de 
way he wanter, an' 'Phrony husse'f don' dast ter mek 
him git down outen her cheer. He done got ter de place 
whar he 'bout think de cabin b'long to him, an' he jes' 
lets de urrs stay roun' wid 'im. Hit sut'n'y is a sight 
ter see 'im wid 'Phrony's ol' dog, Snap. Sometimes he 
lets ' Snap lay on de ha'th, an' sometimes he don', an' 
w'en he gin de wu'd ter go, I tell you dat dog gotter git 
up an' dus' er de fur gwine fly. I done seed Snip git 
right on Snap's back, whar Snap kain't reach 'im, 
an' jes' ride him right out de do' an' see 'im clean offen 
de primises. Umph ! Wat 'twix' dat dog an' dat cat an' 
dat boy Wi'yum, dat ooman sut'n'y have trials an' tribi- 
lations! But 'bout de tale, I mus' keep on de track 
better'n dis, er I ain' gwine git ter de een' in time ter 
git home an' git my ol' man's dinner. 

"Long befo' cats wuz made er thought uv, dar wuz 
a ooman lived all by husse'f; one dese yer lone wimmin 
whar dey calls ol' maids. Her cabin wuz 'way oif in 
de woods som'ers, an' she ain' have no near nabers ner 
no pusson ter look after her. 'Twan't so bad in spring 
w'en de dogwoods wuz in bloom an' all de flow's bustin^ 

216 



THE OEIGIX OF THE CAT 

thu de yearfj ner in summer w'en de sun shine bright 
thu de woods an' wo'm up de pine-tags 'twel dey 'bleeged 
ter let out der sweetness, ner in de fall w'en ev'ything 
good wuz ripe an' she wuz pow'ful busy gittin' in her 
cawn an' taters an' punkins an' her wood fer de col' 
wedder. But w'en de winter done come an' de pine 
trees rock 'twel hit soun' lak waves dashin' on de sho' 
an' de wind howl Voo-hoo-oo I woo-hoo-oo !' all roun' 
de house an' down de chimbly, den, I tell you, dat 
ooman felt mio'htv low down in her min' an' wish't 
she'd tucken de fus' man whar axed her ter have 'im; 
an' she'd say ter husse'f, ^My Ian', my Ian' ! seem lak de 
soun' er dat wind jes' lonesomes me ter def !' 

"She had a heap er bodderments, too. De hawks an' 
de minks an' de foxes done stole her chickins outside 
de house, an' de rats an' de mouses dey gnorred her 
cawn an' her 'taters inside de house, 'twel she say : 
^Humph ! seem lak I jes' livin' dese days fer ter raise 
truck ter feed de varmints wid. 'Pears lak dev done 
j'ine in cahoots fer de puppus er starvin' me outer dese 
diggin's. Ain' lef me 'nuff ter do me 'twel nex' crap, 
let 'lone seed-cawn an' seed-'taters.' 

"Sidesen dat, she wuz 'feard er de rats an' de mouses, 
mo' 'special de mouses, an' dey wuz smart 'nuff ter know 
dat, 'kase de creeturs alluz seem ter know w'en folks is 
'feard un 'em, so dey jes' put derse'fs ter wu'k ter lead 
dat ooman a darnse. Dey'd set an' watch her f'um der 
holes an' den scoot out an' run ris^ht 'cross her footses 
an' mek her screech an' gadder her skirts up, an' den 
dey'd go down in der holes ag'in an' laugh an' snicker 
toge'rr 'bout '^dat fool ooman in de room up yonner.' 
Dey dogged 'er an' 'tripped 'er up, an' jumped out at 

217 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

'er fum behime things, an' hid in de meal-bag an' run 
out at 'er w'en she went ter git de meal, an' dar wuz 
no een' ter der gwines-on. Las' dey got plumb owdacious, 
an' at night, atter de ooman done gone ter baid dey'd 
hoi' reg'ler jamborees, eatin' her cawn an' 'taters right 
spang bef o' her face an' eyes, an' scootin' an' scamperin' 
an' squeakin' 'twel she cu'dden git her natchel slum- 
bers. She'd lay dar quakin' an' shaken' an' trem'lin', 
'spectin' ev'y minnit dat de sassy li'l cusses 'ud climb 
up on de baid. 

"One night dey got mo' rambunkshus dan uver befo'.- 
Dey played pussy-wants-a-cornder an' blin'-man's-bluf? 
all over de room, an' hide-an'-seek in de sugar-bowl an' 
bread-box, an' tagged one nu'rr all roun' de aidges er 
de milk pans. Den dey got tired an' sot down fer a 
minnit ter ketch der wind an' study w'at debilment dey 
kin do nex'. All ter onct, de ring-leader, a mighty 
scampish li'l chap, sot up suddintly on his behime laigs 
an' f otched a loud squeak, an' sezee : '^Heyo, boys ! yer's 
whar I gwine have fun wid de ol' gal up yonner in de 
baid. Does any un you dast me ter do hit ?' 

"Co'se dey gin him a dyare torreckly, an', wid dat, he 
spit on his ban's an' tucken a run an' a jump an' skunt 
up de bed-pos' clean ter de top, an' den he sung out : 

'One fer de money, tivo fer de sliow, 
Th'ee ter melc raidy an fo' fer ter go;' 

an' wid dat he turnt a han'-spring smack down outer 
de ooman. Dat 'uz too much fer her ; she gin a yell lak 
a wil' Injin an' bounced outer baid right in de midse 
er de mouses an' skeert 'em inter de holes; but w'en 

218 



THE ORIGIX OF THE CAT 

dey wuz safe inside dey sot dar pokin' der haids out 
an' twitchin' der whiskers at 'er. 

" ^Xow ain' dis jes' too much I' she say; '^nie dat bin 
feedin' an' housin' dcse li'l rapscallions right erlong. 
Look lak dey mought lemme "lone wen sleepin' time 
come/ an' dar she sot trem'lin' an' wringin' her han's 
an' callin' on de Lawd ter he'p her. 

" 'Twuz a pow'f ul col' night, an' pres'n'y she yearn 
a monst'ous scrunchin' on de snow, de way you kin 
3'ear hit w'en de wedder is col' an' cle'r. De steps come 
closeter an' closeter, an, hit soun' lak de hills an' de 
mountains had tucken ter deyse'fs footses an' wuz com- 
in' to'des her. Las' de steps stop befo' de house an' 
dar come a knock on de do' dat soun' lak thunder, an' 
de ooman' so pa'h'ze dat she sca'celv kin sav 'Come in.' 
She say : 'Oh me, oh my ! w'at gwine happen ter me, 
now ! Ef 'tain' one thing hit's anu'rr. Seem lak dar's 
no een' ter de troubles er po' lone wimmin !' Wid dat 
she fell to cryin' ag'in. 

"Den de do' fiew'd open an' dar stood de Lawd his- 
se'f come ter he'p de ooman. She wuz so faintyfied dat 
she cu'dden raise husse'f f'um de iio', but de Lawd ain' 
fault 'er fer dat, 'kase in co'se He knowed jes' how she 
wuz feelin'. He ain' say nuttin' 't all, jes' tucken de 
gre't fur glove f'um His han' an' thowed hit on de flo' 
whar de mouses bin, an' lo beholst you ! hit 'gun ter 
wiggle an' squ'm a li'l, an' de ooman's eyes 'mence ter 
bulge w'en she see dat. She rub 'em onct er twict an' 
say ter husse'f, 'Laws-a-mussy ! is my eyes done 'ceive 
me, er is dat glove a-movin'?' Hit sut'n'y wuz, an' 
w'at's mo', right w'iles she wuz lookin', she seed de 
thumb turn inter a tail an' de fingers into fo' laigs an' 

219 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

de ga'ntlet inter a haid, an' de creetur 'gun ter strotch 
hitse'f an' wu'k hits claws an' sniff at de mouse traclvs, 
an' pres'n'y hit made a spring at one'r de li'l skeezicks 
whar done poked his haid out too fur, so's't he cu'd look 
at de stranger, an', bless goodness, de creetur ketched 
dat mouse in a twinklin' an' gin him one sho'-'nuff 
bite an' a good raggin' roun' an' come an' laid 'im 
down, stone daid, in front er de ooman, jes' ter show 
her w'at he cu'd do fer her. 

"She wuz so might'ly please' dat she tucken de cat — 
'kase dat w'at 'twuz — in her arms an' 'menced muchin' 
hit, huggin' hit an' strokin' hits fur an' callin' hit pet 
names, an' de cat wuz so please', too, 'kase hit seed hit 
done mek a fren', dat hit jes' squat right down in 
her lap an' 'mence ter sing an' purr; an' dat de way 
cats bin doin' uver sence, w'en dey feels right good an' 
fren'ly. Hit mek dat noise so much, dat las' de ooman 
go dat-a-way, too, w'en she wanter call hit, an' de cat 
got ter thinkin' dat wuz hits name an' come a-runnin' 
ev'y time, so de ooman she say she b'lieve she name de 
cat ^Purree.' 

"De ooman done fergot dat de Lawd wuz stannin' in 
de do', an' w'en she turn roun' ter thank Him, de do' 
wuz shet an' 'twan't no one dar, an' she think mebbe 
she done dream hit all. But 'twan't no dream, an' dis 
w'at prove hit ; down unter dis day de cats hunches der- 
sef's up w'en dey gits mad, jes' fer all de worl' de way 
de fingers clinch up to'des de han' w'en folks gits mad 
'bout sump'n ru'rr, an' down unter dis day de wimmins 
is still 'feard er de mouses, mos' un 'em, an' I 'spec' dat's 
w'y dey kyare mo' fer cats dan de men-folks does, — ^mo^ 



220 



THE OPJGIX OF THE CAT 



^special de ol' maids an' lone wimmin in ginT, dey is 
plumb sot on 'em/' 

Aunt Xanc}^ was struck by an afterthought and 
added : ^'01' ez dat ol' maid wuz^ I boun' you dar wuz 
one thing she tuck good kyare not ter do, an' dat vuz 
nuver ter tromple on dat cat's tail." 

"Why not. Aunt ISTancy ?" asked Janey. 

^W'y, honeys/' said she, "ain' you nuver year tell 
dat ef you tromple on a cat's tail you neenter 'spec' ter 
git ma'ied dat year ? Co'se she ain' gwine git on de cat's 
tail ef she kin he'p hit." 



"1 



221 



THE DRAGOX AXD THE THUNDER 

One day when the children were down near Aunt 
^Phrony's cabin, Ned killed a harmless snake of consid- 
erable length with which he proceeded to give himself, 
boy fashion, a great deal of amusement by swinging it 
around perilously near to Janey and little Kit, who 
shrieked and retired to a safe distance, yet, impelled 
by a fearful fascination, drew near again and again to 
be routed anew by Ned^s uncanny plaything. Having 
reduced his victims to the verge of tears, he promised 
to keep the dead snake within bounds, and said he was 
going to take it to Aunt ^Phrony and get her to measure 
it for him. 

Aunt 'Phrony proved to be no great friend to snakes. 
She brought out a rude yardstick and told Ned to do 
his own measuring. "I ain' gwine fetch dat thing, Meed 
I ain'," she declared. "I got no use fer snakes, nohows. 
I bin dat-a-way uver sence I kin ^member. Jes' lemme 
meet up wid Mistah Snake in de i^af an' I gin him all 
de room w'at dey is. I don' stop ter pass de time er day 
wid him ; I jes' open my mouf an' gin a beller, an' den 
lif up my dress an' shake de skirts, an' den my footses 
do lak dey have wings to 'em an' kyar' me outen dat 
widout me sca'cely puttin' 'em ter de groun'. Shoo-oo ! 
go 'way snakes !" 

"Ho," said Ned, contemptuously, "I don't see any- 

222 



THE DRAGOX AXD THE THUXDER 

thing about snakes to make people act that way. A^iat 
makes you so afraid of them ?" 

^^Has I to? YOU I'se ^feard un 'em? I dunno'z I is. 
I jes' do so widout stoppin' ter think ef I is 'feard er 
ef I isn'. I don' teck time ter git skeered. I dunno w'y 
I ac's lak dat, 'thouten mebbe hit's 'kase my mammy 
useter tell me 'bout dat ol' sarpint whar temp' Mis' 
EYe in de gyardin', an' lak ez not w'en I come 'cross 
one hit run thu my min' dat mebbe hit's de 01' Boy 
hisse'f comin' fer ter temp' me. Sidesen dat, w'en I 
wuz a li'l ofal niY daddY useter skeer me tellin' me 
'bout a big ol' snake whar dey calls a dragon." 

'^'What's a dwagon, Aunt 'Phrony?" asked Kit. 

"Well, hone}^," she said, "ez near ez I kin mek hit 
out, a dragon is one'r dese yer w'atcher-ma3'-call-'ems 
dat's easier ter name dan 'tis ter 'splain. Anyhows, 
daddy useter say 'twuz a gre't long snake wid monst'ous 
eyes an' seben big spots on hits body, an' you kain't 
ketch hit an' you kain't git 'way f'um hit, an', 'lessen 
3'ou do lak de man in de story done, you kain't kill liit." 

"I wonder what the man did," remarked Janey to 
no one in particular. Aunt 'Phrony pretended not to 
hear, while she lit her pipe and puffed away in silence 
for a few moments. Then she settled herself back in 
her splint-bottomed chair, slowly blew out a ring of 
smoke and began the stor}\ 

"De man in de tale," she said, "wuz a hunter whar 
bin out after b'ar. He wuz gwine 'long thu de big 
mountains w'en he Yearn a turr'ble noise, so loud dat 
hit soun' lak de mountains done tore de hills up an' 
wuz chunkin' 'em at one nu'rr. De man 'gin ter git 
skeered an' trimmle lak a aspum, but yit he git nearer 

223 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

an' nearer^ an' de noise git louder an' louder, an' las' 
he seed 'twuz a Dragon fightin' wid de Thunder. De 
two wuz so tankle' up wid one nu'rr dat de man kain't 
see de Dragon's haid, w'ich 'twuz well fer him he kain't. 
But Dragon see him an' call out ter him fer he'p. He 
say: Tlease, Mistah Man, ter come yer an' he'p me 
gin Thunder sump'n dat'll keep him quiet fer one w'ile. 
Gwine roun' yer, he is, strakin' de trees an' killin' de 
beas'eses an' doin' all sawts er mischief ! Fus' you know, 
he gwine strak you daid some dese days, 'fo' you kin tell 
w'at kilt you.' 

"Den de Thunder he call out ter de man in a gre't 
big voice dat mek de yearf trimmle, an' he say, he do : 
^Boom ! Boom ! ! Brr-oom ! ! ! Lissen at me, Mistah 
Man ! You bes' he'p me outen dis scrape. Ef you h'ep 
Dragon hit gwine be wusser fer you, 'kase ef you git 
one good look at 'im, right in de eye, you boun' ter die ; 
no he'p fer hit. Folks whar sees a dragon mought ez 
well turn up der toes right den an' dar.' 

"Man he study an' he study. He say ter hisse'f, sezee : 
'Well, dish yer a pooty kittle er fish! Ef I he'p de 
Thunder, lak ez not he gwine fergit 'bout hit 'an strak 
me daid some time er ru'rr. An' ef I he'p Dragon I 
hatter look him in de face atterwu'ds, an' dat 'ud be de 
een' uv me. 'Pears lak-w'ichuver way I jump I mought 
git f'um de fryin'-pan inter de fire.' 

"Las' he made up his min' dat he'd have a better 
chanct wid de Thunder. By dat time Dragon done got 
de Thunder all tied up, jes' wropped hisse'f roun' an' 
roun' him. Thunder ffittin' kind er choky an' shawt er 
bref, but he mek out ter call ter de man, in a rumbly 
voice dat soun' lak 'twuz dyin' 'way 'mongs' de moun- 

224 






THE DEAGOX AXD THE THUXDER 

tains: 'Oh, ^listali Man I Please, ^listali ^lan, git me 
onloose f um dis onofawdlv creetur. Shoot him in de 
sebent spot, suh, dat"ll f otch him ; shoot him in de sebent 
potr 

So de Imnter he np an' shoot de Dragon spang in 
de sebent spot, an' dat onloose de Thunder. Dragon 
bin hol'"in' on so hard dat w'en he let go, de Thunder 
riz cle'r np inter de clouds an' den fell down ag'in wid 
a crash an' a smash an' a bang right outer de Dragon 
an' tored him inter sassidge-meat. 

"Den de Thunder he sav ter de hunter : 'Er-um ! 
Dr-um I Bum I Mistah ^lan, dish, yer a mighty good 
day's wu'k you done fer me an' fer de people er dish 
ver In^ountrv, 'kase dat Drao-on bin sjwine 'roun' mekin' 
a noosance uy hisse'f . Xow, suh, 'kase you done bin my 
fren' dis day, I gwine do sump'n fer you. I gin you 
mv wu'd dat you kin come an' you kin 2fo thu de storms 
an' I ain' orpine tetcli nair' hYa'r er yo' haid. Sidesen 
dat, I gwine gin you de power ter strak de trees an' 
kill 'em, same'z I kin. Wat's mo', w'en you goes inter 
battle an' yo' inimies seem lak dey gwine git de bes' 
UY you, jes' 3'ou call 'pun my name an' you gwine OYcr- 
come 'em CY'y time. Xo man kin stan' uj) 'gins' de 
Thunder. Son, 3^ou year me ; de wu'd bin spoken.' 

"Den de hunter say ter hisse'f, sezee : 'Um-umph I I 
reckon I bes' moscY 'lono; outen dis, 'kase I kaint tell 
how soon ol' man Thunder mousfht chano'e his min'. 
He feelin' right good an' sore jes' now f'um de quiles 
er dat Dragon, but how does I know w'at he gwine 
do w'en he git OYcr dat ? I bes' quit 'im w'ile he's feelin' 
a li'l doncey.' So he mek his manners an' kotch up de 
b'ar-meat an' putt out right sma'tually f'um dat, an' I 

225 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

a in' so sho' but w'at he tuck an' bruk inter a run soon 
ez he got roun' a bend in cle mountains.'' 

The story finished, Ned returned to his snake and 
was about to cut it up to see if the separate pieces would 
wriggle, as he had heard that they would do, when 
Aunt 'Phrony warned him to desist. 

"Souls an' bodies, chil' !" she exclaimed, "you better 
stop cuttin' dat snake ter pieces. Ef you wuz ter do dat, 
an' lef de pieces yer, ev'y snake dat wuz a fren' er dat 
un w'ile 'twuz livin' 'ud come quilin' 'long up yer ter 
git de pieces an' try an' putt 'em toge'rr ag'in. I ain' 
want my back yard ter git full er dem squ'mmy things, 
so I jes' ax you ag'in ter lef dat snake be, 'kase I know 
w'at I'se talkin' 'bout ; hit's de sho'-'nuff trufe." 



326 



THE TLA^^IWA 



"My mamma told me/' said Ned at the close of the 
dragon story, "that there were no such things as drag- 
ons ; people just made it up about them." 

"Look-a-3Tr, chil'/' said Aunt 'Phrony, "I ain' 
wanter raise no 'spute wid yo' maw, but she done Tart 
w'at she know f um books, an' I done I'arn w'at I know 
outside er books. Dese yer writin' men kain't putt 
nuttin' inter books but w'at dey fus' git f um de outside, 
an' dey ain' putt de hull 'varsil worl' inter books yit, 
not by a long ways. Yo' maw got her book I'arnin', I 
got my eye-an'-ear I'arnin', an' I knows dis: dar bin all 
sorts er creeturs an' all sorts er doin's in de ol' days, 
an' mebbe ef you s'arch up an' down de yearf an' inter 
all de deep holes an' fur-off cornders, you mought* fin' 
some un 'em yit. Sho ! my paw seed wid his own eyes 
de ve'y nes' whar one un 'em useter live; de Tlaniwa, 
dey call hit. 

"De Tlaniwa," she explained, "wuz a gre't big bu'd; 
bigger, yas, ten times bigger'n any bu'd whar live on de 
yearf dese days. Wen I wuz a li'l young'un my paw 
useter tell me, w'en I wuz norty, dat de Tlaniwa gwine 
git me ef I ain' 'have myse'f. Hits nes' wuz half-way 
up de face uv a clift on de Chilhowee mountain, wid 
de Te?inessee river roarin' right b'low, so dat 'twuz on- 
poss'bl' ter climb up ter hit, an' de on'ies' way ter 

227 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

reacli hit vriiz ter go roiin' an' climb de mountain f um 
de back an' let yo^se'i down de face er de clift. De 
Tlaniv/a an' his mate felt mighty safe in de nes', an' 
dey live on dai% 'ear in an' 'ear out, raisin' der chillen 
an' flyin' all roun' de naberhoods grabbin' np sheep an' 
lambs ter feed der young'uns, an' nabbin' up young chil- 
len, too, w'en dey cu'd git 'em, fer dey thought chillen 
mek better eatin' dan anvthino^ else. My, mv ! but 
dem wuz pow'ful bu'ds ! Wen dey spread der wings 
ter fl}^ hit hide de sun an' ev'ything grow dark, an' 
w'en dey swoop thu de air de wind rush by so swif hit 
seem lak a storm wuz comin'. Folks try ter kill 'em, 
but dey alluz git away, an' dey scream an' holler an' 
claw an' beat de air wid der wings 'twel ev'y pusson 
glad ter leave 'em 'lone, fer dey wuz so big dat dey cu'd 
kill even de growed-up folks widout half tryin'. 

"Dar wuz a ooman in dat kyountry done have two 
uv her chillen stole by de Tlaniwa, an' at fus' she go 
roun' mo'nin' an' groanin' an' kyar'yin' on, but after 
w'ile she say to husse'f, *I gr^dne show dese men roun' 
yer w'at a ooman kin do w'en she try. I gwine redd de 
kyountry er dem mis'able bu'ds ef I git kilt doin' hit. 
Dar ain' gwine be no mo' po', innercent li'l chillen 
chawed up ter mek vittles fer dem owdacious bu'ds.' 

"She tuck an' tuck a string an' tied sticks all erlong 
hit an' made a swingin' ladder. Den she go roun' ter 
de back er de mountain whar 'tain' so steep an' she 
climb an' she climb 'twel she reach de top. She look 
over de aidge er de clift an' seed dat de ol' bu'ds wuz 
off de nes', gone 'way som'ers ter git vittles .fer de 
young'uns, so she fasten her ladder to a tree near de 



228 



THE TLANIWA 

aidge, an^ den she climb down, down, down, swingin' 
Vay out over de deep, dark river, ^twel she reach de 
nes\ She kill de younsf bu'ds an' th'ow 'em in de 
river, an' fas' ez she th'ow 'em down a monst'ons big 
snake riz np f um de water an' swallowed 'em whole. 

"Den de ooman she go an' hide in a safe place an' 
watch w'at de ol' bu'ds gwine do. Pres'n'y one nv 
'em come back wid a young chiF in her claws, an' 
w'en she seed her li'l uns wuz gone she mek a turr'bl' 
fuss an' g'long off ter fin' her mate an' tell him de bad 
news. He come back wid her, an' de two went succlin' 
an' swoopin' an' screamin' roun' de nes'. ^Uh-huh !' 
sez de ooman to husse'f w'en she yearn de bu'ds mo'nin' 
an' cryin' ; '^uh-huh ! reckon you-all knows by dis time 
how hit feels ter have yo' chillen stole an' et up inter 
de bargum. You kin succle an' sweep an' swoop, an' 
you kin scream an' holler an' beat yo' wings, but you 
kain't git back yo' chillen any mo'n I kin git back mine 
whar you done stole an' et,' an' she went on dat.-away 
fer a long time, shakin' her fis' an' moufin' at de 
Tlaniwa. 

"De snake he r'ared his haid up outen de water ter 
see w'at mekin' all de fuss. Dar whar Mi stall Snake 
mek a mistake, 'kase de bu'ds seed 'im an' made up der 
min's dat he wuz de one whar kilt der li'l 'uns. ^Mis'a- 
ble, 'ceitful, sneakin', slidin' wretch,' says de Tlaniwa, 
sezee, S^er me bin feedin' you wid de bones an' de leav- 
in's all dis time, an' yer you done pay me by goin' ter 
wu'k an' swollerin' my chillen. Gwine teck hit outer 
yo' hide an' tailor ! Gwine mek minch-meat outen you 
'fo' you kin whisp dat ugly tail er yo'n.' 



229 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

"Wicl dat ol' Snake he 'gun ter slip an' slide thu de 
water, but he cu'dden he'p r'arin' his haid up an' stick- 
in out his oF fork-ed tono^ue at de Tlaniwa. Dar whar he 
wuz mistooken ag'in, fer de Tlaniwa swoop down lak a 
streak er lightnin' an' snatch him by de neck an' kyar' 
him high up in de air, mos' ter de clouds. 01' Snake 
lie wiggle, he twis', lie turn, lie squ'm I but he cu'dden 
git 'way. ^No use, my squ'mmin' f ren',' sez de Tlaniwa, 
sezee, ^bes' say yo' pra'rs, 'kase yer whar I gwine show 
YOU w'at a wufiess w'um er de worl' you is.' Wid dat, 
his mate she come an' tucken her beak an' cut pieces 
offen de Snake w'iles he wuz hangin' f um tu'rr bu'd's 
mouf, an' let 'em drap outer de rocks below. Dey went 
swishin' thu de air an' fell ker-smack outer de stone, 
an' dey fell so fur an' so hard dat dey done mek deep 
holes in de rock. Wat's mo', de pieces turnt ter stone 
atter w'ile, an' daddy say he done seed de holes, an' 
done chipped pieces er de Snake outen de rock. An' ef 
you wuz ter go right now ter ol' Chilhowee, I boun' 
you'd see de same thing in de rocks at de foot er de 
mountain whar de river run deep an' strong. 

"De bu'ds dey lef de nes', 'kase dey see 'twan't no 
fitten place ter raise der young uns, an' dey wan't nuver 
seed no mo' in dat kyountry. De ooman go home an' 
tell 'em w'at she done an' de people wuz mighty glad. 
She tell her chillen an' her chillen's chillen 'bout dem 
monst'ous bu'ds, so't de people ain' nuver fergot 'em, 
an' daddy say all de Injun wimmins useter skeer der 
chillen w'en dey wuz norty, tellin' 'em de Tlaniwa 
gwine ketch 'em. Pity dar ain' no tlaniwas in dese days 
ter skeer chillen whar goes roun' teasin' de dogs an' 
worryin' de cats whar ain' done 'em no harm." Here 

230 



THE TLAXIWA 

the old woman looked a sly reproof at !N'ed, who had the 
*Jay before been unfeeling and disrespectful to the two 
cherished companions of her old age : Snip, the cat, 
and Snap, the dog. 



231 



THE TOSSUM AND THE GEUB-WOEM 



Janey was a veritable little woman in tact and shrewd- 
ness^ and when she heard Ned accused of incivilities to 
Snip and Snap, she hastened to turn attention from 
him by saying the first thing that came into her head. 
"Oh, Aunt Throny/' she cried, "you haven't told us 
anything about the Tossum for a long time. Don't 
3^ou know any more stories about him ?'^ 

If 'Phrony saw through the simple device by which 
Janey meant to kill two birds with one stone, she made 
no sign, but obligingly racked her brains for more news 
of the 'Possum's doings. At length she was able to re- 
member a story about "Mis' 'Possum" and "Mistah 
Grub-wu'm." 

"Dey wuz bofe un 'em mighty fat folks, an' lak lots 
er fat folks, dey wuz right lazy an' nuver go nowhars 
dey ain' hatter go, jes' mosey roun' a li'l ter git der 
vittles an' stav still at home de res' er de time, w'ile 
tu'rr creeturs all time traipsin' an' trollopin' up an' 
down de kyountry ter see w'at dey kin see an' year w'at 
dev kin year an' do w'at dev kin do. ^lis' 'Possum she 
stay in a holler tree an' snooge de time away, an' Mistah 
Grub-wu'm he snuggle down jes' beneaf de top er de 
groun' an' dream 'bout de time he gwine turn inter a 
beetle an' live on top de groun'." 

"Do grubs turn into beetles?" asked Ned, rather in- 
credulously. 

233 




mis' 'POSSIAF SHE STAN' IN HKK IJU * 



THE TOSSOI AXD THE GEUB-WOEM 

"Yas, suh, (lat dey does ! dish yer one w'at I tell *bout, 
he lavs low un'need de vearf 'twel May er June an' den 
comes out an" turns inter one'r dese yer poct}^ green 
an' brown l^eetles whar dey calls ^June beetles' : de kin' 
chillen ketches an' sets ter junin'." 

Of course the little folks wanted to know what 
"junin' " was. 

"Laws-a-mussy I" said 'Phron}^ "I thought all chillen 
knowed how ter June a bug. Wy, you jes' tecks de beetle 
an' ties a strins" to 'im an' hoi's on ter one een' er de 
string an' lets him fly ter de urr een' er de string, an' 
den he hums an' buzzes an' fusses an' cusses, an' dat's 
w'at de}' calls *^ junin'.' 

"Xow, den, lemme start ag'in. I done tol' you dat 
Mistah Grub-wu'm an' Mis' 'Possum wuz bofe un 'em 
fat an' lazy an' lak ter stay home. But dey mio^hty fond 
er knowin' w'at gwine on in de worl', an' w'en tu'rr 
creeturs go ter de kyouncil ter 'tend ter de 'fairs er de 
kyountry, dese yer stay-at-homes ain' gin 'em no peace, 
w'en dey git back, pesterin' 'em wid queschins 'bout 
w'at went on at de kyouncil. One time some er de cree- 
turs wuz gwine by f'um de meetin', an' Mis' 'Possum 
she stan' in her do' an' hail 'em an' ax 'em fer ter come 
in an' set a w'ile. 

"Dey ses, ' 'Scuse we-all, ma'am, we 'bleeged fer ter 
be gittin' on,' an' dey ses ter one nu'rr behime der ban's : 
^Land ! land ! le's mek has'e an' git outer dis er dat 
ooman'll nab us an' nail us ter de cheers all night.' 

"Mis' 'Possum she say, sez she: ^Gemmen, I ain' 
gr^'ine teck no fer a arnser. You-all mus' be plumb 
frazzle out wid yo' walk. You mus' come in an' teck off 
jo' shoes an' res' yo' hufs, an' den lemme gin you a 

233 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

plate er 'simmons an' a glass er buttermilk. Xow, you 
year me, I ain' gwine let you of?/ 

"De vittles fetched 'em, lak hit alluz does wid de 
men-folks, an' in dey camed. Mis' 'Possum she ax 'em 
quesehins 'bout who wuz dar an' w'at dey wo' an' w'at 
dey have ter eat, an' w'at laws bin pass', ontwel dey 
wuz fair' wil'. Dey git so wo' out an' aggervex dat w'en 
she go outer de room ter fetch de 'simmons an' de but- 
termilk, dey git ter collogin' toge'rr an' fix up a li'l 
joke on her. Wen she come back she putt down de 
plate an' de glasses, an' putt her ban's on her hips an' 
stood watchin' 'em eat, talkin' at 'em all de time. 

" ^Dellav\'s !' she say, S^'all ain' gin me no news wuf 
talkin' 'bout. Is dat all you kin 'member er de doin's ?' 

"Den one un 'em he wink at de res' an' he say, he do, 
'Law, bless yo' soul, Mis' 'Possum, I nigh mos' fergit 
ter tell you de kyouncil done pass a law dat all de aner- 
muels mus' pervide deyse'fs wid a pouch so's't dey kin 
kyar' der chilleh roun' wid 'em.' 

" Ter de lan's sake !' sez she, 'how I gwine git me any 
pouch ter kyar' roun' wid me ?' 

" 'Xemmine,' dey sez ; Ve bring you de hide ; all you 
gotter do be ter mek de pouch.' 

"So dat w'at dey do, an' Mis' 'Possum she strukken 
wid de notion dat she save husse'f de trouble er kvar'yin' 
de bag on 'er arm ef she jes' sew hit to 'er body instid, 
so, sho'z yo' bawn, she jes' sew hit on her own hide, right 
in front, an' dar whar she bin kyar'yin' her chillen uver 
sence. Tu'rr creeturs raise a big hoot w'en dey see 'er 
gwine roun' lak dat, de onies' one 'mongs' 'em all whar 
kyar' der young 'uns dat-a-way. 

"Mis' 'Possum ain' kyare. She say, 'Gemmen, de 

234 



THE TOSSUM AXD THE GRUB-WORM 

joke's on me dis time. But slio ! 'tain' bodder me. Yon 
done me a might}' good turn ; dis heap better dan gwine 
roun' totin' my chillen wid my mouf^ de way some er 
you hatter do w'en you wanster tote yo'n.' An' so ter 
dis day she teck her chillen ev'ywhar she go, even w'en 
she go out ter rob a hen-roos'. Sometimes she lays down 
on de groun' in de sun, an' dey walks outer de pouch an' 
climbs all over her an' squats down an' hangs on by 
curlin' de een's er der long tails roun' her hya'r. I 
done seed a dozen uv 'em at onct, jes' settin' all over 
der mammy an' hangin' on by der tails. 

"Atter de creeturs lef Mis' 'Possum dey g'long li'l 
ways an' met up wid Mistah Grub-wu'm, an' he turnt 
to an' 'gun ter pussecoot 'em lak she bin doin'. Dey got 
jes' natchelly wo' out wid 'im, so dey went off a li'l 
piece ter confabulate toge'rr. ^Now ain' dis jes' too 
much !' dey ses. *^Why n't dis man go ter de kyouncil 
an' use his own eyes an' years ? ^lis'able lazybones ! 
So fat he kain't 'ambulate, broad 'z he is long.' 

"One un 'em say ter tu'rrs, ^Jes' lef dis man ter me : 
I gwine show him huccome !' Den he go back an' he 
say ter Mistah Grub-wu'm, ^Mistah Grub, we'all done 
fergit ter tell you de kyouncil done pass a law dat all 
anermuels mus' crawl on der backs. Dey say we bin 
gwine roun' wid ow' eyes on de groun' long 'nuff, an' 
now we mus' turn over an' look up in de worl'.' 

" ^Umph !' sez de Grub-wu'm, sezee, ^dat suit me to a 
gnat's bristle, 'kase I don' reckon folks gwine 'spec' me 
ter git roun' so fas' ef I hatter trabel on my back. I 
kin teck hit easy den, sho' 'nuff. Stan' outer de way, 
yon-all, yer goes !' Wid dat he roll over on his back 
an' try ter crawl. Mighty hard wn'k. He wrassel an' he 

235 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

tiTSsel an' he tug, but he ain' mek no headways. 'Whew ! 
dis mek me tired, sho' 'nuff. I gwine turn me over an' 
do de ol' way/ sezee; 'mighty easy fer folks ter set up 
in de high seats an' gin der orders. I wish all dem dat 
gin orders hatter try 'em on derse'fs befo' dey kin pass 
inter laws.' 

"He try ter turn back on his stummick, but, bless yo' 
soul, dar wan't no turn to him. He huff an' he puff, but 
'twan't no use. De creeturs dey stood by an' snickered 
an' aiged him on an' let on ter try an' he'p him. Las' 
dey cu'dden stan' hit no longer, an' dey bus' out laugh- 
in' an' sez, 'Heyo, Mistah Grub, we done got you fix' dis 
time. Eeckon you won't go pesterin' we-all no mo' wid 
yo' queschins 'bout de kyouncil. You hatter trabel all de 
way dar on yo' back atter dis ef you wanter know w'at 
gwine on. You kain't 'pend on we-all no mo'. So-long, 
ol' man.' 

"Sence den ol' Grub-wu'm bin doin' all his walkin' 
on his back, an' he bin at hit so long now dat he done 
got right spry. Sometimes atter a haivy rain he come 
up ter de top er de groun', an', you kin see him jes' 
mo'n scootin' roun' on his back. 

"Now dat's all de tales you gwine git outen me dis 
day. I is plumb wo' out, same 'z de creeturs wuz wo' 
out, wid queschins," and the old woman folded her hands 
and closed her eyes and pretended to be fast asleep, 
seeing which her little auditors stole softly away on tip- 
toe for fear of waking her. 



236 



MR. BEAR AXD MR. TERRAPIX GO COURTIXG 



"Yas," said Aunt Xanc}^ "one time Mistah B'ar an' 
Mistali Tarr'pin wuz bofe co'tin' de same gal. Dey kep' 
hit up a long time, waitin' on her an^ flyin' roun' her, 
but neener uv "em seem ter git de inside track. Hit 
sut'n'y wuz a sight ter see ^em gwine on befo' her, cut- 
tin' up shines an' talkin' fas' an' tryin' w'ich kin 'trac' 
de mos' 'tention f'um her. B'ar wuz a sulky sort er fel- 
ler, an' hit look plumb reedikelous ter see him tryin' ter 
run on an' laugh an' mek hisse'f 'greeable. Tarr'pin he 
mighty slow 'bout his talkin'. well ez his walkin', an' 
hit wuz 'nuff ter mek a tiger titter ter see him settin' up 
tryin' ter slip a wu'd in aidgeways now an' den. Dey'd 
git dar on de same night, an' try ter see w'ich kin set 
tu'rr one out, an' neener one uv 'em 'ud leave ; so 'long 
'bout ten de gal's mammy 'ud stir roun' in de nex' 
room an' drap her shoes down hard on de fio', an' de gal 
'ud be tucken wid a fit er de gaps, an' den dey knowed 
hit wuz time ter git up an' mosey. 

"De gal's folks useter run her right smart 'bout her 
beaux an' de way dey run after her an' come roun' 
nights an' stuck one nu'rr out, an' her mammy 'ud jes' 
shake all over wid laughin' an' say, ^Gracious ter good- 
ness, gal I how long you gwine let dem fellers come 
sasshayin' roun' you ? Wh^m't you mek up yo min' one 
way er tu'rr? I kind er tired seein' 'em toge'rr; dey 

337 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

looks so cur'ous 'long side er one nu'rr. You sut'n'y 
got de long an' sliawt iiv hit wid yo' beaux/ 

"Gal git kind er tired uv hit, too, but she ain' seem ter 
be able ter mek up her min'. Las' she say to 'em, one 
night w'en 'twuz mos' time fer 'em ter leave an' dey bofe 
wuz pesterin' her ter 'cide betwix' 'em, ^Gemmen, you is 
bofe so 'greeable dat 'deed I kain't mek up my min' 
w'ich ter teck an' w'ich ter leave ; 'deed I kain't. So dis 
w'at I gwine do. Y'all kin start f um de cross-roads 
nex' Friday mawnin' at de same time, an' w'ichuver one 
gits yer by twelve o'clock, dat de one I ma'y. But I 
have you bofe ter know dat you mus'n' git yer neener 
bef o' ner atter ; you mus' be right on de stroke er twelve 
er you kain't be de winner.' 

"Dey bofe 'greed ter dis an' went on home. 

"W'en Tarr'pin wake Friday mawnin' he gin hisse'f 
a stretch an' open his eyes an' see 'twuz jes' gittin' day- 
light, an' he say ter hisse'f, "^Shucks ! better not be layin' 
yer no longer; bes' git up an' dus' ef I 'spec' ter git 
dar ahaid er Mistah B'ar. He ain' no swif trabeller, 
dat's a fac', but he's a mighty soon man 'long side er 
me, so I bes' slick up a li'l an' g'long.' 

"So he stop long 'nuif ter gin his shell a good rubbin' 
down 'twel hit shined lak glass, an' den he sot out fer de 
gal's house. 

"Jes' atter sun-up ol' B'ar wake up an' roll over an' 
stretch an' rub his eyes, an' sezee, fetchin' a big yawn, 
^Dog-my-cats ! ef I don' b'lieve dish yer's de day fer de 
race 'twix' me an' ol' Tarry-long Tarr'pin. Umph ! 
wish't I had time fer nu'rr li'l snooze. 01' Tarr'pin so 
slow I b'lieve I gwine turn over an' try a li'l nap on tu'rr 
side.' Jes' den he ketched sight uv a track in de road 

238 



MR. BEAR AXD MR. TERRAPIX GO COURTIXG 

dat go pas' his house an' he got up ter look at hit. Fus' 
hit seem lak some un bin draggin* a plank 'long thu de 
dus', Init w'en he 'zamine hit he see de li'l foot-tracks 
on bofe sides an' den he knowed 'twuz whar Tarr'pin 
bin draggin' his un'need shell thu de dus'. ^Sho I' sezee, 
^I better spunk up an' git outer dis ; no tellin' how early 
Tarr'pin started; he mought git dar fus' ef I ain' look 
out.' 

"So he gin his fur a good rakin' over an' putt on all 
his bes' fixin's an' set out for de gal's house. 

" 'Fo' he got ve'v fur he met up wid Tarr'pin an' sezee, 
^Hevo, mv f ren', w'at mek you start so early ? 'Tain' do 
you no good ter git dar befo' de time. Gal say you mus' 
'rive on de stroke er twelve, neener befo' ner atter.' 

" ^Yas, suh ; yas, suh, I knows dat/ sez Tarr'pin, sezee, 
^ut you mus' 'member w'at a slow trabeller I is. A big 
man lak you, w'at teck gre't long steps, boun' ter beat 
me ef I ain' stir my stumps an' start early.' 

" ^So dat's how de Ian' lays, is hit ?' sez B'ar, sezee. 
^Well, ol' man, keep on ef you wanter, but I'se 'feerd you 
have all dis trabblement fer nuttin'. You mought ez 
well set down in de shade an' 'j'y yo'se'f, 'kase I boun' 
ter git dar fus'; j^ou ain' got de ghos' uv a chanct, an' 
de gal knowed dat w'en she talk 'bout de race. 'Twuz 
jes' her way uv gettin' shed er you widout hurtin' yo' 
feelin's.' 

" ^Mebbe so, mebbe so/ sez Tarr'pin, sezee, ^but ef you 
don' min', suh, I jes' 'bout think I g^^ine keep on, now^ 
I got dis fur.' 

"Dey tol' one nu'rr ^so-long,' an' B'ar he go on an' 
soon leave ^listah Tarr'pin a fur ways behime. He see 
de sun ain' ve'v hiojh vit, an' he wuz risfht wo'm an' tired, 

239 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

so he say lie b'lieve he lay down in de shade an' res' a 
w'ile. So dat w'at he do^ an' pres'ny he go fas' asleep, 
an' he slep' an' he slep' an' he snore an' he snore, an' 
de flies come an' lit on his nose an' tickled him, but he 
jes' breshed 'em off wid his behime foot an' went on 
sleepin'. 

"Atter w'ile 'long come Mistah Tarr'pin draggin' 
hisse'f tlm de dus' an' de hot sun. He see Mistah B'ar 
layin' off nnner a tree, an' he strotch his neck np outer 
de shell, an' drord off de paf an' looked at him good. 
^Uh-huh !' sezee, ^f as' asleep, I see. AYell, snooge on, 
Mistah B'ar; dat suits me 'zackh^, an' I have you ter 
know, suh, dat hit's a ol' sayin' an' a true sayin', "De 
long pole reaches de 'simmon, but de smart dog gits 
hit." ' 

"Wid dat Tarry-long he went amblin' on an' lef 
Mistah B'ar sleepin' lak a log an' snorin' lak a saw-mill. 

"Pres'n'y B'ar waked up an' seed Mistah Tarr'pin's 
track ag'in an' knowed he'd bin by. *^Gee whizz !' sezee, 
^dat mis'able li'l cuss done had de insurance ter pass me ? 
1 mus' git up an' git, er no tellin' w'at happen.' Wid dat 
he shuk hisse'f an' got up an' went 'long right fas' 'twel 
he ketched sight er Tarr'pin ag'in. Den he slacked up a 
li'l an' putt on lots er style, swaggerin' roun' over de 
road an' singin' one'r dem ol' toas'es ter de ladiz : 

'Success to de red-bu'd. 
An' lahwise ter de icren; 
God bless all de pooty ladiz. 
An' not so many men.' 

"He let on lak he ain' see Tarr'pin 'twel he git right 

240 



ME. BEAE AXD ME. TEEEAPIX GO COUETIXG 

up 'long side uv *im, an' lie mek out dat lie wuz jes' 
'bout ter tronip on liim by mistake. He dror back his 
foot an' sav. *0h, "scuse ine. is dat vou ? I did ir know 
YOU WUZ dar. Well, how vou come on. anvhow? Slow 
wu'k, ain' hit, suh ? You mought ez well give up an' go 
back, I tell you dat, 'kase dars no queschin who gwine 
git de gal; she knowed dat fum de fus'. I dunno w'y 
she set me an* vou at dish ver fool racin', but dar's no 
use tryin" ter study out de ways uv a gal ; I done gin dat 
up long ago. You gotter let her have her sesso.' 

"Tarr'pin he say, sezee, ''Well, Mistah B'ar, you pus- 
sue atter yo* way an' I'll pussue atter mine, an' mebbe 
you '11 see me at de een' er de line yit. I done come dis 
fur 'long : seem lak liit be too bad ter gin up now. I'm 
a right slow man^, to be sho', but I tell you, suh, I'm a 
sticker.' 

^*^'ar g'long an' git way ahaid er Mistah Tarr'pin 
ag'in. He wall his eye up at de sun pres'n'y an' he see 
dat 'twan't twelve yit an' dat de gal's house wan't so fur 
away, so he mek up his min' ter teck nu'rr li'l res'. 
'^Shucks I' sezee ter hisse'f, Mat li'l ol' slow-coach won't 
be 'long yer fer one w'ile, an' I mus' be kyarful not ter 
git ter de place befo' twelve, so yer whar I gwine res' 
me ag'in." Wid dat he plumped hisse'f down un'need a 
tree. He fell fas' asleep befo' long an' he slep' an' he 
slep' 'twel mos' twelve o'clock. 

"Atter w'ile yer come li'l Tarr'pin. wo' mos' ter a fraz- 
zle, but jes' paddlin' on down de paf widout even stop- 
pin' ter teck bref. He see ol' B'ar layin' dar in de shade 
an' he strotch his neck out a.sr'in fer a good look, an' 
sezee unner his bref, ^So ho, my furry fren' ! fas' asleep 
ag'in, I sees. Dar's whar vou mek de sTe't mistek er vo' 

241 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

life. ^Tain' safe, suh, ter ^spise any man, nemmine how 
po' an' no-kyount he seem ter be ; mebbe he gin you a 
s'prise yit one'r dese days. I sez onet an' I sez ag'in, 
"De long pole reaches de 'simmon, bnt de smart dog git 
hit." ' Wid dat he crope up nearer an' nearer ter Mistah 
B'ar an' looked him good in de face an' seed he wuz 
fas' asleep yit. Den he wu'kked on down ter one'r 
B'ar's behime footses, an' squat down dar an' tuck de 
een' uv a tuf ' er long fur in his mouf an' sot dar waitin'. 

"Pres'n'y B'ar he waked up an' walled his eye up at 
de sun an' seed 'twuz mos' twelve o'clock. 'Gre't gum !' 
sezee, ^las dat Tarr'pin pass me by ag'in?' He look 
ahaid fer Tarr'pin's track. None dar, so he feel safe. 
^I mus' be humpin' myse'f ef I wanter git dar on de 
stroke er twelve/ sezee. 

"Wid dat he got up an' shuk de dus' outer his fur, but 
he ain' notuss Tarr'pin, 'kase de fur so thick he kain't 
see him. Tarr'pin wuz hangin' on fer dear life ; he 
wan't gwine be shuk off, not him. Sezee ter hisse'f , 'Aw 
naw, suh, you hatter shake hard 'nuff ter onloose de fur 
f 'um yo' hide bef o' you kin shake me off ; my mouf built 
fer hol'in' on. Mebbe I kain't wu'k my jaws ez fas' ez 
some folks, but w'en hit come ter clinchin' 'em, I'm right 
dar.' 

"B'ar go erunchin' an' scrunchin' down de road, 
mekin' gre't has'e ter git ter de gal's on de stroke er 
twelve, an' all de time yer wuz Tarr'pin Jes' gwine swing- 
in' on do^m de road wid him, mouf clinched tight in de 
fur, an' ol' B'ar ain' have de sign uv a notion dat he wuz 
totin' Tarr'pin to'des de gal's house. 

"De gal an' her mammy wuz settin' on de po'ch 
lookin' out fer de gemmen. Jes' befo' de stroke er 

242 




c^« 



3 



O 









MR. BEAR AXD MR. TERRAPIN GO COURTING 

twelve de gal riz up an' shaded her eye wid her haii' an' 
looked down de road. She see Mistah B'ar mekin' gre't 
has'e, an' she sing out, ^Oh, maw, yer come Mistah 
B'ar ! Hit look lak he gwine win, 'kase I ain' see no 
sign er Mistah Tarr'pin.' 

"B'ar he seed her an' he 'gun ter bow an' scrape an' 
teck off his hat, an' de gal she 'mence ter snicker an' 
giggle an' mek her manners. Wen he got ter de po'ch he 
wuz clean outer bref, so't all he cu'd say fer a minnit 
wuz ^Howdy, ma'am, howdy, gal !' Gal she say, 'Howdy, 
Mistah B'ar; I sut'n'y glad ter see you dis mawnin'; 
how you come on? Whar you done lef Mistah Tarr'- 
pin ? Tee-hee ! Seem lak he ain' gwine set de evenin' 
out wid you dis time. Tee-hee !' She titter ag'in an' 
sort er hide behime her han' lak she feel monst'ous 
backwu'ds now dat Mistah B'ar 'bout ter win de race. 

"B'ar he say, 'Sho ! I lef dat li'l contrapshun down 
de road so fur aways dat he kain't ketch up in a mont' 
er Sundays. Him ter race wid me ! I tol' him, ma'am, 
dat dar wuz nuver any queschin who gwine beat, an' dat 
I knowed you wuz knowin' dat w'en you putt us ter 
racin'.' B'ar he swelled roun' some mo', an' gal she snort 
an' snicker some mo', an' las', jes ez de clock 'bout ter 
strike twelve she git a cheer an' ax him ter set down. 

" 'Don' kyare ef I do, ma'am,' sezee, an' he squared 
roun' wid his back ter de cheer ter set down. Tarr'pin 
he tuck dat 'casion ter drap down inter de cheer, blip ! 
an' dar he sot lookin' ez peart ez a lizzu'd an' he sings 
out, 'Hoi' up, dar, Mistah B'ar; don' you set down on 
me, suh, 'kase I kin bite hard, ef I ain' ve'y big.' 

"B'ar he wuz mo'n half squat down an' he riz up in a 
hurry an' turnt 'roun' wid his eyes fair' bulgin' outen 

243 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

his haid^ an' sezee, ^Name er common sense ! how did 
you git yer?' 

"Tarrpin say, sezee, '^Xemmine how I got yer; yer I 
is an' yer I stay. I done tol' yon w'en I met np wid you 
in de road dat de longes' pole reaches de 'simmon, but 
de smartes' dog gits hit, an' now I done prove de trufe er 
dat sayin'.' 

"Gal she say, ^Mammy, I wants you jes fer ter look at 
dat Mistah Tarr'pin settin up dar in de cheer ez cool 
an' comf ble ez kin be, not a speck er dus' on his footses, 
an' not even outen bref. He ain' faze' by dat long walk, 
an' yer Mistah B'ar, big an' strong ez he is, all tuckered 
out. 'Clar' ef hit don' beat bob-tail ! Shows dat you 
kain't go nuttin' on looks.' 

" ^Dat you kain't !' sez de Tarr'pin, sezee, ^ner hit don' 
do ter be sho' uv anything in dish yer mawtul worl'. 
Mistah B'ar mought 'a beat me easy 'nuff, even to'des 
de las', ef 'twan't fer dat second nap he done tuck ; dar's 
whar he lose his needle.' 

"De gal an' her mammy dey say, '^Now ain' dat de 
trufe ! You sut'n'y got good horse-sense, Mistah Tarr'- 
pin, an' we glad you done won de race. I 'spec' you lak 
mighty well ter wash de dus' outer yo' th'oat wid a glass 
er eider atter dat long walk. Jes' set still an' git out 
yo' pipe an' mek yo'se'f right at home.' 

"Dey stood dar muchin' him an' waitin' on him, an' 
dey ain' even ax Mistah B'ar ter have a cheer, so he lef 
Tarr'pin settin' dar sippin' de cider an' went off down 
de road suckin' his thumb all de way an' thinkin' w'at 
a consumbunkshus fool he done mek uv hisse'f." 



244 



MOLLY COTTOX-TAIL STEALS ME. FOX'S 

BUTTER 

"Aunt Xancy/' said Janey, "do yon know any more 
stories about Mis' Molly Cotton-tail? I think she's 
'most as smart as Mr. Hare, and I like to hear about her 
'most as much." 

" 'Mos' ez smart I ^mos' ez smart I well ef dat don' beat 
all !" said Xancy, throwing up her hands in affectation 
of indignant surprise. "Lemme tell you dat w'en a 
ooman start out ter be trickish she kin beat a man ev'y 
time, 'kase her min' done wu'k heap faster an' she see all 
roun' an' over an' un'need an' on bofe sides uv a thing 
w'ile he's tryin' ter styare plumb thu hit." 

"Didn't you say she was his wife ?" asked Xed. "I 
should think they would have called her Mrs. Hare 
always, instead of Molly Cotton-tail. AVhy do you s'pose 
they didn't ?" 

"Law ! honey," she answered, "don' come axin' me no 
sech li'l fool queschins ez dat. How you reckon I gwine 
know all de w'ys an' de wharf o's uv all de ol'-time 
doin's ? I kain't spressify de reasonment uv her bein' call 
Molly Cotton-tail sometimes, but hit come 'cross me 
jes' now dat mebbe de ma'ied wimmins ain' tucken der 
husban's name in dera days lak dey does now. Anyhows, 
I know she called Mis' Molly Cotton-tail, an' not jes' 
wholly an' solely de wife er ^listah Hyar'. She ain' de 

245 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

sort er ooman ter sottle clown an^ be jes' plain ^lis' 
Hyar' all her clays^, an' stay home an^ lissen at ae chillen 
cry an' wash der faces an' comb der hya'r an' cook der 
vittles, 'ear in an' 'ear out. Hiih-uh ! Mis' Molly she 
got too much git up in her fer dat. She mek ol' man 
Hyar' stay home an' min' de chillen now an' den, an' 
he ain' dast ter say no, neener. Lemme see, now, whar 
wuz I at? Ef I'se gwine tell 3'Ou any mo' tales, you 
mus'n' come at me dat-a-way wdd queschins, lessen you 
wanster putt de tales outen my haid. I jes' had my 
mouf fix' ter tell you one w'en y'all bruk in on me 'bout 
de name. Lessee, w'at icuz dat tale 'bout, anyhows ?" 

"Well, I asked you for another one about ^lis' Molly 
Cotton-tail," said Janey ; "so may be it was about her." 

"Sho' 'nuff, sho' 'nuff," said Aunt Nancy. " 'Parient- 
ly I'se gittin' fibble in de min' ez well ez in de j'ints, ter 
go fergittin' dat-a-way. Yas, de tale wuz 'bout one time 
w'en Mis' Molly an' Mistah Fox go ter mek a visit wid 
Mistah Fox's brer whar live 'cross de swamp an' down in 
de holler. He wuz right fren'ly wid her 'bout dat time 
an' 'vite her ter go wid him. She wuz all dress' up in her 
good clo'es an' her good manners, gwine 'long mekin' 
husse'f mighty 'greeable, talkin' 'bout dis an' dat, cuttin' 
her eye up at him real sweet an' stickin' ez clost ez a 
bur to a cow's tail." 

"Why, I didn't suppose they would ever be good 
friends again after the tricks she played him," said 
Janey. 

"Um ! chil'," she answered, "dis happen so long atter 
dat ol' Fox plumb fergit dey uver had any fallin's-out. 
You better not pester me no mo' er I mought fergit de 
tale, clean ez a whustle. Well, dey went on, him he'pin' 

246 



MIS' HAEE STEALS ME. FOX'S BrXTER 

her over de foot-logs, mighty mannerly, an' runnin' on 
an* crackin' jokes wid her, an' las' dey got ter de house. 
Mistah Sly-fox's brer w'ich dey call him ^Hongry 
Billy/ 'kase he wuz all time eatin' np folkses chickens, 
he "vite 'em in an' tell 'em fer ter mek derse'fs at home 
an' ax 'em ter stay ez long ez dey kin. Mis' Molly she 
teck off her hat an' shawl an' de ridicule f'um her arm 
an' lav 'em on de baid. Den she sav, ^Mistah Hongrv 
Billv, I'se dat indush'ous I kain't bear ter be idle even 
w'en I'se off on a visit; so please, suh, ter lemme git de 
supper, stidder settin' yer hoi 'in' my ban's.' 

''Billv tell her he ain' kvare, so she whu'led in an' set 
de table an' drord de pine-tag tea an' made de ash-cakes, 
an' Hongry Billy he showed her whar ter git de butter, 
down at de spring. ^Y'iles dey 'z at supper 'long come a 
naber an' tol' 'em dat ol' Mistah Grav-fox wuz dvin' 
an' done sont fer Billy ter set up wid him. So Billy 
'sense hisse'f an' ax 'em fer ter teck kvare er de house 
ontwel he come back an' mek derse'fs right at home. 
Den he g'long off wid de naber. 

"Dat night, w'en ^listah Fox git ter noddin' an' 
snoogin' by de fire, Mis' ]\Iolly she slip out ter de spring 
an' et up de butter down ter de ve'y las' smidgin, an' 
den set to an' licked de crock 'twel 'twuz clean ez ef hit 
bin scoured. Den she lick her mouf an' whiskers clean, 
an' come in an' sot down by de fire ag'in befo' Fox had 
time ter wake up an' miss her. She sot dar lookin' ez 
innercent ez a lamb, gwine on wid her knittin' an' hum- 
min' a chune, jes' ez ef she ain' nuver had butter in her 
min' ner in her mouf. 

"Xex' mawnin' Hongry Billy come back, cross an' 
sleepy f'um de settin'-up, an w'en he go down ter de 

247 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

spring ter git de butter fer bre'kfus', tlar sot de crock, 
empty ez a go'de. I let you know he wuz mad. He 
come a-huffin' an^ a-puffin' up ter de house, an' he say, 
sezee, '^Dish yer a nice howdy-do ! Y'all calls yo-se'f 
'spectable folks an' comes yer an' squats down on me, an' 




den w'en I turn my back yon eats up ev'y rap an' scrap 
er butter 5^ou kin fin' on de place. I bin thinkin' y'all 
wuz folks an' now I fin* you is ho^s !' An' wid dat he 
turnt his back on 'em bofe an' went flouncin' out de do'. 
^Dey toiler 'im up, 'clarin' dey dunno nuttin' 't all 

248 



i'l 



MIS^ HARE STEALS ME. FOX'S BUTTER 

^bout de butter, an" Mis" Molly she do talkin' 'nuff fer 
bofe, she do. She say, sez she, ^ 'Twan"t me, suh, "deed 
'twan't I I cross my heart I Wat I want wid yo' butter, 
anyways ? I got me plenty butter at home ; I ain^ hatter 
go ter de nabers for ev'y liT oF snack er vittles I want. 
Sidesen dat, I got a mighty delikin stummick, an' I 
kain't eat no butter lessen I done mek hit mvse'f, 'kase 
I ain' sho' de folks bin right clean an' kyarful in de 
mekin.^ 

^•'Dat mek Hongr}^ Billy madder'n befo', an' he say, 
sezee, ^"Well, mebbe my butter wan't clean ; I dunno 'bout 
dat, but I does know 'bout dis: hit clean gone, an' w'at's 
mo', one'r you two is de pusson whar goned hit. I gwine 
keep you bofe right yer 'twel I fine out w'icht is de thief.' 

"Molly she study li'l, an' den she say, sez she, *^^Iistah 
Billy, Fse ve'y saw'y dis happen, 'deed I is. But w'ats 
done kain't be ondone, an' so de on'ies' thing now is ter 
prove w'icht er we-all tucken yo' butter. Ef I ain' 'ceive 
myse'f, I knows de sho' an' sut'n way ter fin' out w'icht 
is de thief. Jes' you g'long 'bout yo' wu'k an' let me 
an' ^listah Slv-fox lav down vonner in de sun all dav, 
an' w'en you comes back dis evenin' I boun' you kin tell 
w'icht uv us done et de butter.^ 

"Huccome ?' sez Hongry Billy, sezee. 
^Dat easy ez rollin' off a log,' she say. '^De heat er de 
sun gwine strak thu an' dror de grease out, so't w'en 
vou come back all vou hatter do be ter rub yo' fino^ers 
over ow' stummicks an' den you'll know in a jiff who 
done swollered yo' butter.' 

"Mistah Slickry Sly-fox 'gree ter dis, 'kase he know 
he ain't tucken de butter, so he wan't 'feard hit be proved 
up on him. Hongr}^ Billy he say hit look mighty reas'n- 

249 



« n 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

able an' lie 'gree tcr hit, too, an' went off 'cross de swamp 
ter tend ter his wu'k, an' lef 'em bofe dar layin' in de 
sun. 

"x4.tter w'ile she say, sez she, blinkin' an' battin' her 
eyes lak she kain't keep 'em open, ^Um-iimph! Mistah 
Fox, dat sun mek me pow'ful sleepy, please 'scuse me, 
suh, but I'se jes' nachelly 'bleeged ter teck a lil nap.' 
Fox say he b'lieve he teck one hisse'f, an' he shet his eyes 
an' putt his nose down between bofe jaws an' gin his tail 
a whisp er two ter drive 'way de flies, an' pres'n'y he wuz 
fas' asleep. 

"Mis' Molly she watch him outer de cornder uv her 
eye, an' w'en she see he wuz good an' soun' she lit up 
f'um dat widout mekin' no noise an' struck out fer a 
naber's spring an' got her a han'ful er butter. She come 
tiptoein' back an' stoop down an' rub de butter all over 
Mistah Fox's stummick, so sof'ly dat he ain' kin feel hit, 
an' den she go an' lick her paws clean an' laid down in 
her place ag'in an' kep' one eye. on him. 'Bout de time 
w'en she 'spec' Hongry Billy home she shet her eyes an' 
snore so loud he year 'er clean 'cross de holler. W'en 
he come up to 'em dey wuz 'pariently fas' asleep, an' 
Billy he retcht down an' run his han' over Mis' Molly's 
stummick. Dry ez a bone ! Den he try Mistah Slickry 
Sly-fox, an' he bringed up his han' kivered wid grease 
an' smellin' loud er butter. " 

"Billy wuz in a turr'bl' teckin' an' mek sech a fuss dat 
he wake Mistah Fox an' fall ter excusin' him er teckin' 
de butter. 01' Fox wuz dat s'prise' ter fin' his stummick 
kivered wid butter dat he ain' kin say nuttin' 't all. 
'Bout den Mis' Molly Cotton-tail 'gun ter stretch an' 



250 



MIS' HAEE STEALS ME. FOX'S BUTTER 

rub her eyes an' 'tend lak she jes' wake up. She lissen 
at all de gwines-on a minnit an' den she 'mence ter mek 
gre't 'miration. ^Laws-a-mnssy !' she say, *I ain' h'lieve 
dis ef I ain' see hit wid mv own eves. I sut'n'y is scan- 
nelize' dat a fren' er mine tiicken ter stealin', mo' special 
on a visit. I 'clar' ter goodness my feelin's is so hurted 
dat I kain't rightly 'spress myse'f, an' w'at's mo', I kain't 
stay yer 'sociatin' wid a common thief. I got my young 
fambly ter think 'bout. So long, Mistah Hongry Billy. 
I hopes you gin dat man a good walluppin', 'kase he 
sut'n'y 'arn hit, comin' yer puttin' up on you an' den 
cleanin' out yo' butter. Xex' time you git me ter go 
visitin' wid you, Mistah Slickry Sly-fox, you be heap 
older an' smarter dan w'at you is dis minnit.' Wid dat 
she go scootin', 'kase she 'feard ef she stay longer she 
mought git f oun' out somehow er nu'rr. 

"Hongry Billy he study li'l w'ile an' den he say ter 
Mistah Fox, 'Well, I gwine let you off dis time, 'kase 
you is my kin an' I ain' wanter disgrace you; I ain' 
wanter let folks know I got a thief fer a brer. But 
don' let me ketch you in dese diggin's no mo', er I gwine 
set ter wu'k an' lam de butter outer dat greasy hide er 
3^o'n ; 3'ou year me talkin' !' 

"Fox he 'clar' an' he sw'ar dat he wan't de thief, but 
Billy ain' pay no 'tention to him. Den he had half a 
min' ter tell ol' Hongr}^ Bill}- 'l)out all dem hen- 
roos'es he done robbed, but Billy so mad a'raidy dat he 
kind er 'feared ter do hit, so he go slinkin' off wid his 
vears down an' his tail drasfojin', an'- dev tells me dar 
wuz a gre't coolness spring up in dat fambly dat las' fer 
some sev'l 'ears, all 'longer dat crock er butter. I let 



251 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

you know, cliillen, hit ain' teck much ter start a f ambly 
•,]uoi'l^ but hit tcck heap er time an' trouble ter patch 
one up, jes' de same ez hit do wid dcm holes whar li'l 
Mars' N'ed snag in his britches, an' nuver seem de same 
alter de patchin', neener." 



252 



THE LAZY FOX 



When Aunt Xancy finished the story of the stealing of 
Hun2:rv Billv^s hutter, Janey said : "I should think ^Ir. 
Fox would have been so mad at Mollv Hare that he 
would never have spoken to her again. Didn't he ever 
try to pay her back ?" 

" ^Deed dat he did/' said Aunt Xanc}', "an' he come 
mighty nigh doin' hit, too. Dish yer wuz de way uv hit. 
One day he wuz turr'bF hongr}^ 'kase his brer Billy bin 
cleanin' out all de hen-roos'es in dat naberhoods 'twel 
dar wuz no chickins lef fer him; he kain't tell whar de 
nex' meal er vittles gwine come f 'um. Las' he say he got- 
ter have sump'n ter stay hisse'f wid an' he b'lieve he lak 
mio-htv well ter have a hvar'. But he wuz so mawtul 
lazv dat he ain' wanter chase one down, 'kase w'en de 
foxes chases de hyar's dey hatter do a pow'ful lot er 
runnin' bef o' dey kin git 'em. Fox he knowed dat ; so he 
go walkin' 'long thu de woods, schemin' away ter hisse'f 
an' tryin' ter mek up a plan ter ketch a hyar' widout 
chasin' her. '^Dar's some way ter do hit, sho' ez I'm a 
livin' sinner, an' I gwine wu'k my thinker 'twel I fin' hit 
out, dat I is,' sezee. ^I'm one'r dese yer thinkin' men,' 
sezee, winkin' up his eyebrows, ^an' w'en I 2:)utts my min' 
on a thing hits ez good ez done.' 

"Jes' den he come 'cross one'r dem pafs whar de 
hyar's use w'en dey track up an' down thu de woods, an' 

253 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

sezee, ^Heyo ! yer s a hyar's run. I'll jes' f oiler dis up 
an' see w'at I kin see. I boun' some er clem fool creeturs 
gwine be Tong yer betwix' daylight an' dark huntin' fer 
Tittles, er gwine down ter de branch, er was'in' der time 
gwine roun' visitin'. I lay I'll fix up some scheme ter 
ketch one uv 'em.' 

"He g'long moufin' 'way ter hisse'f, an' all ter onct, 
in de middle er de paf, he seed one'r dem 'ar holes full 
er mud whar dey calls '^slashes/ an' w'en he see dat he 
say, ^Xow yer's whar I gwine lay low an' ketch me a 
hyar' fer my dinner.' So wid dat he got down inter de 
slash an' stood dar up ter his neck in mud, waitin' an' 
waitin'. 

"Pres'n'y he year a noise an' look up, an' lo, beholst, 
some un wuz comin' down de paf, an' 'twuz nob'dy mo' 
ner less dan Mis' Molly Cotton-tail husse'f, singin' dis 
song at de top uv her voice : 

^Ez I ivent down de new-cut road, 

I met de tap an den de toad; 

De toad lie 'gun ter wliustle an sing, 

An' de 'possum cut de pigeon-wing. 

'Long come an oV man ridin hy; 
''or man, ef you don min, yo' lioss'll die." 
"Ef he dies I'll tan his sliin. 

An ef he lives I'll ride him ag'in.' 



» y 



Fox he lay back his years an' wait, not even so much 
ez winkin' a eyeled. He wait 'twel Mis' Molly git right 
'long side uv 'im an' den sezee, in de mos' pitifules' voice 
he kin putt up, 'Mis' Hyar' ! Oh, Mis' Hyar' ! Please, 
Mis' Hyar' ! Oh, stop ; stop. Mis' Hyar !' 

254 



THE LAZY FOX 

"Mis' Hyar' slie shied clean ter tii'rr side de road w'en 
she year dat noise an' pricked up her years an' stopped 
singin' right in de middle iiv a wu'd, an' sez she, ^Wat?' 
Den she look roun' an' see him lookin' lak he wuz stuck 
fas' in de mud. 

"He go on in dat same pitiful voice, ^Oh, Mis' H3^ar', 
I'se in de mos'es trouble I uver wuz in my life.' 

" '^Sho' ! look ter me lak you'se in mud' sez she wid 
a snicker. '^Uv all de notions ! Wat in de worl' mek 
you wanter res' yo'se'f in dat slash w'en you got all de 
dry Ian' ter lay yo'se'f down on? Mighty cur'ous tas'e 
you got, Mistah Fox/ sez she wid anu'rr snicker, 'kase 
she thought he wuz sho'-'nuff stuck fas' in de mud an' 
de notion tickled her might'ly. 

" '^Xaw'm, I'se in sho'-'nuff trouble/ sezee. Tlease, 
ma'am, don' you laugh at me. Please fer ter he'p me 
out ef you kin.' 

"Sez she: ^G'way f'um yer, man; you talk plumb 
foolish. You s'pose I gwine he'p 5^ou out w'en I bin 
yearin' all my life dat foxes eats hyar's? Xaw siree 
bob ! I ain' yo' fool dis time.' 

"Fox he sa}", ^Don' let dat ol' sayin' worry you, 
ma'am.' 

"She say : ^I dunno 'bout dat. Better worry now dan 
atter you done ketched me.' 

"He go on baiggin'. Sezee, ^Mis' Hyar', ef you'll 
on'y jes' he'p me dis onct I won' ax you ag'in, an' I 
gin you my promuss nuver ter fergit hit.' 

"Mis' Hyar' she look at him sort er jubous an' study 
'bout hit a w'ile. • Las' she say: 'I ffwine tell you now 
dat ef I do he'p you, you mus'n' fergit hit. I gwine 
'pend on you fer dat.' 

255 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 



(i^ 



^He say, sezee, ' 'Deed, clat I won'. Mis' Molly ; you 
shell alluz have de praises ; dat you shell.' 

"Den she niek up her min' ter he'p him, 'kase she feel 
right saw'y fer him; so she step up in han'-reach uv 
him an' gin him her paw. 

"He wuz plumb tickelt ter def by dat, an' hit did 
him so much good dat he drapt his years back an' 
'tended lak he wuz in a wuss fix dan bef o'. He say : ^Oh 
me, oh my ! Mis' Hyar', I'se so weak, seem lak I ain' 
gwine be able ter pull outer yer. I'h I gimme all yo' 
strenk ! Squeeze tight ! Lay back on me, madam, pull I 
pull hard I uh-huh I' Wid dat he putt one foot out an' 
den tu'rr an' den 'tended lak he'z gwine fall in ag'in. 
Mis' Hvar' she putt on sech a extrv bus' er strenk dat 
hit come nigh bein' de def uy her, an' lan'ed him "long 
side her on de dry groun'. 

"She say, w'en she cu'd git her bref 'nuff ter talk: 
*Xow, Mistah Slickry Sly-fox, I hope you gwine keep 
outer sech messes atter dis^ er else not call on me, fer 
I nigh 'bout teetotally mint myse'f he'pin' you outer 
de fix. 'Tain' s'prise me ef I nuver git over dis,' sez 
she, hol'in' onter her side an' jumpin' ev'y now an' den 
an' yellin' '^ouch !' w'en a stitch tuck her suddintly. 

"Fox he wuz drippin' wid mud an' shakin' an' shiv- 
erin' f'um bein' wet so long, an' Mis' ^lolly say, ^You 
bes' go right 'long home, now, an' git yo'se'f good an' 
dry er nex' news you know you be havin' de ager.' She 
say dat 'kase she o^ittin' kind er anxious ter orit shed uv 
him, she ain' lak de look uv his eye w'en he wall hit 
roun' at her. He ain' budge w'en she talk 'bout him 
goin' home, so she mek has'e ter say, TTou know w'at 



256 



THE LAZY FOX 

you done promuss, suh; you done gin me yo' wu'd dat 
you ain' gwine fergit w'at I done fer you/ 

"He laugh an' gin hisse"f a shake lak de dogs does 
w^en dey bin in de water, an' sezee : ^Dasso, Mis' Molly, 
dasso; I done promuss you an' I mighty saw'y fer hit, 
too; 'kase right yer's whar I gotter break my wu'd. 
Hit goes hard wid me ter do it, but w'en a man's right 
hongry, w'at kin he do? You know how 'tis yo'se'f, 
Mis' Molly; w'en you git good an' hongry you don' 
stop ter think 'bout de peas in de naber's gyardin' not 
b'longin' to you; now, does you? 'Clar' ter gracious, 
Mis' Molly, you kain't 'spec' me ter have sech luck ez 
dis an' den turn hit a-loose, now, kin you?' 

"Mis' Molly she tuck a li'l step ter one side an' 
th'owed back her haid an' looked him in de eye right 
sorrowful, an' sez she : ' 'Deed, Mistah Fox, I didn' 
think you'd disapp'int me dis-a-way; 'deed I didn'. 
Please, suh, ter turn me a-loose.' 

"Fox he kep' tight hoi' uv her paw an' tuck a step 
w'en she did, an' sezee, ^Ha I ha 1 1 ha 1 1 ! I reckon not, 
ma'am ; not w'iles I'se in mv seven senses/ 

"She plead an' she plead an' she baig an' she baig 
an' she argyfy an' she argyfy wid him, but he ain' pay 
no 'tention to hit, an'he kep' sech a tight hoi' on her 
paw dat she ain' see no chanct er breakin' Vay. So 
las' she let on ter gin up an' she say: ^Well, Mistah 
Fox, I done gin up. I see you is 'termine' fer ter kill 
an' eat me. an' I done niek up my min' ter die. I 
know you 'spec's ter kill me, but befo' you does dat, I 
got one li'l faver ter ax you, Mistah Slickry; jes' one 
li'l faver.' 

" ^Wat's dat ?' sezee. ''Lemme year hit an' mebbe I 

Oi 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

mought grant hit, seein^ dat you is so near de een' er 
3'o' tether. Dyin' folks mos' alluz gits der las' reques'es 
granted; so speak up, ma'am, fer dish yer's yo' las' 
chanct.' 

"All de time dey bin talkin' an' argyfyin', Mis' Hyar' 
she bin aidgin' closeter an' closeter ter de briers, an' 
w'en she git right clost she say, ^Mistah Fox, you sut'n'y 
is kin' ter grant my reques'; thanky, suh; thanky, 
thanky.' » 

" ^Xemmine yo' manners,' sezee ; ^I'se in has'e. Jes' 
spit hit right out an' le's have hit over.' 

" '^^Yell, den,' she sez, ^I is a ooman ; you knows dat ; 
an' wimmins is alluz bein' excused er cur'osity, an' I 
'spec' I has my sheer, fer I bin wunnerin' all my life 
ef hit's true dat foxes eats hyar's, er does dey jes' chase 
'em an' den larrup 'em good, ef dey ketch 'em, an' den 
let 'em go. I never bin ketched befo', so I dunno how 
dey does. I thought mebbe de on'ies' reason you wuz 
gwine kill me wuz bekase I done trick you some few 
times. Seem lak I mought die mo' easy ef I knowed 
jes' 'zackly how 'tis in dis marter. Now, ef de foxes 
does mek de practuss er killin' an' eatin' hyar's, will 
you please, suh, ter onloose yo' right han' fer a minnit 
an' lif hit up an' 'clar' an' sw'ar dat you gwine kill an' 
eat me an' ez many mo' ez you kin ketch ?' 

"Fox he laugh an' he laugh, an' he say : *^Lawdy, Mis' 
Molly, you bin livin' on top de yearf all dese 'ears wid- 
out I'arnin' dat foxes ketches an' eats hyar's w'ensom- 
uver an' howsomuver dey kin? I sut'n'y is s'prise'; I 
thought you'se smarter dan dat.' 

^I done year tell uv hit,' sez she, ^but hit seem too 



258 



(( (1 



THE LAZY FOX 

turr'br ter be true; so please, suh, I'd lak tcr know de 
sho*-*nuff fac's in de case befo' I die/ 

" ^Dat YOU shell/ sez Fox, sezee, an' wid dat he let 
go ]\ris' Molly's paw an' raise his han' up. an' sezee, ^I 
do 3'erby 'clar' an' sw'ar ter kill an' eat Mis' Molly Cot- 
ton-tail an' ez many mo' uv her kin' ez I kin lay my 
han's on, so-he'p-me-bob I' 

"Mis' Molly ain' stay ter year him out. De minnit 
he onloose her han', she jes' slip' inter de briers so 
quick dat Fox ain' see whar she went to. He stan' dar 
styarin' fus' dis-a-way an' den dat, too pa'lyze' even ter 
bring his han' do^^^l by his side ag'in. 

"Mis' Molly, w'en she git good an' in, whar she feel 
rio-ht safe, she stan' dar an' sass him. She say : Tome 
on inter de briers, Mistah Fox, an' git nie. Come on 
an' git dat fine bushy tail er yo'n all tankle' up wid de 
briers. Wat mek you wait? You ain' use to 'em lak 
me, 'kase yer whar I spen' mos' er my time, an' yer whar 
I 'spec's ter die ; not in yo' han's, suh ; you nuyer gwine 
git dat chanct ag'in. Thanky, suh, fer grantin' dat re- 
ques' er mine, dough I'se kind er 'feard hit's sp'iled yo' 
dinner. I ffwine roun' tell all de nabers how kin' you 
wuz, an' I gwine send noration roun' dat de trufe done 
bin foun' out at las' : foxes does kill an' eat hyar's, sho' 
'nuff — dat is, w'en dey kin ketch 'em.' 

"Wid dat she go scurryin' home thu de bresh, an' she 
sez ter husse'f, she sez: Ololly Hyar', yer's whar you 
done mek a plumb fool er yo'se'f an' come mighty nigh 
kickin' de bucket fer yo' pains. I lay you'll haye mo' 
sense nex' time dan ter git ketched in any sech traps ez 
dat you jes' tucken yo' foot out uy.' 



259 



>? 



ME. HARE, MR. MI^K ATsTD MIS' DUCK 



"Aunt 'Phrony," said Xed one day, ^'do you know any 
stories about Mis' Duck?" 

"Wat mek you think 'bout her ?'' she asked. 

"Oh/« said he, "I saw her waddlin' roun' the yard 
the other day and I wondered why you had neyer told 
us any story about her." 

"Sho ! chir/' said she, "w'at you reckon I wanter 
study 'bout dat li'l oF no-k3^ount quackin' fool f er ? I'se 
gittin' too or ter let my niin' run on 'bout sech foolish- 
ness ez dem ol' talcs, anyhows. Me wid one foot on dry 
Ian' an' one in de graye ; I orter be thinkin' 'bout dish 
yer uyerlas'in' soul er mine ev'y minnit I ain' hatter 
think 'bout meat an' drink an' kiyerin' fer dis po' ol' 
pe'ishin' body er mine." 

"Oh," said Xed apologetically, "I neyer thought about 
its being foolishness. I like your stories a lot, and 
I know there are not many people can tell them the way 
you can, unless it's Aunt Xancy." 

It was nice of Ned to be loyal to the absent Aunt 
Nancy, but her name at once ruffled Aunt 'Phrony, for 
she went on : "I reckon you mought know 'twuz foolish- 
ness w'atuyer dat ooman tell you. Sidesen dat, knowin' 
is one thing an' tellin's anu'rr. Mebbe I knows tales 
'bout Mis' Duck, but mebbe I ain' think hit wuf de w'ile 
ter tell 'em." 

The children proceeded to oifer bribes with a view 

2G0 



ME. HARE, MR. MIXK AXD MIS' DUCK 

to making it worth Aunt Throny's while. Janey pro- 
duced the battered brass thimble with which she was 
wont to force a great spike of a needle through her doll- 
rags. Xed offered his best "agate," and little Kit offered 
a kiss as the only marketable thing in his possession. 
The kiss carried the day, and, after the old woman had 
filled and lighted her pipe and taken a few preliminary 
puffs, she began : 

"One time ]\Iistah Hyar' met up wid Mistah Mink 
an' he putt out his paw an' shuk ban's an' made his- 
se'f monst'ous fren'ly, an' done lak he thought Mink 
was a mio^htv nice sort er feller, but all de time he wuz 
s'archin' roun' in his min' ter fin' some way er ru'rr 
ter show his own se'f off an' let ^listah Mink know how 
smart he wuz, 'kase he wan't nuver sassified lessen he 
let people know 'bout dat. Las' he say : ^Mistah Mink, 
dish yer mighty fine day ; le's we-all teck a li'l walk to- 
ge'rr. S'posen we sasshay roun' by de pond.' 

"Mink he say he jes' ez lief go dat-a-way, ef not 
ru'rr, 'kase de pond seen! mighty home-lak ter him; 
so dey walk on an' dey walk on an' las' dey git ter de 
pond an' dar wuz a nice big flock er ducks floatin' roun' 
in de water, so still dat hit seem lak dey ain' stirrin'. 
Dey look lak dey'z so lazy dat 'twuz come-day-go-day 
Avid ^em; you oon a-knowed dey wuz scrabblin' roun' 
fer der vittles 'lessen some un tol' you. 

"Hyar' he watch 'em a w'ile an' den he say : ^Mistah 
Mink,' sezee, 'I don' wanter show too much cur'osity, 
sub. but jes' 'twix' fren' an' fren' I lak ter ax you how 
you gits yo' livin'? I see you lookin' right plump an' 
peart fer a man er yo' build, an' I lak ter know de w'ys 
an' de wharfo's.' 

261 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 



cc c 



^Wy, sut'n'y/ sez de Mink, sezee : ^I gits my livin' 
right outer dat pond widoiit no trouljle 't all. ^Y'en I 
wants me sump'n ter eat, I jes' whu'l right in an' git 
me a duck/ 

"Hyar' wuz sniffin' away ter hisse'f, kinder scawnful, 
but he say ter Mink, mighty p'litely, he do : 'You don' 
sesso ! Well, Mistah Mink, I lak ter know jes' how you do 
dat. Please, suh, ter show me how you ketch duck; I 
bin yearin' all my days w'at a gre't han' you is at duck- 
ketchin.' 

"Dat mek Mink feel kind er good, an' he say, sezee, 
^Well, den, jes' watch me clost, an' I reckon mebbe 
you'll be able ter do it in de same lak manner.' 

"Mink he slipped inter de water an' dove clean unner 
ter whar de ducks wuz a-floatin', an' dey ain' even know 
he wuz near 'em. Den he ketched one uv 'em by de 
laig an' jes' natchelly pulled her un'need de water an' 
drug her over ter whar Mistah Hyar' wuz waitin'. 

" 'Uh-huh, Mistah Mink,' sezee, 've'y good ; you has 
did dat mighty slick, suh ; but I boun' you I kin do dat 
same de ve'y fus' lick widout de practuss you bin havin' 
all yo' days. De on'ies' thing needed yer is ter be handy 
an' quick, suh; handy an' quick;' an' he twis' up de 
cornders uv his muf starsh wid one han' an' look mighty 
knowin'. 

" 'All right, suh,' sez Mink, sezee ; 'sail in an' lemme 
see how you gwine do de deed,' sezee. 'Mebbe you kin 
do hit all right de fus' time,' sezee, 'but I don' b'lieve 
in none er dese yer nigh-cuts, myse'f. ^ly spe'3aince is 
dat you hatter go roun' de long way ef you wanter do 
a thing well.' 

"Dar wuz a los: lavin' in de water nigh ter whar de 

262 



MR. HAEE, MR. MIXK AXD MIS' DUCK 

ducks wiiz, an' Hyar' lie mosey roim' ter de place an' 
wade out inter de water an' clum up on de log, thinkin' 
he'd stan' dar an' grab fer a duck dat-a-way. But dat 
de time his gun miss fire. He nab at de neares' duck, 
but sho ! he los' "his baluns an' fell inter de water ker- 
splashl an' come mighty nigh gittin' drownded. De 
ducks dey yearn de noise an' hollered an' quacked an' 
flew'd off ter tu'rr side de pond. One'r de young ducks 
whar wuz jes' out fer her fus' swim, she say ter one'r de 
ol' uns : ^Quack, quack, quack ! Mis' Duck, dat wuz a gre't 
splash we done yearn. Mus' 'a bin a mighty big frog 
jumped inter de pond.' ^Umph,' sez de ol' lady, ^frog! 
I say frog! You gotter I'arn dat frogs don' wear fur 
er you'll nuver have no peace ner comfu't in dis pond. 
Dunno frogs yit w'en you see 'em, an' gotter mek yo' 
livin' f rog-huntin' ! I lak dat !' 

" ^Wellum,' sez de young un, ^dis my fus' trip ter de 
pond; you kain't 'spec' me ter know all you does, in a 
minnit.' 

"Dat sort er please' de ol' un, so she stop jawin' an' 
dey all went on wid der frog-huntin'. 

"Hyar' he dim' up de bank mo' daid dan alive, wid 
ev'y hya'r stickin' ter his hide and de water runnin' 
offen him lak rain. He wuz right aggervex', 'kase hyar's 
don' lak ter wet der footses none too well. He gin his- 
se'f a shake an' he sez, sezee, ^Shucks ! dem de triflines' 
ducks I uver see, frightened ef a man sheks his li'l 
finger at 'em; an' dat ol' log so slipp'y you hatter have 
claws ef you wanter hoi' outer hit.' 

" 'Xemmine, Mistah Hyar',' sez de Mink, sezee, S^ou 
mus' try yo' luck ag'in. You mustn' gin up on de fus' 
try. I g\\4ne swim roun' on tu'rr side de ducks an' 

263 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

drive de hull ciimboodle back dis side, an' yon mns' 
stan' raidy ter ketcli one, fer I boun' yon shell have 
dnck fer vo' dinner/ 

"Co'se Hyar' wan't gwine let on he'z stnin^^ed, so he 
say sort er kyar'less : ^Oh well, so be ef you sesso, 'tain' 
gwine faze me ter ketch one'r dem li'l no-kyonnt ducks ; 
me dat bin hoein' my own row uver sence I wuz knee- 
high to a hopper-grass. I gwine nab her dis time, you 
kin lemme 'lone fer dat.' 

"Mink he swimmed off, an' Eabbit he go up on de 
bank an' git him a long piece er dat brambly vine dey 
calls de debil's-shoe-string. Well, he tuck an' tuck de 
piece er debil's-shoe-string an' crope down inter de 
water wid hit 'twel he wuz hidden, all but his nose an' 
eyes. Yer come ol' Mink drivin' de ducks dat way. 
One un 'em come sailin' to'des Mistah Hyar' an' he jes' 
natchelly grabbed her by de laig an' hilt her w'ile he 
tied her laig wid de debil's-shoe-string. She quacked 
an' she hollered an' she flapped an' she flew'd, but yit 
ol' Hvar' huns^ outer de brier. ^Xo use ter kick, 
ma'am,' sezee, ^ 'kase I done got you dis time an' I 
gwine hoi' outer you.' 

" ^Um-umph I I gwine show you huccome,' sez Duck, 
sez she, an' she flew'd up an' she flew'd up, an' Hyar' 
went spinnin' an' whu'lin' an' kickin', yit he ain' let go. 
Mink he wuz stannin' down below jes' a-hollerin' an' 
a-laughin', clappin' his ban's on his knees an' doublin' 
hisse'f up lak a jack-knife. He sing out : ^Hi-yi ! Mis- 
tah Hyar', you done got up in de worl', sho' 'nuff. You 
bin right uppish befo' now; I don' reckon you gwine 
speak wid common folks atter dis.' 



264 



/ 




r > . »- ' 



HYAR WENT SPIXNIN AX WHL' LIN AN KICKIN 



' I I VT ' 4 NT ' 



»•' 



MR. HAEE, ME. MIXK AXD MIS' DUCK 

" ^I'll speak wid you w'en I git back f \im dis trip ; I 
tell von dat, p'in'-blank/ yells oY Hyar', lettin' go wid 
one han' long ^luff ter sliek his fis' at Mistali Mink. 
Mink he stood watchin' 'em 'twel dey wan't nuttin' bnt 
a speck. Duck she flew'd an' she flew'd an' she fiew'd, 
an' Hyar' hilt on 'twel he thought his paws gwine drap 
off. He argyfy wid her an' baig an' baig her please, 
ma'am, ter light an' let him go ; but she jes' quack an' 
say : ^Kain't year you, suh ; kain't year you. You hatter 
speak louder, my years ain' w'at dey useter wuz.' 

"Las' he cu'dden hang on no longer an' he seed dey 
wuz right over a ol' sickymo' tree, an' he let go an' 
drapt outer de tree. But de tree wuz holler an' he jes' 
drapt right down eenside 'twel he struck de groun'. He 
wuz plumb stunded at fus', but atter w'ile he set up 
an' look' roun'. 'Twuz miofhtv dark in dar an' he 
s'arch an' he s'arch fer some place ter git out, but 
'twan't none dar. He lissen an' he lissen an' he feel 
an' he feel, but dar he wuz, shet up tight wid nuttin' 
but a speck er daylight, 'way up in de tree. 

"Las' he yearn a man choppin' in de woods an' he say 
ter hisse'f dat he mus' 'trac' de 'tention er dat man ef 
he wanter git out. ^Hi-yi ! Mistah Man,' sezee, speakin' 
fine lak a ooman, ^come yer, Mistah Man.' 

"Mistah Man ain' year him an' go on wid de choppin'. 
^Man mus' be deaf ez a pos',' sez Hyar' ter hisse'f. 
^I reckon I gotter yell loud 'nuff ter bus' my b'iler ef 
I wanter git outer dis.' He try hit ag'in, but yit de man 
ain' year. Den he thought mebbe de man mought year 
him ef he sung sump'n, so he struck up a ol' chune an' 
dese wuz de wu'ds whar he putt wid hit : 






265 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

'Oh I ef I had a needle, 

Ez -fine ez I cu'd sew, 
Fd stitch my true love to my side 

An' down de river I'd go.' 

He made his voice jes' lak one'r dese yer high, fine, 
ladiz' voices whar carry de soun' a long ways, an' las' 
Mistah Man year him an' he say, ^Mussy me ! w'at dat ? 
'Pears ter me I year a ooman gwine on inside dat tree.' 

"He walk np an' lean his haid 'gins' de tree ter lissen. 
Den Hyar' he 'gun ter holler an' cry jes' lak a ooman. 
He say: "Oh, please, Mistah Man, fer ter teck yo' ax 
an' chop a hole in dis tree an' lemme ont. You done tol' 
de truf e ; I t5 a ooman, an' a pooty one inter de bargum ; 
an' ef you let me out I gwine set down 'long side er you 
an' let you look at me all you wanter.' 

" ^All right,' sez de man, sezee, grinnin' ter hisse'f ; 
'kase all mens is mo' er less uv fools w'en hit come ter 
de marter uv a good-lookin' gal, an' he chop an' he chop, 
Jes' mo'n mekin' de chips fly in his has'e ter git a sight 
er de gal. Hyar' he wuz scrouched down in a cornder 
outer de way er de ax, an' soon ez de hole wuz big 'nuff 
he tuck an' tuck a good raidy an' w^ent scootin' out, 
right 'twix' de man's laigs, inter de bresh. ^Hi-yi ! 
Mistah Man,' he yell, ^ain' I de fine shape uv a gal? 
You kin have me ef you kin ketch me !' an' wid dat he 
wuz off, singin' : 

'Oh! ef I had a needle, 
Ez fine ez I cud sew, 
■ I'd stitch my true love to my side 
An' down de river I'd go.' 
266 



ME. HAEE, MR. MIXK AXD MIS' DUCK 

"Hyar' he done got so hongry in cle tree dat he 
'bleeged ter gnor sump'n, an' dar wan't nuttin' else, so 
he jes' natehelly tiirnt to an' et his own tail of? ; an' dat 
huccome hyars bin gwine roun' wid shawt tails ontwel 
dis day." 

"But," objected Ned, "I thought that old Hare was 
dead. You told us that they killed him by shooting 
him in the paw, and that they punished the chick-a-dee 
for bad advice by cutting the end of his tongue off, be- 
cause he didn't tell them at first to shoot the Hare in the 
paw." 

Aunt 'Phrony was not too well pleased at being called 
to account for resurrecting her hero, but she conde- 
scended to explain : "Wy, kain't you see dat dis yer hap- 
pen long bef o' de time w'en he got shooted in de paw ? 
Dat's plain ez de nose on yo' face. 'Kase I tell you dat 
tale fus', hit's no sign dat hit happen fus'. I'se gittin' 
so ol' an' rambly dat you hatter let me go back on my 
tracks now au' den, ef you wants me ter go on wid de 
tale-tellin'." 



267 



THE HUMMING-BIED AND THE TOBACCO 

After Aunt ^Phrony liad finislied the last story, she 
sat puffing vigorously away at her pipe, apparently for- 
getful of her young visitors. They watched her with 
expectant eyes, waiting for the moment when she should 
have had her smoke out and be ready to tell them an- 
other story. The small boy eyed the pipe and tlie old 
woman with much curiosity, for he had never been able 
to understand the exact relations of the two, nor how 
so much smoke could pass through her nostrils without 
her catching fire. Now and then she blew the smoke 
out in the form of a ring, to the great admiration of the 
little boy. At last he made bold to ask, "^\unt Throny, 
why does you like to smoke ?" 

She eved him with some amusement and much indul- 
gence in her expression. "Well, my baby,^' she said, 
"w'y does you lak ter eat vittles T^ 

This was a poser to the little boy, who, conscious of a 
preference for "vittles," was quite unable to explain it. 

The old woman, ^Dursuing her advantage, went on: 
"You kain't arnser me dat, kin you? To be sho' you 
kain't. Well, now, I gwine tell you, honey; I laks ter 
smoke 'kase I craves hit, an^ I craves hit ^kase my daddy 
an' all his folks befo' him bin cravin' 'baccy an' smokin' 
hit mo' 'ears dan you has hya'rs on yo' li'l haid. De In- 
juns wuz gre't folks fer smokin', an' I done year ni}^ dad- 

268 



THE HrMMIXG-BIED AXD THE TOBACCO 

dy say dat white folks wan't knowin' nuttin' 'bout 'baccy 
'twel dey earned ter dis kyountry an' seed de Injuns 
smokin' hit. Dey smoked w'en dey wuz tired an' dey 
smoked w'en dey wuz hongry, an' dey smoked at de 
kyouncil, an' dey smoked w'at dey called de 'pipe er 
peace' w'en dey wuz makin' hit up wid der inimies, an' 
dey even smoked w'en dey wuz gamblin', fer de Injuns 
is gre't gaml)lers an' has der gamblin' games^ same ez 
de white folks. 'Deed dey has w'at dey call 'gamblin' 
pipes' ; I seed one onct, an' 'twuz a mighty cute li'l con- 
trapshun, made outer clay an' lookin' sump'n lak a li'l 
kittle settin' up on th'ee feet, an' hit have six holes in 
hit fer de pipe-stems. I 'low dat dey useter sot hit on 
de groun' an' den set roun' hit, an' dat de pipe-stems 
wuz mighty long an' dey all puffed away toge'rr widout 
havin' ter 'tend ter der pipes; an' I 'spec' mebbe 'twuz 
some savin' on de 'baccy, too. 

Daddy tol' me his people had two sawts er 'baccy : de 
common kin' whar ev'yb'dy smoke — dat sawt have a long 
leaf; an' de sacred 'baccy whar dey smoke w'en dey 
wanter skeer away de witches — dat kin' have a roun' leaf. 
De Injuns b'lieve in witches an' ghos'es, an' dey think de 
ghos'es comes back an' meks der kin-folks dream 'bout 
'em, an' 'witches 'em dat-a-way, an' dey think ef sump'n 
ain' done "bout hit, de pusson gwine die. Dey calls dem 
ghos'es 'night comers,' an' ter git shed uv one, de pus- 
son whar done bin 'witched tecks some er de sacred 'baccy 
an' smokes hit, sayin' over some wu'ds, an' de smoke 
meks de ghos' cough an' jes' chokes him ter def, so he 
kain't come back no mo'. 

"Daddv sav one time de 'baccv wuz tooken 'wav f'um 

». 1/ *j t/ 

de people, an' dey git jes' fair' faint fer de want uv hit. 

269 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

Las' dey foim' out 'twnz kep' in a place whar dey kain't 
git at hit, an' wuz gyarded clost by some turr'bF thing 
er ruTr, dough dey kain't fin' out jes' w'at 'twuz. Dey 
called a kyouncil toge'rr an' 'cided ter sen' one'r de cree- 
turs atter de 'baccy; so dey pick' out one dat wuz a 
mighty swif trabeler 'pun de groun', an' dey tell 'im 
he mus' mek gre't has'e, 'kase dey oon be able ter keep 
up no sech a honin' ez dat wuz much longer. 

"He g'long an' he trabel an' he trabel an' de people 
dey wait an' dey wait, but he ain' nuver come back. 
By dat time dey wuz gwine roun' wid der empty pipes 
in der moufs, puffin' 'way ter keep up der sperrits. 
Den dey tuck an' sont fo'th nu'rr creetur whar trabel 
'pun de groun', mo' swifter dan de fus' one, an' he ain' 
come back, neener. Den dey sont mo' an' mo' er dat 
'ar kin', an' none uv 'em camed back; so las' dey see 
dat ain' gwine do. 

^^Den de cunjerers dey say : ^Le's we-all call up dat wise 
man, Mistah ^lole, whar trabel un'need de groun', an' 
see w'at he kin do fer us.' So dey call Mistah Mole 
up f um de groun', 'kase he wuz 'bleeged ter come at de 
spell er de cunjerers, an' he 'greed ter unnerteck de biz- 
ness, dough he knowed 'twuz mighty dangersome an' 
dat he wuz a fibble pusson an' blin' inter de bargum. 
Yit dis is w'at he thought ter hisse'f : ^I'll jes' keep 
scoopin' 'long un'need de groun' whar no pusson kain't 
see me, an' w'en I git ter de place whar de 'baccy is, I'll 
jes' natchelly retch one paw outen de groun' an' snatch 
de seed an' go back de way I come, an' den de people 
kin plant de seed an' grow all de 'baccy dey wanter.' 

"Mistah Mole he start out on his trip, pryin' an' 
prizin' up de groun' ez he go, an' scoopin' an' shovelin' 

370 



THE HUMMIXG-BIED AXD THE TOBACCO 

wid dem li'l paws er his'n. Las' he git mighty tired 
an' he say ter hisse'f, ^Mussy sakes !' sezee, 'yev I bin 
diggin' an' scratchin' wid my han's an' pryin' an' prizin' 
wid my nose all dis time ; 'pears lak I orter be nigh dat 
'baccy ; I gwine poke my paw out an' feel.' Wid dat he 
"up an' stuck one paw thu de groun' an' suz ! de Thunder 
an' Lightnin' whar wuz gyardin' de 'baccy, dey jes' up 
an' hit him a clip an' dar he wuz, strotch out daider'n 
a do'-naiL 

"De kyouncil dey waited an' dey waited, an' de peo- 
ple dey waited an' dey waited, but Mistah Mole ain' 
come back. Den dey confab toge'rr an' mek up der 
min's dat 'twan't wuf de w'ile ter send an3'thing dat 
walk 'pun de groun' er anything dat creep unner hit, 
an' dey 'gree dat dey bes' sen' sump'n dat iiy 'bove hit. 

"Dey study 'bout hit an' study 'bout hit, fer dey ain' 
wanter mek no mo' mistakes, an' las' dey mek up der 
min's an' dey sez ter de Hummin'-bu'd, '^Mistah Hum- 
min'-bu'd, to be sho' you is de smalles' fowel er de lot, 
but you is sut'n'y de swif'es', so we gwine send you on 
dis errant, an' mebbe yo' size'll he'p you out ; sometimes 
dese yer li'l mens kin go whar de big ones kain't.' 

"Hummin-bu'd he wuz a mighty peart, likely li'l 
feller whar ain' 'feard er nuttin' in dis 'varsil worl', an' 
he say, ^W'y, sut'n'y, gemmen, I be mighty glad ter go 
fer you-all. I'll do de bes' I kin in dis marter, dough 
mebbe 'twon't be much.' Den he g'long off, an' he fly 
an' he fly, an' he go up, up, up, ontwel he wuz higher 
dan de clouds, an' den he seed de Thunder an' Lightnin' 
keepin' gyard over de 'baccy plant whar wuz 'way down 
below. 

"Hummin'-bu'd he say ter hisse'f, sezee, 'Lawdy, 

271 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

lawdy ! dis de time I gotter keep might}^ quiet an' lay 
mighty low an' go mighty sof an' move mighty lively, 
er I be Mistah Xob'dv-f um-no-whar befo' I knows hit.' 

"He stop' whirrin' his wings an' kep' so still dat de 
gre't big flamin', flarin' eyes er de Thunder an' Lightnin' 
ain' ketch sight uv him^ an' w'en he seed a good chanct 
he jes' drapt right down an' sucked de flower er de 
'baccy plant un' kyar'd 'way de seed in his mouf an' 
bringed hit ter de people. 

"De Thunder an' Lightnin' rolled der eyes an' 
gnashed der toofs an' growled^ but 'twan't no use; de 
people had de seed an' dey done kep' hit. 

"So de Injuns owed de 'baccy ter de Hummin'-bu'd, 
an' dat de reason w'v, uver sence dat time dev love de 
li'l WahleJu; dat de name dey calls de pooty li'l feller 
whar fly so fas' he done beat de Thunder an' Lightnin 



? 5^ 



272 



WHY MOLES HAVE HANDS 



One day the children came running to Aunt Nancy 
with a mole which one of the dogs had just killed. They 
had never seen one before and were very curious as to 
what it might be. 

"Well, bef o' de king V said Nancy, "whar y'all bin 
livin' dat you nuver seed a mole bef o' ? Whar you come 
f'um mus' be a mighty cur'ous spot ef dey ain' have 
no moleses dar; mus' be sump'n wrong wid dat place. 
I bin mos' all over dish yer Sussex kyounty endurin' er 
my time, an' I ain' nuver come 'cross no place yit whar 
dey ain' have moleses. 

"Moleses is sut'n'y cur'ous li'l creeturs/' she contin- 
ued. "I bin teckin' 'tickler notuss un 'em dis long time, 
an' dey knows mo'n you'd think fer, jes' ter look at 'em. 
Dough dey lives down un'need de groun', yit dey is fus'- 
elass swimmers; I done seed one, wid my own eyes, 
crossin' de branch, an' dey kin root 'long un'need de 
yearf mos' ez fas' ez a boss kin trot on top uv hit. Y'all 
neenter look dat-a-way, 'kase hit's de trufe; dey's jes' 
built fer gittin' 'long fas' unner groun'. Der ban's is 
bofe pickaxes an' shovels fer 'em ; dey digs an' scoops 
wid der front ones an' kicks de dirt out de way wid der 
behime ones. Der strong snouts he'ps 'em, too, ter push 
der way thu de dirt." 

"Their fur is just as soft and shiny as silk," said 
Janey. 

273 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

"Yas," said Aunt Nancy, "hit's dat sof an' shiny dat, 
dough dey live all time in de dirt, not a speck er dirt 
sticks to 'em. You ses 'sof an' shinv ez silk,' but I tell 
you hit is silk ; silk clo'es, dat 'zackly w'at 'tis." 

Xed laughed. "Who ever heard of an animal dressed 
in silk clothes?" he said. 

"Nemmine," she answered, "you talks mighty peart, 
but I knows w'at I knows, an' dish yer I bin tellin' you 
is de sho'-'nuff trufe." 

"Just see its paws," Janey went on, "why, they look 
exactly like hands." 

"Look lak han'sl looh lak ban's! umph ! dey is ban's, 
all thumbered an' fingered jes lak yo'n; an', w'at's mo', 
dey wuz onct human ban's; human,- dey wuz so!" 

"How could they ever have been human hands and 
then been put on a mole's body ?" asked Xed. "I believe 
most things you say. Aunt Nancy, but I can't swallow 
that." 

"Dar's a li'l boy roun' dese diggin's whar talkin' 
mighty sassy an' rambunkshus, seem ter me. I ain' ax 
you ter swoller nuttin' 't all, but 'pears ter me y'all bin 
swoUerin' dem 'ar ol' tales right an' lef , faster'n' I kin 
call 'em ter min', an' I ain' seed none er you choke on 
'em yit, ner cry, ^nuff said. I'se 'tickler saw'y 'bout dis, 
'kase I done had hit in min' ter tell you a tale 'bout 
huccome moleses have han'ses, whar I I'arn f'um a 
ooman dat come f'um Fauquier kyounty, but now dat 
Mars' Ned 'pear ter be so jubous 'bout hit, I ain' gwine 
was'e my time on folks whar ain' gwine b'lieve me, no- 
hows. Nemmine, de chillen over on de Thompson place 
gwine baig me fer dat tale w'en I goes dar ag'in, an'. 



274 



WHY MOLES HAVE HAXDS 

w'at's mo', dey gwine git hit ; fer dey b'lieves ev'y wu'd 
dat draps f um mv moiif , lak 'twuz de law an' de gospil." 

Of course, the children protested that they were as 
ready to hang upon her words as the Thompson children 
could possibly be, and presented their prior claim to the 
tale in such moving fashion that Aunt Xancy was finally 
prevailed upon to come down from her high horse and 
tell the story. 

"I done tol' you/' she said, "dat dem 'ar ban's is 
human, an' I mean jes' w'at I ses, 'kase de moleses useter 
be folks, sho'-'nuff folks, dough dey is all swunk up ter 
dis size an' der ban's is all dat's lef ter tell de tale. 
Yas, sub, in de ol' days, so fur back dat you kain't 
kyotmt hit, de moleses wuz folks, an' mighty proud an' 
biggitty folks at dat. Dey wan't gwine be ketched wear- 
in' any er dish yer kaliker, er linsey-woolsey, er home- 
spun er sech ez dat, ner even broadclawf, ner bombazine, 
naw sub ! Dey jes' tricked derse'fs out in de fines' an' 
shinies' er silk, nuttin' mo' ner less, an' den dey went 
a-traipsin' up an' down an' hether an' yon, fer tu'rr folks 
ter look at an' mek 'miration over. Mo'n dat, dey 'uz 
so fine an' fiddlin' dey oon set foot ter de groun' lessen 
dar wuz a kyarpet spread down fer 'em ter walk on. Dey 
tells me hit sut'n'y wuz a sight in de worl' ter see dem 
'ar folks walkin' up an' down on de kyarpets, trailin' 
an' rus'lin' der silk clo'es, an' curchyin' an' bobbin' ter 
one nu'rr w'en dey met up, but nuver speakin' ter de 
common folks whar walkin' on de groun', ner even so 
much ez lookin' at 'em. Wats mo', dey wuz so uppish 
dev thouo^ht de vearf wuz too low down fer 'em even ter 
run der eyes over, so dey went 'long wid der haids 



275 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

r'ared an' dcr e3'es all time lookin' up, sticlder down. 
You kin be sho' dem gwines-on ain' mek ^em pop'lous 
wid tu'rr folks, 'kase peoj^le jes' natchelly kain't stan' hit 
ter have you th'owin' up to ^em dat you is better'n w'at 
dey is, w'en all de time dey knows you're nuttin' but 
folks, same 'z dem. 

"Dey kep' gwine on so-fashion, an' gittin' mo' an' mo' 
pompered an' uppish, 'twel las' dey 'tracted de 'tention 
er de Lawd, an' He say ter Hisse'f, He do, ^Wlio is dese 
yer folks, anyhows, whar gittin' so airish, walkin' up 
an' down an' back an' fo'th on my yearf an' spurnin' hit 
so's't dey spread k3^arpets 'twix' hit an' der footses, 
treatin' my yearf, w'at I done mek, lak 'twuz de dirt 
un'need der footses, an' 'spisin' der feller creeturs an' 
excusin' 'em er bein' common, an' keepin' der eyes turnt 
up all de time, ez ef dey wuz too good ter look at de 
things I done mek an' putt on my yearf? I mus' see 
'bout dis ; I mus' punish dese 'sumptions people an' 
show 'em dat one'r my creeturs is jes' ez low down ez 
tu'rr, in my sight.' 

"So de Lawd He pass jedgment on de moleses. Fus' 
He tuck an' made 'em lose der human shape an' den He 
swunk 'em up ontwel dey 'z no bigger'n dey is now, dat 
'uz ter show 'em how no-kyount dev wuz in His sidit. 
Den bekase dey thought derse'fs too good ter walk 'pun 
de bare groun' He sont 'em ter live un'need hit, Avhar 
dev hatter dio^ an' scratch der wav 'Ions:. Las' uv all He 
tuck an' tuck 'way der eves an' made 'em blin', dat's 
'kase dey done 'spise ter look at der feller creeturs. But 
He feel kind er saw'y fer 'em w'en He git dat fur, an' He 
ain' wanter punish 'em too haivy, so. He lef ' 'em dese silk 
elo'es whar I done tol' you 'bout, an' dese ban's whar 

276 



WHY MOLES HAVE HAXDS 

you kin see fer yo'se'fs is himian, an' I reckon bofe dem 
things putt 'em in min' er w'at dev useter be an' mek 'em 
'umble. Uver sence den de moleses bin gwine 'long 
un'need de groun'^ 'cordin ter de jedgmen' er de Lawd, 
an' diggin' an' scratchin' der way tbu de worl', in trial 
an' tribilashun, wid dem po' li"l human han'ses. An' 
dat orter I'arn you w'at comes er folks 'spisin' der fel- 
ler creeturs^ an' I want y'all ter 'member dat nex' time 
I year you call dem Thompson chillen Hrash.' " 

"I'd like to know what use moles are/' said Xed, who 
was of rather an investigating turn of mind ; "they just 
go around rooting through the ground spoiling people's 
gardens, and I don't see what they're good for; you 
can't eat them or use them any way." 

"Sho', chir !" said Aunt Xancv, "you dunno w'at you 
talkin' 'bout; de Lawd have some use fer ey'y creetur 
He done mek. Dey tells me dat de moleses eats up lots 
er bugs an' T^-u'ms an' sech ez dat, dat mought hurt de 
craps ef dey wuz let ter live. Sidesen dat, jes' gimme 
one'r de claws er dat mole, an' lemme hang hit roun' 
de neck uy a baby whar cuttin' his toof s, an' I boun' you, 
ev'y toof in his jaws gwine come bustin' thu his goms 
widout nair' a ache er a pain ter let him know dey's dar. 
Don' talk ter me 'bout de moleses bein' wufless ! I 
done walk de fio' too much wid cryin' babies not ter 
know de use er moleses." 

^You don't really belieye that, do you ?" asked Xed. 
'B'lieye hit I" sne answered indignantly ; "I don' 
b'lieve hit, I Imows hit. I done tol' you all de things a 
hyar's foot kin do ; w'ats de reason a mole's foot ain' 
good fer sump'n, too ? Ef folks on'y knowed mo' about 
sech kyores ez dat dar neenter be so much sickness an' 

•277 



"1 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

misery in de worF. I done kyored myse'f er de rhenma- 
tiz in my right arm jes' by tyin' a eel-skin roiin' hit, 
an' ev'yb'dy on dis plantation knows dat ef you'll wrop 
a chil's hva'r wid eel-skin strinsrs hit's bonn' ter mek 
hit grow. Ef you want de chil' hisse'f ter grow an' ter 
walk soon you mus' bresh his feet wid de broom. I 
oon tell you dis ef I hadn' tried 'em myse'f. You 
mus'n' talk so biofofittv 'bout w'at you dunno nuttin' 
't all about. You come f'um up N'orf yonner, an' mebbe 
dese things don' wu'k de same dar ez w'at dey does down 
yer on dis ol' plantation whar we bin 'pendin' on 'em so 
long." 



278 



THE FOX AXD THE DUCK 



One night when Aunt Xancy was putting the children 
to bed, and they were, as usual, begging for a story to 
go to sleep upon, she asked, "Is I uver toF you anything 
'bout ol' Mis' Duck ?" 

The children said that she had never told them a 
duck story, but that Aunt 'Phrony had. 

"Lawsy ! I dunno huccome I ter fergit ter tell you 
'bout her," she said; "mebbe 'kase she sech a li'l runt 
uv a fowl. But nemmine dat, she got plenty sense, an' 
one time she fool Mistah Fox, sho' 'nuff. Look lak some 
pusson er ru'rr all time foolin' him, an I kain't 'zackly 
see thu dat, 'kase dese d,a3's he's mighty smart an' up ter 
snuff an' kin dodge de houn's an' de hunters de pooties' 
uver vou see. Looks lak in dem davs thino;s wuz sort er 
lak dreams, jes' de contrary-ways f'um w'at dey is now. 
Anyways, she knowed how ter bamboozle him somehow 
er ru'rr. 

"One time she wuz gwine waddlin' down ter de branch, 
talkin' 'wav ter husse'f, hard 'z she kin, runnin' on 
quackin' an' scoldin' 'bout dis an' dat. Mistah Fox he 
wuz nosin' roun' thu de woods an' he year her, an' he 
say ter hisse'f, he do, '^Yer's whar I gwine git me a good 
meal er vittles; I reckon she jes' 'bout big 'nuff ter fill 
me chock-full, an' she look right young, so I 'spec' she's 

279 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

plump an' tender/ He smack his lips an' go rackin' 
roun' ter de front an' squat down behime a tree, an' 
w'en she git mos' up ter him he jump out an' nab her 



.- ' ( 




by de neck an' fling 'er 'cross his shoulder an' g'long 
singin'. 

"All de time he wuz singin' j\Iis' Duck she wuz hang- 
in' haid down, jes' a-kickin' an' a-scufflin', but 'twan't 
no use ; Fox he hilt on, he did, an' he jes' let her go on 
jawin' all she wanter. Las' she stop her racket an' set 

280 



THE FOX AND THE DUCK 

her min' ter wu'k on de qiieschin uv how ter git outer 
de pickle whar she wuz in. Pres'n'y she say, ^'Scuse me, 
please, suh, Mistah Slickry Sly-fox, I lak ter talk to 
you a li'l bit, but hit's mighty hard wu'k wid my haid 
hangin' down so turr'bl' slanchindicular. I ax you, 
please fer ter fix me wid my haid a li'l higher, suh/ 

" ^Xaw, ma am' sez de Fox, sezee, ^I knows 'nuff ter 
hoF onter a good thing w'en I gits hit.' 

" ^Laws-a-mussy, Mistah Fox,' sez Duck, sez she, ^you 
is mighty flattersome in yo' remarks; I ain' gwine try 
ter chouse you outer yo' dinner, 'deed I ain'. But w'ile 
we joggin 'long yer, I jes' lak ter ax you, suh, ef you lak 
pig ter eat ?' 

" ^Xow you talkin',' sezee, an' he smack his lips so loud 
dat hit sont col' shivers up an' down Mis' Duck's spine, 
an' he say, "^W'at de marter. Mis' Duck ; w'at you shiver 
'bout dis wo'm day ?' 

"She wuz too proud ter let on dat she wuz 'feard, so 
she say, 'Oh, nuttin' 't all, Mistah Fox, jes' a li'l tetch 
er de ager ; you know w'en you got dat you 'bleeged ter 
shiver, nemmine how wo'm de day is.' Den she go on 
ag'in 'bout pig. She say, '^So you sho' 'nuff does lak pig, 
suh. I done vear tell vou did, but I wan't sho' 'bout hit.' 

"Fox he got his min' on pig an' seem lak he kain't git 
hit olf , an' las' he git kind er mad 'kase dar wan't no pig 
ter be had, an' he say, sezee, 'Look-a-yer, ooman, I dunno 
huccome you name dat meat ter me w'en you knows I 
kain't git me none.' 

"Mis' Duck she ses, sez she, 'Xow, I ax you fer ter tell 
me de plain trufe, suh; w'icht does you perfer, pig er 
duck ?' 

"Sezee, 'Gimme pig ev'y time, 'kase 'tain' got no 

281 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

fedders. I tell you, ma'am, w'en you swollers duck 
down de way I does, fedders an' all, yo' th'oat gits 
mighty woolly sometimes. I e'en about 'spec' I'll choke 
ter def yit on duck some er dese times.' 

^^ ''SarYC you right, an' I hopes you will,' sez Mis' 
Duck ter husse'f. Den she sing out, ^So you perfers 
pig, suh. Putt me down, den, land knows ! an' I'll 
show you whar you kin git you a hull litter er pigs !' 

"Fox sezee, ^Wellum, yer goes fer de pigs, an' min' 
you walk straight, fer ef I fin' any foolin' 'bout dis 
bizness I ain' gwine gin you time ter say yo' pra'rs. 
You jes' mosey 'long in front er me, please ma'am.' 

"She tuck an' tuck him to a place whar a gus'-root 
wuz blowed up clean outen de groun', an' she p'inted hit 
out to 'im an' tol' 'im dat behime dar wuz de litter er 
pigs, an' dat he mus' run f'um a piece off an' jump de 
gus'-root right inter de baid er pigs an' s'prise 'em dat- 
a-way, so's't he cu'd git 'em easy. 

"01' Fox he 'gree ter dis, an' he run back a li'l ways 
an' tuck a big bref an' spit on his han's an' th'owed one 
foot front an' tu'rr one behime, an' teetered back an' 
f o'th a minnit ter git a good swing on him. Den he bus' 
inter a run an' lipt de gus'-root widout techin' foot to 
hit an' lan'ed in de midse er de litter. But bless good- 
ness, 'twan't no litter er pigs, 'twuz ol' Mis' Dog an' her 
li'l chillen. 

" ^Ow ! wow !' sez she, SYho dis owdacious creetur dat 
come a-r'arin' an' a-chargin' inter my house, 'sturbin me 
an' my f ambly ? Ef 'tain' dat good-f er-nuttin' piece uy 
imp'ence, ol' man Fox. I gwine show you huccome, dat 
I is ! I let you know you kain't come 'stroyin' de peace 
uv 'spectable folks no sech a ways ez dat. Stay yer one 

9,Q0 

/v LJ -W 



THE FOX AXD THE DUCK 

minnit longer an' I gwine putt my foot down yo' 
th'oat !' 

"Wid dat Fox he lipt outer de baid faster dan he got 
in an' jes' went a-scootin', Mis' Dog atter him, hot-foot. 
]\Iis' Duck she wuz behime de gus'-root jes' a-snickerin' 
an' a-snortin'. Fox he ketched sight uv her an' he sung 
out, ^Xemmine, Mis' Duek, 3'ou is de 'casion uv all dis 
rumpus. I reckon you think dish yer's a might}' funny 
prank you played me, but I gwine pay you back fer dis ; 
jes' you wait, ma'am. You gwine teck nu'rr free ride on 
my shoulder 'fo' you knows hit, an' dat time you won't 
ofit off so easv. You kin pin hit down in yo' 'meml)'ance 
dat I gwine pay you back wid int'res' on de money.' 

"Mis' Duck she knowed he dassent ter stop right den, 
so she let out one big hoot an' she ses, sez she, "^So do, 
Mistah Fox, so do. Xow's yo' time, suh; de sooner de 
better. AMiyn't you stoj), suh? You ain' nuver gwine 
ketch me no younger. Better not wait, suh; de longer 
YOU waits de older an' tou2:her I srows.' 

"But ol' man Fox knowed too much ter stop w'en Mis' 
Dog wuz at his heels, so he went a-sailin' an' lef Mis' 
Duck stannin" by de puppies jes' a-quackin' an' a-cack- 
lin' an' a-laughin'. An' uver senpe dat time dar ain' bin 
much love los' 'twix de foxes an' de ducks. I reckon de 
foxes has done paid 'em out mo'n a hunderd times fer 
dat trick." 



283 



WHY THE GEOUXD-HOG HAS A SHORT TAIL 

One evening the children went down to Aunt Thro- 
ny's cabin and found her and her grandson, William, 
hovering over a handful of embers, for the nights were 
growing a little chilly. The old woman was singings 
and she rocked back and forth in time to the music, as 
she led with the words of the hymn, while William 
joined in the refrain of the old-time favorite, 

DOWX BY THE EIVER 

Whai^'s all dem cliillen dress' in ivliite, 

Down hy de river? 
Mus' ie de chillen er de Is' elite, 

Doivn hy de river side. 

Refrain: Oli ! ice'll end dis tear, 

Down hy the river; 
We'll end dis ivar, 

Doivn hy de river side. 

Wliar's all dem cliillen dress' in red, 

Down hy de river? 
Mu^' he de cliillen ivliar Moses led, 

Down hy de river side. — Befrain. 
28-i 



WHY THE GEOrXD-HOG HAS A SHORT TAIL 

Whar's all Jem chillen dress' in green, 

Down hy de river? 
Mils' he de cliillen icliar Joshua seen, 

Down hy de river side. — Refrain. 

Whar's all dem chillen dress' in pinlc, 

Down hy de river? 
Mus' he de chillen whar tecl'in a drinh, 

Down hy de river side. — Refrain, 

Whar's all dem chillen dress' in yaller, 

Down hy de river? 
Oh, dar whar de water it run mighty shall er, 

Down hy de river side. — Refrain, 

Whar's all dem ch illen dress' in gray, 

Down hy de river? 
j\Ius' he de chillen whar squandered away, 

Down hy de river side. — Refrain, 

Whangs all dem chillen dress' in hlacJc, 

Dozen hy de river ? 
Mus' he de chillen ivhar done turn hach, 

Down hy de river side. — Refrain. 

Whar's all dem chillen dress' in hlue, 

Down hy de river f 
Mus' he de chillen whar done come thu, 

Down hy de river side. — Refrain. 

The children waited until the Israelites were' safelv 
brought through before announcing themselves, when 

285 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

they were cordially welcomed to the fireside, for Aunt 
^Phrony was in an unusually genial mood, possibly in- 
duced by her favorite hymn and the triumphant passage 
of the children of Israel. 

^^Come right in yer an' set yo' li'l se'fs down by de 
fire," she said. "Snip, git yo' lazy kyarkiss offen dat 
cheer an' let Miss Janey have hit. ]\Iin' w'at I say to 
you, cat, er I come dar an' cuff you. Snap, teck yo'se'f 
offen dat h'ath an' gin dese chillen room ter putt der 
footses down. I nuver seed a dog dat cu'd spread hisse'f 
over so much ha'th-room ez w'at he kin. Well, chillen, 
I bin studvin' 'bout y'all dis ve'y day. Wi'vum he bin 
huntin' an' bringed home a groun'-hog wid him an' dat 
putt me in min' uv a tale I wanter tell y'all 'bout, how 
de groun'-hog come ter have such a shawt tail. 

"One time he wuz gwine 'long studyin' 'bout odds 
an' een's an' not payin no 'tention ter whar he wuz er 
w'at he ^Taz doin', an' fus' news he knowed he run spang 
up ag'in a gang er wolfs an' dey nabbed him in a jiff 
an' wuz gwinter mek a meal offen him, den an' dar. 
Oroun'-hog he wuz right boddered. ^How in de name er 
common sense did I run my haid inter sech a trap ez 
dis?' sezee; %ok lak I bin rootin' roun' thu de worl' 
'long 'nuff ter keep outen sech messes ez dis. Well, I 
reckon nob'dy kin live long 'nuff not ter gin hisse'f a 
s'prise now an' den. De thing fer me is not ter let on 
befo' dese gemmen dat I'se skeered, an' mebbe I'll pull 
thu yit somehow er ru'rr.' 

"But w'en dey ^mencecl rampin' an' roarin' all roun' 
'im an' gnashin' der toofs at 'im hit mek 'im feel kind 
er f aintyfied, an' he say ter hisse'f, he do, ^Lawd, lawd ! 
I wish I bin sassified ter stay home un'need de groun' 

286 



WHY THE GEOUXD-HOG HAS A SHORT TAIL 

dis day !' He aiir let on, dough, an' pres'n'y he mek out 
ter say, 'Gemmen — for I kin see you is sho'-'nuff gemmen 
by de lookin's uv you — gemmen, I knows 3^'all done bin 
roun' a heap an' seed a lot, but I boun' you dar's one 
thing you ain' seed in all yo' bawn days.' 

"De wolfs jes' howled an' laughed wid scawn ter think 
dar waiz anything lef dat dey ain' seed. 'Wats dat?' 
dey ses ; 'name dat to us, ef you please. Sump'n dat we- 
all ain' seed, much ez we bin romantin' up an' down de 
worl' ! AYe lak ter know mighty well w'at dat kin be.' 

" 'Well, now I tell you,' sez de Groun'-hog, sezee, 'I 
be willin' ter bet dese yer two years offen my haid dat 
\vid all yo' goin' up an' down an' back an' fo'th an' to 
an' fro, none er you has uver seed a groun'-hog darnse ; 
is 5^ou now?' 

"De wolfs dey hunched up der shoulders at one nu'rr 
an' dey ses, 'Shucks ! dish yer plumb reedikelous, de idee 
uv a groun'-hog darnsin' ; who uver yearn er de likes er 
dat?' 

"'Xemmine,' sez de Groun'-hog, 'ef y'all doan b'lieve 
me I kin show you ; 'twon't teck but a minnit ; I'll bof e 
sing an' darnse fer you, an' I ain' gwine tas'e any de 
worse fer dat, I reckon. I boun' you, I kin gin y'all 
some 'musement an' yit eat jes' ez good den ez now. 
^Twon't teck long, nohows.' 

"De wolfs dey insulted toge'rr an' 'greed ter let him 
try. 'Twon't mount ter shucks, nohow,' dey ses; 
'mought ez well let him have one li'l whu'l bef 0' we swal- 
ler him.' 

"Groun'-hog he ses, 'Gemmen, I gwine play you fa'r, 
an' ter mek sho' dat I don' git 'way f'um you, you kin 
mek a succle er yo'se'f s an' s'roun' me on all sides.' 

287 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

"So cle wolfs dey do dat; dej mek a succle all roim' 
him an' gin him a hig range, an' squatted dar on der 
ha'nches wid der big red tongues lollin' outer der moufs 
an' der long toofs a-showin', glarin' at him wid der ol' 
green eves. Groun'-hog he 'mence ter sing lak dis : 

'D i-a-di-a-h ey, di-a-di-a-li ey, 
Di-a-di-a, di-a-di-a, di-a-di-a-lieyf 

"At de same time he darnse, an' uy all de capers you 
uver seed, dem tuck de lead, fer ol' man Groun'-hog 
\YMz darnsin' fer his life, lie wuz. He kep' flippin' his 
paws in time ter de music, an' he wagged dem behime 
footses so fas' dat hit look lak he jes' hangin' in de air 
widout no laigs twix' him an' de groun'. All ter onct 
he'd spin clean roun' on one foot an' den go on ag'in, fas- 
ter dan bef o'. De wolfs dey wuz might'ly 'mused, an' dey 
jes' clapped der ban's an' hollered an' mos' fergit dey 
wuz gwine eat him, but I boun' you Groun'-hog lie ain' 
fergit hit. 

"Las' he gin one gre't han'-spring backwu'ds an' dis- 
appeart lak he wuz wipe offen de face er de yearf, an' 
lef de wolfs settin' dar on der ha'nches. Dey look be- 
hime an' dey look befo' an' dey look on de groun' an' 
den up in de air, ez ef dey thought mebbe he done jump 
so high he ain' come down yit; but dey ain' see Mistah 
Groun'-hog. 

" ^Xow, whar you s'pose dat triflin creetur gone to ?' 
dey ses ter one nu'rr. Las' one uy em' whar wuz settin' 
up hol'in' a piece uy a tail in his han' he say, he do, 
^Umph! I don' s'pose, I liioivs. Dat sut'n'y is a slick 
li'l creetur. We-all ain' notuss dat de place he pick out 

288 







s 



WHY THE GEOUXD-HOG HAS A SHORT TAIL 

fer ter darnse in wnz mighty nigli ter de hole whar he 
live. He kep' a-aidgin' an' a-aidgin' nearer an' nearer, 
an' ]as' he gin one spring, an' down he went. I wuz 
de neares' nv any an' I seed him goin'. I grabbed him 
by de tail, but suz ! he wuz gwine so fas' dat nuttin' cu'd 
stop him, an' de tail jes' natchelly bruk off an' lef dish 
yer piece in my han'.' 

" 'Well, cf dat don' beat bowser !' sez de wolfs, an' 
den dey laugh ter think how dat li'l creetur done fool 
'em, ontwel one un 'em clap his han' on his stummick 
an' 'low he feel mighty empty, an' den dey all laughed 
on de wrong side er der moufs, 'kase dey knowed dey 
gotter do widout dinner dat day. 

"Xow dat's de reason de groun'-hogs got sech shawt 
tails, an' Wi'yum kin go an' git dat one whar he ketched 
an' show you de trufe er w'at I bin tellin' you. You 
year me, Wi'yum ! Don' you set dar lookin' at me, suh ! 
You mosey 'long out ter de shed an' git dat groun'-hog 
dis ve'y minnit, lessen 3'ou wants me ter come dar an' 
walk up an' down yo' body a time er two ! Wi'yum do 
lak he wuz hung on henges an' de henges wuz all rusted 
out, but I boun' you ef I wuz ter say 'supper' ter Wi'yum, 
he'd move right lively." 



289 



MR. HAEE, MR. WILDCAT AKD MR. OTTER 



AYlien the gronnd-liog had been duly examined and 
commented on the children hinted that they were ready 
for another story. Annt "Phrony at first refused, saying 
that it was time they were home tucked up in bed, ready 
for the nightly visit of the Sand Man. When they in- 
sisted that they were never wider awake in their lives, 
she said, "Well, mebbe you isn' sleej^y, but mebbe I is. 
High time I knocked de ashes outen dis pipe an' hanged 
my or bones up on de baid." But finally she gave in 
to the combined persuasions of the three and consented 
to tell the storv of the hare, the wild-cat and the otter. 

"One time,^' she began, "ol' Hyar' he wuz squanderin' 
roun' thu de woods wid a pipe stuck in his mouf, idlin' 
'way de time, w'en all ter onct Mistah Wil'cat jump out 
f'um behime a big tree an' yell, ^Boo !' at him an' fetch 
a grab dat all but ketch him. Hyar' wuz sho'-'nuff 
s'prised dat time, but he gin a big jump ter one side 
an' lan'ed behime a tree an' stood dar ez still ez a mouse, 
sca'cely drorin' his bref in an' out, not dastin' even 
ter peek so's'ter see ef Wil'cat wuz still dar. He got 
mighty tired an' cramp' up befo' long, an' sezee ter his- 
se'f, Olussy me ! w'at oon I gin jes' ter wall my eye 
roun' dis tree an' see w'at dat mis'able creetur doin'. I 
ain' year nair' soun'; mebbe he gone on. Ef he's tired 
ez w'at I is, I 'spec' he done gin de marter up an' 
moseyed 'long ter git his vittles som'ers else.' 

290 



ME. HARE, MPt. WILDCAT AXD MR. OTTER 

Wid dat he stick his nose out ter see w'at gwine on, 
an' dat wiiz 'miff f er ol' AVil'cat ; he jes' gin one mon- 
st'ous jump an' lan'ed right onter de Hyar', an' den dar 
wan't no sech thing cz gittin' 'way, I tell you. Xo use 
ter kick an' squall; dem claws jes' curled derse'fs right 




inter him an' stuck dar, much ez ter say, 'Yer we is, suh, 
now lessee 3'ou onloose yo'se'f .' 

'^Yil'cat hoi' him up in front uv him an' talk 'wav 
at him lak Hyar' wuz de pris'ner at de bar an' he wuz 
de jedge an' de jury an' de hull co'te th'owed in, an' 

291 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

ev'y now an' clon he gin him a shake dat mek ev'y toof in 
his haid rattle lak de seed in a dry go'de. 'Uh-huh !' he 
say, sezee, '^I bin wantin' ter git my chiws inter you dis 
long time ! Meddle in nrr f olkses bizness, will you ? 
Go roun' an' hunt ujd mischief an' play tricks on yo' 
betters, will you ? You got a lot er gumption, I reckon ; 
dey tells me you has, anyways; but dat ain' gwine do 
a man much good w'en his time comes; no pusson so 
smart dat he kin keep outen de sclutches uv ol' man 
Def, an' dat's right whar you is dis ve'y minnit, I tells 
you dat p'in'-blank, an' you'll know I bin tellin' you 
de trufe w'en I 'mence ter mek minch-meat uv you, 
w'ich is gwine be did dis ve'y minnit, ef not sooner.' 

"Hyar' he feel kind er pa'lyze w'en he year dat sort er 
talk, but pres'n'y he pick hisse'f toge'rr, an' sezee, wid 
a mighty pleasin' smile, ^Mistali AViFcat, dish yer yo' 
innin's, an' I reckon you gwine do w'at you please wid 
me ; I ain' gwine 'spute dat, but I ax you dis, suh, is I 
a fitten dinner fer sech as vou? Ain' I lean ez a razor- 
back hog ? Is I mo'n one good moufful, an' sca'cely dat ? 
You kain't 'ny dat, suh. Xow I ax you ter 'member de 
time w'en I done fill you up chock-full er tukkey, wid- 
out 3^ou havin' no mo' ter do dan lay still an' let on 
you'se 'sleep w'iles I toll de tukkies up to you wid singin' 
an' darnsin', I kin do dat ag'in, an' better'n dat. Jes' 
name yo' game, an' I'se de man whar kin git hit fer you. 
Don' be too modes', suh ; big game er li'l game, hit's all 
de same ter me.' * 

"Wil'cat he study for a minnit an' den he say, ^Well, 
I'd lak mighty well ter git me a tas'e er deer meat onct 
mo'. So long sence I set my toofs inter a piece dat I 
'clar' I mos' fergit how hit do tas'e. I bin livin' on shawt 

392 



MR. HAEE, MR. WILDCAT AXD MR. OTTER 

commons dis long time, an' I'se dat hongr}^ I'se nigh 
'stracted. Ef you kin git me some deer I gwine let you 
off dis time ; but min' you, Mistah Hyar', no tricks 'bout 
dis er I frail you so hard you'll wish I'd et you up 
'stidder clawin' you inter grape-vine strings. You know 
me, suh, an' you knows I don' stan' no triflin'.' 

"Dat's all right, suh, dat's all right,' sez Hyar', 
sezee, ^jes' you come 'long er me an' I show you dat I'se 
a man er my wu'd. We gotter go down ter de place whar 
de deers come ter drink an' ter eat de moss, an' dar I 
gwine show you w'at I kin do, ef I is no mo'n a li'l 
shawt-tail runt ; fer dat's w'at I year some er de folks 
bin callin' me. Step 'long dis way, suh, ef you please.' 

"Dey went on down ter de branch whar de deers come 
ter drink, an' Hyar' he say, ^Xow, ]\Iistah Wil'cat, jes' 
you set dar in de bushes an' hide, an' I'll crope out on 
dat limb whar hang over de water, an' w'en de deer 
comes I'll jes' drap spang outer his back, an' w'en he 
'mences ter r'ar an' splunge an' mek fer de bank, den's 
de time you mus' jump out an' nab him.' All de time 
he say ter hisse'f, ^Yas, lawd I an' w'en I onct git outer 
dat deer's back 'tain' gwine teck me long ter jump ter 
tu'rr bank an' git outer yo' way, suh !' 

"Wil'cat he say, ^All right, suh, go ahaid. But min' 
you, f a'r play, now. Xone er yo' tricks an' traps wid me, 
er I gwine come a-rattlin' an' a-shattlin' down dar an' 
jes' natchelly scrape you inter fiddle-strings.' 

"So Wil'cat he squat down in de bushes nigh de bank 
an' Hyar' he crope out on de limb, an' dey waited an' 
dey waited 'twel Wil'cat wuz fair' frazzled. Las', yer 
come a deer lopin' down ter de water, an' he waded right 
in an' drunk his fill an' den stood dar dippin' his haid 

293 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

in clean up ter de eyes, lookin' fer moss ter eat. Hyar' 
lie 'low tor hisse'f, ^Um-humph ! yer wliar I gwine roust 
him outer dat in a hurry. Won' he wunner w'ats got 
him all uv a suddint T 

"He tucken de time w'en de deer's haid wuz un'need de 
water ter drap smack outer his back. Co'se de deer 
'menced ter ra'r an' splunge an' Hyar' he scrabbled an' 
sclutched ter hoi' on long 'nufi ter jump ter tu'rr bank, 
but lawsy ! ol' man Deer jes' natchelly shuk him off inter 
de water an' den jumped fer tu'rr bank an' made off in- 
ter de woods. 

"Hyar' he ses ter hisse'f, ^Now, did any pusson uver 
see de beat er dat onf ren'ly Deer ; 'gredge me a li'l f oot- 
hol' on his back ! Ef I wuz ez bis: ez w'at he is I sut'n'v 
oon be ez mean an' stingy wid my back ez dat.' 

"He 'gun ter sink 'bout den, an' he see dar wan't 
nuttin' fer hit but ter git drownded, so he sing out ter 
de Wil'cat fer he'p, but shucks ! no cat 's gwine git 
hits paws wet ef hit kin he'p, so he jes' turn,t his back 
an' went off S23ittin' an' snarlin, 'kase he done los' his 
dinner. 

" 'Bout den 'long come a Otter down ter de bank, an' 
Hyar' he call out fer he'p. He say, sezee, ^Oh, Mistah 
Otter, he'p me outer dish yer pickle an' I gin you any- 
thing you wants ; 'deed I will !' 

" ^W'at you gimme ?' sez de Otter, sezee. 

" ^^Sho' !' sez ol' Hyar', spittin' and sputterin' an' 
chokin', ^has I gotter drown w'ile I mek promusses? 
Git me outen dis an' den I mek any promuss you ax me 
to. Ef you gwine he'p me, man, he'p me dis ve'y minnit 
er hit be too late in de day, an' my def gwine be on yo' 
haid.' 

294 



ME. HARE, MR. WILDCAT AXD MR. OTTER 

"So Otter he swim in, 'kase he wiiz a fus'-class swim- 
mer, he wuz, an' fished ol' man Hvar' out an' set him 
on de bank at de aidge er de water. Dar he sot all weak 
an' trim'lin', no bigger 'n a han'ful, but he wan't so fur 
gone but w'at dar wuz plenty- er 'havishness lef in him 
yit, an' he say ter Otter, sezee, Tlease, suh, ter lemme 
run up de bank an' shake myse'f, so's'ter git some er de 
water outen my fur ; 'pears lak I done soaked up de hull 
branch an' bringed hit out wid me.' 

" ^W'y sut'n'y,' sez de Otter, sezee, ^I knows you is a 
Ian' man ; an' co'se you ain' useter bein' in de water, co'se 
you don' fin' hit 'greeable. Jes' g'long an' shake hit 
outen you, an' I'll wait fer you yer on de bank.' 

"Wid dat Hyar' went kitin' up de bank an' gin his- 
se'f a good shake an' den lipt inter de bushes an' wuz off 
lak a house afire. ^Wait fer me on de bank, suh!' he 
sung out, an' he say ter hisse'f, ^Yas, suh, I 'spec' you 
wait fer me on dat bank one w'ile 'fo' you see me ag'in.' 

" ^Umph !' sez Otter ter hisse'f, ^umph ! promuss me 
anything I want an' den not so much ez stop ter mek 
his manners ! 'Pears lak 't wan't even a thanky job,' an' 
wid 'dat he went on 'bout his wu'k in de branch, 'kase he 
wuz mighty busy ketchin' fish fer his fambly, fer he wuz 
a gre't fisherman an' a pow'ful swif swimmer an' cu'd 
jes' run a fish down in no time 't all. He ketched him 
two fish at onct an' tuck 'em in his mouf an' went inter 
his house, w'ich 'twuz a deep hole in de bank. But dough 
he kep' on 'bout his bizness, he ain' fergit dat trick uv 
ol' Hyar's, an' no mo' did Mistah Wil'cat, an' w'en dey 
tell tu'rr creeturs 'bout him dey all git mo' riled up 
'gins' him dan befo', an' dey ses, '^^ow ain' dat de wus' 
trick yit ? Done fool two 'spectable gemmen lak Mistah 

295 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

WiFcat an' Mistali Otter at one an' de same time. 
Done prove hisse'f one time mo' ez slipp'y an' onreliable 
ez a eel; mo' chanct er missin' him dan er gittin' him. 
]N"emmine, ef we jes' wait long 'nuff de time boun' ter 
roll roun' w'en we gwine git de unner-holt, an' den we'll 
jes' natchelly wipe up de yearf wid him befo' we wipes 
him clean offen de face er creashun.' 

"An' now/' concluded Aunt 'Phrony, "y'all chillen 
neenter pester me no mo' dis night, 'kase my ol' breens 
is so wo' out wid all dish yer tryin' ter 'member, dat ef 
you wuz ter crowd me any mo' right now dey mought 
crack an' let all de tales run out. Wi'yum, quit layin' 
yo'se'f all over dat flo', same ez a spraddle-bug, an' go 
an' git de lantu'n an' light dese chillen up ter de house. 
You year me, suh V 



296 



MR. HARE AXD MR. ELEPHAXT 



One day Aunt Xancy was making little Kit's toilet, 
trying her best to wash his neck and ears while he fidget- 
ed and dodged and stood first on one foot and then on 
the other, and declared, after the manner of small boys, 
that he was not dirty, and if he was, he preferred being 
so. 

^^Vell, ef uver I 'sjDCcted ter year a cliil' er my young 
Miss' talkin' dat scannelous !" she exclaimed. "Any- 
b'dy mought think 'twuz one'r dem Thompson chillen, 
on'y I nuver knowed 'em ter talk so much lak po' white- 
trash. Who uver year er de qual'ty gwine roun' wid 
dirty 3'ears ? Hit 'min's me er de time w'en Mistah Ef a- 
lent oon wash his years. Sho ! you kin stan' still ter 
lissen at tales, kin you? Well, now, you jes' hoi' right 
still, lak a good li'l boy, an' lemme git inside dis urr year, 
an' I tell you de tale w'iles I go 'long." 

Here she commenced a not too gentle attack upon the 
other ear, holding him firmly by the burning member 
already cleansed, as she told the story of the careless Mr. 
Elephant, while Janey and Xed listened with a less 
chastened enjoyment than that of the little boy who was 
having his ears scrubbed. 

"One time," she said, "dar wuz gwine be a big meetin' 
'mongs' de creeturs, an' Mistah Efalent he so anxious 
ter git dar on time dat he plumb fergit ter wash his years. 

297 



AT THE BIG IIOrSE 

Mis' Efalent she wuz a miglity p'ticklcr ol' lady, an' 
slie call out atter him an' tell him 1)out hit. She say : 
'^Gracious ter goodness ! Mistah Efalent, 'tain' poss'ble 
you gwine 'mongs' all dem pryin', peerin' creeturs wid 
dem dirty years ? Fer de sake er yo' f anibly, come back 
jer an' fix yo'se'f nice an' proper.' Efalent he let on 
he ain' year her, jes' lak mens does sometimes w'en der 
wifes is talkin' at 'em, an' 'twan't mo'n tlfee winks befo' 
he wuz outer sight an' yearin'. 

"Bout dat same time Hyar' he wuz primpin' hisse'f 
up fer de meetin', 'kase he wuz mighty kyareful 'bout 
iixin' hisse'f up nice an' clean. He washed his face wid 
his paw an' licked his fur down an' den got ol' Mis' 
Molly Hyar' ter wash his years husse'f, an' all roun' 
behime 'em, so's't de folks whar set behime him in de 
meetin' kain't excuse him er not bein' neat. Den he had 
some notion er lettin' on dat he wuz single an' flyin' 
roun' 'mongs' de gals a li'l, so co'se he wanter look 
mighty spruce. Las' he start off an' git down ter de 
river 'bout de time Mistah Efalent git dar. 

"He bin wunnerin' ter hisse'f how in de name er 
goodness he gwine git over de river, an' w'en he see de 
Efalent he sav ter hisse'f. he do : '^I sut'n'v is de e^re'tes' 
man fer luck dat uver hopped on fo' laigs. Dish yer 
whar I gwine git 'cross widout even so much ez gittin' 
a paw wet.' Wid dat he walked up ter de Efalent an' 
'menced muchin' him. '^Howdy, Mistah Efalent,' sezee, 
'I hope I fin's you well an' in de enj'yment er good 
healt'. You so gre't an' gran', suh, dat I reckon w'en 
you does git a mis'ry hit boun' ter be a pow'ful big one.' 

" 'Wat's dis a-talkin' at me ?' sez de Efalent, sezee, 
an' he look all roun' fur an' near an' las' he seed 

298 



ME. HARE AXD ME. ELEPHAXT 

Hyar' settin^ down mos' imner his front footses an' cut- 
tin' one eye up at him, sassy ez yon please. To' gra- 
cious !' sezee, "^look out dar I li'l mo'n I'd a-tromped on 
you, sho' I Wlio is you, anyhows?' 

"Den Hyar' he 'mence ter 'splain hisse'f an' tell whar 
he wuz gwine an' haig Mistah Efalent ter tote him 
'cross de river. Hit sut'n'v wuz a siofht ter mek you 
laugh, dey tells me, ter see dat li'l feller settin' up dar 
on his ha'nches, haid th'owed 1)ack so't he cu'd look 
Efalent in de eye, an' tongue goin' same'z a mill-clap- 
per. 01' Efalent stood dar squintin' down at him an' 
lis'nin' at him, w'ile hofe gre't hig years went flippitty- 
flap, fiippitty-flap, an' his trunk wuz jes' a-wavin' an' 
a-weavin' an' a-curlin' roun' thu de air. 

"Las' Hyar' he stop 'long 'nuff ter git href, an' 
Efalent he say, sezee, '^Shucks ! man, I kain't stop to tote 
YOU over de river ; I must be at de meetin' on time.' 

" Tawsy !' Hyar' 'low, ^'tain' gwine teck you long ter 
tote a li'l feller lak me.' 

"Dat mek Mistah Efalent laugh an' he say, sezee, 
^How sech a li"l feller ez vou gwine stick on my back?' 

" '^Oh, nemmine,' sezee ; ^I tell you de way we kin tix 
hit. Jes' you teck an' putt me inside er one'r yo' years 
an' let de flap down over me ter keep me in, an' I boun' 
3'ou, I go over safe an' soun'.' 

" ^All right,' sez de Efalent, sezee, an' he tuck an' 
tuck his trunk an' wrop hit roun' Hyar' an' gin him a 
whu'l thu de air dat tucken his bref clean 'way, an' he 
lan'ed him in de year an' shet de flap down on him. 
Den he splunge inter de river an' 'mence ter cross over. 

"Co'se Hvar' ain' bin in de year lonsr 'twel he 'sfun 
ter study w'at mischief ter git inter. He 'mence ter 

299 



AT THE BICt house 

fidget roim' an' wu'k his nose hard an' sniff lak he 
smell siimp'n pow'ful bad. 

" ^Wa't's de marter wid you ?' sez de Efalent, sezee. 

"Hyar' he 'spon', ^Oh, nuttin' 't all, Mistah Ef alent ; 
don' you min' me, suh ; jes' go right 'long.' 

"Pres'n'y he go at hit ag'in, jes' snifhn' an' kyar'yin' 
on. ^IJm-m-m-umph ! umph ! umph ! ! umph ! ! !' sezee, 
hol'in' his nose lak he kain't stan' ter keep hit open. 

" *^Gre't king !' sez de Efalent, Vat is de marter wid 
de li'l cuss, anyhows ?' 

" '^Don' pay no 'tention ter me, suh,' Hyar' say. 'I 
has de as'my an' dat mek me breave hard ; soun' mighty 
loud, 'kase I'se right inside yo' year.' 

"Well^ suh, he kep' hit up dat-a-way on de trip over, 
an' Ven dey git ter tu'rr side he watch his chanct w'en 
Mistah Ef alent flip his year up an' den he jes' lit down 
same'z he bin made er injy-rubber an' tuck up de bank 
an' inter de bresh 'fo' Efalent miss him outen de year. 
He curl his trunk roun' an' feel fer him, but he kain't 
fin' him. Den he think mebbe he done fergot w'ich 
year he putt him in, an' so he feel in tu'rr one. Naw, 
suh, he wan't in tu'rr one, neener. ^Well, ef dis don' 
beat my time !' sezee ; ^I sut'n'y putt dat owdacious 
creetur in my year. 'Tain' poss'bl' dat I cu'd go an' 
dream sech ez dat,' an' he stan' dar jes' a-huffin' an' 
a-puffin'. 

"Hyar' he bin watchin' him an' he tuck de 'casion 
ter stick his haid outer de bresh an' say: To be sho' 
you wan't dreamin', Mistah Efalent; I wuz in yo' year, 
sho' 'nuff, an' a mighty bad time I have uv hit in dar. 
You axed me, suh, w'at wuz de marter, an' now T gwine 
tell you, dough I'se saw'y ef I seem onmannerly atter 

300 




" 'tain' POSs'bl' DAT I CU'd GO AX' DREAM 



i 



MR. HARE AXD MR. ELEPHAXT 

you teckin' me 'cross ; but I'se 'bleeged ter sa}^, sub, dat 
you done f ergot ter wash yo' years dis mawnin', dat 
you has, an' I 'clar' ter goodness hit mek me feel plumb 
faintyfied in dar w'en you shet dat flap down on me; 
'deed hit did. Xex^ time you teck anvb'dv in yo' year, 
better see dat hit's clean. So-long, suh; so-long.' An' 
wid dat he shuk one'r his behime footses at de Efalent 
f'um roun' de cornder uy a tree an' wuz off in a jiff, 
leavin' dat gre't big creetur stannin' dar jes' a-trim'lin' 
an' a-stompin' an' a-foamin' an' a-snortin' an' tearin' 
up trees by de roots, but 'tain' do him no good, fer 
Hyar' wuz outer sight by dat time, fur on his way ter 
de meetin'. 

"An' now," finished Aunt Xancy, as she gaYe a last 
twist to one of Kit's long, yellow curls, "dat shows y'all 
w'at happen ter folks whar ain' 'tickler 'bout keepin' 
der years clean. Dey think no pusson gwine notuss, 
but someb'dY sho' ter fin' hit out an' mek fun uy 'em 
an' hoi' 'em up fer a disgrace ter der fambly an' de 
qual'ty in gin'l." 

Here she carefully threw the combings that had ac- 
cumulated in the making of the little boy's toilet into 
the fire, explaining that if they were thrown away and 
not burned, the birds might find them and use them in 
nest-building, in which case the person from whose head 
the hair came would be sure to go crazy ; nothing could 
aYert the fate. 



301 



THE TOAD AXD THE TERRAPIN" 

"When Aunt N"anc\^ had finished curling the small 
boy's hair, he insisted that she owed him another story, 
because she had not only hurt his ears, but had given 
his hair an unlucky pull. She objected at first, saying 
that she had other fish to fry and must go along about 
her work. At last she relented so far as to sav that 
she would tell one if she could only think of something 
new. "I done tol' you so many tales/^ she said, "dat I 
done used all de creeturs up, runned 'em plumb inter 
de groun'." 

"I know one you haven't told us about for a long 
time," said Janey, "and that's the Toad-frog; you told 
us a story about him a long time ago and I liked it. 
It was all about the Hopper-grass and the Chicken- 
rooster." 

Aunt Xancy felt flattered that her story should have 
made such a lasting impression, and it seemed to have 
a happy effect upon her memory, for she said at once 
that she believed she did recollect another story in 
which the Toad figured, along with the Terrapin. 

"Hit wuz 'long in strawba'y-time/' she commenced, 
"an' Toad-frog he say ter hisse'f dat he jes' natchelly 
'bleeged ter have him a mess er ba'ies, 'kase he ain' had 
none dat 'ear, an' he wuz 'tickler fond uv 'em." 

Here Xed interrupted to say, "Ho ! Aunt Nancy, who 
ever heard of a toad eating strawberries ?" 

302 



THE TOAD AXD THE TEEEAPIX 



«:^ 



"Well, dey does, den/' said the story teller, indig- 
nantly; "I done seed 'em at hit wid my own eyes; an' 
snakes does, too ; dey is bofe mighty fond nv 'em. You 
neenter think folks is de on'ies ones whar knows a 
good thing w'en dey sees hit. Does you s'pose de Lawd 
mek de good things jes' fer people an' don' want de 
creeturs ter git der sheer? Xaw, suh, He want 'em ter 
go sheers; but folks done got so mean dat dey calls hit 
stealin' w'en de bu'ds an' de bees an' de wast-es comes 
after de grapes an' de churries an' de ba'ies an' sech 
ez dat. 

"AYell, I done tol' you strawba'ies wuz ripe an' Toad- 
frog wuz jes' a-honin" fer some. He wuz gwine hoppin' 
down de road, singin' dis oF song ter hisse'f : 

'^Da?' li'iiz a mouse live' in a house, 

Wid a rinhtum hodcly middy himo, 
Dar wuz a frog live in a well, 

^yid a rink turn hoddy middy l-imo. 
An' ef lie ain gone lie live dar still, 

Wid a rinl'tum hoddy middy kimo. 
Kimo-narrow, delto-sliarrow, 

Rinktum hoddy middy kimo. 
String-strong pommy-doodle ally-mody ding- 
dong, 

Rinktum hoddy middy kimo' 

"Jes' ez he git dat fur along wid de song who shu'd 
he met up wid but ol' Mis' Tarry-long Tarr'pin. Xow 
she wuz mighty fond er strawba'ies husse'f, an' she 
knowed whar dar wuz a baid er nice, big ripe ones, an' 
she wuz right on her way to 'em den. Mos' in gin'l 

303 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

she wuz a turr'br slow trabeler, but dish yer mawnin' 
she wuz gwine 'long right peartly. Wen Toad-frog seed 
dat, he 'spicioned sump'n wuz up, an' he say ter hisse'f, 
he say : '^Humph ! oV Mis' Tarr'pin sho' has got a 
move on husse'f dis mawnin'. Now, w'at is de meanin' 
er dat? Lemme see, she got a mighty good likin' fer 
strawba'ies, an' I boun' you she's right on her way to 
'em dis minnit, ef de trufe wuz knowed. De ol' lady 
got lots er gumption, an' I reckon she know jes' whar 
dey're a-growin'. I gwine tackle her an' see ef I kain't 
git ter go 'long.' 

"Wid dat he hop up 'long side er Mis' Tarr'pin an' 
he say, sezee: ^Heyo ! Mis' Tarry-long, I ain' need ter 
ax you, how is you? you gwine 'long yer so gaily I 
sca'cely knowed you. I wanter ax you, ma'am, kin you 
tell me whar dey is any strawba'ies? I ain' had nair' 
one dis 'ear, an' my appentite gittin' so deliken dat I 
needs sump'n lak dat ter putt me in de notion er eatin' 
ag'in. You sech a smart lady dat I 'lowed you'd know 
whar dey wuz some, ef anyb'dy did.' 

"Mis' Tarr'pin she wan't gwine gin her sekert away, 
so she let on she dunno nuttin' 'bout 'em an' ain' kyarin' 
fer 'em, anyhows. ^Sho ! man, g'way f 'um yer,' she say ; 
Vat you reckon I know 'bout strawba'ies? I nuver 
eats 'em ; I ain' got no mouf fer 'em.' 

"Toad-frog seed he wan't gwine git nuttin' outen her 
dat-a-way, so he jes' mek up his min' ter co'te her a 
li'l an' see ef dat oon wu'k. ^A li'l co'tin' sometimes go 
a long ways wid a gal,' sezee ter hisse'f ; *jes' a few li'l 
honey-wu'ds an' dar dey is.' 

"He 'mence bein' mighty flattersome to her an' 
talkin' all sorts er sweet talk, lak men does w'en dey's 

304 



THE TOAD AXD THE TERRAPIX 

co'tin', doiigli de}^ mos' alluz 'ny hit, out an' out, atter- 
wu'ds. Las' he up an' ax her ain' she wanter git ma'ied. 

"She 'low, '^Xaw, suh, dat I don'; not ter no sech li'l 
junipin' thing cz w'at you is.' 

"Toad-frog laugh fit ter kill hisse'f, an' he say, sezee : 
'G'long wid you, gal, I ain' ax' you ter have me ; I 
axed you does you "\A*anter git ma'ied, jes' in fun, ter 
see w'at you gwine say. I ain' axin' none er de gals dese 
days; 'souse me, ef you please. Dis de time w'en you 
done hollered befo' you wuz hurted.' 

"Dat mek Mis' Tarr'pin mad, an' she say: *Hysh, 
man ! g'long 'way f 'um yer ; I done had 'nuff er yo' 
imp'ence. Wat's mo', I gwine tell ev'y pusson I knows 
dat you done ax me ter ma'y you an' I oon have you. 
You s'pose any er de gals gwine look at you w'en I tell 
'em dat ? Xaw, suh. W'en I p'int you out an' snicker 
an' snort an' say : "Look yonner, gals ! Yonner goes 
my leavin's." ' 

" ^Yas'm, dat dey is,' sezee ; '^men-folks ain' so plenty 
dat gals kin give dersefs too many extry airs. Sidesen 
dat, I kin tell mv side uv hit : how vou done mistooken 
a joke fer a sho'-'nuff axin'; an' den whar'll you be. 
Mis' Tarry-long ?' 

"At dat she turn her back on him an' walk off. Toad- 
frog he ain' say nuttin' mo', 'scusin' ter tell 'er ^so-long.' 
Den he mek out lak he gwine hop off tu'rr way, but, 
bless yo' soul, no sooner wuz her back good an' turnt 
dan yer come Toad-frog, w'ich his tu'rr name wuz 
Jimmy Jump-er-long, an' gin a li'l jump an' dar he 
wuz, settin' up on her back, ridin' 'long jes' ez cool ez 
a cowcumber, an' ol' ]\Iis' Tarr'pin nuver even .'spicion 
he wuz dar, 'kase her back so hard she kain't feel him. 

305 



AT THE Bia HOUSE 



«i 



'Dey went long dat-a-way, Toad-frog perched up 
dar ciittin' all sorts er shines^ doin' lak lie wuz clickin' 
his mouf at a hoss, widout mekin' no sonn'^ an' stannin' 
on one foot, wid tu'rr laig stuck up behime in de air, 
fer all de wor? lak dem bar'back riders at de succus. 

"Las' Mis' Tarr'pin she stop, an' de place whar she 
done turn inter wuz nuttin' mo' ner less dan a straw- 
ba'y-patch. Toad-frog hopped down, an' sezee, ^Kreech ! 
kreech ! kreech ! I'se ma'ied a'raidy, so how cu'd I ax 
you ter ma'y me ? Tell me dat, ma'am.' 

"Mis' Tarr'pin sut'n'y wuz s'prise' w'en she see dat 
creetur hop down f'um her back. She say: ^Name er 
common sense, how you git on my back, you owdacious 
vir3^un? Ma'ied a'raidy, is you? Well, I sut'n'y is 
saw'y fer de ooman. Who is she, anyways ? I ain' nuver 
vear tell uv her.' 

ft/ 

" ^Kreech ! kreech ! kreech !' sez de Toad-frog, sezee. 
^ 'Tain' no ooman 't all. I'se wedded ter dese yer ba'ies ; 
dey is my fus' an' my las' an' my on'ies love,' an' wid dat 
he fall ter eatin' hard'z he kin swoller. 

"Mis' Tarry-long Tarr'pin she say ter herse'f, she say : 
*T'm er min' ter gin 'im one good bite dat he kain't fer- 
git in a hurry, but I 'clar' ter gracious, I'se dat disguss'id 
dat I ain' gwine sile my mouf wid him. Nemmine, 
Mistah Jimmy Jump-er-long, you stuffin' yo'se'f full er 
my ba'ies an' you feel mighty smart over hit, but some er 
dese days I gwine mek you smart on tu'rr side yo' mouf.' 
Wid dat she walk off an' leave him eatin', an' 'twuz 
good thing fer him she did, 'kase, I tell you, she wuz a 
nipper ; an' ef she'd a-bit him he oon bin able ter fergit 
hit in a mont' er Sundays. 



>y 



306 




a: 

K 






O 



THE TOAD AXD THE TEEEAPIX 

"Aunt Xancy," said Janey, "what did the toad mean 
when he said ^kreech I kreech ! kreech' ?" 

"Oh, dat \iz jes' his way er talkin'," said the old 
woman. 

"I never knew toads made any sound at all," said the 
little girl. 

"Oh, yas, dey does ; hit's jes' lak I tells you : ^kreech ! 
kreeeh I kreech V sump'n 'twix' de chu'ppin' uv a bu'd 
an' de skreekin" uv a mouse. Many's de time I bin 
down cellar an' think I 3'ear a mouse skreekin' an' git 
all skeert an' flutterated, an' yer all time 'twuz nuttin' 
but a li'l toad-frog whar wuz tryin' ter git outen my 
way." 



307 



ii 



THE MOCKING-BIED AND THE DRY-FLY 



One crisp day in late October Aunt Nancy elected to 
go to mill/' To this end she borrowed the plantation 
cart and the plantation mule^ old Dick, known to Aunt 
Nancy as "Dick-mule." The children were invited to 
go along and joyfully accepted the invitation, for cart 
riding was an entirely novel experience to them. Ned 
sat on the seat with Aunt Nancy and was allowed the 
privilege of handling the whip ; no easy task indeed, for 
Dick was a slow traveler and needed much urging, 
seeming to lose himself entirely, every now and then, in 
little naps by the way, from which he awoke with a 
start as Ned applied the whip. In fact, the little boy's 
arms ached before long and he gave relief to his exas- 
peration by breaking into doggerel to this effect: 

''Oh Dich, Dich, 
You make me sich! 
You better he quick 
Or ril ticMe your hack with this hickory stick. 



)> 



But even this effusion, punctuated by blows from the 
whip, had no effect on Dick ; he was too old a stager for 
that, and he calmly went on his way, giving no sign that 
he was aw^are anything else was expected of him. 
Dick was a well-known plantation character, a privi- 

308 



THE MOCKIXG-BIRD AXD THE DRY-FLY 

leged one at that^ whose ways were familiar to Aunt 
XancY ; so she finally said : ^Mars' Ned, you mought ez 
well putt down dat hickory; tain' no use. Dick-mule 
gwine jes' de way he wanster; you kain't hurry him; 
3'OU jes' was'e yo' bref an' yo' strenk. He nuver 'spec's ter 
do w'at folks want him to ; dat ain' mule manners. But 
mebbe you'll see him humpin' hisse'f on de way home, 
ef he gits strucken wid dat notion an' thinks you done 
gin up de hope er mekin' him go." So Xed ceased to 
ply the hickory and presently gave up his high perch 
by Aunt Xancy to sit with the other children on the 
straw at the bottom of the cart, whose motions, though 
jerky in the extreme, had for them the unfailing charm 
of novelty. The road wound for miles beneath the tall 
pines, down, down into the depths of the woods, where 
it brought up by a deep, dark, still pond, whose exist- 
ence was unguessed until you came full upon it. Here 
was the mill to which all the corn for miles around was 
brought for grinding, a very primitive affair indeed, 
whose counterpart is yet to be found in some of the rural 
districts of the South. The water that furnished the 
motive power was conducted from a higher level, for at 
least a hundred yards, in a narrow wooden trough in 
which were several rude combs to catch obstructions, to 
a tall flume down which it fell on the wheel. The ma- 
chinery was of the rudest, in keeping with all the rest. 
The miller was given no fee in money, but received, in- 
stead, a certain portion or ^^toll" of the grain ground. 
This he measured out in a wooden measure which was 
known as the "toll-dish." Rude and simple as the 
machinery is, the corn-meal turned out from these 
primitive mills produces bread of a sweetness and 

309 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

freshness of flavor unknown elsewhere, one secret of 
which is, no doubt, that families prefer having the 
grinding done in small quantities so that the meal may 
alwavs be fresh. 

After the children had examined the mill and made 
the miller's acquaintance and eaten the luncheon 
brought with them, they settled down to wait for the 
grinding of Aunt N'ancy's meal, for several people had 
arrived before her and she was obliged to await her turn. 
Meanwhile she offered to beguile the time by telling the 
little folks a story. 

"Hit's 'bout de Mockih'-bu'd an' de Drv-flv," she 
began. "One summer Mistah Mockin-bu'd jes' mo'n 
bin havin' a good time. He set out in de woods an' 
sing an' holler an' whustle an' go lak de cat-bu*d an' 
de jay an' ev'y urr kind er bu'd, an' he fool 'em all ; dey 
s'posen 'twuz der mates callin' 'em, an' yer dey come 
a-flyin'; an', bless goodness, 'twan't nuttin' but ol' 
Mockin'-bu'd jes' a-settin' up dar laughin' at 'em. 
Sometimes he'd go lak a hull nes'ful er young bu'ds 
w'en sump'n done got atter 'em, an' den de ol' bu'ds 
'ud come a-twitterin' an' a-fussin', skeert outer der wits, 
an' lo, beholst you, 'twan't nuttin' but him ag'in. Tu'rr 
bu'ds git clean wo' out wid him an' dey ses ter one nu'rr, 
^Xemmine, dat ol' bag-er-shucks gwine git his come- 
uppance yit, you see ef he don' ; ef 'tain' one way hit'll 
be anu'rr; you min' dat, now.' 

"Nex', he pick hisse'f up an' fly off to'des de white 
folkses' house an' perch hisse'f up on a tree in de yard. 
Fus' he'd go lak a dog, an' de cat she'd hump her back 
an' climb up on de smoke-house ter git 'way f'um de 
dogs; an' den he'd go lak a li'l young kitten cryin', 

310 



THE MOCKIXG-BIRD AXD THE DRY-FLY 

an' de cat she'd skite down offen de roof to her kitten. 
Den he'd go lak a dog ag'in an' she'd mek fer de roof 
onct mo'. He kep' dat up *twel he got her fair' 
'stracted, but las' hit come inter her min' jes' ter teck 
de kitten in her mouf an' climb up on de roof wid hit. 
Mockin'-bu'd he see he kain't pester lier no mo', so he 
'mence ter cry lak a li"l chickin wid a hawk atter hit, 
an' ver come Mis' Hen wid her fedders all ruffled and 
her wings spread out, an' yer come de white folks wid 
a gun ter shoot de hawk, an' 'twan't no hawk ter be 
seen. He fool 'em all so often dat he got 'em disguss'id, 
same ez he done de bu'ds. De white folks wuz gwine 
shoot him, but one'r de white gals whar wuz'havin' a 
beau co'te her 'bout dat time, say dey 'bleeged ter spare 
him, "kase he come an' set on de chimbly "mongs' de 
ivry-vines an' sing so sweet in de moonlight. 

"Well, de wedder git hotter an' hotter, an' las' 'long 
come Mistah Drv-flv ies' a-hollerin' an' a kvar'vin on, 
day in an' day out, no let up ; soun' fer all de worl' lak 
a ol' rusty buzz-saw. Mockin'-bu'd no sooner year him 
dan he sav ter hisse'f , sezee : ^Hi I vi I w'at kind er noise 
is dat? I mus' twis' my mouf roun' dat soun' an' den 
do a li'l projeckin' wid hit 'mongs' de creeturs.' 

"Wid dat he twis' his mouf up de way he think hit 
orter be, but lawsv ! 'tain' soun' no mo' lak Drv-flv dan 
I does dis minnit. He set his haid on one side an' lissen 
ag'in an' den try onct mo'. Huh-uh ! wusser dan befo'. 
He whustle an' he bubble an' he nigh mos' bus' his 
th'oat, but 'twan't no use. 

"By dat time tu'rr bu'ds fin' out w'at he'z up to, an' 
dey ga'rr roun' an' lissen at him, an' dey wuz dat 
tickelt at him dat some im 'em come mighty nigh tum- 

311 



AT THE BIG HOrSE 

blin' outer de trees, dey laugh so hard. Dey poke one 
nu'rr in de side an' ses : *^Hysh ! g'way f um yer ! ain' 
I tol' you he gwine meet his match some day? Keep 
hit up, Mistah Dry-fly; don' you stop a minnit, fer ef 
you do, dat rambunkshus bu'd'll fall to an' mummick 
we-all ag'in.' 

"Wid dat, Dry-fly he go on jes' a-buzzin^ an' a-buzzin', 
louder n uver ; but sho ! he ain' need ter do dat, fer 
Mistah Mockin-bu'd wuz dat tuck down in his fedders 
dat he jes' went a-slinkin' off inter de woods an' stayed 
dar, an' he sca'cely opened his mouf all endurin' de 
summer, 'kase he wuz so 'shame' he done met up at las* 
wid a pusson whar he kain't mummick. Tu'rr bu'ds 
dey flew'd roun' an' 'j'yed derse'fs might'l}^ mo'n dey 
done fer a long time, singin' an' chu'ppin', 'kase dey 
knowed no pusson wuz gwineter mek a mock uv 'em, 

"Las' de fros' come, an' Dry-fly he tucken hi?, buzz 
an' went som'ers wid hit whar 'twuz wo'mmer, er else 
de col' done kill him off. Anyways he stop buzzin' wid 
de fus' fros', an' den yer come ol' Mockin'-bu'd, mockin' 
an' trickin' same ez uver an' singin' 'way thu de light- 
nights fer de gal an' her beau 'twel dey mos' thought 
summer done come ag'in. "^Laws-a-mussy !' sez de gal, 
sez she, ^ef yer ain' dat sweet li'l bu'd singin' ag'in. I 
lak ter know huccome he stop so long. Ain' he got jes' 
de nices' li'l voice in de worl'?' 

" ^N"aw, dat he ain',' sez de man, sezee ; ^I heap ru'rr 
lissen at you talkin'.' Den de gal she giggle, an' I 
dunno w'at else dey ses, mebbe not much, but de bu'ds 
wuz jes' a-gabblin' 'bout ol' Mockin'-bu'd. 

" '^Uh-huh !' dey ses, Ver he is back ag'in, big ez life 
an' twict ez natchel. He'z got de imp'ence er de 01' 

312 



THE MOCKIXG-BIRD AXD THE DRY-FLY 

Scratch hisse'f. But elat de way wid dese yer Mistah 
Brags: w'en dey meets up wid der match dey shets der 
moufs mighty tight, but w^en der betters go long an' 
leave 'em ter deyse'f s ag'in, sho ! dey open der moufs 
so wide an' hollers so loud dat decent folks kain't stay 
whar dey is.' 

"An' wid dat dey all went twitterin' off an' lef him 
ter hisse'f. IJver sence den, 'long w'en de wedder git 
right wo'm an' de dry-flies 'mence der buzzin', ef you'll 
pay 'tention you'll notuss dat de mockin'-bu'ds lays 
kind er low an' lets on lak dey think de wedder too wo'm 
fer singin'." 



313 



THE SAUCY YOUXG FROG 



"Tell ITS aniTzzer ^tory^ please?'' begged little Kit, as 
they still sat waiting for the miller to finish grinding 
Aunt ]^ancy's corn. 

"Wat about ?" she asked. 

"Oh, some animal you haven't ever told us about 
before," said Janev. 

Aunt Nancy pondered a while. "I dunno w'at dat 
'ud be,'' she said. " 'Pears ter me I done gin all de 
creeturs a whu'l." After a little more thought, she 
said : "Dat pond putts me in min' uv a tale 'bout a 
frog whar live in jes' sech a place ez dat. I ain' nuver 
tol' you 'bout no frogs." 

"You told us about toad-frogs," said Ned. 

"I knows dat," she said, "but dem ain' frogs. Frogs 
live in de water an' toad-frogs live on de Ian'. Well, 
onct dar wuz a ol' frog whar live in a pond all by his- 
se'f. 'Twuz way ofi^, down in de woods, jes' lak dis, an' 
dark an' still, jes' lak dis. 'Twuz full er fish, an' de 
ol' frog he wuz a gre't fisherman an' ketched so many 
dat he got big an' fat an' his voice got loud an' deep, 
so't you cu'd year him mo'n a mile off. All thu de sum- 
mer evenin's he kep' up his talkin', so loud you cu'd den 
year nuttin' else, an' hit mek folks feel right lonesome 
w'en dey wuz settin' by derse'fs in de dark. Dey cu'd 
year him at hit long ez dey kep' awake, ^jug-jug-er-oom, 

314 



THE SAUCY YOUXG FEOG 

jug-jug-er-oom, jug-er-oom, jiig-er-oom^ jug-er-oom !' 
Ev'y now an' den dey'd year a big splash. Dat 'uz w'en 
he'd go np on de bank an' teck a han'-spring do\^TL in de 
water^ fer he vruz a gre't han' fer divin'. He'd come 
dowTi wid a gre't ker-chug! an' den you cu'd year him 
jes'" a boomin' an' a-bellerin' nnner de water. 

"In de daytime he'd come out on de bank an' sun 
hisse'f an' set up dar winkin' an' blinkin' 'twel he fell 
fas' asleep. One day w'ile he wuz teckin' a nap on de 
bank^ 3'er come 'long a sassy young frog whar bin nut- 
tin' but a li'l tadpole dat ve'y spring. He wuz new ter 
bein' a frog, an' he putt on lots uv airs dat wuz boun' 
ter be tuck outen him sooner er later. He wuz mighty 
proud uy his new green suit wid de white yes', an' he 
wanter g'long som'ers an' show hisse'f off, so he say ter 
his mammy : Olaw, I'se mighty tired er stayin' in dish 
yer li'l ol' pond. I wanter go som'ers an' do sump'n. 
You kain't 'spec' me ter grow up nuttin' but a numb- 
skull in dis ol' mud-hole. I boun' you, dar's heap nicer 
ponds dan dis som'ers, an' I jes' gwineter hop right 
'long an' fin' 'em. So many li'l ol' tadpoles in dish yer 
pond dat I 'clar' hit goes 'gins' de grain fer me ter stay 
yer an' 'sociate wid 'em.' 

" ^Humph I' his mammy say, '^seem ter me you gittin' 
too big fer yo' britches. You wuz bawned an' bringed 
up wid de res' er my fambly in dis pond, an' hit's plumb 
good 'nuff fer you. You gittin' mighty uppish, turnin' 
up yo' nose at de tadpoles, w'en you bin one yo'se'f a 
li'l w'ile back.' 

" ^Yas, dat I wuz, mammy,' sezee, ^ut you see I ain' 
one now, an' dat mek all de diffe'ns in de worl'.' 

" ^Mebbe you gwine fin' out dat dar's wuss things in 

315 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

ponds dan tadpoles/ sez she; ^mebbe yon mought be 
right glad ter git back safe an' soun' ter yo' fambly/ 

" ^I'll teck de resk er dat/ sezee, an' wid dat he clim' 
lip de bank an' went hoppin' off ter see w'at he cu'd see. 

"Well, I done tol' you he got ter de pond whar de big 
frog live an' seed him settin' dar in de sun, fas' asleep. 
He cas' his eye down inter de pond an' see 'twuz full 
er fish an' he say : 'Oh me ! oh my ! wish 't I'd a-brung 
daddy an' mammy an' de chillen. Now ain' dis jes' 
gran' ! I gwine ketch me a good mess er fish an' tote 
some un 'em home an' show mammy I kin do sump'n, ef 
^tain' bin long sence I wuz a tadpole. I don' reckon de 
ol' gemman snoogin' yer on de bank gwine kyare ef I 
ketch some, he got so many in dar. Kain't he'p hit ef 
he do kyare.' 

"Wid dat he lit inter fishin' an' ketched a right good 
mess. Jes' 'bout den de ol' frog woked up an' seed 
w'at de young un wuz doin'. He cu'dden sca'cely b'lieve 
his eyes, sfn' he rub an' rub 'em ter mek sho' dar ain' 
no misteck. 

"Young-frog he wuz talkin' 'way ter hisse'f, sezee: 
^Dar, now, jes' one mo' fish an' I'll be thu an' teck myse'f 
off befo' ol' man Bull-frog wake. Mammy she'll be 
right proud uv me, dat she will.' 

"Jes' den ol' Bull-frog riz up an' tuck him by de 
shoulder, an' sezee, in a turr'ble voice, an' swellin' up 
de big noise-bag beneaf his th'oat : "^01' man Bull-frog, 
hey ? Dat w'at you call me ! Well, you mus' be mighty 
young an' green not ter know better dan ter come yer an' 
teck fish f'um my pond. I don' 'low no one ter teck fish 
f um my pond. I don' 'low no pusson ter fish yer but 



316 



THE SAIJCY YOUXG FEOG 

myse'f. !N"ow w'at 'sense kin 3-011 mek fer yo'se'f, comin' 
ver stealin' fish w'en you see me fas' asleep ?' 

^^"oung-frog he gin a gre't jnmp w'en Bull-frog 
clapped his han' on him, an' his eyes got mo' popped dan 
dey wuz befo'. He let a fish drap outen his han', an' 
he gin de bigges' grin he cu'd wid dat wide mouf er 
his'n, an' he say, sezee : ^Shucks ! is dis yo' pond ? You 
sut'n'y mus' 'sense me. Dis is de ve'y fus' trip I uver 
tucken f'um home, an' I s'pose 'twuz the same yer ez 
'tis in ow' pond ; ev'yb'dy fish dar dat wanter.' 

" *^Xaw, siree !' sez Bull-frog, ^not by a long shot, suh. 
Dish Acer's my pond, dese yer my fish, an' w'en you fish 
outen dar hit's plumb stealin' ; dat's w'at 'tis.' 

" *You don' sesso !' sez Young-frog, sezee, jes' ez sassy 
ez you please. ^Well, ef dat's de case, suh, I kin jes' 
drap de fish right back in de pond an' g'long. I s'pose 
dat'U mek hit all right.' 

"^Naw, dat hit won't!' sez de ol' feller. '^S'pose I 
let you go, how I gwine know you won't come back yer 
ag'in an' bring all yo' fambly wid you an' all git ter 
thievin' in my pond? Xaw, suh, w'en I gits my han' 
on a thief I mos' in gin'l keeps hit dar. Yas, suh, I 
gotter putt you ter def. Xow de queschin is, how I bes' 
do dat ?' 

"Young-frog he say ter hisse'f : ^ 'M ! I blieve 
mammy 'bout ridit. I wish 't I wuz safe at home dis 
ye'y minnit, stidder in de ban's er dish yer pop-eyed, 
big-moufed ol' bladderskite. Xo use ter baig him, I 
see he ain' gwine let me off. I ain' gwine let on I'se 
'feard, neener, 'kase dat 'ud gin him too much sassi- 
f action. I mus' jes' putt on de bes' front I kin an' 
mebbe I'll ffit 'way f'um him yit.' 

317 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

"Den he say out loud: ^Well^ suli^ I 'spec' you'se 
right 'bout dis. You'se older 'n me^ an' I ain' gwine 
'spute wid you. Mammy done I'arn me I mus'n' argyfy 
wid folks older'n w'at I is. So you jes' teck me 'long an' 
do w'at you think bes' wid me.' 

" ^All right/ sez Bull-frog, sezee. ''Kin you gimme 
any notion er w'at be de mos' sho'es' way ter git shed 
uv you, 'kase I wanter mek an' een' er dis ; I ain' w^anter 
do de job over ag'in.' 

"Young-frog think he see a chanct right dar fer git- 
tin' 'way, so he say: ^Well, suh, you mought try one 
way an' den ag'in you mought try nu'rr. Heaps er 
ways, but w'at does you think 'bout th'owin' me in de 
pond ? Dat seem ter me a right easy way, an' sho', too, 
'kase I ain' I'arn ter swim yit.' 

" ''We'll see 'bout dat, suh, later on,' sez Bull-frog, 
sezee. ^Jes' putt on yo' thinkin' cap ag'in an' tell me 
some urr way dat I kin try, fer I ain' so sho' but w'at 
you I'lti swim; you done bin a tadpole, an' dey all kin 
swim.' 

" ^Done fergot all I knowed w'en I wuz a tadpole,' 
sez Young-frog, sezee, ^an' I ain' ketched up wid de 
ways er frogs yit.' 

" 'Nemmine,' sez Bull-frog, sezee, Sve'll see 'bout dat 
ag'in. Tell me some urr way.' 

"Young-frog he stud}^ an' study an' las' he b'lieve he 
see nu'rr way out. He say: ''Well, ef you'll jes' go 
over dar an' git dat piece er rock an' smash hit down on 
me yer whar I set on dis rock, hit'll een' me up in no 
time 't all. Bli]) hit down, an' hit'll jes' smash me fiat 
ez a pancake.' 

"Bull-frog clap his ban's an' say: ^Dat's de ticket! 

318 



THE SAUCY YOUXG FROG 

You siit'n'y got some breens in yo' haid, cf you is young 
an' green. Yer's wliar I gwine do lak you ses. 'Twon't 
teck me but a minnit ter fetch dat rock, an' 'fo' you 
know hit a^ou won't be nowhar's.' 

"Bull-frog hop off after de rock, an', bless goodness, 
his back wuz no sooner turnt dan Young-frog jes' gin 
one gre't spring an' lan'ed in de middle er de pond. 
He went swimmin' off ter tu'rr side an' wuz up de 
bank by de time Bull-frog got back wid de rock. 

"Bull-frog come 'long back, talkin'. He say: 'JTig- 
er-oom ! Jug-er-oom ! Jug-er-oom ! Xow git a good 
raidy, young feller, fer yo' time done come' — an' den he 
see de place wuz empty. ^Whar on yearf is dat pesterin' 
li'l thief er de worl' gone ter ?' sezee, ^jug-er-oom ! jug- 
er-oom ! jug-er-oom !' 

" ''Gone inter de water, suh,' sings out Young-frog 
f'um tu'rr bank. ^I wuz bawnded an' bringed up in de 
water, an' my daddy an' my mammy befo' me. We is 
all fus'-class swimmers, an' you orter knowed better dan 
ter lef me settin' dar 'long side er de water. A gemman 
ol' ez w'at 3'ou is orter be mo' up ter snuff dan a young 
frog whar wuz nuttin' but a tadpole a li'l w'ile back. 
So-long, suh. I gwine home ter tell daddy an' mammy 
an' all de frogs in ow' pond jes' whar dey kin git 'em a 
good mess er fish. So-long, suh, we all be over ter see 
YOU some er dese times w'en de walkin's good an' de 
light nights come.' 

"Y'all kin see f'um dat," added the story-teller, "w'at 
resks chillen run dat don' min' der mammies an' stay 
home an' be sassified, whar dey's tooken good kyare uv. 
An' now yer come de man wid my meal, an' yon's Dick- 
mule jes' natchelly pawin' up de groun', so I reckon we 

319 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

bes^ pile ow'se'fs inter de kyart ef we wanter git home 
'fo' sundown, ^kase dar's no tellin' w'at Dick gwine 
think ^bout hurrvin' hisse'f. Nuttin' mo' onsartin in 
dis worF dan de doin's nv a mule. He dunno hisse'f, 
f 'um one minnit ter de nex'/^ 



320 



THE CRAXE AND THE HUMMING-BIED 

The long visit to Uncle Henry was nearly at an end. 
Next day but one the children and their mother were 
to go North again. So it came about that the little 
folks were once more permitted to spend the evening 
at the cook-house, where there was a goodly gathering, 
presided over by the little hunch-backed cook, Eliza, 
who, as she would have said, had sent out "noration'^ 
that there was to be a grand story-telling for the bene- 
fit of the little white children who were so soon to leave 
them. Sam, the driver, was there, beaming on his 
elderly enchantress with every white tooth in his head. 
Tim, the plow-boy, had brought his banjo and was 
happy in the presence of his coy charmer, Cassy. Aunt 
Throny's grandson, "Wi^yum," was also present, while 
Coonie, the house-boy, constant in his devotion to every- 
thing eatable, was seated on the hearth engaged in 
roasting potatoes in the ashes. 

Of course the two story-tellers, Aunt Nancy and Aunt 
'Phrony, were present, for the occasion would have been 
as nothing without them. These last were rather shy 
of beginning, saying that they "wan't feelin' quite up 
ter hit yit,'' so, by way of raising their spirits to the 
desired pitch, Tim picked his banjo a while, Wi'yum 
did the famous "back-step'^ and Coonie executed a curi- 
ous dance, the performance of which he called "knockin' 

321 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

de 'rang-a-'tang/^ during which he thumped his feet on 
the floor in such an emphatic manner that it seemed as 
if something must give way — either feet or floor. But 
neither did, and the dance reached a safe conclusion 
amidst a great deal of applause and laughter. 

At last the turn of the storv-tellers came, and Aunt 
'Phrony allowed herself to be persuaded to begin. She 
said she would tell the story of the Humming-bird and 
the Crane, as it contained some good advice to young 
men who were courting, and here she rolled her eyes in 
a meaning way at Tim and Cassy. 

"I reckon," she began, "dat mens bin co'tin^ gals uver 
sence de beginnin^ er time, an' I een-about reckon dey 
gwine keep hit up ontwel de een'. Wat's mo', de gals 
alluz bin runnin' on wid 'em, laughin' at 'em one time, 
crvin' 'bout 'em anu'rr, turnin' der backs on 'em one 
minnit, runnin' after 'em de nex' ; an' I s'pose dey gwine 
keejD up dat foolishness long ez de worl' wag. Back in 
de ol' da^'S, dar wuz a gal whar live way out yonner 
som'ers; a mighty harnsome, likely sort er gal, an' all 
de creeturs wuz plumb crazy over her, an' 'spute an' 
kyar' on 'bout who gwine git her, an' sometimes dey had 
reg'ler fist-an'-skull fights 'bout hit. De gal she wuz 
mighty nice to 'em all, runnin' on wid 'em an' sof- 
sawderin' each one w'en she git him off by hisse'f, 'twel 
he think he'z de one she gwine choose, fer sho'. Dat-a- 
way she keep 'em all projeckin' roun' her day in an' day 
out, 'kase she thought she cu'd git ma'ied any time she 
git raidy ter quit her foolishness, jes' de way dese yer 
good-facetet gals is mighty ap' ter think dey kin' do, 
dough sometimes dey keeps hit up jes' a li'l too long an' 
fines derse'fs high an' dry on de she'f. Las' her folks 



THE CRAXE AXD THE HUMMIXG-BIRD 

git ^feard dat mebbe dat de way she gwine do, an' dey 
tell her she mus' mek her choice an' git ma'ied. 

"De bn'ds dey wuz kind er lis'nin' roun', ar/ dey got 
de news er dis firs', an' dey ses ter one nii':' :: dat dey 
gwine 'cide de marter wid a race, startin' 'way off f um 
de gal's house an' w'ichuver got dar fus' ww-: ter have" 
her. 

"Gal she ain' say nuttin', jes' grin at 'em all lak she 
alluz do, an' dey g'long off ter de startin' place jes' mo'n 
'spntin' an' argyfyin' wid one nn'rr. Las' dey got so 
rantankerons dat nios' nn 'em wnz plumb 'j'eard ter go 
inter de race fer fear dey mought be tore limb f um limb 
ef dey did git de gal. Las' dar wan't but th'ee lef dat 
wuz willin' ter mek de trial, an' dem wuz de Tukkey 
an' de Crane an' de Hummin'-bu'd. Tukkey he start 
off mighty biggitty an' flewed a li'l ways at a big bus' er 
speed, but he wuz too haivy ter keep dat up long, so he 
lit an' tried ter run 'long de groun', but sho ! he done f er- 
got de time de cunjerers putt a lot er li'l bones in his 
laigs so's't he cu'dden run fas'. He seed tu'rr bu'ds wuz 
gittin' so fur ahaid uv him dat 'twan't no use ter try, so 
he say ter hisse'f, sezee: ^Shucks! let me out en dis; I 
ain' want nuttin' ter do wid no sech a hurrah's-nes' ez 
dish yer is ; dar ain' no gals livin' dat's wuf hit. Lemme 
git back ter my home an' stay dar in peace an' quiet.' 
So he went swingin' off home, an' dat lef nob'dy in de 
race but de Crane an' de Hummin'-bu'd. 

"De Crane mighty sho' he gwine beat, 'kase he have 
sech long laigs, an' Hummin'-bu'd sho' he cu'd beat, 
'kase er de swif'ness uv his wings. Crane say ter hisse'f, 
sezee, ^Humph ! I ain' got dese yer long laigs fer nut- 
tin' ; I gwine beat dat li'l no-kyount Hummin'-bu'd ter 

323 ^ 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

flinders/ an' Hummin'-bu'd he say ter hisse'f, sezee, 
^Shucks ! how kin dat gre't, gawkin', long-legged creetur 
think he gwine keep up wid me? Hit's plumb rank 
foolishness fer me ter keep goin' night an' day, so I 
jes' gwine res' me off good at night, an' in de mawnin' 
I kin soon ketch up wid ol' Crane an' pass him on de 
road.' 

"So Hummin'-bu'd he res' off all night, an' Crane he 
go on an' on, an' w'en mawnin' come an' he see dat 
Hummin'-bu'd ain' kotch up wid him, he say ter hisse'f, 
he say, ^Lazy li'l rascal, I boun' you he 'z sleepin' yit, an' 
I 'spec' de sun be good an' high befo' he crawls out, so 
I jes' gwine stop right yer at dis pond an' git me a snack 
er frogs, 'kase dish yer night-trabel done wo' me to a 
frazzle an' lef me empty ez a go'de.' Wid dat he stop 
at de aidge er de pond an' stan' dar on one laig, waitin' 
an' watchin' fer de frogs. He wuz a pow'ful good fisher- 
man an' mighty fond er frogs. He cu'd spy 'em an' run 
'em thu wid his bill 'fo' dey knowed w'at had 'em. He 
stood dar stuffin' an' stuffin' hisse'f 'twel he clean fergot 
how de time wuz passin', an' fus' news he knew yer come 
de Hummin'-bu'd an' pass him lak a streak er lightnin'. 
He call out ez he pass, ^Heyo ! Mistah Crane, teckin' hit 
easy, I see, suh. Dat's right ; don' yo' hurry yo'se'f fer 
nuttin' ner nob'dy, let 'lone a gal. So-long, suh ; hope 
you git dar in time fer de weddin'.' Crane he hurry 
hisse'f might'ly atter dat, but he wuz stuff' so full dat 
trabelin' wuz hard wu'k, an' he ain' see Hummin'-bu'd 
ag'in dat day. 

"Well, dey kep' hit up dat-a-way, one stoppin' ter res' 
by night an' tu'rr stoppin' ter eat by day, 'twel de las' 
day done come. Crane he 'cide ter do widout a snack 

324 



THE CRAXE AXD THE HUMMIXG-BIRD 

dat day, an' he putt on a big bus' uv speed an' got ter de 
gal's house 'bout noon. Jes' a minnit atter^, yer come 








Hummin'-bu'd, all a-flutterin' an' a-flusterin', an' dat 
mad dat he ain' kin see straight, 'kase he los' de race 

325 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

jes' by dat one luinnit. De trufe wiiz he done overslep' 
hisse'f er he moiiohter heat ol' Crane widout half trvin'. 

"Now de gal she wanted de Hummin'-buVl ter beat, 
an' she wuz might'ly putt out w'en she see de Crane wuz 
de winner, so she mek up her min' dat she oon tek 
neener one uv 'em, an' w'en Crane step up ter claim her 
she say, '^Xaw, suh, 'scuse me, suh. Xex' time you mek 
a bargum I 'vize you ter ax de cornsent er de lady. 
Y'all tol' me you gwine run a race, but is you uver 
year me say I gwine ma'y de winner ? N'aw, suh, I ain' 
say nuttin' 't all. Mistah Crane, yer, he done think 
heap mo' uv his dinner dan he do er me, an' Mistah 
Hummin'-bu'd think too much uv his natchel slumbers, 
an' you bofe done bin too sho' er gittin' me. You mus' 
nuver be sho' uv anvthino^ w'en vou'se co'tin' a o-al, leas' 
UV all, de gal husse'f . An' now I ain' gwine teck neener 
one'r you. I gwine teck dish yer King-fisher whar bin 
settin' yer jes' a-cotin' an' a-cotin' me w'ile y'all bin off 
on dat race.' 

"So dat de way she tuck an' done, an' de Crane an' de 
Hummin'-bu'd jes' hatter turn tails an' go home, an' 
my daddy, w'en he tol' me de tale, say dat uver sence 
den, w'en de medincin'-men cunjer ter fin' out who 
gwine ma'y who, dey names de on lucky beads atter de 
Crane an' de Hummin'-bu'd, an' de lucky bead dey call 
atter de King-fisher." 



326 



THE FOX AXD THE HOT POTATOES 



After the stor}^ of the Crane and the Humming-hird, 
'Liza, playing the role of impartial hostess, called on 
Aunt iSTancy to take part in entertaining the com • 
pany. 

"Naw, ma am. Sis' 'Liza, please 'sense me dis evenin'/' 
said she ; "de mis'ry in my f ootses dat bad dey feels lak 
two plumb chunks er pain, an' my haid ache me so's't 
I kain't year myse'f think, let 'lone study 'bout sech ez 
dem ol' tales. You please, ma'am, ter 'sense me." 

But the company fully understood that, like many an 
entertainer in more exalted circles of society. Aunt 
Nancy wanted coaxing, and between their compliments 
on the one hand and on the other sundr}^ sniffs from 
Aunt 'Phronv, which seemed intended to cast discredit 
upon the old woman's miseries of head and feet, she was 
finally induced to relent. 

She was about to besfin, when she fell to laudiins: 
immoderately at Coonie, who had burned his fingers in 
pulling a hot potato from the ashes, and was sucking 
them vigorously with man}?- grimaces and exclamations. 
When she could speak for laughing, she explained that 
it had reminded her of one time when Mr. Fox pulled 
hot potatoes from the ashes for the benefit of Mis' Molly 
Hare and her family. 

" 'Twuz one winter night," she said, "one'r dem nights 
w'en ol' Jack Fros' jes' goes a-whoopin' an' a-hollerin' 
roun' de house, whustlin' thu de keyholes, an' rattlin' 

327 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

de winders, an' retchin' up thn de cracks in de fio' an' 
pinchin' folks by de toes. 01' man Hyar' an' Mis' 
Hyar' an' de chillen wnz all scrunched up by de fire 
tryin' ter keep wo'm^ waitin' an' watchin' fer de 'taters 
whar wuz roas'in' in de ashes. 

" ^Lawsy ! lawsy !' sez de ol' man, stretchin' hisse'f an' 
knockin' de ashes outen his pipe, ^lawsy ! lawsy ! dar ain' 
nuttin' in dis livin' worl' gwine roust me outen de house 
dis night. I gwine stay right yer 'long wid y'all an' 
toas' my shins an' smoke my pipe. Hits col' 'nuf? out- 
side ter freeze de hawns offen a buff'ler. 01' ooman, 
git out de cider-jug an' le's we have a li'l dram all 
roun' ter wo'm us up, an' by dat time de 'taters '11 be 
good an' done.' So Mis' Hyar' she drammed 'em all 
roun' wid, cider, an' den she 'mence ter scratch out de 
'taters, w'ile de chillen sot up on der ha'nches watchin' 
her wid der big, bright eyes an' wu'kkin' der noses an' 
smackin' der chops lak dey kain't sca'cely Avait. Dat 
mus' 'a bin a sight. Mis' Molly scratchin' 'way in de 
ashes wid her li'l ol' white cotton tail turnt up in de 
air an' her behime footses jes' a-flyin'. 

"W'ile she wuz wu'kkin', de chillen dey wuz grabbin' 
de 'taters, an' de ol' man he hatter do a li'l cuffin' an' 
scoldin'. He say, ^You Jumper an' Thumper! I want 
you ter stop snatchin' f 'um Bunny an' Honey ; dem's de 
babies, an' dey kain't look out fer derse'f s ; you orter be 
'shame' er yo'se'f s ! Winker an' Blinker, you neenter 
think I dunno you'se snougin' 'taters an' hidin' 'em be- 
hime yo' backs. Putt 'em back an' go sheers all roun', 
er I come dar an' cuff you good, so he'p me bob !' 

"Mis' Hyar' she go on scratchin' an' she git mighty 
wo'm. Las' her footses 'mence ter smart, and she say, 

328 



THE FOX AXD THE HOT POTATOES 



^Lan' er de livin' ! dish yer too hot fer me ; lemme git out 
whar I kin cool my paws; nemmine ef I gits de chil- 
blains ; mought ^z well freeze up ez burn up/ 

"Wid dat she mek fer de do', an' w'en dey open hit, 
dar stood Mistah Fox, jes' a-shiverin' an' a-shakin' wid 




u - 



L 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

de col'. Mi?' ;^^ollv she say, 'Heyo ! Mistah Fox; dish 
yer's a nice, wo'm evenin' you done selected fer yp' 
visit. Will you have a cheer jes' outside de do' ?' 

"Fox he say, wid his toofs jes' a-clatterin' an' a-chat- 
terin', sezee, Tlease, ma'am. Mis' Molly Cotton-tail, ter 
lemme come in dis ve'y minnit an' don' stan' dar pro- 
jeckin' wid me, 'kase I is friz ter de marrer an' I'se 
'bleeged ter git thawed out er else drap right yer in my 
tracks.' 

" 'Well,' sez ]\Iolly, sez she, 'I dunno 'bout lettin' you 
in; dish yer a mighty col' night, an' we-all got jes' a 
han'ful er fire an' a lot er paws ter be wo'med at hit, 
fer you know I got some 'leven er mo' chillen in my 
fambly, but I reckon I mought mek out ter let you in 
ef you'll unnerteck de job er diggin' a lot er 'taters out en 
de ashes.' 

" 'Lemme git in,' sez de Fox, sezee, Tse good fer all 
night at dat job ; jes' lemme git my footses in dem ashes 
onct an' I ain' gwine teck 'em out in a hurry.' 

"Hyar' she say, 'Walk in an' mek yo'se'f at home ; we 
gwine gin you a mighty wo'm welcome,' an' right dar 
she grin behime Fox's back an' wunk at ol' man Hyar'. 
'Grit yo' mouf s raidy, now, chillen I' she sing out ter de 
young uns, an' ol' Fox jes' lit inter scratchin', lak all 
possessed, an' de chillen sot dar an' gobbled 'taters fas- 
ter'n he cu'd dig ^em out. Las' he 'gin ter git kind er 
wo'm, an' he say, 'Ouch ! ouch I ! ouch ! ! !' Mis' Hyar' 
sa}^, 'W'at de marter, Mistah Fox, ain' yo' feet wo'm 
yit ?' 

"Fox he ain' say nuttin', jes' go on a-seratchin'. but 
pres'n'y his foo'tses wuz dat scorched an' swinged dat he 
cu'dden stan' hit, an' he say, 'Jimminy Crick ! ^lis' 

330 



THE FOX AND THE HOT POTATOES 

Hyar', you mus' lot me off on dis job, you sho'ly mus'. 
I reckon cle chillen done got der fill by dis time, any- 
hows/ 

" ^Xaw, mammy, dat we ain' ! mek him go on/ dey 
sez, an' Mis' Hyar' she say, 'You year dat now. I kain't 
let my chillen go hongry, so I 'bleeged ter ax you ter 
go on, er else me an' my ol' man gotter fling you out 
dar in de fros'.' 

"Fox he set an' study a minnit 'bout w'icht wuz de 
wuss, de fire er de fros', an' las' he mek up his min' ter 
try de fire a li'l longer. Sidesen dat he wuz in de hopes 
er gittin' a 'tater fer his own sheer 'fo' dey wuz all gone. 
So he go on wid de scratchin' fer a w'ile, an' las' he 
kain't stan' hit no longer an' he bus' out ter yellin', 'Ow ! 
ow ! ow ! ouch ! lemme outen dis ! putt me in de fros' er 
any place whar I kin cool my footses ! m-m-m-m-umph ! 
mv footses done bu'nt clean offen me !' 

"Dat wuz de trufe, too, an' w'en Mis' Hyar' see Fox 
ain' got no footses ter scratch wid no mo', dey jes' tuck 
him an' flung him out in de col' an' shet de do' on him. 
He went limpin' long li'l ways, colder'n uver, an' jes' 
a-studyin' how he gwine git back by dat fire. Pres'n'y 
he met up wid nu'rr Fox, a li'l young feller, easy ter 
fool, an' he say ter him, sezee, '^Heyo, young man, w'at 
vou doin' canterin' roun' dis col' nio-ht; does 3^0' 
mammy know yo're out? You better come 'long go 
back wid me ter ol' man Hyar's. Dey got a rip-roarin' 
fire dar an' a lot er 'taters roas'in', an' dey'll let you git 
wo'm an' gin you a 'tater, too, jes' fer pullin' 'em outen 
de ashes.^ 

"]\ristah Young-fox say, ^Well, !^^^stah Slickry-sly, I 
ain' k}^are ef I do.' So dey sr'long back ter ol' Hyar's 

331 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

house an' knock, an' Slickry he 'splain dat he done 
brung someb'dy ter pull 'taters outen de ashes, so Mis' 
Hyar' she 'vite 'em in an' set de young feller ter wu'k. 

"He wuz mighty peart 'bout hit at fus', but I let you 
know 'twan't long 'fo' he slack up, an' pres'n'y he wuz 
gruntin' an' groanin' an' lickin' his paws. 01' Fox he 
sot dar an' aigged him on an' et taters wid de fambly 
an' hollered an' laughed w'en las' Young-fox drap a hot 
tater an' bolt fer de do'. '^Don' be in sech has'e,' he call 
out after him; ^you gwine fin' mighty col' wedder out- 
side.' 

"Mis' Hyar' she putt on a solium look an' she say, 
she do, ^Mistah Slickry Sly-fox, ain' you 'shame' ter 
mek fun er yo' feller creetur?' 

"Fox he 'spon', ^Naw, dat I ain'. You done yearn 
befo' now dat mis'ry love comp'ny. You don' s'pose I 
wuz gwine be de on'ies' fox in dese diggin's whar go 
limp in' roun' wid stumps fer footses? Naw, suh, not 
ef de co'te know hitse'f, an' hit think hit do.' 

"01' man Hyar' let on lak he wuz clean outdone wid 
sech talk, an' he jes' tucken his foot 'way f'um Fox an' 
lan'ed him plumb outside de do', an' he say, sezee, ^Teck 
dat, now, an' g'long, an' don' you come yer no mo' talkin' 
no sech a way ez dat befo' my li'l chillen; I don' want 
'em ter I'arn sech 'havishness ter der feller creeturs. 
You year me, suh ! now mosey, befo' I teck my foot 'way 
f'um you ag'in. I don' wanter hurt you, 'deed I don'.' 

"Den he shet de do' an' come back, an' Mis' Hyar' she 
cuff de chillen all roun' fer scrabblin' in de ashes an' 
gittin' derse'fs dirty, an' den dey all went ter baid an' 
slep' jes' ez soun' ez ef dey ain' bu'nt de footses off en de 
foxes an' den turnt 'em a-loose in de col'." 

332 



THE FUXERAL OF ME. DOG- 



"Aimt Xaney/' said Ned, after the story of the Fox 
and the hot potatoes, "do you remember telling us a story 
about Mrs. Dog and the way she chased old Mr. Fox? 
Do you know any more stories about her ?" 

"Lemme see 'bout dat/' she said. "]\Iebbe I does, but 
I kain't jes' lay my finger 'pun hit dis minnit. My back- 
days is gittin' way fum me so fas' dat I hatter stop 
now an' den ter git a fraish holt on 'em, lessen I wants 
'em ter git clean out er sight." 

She pondered a little while, with her head on one side, 
and then resumed : "Seem lak I kain't jes' 'zackly think 
uv anu'rr tale 'bout ol' Mis' Dog, but I does 'member 
one 'bout de fun'l er Mistah Dog. One time noration 
wuz sont out thu all de kyountry dat Mistah Dog done 
daid an' Mistah Owl gwine preach de fun'l sarmint, an' 
ev'y pusson mus' come ter year hit. Some er de creeturs 
jes' jumped up an' down an' clapped der ban's an' cut all 
sorts er shines, 'kase he bin worryin' an' pussecutin' an' 
chasin' 'em 'twel dey wuz 'feard ter stick der haids outen 
der holes. 

"So ev'yb'dy putt on der bes' riggin' an' sot out fer de 
preachin'. Mistah Hyar' he g'long pas' Mistah Fox's 
an' he sing out, ^Oh, ^listah Fox, is you yearn Mistah 
Dog done daid?' Fox he 'spon', he do, 'Is Mistah Dog 
daid? I ain' b'lieve dat; hits too good ter be true. I 
know he gwine chase me many a time yit.' 

333 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 



(( <-' 



""Yas/ sez Hyar', sezee, ^lit's de gospil trufe. De 
fim'l gwine be preached dis day, an' you mus' come 
'long er me.' 

"So dey sot out fer de preacliin', whar ev'yb'dy wuz 
tryin' mighty hard to behave solium. Owl he perched 
up on a branch uv a tree whar he cu'd look down on de 
folks, an' he putt on his specs an' cl'ared his th'oat an 
coughed, an' den sezee, ^My 'specful yearers, we is al 
ga'rrd toge'rr dis day fer a sad an' mo'nful 'casion, an 
yit not so mo'nful, neener, 'kase ef de trufe mus' be tol 
— an' dat's w'at I'se yer fer, dear sinner fren's — I 'spec 
mos' uv you is-rej'ycin' an' givin' thanks fer de takin 
off er Mistah Dog, 'kase he wuz de foe uv peace an 
quiet an' de natchel-bawn inimy uv ev'y one'r you-all. 
Ez fer me, my min' done tore in two 'bout dis, fer I 
kain't rej'j^ce widout medjure; my inj'yment is chasten' 
by de fac' dat I has de haivy job er preachin' dish yer 
sarmint, an' yit I is sut'n'y glad he gone, fer he done 
done so much damagement an' kilt so many sheep an' 
hyar's.' 

"Eight dar ol' Hyar' he groan an' he say, sezee, ^as, 
Lawd !' an' de Sheep he say, Trufe, too !' an' tu'rrs all 
jine in wid, ^Year dat wu'd, now, do !' 

"Owl he go on: ^But li'l chillen, I gotter say unter 
you dat you has yo' lesson ter I'arn f'um de suddint 
teckin' oif er ]\Iistah Dog. How you know you is'n' 
gwine be tucken off, too, in de midse er yo' sins, in de 
same lak manner? Who kin tell dat to-morrer some er 
you won't be layin' whar Mistah Dog is, all strouded an' 
raidy fer de grave? I stan' yer lookin' each one'r you 
in de eye an' scannin' de continents er yo' face, an' I 



331 



THE FUXEEAL OF MR. DOG 

kin see dat some er 3-011 is layin' right at de gates iiv 
iniquity, kickin^ yo^ heels ter git in, an' I ses nnter you, 
look atter de sjoin' er yo' davs, riu'ht ver an' now. You 
gotter gin up all dese yer fine fancies er de worl', whar 
ain' wuff shucks, nohows, not even w'en deys tricked out 
in pupple an' fine linen an' gilted all roun' wid gol'. 
Look on dis col' cawpse an' teck de warnin' ! Yit I ain' 
gwine say he got no chanct, atter all, 'kase he wuz a 
mighty good fren' ter Mistah Man, an' tuck good kyare 
er de house by night an' by day, an' dat sarvice gwine be 
'membered. Yas, my fren's, I 'spec' Mistah Dog gv\ine 
sho'ly be saved atter all. An' now y'all kin sing sump'n 
an' den come up, one by one, decint an' in order, fer de 
las' viewin' er de cawpse.' 

"De creeturs go up an' look at him an' den come back 
an' whusper 'mong derse'fs. Wolf he say, sezee, 'Well, ef 
he is daid, I'se glad he daid, 'kase he done chase me 
'nuff, lawd knows I he orter been daid long 'go.' Tarr'- 
pin he laugh, an' sezee, 'Mistah Owl done tol' us Mistah 
Dog sho'ly saved. Well, dat's mo'n Brer Wolf uver gwine 
be,' an' tu'rrs all laugh at de Joke, an' all un 'em have 
sump'n ter say 'bout Mistah Dog. 

"x\tter de fun'l wuz preached dey wuz fixin' fer de 
burryin-, an' Hyar' he say, sezee, Tren's, I he'p y'all 
wid pledjure an' be tickelt inter de bargum.' 

"Wolf he sa}^ he do, 'Dog-my-cats, ef I b'lieve he daid, 
atter all ! I ain' gwine he'p hurry him.' 

"Tarr'pin he say, 'I bin trabelin' sence befo' sun up ; 
I'se too mawtul tired ter think 'bout han'lin' dat kyar- 
kiss.' 

'Mis' 'Possum she say, 'Well, you see I got all dese 



335 



i(^ 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

chillen er mine hangin' outer me by der tails. A ooman 
wid chillen settin' all over her back de way mine is kaint 
ve^y well he'p wid de biirryin\' 

"Fox he say, ^Y'all kin see fer yo'se'fs dat I got my 
footses mos' bn'nt offen me. A man all lame' np dis-a- 
way oon be much use ter you, dat's sut'n. Ef 'twan't 
fer dat I be glad ter he'p.' 

"Dey all kep' on dat-a-way, mekin' 'senses, 'twel las' 
dar wan't none lef but de Hyar' an' de Sheep, so dey 
s'lected dem out ter hurry Mistah Dog, an' atter dey done 
digged de pit an' go ter putt him in, Hyar' he say, ^You 
go down fus', Brer Sheep.' Sheep he sa}', ^Ba-a-a, I ain' 
b'lieve I kin,' an' wid dat H3^ar' gin him a shove dat 
sont him down de hole, an' den he jumped in right on 
him, so's't de fall wuz mighty sof an' easy fer him. 

"All dis time Mistah Dog wuz layin' 'sentially still an' 
quiet, an' tu'rrs picked him up an' passed him down de 
hole ter Mistah Hyar' an' Mistah Sheep, but Wolf he 
kep' a li'l ways off, 'kase he wan't so sho' Mistah Dog 
good an' daid. 

"Dog he jes' bin a-lettin' on all dis time, an' w'en he 
wuz clean down de hole an' dev 'mence ter chunk dirt 
on him, he wake up mighty suddint, an' he say, sezee, 
^Uh-huh ! gwine hurry me, is y'all ? Putt me 'way in de 
midse er my sins, is you ? I let you know I ain' ez daid 
ez I look. Mebbe some er you-all gwine have vo' fun'l 
sarmint preached befo' I needs one.' 

"Wid dat he mek a grab at Mistah Hyar' an' Mistah 
Sheep, an' dat wuz de las' uv 'em bote, fer dey cu'dden 
git outer de hole widout he'p, an' tu'rr creeturs jes' 
tucken ter der heels an' went a-seootin' widout waitin' 
ter see w'at happen, ol' Wolf at de haid er de gang, 

336 



THE FUXERAL OF ME. DOG 

^kase he bin waitin' out on de aidge er de crowd, ^spectin' 
sump'n gwine happen, fer he knowed de ways er ^listah 
Dog. 

"Fer so lons^ time ol' Wolf went visitin' roun' de 
naberhoods ^lowin', ^Dar ! I done tol' you Mistah Doo; 
wan't daid I I done toF you so ! ]\Iebbe nex' time you 
pay me some 'tention w'en I talk.' He kep' on dat-a-way 
'twel folks got plumb wo' out wid him, an' dey'd git 
outen de way w'en dey seed him comin'. I tell you, folks, 
dat sort er talk mek a man mighty onpop'lous. I done 
study 'bout hit a heap an' I mek up my min' dat's 
huccome some er de prophits ter git stoned in de ol' 
days; fus' dey tol' de people, 'Dis thing gwine happen,' 
an' den w'en hit come ter pass dey go roun' sayin', 
^Uh-huh ! ain' we-all done tol' you so ?' Seem lak folks 
jes' kain't stan' dat, nohows; 'pears lak we ain' made 
so's't we kin; de flaish too weak, an' dem 'ar prophits 
orter knowed dat." 



337 



HOW THE DEER LOST HIS UPPER TEETH 

Aunt 'Phrony followed up the last story with, one 
which dealt with that tricky little fellow, Mr. Hare. 
"You chillen," she commenced, "mebbe kin 'member, an' 
den ag'in mebbe you kain't, de tale I done toF you onct 
'bout de creeturs teckin' Vav de hawns f'um ol' Hvar' an' 
puttin' 'em on Mistah Deer's haid. Well, den, Hyar' he 
bin a-studyin' an' a-studyin' how he gwine git even wid 
him fer dat. So one day w'en he wuz settin' by de road, 
gnorrin' on de bark uv a black locus', 'long come Mistah 
Deer jes' a-lopin' by. Hyar' call out ^lowdy' to 'im, an' 
he stop and pass de time er day. He see Hyar' jes' 
a-gnorrin' 'way an' he say, he do, Tiawsy, Mistah Hyar', 
w'at pow'f ul fine toof s you got. Huccome dey so sharp ?' 

"Hyar' he say, sezee, 'Thanky, suh, my toofs is right 
good and sharp, an' dis huccome dey so, dey ain' grow 
dat-a-way; I oon have 'em ef I did n' wu'k fer em; I 
done whet 'em myse'f er dey ain' be dis-a-way. Jes' look 
at me gnor dis bark. Lemme see yo' toofs, suh.' 

"Deer he putt down his haid an' open his mouf wide, 
an' Hyar' he tucken him by de tongue an' peer inside, lak 
he might'ly consarned 'bout de state er Mistah Deer's 
toofs. He putt on a solium look an' shuk his haid an' 
say, sezee, ^My ! my ! Mistah Deer, yo' toofs is in a pow'- 
ful bad wav. I dunno 't all how you mek out ter chaw yo' 
vittles ; you mus' hatter gobble 'em down hull ; I boun' 

^338 




"mistah deer, yo' toofs is in a pow'ful bad way" 



HOW THE DEER LOST HIS UPPER TEETH 

ef de trufe wiiz knowed, 3^0' stummick all out er order. 
Yoii better lemme fix up dese toofs fer you 'fo' dey gits 
any wusser ^n w'at dey is; better let me whet 'em fer 
you.' 

"Deer he Tow dat he have bin feelin' right squawmish 
in de stummick yer lately, an' he 'low, he do, ^I ain' bin 
blamin' hit on de toofs, but I reckon you'se right, an' ef 
you kin fix me up wid a outfit er vittle-'stroyers lak yo'n, 
jes' you go ahaid an' do hit, quick 'z you kin.' 

^' '^All right,' sez Hyar, sezee, T'm yo' man ; I gwine 
fix you up so's't you'll s'prise yo'se'f an' all yo' fambly, 
an' 'twon't be long 'fo' you'll fin' 3'0'se'f so fatted up dat 
liT mo' an' you'd come bustin' thu yo' hide.' Wid dat 
he go off an' git him a rock an' den he come back an' 
say, ^Xow, ol' man, jes' lay yo' haid back an' open yo' 
mouf wide an' gimme good elber-room an' I'll have you 
all whetted up in a jiff, so sharp 't you kin bite tenpenny 
nails in two ef you wanter.' 

"Deer he 'low, 'Oh, lawsv ! Mistah Hvar', I'se 'feard 
you gwine hu't me, deed I is !' 

" Traidy-calf !' sez Hyar', sezee, ^low you reckon I 
gwine hu't you wid dis li'l ol' no-kyount rock. But I'll 
jes' g'long an' leave you wid dem mis'able stumps in yo' 
mouf, ef vou sesso, douoli I had hit in min' ter fix vou 
so's't you cu'd mek yo' livin' heap easier dan you does 



now.' 



"Deer he feel kind er 'shame' uv hisse'f an' he 'low, 
'Oh, go ahaid, suh; reckon I ain' 'fesrrd uv a li'l thing 
lak dat ; I bin runnin' roun' thu dese woods 'mongs' 
de b'ars an' de wil'cats an' de wolfs too Ions: ter be 
'feard er w'at a li'l feller lak vou kin do ter me. Go on 



wid de grindin'.' 



339 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

"Hyar' lie clum up on a stump whar he cu'd reach 
good, an' den he jes' rub an' rub an' rub on Mistah 
Deer's upper toofs. Wen he got 'em groun' half-way 
down, Deer he think hit 'mence ter feel mighty queer an' 
he say, sezee, "Look-a-yer, ^listah Hyar', w'at you doin' 
to me ? I 'clar' dat don' feel right, 'deed hit don'.' 

" ^Is dasso ?' Hyar' 'low. ^Wv I is s'prise'. But nem- 
mine, you gwine feel all right torreckly. I'se jes' 
'mencin' ter git a nice aidge on yo' toofs, an' w'en I'se 
thu wid you, you kin gnor de bark offen de saplin's an' 
git yo'se'f sump'n ter eat sidesen dish yer trifiin' moss 
you bin livin' off all dis time. I gwine fix you up so's't 
you kin gnor anything you 've a min' ter.' 

"Deer he 'low, ^N'ame er gracious ! go on, den, in fer a 
penny, in fer a poun' ! but don' be long 'bout hit, fer I 
mighty nigh wo' out.' He kep' gruntin' an' groanin' 
an' screwin', wid de col' shivers runnin' up an' down his 
back, an' Hyar' he kep' on grindin' an' grindin' 'twel po' 
ol' Deer ain' have nuttin' but de stumps uv his upper 
toofs lef in his haid. 

Den Hyar he 'low, ^Dar you is now, Mistah Deer, right 
ez a trivet, suh; jes' g'long an' gnor on de bark er dem 
saplin's 3^onner, an' I boun' you you'll be s'prise' ter fin' 
how easy 'tis.' 

" '^Thanky, suh, all right, suh,' sez de Deer, sezee, ^I 
sut'n'y is 'bleeged ter you. I bin wantin' me sump'n 
diff'nt ter eat dis long time,' an' wid dat he walk over ter 
de saplin's. 

"Hyar' he 'mence sneakin' an' slidin' off, but he ain' 
go fur ; he hide behime a tree an' watch ter see w'at Deer 
gwine do. AY'en Deer fine out he kain't gnor de bark 't 
all, an' dat his upper toofs mos' all gone, he jes' stomped 

340 



now THE DEER LOST HIS TPPEPt TEETH 

his huf s an' r'ared 'roun'. '^Wuf less li'l bunnel er trash I' 
he saj. T wish 't I had 'im ver on one'r dese hawns er 
mine dis ve'v minnit. I boun' you I'd show 'im hue- 
come ! Gone an' done me outer my toofs, wid nnttiu' 
lef but a ache in phice uv 'em/ an' ^-id dat he shuk his 
hawns an' jes' r'ared 'roun' 'twel Hyar' wuz mos' 'feard 
ter show hisse'f . 

"Las he cu'dden keep back his imp'ence no longer, so 
he stick his haid out an' say, ^Hi ! yi ! Mistah Deer, you 
'pears ter be kind er stove up 'bout de toofs, ef I ain' mek 
no misteck. Ain' dat a pity ! sho' ! sho' ! I'se s'prise' you 
trus' me wid dat Job, I sut'n'y is, 'kase you moughter 
knowed I wuz gwine git even wid 3'ou fer wearin' dem 
hawns de creeturs tucken 'wa}" f um me, w'en you knowed 
dev wuz mine bv rio-hts. I reckon you done fer^fot how 
you drug me befo' de kyouncil, a pris'ner, but I tell you, 
suh, I ain' fergit hit; I bin waitin' all dis time ter 
git even, an' I 'low dat I done come up wid you, fer 
folks Inn do widout hawns, but dey kain't git "long ve'y 
well widout toofs, lessen dey teck ter swollerin' sop- 
Yittles. Ain' dat de trufe? I leave hit ter you, suh, 
'kase I knows dat you in a fix ter know all 'bout hit.' 

"Wid dat he let out a big hoot an' step' off home 
widout waitin' ter look l:»ehime, an' lef ol' Deer chawin' 
off de li'l buds an' young twigs, an' dat w'at de deers 
bin doin' uver sence, 'kase dey ain' got no upper toofs 
wuf speakin' uv ter do der chawin' wid." 



341 



THE HAEE DISAPPEAES FOE EA^EE 



"Umpli!'^ said Eliza, when she had heard how the 
Deer came to have such short upper teeth. ^'Uniph ! I 
know Deer felt bad widout dem toofs; I know he did, 
^kase I done los' my own, an' dish yer thing uv gommin' 
hit ain' w'at hits cracked up ter be, Meed hit ain'. Hit 
don' s'prise me dat Deer wuz mad wid ol' Hyar'. I 
reckon dey kep' mighty cle'r uv one nu'rr atter dat 
^spe'yunce/' 

" 'Deed dey ain', den," said x\unt 'Phrony. "Co'se 
Hyar' he try ter keep outen de way fer a li'l w'ile, but 
Deer he let on ter be frenMy an' familious, waitin' fer 
de chanct ter git even wid him, an' dat th'ow Hyar' oifen 
his gyard, an' he git so, pres'n'}^, dat he ac' jes' 'z dough 
nuttin' done happen 'twix' 'em. Hit run on lak dat 
ontwel one time w'en Hyar' wuz gwine roun' tendin' ter 
be a doctah an' meddlin' an' muddlin' wid de sick folks. 

"One day a baby git scalted wid hot water an' go ter 
crvin' an' hollerin' so dev kain't do nuttin' wid him. 
Hvar' he come dat wav an' he sav, he do, '^Hi ! w'at on 
yearf is de marter wid dat chil'? He howl wusser'n 
any ol' wolf on de mountain; done split my years f'um 
top ter bottom.' 

"Dey tol' 'im w'at wuz de marter wid de chil', an' he 
say, sezee, "^Jes' lemme see dat chil'; I'se a doctah, an' 
I boun' you I kin gin him sump'n dat '11 ease de pain 
an' mek him stop cryin', fer I tell you p'intedly dat I'se 
a fuss'-class doctah, an' ef anv un you feelin' kind er 

342 






THE HAEE DISAPPEAES FOE EVEE 

doncey he better insult me 'bout hit right now, 'kase 
I dunno w'en he gwine git de chanet ag'in/ 

•^Well/ dey ses ter him, Vat kin you do fer burns ?' 
^You lemme 'lone fer dat/ sezee. "^I does hit wid 
water, but ef I wuz ter tell you jes' how, de chawm done 
be bruk. You mus' putt me in de house an' den shet 
de do' an' fill up all de chinks an' den go 'way a li'l 
piece, fer I mus' be so't eye kain't see ner year lissen 
at me.' 

" ^All right,' dey ses, an' den dey went ter w'uk fillin' 
up de chinks, dobbin' 'em wid clay, an' w'ile dey 'z doin' 
dat Hyar' he sa'nter roun' kind er kyarless an' f oun' a 
li'l hole whar he cu'd git out ef an}i:hing wuz ter hap- 
pen, 'kase he seed de baby wuz nigh mos' daid an' he'z 
'f eard dey mought blame him fer hit. ^My, my !' he sez 
ter hisse'f, '^I didn' s'pose de chil' wuz dat bad off er 
I oon 'a tol' 'em I wuz a doctah. I wish I wuz safe 
outer dis, but I gotter go thu wid hit now. My ! my ! dis 
shows me I better stick ter de trufe atter dis.' 

"Well, de folks got de dobbin' done an' den dey 
walked 'way f'um de house a piece ter see w'at gwine 
happen. Hyar' he tuck an' tuck de baby an' soused hit 
in de water an' de chil' gin one onyearfly yell an' den 
wuz still, an' Hyar' he see dat 'twuz plumb daid, an' he 
say ter hisse'f, sezee, ^Come on, Doctah Hyar', le's we-all 
git outen dis in a hurry ef we know w'at good fer us,' 
an' he ga'rr hisse'f toge'rr ter spring out er de hole. 

"Xow, de mammy er de chil' she done stay behime ter 
lissen, an' w'en she year de baby yell she call ter de res', 
'Come yer, quick, all er you I hurry up fas' 'z you kin I 
Dat owdacious hypermocrit done kill my chil', I know 
he have I Bus' in de do'; you-all, an' nab him 'f o' he kin 

343 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

git off. Ef he done hurt my chi? I ain' gwine leave one 
spear er h3''a'r on his mis' able hide ! You year me now !' 

"So de folks come a-runnin' an' bus' in de do' an' 
foun' de chil' layin' dar daid. Hyar' he run outen de 
hole^ an' de ooman she set de dogs on 'im an' dey chased 
him inter a hole in de tree an' stood dar keepin' gyard 
ontwel de ooman come up. De people rushed up, yellin' 
an' callin', an' de dogs wuz darnsin' roun' yappin' an' 
yowlin', an' de ooman wuz cryin' an' kyar'yin' on an' 
bellerin', '^Oh, lemme git at him; jes' lemme putt my 
han's on him onct an' he'll wish he'd died 'fo' he wuz 
bawned !' 01' Hyar' think his time done come fer sho'. 

"De ooman tucken a stick an' twis' hit roun' in de 
tree, an' she say, sez she, ^Um-umph ! got you now, mis'a- 
ble li'l thief-an'-body-snatcher ! Atter you wid a sharp 
stick, sho' 'nuS. Gwine git you dis time!' Las' she 
twis' him outen de tree an' he fall right inter her lap. 
She snatched him by de scruff er de neck an' 'gun ter 
lamm him fus' on one jaw an' den on tu'rr, talkin' at 
him all de time, ^Kill my baby, will you ! Meddle wid 
de doctah's trade, will you ! Play de torm-f ool wid us 
all, will you ! Teck dat, now ! an' dat ! an' dat !' 

"De ooman she done skunt one'r his laigs wid de stick, 
an' hit 'mence ter smart him right much, so he say, 
mighty meek an' numble, Tlease, ma'am, fer ter let 
me down a minnit w'ile I fix my laig; hit done smart 
me lak a hull nes'ful er wast-es. Kill me ef you gotter, 
but, fer de Ian' sake, lemme fix dis laig fus' !' 

"De ooman wuz fool 'nuff ter let him down, an' I 
boun' ter let you know dat he did'n' let de grass grow 
unner his footses; not him. He wuz off an' hid 'way 
down in de woods in a kyave quicker'n I kin tell hit. 

344 



• THE HAEE DISAPPEAES FOP EVER 

"De ooman cu'dden tell how in de name er goodness 
she gwine git even wid him, so she call all de folks to- 
ge'rr an' ax 'em f er ter he'p tell her how ter do hit. Wiles 
dey wuz talkin' long come de Deer, an' year w'at dey 
sav, an' he sez, sezee, ^Sho' ! dat's easy ez rollin' offen a 
log. Leave dat ter me ; I'se de man whar kin fix np dis 
job. Wy, I kin sen' dat feller clean over de ocean, so 
fur he nuver kin git back ag'in, ef yon sesso.' 

"De folks hilt a li'l confab an' mek np der min's dey 
bes' let Deer git redd er de Hyar'. ^ 'Deed dat I will/ 
sezee, an' he went sa'nterin' 'long, jes' ez gaily ez you 



v/^ 




AT THE BIG HOUSE 

please down inter de woods. Hvar' yearn him comin' 
an' peeped outer de kyave ter see who ^twuz. Wen he 
see 'twuz Deer he mek up his min*' ter come out an' pass 
de time er day wid him, 'kase he thouoht Deer wuz his 
fren' an' wuz fool 'nuff ter s'pose Deer done fergot all 
'bout havin' his toofs groun' down. So he come pran- 
cin' out, jes' ez peart ez a lizzud. 

'^Deer he say, ^Howdy, ol' man ; whar you bin keepin' 
yo'se'f all dis time? Mus'n' hide yo'se'f 'way f'um yo' 
f ren's ; dey jes' natchelly kain't git 'long widout you. I 
come ter ax you ef you oon lak ter go 'long er me an' teck 
a li'l walk dish yer fine day. Do you good; you look 
kinder pindlin'.' 

"Hyar' kind er tired er stayin' in de kyave all 'lone, 
so he say, '^Dat I will ! I'se mo' tickelt dan a b'ar wid a 
bee-gum ter see you onct mo'. Pow'ful lonesome, suh, 
roun' dese diggin's, pow'ful lonesome; dis de fus' time 
I uver 'spicioned dat I wuz n't good comp'ny.^ 

"Dey went romantin' thu de woods an' pres'n'y dey 
come to a branch, an' Deer he say ter ol' Hyar', ^Well, 
now, my soople-jack fren', does you tliink you kin jump 
dish yer ?' 

" 'Dat I kin,' sez Hyar', sezee, ^a li'l ol' narrer stream 
lak dis ; dis nuttin' 't all. Kin you ?' 

" ^Oh, I reckon I mought mek out ter spraddle ^cross 
somehows,' sez Deer, ^le's we-all step back a piece an' gin 
a run an' a spring toge'rr an' see w'icht kin cle'r de 
branch bes'.' 

"^All right,' sez Hyar, sezee, an' wid dat dey run 
to'des de branch. Hyar' he gin a monst'ous jump dat 
Ian' him clean on tu'rr side, but Deer ain' jump 't all, 
jes' stan' at de aidge er de branch laughin'. Hyar' he 

346 



THE HAEE DISAPPEAES FOE EVEE 

baig him f um tu^rr side not ter be 'feard but ter ga'rr 
his laigs toge'rr an' jump lak he have some sense an' 
not stan' dar grinnin' hik a plumb iji't. 

"De mo' he baig de mo' Deer stan' still, an' pres'n'y 
de branch 'mence ter git wider an' wider 'twel hit look 
'zackly lak de ocean, an dat's w'at 'twuz, sho' 'nuff, fer 
Deer was a mighty big cunjerer in dem days, an' he done 
made de ocean look narrer ez a branch, so's't he eu'd fool 
ol' Hyar'. Wen he got him across he tucken de spell 
oSen Hyar's eyes an' let him see dat he done cross over 
de ocean an' kain't git back ag'in, an' dar whar he bin 
uver sence, dat ol'-time mischief-mekin' Gre't Hvar'. 
Dish jeT w'at we have now is jes' a li'l no-kyount, harm- 
less kin er his'n, an' all dat's lef er de ol' doin's is jes' 
dese yer tales w'at I bin tellin' you. But dish yer's de 
las' uv him, 'kase I done sont him clean 'cross de big 
water, so I kain't tell you no mo' uv his doin's, even ef 
you wuz ter be yer ter year me tell 'em, w'ich dat you 
won' be; you gwine be fur 'nuff 'way f'um we-all an' 
all vo' kinrv," and here the old woman threw her arms 
about the children and led the very sincere chorus of re- 
gret from these humble friends who had added so much 
to the pleasure of the visit and whom they were not 
to see again. For the old plantation was sold not many 
years after, and their mother never went back. 

WTien the children were grown they wandered once 
more to the spot which had been the home of their an- 
cestors for more than a. hundred vears, but all was 
changed, all the faces unfamiliar, and Aunt 'Phrony 
and Aunt Xancy lay peacefully beneath the spreading 
trees of the old negro burial-lot back of the garden, 
where so many faithful black heads had been laid in the 

347 



AT THE BIG HOUSE 

> 

da3^s that were gone, — those unreturning days when be- 
tween the white man and the black were confidence and 
esteem and faith and trust and affection. As they turned 
away from the spot they sighed regretfully for these 
things^ gone as utterly and surely as Molly Hare her- 
self has vanished from the firesides of her once cordial 
hosts, banished by the arts of a powerful conjuror 
who performs many wonderful feats and incantations 
through the agency of twenty-six nimble little charac- 
ters, known as the letters of the alphabet. 



348 



; . I f n J 1 J J : :