Gateway to the Classics: Nights with Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris
 
Nights with Uncle Remus by  Joel Chandler Harris


[Illustration]

Mr. Benjamin Ram Defends Himself

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

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

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

"Ole Brer Fox bin pickin' up ole Mr. Benjermun Ram chilluns w'en dey git too fur fum home, but look lak he ain't never bin git close ter de ole creetur.

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

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

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

" 'Lordy, Brer Fox! I dunner w'at kinder man is you, nohow! W'y, dat ar ole creetur ain't never hurted a flea in all he born days—dat he ain't,' sezee.

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

" 'Heyo, Brer Wolf! manys de time dat you bin hongry 'roun' in deze diggin's en I ain't year talk er you makin' a meal off'n Mr. Benjermun Ram,' sezee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"He knock at de do', he did, en co'se he 'speck somebody fer ter come open de do'; but stidder dat, lo' en beholes yer come Mr. Benjermun Ram 'roun' de house. Dar he wuz—red eye, wrinkly hawn en shaggy head. Now, den, in case lak dat, w'at a slim-legged man lak Brer Wolf gwine do? Dey ain't no two ways, he gwine ter git 'way fum dar, en he went back ter whar Brer Fox is mo' samer dan ef de patter-rollers wuz atter 'im.

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

" 'You may be puny in de min', Brer Wolf, but you ain't feelin' bad in de leg, 'kaze I done seed you wuk um.'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Fus' Brer Wolf try ter ontie hisse'f, den he tuck'n broke en run'd, en he drag ole Brer Fox atter 'im des lak he ain't weigh mo'n a poun', en I let you know hit 'uz many a long day 'fo' Brer Fox git well er de thumpin' he got."

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

"Dey ketches lam's, honey, but bless yo' soul! dey ain't ketch deze yer ole-time Rams wid red eye en wrinkly hawn."

"Where was Brother Rabbit all this time?"

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

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


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