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

Old Brer Terrapin Gets Some Fish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Brer Mink, sezee: 'Whar I gwine ketch um, Brer Tarrypin, ef I ain't ketch um in de creek?'

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

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

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

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

" 'Dat's me,' sez Brer Mink, sezee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Wid dat, down dey went, but Brer Tarrypin ain't mo'n dove 'fo' up he come, en w'iles Brer Mink 'uz down dar honin' fer fresh a'r, he tuck'n gobble up de las' one er de fish, ole Brer Tarrypin did. He gobble up de fish, en he 'uz fixin' fer ter pick he toof, but by dis time Brer Mink bleedz ter come up, en ole Brer Tarrypin, he tuck'n slid down in de water. He slid so slick," said Uncle Remus, with a chuckle, "dat he ain't lef' a bubble. He ain't stay down long, n'er, 'fo' he come up en he make lak he teetotally out er win'.

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

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

" 'Wat I done now, Brer Tarrypin?'

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

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

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

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

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

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

" 'I ain't gwine ter git mad long wid you, Brer Mink, 'kaze hit's a mighty keen trick, but you oughter be 'shame' yo'se'f fer ter be playin' tricks on a ole man lak me—dat you ought!'

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


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