There was some comment and some questions were asked by the little boy in regard to Wattle Weasel and the other animals; to all of which Uncle Remus made characteristic response. Aunt Tempy sat with one elbow on her knee, her head resting in the palm of her fat hand. She gazed intently into the fire, and seemed to be lost in thought. Presently she exclaimed:—
"Well, de Lord he'p my soul!"
"Dat's de promise, Sis Tempy," said Uncle Remus, solemnly.
Aunt Tempy laughed, as she straightened herself in her chair, and said:—
"I des knowed dey wuz sump'n' 'n'er gwine 'cross my min' w'en I year talk 'bout dat ar sheep by de chinkapin tree."
"Out wid it, Sis Tempy," said Uncle Remus, by way of encouragement; "out wid it; free yo' min', en des make yo'se'f welcome."
"No longer'n Sunday 'fo' las', I 'uz 'cross dar at de Spivey place en I tuck'n year'd a nigger man tellin' de same tale, en I 'low ter myse'f dat I'd take'n take it en kyar' it home en gin it out w'en I come ter pass de time wid Brer Remus en all uv um. I 'low ter myse'f I'll take it en kyar' it dar, en I'll des tell it my own way."
"Well, den," said Uncle Remus, approvingly, "me en dish yer chap, we er willin' en a-waitin', en ez fer Brer Jack over dar, we kin say de same fer him, 'kaze I up en year 'im draw mighty long breff des now lak he fixin' fer ter snort. But you neenter min' dat ole creetur, Sis Tempy. Des push right ahead."
"Ah-h-h-e-e!" exclaimed Daddy Jack, snapping his bright little eyes at Uncle Remus with some display of irritation; "you tek-a me fer be sleep ebry tam I shed-a me y-eye, you is mek fool-a you'se'f. Warrah yarrah garrah tarrah!"
"Brer Remus!" said Aunt Tempy, in an awed whisper, "maybe he's a-cunju'n un you."
"No-no!" exclaimed Daddy Jack, snappishly, "me no cuncher no'n' 't all. Wun me cuncher you all you yeddy bone crack. Enty!"
"Well, in de name er de Lord, don't come a-cunju'n wid me, 'kaze I'm des as peaceable ez de day's long," said Aunt Tempy.
Uncle Remus smiled and closed his eyes with an air of disdain, caught from his old Mistress, the little boy's grandmother, long since dead.
"Tell yo' tale, Sis Tempy," he said pleasantly, "en leave de talk er cunju'n ter de little nigger childun. We er done got too ole fer dat kinder foolishness."
This was for the ear of the little boy. In his heart Uncle Remus was convinced that Daddy Jack was capable of changing himself into the blackest of black cats, with swollen tail, arched back, fiery eyes, and protruding fangs. But the old man's attitude reassured Aunt Tempy, as well as the child, and forthwith she proceeded with her story:—
"Hit seem like dat one time w'en Brer Rabbit fine hisse'f way off in de middle er de woods, de win' strike up un 'gun ter blow. Hit blow down on de groun' en it blow up in de top er de timber, en it blow so hard twel terreckerly Brer Rabbit tuck a notion dat he better git out fum dar 'fo' de timber 'gun ter fall.
"Brer Rabbit, he broke en run, en, Man—Sir! w'en dat creetur run'd he run'd, now you year w'at I tell yer! He broke en run, he did, en he fa'rly flew 'way fum dar. W'iles he gwine 'long full tilt, he run'd ag'in' ole Mr. Lion. Mr. Lion, he hail 'im:—
" 'Heyo, Brer Rabbit! Wat yo' hurry?'
" 'Run, Mr. Lion, run! Dey's a harrycane comin' back dar in de timbers. You better run!'
"Dis make Mr. Lion sorter skeer'd. He 'low:—
" 'I mos' too heavy fer ter run fur, Brer Rabbit. W'at I gwine do?'
" 'Lay down, Mr. Lion, lay down! Git close ter de groun'!'
"Mr. Lion shake his head. He 'low:—
" 'Ef win' lierbul fer ter pick up little man like you is, Brer Rabbit, w'at it gwine do wid big man like me?'
" 'Hug a tree, Mr. Lion, hug a tree!'
"Mr. Lion lash hisse'f wid his tail. He 'low:—
" 'Wat I gwine do ef de win' blow all day en a good part er de night, Brer Rabbit?'
" 'Lemme tie you ter de tree, Mr. Lion! lemme tie you ter de tree!'
"Mr. Lion, he tuk'n 'gree ter dis, en Brer Rabbit, he got 'im a hick'ry split en tie 'im hard en fast ter de tree. Den he tuck'n sot down, ole Brer Rabbit did, en wash his face en han's des same ez you see de cats doin'. Terreckerly Mr. Lion git tired er stan'in' dar huggin' de tree, en he ax Brer Rabbit w'at de reason he ain't keep on runnin', en Brer Rabbit, he up'n 'low dat he gwine ter stay der en take keer Mr. Lion.
"Terreckerly Mr. Lion say he ain't year no harrycane. Brer Rabbit say he ain't needer. Mr. Lion say he ain't year no win' a-blowin'. Brer Rabbit say he ain't needer. Mr. Lion say he ain't so much ez year a leaf a-stirrin'. Brer Rabbit say he ain't needer. Mr. Lion sorter study, en Brer Rabbit sot dar, he did, en wash his face en lick his paws.
"Terreckerly Mr. Lion ax Brer Rabbit fer ter onloose 'im.
Brer Rabbit say he fear'd. Den Mr. Lion git mighty mad, en he 'gun ter beller wuss'n one er deze yer bull-yearlin's. He beller so long en he beller so loud twel present'y de t'er creeturs dey 'gun ter come up fer ter see w'at de matter.
"Des soon ez dey come up, Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n 'gun ter talk biggity en strut 'roun', en, Man—Sir! w'en dem yuthers see dat Brer Rabbit done got Mr. Lion tied up, I let you know dey tuck'n walked way 'roun' 'im, en 't wuz many a long day 'fo' dey tuck'n pestered ole Brer Rabbit."
Here Aunt Tempy paused. The little boy asked what Brother Rabbit tied Mr. Lion for; but she did n't know; Uncle Remus, however, came to the rescue.
"One time long 'fo' dat, honey, Brer Rabbit went ter de branch fer ter git a drink er water, en ole Mr. Lion tuck'n druv 'im off, en fum dat time out Brer Rabbit bin huntin' a chance fer ter ketch up wid 'im."
"Dat's so," said Aunt Tempy, and then she added:—
"I 'clare I ain't gwine tell you all not na'er n'er tale, dat I ain't. 'Kaze you des set dar en you ain't crack a smile fum de time I begin. Ef dat'd 'a' bin Brer Remus, now, dey'd 'a' bin mo' gigglin' gwine on dan you kin shake a stick at. I'm right down mad, dat I is."
"Well, I tell you dis, Sis Tempy," said Uncle Remus, with unusual emphasis, "ef deze yer tales wuz des fun, fun, fun, en giggle, giggle, giggle, I let you know I'd a-done drapt um long ago. Yasser, w'en it come down ter gigglin' you kin des count ole Remus out."