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

"Cutta Cord-La!"

To all appearances Daddy Jack had taken no interest in Uncle Remus's story of the horses' tails, and yet, as soon as the little boy and Aunt Tempy were through laughing at a somewhat familiar climax, the old African began to twist and fidget in his chair, and mumble to himself in a lingo which might have been understood on the Guinea coast, but which sounded out of place in Uncle Remus's Middle Georgia cabin. Presently, however, his uneasiness took tangible shape. He turned around and exclaimed impatiently:—

"Shuh-shuh! w'en you sta't fer tell-a dem tale, wey you no tell um lak dey stan'? 'E bery bad fer twis' dem tale 'roun' un 'roun'. Wey you no talk um stret?"

"Well, Brer Jack," said Uncle Remus, smiling good-humoredly upon the queer little old man, "ef we done gone en got dat ar tale all twis' up, de way fer you ter do is ter whirl in en ontwis' it, en we-all folks 'll set up yer en he'p you out plum twel Mars John comes a-hollerin' en a-bawlin' atter dish yer baby; en atter he done gone ter bed, den me en Sis Tempy yer we ull set up wid you plum twel de chickens crow fer day. Dem's de kinder folk we all is up yer. We ain't got many swimps en crabs up yer in Putmon county, but w'en it come ter settin' up wid comp'ny en hangin' 'roun' atter dark fer ter make de time pass away, we er mighty rank. Now den, Brer Jack, I done call de roll wid my eye, en we er all yer 'ceppin' dat ar 'Tildy gal, en 't won't be long 'fo' she'll be a-drappin' in. Run over in yo' min', en whar my tale 'uz wrong, des whirl in en put 'er ter rights."

"Shuh-shuh!" exclaimed the old African, "Oona no git dem tale stret. I yed dem wey me lif; 'e soun' lak dis: One tam dem bittle bin git bery skace. Da rice crop mek nuttin'; da fish swim low; da bud fly high. Hard times bin come dey-dey. 'E so hard, dem creeturs do git honkry fer true. B'er Rabbit un B'er Wolf dey come pit bote 'e head tergerrer; dey is mek talk how honkry dey is 'way down in da belly.

"Bumbye, B'er Rabbit, 'e shed 'e y-eye, 'e say dey mus' kill dey gran'mammy. B'er Wolf say 'e mek 'e y-eye come wat'ry fer yeddy da talk lak dat. B'er Rabbit say:—

" 'Ki, B'er Wolf! da water come in you' y-eye wun you is bin honkry. Me y-eye done bin-a come wat'ry so long tam befo' I bin talky wit' you 'bout we gran'mammy.'

"B'er Wolf, 'e der keep on cryin'; 'e wipe 'e y-eye 'pon 'e coat-sleef. B'er Rabbit, 'e bin say:—

" 'Ef you is bin tek it so ha'd lak dis, B'er Wolf, 'e bery good fer kill-a you' gran'mammy fus', so you is kin come glad ag'in.'

"B'er Wolf, 'e go dry 'e y-eye un kill 'e gran'mammy, un dey is bin tek 'im gran'mammy off un sell um fer bittle. Dun dey is bin eat dis bittle day un night tell 'e all done gone. Wun-a tam come fer B'er Rabbit fer kill 'e gran'mammy, B'er Wolf, 'e go bisitin' 'im. 'E say:—

" 'B'er Rabbit, I is bin-a feel honkry troo un troo. Less we kill-a you' gran'mammy.'

"B'er Rabbit lif' up 'e head high; 'e lahff. 'E shekky one year, 'e shed-a one eye. 'E say:—

" 'Eh-eh, B'er Wolf, you t'ink I gwan kill-a me gran'mammy? Oh, no, B'er Wolf! Me no kin do dat.'

"Dis mek B'er Wolf wuss mad den 'e is bin befo'. 'E fair teer de yet' wit' 'e claw; 'e yowl sem lak Injun mans. 'E say 'e gwan make B'er Rabbit kill 'e gran'mammy nohow.

"B'er Rabbit say 'e gwan see 'im 'bout dis. 'E tek 'e gran'mammy by da han'; 'e lead um way off in da woods; 'e hide um in da top one big cocoanut tree: 'e tell um fer stay deer."

The mention of a cocoanut tree caused the little boy to glance incredulously at Uncle Remus, who made prompt and characteristic reply:—

"Dat's it, honey; dat's it, sho'. In dem days en in dem countries dey wuz plenty er cocoanut trees. Less we all set back yer en give Brer Jack a livin' chance."

" 'E hide 'e gran'mammy in top cocoanut tree," continued Daddy Jack, "un 'e gi' um lilly bahskit wit' cord tie on um. In de day-mawnin', B'er Rabbit, 'e is bin go at da foot da tree. 'E make 'e v'ice fine: 'e holler:—

" 'Granny!—Granny!—O Granny! Jutta cord-la!'

"Wun 'e granny yeddy dis, 'e let bahskit down wit' da cord, un B'er Rabbit 'e fill um wit' bittle un somet'ing t'eat. Ebry day dey is bin-a do dis t'ing; ebry day B'er Rabbit is come fer feed 'e granny.

"B'er Wolf 'e watch, 'e lissun; 'e sneak up, 'e creep up, 'e do lissun. Bumbye, 'e do yeddy B'er Rabbit call; 'e see da bahskit swing down, 'e see um go back. Wun B'er Rabbit bin-a go 'way fum dey-dey, B'er Wolf, 'e come by da root da tree. 'E holler; 'e do say:—

" 'Granny!—Granny!—O Granny! Shoot-a cord-la!'

"Da ole Granny Rabbit lissun; 'e bin lissun well. 'E say:—

" 'Ki! how come dis? Me son is no talky lak dis. 'E no shoot-a da cord lak dat.'

"W'en B'er Rabbit come back da granny is bin-a tell um 'bout somet'ing come-a holler shoot-a da cord-la, un B'er Rabbit, 'e lahff tel 'e is kin lahff no mo'. B'er Wolf, 'e hidin' close; 'e yed B'er Rabbit crackin' 'e joke; 'e is git bery mad.

"Wun B'er Rabbit is gone 'way, B'er Wolf bin-a come back. 'E stan' by da tree root; 'e holler:—

" 'Granny!—Granny!—O Granny! Jutta cord-la!'

"Granny Rabbit hol' 'e head 'pon one side; 'e lissun good. 'E say:

" 'I bery sorry, me son, you bin hab so bad col'. You' v'ice bin-a soun' rough, me son.'

"Dun Granny Rabbit is bin peep down; 'e bin say:—

" 'Hi! B'er Wolf! Go 'way fum dey-dey. You no is bin fool-a me lak dis. Go 'way, B'er Wolf!'

"B'er Wolf, 'e come bery mad; 'e grin tell 'e tush bin shiŁn. 'E go in da swamp; 'e scratch 'e head; 'e t'ink. Bumbye, 'e go bisitin' one Blacksmit', un 'e ahx 'im how kin 'e do fer make 'e v'ce come fine lak B'er Rabbit v'ice. Da Blacksmit', 'e say:—

" 'Come, B'er Wolf; I run dis red-hot poker in you' t'roat, 'e mekky you talk easy.'

"B'er Wolf say, 'Well, I lak you for mekky me v'ice fine.'

"Dun da Blacksmit' run da red-hot poker in B'er Wolf t'roat, un 'e hu't um so bad, 'tiss-a bin long tam befo' B'er Wolf kin tekky da long walk by da cocoanut tree. Bumbye 'e git so 'e kin come by, un wun 'e git dey-dey, 'e holler:—

" 'Granny!—Granny!—O Granny! Jutta cord-la!'

"Da v'ice soun' so nice un fine da' Granny Rabbit is bin t'ink 'e B'er Rabbit v'ice, un 'e is bin-a let da bahskit down. B'er Wolf, 'e shekky da cord lak 'e is put some bittle in da bahskit, un dun 'e is bin-a git in 'ese'f. B'er Wolf, 'e keep still. Da Granny Rabbit pull on da cord; 'e do say:—

" 'Ki! 'e come he'ffy; 'e he'ffy fer true. Me son, 'e love 'e Granny heap.'

"B'er Wolf, 'e do grin; 'e grin, un 'e keep still. Da Granny Rabbit pull; 'e do pull ha'd. 'E pull tel 'e is git B'er Wolf mos' by da top, un dun 'e stop fer res'. B'er Wolf look-a down, 'e head swim; 'e look up, 'e mout' water; 'e look-a down 'g'in, 'e see B'er Rabbit. 'E git skeer, 'e juk on da rope. B'er Rabbit, 'e do holler:—

" 'Granny!—Granny!—O Granny! Cutta cord-la!'

"Da Granny Rabbit cut da cord, un B'er Wolf is fall down un broke 'e neck."

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