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

A Dream and a Story

"I dreamed all about Brother Fox and Brother Rabbit last night, Uncle Remus," exclaimed the little boy when the old man came in after supper and took his seat by the side of the trundle-bed; "I dreamed that Brother Fox had wings and tried to catch Brother Rabbit by flying after him."

"I don't 'spute it, honey, dat I don't!" replied the old man, in a tone which implied that he was quite prepared to believe the dream itself was true. "Manys en manys de time, deze long nights en deze rainy spells, dat I sets down dar in my house over ag'in de chimbley-jam—I sets dar en I dozes, en it seem lak dat ole Brer Rabbit, he'll stick he head in de crack er de do' en see my eye periently shot, en den he'll beckon back at de yuther creeturs, en den dey'll all come slippin' in on der tip-toes, en dey'll set dar en run over de ole times wid one er n'er, en crack der jokes same ez dey useter. En den ag'in," continued the old man, shutting his eyes and giving to his voice a gruesome intonation quite impossible to describe,—"en den ag'in hit look lak dat Brer Rabbit'll gin de wink all 'roun', en den dey'll tu'n in en git up a reg'lar juberlee. Brer Rabbit, he'll retch up en take down de trivet, en Brer Fox, he'll snatch up de griddle, en Brer B'ar, he'll lay holt er de pot-hooks, en ole Brer Tarrypin, he'll grab up de fryin' pan en dar dey'll have it, up en down, en' roun' en 'roun'. Hit seem like ter me dat ef I kin git my mine smoove down en ketch up some er dem ar chunes w'at dey sets dar en plays, den I 'd lean back yer in dish yer cheer en I'd intrance you wid um, twel, by dis time termorrer night, you'd be settin' up dar at de supper-table 'sputin' 'longer yo' little brer 'bout de 'lasses pitcher. Dem creeturs dey sets dar," Uncle Remus went on, "en dey plays dem kinder chunes w'at moves you fum 'way back yander; en manys de time w'en I gits lonesome kaze dey ain't nobody year um 'ceppin' it's me. Dey ain't no tellin' de chunes dey is in dat trivet, en in dat griddle, en in dat fryin'-pan er mine; dat dey ain't. W'en dem creeturs walks in en snatches um down, dey lays Miss Sally's pianner in de shade, en Mars John's flute, hit ain't nowhars."

"Do they play on them just like a band, Uncle Remus?" inquired the little boy, who was secretly in hopes that the illusion would not be destroyed.

"Dey comes des lak I tell you, honey. W'en I shets my eyes en dozes, dey comes en dey plays, but w'en I opens my eyes dey ain't dar. Now, den, w'en dat's de shape er marters, w'at duz I do? I des shets my eyes en hol' um shot, en let um come en play dem ole time chunes twel long atter bed-time done come en gone."

Uncle Remus paused, as though he expected the little boy to ask some question or make some comment, but the child said nothing, and presently the old man resumed, in a matter-of-fact tone:—

"Dat dream er yone, honey, 'bout Brer Fox wid wings, fetches up de time w'en Brer Fox en Brer Wolf had der fallin' out wid one er n'er—but I 'speck I done tole you 'bout dat."

"Oh, no, you have n't, Uncle Remus! You know you have n't!" the little boy exclaimed.

"Well, den, one day, atter so long a time, Brer Wolf en Brer Fox dey got ter 'sputin' 'longer one er n'er. Brer Wolf, he tuck'n 'buse Brer Fox kaze Brer Fox let Brer Rabbit fool 'im, en den Brer Fox, he tuck'n quol back at Brer Wolf, kaze Brer Wolf let ole man Rabbit lakwise fool 'im. Dey keep on 'sputin' en 'sputin', twel bimeby dey clinch, en Brer Wolf, bein' de bigges' man, 't would n't a bin long 'fo' he'd a wool Brer Fox, but Brer Fox, he watch he chance, he did, en he gin 'im leg bail."

"Gave him what, Uncle Remus?"

"Gin 'im leg bail, honey. He juk loose fum Brer Wolf, Brer Fox did, en, gentermens, he des mosey thoo de woods. Brer Wolf, he tuck atter 'm, he did, en dar dey had it, en Brer Wolf push Brer Fox so close, dat de onliest way Brer Fox kin save he hide is ter fine a hole some'rs, en de fus' holler tree dat he come 'cross, inter it he dove. Brer Wolf fetcht a grab at 'im, but he wuz des in time fer ter be too late.

"Den Brer Wolf, he sot dar, he did, en he study en study how he gwine git Brer Fox out, en Brer Fox, he lay in dar, he did, en he study en study w'at Brer Wolf gwine do. Bimeby, Brer Wolf, he tuck'n gedder up a whole lot er chunks, en rocks, en sticks, en den he tuck'n fill up de hole what Brer Fox went in so Brer Fox can't git out. Wiles dis wuz gwine on, ole Brer Tukky Buzzud, he wuz sailin' 'roun' 'way up in de elements, wid he eye peel fer bizness, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he glance lit on Brer Wolf, en he 'low ter hisse'f, sezee:—

" 'I'll des sorter flop down,' sezee, 'en look inter dis, kaze ef Brer Wolf hidin' he dinner dar wid de expeck'shun er findin' it dar w'en he come back, den he done gone en put it in de wrong place,' sezee.

"Wid dat ole Brer Tukky Buzzud, he flop down en sail 'roun' nigher, en he soon see dat Brer Wolf ain't hidin' no dinner. Den he flop down furder, ole Brer Buzzud did, twel he lit on de top er de holler tree. Brer Wolf, he done kotch a glimpse er ole Brer Buzzud shadder, but he keep on puttin' chunks en rocks in de holler. Den, present'y, Brer Buzzud, he open up:—

" 'W'at you doin' dar, Brer Wolf?'

" 'Makin' a toom-stone, Brer Buzzud.'

"Co'se Brer Buzzud sorter feel like he got intruss in marters like dis, en he holler back:—

" 'Who dead now, Brer Wolf?'

" 'Wunner yo' 'quaintance, w'ich he name Brer Fox, Brer Buzzud.'

" 'Wen he die, Brer Wolf?'

" 'He ain't dead yit, but he won't las' long in yer, Brer Buzzud.'

"Brer Wolf, he keep on, he did, twel he done stop up de hole good, en den he bresh de trash off'n his cloze, en put out fer home. Brer Tukky Buzzud, he sot up dar, he did, en ontankle his tail fedders, en lissen en lissen, but Brer Fox, he keep dark, en Brer Buzzud ain't year nuthin'. Den Brer Buzzud, he flop he wings en sail away.

"Bimeby, nex' day, bright en early, yer he come back, en he sail all 'roun' en 'roun' de tree, but Brer Fox he lay low en keep dark, en Brer Buzzud ain't year nuthin'. Atter w'ile, Brer Buzzud he sail 'roun' ag'in, en dis time he sing, en de song w'at he sing is dish yer:—

" 'Boo, boo, boo, my filler-mer-loo,

Man out yer wid news fer you!"

Den he sail all 'roun' en 'roun' n'er time en listen, en bimeby he year Brer Fox sing back:—

" 'Go 'way, go 'way, my little jug er beer,

De news you bring, I yeard las' year.'"

"Beer, Uncle Remus? What kind of beer did they have then?" the little boy inquired.

"Now, den, honey, youer gittin' me up in a close cornder," responded the old man, in an unusually serious tone. "Beer is de way de tale runs, but w'at kinder beer it moughter bin ain't come down ter me—en yit hit seem lak I year talk some'rs dat dish yer beer wuz mos' prins'ply 'simmon beer."

This seemed to satisfy the small but exacting audience, and Uncle Remus continued:—

"So, den, w'en Brer Buzzud year Brer Fox sing back, he 'low he ain't dead, en wid dat, Brer Buzzud, he sail off en 'ten' ter he yuther business. Nex' day back he come, en Brer Fox, he sing back, he did, des ez lively ez a cricket in de ashes, en it keep on dis way twel Brer Fox stomach 'gun ter pinch him, en den he know dat he gotter study up some kinder plans fer ter git out fum dar. N'er day pass, en Brer Fox, he tuck'n lay low, en it keep on dat a-way twel hit look like ter Brer Fox, pent up in dar, he mus' sholy pe'sh. Las', one day Brer Buzzud come sailin' all 'roun' en 'roun' wid dat

" 'Boo, boo, boo, my filler-mer-loo,"

but Brer Fox, he keep dark en Brer Buzzud, he tuck'n spishun dat Brer Fox wuz done dead. Brer Buzzud, he keep on singin', en Brer Fox he keep on layin' low, twel bimeby Brer Buzzud lit en 'gun ter cle'r 'way de trash en truck fum de holler. He hop up, he did, en tuck out one chunk, en den he hop back en lissen, but Brer Fox stay still. Den Brer Buzzud hop up en tuck out n'er chunk, en den hop back en lissen, en all dis time Brer Fox mouf 'uz waterin' w'iles he lay back in dar en des nat'ally honed atter Brer Buzzud. Hit went on dis a-way, twel des 'fo' he got de hole unkivvud, Brer Fox, he break out he did, en grab Brer Buzzud by de back er de neck. Dey wuz a kinder scuffle 'mongs' um, but 't wa'n't fer long, en dat wuz de las' er ole Brer Tukky Buzzud."

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