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

Brer Fox Covets the Quills

"That must have been a mighty funny song," said the little boy.

"Fun one time ain't fun 'n'er time; some folks fines fun whar yuther folks fines trouble. Pig may laugh w'en he see de rock a-heatin', but dey ain't no fun dar fer de pig.

"Yit, fun er no fun, dat de song w'at Brer Tarrypin play on de quills:—

" 'I foolee, I foolee, I foolee po' Buzzud;

Po' Buzzud I foolee, I foolee, I foolee.'"

"Nobody dunner whar de quills cum fum, kaze Brer Tarrypin, he ain't makin no brags how he git um; yit ev'ybody wants um on account er der playin' sech a lonesome chune, en ole Brer Fox, he want um wuss'n all. He beg en he beg Brer Tarrypin fer ter sell 'im dem quills; but Brer Tarrypin, he hol' on t' um tight, en say eh-eh! Den he ax Brer Tarrypin fer ter loan um t' um des a week, so he kin play fer he chilluns, but Brer Tarrypin, he shake he head en put he foot down, en keep on playin':—

" 'I foolee, I foolee, I foolee po' Buzzud;

Po' Buzzud I foolee, I foolee, I foolee.'"

"But Brer Fox, he ain't got no peace er min' on account er dem quills, en one day he meet Brer Tarrypin en he ax 'im how he seem ter segashuate en he fambly en all he chilluns; en den Brer Fox ax Brer Tarrypin ef he can't des look at de quills, kaze he got some goose-fedders at he house, en if he kin des get a glimpse er Brer Tarrypin quills, he 'speck he kin make some mighty like um.

"Brer Tarrypin, he study 'bout dis, but he hate ter 'ny small favors like dat, en bimeby he hol' out dem quills whar Brer Fox kin see um. Wid dat, Brer Fox, he tuck'n juk de quills outen Brer Tarrypin han', he did, and dash off des ez hard ez he kin go. Brer Tarrypin, he holler en holler at 'im des loud ez he kin holler, but he know he can't ketch 'im, en he des sot dar, Brer Tarrypin did, en look lak he done los' all de kin-folks w'at he got in de roun' worrul'.

"Atter dis, Brer Fox he strut 'roun' en play mighty biggity, en eve'y time he meet Brer Tarrypin in de road he walk all 'roun' 'im en play on de quills like dis:—

" 'I foolee, I foolee po' Buzzud;

I foolee ole Tarrypin, too."

"Brer Tarrypin, he feel mighty bad, but he ain't sayin' nothin'. Las', one day w'iles ole Brer Tarrypin was settin' on a log sunnin' hisse'f, yer come Brer Fox playin' dat same old chune on de quills, but Brer Tarrypin, he stay still. Brer Fox, he come up little nigher en play, but Brer Tarrypin, he keep he eyes shot en he stay still. Brer Fox, he come nigher en git on de log; Brer Tarrypin ain't sayin' nothin'. Brer Fox still git up nigher en play on de quills; still Brer Tarrypin ain't sayin' nothin'.

" 'Brer Tarrypin mighty sleepy dis mawnin',' sez Brer Fox, sezee.

"Still Brer Tarrypin keep he eyes shot en stay still. Brer Fox keep on gittin' nigher en nigher, twel bimeby Brer Tarrypin open he eyes en he mouf bofe, en he make a grab at Brer Fox en miss 'im.

"But hol' on!" exclaimed Uncle Remus, in response to an expression of intense disappointment in the child's face. "You des wait a minnit. Nex' mawnin', Brer Tarrypin take hisse'f off en waller in a mud-hole, en smear hisse'f wid mud twel he look des 'zackly lak a clod er dirt. Den he crawl off en lay down un'need a log whar he know Brer Fox come eve'y mawnin' fer ter freshen hisse'f.

"Brer Tarrypin lay dar, he did, en terreckly yer come Brer Fox. Time he git dar, Brer Fox 'gun ter lip backerds en forerds 'cross de log, and Brer Tarrypin he crope nigher en nigher, twel bimeby he make a grab at Brer Fox en kotch him by de foot. Dey tells me," continued Uncle Remus, rubbing his hands together in token of great satisfaction,—"dey tells me dat w'en Brer Tarrypin ketch holt, hit got ter thunder 'fo' he let go. All I know, Brer Tarrypin git Brer Fox by de foot, en he hilt 'im dar. Brer Fox he jump en he r'ar, but Brer Tarrypin done got 'im. Brer Fox, he holler out:—

" 'Brer Tarrypin, please lemme go!'

"Brer Tarrypin talk way down in his th'oat:—

" 'Gim' my quills!'

" 'Lemme go en fetch um.'

" 'Gim'my quills!'

" 'Do pray lemme go git um.'

" 'Gim'my quills!'


" 'Brer Tarrypin. Please lemme go!'"

"En, bless gracious! dis all Brer Fox kin git outer Brer Tarrypin. Las', Brer Fox foot hu't 'im so bad dat he bleedz ter do sump'n', en he sing out fer his ole 'oman fer ter fetch de quills, but he ole 'oman, she busy 'bout de house, en she don't year 'im. Den he call he son, w'ich he name Tobe. He holler en bawl, en Tobe make answer:

" 'Tobe! O Tobe! You Tobe!'

" 'Wat you want, daddy?'

" 'Fetch Brer Tarrypin quills.'

" 'Wat you say, daddy? Fetch de big tray ter git de honey in?'

" 'No, you crazy-head! Fetch Brer Tarrypin quills!'

" 'Wat you say, daddy? Fetch de dipper ter ketch de minners in?'

" 'No, you fool! Fetch Brer Tarrypin quills!'

" 'Wat you say, daddy? Water done been spill?'

"Hit went on dis a-way twel atter w'ile ole Miss Fox year de racket, en den she lissen, en she know dat 'er ole man holler'n' fer de quills, en she fotch um out en gun um ter Brer Tarrypin, en Brer Tarrypin, he let go he holt. He let go he holt," Uncle Remus went on, "but long time atter dat, w'en Brer Fox go ter pay he calls, he hatter go hoppity-fetchity, hoppity-fetchity."

The old man folded his hands in his lap, and sat quietly gazing into the lightwood fire. Presently he said:—

"I 'speck Miss Sally blessin' us all right now, en fus' news you know she'll h'ist up en have Mars John a-trapesin' down yer; en ef she do dat, den ter-morrer mawnin' my brekkuss'll be col', en lakwise my dinner, en ef dey's sump'n' w'at I 'spizes hit's col' vittels."

Thereupon Uncle Remus arose, shook himself, peered out into the night to discover that the rain had nearly ceased, and then made ready to carry the little boy to his mother. Long before the chickens had crowed for midnight, the child, as well as the old man, had been transported to the land where myths and fables cease to be wonderful,—the land of pleasant dreams.

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