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

Brer Fox Makes a Narrow Escape

The next time the little boy had an opportunity to visit Uncle Remus the old man was alone, but he appeared to be in good spirits. He was cobbling away upon what the youngster recognized as 'Tildy's Sunday shoes, and singing snatches of a song something like this:—

"O Mr. Rabbit! yo' eye mighty big—

Yes, my Lord! dey er made fer ter see;

O Mr. Rabbit! yo' tail mighty short—

Yes, my Lord! hit des fits me!"

The child waited to hear more, but the song was the same thing over and over again—always about Brother Rabbit's big eyes and his short tail. After a while Uncle Remus acknowledged the presence of his little partner by remarking:—

"Well, sir, we er all yer. Brer Jack and Sis Tempy en dat ar 'Tildy nigger may be a-pacin' 'roun' lookin' in de fence-cornders fer Chris'mus, but me en you en ole Brer Rabbit, we er all yer, en ef we ain't right on de spot, we er mighty close erroun'. Yasser, we is dat; mo' speshually ole Brer Rabbit, wid he big eye and he short tail. Don't tell me 'bout Brer Rabbit!" exclaimed Uncle Remus, with a great apparent enthusiasm, " 'kaze dey ain't no use er talkin' 'bout dat creetur."

The little boy was very anxious to know why.

"Well, I tell you," said the old man. "One time dey wuz a monst'us dry season in de settlement whar all de creeturs live at, en drinkin'-water got mighty skace. De creeks got low, en de branches went dry, en all de springs make der disappearance 'cep'n one great big un whar all de creeturs drunk at. Dey'd all meet dar, dey would, en de bigges' 'ud drink fus', en by de time de big uns all done swaje der thuss dey wa'n't a drap lef' fer de little uns skacely.

"Co'se Brer Rabbit 'uz on de happy side. Ef anybody gwine git water Brer Rabbit de man. De creeturs 'ud see he track 'roun' de spring, but dey ain't nev' ketch 'im. Hit got so atter w'ile dat de big creeturs 'ud crowd Brer Fox out, en den 't wa'n't long 'fo' he hunt up Brer Rabbit en ax 'im w'at he gwine do.

"Brer Rabbit, he sorter study, en den he up 'n tell Brer Fox fer ter go home en rub some 'lasses all on hisse'f en den go out en waller in de leafs. Brer Fox ax w'at he mus' do den, en Brer Rabbit say he mus' go down by de spring, en w'en de creeturs come ter de spring fer ter git dey water, he mus' jump out at um, en den atter dat he mus' waller lak he one er dem ar kinder varment w'at got bugs on um.

"Brer Fox, he put out fer home, he did, en w'en he git dar he run ter de cubbud en des gawm hisse'f wid 'lasses, en den he went out in de bushes, he did, en waller in de leafs en trash twel he look mos' bad ez Brer Rabbit look w'en he play Wull-er-de-Wust on de creeturs.

"W'en Brer Fox git hisse'f all fix up, he went down ter de spring en hide hisse'f. Bimeby all de creeturs come atter der water, en w'iles dey 'uz a-scuffin' en a-hunchin', en a-pushin' en a-scrougin', Brer Fox he jump out'n de bushes, en sorter switch hisse'f 'roun', en, bless yo' soul, he look lak de Ole Boy.

"Brer Wolf tuck'n see 'im fus', en he jump spang over Brer B'ar head. Brer B'ar, he lip back, en ax who dat, en des time he do dis de t'er creeturs dey tuck'n make a break, dey did, lak punkins rollin' down hill, en mos' 'fo' youk'n wink yo' eye-ball, Brer Fox had de range er de spring all by hisse'f.

"Yit 't wa'n't fur long, 'kaze 'fo' de creeturs mov'd fur, dey tuck'n tu'n 'roun', dey did, en crope back fer ter see w'at dat ar skeery lookin' varment doin'. W'en dey git back in seein' distuns dar 'uz Brer Fox walkin' up en down switchin' hisse'f.

"De creeturs dunner w'at ter make un 'im. Dey watch, en Brer Fox march; dey watch, en he march. Hit keep on dis a-way twel bimeby Brer Fox 'gun ter waller in de water, en right dar," continued Uncle Remus, leaning back to laugh, "right dar 'uz whar Brer Rabbit had 'im. Time he 'gun ter waller in de water de 'lasses 'gun ter melt, en 't wa'n't no time skacely 'fo' de 'lasses en de leafs done all wash off, en dar 'uz ole Brer Fox des ez natchul ez life.

"De fus' Brer Fox know 'bout de leafs comin' off, he year Brer B'ar holler on top er de hill:—

" 'You head 'im off down dar, Brer Wolf, en I'll head 'im off 'roun' yer!'

"Brer Fox look 'roun' en he see all de leafs done come off, en wid dat he make a break, en he wa'n't none too soon, n'er, 'kaze little mo' en de creeturs 'ud 'a' kotch 'im."

Without giving the little boy time to ask any questions, Uncle Remus added another verse to his Rabbit song, and harped on it for several minutes:—

"O Mr. Rabbit! yo' year mighty long—

Yes, my Lord! dey made fer ter las';

O Mr. Rabbit! yo' toof mighty sharp—

Yes, my Lord! dey cuts down grass!"

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