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

How Brer Rabbit Frightened His Neighbors

When Uncle Remus was in a good humor he turned the most trifling incidents into excuses for amusing the little boy with his stories. One night while he was hunting for a piece of candle on the shelf that took the place of a mantel over the fireplace, he knocked down a tin plate. It fell upon the hearth with a tremendous clatter.

"Dar now!" exclaimed Uncle Remus. "Hit's a blessin' dat dat ar platter is got mo' backbone dan de common run er crockery, 'kaze 't would er bin bust all ter flinderations long time ago. Dat ar platter is got dents on it w'at Miss Sally put dar w'en she 'uz a little bit er gal. Yet dar 't is, en right dis minnit hit'll hol' mo' vittles dan w'at I got ter put in it.

"I lay," the old man continued, leaning his hand against the chimney and gazing at the little boy reflectively,—"I lay ef de creeturs had a bin yer w'iles all dat clatterment gwine on dey'd a lef' bidout tellin' anybody good-bye. All 'ceppin' Brer Rabbit. Bless yo' soul, he'd er stayed fer ter see de fun, des lak he did dat t'er time w'en he skeer um all so. I 'speck I done tole you 'bout dat."

"When he got the honey on him and rolled in the leaves?"

Uncle Remus thought a moment.

"Ef I make no mistakes in my 'membunce, dat wuz de time w'en he call hisse'f de Wull-er-de-Wust."

The little boy corroborated Uncle Remus's memory.

"Well, den, dish yer wuz n'er time, en he lak ter skeer um plum out'n de settlement. En it all come 'bout 'kaze dey wanter play smarty."

"Who wanted to play smarty, Uncle Remus?" asked the child.

"Oh, des dem t'er creeturs. Dey wuz allers a-layin' traps fer Brer Rabbit en gittin' cotch in um deyse'f, en dey wuz allers a-pursooin' atter 'im day in en day out. I ain't 'nyin' but w'at some er Brer Rabbit pranks wuz mighty ha'sh, but w'y'n't dey let 'im 'lone deyse'f?"

Naturally, the little boy was not prepared to meet these arguments, even had their gravity been less impressive, so he said nothing.

"In dem days," Uncle Remus went on, "de creeturs wuz same lak folks. Dey had der ups en dey had der downs; dey had der hard times, and dey had der saf' times. Some seasons der craps 'ud be good, en some seasons dey'd be bad. Brer Rabbit, he far'd lak de res' un um. W'at he'd make, dat he'd spen'. One season he tuck'n made a fine chance er goobers, en he 'low, he did, dat ef dey fetch 'im anywhars nigh de money w'at he 'speck dey would, he go ter town en buy de truck w'at needcessity call fer.

"He ain't no sooner say dat dan ole Miss Rabbit, she vow, she did, dat it be a scannul en a shame ef he don't whirl in en git sevin tin cups fer de chilluns fer ter drink out'n, en sevin tin plates fer 'm fer ter sop out 'n, en a coffee-pot fer de fambly. Brer Rabbit say dat des zackly w'at he gwine do, en he 'low, he did, dat he gwine ter town de comin' We'n'sday."

Uncle Remus paused, and indulged in a hearty laugh before he resumed:—

"Brer Rabbit wa'n't mo'n out'n de gate 'fo' Miss Rabbit, she slap on 'er bonnet, she did, en rush 'cross ter Miss Mink house, en she ain't bin dar a minnit 'fo' she up'n tell Miss Mink dat Brer Rabbit done promise ter go ter town We'n'sday comin' en git de chilluns sump'n'. Co'se, w'en Mr. Mink come home, Miss Mink she up'n 'low she want ter know w'at de reason he can't buy sump'n' fer his chilluns same ez Brer Rabbit do fer his'n, en dey quo'll en quo'll des lak folks. Atter dat Miss Mink she kyar de news ter Miss Fox, en den Brer Fox he tuk'n got a rakin' over de coals. Miss Fox she tell Miss Wolf, en Miss Wolf she tell Miss B'ar, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' ev'ybody in dem diggin's know dat Brer Rabbit gwine ter town de comin' We'n'sday fer ter git his chilluns sump'n'; en all de yuther creeturs' chilluns ax der ma w'at de reason der pa can't git dem  sump'n'. So dar it went.

"Brer Fox, en Brer Wolf, en Brer B'ar, dey make up der mines, dey did, dat ef dey gwine ter ketch up wid Brer Rabbit, dat wuz de time, en dey fix up a plan dat dey'd lay fer Brer Rabbit en nab 'im w'en he come back fum town. Dey tuck'n make all der 'rangerments, en wait fer de day.

"Sho' nuff, w'en We'n'sday come, Brer Rabbit e't he brekkus 'fo' sun-up, en put out fer town. He tuck'n got hisse'f a dram, en a plug er terbarker, en a pocket-hankcher, en he got de ole 'oman a coffee-pot, en he got de chillun sevin tin cups en sevin tin plates, en den todes sundown he start back home. He walk 'long, he did, feelin' mighty biggity, but bimeby w'en he git sorter tired, he sot down und' a black-jack tree, en 'gun to fan hisse'f wid one er der platters.

"W'iles he doin' dis a little bit er teenchy sap-sucker run up'n down de tree en keep on makin' mighty quare fuss. Atter w'ile Brer Rabbit tuk'n shoo at 'im wid de platter. Seem lak dis make de teenchy little sap-sucker mighty mad, en he rush out on a lim' right over Brer Rabbit, en he sing out:—

" 'Pilly-pee, pilly-wee!

I see w'at he no see!

I see, pilly-pee,

I see, w'at he no see!"

"He keep on singin' dis, he did, twel Brer Rabbit 'gun ter look 'roun', en he ain't no sooner do dis dan he see marks in de san' whar sum un done bin dar 'fo' 'im, en he look little closer en den he see w'at de sap-sucker drivin' at. He scratch his head, Brer Rabbit did, en he 'low ter hisse'f:—

" 'Ah-yi! Yer whar Brer Fox bin settin', en dar de print er he nice bushy tail. Yer whar Brer Wolf bin settin', en dar de print er he fine long tail. Yer whar Brer B'ar bin squattin' on he hunkers, en dar de print w'ich he ain't got no tail. Dey er all bin yer, en I lay dey er hidin' out in de big gully down dar in de holler.'

"Wid dat, ole man Rab. tuck'n put he truck in de bushes, en den he run 'way 'roun' fer ter see w'at he kin see. Sho' nuff," continued Uncle Remus, with a curious air of elation,—"sho' nuff, w'en Brer Rabbit git over agin de big gully down in de holler, dar dey wuz. Brer Fox, he 'uz on one side er de road, en Brer Wolf 'uz on de t'er side; en ole Brer B'ar he 'uz quiled up in de gully takin' a nap.

"Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n peep at um, he did, en he lick he foot en roach back he h'ar, en den hol' his han's 'cross he mouf en laff lak some chilluns does w'en dey t'ink dey er foolin' der ma."

"Not me, Uncle Remus—not me!" exclaimed the little boy promptly.

"Heyo dar! don't kick 'fo' you er spurred, honey! Brer Rabbit, he seed um all dar, en he tuck'n grin, he did, en den he lit out ter whar he done lef he truck, en w'en he git dar he dance 'roun' en slap hisse'f on de leg, en make all sorts er kuse motions. Den he go ter wuk en tu'n de coffee-pot upside down en stick it on he head; den he run he gallus thoo de han'les er de cups, en sling um crosst he shoulder; den he 'vide de platters, some in one han' en some in de yuther. Atter he git good en ready, he crope ter de top er de hill, he did, en tuck a runnin' start, en flew down like a harrycane—rickety, rackety, slambang!"

The little boy clapped his hands enthusiastically.

"Bless yo' soul, dem creeturs ain't year no fuss lak dat, en dey ain't seed no man w'at look lak Brer Rabbit do, wid de coffee-pot on he head, en de cups a-rattlin' on he gallus, en de platters a-wavin' en a-shinin' in de a'r.

"Now, mine you, ole Brer B'ar wuz layin' off up de gully takin' a nap, en de fuss skeer 'im so bad dat he make a break en run over Brer Fox. He rush out in de road, he did, en w'en he see de sight, he whirl 'roun' en run over Brer Wolf. Wid der scramblin' en der scufflin', Brer Rabbit got right on um 'fo' dey kin git away. He holler out, he did:—

" 'Gimme room! Tu'n me loose! I'm ole man Spewter-Splutter wid long claws, en scales on my back! I'm snaggle-toofed en double-j'inted! Gimme room!'

"Eve'y time he'd fetch a whoop, he'd rattle de cups en slap de platters tergedder—rickety, rackety, slambang!  En I let you know w'en dem creeturs got dey lim's tergedder dey split de win', dey did dat. Ole Brer B'ar, he struck a stump w'at stan' in de way, en I ain't gwine tell you how he to' it up 'kaze you won't b'leeve me, but de nex' mawnin' Brer Rabbit en his chilluns went back dar, dey did, en dey got nuff splinters fer ter make um kin'lin' wood all de winter. Yasser! Des ez sho' ez I'm a-settin' by dish yer h'ath."

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