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


How the Bear Nursed the Little Alligators

While the negroes were talking of matters which the little boy took little or no interest in, he climbed into Uncle Remus's lap, as he had done a thousand times before. Presently the old man groaned, and said:—

"I be bless ef I know w'at de marter, honey. I dunner whe'er I'm a-gittin' fibble in de lim's, er whe'er youer outgrowin' me. I lay I'll hatter sen' out en git you a nuss w'at got mo' strenk in dey lim's dan w'at I is."

The child protested that he was n't very heavy, and that he would n't have any nurse, and the old man was about to forget that he had said anything about nurses, when Daddy Jack, who seemed to be desirous of appearing good-humored in the presence of 'Tildy, suddenly exclaimed:—

"Me bin yeddy one tale 'bout da tam w'en da lil Bear is bin nuss da 'Gator chilluns. 'E bin mek fine nuss fer true. 'E stan' by dem lilly 'Gator tel dey no mo' fer stan' by."

Seeing that Daddy Jack manifested symptoms of going to sleep, the little boy asked if he would n't tell the story, and, thus appealed to, the old African began:—

"One tam dey is bin one ole Bear; 'e big un 'e strong. 'E lif way in da swamp; 'e hab nes' in da holler tree. 'E hab one, two lilly Bear in da nes'; 'e bin lub dem chillun berry ha'd. One day, 'e git honkry; 'e tell 'e chillun 'e gwan 'way off fer git-a some bittle fer eat; 'e tell dem dey mus' be good chillun un stay wey dey lif. 'E say 'e gwan fer fetch dem one fish fer dey brekwus. Dun 'e gone off.

"Da lil Bear chillun hab bin 'sleep till dey kin sleep no mo'. Da sun, 'e der shine wom, 'e mekky lilly Bear feel wom. Da lil boy Bear, 'e rub 'e y-eye, 'e say 'e gwan off fer hab some fun. Da lil gal Bear, 'e say:—

" 'Wut will we mammy say?'

"Lil boy Bear, 'e der lahff. 'E say:—

" 'Me gwan down by da crik side fer ketch some fish 'fo' we mammy come.'

"Lil gal Bear, 'e look skeer; 'e say:—

" 'We mammy say somet'ing gwan git-a you. Min' wut 'e tell you.'

"Lil boy Bear, 'e keep on lahff. 'E say:—

" 'Shuh-shuh! 'E yent nebber know less you tell um. You no tell um, me fetch-a you one big fish.'

"Lil boy Bear, 'e gone! 'E gone by da crik side, 'e tek 'e hook, 'e tek 'e line, 'e is go by da crik side fer ketch one fish. Wun 'e come dey-dey, 'e see somet'ing lay dey in de mud. 'E t'ink it bin one big log. 'E lahff by 'ese'f; 'e say:—

" ''E one fine log fer true. Me 'tan' 'pon da log fer ketch-a da fish fer me lil titty.'

"Lil boy Bear, 'e der jump down; 'e git 'pon da log; 'e fix fer fish; 'e fix 'e hook, 'e fix 'e line. Bumbye da log moof. Da lil boy Bear holler:—

" 'Ow ma Lordy!'

" 'E look down; 'e skeer mos' dead. Da log bin one big 'Gator. Da 'Gator 'e swim 'way wit' da lil boy Bear 'pon 'e bahck. 'E flut 'e tail, 'e knock da lil boy Bear spang in 'e two han'. 'E grin wide,  'e feel da lil boy Bear wit' 'e nose; 'e say:—

" 'I tekky you wey me lif; me chillun is hab you fer dey brekwus.'

"Da 'Gator, 'e bin swim toze da hole in da bank wey 'e lif. 'E come by da hole, 'e ca' da lil boy Bear in dey. 'E is call up 'e chillun; 'e say:—

" 'Come see how fine brekwus me bin brung you.'

"Da ole 'Gator, 'e hab seben chillun in 'e bed. Da lil boy Bear git skeer; 'e holler, 'e cry, 'e beg. 'E say:—

" 'Please,  Missy 'Gator, gib me chance fer show you how fine nuss me is—please,  Missy 'Gator. Wun you gone 'way, me min' dem chillun, me min' um well.'

"Da 'Gator flut 'e tail; 'e say:—

" 'I try you dis one day; you min' dem lil one well, me luf you be.'

"Da ole 'Gator gone 'way; 'e luf da lil boy Bear fer min' 'e chillun. 'E gone git somet'ing fer dey brekwus. Da lil boy Bear, 'e set down dey-dey; 'e min' dem chillun; 'e wait en 'e wait. Bumbye, 'e is git honkry. 'E wait en 'e wait. 'E min' dem chillun. 'E wait en 'e wait. 'E 'come so honkry 'e yent mos' kin hol' up 'e head. 'E suck 'e paw. 'E wait en 'e wait. Da 'Gator no come. 'E wait en 'e wait. Da 'Gator no come some mo'. 'E say:—

" 'Ow! me no gwan starf mese'f wun da planty bittle by side er me!'

"Da lil boy Bear grab one da lil 'Gator by 'e neck; 'e tek um off in da bush side; 'e der eat um up. 'E no leaf 'e head, 'e no leaf 'e tail; 'e yent leaf nuttin' 't all. 'E go bahck wey da turrer lil 'Gator bin huddle up in da bed. 'E rub 'ese'f 'pon da 'tomach; 'e say:—

" 'Hoo! me feel-a too good fer tahlk 'bout. I no know wut me gwan fer tell da ole 'Gator wun 'e is come bahck. Ki! me no keer. Me feel too good fer t'ink 'bout dem t'ing. Me t'ink 'bout dem wun da 'Gator is bin come; me t'ink 'bout dem bumbye wun da time come fer t'ink.'

"Da lil boy Bear lay down; 'e quile up in da 'Gator bed; 'e shed 'e y-eye; 'e sleep ha'd lak bear do wun ef full up. Bumbye, mos' toze night, da 'Gator come; 'e holler:—

" 'Hey! lil boy Bear! How you is kin min' me chillun wun you is gone fer sleep by um?'

"Da lil boy Bear, 'e set up 'pon 'e ha'nch; 'e say:—

" 'Me y-eye gone fer sleep, but me year wide 'wake.'

"Da 'Gator flut 'e tail; 'e say:—

" 'Wey me chillun wut me leaf you wit'?'

"Da lil boy Bear 'come skeer; 'e say:—

" 'Dey all dey-dey, Missy 'Gator. Wait! lemme count dem, Missy 'Gator.

" 'Yarrah one, yarrah narrah,

Yarrah two 'pon top er tarrah,

Yarrah t'ree pile up tergarrah!'

"Da 'Gator y-open 'e mout', 'e grin wide; 'e say:—

" 'Oona nuss dem well, lil boy Bear; come, fetch-a me one fer wash en git 'e supper.'

"Da lil boy Bear, 'e ca' one, 'e ca' nurrer, 'e ca' turrer, 'e ca' um all tel 'e ca' six, den 'e come skeer. 'E t'ink da 'Gator gwan fine um out fer true. 'E stop, 'e yent know wut fer do. Da 'Gator holler:—

" 'Fetch-a me turrer!'

"Da lil boy Bear, 'e grab da fus' one, 'e wullup um in da mud, 'e ca' um bahck. Da 'Gator bin wash un feed um fresh; 'e yent know da diffran.

"Bumbye, nex' day mornin', da 'Gator gone 'way. Da lil boy Bear stay fer nuss dem lil 'Gator. 'E come honkry; 'e wait, but 'e come mo' honkry. 'E grab nurrer lil 'Gator, 'e eat um fer 'e dinner. Mos' toze night, da 'Gator come. It sem t'ing:—

" 'Wey me chillun wut me leaf you fer nuss?'

" 'Dey all dey-dey, Missy 'Gator. Me count um out:—

" 'Yarrah one, yarrah narrah,

Yarrah two 'pon top er tarrah,

Yarrah t'ree pile up tergarrah!'

" 'E ca' um one by one fer wash en git dey supper. 'E ca' two bahck two tam. Ebry day 'e do dis way tel 'e come at de las'. 'E eat dis one, en 'e gone luf da place wey da 'Gator lif. 'E gone down da crik side tel 'e is come by da foot-log, en 'e is run 'cross queek. 'E git in da bush, 'e fair fly tel 'e is come by da place wey 'e lil titty bin lif. 'E come dey-dey, en 'e yent go 'way no mo'."

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