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

Brer Rabbit Outdoes Mr. Man

The little boy had heard Uncle Remus lamenting that his candle was getting rather short, and he made it his business to go around the house and gather all the pieces he could find. He carried these to the old man, who received them with the liveliest satisfaction.

"Now dish yer sorter look lak sump'n', honey. W'en ole Brer Jack come back, en Sis Tempy git in de habits er hangin' 'roun', we'll des light some er dese yer, en folks'll come by en see de shine, en dey'll go off en 'low dat hit's de night des 'fo' camp-meetin' at ole Remus house.

"I got little piece dar in my chist w'at you brung me long time ergo, en I 'low ter myse'f dat ef shove ever git ter be push, I'd des draw 'er out en light 'er up."

"Mamma says Daddy Jack is coming back Sunday," said the little boy.

"Dat w'at I year talk," replied the old man.

"What did he go off for, Uncle Remus?"

"Bless yo' soul, honey! Brer Jack bleedz ter go en see yo' Unk Jeems. He b'leeve de worl' go wrong ef he ain't do dat. Dat ole nigger b'leeve he white mon. He come up yer fum down de country whar de Lord done fersook um too long 'go ter talk 'bout,—he come up yer en he put on mo' a'rs dan w'at I dast ter do. Not dat I'm keerin', 'kaze goodness knows I ain't, yit I notices dat w'en I has ter go some'rs, dey's allers a great ter-do 'bout w'at is I'm a-gwine fer, en how long is I'm a-gwine ter stay; en ef I ain't back at de ve'y minit, dars Mars John a-growlin', en Miss Sally a-vowin' dat she gwine ter put me on de block."

Perhaps Uncle Remus's jealousy was more substantial than he was willing to admit; but he was talking merely to see what the little boy would say. The child, however, failed to appreciate the situation, seeing which the old man quickly changed the subject.

"Times is mighty diffunt fum w'at dey use ter wuz, 'kaze de time has bin dat ef ole Brer Rabbit had er run'd up wid Brer Jack w'iles he comin' fum yo' Unk Jeems place, he'd outdone 'im des ez sho' ez de worl' stan's. Deze days de Rabbits has ter keep out de way er folks, but in dem days folks had ter keep out der way er ole Brer Rabbit. Ain't I never tell you 'bout how Brer Rabbit whirl in en outdo Mr. Man?"

"About the meat tied to the string, Uncle Remus?"

"Shoo!  Dat ain't a drap in de bucket, honey. Dish yer wuz de time w'en ole Brer Rabbit wuz gwine 'long de big road, en he meet Mr. Man drivin' 'long wid a waggin chock full er money."

"Where did he get so much money, Uncle Remus?"

"Bruisin' 'round en peddlin' 'bout. Mr. Man got w'at lots er folks ain't got,—good luck, long head, quick eye, en slick fingers. But no marter 'bout dat, he got de money; en w'en you sorter grow up so you kin knock 'roun', 't won't be long 'fo' some un'll take en take you off 'roun' de cornder en tell you dat 't ain't make no diffunce whar de money come fum so de man got it. Dey won't tell you dat in de meeting-house, but dey'll come mighty nigh it.

"But dat ain't needer yer ner dar. Mr. Man, he come a-drivin' 'long de big road, en he got a waggin full er money. Brer Rabbit, he come a-lippity-clippitin' 'long de big road, en he ain't got no waggin full er money. Ole Brer Rabbit, he up'n tuck a notion dat dey's sump'n' wrong some'rs, 'kaze ef dey wa'n't, he 'ud have des ez much waggin en money ez Mr. Man. He study, en study, en he can't make out how dat is. Bimeby he up'n holler out:—

" 'Mr. Man, please, sir, lemme ride.'

"Mr. Man, he tuck'n stop he waggin, en 'low:—

" 'Heyo, Brer Rabbit! how come dis? You comin' one way en I gwine nudder; how come you wanter ride?'

"Brer Rabbit, he up'n scratch hisse'f on de back er de neck wid he behime foot, en holler out:—

" 'Mr. Man, yo' sho'ly can't be 'quainted 'long wid me. I'm one er dem ar ole-time kinder folks w'at ain't a-keerin' w'ich way deyer gwine long ez deyer ridin'.'"

The little boy laughed a sympathetic laugh, showing that he heartily endorsed this feature of Brother Rabbit's programme.

"Atter so long a time," Uncle Remus went on, "Mr. Man 'gree ter let Brer Rabbit ride a little piece. He try ter git Brer Rabbit fer ter ride upon de seat wid 'im so dey kin git ter 'sputin' 'n'er, but Brer Rabbit say he fear'd he fall off, en he des tuck'n sot right flat down in de bottom er de waggin, en make lak he fear'd ter move.

"Bimeby, w'iles dey goin' down hill, en Mr. Man hatter keep he eye on de hosses, Brer Rabbit he tuck'n fling out a great big hunk er de money. Dez ez de money hit de groun' Brer Rabbit holler out:—

" 'Ow!'

"Mr. Man look 'roun' en ax w'at de marter. Brer Rabbit 'low:—

" 'Nothin' 't all, Mr. Man, 'ceppin' you 'bout ter jolt my jaw-bone a-loose.'

"Dey go on little furder, en Brer Rabbit fling out 'n'er hunk er de money. Wen she hit de groun', Brer Rabbit holler:—

" 'Blam!'

"Mr. Man look 'roun' en ax w'at de marter. Brer Rabbit 'low:—

" 'Nothin' 't all, Mr. Man, 'ceppin' I seed a jaybird flyin' 'long, en I make lak I had a gun.'

"Hit keep on dis a-way twel fus' news you know Mr. Man ain't got a sign er money in dat waggin. Seem lak Mr. Man ain't notice dis twel he git a mighty fur ways fum de place whar Brer Rabbit drap out de las' hunk; but, gentermens! w'en he do fine it out, you better b'leeve he sot up a howl.

" 'Whar my money? Whar my nice money? Whar my waggin full er purty money? O you long-year'd rascal! Whar my money? Oh, gimme my money!'

"Brer Rabbit sot dar en lissen at 'im lak he 'stonish'd. Den he up'n 'low:—

" 'Look out, Mr. Man! folks'll come 'long en year you gwine on dat a-way, en dey'll go off en say you done gone ravin' 'stracted.'

"Yit Mr. Man keep on holler'n en beggin' Brer Rabbit fer ter gin 'im de money, en bimeby Brer Rabbit, he git sorter skeer'd en he up'n 'low:—

" 'Sun gittin' low, Mr. Man, en I better be gittin' 'way fum yer. De sooner I goes de better, 'kaze ef you keep on lak you gwine, 't won't be long 'fo' you'll be excusin' me er takin' dat ar money. I'm 'blige' fer de ride, Mr. Man, en I wish you mighty well.'

"Brer Rabbit got de money," continued Uncle Remus, gazing placidly into the fire, "en hit's mighty kuse ter me dat he ain't git de waggin en hosses. Dat 't is!"

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