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

The Pimmerly Plum

One night, when the little boy had grown tired of waiting for a story, he looked at Uncle Remus and said:—

"I wonder what ever became of old Brother Tarrypin."

Uncle Remus gave a sudden start, glanced all around the cabin, and then broke into a laugh that ended in a yell like a view-halloo.

"Well, well, well! How de name er goodness come you ter know w'at runnin' on in my min', honey? Mon, you skeer'd me; you sho'ly did; en w'en I git skeer'd I bleedz ter holler. Let 'lone dat, ef I keep on gittin' skeerder en skeerder, you better gimme room, 'kaze ef I can't git 'way fum dar somebody gwine ter git hurted, en deyer gwine ter git hurted bad. I tell you dat right pine-blank.

"Ole Brer Tarrypin!" continued Uncle Remus in a tone of exultation. "Ole Brer Tarrypin! Now, who bin year tell er de beat er dat? Dar you sets studyin' 'bout ole Brer Tarrypin, en yer I sets studyin' 'bout ole Brer Tarrypin. Hit make me feel so kuse dat little mo' en I'd 'a' draw'd my Rabbit-foot en shuck it at you."

The little boy was delighted when Uncle Remus went off into these rhapsodies. However nonsensical they might seem to others, to the child they were positively thrilling, and he listened with rapt attention, scarcely daring to stir.

"Ole Brer Tarrypin? Well, well, well!—

" 'Wen in he prime

He tuck he time!"

"Dat w'at make he hol' he age so good. Dey tells me dat somebody 'cross dar in Jasper county tuck'n kotch a Tarrypin w'ich he got marks cut in he back dat 'uz put dar 'fo' our folks went fer ter git revengeance in de Moccasin war. Dar whar yo' Unk' Jeems bin," Uncle Remus explained, noticing the little boy's look of astonishment.

"Oh!" exclaimed the child, "that was the Mexican war."

"Well," responded Uncle Remus, closing his eyes with a sigh, "I ain't one er deze yer kinder folks w'at choke deyse'f wid names. One name ain't got none de 'vantage er no yuther name. En ef de Tarrypin got de marks on 'im, hit don't make no diffunce whe'er yo' Unk' Jeems Abercrombie git his revengeance out'n de Moccasin folks, er whe'er he got it out'n de Mackersons."

"Mexicans, Uncle Remus."

"Tooby sho', honey; let it go at dat. But don't less pester ole Brer Tarrypin wid it, 'kaze he done b'long ter a tribe all by he own-'lone se'f.—I 'clar' ter gracious," exclaimed the old man after a pause, "ef hit don't seem periently lak 't wuz yistiddy!"

"What, Uncle Remus?"

"Oh, des ole Brer Tarrypin, honey; des ole Brer Tarrypin en a tale w'at I year 'bout 'im, how he done tuck'n do Brer Fox."

"Did he scare him, Uncle Remus?" the little boy asked, as the old man paused.

"No, my goodness! Wuss'n dat!"

"Did he hurt him?"

"No, my goodness! Wuss'n dat!"

"Did he kill him?"

"No, my goodness! Lots wuss'n dat!"

"Now, Uncle Remus, what did  he do to Brother Fox?"

"Honey!"—here the old man lowered his voice as if about to describe a great outrage—"Honey! he tuck'n make a fool out'n 'im!"

The child laughed, but it was plain that he failed to appreciate the situation, and this fact caused Uncle Remus to brighten up and go on with the story.

"One time w'en de sun shine down mighty hot, ole Brer Tarrypin wuz gwine 'long down de road. He 'uz gwine 'long down, en he feel mighty tired; he puff, en he blow, en he pant. He breff come lak he got de azmy 'way down in he win'-pipe; but, nummine! he de same ole Creep-um-crawl-um Have-some-fun-um. He 'uz gwine 'long down de big road, ole Brer Tarrypin wuz, en bimeby he come ter de branch. He tuck'n crawl in, he did, en got 'im a drink er water, en den he crawl out on t'er side en set down und' de shade un a tree. Atter he sorter ketch he win', he look up at de sun fer ter see w'at time er day is it, en, lo en beholes! he tuck'n skivver dat he settin' in de shade er de sycamo' tree. No sooner is he skivver dis dan he sing de ole song:—

" 'Good luck ter dem w'at come and go,

W'at set in de shade er de sycamo'."

"Brer Tarrypin he feel so good en de shade so cool, dat 't wa'n't long 'fo' he got ter noddin', en bimeby he drapt off en went soun' asleep. Co'se, Brer Tarrypin kyar he house wid 'im eve'ywhar he go, en w'en he fix fer ter go ter sleep, he des shet de do' en pull to de winder-shetters, en dar he is des ez snug ez de ole black cat und' de barn.

"Brer Tarrypin lay dar, he did, en sleep, en sleep. He dunner how long he sleep, but bimeby he feel somebody foolin' 'long wid 'im. He keep de do' shet, en he lay dar en lissen. He feel somebody tu'nin' he house 'roun' en 'roun'. Dis sorter skeer Brer Tarrypin, 'kaze he know dat ef dey tu'n he house upside down he ull have all sorts er times gittin' back. Wid dat, he open de do' little ways, en he see Brer Fox projickin' wid 'im. He open de do' little furder, he did, en he break out in a great big hoss-laff, en holler:—

" 'Well! well, well! Who'd 'a' thunk it! Ole Brer Fox, cuter dan de common run, is done come en kotch me. En he come at sech a time, too! I feels dat full twel I can't see straight skacely. Ef dey wuz any jealousness proned inter me, I'd des lay yer en pout 'kaze Brer Fox done fine out whar I gits my Pimmerly Plum.'

"In dem days," continued Uncle Remus, speaking to the child's look of inquiry, "de Pimmerly Plum wuz monst'us skace. Leavin' out Brer Rabbit en Brer Tarrypin dey wa'n't none er de yuther creeturs dat yuvver got a glimp' un it, let 'lone a tas'e. So den w'en Brer Fox year talk er de Pimmerly Plum, bless gracious! he h'ist up he head en let Brer Tarrypin 'lone. Brer Tarrypin keep on laffin' en Brer Fox 'low:—

" 'Hush, Brer Tarrypin! you makes my mouf water! Whar'bouts de Pimmerly Plum?'

"Brer Tarrypin, he sorter cle'r up de ho'seness in he th'oat, en sing:—

" 'Poun' er sugar, en a pint er rum,

Ain't nigh so sweet ez de Pimmerly Plum!"

"Brer Fox, he lif' up he han's, he did, en holler:—

" 'Oh, hush, Brer Tarrypin! you makes me dribble! Whar'bouts dat Pimmerly Plum?'

" 'You stannin' right und' de tree, Brer Fox!'

" 'Brer Tarrypin, sho'ly not!'

" 'Yit dar you stan's, Brer Fox!'

"Brer Fox look up in de tree dar, en he wuz 'stonish'."

"What did he see in the sycamore tree, Uncle Remus?" inquired the little boy.

There was a look of genuine disappointment on the old man's face, as he replied:—

"De gracious en de goodness, honey! Ain't you nev' is see dem ar little bit er balls w'at grow on de sycamo' tree?"

The little boy laughed. There was a huge sycamore tree in the centre of the circle made by the carriage way in front of the "big house," and there were sycamore trees of various sizes all over the place. The little balls alluded to by Uncle Remus are very hard at certain stages of their growth, and cling to the tree with wonderful tenacity. Uncle Remus continued:—

"Well, den, w'en ole Brer Tarrypin vouch dat dem ar sycamo' balls wuz de ginnywine Pimmerly Plum, ole Brer Fox, he feel mighty good, yit he dunner how he gwine git at um. Push 'im clos't, en maybe he mought beat Brer Tarrypin clammin' a tree, but dish yer sycamo' tree wuz too big fer Brer Fox fer ter git he arms 'roun'. Den he up'n 'low:—

" 'I sees um hangin' dar, Brer Tarrypin, but how I gwine git um?'

"Brer Tarrypin open he do' little ways en holler out:—

" 'Ah-yi! Dar whar ole Slickum Slow-come got de 'vantage! Youer mighty peart, Brer Fox, yit somehow er nudder you ain't bin a-keepin' up wid ole Slickum Slow-come.'

" 'Brer Tarrypin, how de name er goodness does you git um?'

" 'Don't do no good fer ter tell you, Brer Fox. Nimble heel make restless min'. You ain't got time fer ter wait en git um, Brer Fox.'

" 'Brer Tarrypin, I got all de week befo' me.'

" 'Ef I tells you, you'll go en tell all de t'er creeturs, en den dat'll be de las' er de Pimmerly Plum, Brer Fox.'

" 'Brer Tarrypin, dat I won't. Des try me one time en see.'

"Brer Tarrypin shet he eye lak he studyin', en den he 'low:—

" 'I tell you how I does, Brer Fox. Wen I wants a bait er de Pimmerly Plum right bad, I des takes my foot in my han' en comes down yer ter dish yer tree. I comes en I takes my stan'. I gits right und' de tree, en I r'ars my head back en opens my mouf. I opens my mouf, en w'en de Pimmerly Plum draps, I boun' you she draps right spang in dar. All you got ter do is ter set en wait, Brer Fox.'

"Brer Fox ain't sayin' nothin'. He des sot down und' de tree, he did, en r'ar'd he head back, en open he mouf, en I wish ter goodness you mought er bin had er chance fer ter see 'im settin' dar. He look scan'lous, dat's de long en de short un it; he des look scan'lous."

"Did he get the Pimmerly Plum, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy.

"Shoo! How he gwine git plum whar dey ain't no plum?"

"Well, what did he do?"

"He sot dar wid he mouf wide open, en eve'y time Brer Tarrypin look at 'im, much ez he kin do fer ter keep from bustin' aloose en laffin'. But bimeby he make he way todes home, Brer Tarrypin did, chucklin' en laffin', en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he meet Brer Rabbit tippin' 'long down de road. Brer Rabbit, he hail 'im.

" 'W'at 'muze you so mighty well, Brer Tarrypin?'

"Brer Tarrypin kotch he breff atter so long a time, en he 'low:—

" 'Brer Rabbit, I'm dat tickle' twel I can't shuffle 'long, skacely, en I'm fear'd ef I up'n tell you de 'casion un it, I'll be tooken wid one er my spells whar folks hatter set up wid me 'kaze I laff so loud en laff so long.'

"Yit atter so long a time, Brer Tarrypin up'n tell Brer Rabbit, en dey sot dar en chaw'd terbacker en kyar'd on des lak sho' 'nuff folks. Dat dey did!"

Uncle Remus paused; but the little boy wanted to know what became of Brer Fox.

"Hit's mighty kuse," said the old man, stirring around in the ashes as if in search of a potato, "but endurin' er all my days I ain't nev' year nobody tell 'bout how long Brer Fox sot dar waitin' fer de Pimmerly Plum."

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