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

Brer Wolf Gets in a Warm Place

The little boy thought that the story of how the wildcat scratched Brother Fox was one of the best stories he had ever heard, and he did n't hesitate to say so. His hearty endorsement increased Uncle Remus's good-humor; and the old man, with a broad grin upon his features and something of enthusiasm in his tone, continued to narrate the adventures of Brother Rabbit.

"After Brer Fox git hurted so bad," said Uncle Remus, putting an edge upon his axe with a whetstone held in his hand, "hit wuz a mighty long time 'fo' he could ramble 'roun' en worry ole Brer Rabbit. Der time Cousin Wildcat fetch'd 'im dat wipe 'cross de stomach, he tuck'n lay de blame on Brer Rabbit, en w'en he git well, he des tuck'n juggle wid de yuther creeturs, en dey all 'gree dat dem en Brer Rabbit can't drink out er de same branch, ner walk de same road, ner live in de same settlement, ner go in washin' in de same wash-hole.

"Tooby sho' Brer Rabbit bleedz ter take notice er all dish yer kinder jugglements en gwines on, en he des tuck'n strenken he house, in de neighborhoods er de winders, en den he put 'im up a steeple on top er dat. Yasser! A sho' 'nuff steeple, en he rise 'er up so high dat folks gwine 'long de big road stop en say, 'Hey! W'at kinder meetin'-house dat?'"

The little boy laughed loudly at Uncle Remus's graphic delineation of the astonishment and admiration of the passers-by. The old man raised his head, stretched his eyes, and seemed to be looking over his spectacles right at Brother Rabbit's steeple.

"Folks 'ud stop en ax, but Brer Rabbit ain't got time fer ter make no answer. He  hammer'd, he  nailed, he  knock'd, he  lamm'd! Folks go by, he ain't look up; creeturs come stan' en watch 'im, he ain't look 'roun'; wuk, wuk, wuk, from sun-up ter sun-down, twel dat er steeple git done. Den ole Brer Rabbit tuck'n draw long breff, en wipe he forrerd, en 'low dat ef dem t'er creeturs w'at bin atter 'im so long is got any de 'vantage er him, de time done come fer um fer ter show it.

"Wid dat he went en got 'im a snack er sump'n' t' eat, en a long piece er plough-line, en he tole he ole 'oman fer ter put a kittle er water on de fire, en stan' 'roun' close by, en eve'yt'ing he tell 'er not ter do, dat de ve'y t'ing she sho'ly mus' do. Den ole Brer Rabbit sot down in he rockin'-cheer en lookt out fum de steeple fer ter see how de lan' lay.

" 'T wa'n't long 'fo' all de creeturs year talk dat Brer Rabbit done stop wuk, en dey 'gun ter come 'roun' fer ter see w'at he gwine do nex'. But Brer Rabbit, he got up dar, he did, en smoke he seegyar, en chaw he 'backer, en let he min' run on. Brer Wolf, he stan' en look up at de steeple, Brer Fox, he stan' en look up at it, en all de t'er creeturs dey done de same. Nex' time you see a crowd er folks lookin' at sump'n' right hard, you des watch um, honey. Dey'll walk 'roun' one er 'n'er en swap places, en dey'll be constant on de move. Dat des de way de creeturs done. Dey walk 'roun' en punch one er 'n'er en swap places, en look en look. Ole Brer Rabbit, he sot up dar, he did, en chaw he 'backer, en smoke he seegyar, en let he min' run on.

"Bimeby ole Brer Tarrypin come 'long, en ole Brer Tarrypin bin in cohoots wid Brer Rabbit so long dat he des nat'ally know dey wuz gwine ter be fun er plenty 'roun' in dem neighborhoods 'fo' de sun go down. He laugh 'way down und' de roof er he house, ole Brer Tarrypin did, en den he hail Brer Rabbit:—

" 'Heyo, Brer Rabbit! W'at you doin' 'way up in de elements lak dat?'

" 'I'm a-sojourneyin' up yer fer ter res' myse'f, Brer Tarrypin. Drap up en see me.'

" ''Twix' you en me, Brer Rabbit, de drappin' 's all one way. S'posin' you tu'n loose en come. Man live dat high up bleedz ter have wings. I ain't no high-flyer myse'f. I fear'd ter shake han's wid you so fur off, Brer Rabbit.'

" 'Not so, Brer Tarrypin, not so. My sta'rcase is a mighty limbersome one, en I'll des let it down ter you.'

"Wid dat, Brer Rabbit let down de plough-line.

" 'Des ketch holt er dat, Brer Tarrypin,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'en up you comes, linktum sinktum binktum boo!'  sezee."

"What was that, Uncle Remus?" said the little boy, taking a serious view of the statement.

"Creetur talk, honey—des creetur talk. Bless yo' soul, chile!" the old man went on, with a laughable assumption of dignity, "ef you think I got time fer ter stop right short off en stribbit out all I knows, you er mighty much mistaken—mighty much mistaken.

"Ole Brer Tarrypin know mighty well dat Brer Rabbit ain't got nothin' 'gin' 'im, yet he got sech a habit er lookin' out fer hisse'f dat he tuck'n ketch de plough-line in he mouf, he did, en try de strenk un it. Ole Brer Rabbit, he holler 'Swing on, Brer Tarrypin!' en Brer Tarrypin, he tuck'n swung on, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he 'uz settin' up dar side er Brer Rabbit.

"But I wish ter goodness you'd 'a' bin dar," continued Uncle Remus, very gracefully leaving it to be inferred that he was there; "I wish ter goodness you'd 'a' bin dar so you could er seed ole Brer Tarrypin w'iles Brer Rabbit 'uz haulin' 'im up, wid he tail a-wigglin' en he legs all spraddled out, en him a-whirlin' 'roun' en 'roun' en lookin' skeer'd.

"De t'er creeturs dey see Brer Tarrypin go up safe en soun', en dey see de vittles passin' 'roun', en dey 'gun ter feel lak dey wanter see de inside er Brer Rabbit steeple. Den Brer Wolf, he hail 'im:—

" 'Heyo dar, Brer Rabbit! Youer lookin' mighty scrumptious way up dar! How you come on?'

"Brer Rabbit, he look down, he did, en he see who 't is hollerin', en he 'spon':—

" 'Po'ly, mighty po'ly, but I thank de Lord I'm able to eat my 'lowance. Won't you drap up, Brer Wolf?'

" 'Hit's a mighty clumsy journey fer ter make, Brer Rabbit, yit I don't keer ef I does.'

"Wid dat, Brer Rabbit let down de plough-line, en Brer Wolf kotch holt, en dey 'gun ter haul 'im up. Dey haul en dey haul, en w'en Brer Wolf git mos' ter de top he year Brer Rabbit holler out:—

" 'Stir 'roun', ole 'oman, en set de table; but 'fo' you do dat, fetch de kittle fer ter make de coffee.'

"Dey haul en dey haul on de plough-line, en Brer Wolf year Brer Rabbit squall out:—

" 'Watch out dar, ole 'oman! You'll spill dat b'ilin' water on Brer Wolf!'

"En, bless yo' soul!" continued Uncle Remus, turning half around in his chair to face his enthusiastic audience of one, "dat 'uz 'bout all Brer Wolf did year, 'kaze de nex' minit down come de scaldin' water, en Brer Wolf des fetch one squall en turn't hisse'f aloose, en w'en he strak de groun' he bounce des same ez one er deze yer injun-rubber balls w'at you use ter play wid 'long in dem times 'fo' you tuck'n broke yo' mammy lookin'-glass. Ole Brer Rabbit, he lean fum out de steeple en 'pollygize de bes' he kin, but no 'pollygy ain't gwine ter make ha'r come back whar de b'ilin' water hit."

"Did they spill the hot water on purpose, Uncle Remus?" the little boy inquired.

"Now, den, honey, youer crowdin' me. Dem ar creeturs wuz mighty kuse—mo' speshually Brer Rabbit. W'en it come down ter dat," said Uncle Remus, lowering his voice and looking very grave, "I 'speck ef youder s'arch de country fum hen-roost to river-bank, you won't fine a no mo' kuser man dan Brer Rabbit. All I knows is dat Brer Rabbit en Brer Tarrypin had a mighty laughin' spell des 'bout de time Brer Wolf hit de groun'."


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