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

How Wattle Weasel Was Caught

Uncle Remus chipped the tobacco from the end of a plug, rubbed it between the palms of his hands, placed it in his pipe, dipped the pipe in the glowing embers, and leaned back in his chair, and seemed to be completely happy.

"Hit mought not er bin endurin' er de dog days," said the old man, recurring to Daddy Jack's story, " 'kaze dey wuz times dat w'en dey push ole Brer Rabbit so close he 'uz des bleedz ter git he revengeance out'n um. Dat mought er bin de marter 'twix' him en ole Grinny-Granny Wolf, 'kaze w'en ole Brer Rabbit git he dander up, he 'uz a monst'us bad man fer ter fool wid.

"Dey tuck atter 'im," continued Uncle Remus, "en dey 'buzed 'im, en dey tried ter 'stroy 'im, but dey wuz times w'en de t'er creeturs bleedz ter call on 'im fer ter he'p 'em out dey trouble. I ain't nev' tell you 'bout little Wattle Weasel, is I?" asked the old man, suddenly turning to the little boy.

The child laughed. The dogs on the plantation had killed a weasel a few nights before,—a very cunning-looking little animal,—and some of the negroes had sent it to the big house as a curiosity. He connected this fact with Uncle Remus's allusions to the weasel. Before he could make any reply, however, the old man went on:—

"No, I boun' I ain't, en it come 'cross me right fresh en hot time I year talk er Brer Wolf eatin' he granny. Dey wuz one time w'en all de creeturs wuz livin' in de same settlement en usin' out'n de same spring, en it got so dat dey put all dey butter in de same piggin'. Dey put it in dar, dey did, en dey put it in de spring-house, en dey'd go off en 'ten' ter dey business. Den w'en dey come back dey'd fine whar some un been nibblin' at dey butter. Dey tuck'n hide dat butter all 'roun' in de spring-house; dey sot it on de rafters, en dey bury it in de san'; yit all de same de butter 'ud come up missin'.

"Bimeby it got so dey dunner w'at ter do; dey zamin' de tracks, en dey fine out dat de man w'at nibble dey butter is little Wattle Weasel. He come in de night, he come in de day; dey can't ketch 'im. Las' de creeturs tuck'n helt er confab, en dey 'gree dat dey hatter set some un fer ter watch en ketch Wattle Weasel.

"Brer Mink wuz de fus' man 'p'inted, 'kaze he wa'n't mo'n a half a han' no way you kin fix it. De t'er creeturs dey tuck'n went off ter dey wuk, en Brer Mink he tuck'n sot up wid de butter. He watch en he lissen, he lissen en he watch; he ain't see nothin', he ain't year nothin'. Yit he watch, 'kaze der t'er creeturs done fix up a law dat ef Wattle Weasel come w'iles somebody watchin' en git off bidout gittin' kotch, de man w'at watchin' ain't kin eat no mo' butter endurin' er dat year.

"Brer Mink, he watch en he wait. He set so still dat bimeby he git de cramps in de legs, en des 'bout dat time little Wattle Weasel pop he head und' de do'. He see Brer Mink, en he hail 'im:—

" 'Heyo, Brer Mink! you look sorter lonesome in dar. Come out yer en less take a game er hidin'-switch.'

"Brer Mink, he wanter have some fun, he did, en he tuck'n jine Wattle Weasel in de game. Dey play en dey play twel, bimeby, Brer Mink git so wo' out dat he ain't kin run, skacely, en des soon ez dey sets down ter res', Brer Mink, he draps off ter sleep. Little Wattle Weasel, so mighty big en fine, he goes en nibbles up de butter, en pops out de way he come in.



"De creeturs, dey come back, dey did, en dey fine de butter nibbled, en Wattle Weasel gone. Wid dat, dey marks Brer Mink down, en he ain't kin eat no mo' butter dat year. Den dey fix up 'n'er choosement en 'p'int Brer Possum fer ter watch de butter.

"Brer Possum, he grin en watch, and bimeby, sho' 'nuff, in pop little Wattle Weasel. He come in, he did, en he sorter hunch Brer Possum in de short ribs, en ax 'im how he come on. Brer Possum mighty ticklish, en time Wattle Weasel totch 'im in de short ribs, he 'gun ter laugh. Wattle Weasel totch 'im ag'in en laugh wusser, en he keep on hunchin' 'im dat a-way twel bimeby Brer Possum laugh hisse'f plum outer win', en Wattle Weasel lef 'im dar en nibble up de butter.

"De creeturs, dey tuck'n mark Brer Possum down, en 'p'int Brer Coon. Brer Coon, he tuck'n start in all so mighty fine; but w'iles he settin' dar, little Wattle Weasel banter 'im fer a race up de branch. No sooner say dan yer dey went! Brer Coon, he foller de tu'ns er de branch, en little Wattle Weasel he take'n take nigh cuts, en 't wa'n't no time 'fo' he done run Brer Coon plum down. Den dey run down de branch, and 'fo' Brer Coon kin ketch up wid 'im, dat little Wattle Weasel done got back ter de noggin er butter, en nibble it up.

"Den de creeturs tuck'n mark Brer Coon down, dey did, en 'p'int Brer Fox fer ter watch de butter. Wattle Weasel sorter 'fear'd 'er Brer Fox. He study long time, en den he wait twel night. Den he tuck'n went 'roun' in de ole fiel' en woke up de Killdees en druv 'roun' todes de spring-house. Brer Fox year um holler, en it make he mouf water. Bimeby, he 'low ter hisse'f dat 't ain't no harm ef he go out en slip up on one."

"Dar now!" said Aunt Tempy.

"Brer Fox tuck'n slip out, en Wattle Weasel he slicked in, en bless yo' soul! dar goes de butter!"

"Enty!" exclaimed Daddy Jack.

"Brer Fox he git marked down," continued Uncle Remus, "en den de creeturs tuck'n 'p'int Brer Wolf fer ter be dey watcher. Brer Wolf, he sot up dar, he did, en sorter nod, but bimeby he year some un talkin' outside de spring-house. He h'ist up he years en lissen. Look lak some er de creeturs wuz gwine by, en talkin' 'mungs' deysef'; but all Brer Wolf kin year is dish yer:—

" 'I wonder who put dat ar young sheep down dar by de chinkapin tree, en I like ter know wharbouts Brer Wolf is.'

"Den it seem lak dey pass on, en ole Brer Wolf, he fergotted w'at he in dar fer, en he dash down ter de chinkapin tree, fer ter git de young sheep. But no sheep dar, en w'en he git back, he see signs whar Wattle Weasel done bin in dar en nibble de butter.

"Den de creeturs tuck'n mark Brer Wolf down, en 'p'int Brer B'ar fer ter keep he eye 'pun de noggin er butter. Brer B'ar he tuck'n sot up dar, he did, en lick he paw, en feel good. Bimeby Wattle Weasel come dancin' in. He 'low:—

" 'Heyo, Brer B'ar, how you come on? I 'low'd I yeard you snortin' in yer, en I des drapt in fer ter see.'

"Brer B'ar tell him howdy, but he sorter keep one eye on 'im. Little Wattle Weasel 'low:—

" 'En you got ticks on yo' back, Brer B'ar?'

"Wid dat Wattle Weasel 'gun ter rub Brer B'ar on de back en scratch 'im on de sides, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he 'uz stretch out fast asleep en sno'in' lak a saw-mill. Co'se Wattle Weasel git de butter. Brer B'ar he got marked down, and den de creeturs ain't know w'at dey gwine do skacely.

"Some say sen' fer Brer Rabbit, some say sen' fer Brer Tarrypin; but las' dey sent fer Brer Rabbit. Brer Rabbit, he tuck a notion dat dey 'uz fixin' up some kinder trick on 'im, en dey hatter beg mightily, mon, 'fo' he 'ud come en set up 'longside er dey butter.

"But bimeby he 'greed, en he went down ter de spring-house en look 'roun'. Den he tuck'n got 'im a twine string, en hide hisse'f whar he kin keep he eye on de noggin er butter. He ain't wait long 'fo' yer come Wattle Weasel. Des ez he 'bout ter nibble at de butter, Brer Rabbit holler out:—

" 'Let dat butter 'lone!'

"Wattle Weasel jump back lak de butter bu'nt 'im. He jump back, he did, en say:—

" 'Sho'ly dat mus' be Brer Rabbit!'

" 'De same. I 'low'd you'd know me. Des let dat butter 'lone.'

" 'Des lemme git one little bit er tas'e, Brer Rabbit.'

" 'Des let dat butter 'lone.'

"Den Wattle Weasel say he want er run a race. Brer Rabbit 'low he tired. Wattle Weasel 'low he want er play hidin'. Brer Rabbit 'low dat all he hidin' days is pas' en gone. Wattle Weasel banter'd en banter'd 'im, en bimeby Brer Rabbit come up wid a banter er he own.

" 'I'll take'n tie yo' tail,' sezee, 'en you'll take'n tie mine, en den we'll see w'ich tail de strongest.' Little Wattle Weasel know how weakly Brer Rabbit tail is, but he ain't know how strong Brer Rabbit bin wid he tricks. So dey tuck'n tie der tails wid Brer Rabbit twine string.

"Wattle Weasel wuz ter stan' inside en Brer Rabbit wuz ter stan' outside, en dey wuz ter pull 'gin' one er n'er wid dey tails. Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n slip out'n de string, en tie de een' 'roun' a tree root, en den he went en peep at Wattle Weasel tuggin' en pullin'. Bimeby Wattle Weasel 'low:—

" 'Come en ontie me, Brer Rabbit, 'kaze you done outpull me.'

"Brer Rabbit sot dar, he did, en chaw he cud, en look lak he feel sorry 'bout sump'n'. Bimeby all de creeturs come fer ter see 'bout dey butter, 'kaze dey fear'd Brer Rabbit done make way wid it. Yit w'en dey see little Wattle Weasel tie by de tail, dey make great 'miration 'bout Brer Rabbit, en dey 'low he de smartest one er de whole gang."

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