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

Why Mr. Dog Runs Brer Rabbit

The little boy was not particularly pleased at the summary manner in which the young Alligators were disposed of; but he was very much amused at the somewhat novel method employed by the Bear to deceive the old Alligator. The negroes, however, enjoyed Daddy Jack's story immensely, and even 'Tildy condescended to give it her approval; but she qualified this by saying, as soon as she had ceased laughing:—

"I 'clar' ter goodness you all got mighty little ter do fer ter be settin' down yer night atter night lis'nin' at dat nigger man."

Daddy Jack nodded, smiled, and rubbed his withered hands together apparently in a perfect ecstasy of good-humor, and finally said:—

"Oona come set-a by me, lil gal. 'E berry nice tale wut me tell-a you. Come sit-a by me, lil gal;'e berry nice tale. Ef you no want me fer tell-a you one tale, dun you is kin tell-a me one tale."

"Humph!" exclaimed 'Tildy, contemptuously, "you'll set over dar in dat cornder en dribble many's de long day 'fo' I tell you any tale."

"Look yer, gal!" said Uncle Remus, pretending to ignore the queer courtship that seemed to be progressing between Daddy Jack and 'Tildy, "you gittin' too ole fer ter be sawin' de a'r wid yo 'head en squealin' lak a filly. Ef you gwine ter set wid folks, you better do lak folks does. Sis Tempy dar ain't gwine on dat a-way, en she ain't think 'erse'f too big fer ter set up dar en jine in wid us en tell a tale, needer."

This was the first time that Uncle Remus had ever condescended to accord 'Tildy a place at his hearth on an equality with the rest of his company, and she seemed to be immensely tickled. A broad grin spread over her comely face as she exclaimed:—

"Oh!  I 'clar' ter goodness, Unk Remus, I thought dat ole nigger man wuz des a-projickin' 'long wid me. Ef it come down ter settin' up yer 'long wid you all en tellin' a tale, I ain't 'nyin' but w'at I got one dat you all ain't never year tell un, 'kaze dat ar Slim Jim w'at Mars Ellick Akin got out'n de speckerlater waggin, he up'n tell it dar at Riah's des 'fo' de patter-rollers tuck'n slipt up on um."

"Dar now!" remarked Aunt Tempy. 'Tildy laughed boisterously.

"W'at de patter-rollers do wid dat ar Slim Jim?" Uncle Remus inquired.

"Done nothin'!" exclaimed 'Tildy, with an air of humorous scorn. "Time dey got in dar Slim Jim 'uz up de chimbly, en Riah 'uz noddin' in one cornder en me in de udder. Nobody never is ter know how dat ar long-leg nigger slick'd up dat chimbly—dat dey ain't. He put one foot on de pot-rack, en whar he put de t'er foot I  can't tell you."

"What was the story?" asked the little boy.

"I boun' fer you, honey!" exclaimed Uncle Remus.

"Well, den," said 'Tildy, settling herself comfortably, and bridling a little as Daddy Jack manifested a desire to give her his undivided attention,—"well, den, dey wuz one time w'en ole Brer Rabbit 'uz bleedz ter go ter town atter sump'n' 'n'er fer his famerly, en he mos' 'shame' ter go 'kaze his shoes done wo' tetotally out. Yit he bleedz ter go, en he put des ez good face on it ez he kin, en he take down he walkin'-cane en sot out des ez big ez de next un.

"Well, den, ole Brer Rabbit go on down de big road twel he come ter de place whar some folks bin camp out de night befo', en he sot down by de fier, he did, fer ter wom his foots, 'kaze dem mawnin's 'uz sorter cole, like deze yer mawnin's. He sot dar en look at his toes, en he feel mighty sorry fer hisse'f.

"Well, den, he sot dar, he did, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he year sump'n' 'n'er trottin' down de road, en he tuck'n look up en yer come Mr. Dog a-smellin' en a-snuffin' 'roun' fer ter see ef de folks lef' any scraps by der camp-fier. Mr. Dog 'uz all dress up in his Sunday-go-ter-meetin' cloze, en mo'n dat, he had on a pa'r er bran new shoes.

"Well, den, w'en Brer Rabbit see dem ar shoes he feel mighty bad, but he ain't let on. He bow ter Mr. Dog mighty perlite, en Mr. Dog bow back, he did, en dey pass de time er day, 'kaze dey 'uz ole 'quaintance. Brer Rabbit, he say:—

" 'Mr. Dog, whar you gwine all fix up like dis?'

" 'I gwine ter town, Brer Rabbit; whar you gwine?'

" 'I thought I go ter town myse'f fer ter git me new pa'r shoes, 'kaze my ole uns done wo' out en dey hu'ts my foots so bad I can't w'ar um. Dem mighty nice shoes w'at you got on, Mr. Dog; whar you git um?'

" 'Down in town, Brer Rabbit, down in town.'

" 'Dey fits you mighty slick, Mr. Dog, en I wish you be so good ez ter lemme try one un um on.'

"Brer Rabbit talk so mighty sweet dat Mr. Dog sot right flat on de groun' en tuck off one er de behime shoes, en loant it ter Brer Rabbit. Brer Rabbit, he lope off down de road en den he come back. He tell Mr. Dog dat de shoe fit mighty nice, but wid des one un um on, hit make 'im trot crank-sided.

"Well, den, Mr. Dog, he pull off de yuther behime shoe, en Brer Rabbit trot off en try it. He come back, he did, en he say:—

" 'Dey mighty nice, Mr. Dog, but dey sorter r'ars me up behime, en I dunner 'zackly how dey feels.'

"Dis make Mr. Dog feel like he wanter be perlite, en he take off de befo' shoes, en Brer Rabbit put um on en stomp his foots, en 'low:—

" 'Now dat sorter feel like shoes;' en he rack off down de road, en w'en he git whar he oughter tu'n 'roun', he des lay back he years en keep on gwine; en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he git outer sight.

"Mr. Dog, he holler, en tell 'im fer ter come back, but Brer Rabbit keep on gwine; Mr. Dog, he holler, Mr. Rabbit, he keep on gwine. En down ter dis day," continued 'Tildy, smacking her lips, and showing her white teeth, "Mr. Dog bin a-runnin' Brer Rabbit, en ef you'll des go out in de woods wid any Dog on dis place, des time he smell de Rabbit track he'll holler en tell 'im fer ter come back."

"Dat's de Lord's trufe!" said Aunt Tempy.

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