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

Brer Rabbit and Mr. Wildcat

"Uncle Remus," said the little boy, after a pause, "where did Brother Rabbit go when he got out of the hollow tree?"

"Well, sir," exclaimed Uncle Remus, "you ain't gwine ter b'leeve me, skacely, but dat owdashus creetur ain't no sooner git out er dat ar tree dan he go en git hisse'f mix up wid some mo' trouble, w'ich he git mighty nigh skeer'd out'n he skin.

"W'en Brer Rabbit git out'n de holler tree, he tuck'n fling some sass back at ole Brer Buzzard, he did, en den he put out down de big road, stidder gwine 'long back home en see 'bout he fambly. He 'uz gwine 'long—lickety-clickety, clickety-lickety—w'en fus' news you know he feel sump'n' 'n'er drap down 'pun 'im, en dar he wuz. Bless yo' soul, w'en Brer Rabbit kin git he 'membunce terge'er, he feel ole Mr. Wildcat a-huggin' 'im fum behime, en w'ispun in he year."

"What did he whisper, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy.

"Dis, dat, en de udder, one thing en a nudder."

"But what did he say?"

"De way un it wuz dis," said Uncle Remus, ignoring the child's question, "Brer Rabbit, he 'uz gallin'-up down de road, en ole Mr. Wildcat, he 'uz layin' stretch' out takin' a nap on a tree-lim' hangin' 'crosst de road. He year Brer Rabbit come a-lickity-clickitin' down de road, en he des sorter fix hisse'f, en w'en Brer Rabbit come a-dancin' und' de lim', all Mr. Wildcat got ter do is ter drap right down on 'im, en dar he wuz. Mr. Wildcat hug 'im right up at 'im, en laugh en w'isper in he year."

"Well, Uncle Remus, what did he say?"  persisted the little boy.

The old man made a sweeping gesture with his left hand that might mean everything or nothing, and proceeded to tell the story in his own way.

"Ole Mr. Wildcat hug Brer Rabbit up close en w'isper in he year. Brer Rabbit, he kick, he squall. Bimeby he ketch he breff en 'low:—

" 'Ow! O Lordy-lordy! W'at I done gone en done now?'

"Mr. Wildcat, he rub he wet nose on Brer Rabbit year, en make cole chill run up he back. Bimeby he say:—

" 'O Brer Rabbit, I des nat'ally loves you! You bin a-foolin' all er my cousins en all er my kinfolks, en 't ain't bin so mighty long sence you set Cousin Fox on me, en little mo' en I'd a-to' 'im in two. O Brer Rabbit! I des nat'ally loves you,' sezee.

"Den he laugh, en he toofs strak terge'er right close ter Brer Rabbit year. Brer Rabbit, he 'low, he did:—

"Law, Mr. Wildcat, I thunk maybe you mought lak ter have Brer Fox fer supper, en dat de reason I sent 'im up ter whar you is. Hit done come ter mighty purty pass w'en folks can't be fr'en's 'ceppin' sump'n' 'n'er step in 'twix' en 'tween um, en ef dat de case I ain't gwine ter be fr'en's no mo'—dat I ain't.'

"Mr. Wildcat wipe he nose on Brer Rabbit year, en he do sorter lak he studyin'. Brer Rabbit he keep on talkin'. He 'low:—

" 'Endurin' er all dis time, is I ever pester 'long wid you, Mr. Wildcat?'

" 'No, Brer Rabbit, I can't say ez you is.'

" 'No, Mr. Wildcat, dat I ain't. Let 'lone dat, I done my level bes' fer ter he'p you out. En dough you done jump on me en skeer me scan'lous, yit I'm willin' ter do you 'n'er good tu'n. I year some wild turkeys yelpin' out yan', en ef you'll des lem me off dis time, I'll go out dar en call um up, en you kin make lak you dead, en dey'll come up en stretch dey neck over you, en you kin jump up en kill a whole passel un um 'fo' dey kin git out de way.'

"Mr. Wildcat stop en study, 'kaze ef dey er one kinder meat w'at he lak dat meat is turkey meat. Den he tuck'n ax Brer Rabbit is he jokin'. Brer Rabbit say ef he 'uz settin' off some'rs by he own-'lone se'f he mought be jokin', but how de name er goodness is he kin joke w'en Mr. Wildcat got 'im hug up so tight? Dis look so pleezy-plozzy dat 't wa'n't long 'fo' Mr. Wildcat 'low dat he 'uz mighty willin' ef Brer Rabbit mean w'at he say, en atter w'ile, bless yo' soul, ef you'd 'a' come 'long dar, you'd er seed ole Mr. Wildcat layin' stretch out on de groun' lookin' fer all de wul' des lak he done bin dead a mont', en you'd er yeard ole Brer Rabbit a-yelpin' out in de bushes des lak a sho' 'nuff tukky-hen."

The little boy was always anxious for a practical demonstration, and he asked Uncle Remus how Brother Rabbit could yelp like a turkey-hen. For reply, Uncle Remus searched upon his rude mantel-piece until he found a reed, which he intended to use as a pipe-stem. One end of this he placed in his mouth, enclosing the other in his hands. By sucking the air through the reed with his mouth, and regulating the tone and volume by opening or closing his hands, the old man was able to produce a marvellous imitation of the call of the turkey-hen, much to the delight and astonishment of the little boy.

"Ah, Lord!" exclaimed Uncle Remus, after he had repeated the call until the child was satisfied, "manys en manys de time is I gone out in de woods wid old marster 'fo' de crack er day en call de wile turkeys right spang up ter whar we could er kilt um wid a stick. W'en we fus' move yer fum Ferginny, dey use ter come right up ter whar de barn sets, en mo'n dat I done seed ole marster kill um right out dar by de front gate. But folks fum town been comin' 'roun' yer wid der p'inter dogs twel hit done got so dat ef you wanter see turkey track you gotter go down dar ter de Oconee, en dat's two mile off."

"Did the Wildcat catch the turkeys?" the little boy inquired, when it seemed that Uncle Remus was about to give his entire attention to his own reminiscences.

"De gracious en de goodness!" exclaimed the old man. "Yer I is runnin' on en dar lays Mr. Wildcat waitin' fer Brer Rabbit fer ter help dem turkeys up. En 't ain't take 'im long nudder, 'kaze, bless yo' soul, ole Brer Rabbit wuz a yelper, mon.

"Sho' 'nuff, atter w'ile yer dey come, ole Brer Gibley Gobbler wukkin' in de lead. Brer Rabbit, he run'd en meet um en gun um de wink 'bout ole Mr. Wildcat, en by de time dey git up ter whar he layin', Brer Gibley Gobbler en all his folks wuz jined in a big 'spute. One 'low he dead, 'n'er one 'low he ain't, 'n'er one 'low he stiff, udder one 'low he ain't, en t'udder 'low he is. So dar dey had it. Dey stretch out dey neck en step high wid dey foot, yit dey ain't git too close ter Mr. Wildcat.

"He lay dar, he did, en he ain't move. Win' ruffle up he ha'r, yit he ain't move; sun shine down 'pun 'im, yit he ain't move. De turkeys dey gobble en dey yelp, but dey ain't go no nigher; dey holler en dey 'spute, but dey ain't go no nigher; dey stretch dey neck en dey lif' dey foot high, yit dey ain't go no nigher.

"Hit keep on dis a-way, twel bimeby Mr. Wildcat git tired er waitin', en he jump up, he did, en make a dash at de nighest turkey; but dat turkey done fix, on w'en Mr. Wildcat come at 'im, he des riz in de a'r, en Mr. Wildcat run und' 'im. Den he tuck'n run at 'n'er one, en dat un fly up; en dey keep on dat a-way twel 't wa'n't long 'fo' Mr. Wildcat wuz so stiff in de j'ints en so short in de win' dat he des hatter lay down on de groun' en res', en w'en he do dis, ole Brer Gibley Gobler en all er he folks went on 'bout dey own business; but sence dat day deyer constant a-'sputin' 'long wid deyse'f en eve'ybody w'at come by. Ef you don't b'leeve me," with an air of disposing of the whole matter judicially, "you kin des holler at de fus' Gobbler w'at you meets, en ef he 'fuse ter holler back atter you, you kin des use my head fer a hole in de wall; en w'at mo' kin you ax dan dat?"

"What became of Brother Rabbit, Uncle Remus?"

"Well, sir, Brer Rabbit tuck'n lef' dem low-groun's. W'iles de 'sputin' wuz gwine on, he tuck'n bowed his good-byes, en den he des put out fum dar. Nex' day ole Brer Gibley Gobbler tuck'n sent 'im a turkey wing fer ter make a fan out'n, en Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n sent it ter Miss Meadows en de gals. En I let you know," continued the old man, chuckling heartily to himself, "dey make great 'miration 'bout it."

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