Gateway to the Classics: Display Item
Joel Chandler Harris

Brer Rabbit Submits to a Test

"Uncle Remus," said the child, "do you reckon Brother Rabbit really married the young lady?"

"Bless yo' soul, honey," responded the old man, with a sigh, "hit b'long ter Brer Jack fer ter tell you dat. 'T ain't none er my tale."

"Was n't that the tale you started to tell?"

"Who? Me? Shoo!  I ain't 'sputin' but w'at Brer Jack tale des ez purty ez dey er any needs fer, yit 't ain't none er my tale."

At this, the little boy laid his head upon Uncle Remus's knee and waited.

"Now, den," said the old man, with an air of considerable importance, "we er got ter go 'way back behime dish yer yallergater doin's w'at Brer Jack bin mixin' us up wid. Ef I makes no mistakes wid my 'membunce, de place wharbouts I lef' off wuz whar Brer Rabbit had so many 'p'intments fer ter keep out de way er de t'er creeturs dat he 'gun ter feel monst'us humblyfied. Let um be who dey will, you git folks in a close place ef you wanter see um shed der proudness. Dey beg mo' samer dan a nigger w'en de patter-rollers ketch 'im. Brer Rabbit ain't ko no beggin', 'kaze dey ain't kotch; yit dey come so nigh it, he 'gun ter feel he weakness.

"W'en Brer Rabbit feel dis a-way, do he set down flat er de groun' en let de t'er creeturs rush up en grab 'im? He mought do it deze days, 'kaze times done change; but in dem days he des tuck'n sot up wid hisse'f en study 'bout w'at he gwine do. He study en study, en las' he up'n tell he ole 'oman, he did, dat he gwine on a journey. Wid dat, ole Miss Rabbit, she tuck'n fry 'im up a rasher er bacon, en bake 'im a pone er bread. Brer Rabbit tied dis up in a bag en tuck down he walkin' cane en put out."

"Where was he going, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy.

"Lemme 'lone, honey! Lemme sorter git hit up, like. De trail mighty cole 'long yer, sho'; 'kaze dish yer tale ain't come 'cross my min' not sence yo' gran'pa fotch us all out er Ferginny, en dat's a monst'us long time ago.

"He put out, Brer Rabbit did, fer ter see ole Mammy-Bammy Big-Money."

"Dat 'uz dat ole Witch-Rabbit," remarked Aunt Tempy, complacently.

"Yasser," continued Uncle Remus, "de ve'y same ole creetur w'at I done tell you 'bout w'en Brer Rabbit los' he foot. He put out, he did, en atter so long a time he git dar. He take time fer ter ketch he win', en den he sorter shake hisse'f up en rustle 'roun' in de grass. Bimeby he holler:—

" 'Mammy-Bammy Big-Money! O Mammy-Bammy Big-Money! I journeyed fur, I journeyed fas'; I glad I foun' de place at las'.'

"Great big black smoke rise up out er de groun', en ole Mammy-Bammy Big-Money 'low:—

" 'Wharfo', Son Riley Rabbit, Riley? Son Riley Rabbit, wharfo'?'

"Wid dat," continued Uncle Remus, dropping the sing-song tone by means of which he managed to impart a curious dignity and stateliness to the dialogue between Brother Rabbit and Mammy-Bammy Big-Money,—"wid dat Brer Rabbit up'n tell 'er, he did, 'bout how he fear'd he losin' de use er he min', 'kaze he done come ter dat pass dat he ain't kin fool de yuther creeturs no mo', en dey push 'im so closte twel 't won't be long 'fo' dey'll git 'im. De ole Witch-Rabbit she sot dar, she did, en suck in black smoke en puff it out 'g'in, twel you can't see nothin' 't all but 'er great big eyeballs en 'er great big years. Atter w'ile she 'low:—

" 'Dar sets a squer'l in dat tree, Son Riley; go fetch dat squer'l straight ter me, Son Riley Rabbit, Riley.'

"Brer Rabbit sorter study, en den he 'low, he did:—

" 'I ain't got much sense lef', yit ef I can't coax dat chap down from dar, den hit's 'kaze I done got some zeeze w'ich it make me fibble in de min',' sezee.

"Wid dat, Brer Rabbit tuck'n empty de provender out'n he bag en got 'im two rocks, en put de bag over he head en sot down und' de tree whar he squer'l is. He wait little w'ile, en den he hit de rocks tergedder—blip!

"Squer'l he holler, 'Hey!'

"Brer Rabbit wait little, en den he tuck'n slap de rocks tergedder—blap!

"Squer'l he run down de tree little bit en holler, 'Heyo!'

"Brer Rabbit ain't sayin' nothin'. He des pop de rocks tergedder—blop!

"Squer'l, he come down little furder, he did, en holler, 'Who dat?'

" 'Biggidy Dicky Big-Bag!'

" 'What you doin' in dar?'

" 'Crackin' hick'y nuts.'

" 'Kin I crack some?'

" 'Tooby sho', Miss Bunny Bushtail; come git in de bag.'

"Miss Bunny Bushtail hang back," continued Uncle Remus, chuckling; "but de long en de short un it wuz dat she got in de bag, en Brer Rabbit he tuck'n kyar'd 'er ter ole Mammy-Bammy Big-Money. De ole Witch-Rabbit, she tuck'n tu'n de squer'l a-loose, en 'low:—

" 'Dar lies a snake in 'mungs' de grass, Son Riley; go fetch 'im yer, en be right fas', Son Riley Rabbit, Riley.'

"Brer Rabbit look 'roun', en sho' nuff dar lay de bigges' kinder rattlesnake, all quile up ready fer business. Brer Rabbit scratch he year wid he behime leg, en study. Look lak he gwine git in trouble. Yit atter w'ile he go off in de bushes, he did, en cut 'im a young grape-vine, en he fix 'im a slip-knot. Den he come back. Snake 'periently look lak he sleep. Brer Rabbit ax 'im how he come on. Snake ain't say nothin', but he quile up a little tighter, en he tongue run out lak it bin had grease on it. Mouf shot, yit de tongue slick out en slick back 'fo' a sheep kin shake he tail. Brer Rabbit, he 'low, he did:—

" 'Law, Mr. Snake, I mighty glad I come 'cross you,' sezee. 'Me en ole Jedge B'ar bin havin' a turrible 'spute 'bout how long you is. We bofe 'gree dat you look mighty purty w'en youer layin' stretch out full lenk in de sun; but Jedge B'ar, he 'low you ain't but th'ee foot long, en I stood 'im down dat you 'uz four foot long ef not mo',' sezee. 'En de talk got so hot dat I come mighty nigh hittin' 'im a clip wid my walkin'-cane, en ef I had I boun' dey'd er bin some bellerin' done 'roun' dar,' sezee.

"Snake ain't say nothin', but he look mo' complassy dan w'at he bin lookin'.

" 'I up'n tole ole Jedge B'ar,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'dat de nex' time I run 'cross you I gwine take'n medjer you; en goodness knows I mighty glad I struck up wid you, 'kaze now dey won't be no mo' 'casion fer any 'sputin' 'twix' me en Jedge B'ar,' sezee.

"Den Brer Rabbit ax Mr. Snake ef he won't be so good ez ter onquile hisse'f. Snake he feel mighty proud, he did, en he stretch out fer all he wuff. Brer Rabbit he medjer, he did, en 'low:—

" 'Dar one foot fer Jedge B'ar; dar th'ee foot fer Jedge B'ar; en, bless goodness, dar four foot fer Jedge B'ar, des lak I say!'

"By dat time Brer Rabbit done got ter snake head, en des ez de las' wud drop out'n he mouf, he slip de loop 'roun' snake neck, en den he had 'im good en fas'. He tuck'n drag 'im, he did, up ter whar de ole Witch-Rabbit settin' at; but w'en he git dar, Mammy-Bammy Big-Money done make 'er disappearance, but he year sump'n' way off yander, en seem lak it say:—

" 'Ef you git any mo' sense, Son Riley, you'll be de ruination ev de whole settlement, Son Riley Rabbit, Riley.'

"Den Brer Rabbit drag de snake 'long home, en stew 'im down en rub wid de grease fer ter make 'im mo' 'soopler in de lim's. Bless yo' soul, honey, Brer Rabbit mought er bin kinder fibble in de legs, but he wa'n't no ways cripple und' de hat."