Reference > Fiction > Nonfiction > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Brother Mud-Turtle’s Trickery
By Joel Chandler Harris (1848–1908)
From ‘Uncle Remus and his Friends’

“I DON’T like deze yer tales ’bout folks, no how you kin fix um,” said Uncle Remus after an unusually long pause, during which he rubbed his left hand with the right, in order to run the rheumatism out. “No, suh, I don’t like um, kaze folks can’t play no tricks, ner git even wid der neighbors, widout hurtin’ somebody’s feelin’s, er breakin’ some law er ’nudder, er gwine ’ginst what de preacher say.  1
  “Look at dat man what I des been tellin’ you ’bout. He let de udder man fool ’im en ketch ’im, en mo’ dan dat, he let um tote ’im off de calaboose. He oughter been tuck dar; I ain’t ’sputin’ dat; yit ef dat had been some er de creeturs, dey’d er sholy got loose fum dar.  2
  “When it comes ter talkin’ ’bout gittin’ loose,” Uncle Remus continued, settling himself comfortably in his chair, “I git ter runnin’ on in my min’ ’bout ole Brer Fox en ole Brer Mud Turkle. Dey had some kinder fallin’ out once ’pon a time—I dunner what. I speck hit’s got a tale hung on it, but de tale done switch itself out’n my min’. Yit dey’d done had a fallin’ out, en dey wa’nt no love los’ betwixt um. Well, suh, one day Brer Fox wuz gwine down de creek fishin’. Little ez you may think un it, Brer Fox wuz monst’us fon’ er fishes, so eve’y chance he got he’d go fishin’.”  3
  “On Sunday, too?” inquired the little boy. He had been lectured on that subject not long before.  4
  “Well, I tell you now,” replied Uncle Remus laughing, “Brer Fox is like ’oman’s tongue; he ain’t got no Sunday.”  5
  “What kind of bait did he have?” the youngster asked.  6
  “What he want wid bait, honey? He ain’t got no bait, en no pole, en no hook. He des went down de creek, en when he come ter a good place, he’d wade in en feel und’ de rocks en und’ de bank. Sometimes he’d ketch a horny-head, en den ag’in he’d ketch a peerch. Well, suh, he went on en went on, en he had bad luck. Look like de fishes wuz all gone fum home, but he kep’ on en kep’ on. He ’low ter hisse’f dat he bleedz ter have some fish fer dinner. One time he put his han’ in a crawfish nes’ en got nipt, en anudder time he tetched a eel, en it made de col’ chills run ’cross ’im. Yit he kep’ on.  7
  “Bimeby Brer Fox come ter whar ole Brer Mud Turkle live at. I dunner what make ole Brer Mud Turkle live in such a damp place like dat. Look like him en his folks ’ud have a bad col’ de whole blessid time. But dar he wuz in de water und’ de bank, layin’ dar fas’ asleep, dreamin’ ’bout de good times he’d have when de freshet come. He ’uz layin’ dar wid his eyes shot, when de fus’ news he know he feel sump’n ’nudder fumblin’ ’roun’ his head. ’Twan’t nobody but ole Brer Fox feelin’ ’roun’ und’ de bank fer fishes.  8
  “Brer Mud Turkle move his head, he did, but de fumblin’ kep’ on, en bimeby he open his mouf en Brer Fox fumble en fumble, twel bimeby he got ’is han’ in dar, en time he do dat, ole Brer Mud Turkle shet down on it. En I let you know,” continued Uncle Remus, shaking his head slowly from side to side as if to add emphasis to the statement, “I let you know when ole Brer Mud Turkle shet down on yo’ han’, you got ter cut off his head en den wait twel it thunder, ’fo’ he turn loose.  9
  “Well, suh, he shet down on ole Brer Fox, en ef you’d ’a’ been anywhars in dat settlement you’d ’a’ heard squallin’ den ef you ain’t never hear none befo’.  10
  “Brer Fox des hilt his head back en holler ‘Ouch! Ouch! What dis got me? Ouch! Turn me aloose! Ouch! Somebody better run here quick! Laws a massy! Ouch!’  11
  “But Brer Mud Turkle he helt on, en he feel so much comfort dat he’d er in about went ter asleep ag’in ef Brer Fox hadn’t er snatched en jerked so hard en a-holler’d so loud.  12
  “Brer Fox holler, en Brer Mud Turkle hol’ on; Brer Fox holler, en Brer Mud Turkle hol’ on. Dar dey wuz, nip en tug, holler en hol’ fas’! Bimeby it hurt so bad dat Brer Fox des fetched one loud squall en made one big pull, en out come ole Brer Mud Turkle, a-hangin’ ter his han’.  13
  “Well, suh, when dey got out on de bank en Brer Mud Turkle sorter woke up, he tuck’n turn Brer Fox loose widout waitin’ fer de thunder. He ax Brer Fox pardon, but Brer Fox he ain’t got no pardon fer ter gi’ ’im.  14
  “Brer Mud Turkle make like he skeer’d. He ’low: ‘I ’clar’ ter gracious, Brer Fox! ef I’d a know’d ’twuz you, I’d ’a’ never shet down on you in de roun’ worl’; kaze I know what a dangersome man you is. I know’d yo’ daddy befo’ you, en he wuz a dangersome man.’  15
  “But Brer Fox ’fuse ter lissen ter dat kinder talk. He say: ‘I been wantin’ you a long time, en now I got you. I got you right where I want you, en when I get thoo wid you, yo’ own folks wouldn’t know you ef dey wuz ter meet you in de middle er de road.’  16
  “Brer Mud Turkle cry on one side his face, en laugh on tudder. He ’low, ‘Please, suh, Brer Fox, des let me off dis time, en I’ll be good friend ’long wid you all de balance er de time. Please, suh, Brer Fox, let me off dis time!’  17
  “Brer Fox say, ‘Oh, yes! I’ll let you off; I’m all de time a-lettin’ off folks what bite me ter de bone! Oh yes! I’ll let you off, but I’ll take en skin you fust.’  18
  “Brer Mud Turkle ’low, ‘Spozen I ain’t got no hide on me; den what you gwine to do?’  19
  “Brer Fox grit his tushes. He say, ‘Ef you ain’t got no hide, I’ll fin’ de place whar de hide oughter be—dat’s what!’  20
  “Wid dat he make a grab at Brer Mud Turkle’s neck, but Brer Mud Turkle draw his head en his foots und’ his shell, en quile up his tail, en dar he wuz. He so ole en tough he got moss on his shell. Brer Fox fool wid ’im, en gnyaw en gouge at de shell, but he des might ez well gnyaw en gouge at a flint rock. He work en he work, but ’tain’t do no good; he can’t git Brer Mud Turkle out er his house no way he kin fix it.  21
  “Ole Brer Mud Turkle talk at ’im. He ’low, ‘Hard ain’t no name fer it, Brer Fox! You’ll be jimber-jaw’d long ’fo’ you gnyaw thoo my hide!’  22
  “Brer Fox gnyaw en gouge, en gouge en gnyaw.  23
  “Brer Mud Turkle ’low, ‘Dey ain’t but one way fer ter git dat shell off, Brer Fox!’  24
  “Brer Fox ’fuse ter make answer. He gouge en gnyaw, en gnyaw en gouge.  25
  “Brer Mud Turkle ’low, ‘Tushes ain’t gwine git it off! Claws ain’t gwine git it off! Yit mud en water will do de work. Now I’m gwine ter sleep.’  26
  “Brer Fox gnyaw en gouge, en gouge en gnyaw, en bimeby he git tired, mo’ speshually when he hear ole Brer Mud Turkle layin’ in dar snorin’ des like somebody sawin’ gourds. Den he sot down en watch Brer Mud Turkle, but he ain’t move. He do des like he sleep.  27
  “Den Brer Fox git de idee dat he’ll play a trick on Brer Mud Turkle. He holler out, ‘Good-by, Brer Mud Turkle! You er too much fer me dis time. My han’ hurt me so bad I got ter go home en git a poultice on it. But I’ll pay you back ef hit’s de las’ ac’!’  28
  “Brer Fox make like he gwine off, but he des run ’roun’ en hid in de bushes. Yit does you speck he gwine fool Brer Mud Turkle? Shoo, honey! Dat creetur got moss on his back, en he got so much sense in his head his eyes look red. He des lay dar, ole Brer Mud Turkle did, en sun hisse’f same as ef he wuz on a rock in de creek. He lay dar so still dat Brer Fox got his impatients stirred up, en he come out de bushes en went ter Brer Mud Turkle en shuck ’im up en ax’d ’im how he gwine git de shell off.  29
  “Brer Mud Turkle ’low, ‘Tushes ain’t gwine git it off! Claws ain’t gwine git it off! Yit mud en water will do de work!’  30
  “Brer Fox say, ‘Don’t riddle me no riddles. Up en tell me like a man how I gwine ter git yo’ shell off!’  31
  “Brer Mud Turkle ’low, ‘Put me in de mud en rub my back hard ez you kin. Den de shell bleedz ter come off. Dat de reason dey calls me Brer Mud Turkle.’  32
  “Well, suh,” said Uncle Remus, laughing heartily, “Brer Fox ain’t got no better sense dan ter b’lieve all dat truck, so he tuck en shove Brer Mud Turkle ’long twel he got ’im in de mud, en den he ’gun ter rub on his back like somebody curryin’ a hoss. What happen den? Well, dey ain’t nothin’ ’t all happen, ’ceppin’ what bleedz ter happen. De mo’ he rub on de back, de deeper Brer Mud Turkle go in de mud. Bimeby, whiles Brer Fox wuz rubbin’ right hard, Brer Mud Turkle sorter gun hisse’f a flirt en went down out er reach. Co’se dis make Brer Fox splunge in de water, en a little mo’ en he’d a drown’ded right den en dar. He went out on de bank, he did, en whiles he settin’ dar dryin’ hisse’f he know’d dat Brer Mud Turkle wuz laughin’ at ’im, kaze he kin see de signs un it.”  33
  The little boy laughed, but he shook his head incredulously.  34
  “Well,” said Uncle Remus, “ef you gwine ter ’spute dat, you des ez well ter stan’ up en face me down ’bout de whole tale. Kaze when Brer Fox see bubbles risin’ on de water en follerin’ atter one anudder, he bleedz ter know dat Brer Mud Turkle down under dar laughin’ fit ter kill hisse’f.”  35
  This settled the matter. The child was convinced.  36

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