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.
Why Brother Wolf Didn’t Eat the Little Rabbits
By Joel Chandler Harris (1848–1908)
From ‘Uncle Remus and his Friends’

“UNCLE REMUS,” said the little boy one day, “why don’t you come up to the big house sometimes, and tell me stories?”  1
  “Shoo, honey, de spoon hatter go ter de bowl’s house. Ef I wuz atter you ter tell me tales, I’d come up dar en set in de back porch en lissen at you eve’y day, en sometimes eve’y night. But when de spoon want anything, it hatter go ter de bowl. Hit bleedz ter be dat-a-way.”  2
  “Well, you used to come.”  3
  “Des so!” exclaimed Uncle Remus. “But whar wuz you ’bout dat time? Right flat er yo’ back, dat’s whar you wuz. You laid dar en swaller’d dat doctor-truck, twel I be blest ef you had mo’ heft dan a pa’tridge egg wid’ de innerds blow’d out. En dar wuz Miss Sally a-cryin’ en gwine on constant. Ef she wan’t cryin’ ’bout you, she wuz quoilin’ at me en Marse John. ’Oman tongue ain’t got no Sunday. Co’se, when I git dar whar you wuz, I hatter set down en tell tales fer ter make you fergit ’bout de fuss dat wuz gwine on. I ’member one time,” Uncle Remus went on, laughing, “I wuz settin’ dar by yo’ bed, tellin’ some great tale er nudder, en de fus’ news I know’d I woke up and foun’ myse’f fast asleep, en you woke up en foun’ yo’se’f in de land er Nod. Dar we wuz,—me in de cheer, en you in de bed; en I’d nod at you, en you’d sno’ back at me; en dar wuz de old torty-shell cat settin’ by de h’ath, runnin’ dat ar buzz-wheel what cats has got somewhars in der innerds; en de clock wuz a-clockin’ en de candle a-splutterin’; en des ’bout dat time Miss Sally come in en rap me ’pon topper de naked place on my head wid er thimble; en I kotch my breff like a cow a-coughin’, en den Miss Sally start in ter quoilin’, en Marse John ax ’er what she doin’, en she ’low she des whisperin’ ter me; en Marse John say ef she call dat whisperin’, he dunner what she call squallin’; en den I up en groanded one er deze yer meetin’-house groans.  4
  “Dem wuz great times, mon,” continued the old man, after pausing to recover his breath. “Dey mos’ sholy wuz. Hit look like ter me ’bout dem days dat you wan’t no bigger dan a young rabbit atter de hide been tuck off. You cert’nly wuz spare-made den. I sot dar by yo’ bed, en I say ter myse’f dat ef I wuz de ole Brer Wolf en you wuz a young rabbit, I wouldn’t git hongry nuff fer ter eat you, caze you wuz too bony.”  5
  “When did Brother Wolf want to eat the young rabbit, Uncle Remus?” inquired the little boy, thinking that he saw the suggestion of a story here.  6
  He was not mistaken. The old man regarded him with well-feigned astonishment.  7
  “Ain’t I done tole you ’bout dat, honey? Des run over in yo’ min’, en see ef I ain’t.”  8
  The youngster shook his head most emphatically.  9
  “Well,” said Uncle Remus, “ole Brer Wolf want ter eat de little Rabs all de time, but dey wuz one time in ’tickeler dat dey make his mouf water, en dat wuz de time when him en Brer Fox wuz visitin’ at Brer Rabbit’s house. De times wuz hard, but de little Rabs wuz slick en fat, en des ez frisky ez kittens. Ole Brer Rabbit wuz off som’ers, en Brer Wolf en Brer Fox wuz waitin’ fer ’im. De little Rabs wuz playin’ ’roun’, en dough dey wuz little dey kep’ der years open. Brer Wolf look at um out’n de cornder uv his eyes, en lick his chops en wink at Brer Fox, en Brer Fox wunk back at ’im. Brer Wolf cross his legs, en den Brer Fox cross his’n. De little Rabs, dey frisk en dey frolic.  10
  “Brer Wolf ho’d his head to’rds urn en ’low, ‘Dey er mighty fat.’  11
  “Brer Fox grin, en say, ‘Man, hush yo’ mouf!’  12
  “De little Rabs frisk en frolic, en play furder off, but dey keep der years primed.  13
  “Brer Wolf look at um en ’low, ‘Ain’t dey slick en purty?’  14
  “Brer Fox chuckle, en say, ‘Oh, I wish you’d hush!’  15
  “De little Rabs play off furder en furder, but dey keep der years open.  16
  “Brer Wolf smack his mouf, en ’low, ‘Dey er joosy en tender.’  17
  “Brer Fox roll his eye en say, ‘Man, ain’t you gwine ter hush up, ’fo’ you gi’ me de fidgets?’  18
  “De little Rabs dey frisk en dey frolic, but dey hear eve’ything dat pass.  19
  “Brer Wolf lick out his tongue quick, en ’low, ‘Less us whirl in en eat um.’  20
  “Brer Fox say, ‘Man, you make me hongry! Please hush up!’  21
  “De little Rabs play off furder en furder, but dey know ’zackly what gwine on. Dey frisk en dey frolic, but dey got der years wide open.  22
  “Den Brer Wolf make a bargain wid Brer Fox dat when Brer Rabbit git home, one un um ud git ’im wropped up in a ’spute ’bout fust one thing en den anudder, whiles tudder one ud go out en ketch de little Rabs.  23
  “Brer Fox ’low, ‘You better do de talkin’, Brer Wolf, en lemme coax de little Rabs off. I got mo’ winnin’ ways wid chilluns dan what you is.’  24
  “Brer Wolf say, ‘You can’t make gourd out’n punkin, Brer Fox. I ain’t no talker. Yo’ tongue lots slicker dan mine. I kin bite lots better’n I kin talk. Dem little Rabs don’t want no coaxin’; dey wants ketchin’—dat what dey wants. You keep ole Brer Rabbit busy, en I’ll ten’ ter de little Rabs.’  25
  “Bofe un um know’d dat whichever cotch de little Rabs, de tudder one ain’t gwine smell hide ner hair un um, en dey flew up en got ter ’sputin, en whiles dey was ’sputin’ en gwine on dat-a-way, de little Rabs put off down de road, blickety-blickety, for ter meet der daddy. Kase dey know’d ef dey stayed dar dey’d git in big trouble.  26
  “Dey went off down de road, de little Rabs did, en dey ain’t gone so mighty fur ’fo’ dey meet der daddy comin’ ’long home. He had his walkin’ cane in one han’ en a jug in de udder, en he look ez big ez life en twice ez natchul.  27
  “De little Rabs run to’rds ’im en holler, ‘What you got, daddy? What you got, daddy?’  28
  “Brer Rabbit say, ‘Nothin’ but er jug er ’lasses.’  29
  “De little Rabs holler, ‘Lemme tas’e, daddy! Lemme tas’e, daddy!’  30
  “Den ole Brer Rabbit sot de jug down in de road en let um lick de stopper a time er two, en atter dey done get der win’ back, dey up’n tell ’im ’bout de ’greement dat Brer Wolf en Brer Fox done make, en ’bout de ’spute what dey had. Ole Brer Rabbit sorter laugh ter hisse’f, en den he pick up his jug en jog on to’rds home. When he git mos’ dar he stop en tell de little Rabs fer stay back dar out er sight, en wait twel he call um ’fo’ dey come. Dey wuz mighty glad ter do des like dis, kaze dey’d done seed Brer Wolf tushes, en Brer Fox red tongue, en dey huddle up in de broom-sage ez still ez a mouse in de flour-bar’l.  31
  “Brer Rabbit went on home, en sho ’nuff, he fin’ Brer Wolf en Brer Fox waitin’ fer ’im. Dey ’d done settle der ’spute, en dey wuz settin’ dar des ez smilin’ ez a basket er chips. Dey pass de time er day wid Brer Rabbit, en den dey ax ’im what he got in de jug. Brer Rabbit hummed en haw’d, en looked sorter sollum.  32
  “Brer Wolf look like he wuz bleedz ter fin’ out what wuz in de jug, en he keep a pesterin’ Brer Rabbit ’bout it; but Brer Rabbit des shake his head en look sollum, en talk ’bout de wedder, en de craps, en one thing en anudder. Bimeby Brer Fox make out he wuz gwine atter a drink er water, en he slip out, he did, fer ter ketch de little Rabs. Time he git out de house, Brer Rabbit look all ’roun’ ter see ef he lis’nen, en den he went ter de jug en pull out de stopper.  33
  “He han’ it ter Brer Wolf en say, ‘Tas’e dat.’  34
  “Brer Wolf tas’e de ’lasses, en smack his mouf. He ’low, ‘What kinder truck dat? Hit sho is good.’  35
  “Brer Rabbit git up close ter Brer Wolf en say, ‘Don’t tell nobody. Hit’s Fox-blood.’  36
  “Brer Wolf look ’stonish’. He ’low, ‘How you know?’  37
  “Brer Rabbit say, ‘I knows what I knows!’  38
  “Brer Wolf say, ‘Gimme some mo’!’  39
  “Brer Rabbit say, ‘You kin git some mo’ fer yo’se’f easy ’nuff; en de fresher ’tis, de better.’  40
  “Brer Wolf ’low, ‘How you know?’  41
  “Brer Rabbit say, ‘I knows what I knows!’  42
  “Wid dat Brer Wolf stepped out, en start to’rds Brer Fox. Brer Fox seed ’im comin’, en he sorter back off. Brer Wolf got little closer, en bimeby he make a dash at Brer Fox. Brer Fox dodge, he did, en den he put out fer de woods wid Brer Wolf right at his heels.  43
  “Den after so long a time, atter Brer Rabbit got done laughin’, he call up de little Rabs, gi’ um some ’lasses fer supper, en spanked um en sont um ter bed.”  44
  “Well, what did he spank ’em for, Uncle Remus?” asked the little boy.  45
  “Ter make um grow, honey,—des ter make um grow! Young creeturs is got ter have der hide loosen’d dat-a-way, same ez young chilluns.”  46
  “Did Brother Wolf catch Brother Fox?”  47
  “How I know, honey? Much ez I kin do ter foller de tale when it keeps in de big road, let ’lone ter keep up wid dem creeturs whiles dey gone sailin’ thoo de woods. De tale ain’t persoo on atter um no furder dan de place whar dey make der disappear’nce. I tell you now, when I goes in de woods, I got ter know whar I’m gwine.”  48

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