THERE was a pause after the story of old Miss Goose. The culmination was hardly sensational enough to win the hearty applause of the little boy, and this fact appeared to have a depressing influence upon Uncle Remus. As he leaned slightly forward, gazing into the depths of the great fireplace, his attitude was one of pensiveness.
"I 'speck I done wo' out my welcome up at de big house," he said, after a while. "I mos' knows I is," he continued, setting himself resignedly in his deep-bottomed chair. "Kase de las' time I uz up dar, I had my eye on Miss Sally mighty nigh de whole blessid time, en w'en you see Miss Sally rustlin' 'roun' makin' lak she fixin' things up dar on de mantle-shelf, en bouncin' de cheers 'roun', en breshin' dus' whar dey aint no dus', en flyin' 'roun' singin' sorter louder dan common, den I des knows sump'n' done gone en rile 'er."
"Why, Uncle Remus!" exclaimed the little boy; "Mamma was just glad because I was feeling so good."
"Mought er bin," the old man remarked, in a tone that was far from implying conviction. "Ef 't wa'n't dat, den she wuz gittin' tired er seem' me lounjun' 'roun' up dar night atter night, en ef 't wa'n't dat, den she wuz watchin' a chance fer ter preach ter yo' pa. Oh, I done bin know Miss Sally long fo' yo' pa is!" exclaimed Uncle Remus, in response to the astonishment depicted upon the child's face. "I bin knowin' 'er sence she wuz so high, en endurin' er all dat time I aint seed no mo' up'n spoken' w'ite 'oman dan w'at Miss Sally is.
"But dat aint needer yer ner dar. You done got so youk'n rush down yer des like you useter, en we kin set yer en smoke, en tell tales, en study up 'musements same like we wuz gwine on 'fo' you got dat splinter in yo' foot.
"I mines me er one time"--with an infectious laugh--"w'en ole Brer Rabbit got Brer Fox in de wuss trubble w'at a man wuz mos' ever got in yit, en dat 'uz w'en he fool 'im 'bout de hoss. Aint I never tell you 'bout dat? But no marter ef I is. Hoe-cake aint cook done good twel hit 's turnt over a couple er times.
"Well, atter Brer Fox done git rested fum keepin' out er de way er Mr. Dog, en sorter ketch up wid his rations, he say ter hisse'f dat he be dog his cats ef he don't slorate ole Brer Rabbit ef it take 'im a mont'; en dat, too, on top er all de 'spe'unce w'at he done bin had wid um. Brer Rabbit he sorter git win' er dis, en one day, w'iles he gwine 'long de road studyin' how he gwineter hol' he hand wid Brer Fox, he see a great big Hoss layin' stretch out flat on he side in de pastur'; en he tuck'n crope up, he did, fer ter see ef dish yer Hoss done gone en die. He crope up en he crope 'roun', en bimeby he see de Hoss switch he tail, en den Brer Rabbit know he aint dead. Wid dat, Brer Rabbit lope back ter de big road, en mos' de fus' man w'at he see gwine on by wuz Brer Fox, en Brer Rabbit he tuck atter 'im, en holler:
"'Brer Fox! O Brer Fox! Come back! I got some good news fer you. Come back, Brer Fox,' sezee.
"Brer Fox, he tu'n 'roun', he did, en w'en he see who callin' 'im, he come gallopin' back, kaze it seem like dat des ez gooder time ez any fer ter nab Brer Rabbit; but 'fo' he git in nabbin' distance, Brer Rabbit he up'n say, sezee:
"'Come on, Brer Fox! I done fine de place whar you kin lay in fresh meat 'nuff fer ter las' you plum twel de middle er nex' year,' sezee.
"Brer Fox, he ax wharbouts, en Brer Rabbit, he say, right over dar in de pastur', en Brer Fox ax w'at is it, en Brer Rabbit, he say w'ich 'twuz a whole Hoss layin' down on de groun' whar dey kin ketch 'im en tie 'im. Wid dat, Brer Fox, he say come on, en off dey put.
"W'en dey got dar, sho' nuff, dar lay de Hoss all stretch out in de sun, fas' 'sleep, en den Brer Fox en Brer Rabbit, dey had a 'spute 'bout how dey gwine ter fix de Hoss so he can't git loose. One say one way en de yuther say n'er way, en dar dey had it, twel atter w'ile Brer Rabbit, he say, sezee:
"'De onliest plan w'at I knows un, Brer Fox,' sezee, 'is fer you ter git down dar en lemme tie you ter de Hoss tail, en den, w'en he try ter git up, you kin hol' 'im down,' sezee. 'Ef I wuz big man like w'at you is,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'you mought tie me ter dat Hoss' tail, en ef I aint hol' 'im down, den Joe's dead en Sal's a widder. I des knows you kin hol' 'im down,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'but yit, ef you 'feared, we des better drap dat idee en study out some yuther plan,' sezee.
"Brer Fox sorter jubus 'bout dis, but he bleedzd ter play biggity 'fo' Brer Rabbit, en he tuck'n 'gree ter de progrance, en den Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n tie Brer Fox ter de Hoss' tail, en atter he git 'im tie dar hard en fas', he sorter step back, he did, en put he han's 'kimbo, en grin, en den he say, sezee:
"Ef ever dey wuz a Hoss kotch, den we done kotch dis un. Look sorter lak we done put de bridle on de wrong een',' sezee, 'but I lay Brer Fox is got de strenk fer ter hol' 'im,' sezee.
"Wid dat, Brer Rabbit cut 'im a long switch en trim it up, en w'en he get it fix, up he step en hit de Hoss a rap--pow! De Hoss 'uz dat s'prise at dat kinder doin's dat he make one jump, en lan' on he foots. W'en he do dat, dar wuz Brer Fox danglin' in de a'r, en Brer Rabbit, he dart out de way en holler:
"'Hol' 'im down, Brer Fox! Hol' 'im down! I'll stan' out yer en see fa'r play. Hol' 'im down, Brer Fox! Hol' 'im down!'
"Co'se, w'en de Hoss feel Brer Fox hangin' dar onter he tail, he thunk sump'n' kuse wuz de marter, en dis make 'im jump en r'ar wusser en wusser, en he shake up Brer Fox same like he wuz a rag in de win', en Brer Rabbit, he jump en holler:
"'Hol' 'im down, Brer Fox! Hol' 'im down! You got 'im now, sho'! Hol' yo' grip, en hol' 'im down,' sezee.
"De Hoss, he jump en he hump, en he rip en he r'ar, en he snort en he t'ar. But yit Brer Fox hang on, en still Brer Rabbit skip 'roun' en holler:
"'Hol' 'im down, Brer Fox! You got 'im whar he can't needer back ner squall. Hol' 'im down, Brer Fox!' sezee.
"Bimeby, w'en Brer Fox git chance, he holler back, he did:
"'How in de name er goodness I gwine ter hol' de Hoss down 'less I git my claw in de groun'?'
"Den Brer Rabbit, he stan' back little furder en holler little louder:
"'Hol' 'im down, Brer Fox! Hol' 'im down! You got 'im now, sho'! Hol' 'im down!'
"Bimeby de Hoss 'gun ter kick wid he behime legs, en de fus' news you know, he fetch Brer Fox a lick in de stomach dat fa'rly make 'im squall, en den he kick 'im ag'in, en dis time he break Brer Fox loose, en sont 'im a-whirlin'; en Brer Rabbit, he keep on a-jumpin' 'roun' en hollerin':
"'Hol' 'im down, Brer Fox!'"
"Did the fox get killed, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy.
"He wa'n't 'zackly kilt, honey," replied the old man, "but he wuz de nex' do' ter't. He 'uz all broke up, en w'iles he 'uz gittin' well, hit sorter come 'cross he min' dat Brer Rabbit done play n'er game on 'im."