WHEN the little boy next visited Uncle Remus the cabin was dark and empty and the door shut. The old man was gone. He was absent for several nights, but at last one night the little boy saw a welcome light in the cabin, and he made haste to pay Uncle Remus a visit. He was full of questions:
"Goodness, Uncle Remus! Where in the world have you been? I thought you were gone for good. Mamma said she reckoned the treatment here did n't suit you, and you had gone off to get some of your town friends to hire you."
"Is Miss Sally tell you dat, honey? Well, ef she aint de beatenes' w'ite 'oman dis side er kingdom come, you kin des shoot me. Miss Sally tuck'n writ me a pass wid her own han's fer ter go see some er my kin down dar in de Ashbank settlement. Yo' mammy quare 'oman, honey, sho'!
"En yit, w'at de good er my stayin' yer? T'er night, I aint mo'n git good en started 'fo' you er up en gone, en I aint seed ha'r ner hide un you sence. W'en I see you do dat, I 'low ter myse'f dat hit 's des 'bout time fer ole man Remus fer ter pack up he duds en go hunt comp'ny some'r's else."
"Well, Uncle Remus," exclaimed the little boy, in a tone of expostulation, "did n't Brother Fox get the meat, and was n't that the end of the story?"
Uncle Remus started to laugh, but he changed his mind so suddenly that the little boy was convulsed. The old man groaned and looked at the rafters with a curious air of disinterestedness. After a while he went on with great seriousness:
"I dunner w'at kinder idee folks got 'bout Brer Rabbit nohow, dat I don't. S'pozen you lays de plans so some yuther chap kin git a big hunk er goody, is you gwine ter set off some'r's en see 'im make way wid it?"
"What kind of goody, Uncle Remus?"
"Dish yer kinder goody w'at town folks keeps. Mint draps and reezins, en sweet doin's lak Miss Sally keep und' lock en key. Well, den, if you gits some er dat, er may be some yuther kinder goody, w'ich I wish 't wuz yer right dis blessid minnit, is you gwine ter set quile up in dat cheer en let n'er chap run off wid it? Dat you aint--dat you aint!"
"Oh, I know!" exclaimed the little boy. "Brother Rabbit went back and made Brother Fox give him his part of the meat."
"Des lak I tell you, honey; dey wa'n't no man 'mungs de creeturs w'at kin stan' right flat-footed en wuk he min' quick lak Brer Rabbit. He tuck'n tie de rock on de string, stidder de meat, en he pursue long atter it, he did, twel Mr. Man tu'n a ben' in de road, en den Brer Rabbit, he des lit out fum dar--terbuckity-buckity, buck-buck-buckity! en 't wa'n't long 'fo' he tuck'n kotch up wid Brer Fox. Dey tuck de meat, dey did, en kyar'd it way off in de woods, en laid it down on a clean place on de groun'.
"Dey laid it down, dey did," continued Uncle Remus, drawing his chair up closer to the little boy, "en den Brer Fox 'low dey better sample it, en Brer Rabbit he 'gree. Wid dat, Brer Fox he tuck'n gnyaw off a hunk, en he shut bofe eyes, he did, en he chaw en chaw, en tas'e en tas'e, en chaw en tas'e. Brer Rabbit, he watch 'im, but Brer Fox, he keep bofe eyes shot, en he chaw en tas'e, en tas'e en chaw."
Uncle Remus not only furnished a pantomime accompaniment to this recital by shutting his eyes and pretending to taste, but he lowered his voice to a pitch of tragical significance in reporting the dialogue that ensued:
"Den Brer Fox smack he mouf en look at de meat mo' closeter, en up'n 'low:
"'Brer Rabbit, hit 's lam'!'
"'No, Brer Fox! sho'ly not!'
"'Brer Rabbit, hit 's lam'!'
"'Brer Fox, tooby sho'ly not!'
"Den Brer Rabbit, he tuck'n gnyaw off a hunk, en he shot bofe eyes, en chaw en tas'e, en tas'e en chaw. Den he smack he mouf, en up'n 'low:
"'Brer Fox, hit 's shote!'
"'Brer Rabbit, you foolin' me!'
"'Brer Fox, I vow hit 's shote!'
"'Brer Rabbit, hit des can't be!'
"'Brer Fox, hit sho'ly is!'
"Dey tas'e en dey 'spute, en dey 'spute en dey tas'e. Atter w'ile, Brer Rabbit make lak he want some water, en he rush off in de bushes, en d'reckly yer he come back wipin' he mouf en cle'rin' up he th'oat. Den Brer Fox he want some water sho' nuff:
"'Brer Rabbit, whar you fin' de spring?'
"'Cross de road, en down de hill en up de big gully.'
"Brer Fox, he lope off, he did, en atter he gone Brer Rabbit totch he year wid he behime foot lak he flippin' 'im good-bye. Brer Fox, he cross de road en rush down de hill, he did, yit he aint fin' no big gully. He keep on gwine twel he fin' de big gully, yit he aint fin' no spring.
"W'iles all dish yer gwine on, Brer Rabbit he tuck'n grabble a hole in de groun', he did, en in dat hole he hid de meat. Atter he git it good en hid, he tuck'n cut 'im a long keen hick'ry, en atter so long a time, w'en he year Brer Fox comin' back, he got in a clump er bushes, en tuck dat hick'ry en let in on a saplin', en ev'y time he hit de saplin', he 'ud squall out, Brer Rabbit would, des lak de patter-rollers had 'im:
"Pow, pow! 'Oh, pray, Mr. Man!'--Pow, pow! 'Oh, pray, Mr. Man!'--Chippy-row, pow! 'Oh, Lordy, Mr. Man! Brer Fox tuck yo' meat!'--Pow! 'Oh, pray, Mr. Man! Brer Fox tuck yo' meat!'"
Every time Uncle Remus said "Pow!" he struck himself in the palm of his hand with a shoe-sole by way of illustration.
"Co'se," he went on, "w'en Brer Fox year dis kinder doin's, he fotch up, he did, en lissen, en ev'y time he year de hick'ry come down pow! he tuck'n grin en 'low ter hisse'f, 'Ah-yi! you fool me 'bout de water! Ah-yi! you fool me 'bout de water!'
"Atter so long a time, de racket sorter die out, en seem lak Mr. Man wuz draggin' Brer Rabbit off. Dis make Brer Fox feel mighty skittish. Bimeby Brer Rabbit come a-cally-hootin' back des a-hollerin':
"'Run, Brer Fox, run! Mr. Man say he gwine to kyar dat meat up de road ter whar he son is, en den he's a-comin' back atter you. Run, Brer Fox, run!'
"En I let you know," said Uncle Remus, leaning back and laughing to see the little boy laugh, "I let you know Brer Fox got mighty skace in dat neighborhood!"