Nights with Uncle Remus: Myths and Legends of the Old Plantation | Annotated Tale

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Brother 'Possum Gets in Trouble

WHEN Uncle Remus began his story of Billy Malone and Miss Janey, Daddy Jack sat perfectly quiet. His eyes were shut, and he seemed to be dozing; but, as the story proceeded, he grew more and more restless. Several times he was upon the point of interrupting Uncle Remus, but he restrained himself. He raised his hands to a level with his chin, and beat the ends of his fingers gently together, apparently keeping time to his own thoughts. But his impatience exhausted itself, and when Uncle Remus had concluded, the old African was as quiet as ever. When Brother Fox was left so unceremoniously to his fate, Daddy Jack straightened himself temporarily and said:

               "Me yent bin-a yerry da tale so. 'E nice, fer true, 'e mek larf come; oona no bin-a yerry um lak me."

               "No," said Uncle Remus, with grave affability, "I 'speck not. One man, one tale; 'n'er man, 'n'er tale. Folks tell um diffunt. I boun' yo' way de bes', Brer Jack. Out wid it--en we ull set up yer, en hark at you en laff wid you plum twel de chick'ns crow."

               Daddy Jack needed no other invitation. He clasped his knee in his hands and began:

               "Dey is bin lif one Màn wut plan' some pea in 'e geerden. 'E plan' some pea, but 'e mek no pea; B'er Rabbit, 'e is fine um. 'E fine um un 'e eat um. Màn mek no pea, B'er Rabbit 'e 'stroy um so. 'E plan' dem pea; dey do grow, un 'e go off. 'E come bahk; pea no dere. B'er Rabbit teer um up un mek 'e cud wit' dem. So long tam, Màn say 'e gwan ketch um, un 'e no ketch um. Màn go, B'er Rabbit come; Màn come, B'er Rabbit go. Bumbye, Màn, 'e is git so mad, 'e y-eye bin-a come red; 'e crack 'e toof, 'e do cuss. 'E oby 'e gwan ketch B'er Rabbit nohow. Dun 'e is bin-a call 'e lilly gal. 'E talk, 'e tell 'im fer let B'er Rabbit go troo da geerden gett. Lil gal say yasser. 'E talk, 'e tell 'im wun B'er Rabbit go troo da gett, dun 'e mus' shed da gett, un no le'm come pas' no mo'. Lil gal say yasser.

               "Ole Màn is bin-a gone 'bout 'e wuk; lil gal, 'e do lissun. B'er Rabbit, 'e come tippy-toe, tippy-toe; gone in da geerden; eat dem pea tel 'e full up; eat tel he mos' git seeck wit' dem pea. Dun 'e start fer go out; 'e fine da gett shed. 'E shek um, 'e no open; 'e push um, 'e no open; 'e fair grunt, 'e push so hard, 'e no open. 'E bin-a call da lil gal; e' say:

               "'Lil gal, lil gal! cum y-open da gett. 'T is hu't me feelin' fer fine da gett shed lak dis.'

               "Lil gal no talk nuttin'. B'er Rabbit say:

               "''T is-a bin hu't me feelin', lil gal! Come y-open da gett, lil gal, less I teer um loose from da hinch.'

               "Lil gal v'ice come bahk. 'E talk:

               "'Daddy say mus'n'.'

               "B'er Rabbit open 'e mout'. 'E say:

               "'See me long sha'p toof? 'E bite you troo un troo!'

               "Lil gal skeer; 'e tu'n loose de gett un fly. B'er Rabbit gone! Ole Màn come bahk; 'e ahx 'bout B'er Rabbit. Lil gal say:

               "''E done gone, daddy. I shed da gett, I hol' um fas'. B'er Rabbit bin show 'e toof; 'e gwan fer bite-a me troo un troo. I git skeer', daddy.' Màn ahx:

               "'How 'e gwin fer bite you troo un troo, wun 'e toof fix bite grass? B'er Rabbit tell one big tale. 'E no kin bite-a you. Wun 'e come 'g'in, you shed dem gett, you hol' um tight, you no le'm go pas' no mo'.' Lil gal say yasser.

               "Nex' day mawnin', Màn go 'long 'bout 'e wuk. Lil gal, 'e play 'roun', un 'e play 'roun'. B'er Rabbit, 'e is come tippy-tippy. 'E fine gett open; 'e slip in da geerden. 'E chew dem pea, 'e gnyaw dem pea; 'e eat tel dem pea tas'e bad. Dun 'e try fer go out; gett shed fas'. 'E no kin git troo. 'E push, gett no open; 'e keek wit' um fut, gett no open; 'e butt wit' um head, gett no open. Dun 'e holler:

               "'Lil gal, lil gal! come y-open da gett. 'E berry bad fer fool wit' ole màn lak me. I no kin hol' me feelin' down wun you is do lak dis. 'E berry bad.'

               "Lil gal hol' 'e head down; 'e no say nuttin'. B'er Rabbit say:

               "'Be shame, lil gal, fer do ole màn lak dis. Me feelin' git wusser. Come y-open de gett 'fo' I is teer um down.'

               "Lil gal say: 'Daddy say mus'n'.'

               "B'er Rabbit open 'e y-eye wide; 'e is look berry mad. 'E say:

               "'See me big y-eye? I pop dis y-eye stret at you, me kill-a you dead. Come y-open da gett 'fo' me y-eye pop.'

               "Lil gal skeer fer true. 'E loose de gett, 'e fair fly. B'er Rabbit done gone! Lil gal daddy bahk. 'E ahx wey is B'er Rabbit. Lil gal say:

               "''E done gone, daddy. I hol' gett fas'; 'e is bin-a 'come berry mad. 'E say he gwan pop 'e y-eye at me, shoot-a me dead.' Màn say:

               "'B'er Rabbit tell-a too big tale. How 'e gwan shoot-a you wit' 'e y-eye? 'E y-eye sem lak turrer folks y-eye. Wun 'e come some mo', you shed dem gett, you hol' um fas'.' Lil gal say yasser.

               "Nex' day mawnin', Màn go, B'er Rabbit come. 'E is ma'ch in da gett un eat-a dem pea tel 'e kin eat-a no mo'. 'E sta't out; gett shed. 'E no kin come pas'. 'E shek, 'e push, 'e pull; gett shed. Dun 'e holler:

               "'Lil gal, lil gal! come y-open da gett. 'Tis berry bad fer treat you' kin lak dis. Come y-open da gett, lil gal. 'Tis full me up wit' sorry wun you do lak dis.'

               "Lil gal, 'e no say nuttin'. B'er Rabbit say:

               "''E berry bad fer treat you' kin lak dis. Tu'n go da gett, lil gal.' Lil gal say:

               "'How you is kin wit' me, B'er Rabbit?'

               "'You' gran'daddy foller at' me nuncle wit' 'e dog. Da mek we is kin. Come y-open da gett, lil gal.'"

               "Dat ole Rabbit wuz a-talkin', mon!" exclaimed Aunt Tempy, enthusiastically.

               "Lil gal no say nuttin' 't all!" Daddy Jack went on, with renewed animation. "Dun B'er Rabbit say:

               "'See me long, sha'p toof, lil gal? Me bite-a you troo un troo.' Lil gal say:

               "'Me no skeer da toof. 'E bite nuttin' 'tall 'cep' 'e bite grass.' B'er Rabbit say:

               "'See me big y-eye? I pop um at you, shoot-a you dead.' Lil gal say:

               "Me no skeer da y-eye. 'E sem lak turrer folks y-eye.' B'er Rabbit say:

               "'Lil gal, you mek me 'come mad. I no lak fer hu't-a me kin. Look at me ho'n! I run you troo un troo.'

               "B'er Rabbit lif 'e two year up; 'e p'int um stret at da lil gal. Lil gal 'come skeer da ho'n; 'e do tu'n go da gett; 'e fly fum dey-dey."

               "Well, ef dat don't beat!" exclaimed Aunt Tempy, laughing as heartily as the little boy. "Look at um one way, en Rabbit year does look lak sho' nuff ho'ns."

               "Lil gal tu'n go da gett," Daddy Jack continued; "B'er Rabbit gone! Màn come bahk; 'e ahx wey is B'er Rabbit. Lil gal cry; 'e say 'e skeer B'er Rabbit ho'n. Màn say 'e is hab no ho'n. Lil gal is stan' um down 'e see ho'n. Màn say da ho'n is nuttin' 't all but B'er Rabbit year wut 'e yeddy wit'. 'E tell lil gal nex' tam B'er Rabbit come, 'e mus' shed da gett; 'e mus' run fum dey-dey un leaf um shed. Lil gal say yasser.

               "Màn gone, B'er Rabbit come. 'E is go in da gett; 'e eat-a dem pea tel 'e tire'. 'E try fer go pas' da gett, gett shed. 'E call lil gal; lil gal gone! 'E call, call, call; lil gal no yeddy. 'E try fer fine crack in da palin'; no crack dey. 'E try fer jump over; de palin' too high. 'E 'come skeer; 'e is 'come so skeer 'e squot 'pun da groun'; 'e shek, 'e shiver.

               "Màn come bahk. 'E ahx wey B'er Rabbit. Lil gal say 'e in da geerden. Màn hug lil gal, 'e is lub um so. 'E go in da geerden; 'e fine B'er Rabbit. 'E ketch um--'e ca' um off fer kill um; 'e mad fer true. Lil gal come holler:

               "'Daddy, daddy! missus say run dere! 'E wan' you come stret dere!'

               "Màn tie B'er Rabbit in da bag; 'e hang um on tree lim'. 'E say:

               "'I gwan come bahk. I l'arn you fer mek cud wit' me green pea.'

               "Màn gone fer see 'e missus. Bumbye, B'er 'Possum is bin-a come pas'. 'E look up, 'e ketch glimp' da bag 'pun da lim'. 'E say:

               "'Ki! Wut dis is bin-a hang in da bag 'pun da tree-lim'?' B'er Rabbit say:

               "'Hush, B'er 'Possum! 'T is-a me. I bin-a lissen at dem sing in da cloud.'

               "B'er 'Possum lissen. 'E say:

               "'I no yed dem sing, B'er Rabbit.'

               "'Hush, B'er 'Possum! How is I kin yeddy dem sing wun you is mek-a da fuss dey-dey?'

               "B'er 'Possum, 'e hoi' 'e mout' still, 'cep' 'e do grin. B'er Rabbit say:

               "'I yed dem now! I yed dem now! B'er 'Possum, I wish you is yeddy dem sing!'

               "B'er 'Possum say 'e mout' water fer yeddy dem sing in da cloud. B'er Rabbit, 'e say 'e is bin-a hab so long tarn 'quaintun wit' B'er 'Possum, 'e le'm yeddy dem sing. 'E say:

               "'I git fum da bag. I tu'n-a you in tel you is yeddy dem sing. Dun you is git fum da bag, tel I do come bahk un 'joy mese'f.'

               "B'er 'Possum, 'e do clam up da tree; 'e git dem bag, 'e bring um down. 'E tak off da string; 'e tu'n B'er Rabbit go. 'E crawl in un 'e quile up. 'E say:

               "'I no yeddy dem sing, B'er Rabbit!'

               "'Hi! wait tel da bag it tie, B'er 'Possum. You yed dem soon nuff!' 'E wait.

               "'I no yeddy dem sing, B'er Rabbit!'

               "'Hi! wait tel I clam da tree, B'er 'Possum. You yed dem soon nuff!' 'E wait.

               "'I no yeddy dem sing, B'er Rabbit!'

               "'Wait tel I fix um 'pun da lim', B'er 'Possum. You yed dem soon nuff!' 'E wait.

               "B'er Rabbit clam down; 'e run 'way fum dey-dey; 'e hide in da bush side. Màn come bahk. 'E see da bag moof. B'er 'Possum say:

               "'I no yeddy dem sing. I wait fer yed um sing!'

               "Màn t'ink 'e B'er Rabbit in da bag. 'E say:

               "'Ah-yi-ee! I mekky you yed dem sing!'

               "Màn teka da bag fum da tree-lim'; 'e do slam da bag 'gin' da face da ye't'. 'E tek-a 'e walkin'-cane, un 'e beat B'er 'Possum wut is do um no ha'm tel 'e mos' kill um. Màn t'ink B'er Rabbit mus' bin dead by dis. 'E look in da bag; 'e 'tretch 'e y-eye big; 'e 'stonish'. B'er Rabbit, 'e do come fum da bush side; 'e do holler, 'e do laff. 'E say:

               "'You no is ketch-a me! I t'ief you' green pea,--I t'ief um some mo',--I t'ief um tel I dead!'

               "Màn, 'e 'come so mad, 'e is fling hatchet at B'er Rabbit un chop off 'e tail."

               At this moment Daddy Jack subsided. His head drooped forward, and he was soon in the land of Nod. Uncle Remus sat gazing into the fireplace, as though lost in reflection. Presently, he laughed softly to himself, and said:

               "Dat 's des 'bout de long en de short un it. Mr. Man clip off Brer Rabbit tail wid de hatchet, en it bleed so free dat Brer Rabbit rush off ter de cotton-patch en put some lint on it, en down ter dis day dat lint mos' de fus' t'ing you see w'en Brer Rabbit jump out'n he bed en tell you good-bye."

               "But, Uncle Remus, what became of Brother 'Possum?"

               Uncle Remus smacked his lips and looked wise.

               "Don't talk 'bout Brer 'Possum, honey, ef dat ar Mr. Man wuz nice folks lak we all is, en I aint 'spute it, he tuck'n tuck Brer 'Possum en bobbycue 'im, en I wish I had a great big piece right now. Dat I does."

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Brother 'Possum Gets in Trouble
Tale Author/Editor: Harris, Joel Chandler
Book Title: Nights with Uncle Remus: Myths and Legends of the Old Plantation
Book Author/Editor: Harris, Joel Chandler
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Publication City: Boston
Year of Publication: 1883
Country of Origin: United States
Classification: ATU 1737: The Clergyman in the Sack to Heaven

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