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

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Mr. Lion's Sad Predicament

THE discussion over Aunt Tempy's fragmentary story having exhausted itself, Daddy Jack turned up his coat collar until it was as high as the top of his head, and then tried to button it under his chin. If this attempt had been successful, the old African would have presented a diabolical appearance; but the coat refused to be buttoned in that style. After several attempts, which created no end of amusement for the little boy, Daddy Jack said:

               "Da Lion, 'e no hab bin sma't lak B'er Rabbit. 'E strong wit' 'e fut, 'e strong wit' 'e tush, but 'e no strong wit' 'e head. 'E bery foolish, 'cep' 'e is bin hab chance ter jump 'pon dem creetur.

               "One tam 'e bin come by B'er Rabbit in da road; 'e ahx um howdy; 'e ahx um wey 'e gwan. B'er Rabbit say 'e gwan git fum front de Buckra Màn wut bin comin' 'long da road. B'er Rabbit say:

               "'Hide you'se'f, B'er Lion; da Buckra ketch-a you fer true; 'e is bin ketch-a you tam he pit 'e y-eye 'pon you; 'e mekky you sick wit' sorry. Hide fum da Buckra, B'er Lion!'

               "Da Lion, 'e shekky 'e head; 'e say:

               "'Ki! Me no skeer da Buckra Màn. I glad fer shum. I ketch um un I kyar um wey I lif; me hab da Buckra Màn fer me bittle. How come you bein' skeer da Buckra Màn, B'er Rabbit?'

               "B'er Rabbit look all 'bout fer see ef da Buckra bin comin'. 'E say:

               "'Me hab plenty reason, B'er Lion. Da Buckra Màn shoot-a wit' one gun. 'E r'ise um too 'e y-eye, 'e p'int um stret toze you; 'e say bang! one tam, 'e say bang! two tam: dun you is bin git hu't troo da head un cripple in da leg.'

               "Lion, 'e shek 'e head; 'e say:

               "'Me no skeer da Buckra Màn. I grab-a da gun. I ketch um fer me brekwus.'

               "B'er Rabbit, 'e lahff; 'e say:

               "'Him quare fer true. Me skeer da Buckra, me no skeer you; but you no skeer da Buckra. How come dis?'

               "Da Lion lash 'e tail; 'e say:

               "'Me no skeer da Buckra, but me skeer da Pa'tridge; me berry skeer da Pa'tridge.'

               "B'er Rabbit, 'e lahff tel 'e kin lahff no mo'. 'E say:

               "'How come you skeer da Pa'tridge? 'E fly wun you wink-a you' eye; 'e run un 'e fly. Hoo! me no skeer 'bout dem Pa'tridge. Me skeer da Buckra.'

               "Da Lion, 'e look all 'bout fer see ef da Pa'tridge bin comin'. 'E say:

               "'I skeer da Pa'tridge. Wun me bin walk in da bushside, da Pa'tridge 'e hol' right still 'pon da groun' tel me come dey-dey, un dun 'e fly up--fud-d-d-d-d-d-e-e! Wun 'e is bin do dat me is git-a skeer berry bahd.'"

               No typographical device could adequately describe Daddy Jack's imitation of the flushing of a covey of partridges, or quail; but it is needless to say that it made its impression upon the little boy. The old African went on:

               "B'er Rabbit, 'e holler un lahff; 'e say:

               "'Me no skeer da Pa'tridge. I bin run dem up ebry day. Da no hu't-a you, B'er Lion. You hol' you' eye 'pon da Buckra Màn. Da Pa'tridge, 'e no hab no gun fer shoot-a you wit'; da Buckra, 'e is bin hab one gun two tam. [1] Let da Pa'tridge fly, B'er Lion; but wun da Buckra Man come you bes' keep in de shady side. I tell you dis, B'er Lion.'

               "Da Lion, 'e stan' um down 'e no skeer da Buckra Màn, un bimeby 'e say goo'-bye; 'e say 'e gwan look fer da Buckra Màn fer true.

               "So long tam, B'er Rabbit is bin yeddy one big fuss in da timber; 'e yeddy da Lion v'ice. B'er Rabbit foller da fuss tel 'e is bin come 'pon da Lion wey 'e layin' 'pon da groun'. Da Lion, 'e is moan; 'e is groan; 'e is cry. 'E hab hole in 'e head, one, two, t'ree hole in 'e side; 'e holler, 'e groan. B'er Rabbit, 'e ahx um howdy. 'E say:

               "'Ki, B'er Lion, wey you hab fine so much trouble?'

               "Da Lion, 'e moan, 'e groan, 'e cry; 'e say:

               "'Ow, ma Lord! I hab one hole in me head, one, two, t'ree hole in me side, me leg bin bruk!'

               "B'er Rabbit bin hol' 'e head 'pon one side; 'e look skeer. 'E say:

               "'Ki, B'er Lion! I no know da Pa'tridge is so bahd lak dat. I t'ink 'e fly 'way un no hu't-a you. Shuh-shuh! wun I see dem Pa'tridge I mus' git 'pon turrer side fer keep me hide whole.'

               "Da Lion, 'e groan, 'e moan, 'e cry. B'er Rabbit, 'e say:

               "'Da Pa'tridge, 'e berry bahd; 'e mus' bin borry da Buckra Màn gun.'

               "Da Lion, 'e groan, 'e cry:

               "''E no da Pa'tridge no'n 'tall. Da Buckra Màn is bin stan' way off un shoot-a me wit' 'e gun. Ow, ma Lord!'

               "B'er Rabbit, 'e h'ist 'e han'; 'e say:

               "'Wut I bin tell-a you, B'er Lion? Wut I bin tell you 'bout da Buckra Màn? Da Pa'tridge no hu't-a you lak dis. 'E mek-a da big fuss, but 'e no hu't-a you lak dis. Da Buckra Màn, 'e no mek no fuss 'cep' 'e p'int 'e gun at you--bang!'"

               "And what then?" the little boy asked, as Daddy Jack collapsed in his seat, seemingly forgetful of all his surroundings.

               "No'n 't all," replied the old African, somewhat curtly.

               "De p'ints er dat tale, honey," said Uncle Remus, covering the brusqueness of Daddy Jack with his own amiability, "is des 'bout lak dis, dat dey aint no use er dodgin' w'iles dey's a big fuss gwine on, but you better take'n hide out w'en dey aint no racket; mo' speshually w'en you see Miss Sally lookin' behine de lookin'-glass fer dat ar peach-lim' w'at she tuck'n make me kyar up dar day 'fo' yistiddy; yit w'en she fine it don't you git too skeer'd, 'kaze I tuck'n make some weak places in dat ar switch, en Miss Sally won't mo'n strak you wid it 'fo' hit'll all come onjinted."

               Parts of this moral the little boy understood thoroughly, for he laughed, and ran to the big house, and not long afterwards the light went out in Uncle Remus's cabin; but the two old negroes sat and nodded by the glowing embers for hours afterwards, dreaming dreams they never told of.



[1]: One gun two times is a double-barrelled gun.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Mr. Lion's Sad Predicament
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: unclassified

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