“Las’ he year Brer B’ar comm’ sho nuff, but ’twuz de same ole chune—’One ‘simmon mo’ en den I’ll go’—en des ’bout dat time Brer B’ar busted inter de patch, en gin de tree a shake, en Brer Possum, he drapt out longer de yuther ripe ’simmons, but time he totch de groun’ he got his foots tergedder, en he lit out fer de fence same ez a race-hoss, en ’cross dat patch him en Brer B’ar had it, en Brer B’ar gain’ eve’y jump, twel time Brer Possum make de fence Brer B’ar grab ’im by de tail, en Brer Possum, he went out ’tween de rails en gin a powerful juk en pull his tail out ‘twix Brer B’ar tushes; en, lo en behol’s, Brer B’ar hol’ so tight en Brer Possum pull so hard dat all de ha’r come off in Brer B’ar’s mouf, w’ich, ef Brer Rabbit hadn’t er happen up wid a go’d er water, Brer B’ar ’der got strankle.
“Fum dat day ter dis,” said Uncle Remus, knocking the ashes carefully out of his pipe, “Brer Possum ain’t had no ha’r on his tail, en needer do his chilluns.”
The next time the little boy sought Uncle Remus out, he found the old man unusually cheerful and good-humoured. His rheumatism had ceased to trouble him, and he was even disposed to be boisterous. He was singing when the little boy got near the cabin, and the child paused on the outside to listen to the vigorous but mellow voice of the old man, as it rose and fell with the burden of the curiously plaintive song—a senseless affair so far as the words were concerned, but sung to a melody almost thrilling in its sweetness:
“Han’ me down my walkin’-cane
(Hey my Lily! go down de road!),
Yo’ true lover gone down de lane
(Hey my Lily! go down de road!).”
The quick ear of Uncle Remus, however, had detected the presence of the little boy, and he allowed his song to run into a recitation of nonsense, of which the following, if it be rapidly spoken, will give a faint idea:
“Ole M’er Jackson, fines’ confraction, fell down sta’rs fer to git satisfaction; big Bill Fray, he rule de day, eve’ything he call fer come one, two by three. Gwine ’long one day, met Johnny Huby, ax him grine nine yards er steel fer me, tole me w’ich he couldn’t; den I hist ’im over Hickerson Dickerson’s barn-doors; knock ’im ninety-nine miles under water, w’en he rise, he rise in Pike straddle un a hanspike, en I lef’ ‘im dar smokin’ er de hornpipe, Juba reda seda breda. Aunt Kate at de gate; I want to eat, she fry de meat en gimme skin, w’ich I fling it back agin. Juba!”
All this, rattled off at a rapid rate and with apparent seriousness, was calculated to puzzle the little boy, and he slipped into his accustomed seat with an expression of awed bewilderment upon his face.
“Hit’s all des dat away, honey,” continued the old man, with the air of one who had just given an important piece of information. “En w’en you bin cas’n shadders long ez de ole nigger, den you’ll fine out who’s w’ich, en w’ich’s who.”