The result of this was that Uncle Remus had to take the little boy by the hand and go with him to the “big house,” which the old man was not loath to do; and, when the child went to bed, he lay awake a long time expecting an unseemly visitation from some mysterious source. It soothed him, however, to hear the strong, musical voice of his sable patron, not very far away, tenderly contending with a lusty tune; and to this accompaniment the little boy dropped asleep:
“Hit’s eighteen hunder’d, forty-en-eight,
Christ done made dat crooked way straight—
En I don’t wanter stay here no longer;
Hit’s eighteen hunder’d, forty-en-nine,
Christ done turn dat water inter wine—
En I don’t wanter stay here no longer.”
XXXII. “JACKY-MY-LANTERN” 1
UPON his next visit to Uncle Remus, the little boy was exceedingly anxious to know more about witches, but the old man prudently refrained from exciting the youngster’s imagination any further in that direction. Uncle Remus had a board across his lap, and, armed with a mallet and a shoe-knife, was engaged in making shoe-pegs.
“W’iles I wuz crossin’ de branch des now,” he said, endeavoring to change the subject, “I come up wid a Jacky-my-lantern, en she wuz bu’nin’ wuss’n a bunch er lightnin’-bugs, mon. I know’d she wuz a fixin’ fer ter lead me inter dat quogmire down in de swamp, en I steer’d cle’r an’ er. Yasser. I did dat. You ain’t never seed no Jacky-my-lanterns, is you, honey?”
The little boy never had, but he had heard of them, and he wanted to know what they were, and thereupon Uncle Remus proceeded to tell him.
“One time,” said the old darkey, transferring his spectacles from his nose to the top of his head and leaning his elbows upon his peg-board, “dere wuz a blacksmif man, en dish yer blacksmif man, he tuck’n stuck closer by his dram dan he did by his bellus. Monday mawnin’ he’d git on a spree, en all dat week he’d be on a spree, en de nex’ Monday mawnin’ he’d take a fresh start. Bimeby, one day, atter de blacksmif bin spreein’’roun’ en cussin’ might’ly, he hear a sorter rustlin’ fuss at de do’, en in walk de Bad Man.”
“Who, Uncle Remus?” the little boy asked.