“That’s what they are doing,” responded a young man; “that’s the way they make a living.”
“Dat w’at make I say w’at I duz—dat w’at keep me grum’lin’ w’en I goes in cullud fokes s’ciety. Some niggers ain’t gwine ter wuk nohow, an’ hit’s flingin’ way time fer ter set enny chain-gang traps fer ter ketch um.”
“Well, now, here!” exclaimed the young man, in a dramatic tone, “what are you giving us now? Isn’t it just as honest and just as regular to sell pies as it is to do any other kind of work?”
“‘Tain’t dat, boss:’ said the old man, seeing that he was about to be cornered; ’tain’t dat. Hit’s de nas’ness un it w’at gits me.”
“Oh, get out!”
“Dat’s me, boss, up an’ down. Ef dere’s ruinashun ennywhar in de known wurril, she goes in de comp’ny uv a hongry nigger w’at’s a totin’ pies ‘roun.’ Sometimes w’en I git kotch wid emptiness in de pit er de stummuck, an’ git ter fairly honin’ arter sumpin’ w’at got substance in it, den hit look like unto me dat I kin stan’ flat-footed an’ make more cle’r money eatin’ pies dan I could if I wuz ter sell de las’ one ‘twixt dis an’ Chris’mus. An’ de nigger w’at k’n trapes ’round wid pies and not git in no alley-way an’ sample um, den I’m bleedzd ter say dat nigger out-niggers me an’ my fambly. So dar now!”
VI. UNCLE REMUS WITH THE TOOTHACHE
WHEN Uncle Remus put in an appearance one morning recently, his friends knew he had been in trouble. He had a red cotton handkerchief tied under his chin, and the genial humor that usually makes his aged face its dwelling-place had given way to an expression of grim melancholy. The young men about the office were inclined to chaff him, but his look of sullen resignation remained unchanged.
“What revival did you attend last night?” inquired one.
“What was the color of the mule that did the hammering?” asked another.
“I always told the old man that a suburban chicken coop would fall on him,” remarked some one.
“A strange pig has been squealing in his ear,” suggested some one else.
But Uncle Remus remained impassive. He seemed to have lost all interest in what was going on around him, and he sighed heavily as he seated himself on the edge of the trash-box in front of the office. Finally some one asked, in a sympathetic tone:
“What is the matter, old man? You look like you’d been through the mill.”
“Now you ‘er knockin’. I ain’t bin thoo de mill sence day ‘fo’ yistiddy, den dey ain’t no mills in de lan’. Ef wunner deze yer scurshun trains had runned over me I couldn’t er bin wuss off. I bin trompin’ ‘roun’ in de lowgroun’s now gwine on seventy-fi’ year, but I ain’t see no sich times ez dat w’at I done spe’unst now. Boss, is enny er you all ever rastled wid de toofache?”
“Oh, hundreds of times! The toothache isn’t anything.”