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Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris

Part 4 out of 4

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continued Uncle Remus, with a chuckle. "I wuz comm' 'cross de
bridge des now, an' Brer John Henry seed me wid de bag slung
onter my back, an' de jug in it, an' he ups an' sez, sezee:

"'Heyo, Brer Remus, ain't it gittin' late for watermillions?'

"Hit wuz de seetfulness er dat jug. If Brer John Henry know'd de
color er dat watermillion, I speck he'd snatch me up 'fo' de
confunce. I 'clar' ter grashus ef dat jug ain't a caution!"

"I suppose it's full of molasses now," remarked one of the young
men, sarcastically.

"Hear dat!" exclaimed Uncle Remus, triumphantly "hear dat! W'at
I tell you? I sed dat jug wuz seetful, an' I sticks to it. I bin
knowin' dat--"

"What has it got in it?" broke in some one; "molasses, kerosene,
or train-oil?"

"Well, I lay she's loaded, boss. I ain't shuk her up sence I
drapt in, but I lay she's loaded."

"Yes," said the agricultural editor, "and it's the meanest bug-
juice in town--regular sorghum skimmings."

"Dat's needer yer ner dar," responded Uncle Remus. "Po' fokes
better be fixin' up for Chris'mus now w'ile rashuns is cheap.
Dat's me. W'en I year Miss Sally gwine 'bout de house w'isslin'
'W'en I k'n read my titles cle'r--an' w'en I see de martins
swawmin' atter sundown--an' w'en I year de peckerwoods confabbin'
togedder dese moonshiny nights in my een er town--en I knows de
hot wedder's a breakin' up, an' I know it's 'bout time fer po'
fokes fer ter be rastlin' 'roun' and huntin' up dere rashuns.
Dat's me, up an down."

"Well, we are satisfied. Better go and hire a hall," remarked the
sporting editor, with a yawn. "If you are engaged in a talking
match you have won the money. Blanket him somebody, and take
him to the stable."

"An' w'at's mo'," continued the old man, scorning to notice the
insinuation, "dough I year Miss Sally w'isslin', an' de
peckerwoods a chatterin', I ain't seein' none er deze yer loafin'
niggers fixin' up fer ter 'migrate. Dey kin holler Kansas all
'roun' de naberhood, but ceppin' a man come 'long an' spell it
wid greenbacks, he don't ketch none er deze yer town niggers. You
year me, dey ain't gwine."

"Stand him up on the table," said the Sporting editor; "give him

"Better go down yer ter de calaboose, an' git some news fer ter
print," said Uncle Remus, with a touch of irony in his tone.
"Some new nigger mighter broke inter jail."

"You say the darkeys are not going to emigrate this year?"
inquired the agricultural editor, who is interested in these

"Shoo! dat dey ain't! I done seed an' I knows."

"Well, how do you know?"

"How you tell w'en crow gwineter light? Niggers bin prom'nadin'
by my house all dis summer, holdin' dere heads high up an' de
w'ites er dere eyeballs shinin' in de sun. Dey wuz too bigitty
fer ter look over de gyardin' palm's. 'Long 'bout den de wedder
wuz fetchin' de nat'al sperrits er turkentime outen de pine-trees
an' de groun' wuz fa'rly smokin' wid de hotness. Now that it's
gittin' sorter airish in de mornin's, dey don't 'pear like de
same niggers. Dey done got so dey'll look over in de yard, an'
nex' news you know dey'll be tryin' fer ter scrape up 'quaintence
wid de dog. W'en dey passes now dey looks at de chicken-coop an'
at der tater-patch. W'en you see niggers gittin' dat familious,
you kin 'pen' on dere campin' wid you de ballunce er de season.
Day 'fo' yistiddy I kotch one un um lookin' over de fence at my
shoats, an' I sez, sez I:

"'Duz you wanter purchis dem hogs?'

"'Oh, no,' sezee, 'I wuz des lookin' at dere p'ints.'

"'Well, dey ain't p'intin' yo' way, sez I, 'an', fuddermo', ef
you don't bodder longer dem hogs dey ain't gwineter clime outer
dat pen an' 'tack you, nudder,'" sez I.

"An' I boun'," continued Uncle Remus, driving the corn-cob
stopper a little tighter in his deceitful jug and gathering up
his bag--"an' I boun' dat my ole muskit 'll go off 'tween me an'
dat same nigger yit, an' he'll be at de bad een', an' dis seetful
jug'll 'fuse ter go ter de funer'l."


"LOOK yer, boy," said Uncle Remus yesterday, Stopping near the
railroad crossing on Whitehall Street, and gazing ferociously at
a small colored youth; "look yer, boy, Ill lay you out flat ef
you come flingin' yo' watermillion rimes under my foot--you watch
ef I don't. You k'n play yo' pranks on deze yer w'ite fokes, but
w'en you come a cuttin' up yo' capers roun me you 'll lan' right
in de middle uv er spell er sickness--now you mine w'at I tell
you. An' I ain't gwine fer ter put up wid none er yo' sassness
nudder--let 'lone flingin' watermillion rimes whar I kin git
mixt up wid um. I done had nuff watermillions yistiddy an' de day

"How was that, Uncle Remus?" asked a gentleman standing near.

"Hit wuz sorter like dis, boss. Las' Chuseday, Mars John he fotch
home two er deze yer Flurridy watermillions, an him an' Miss
Sally sot down fer ter eat um. Mars John an' Miss Sally ain't got
nuthin' dat's too good fer me, an' de fus news I know'd Miss
Sally wuz a hollerin' fer Remus. I done smelt de watermillion on
de a'r, an' I ain't got no better sense dan fer ter go w'en I
years w'ite fokes a-hollerin'--I larnt dat w'en I wa'n't so high.
Leas'ways I galloped up ter de back po'ch, an' dar sot de
watermillions dez ez natchul ez ef dey'd er bin raised on de ole
Spivey place in Putmon County. Den Miss Sally, she cut me off er
slishe--wunner deze yer ongodly slishes, big ez yo' hat, an' I
sot down on de steps an' wrop myse'f roun' de whole blessid
chunk, 'cep'in' de rime." Uncle Remus paused and laid his hand
upon his stomach as if feeling for something.

"Well, old man, what then?"

"Dat's w'at I'm a gittin' at, boss," said Uncle Remus, smiling a
feeble smile. "I santered roun' 'bout er half nour, an den I
begin fer ter feel sorter squeemish--sorter like I done bin an,
swoller'd 'bout fo' poun's off'n de ruff een' uv er scantlin'.
Look like ter me dat I wuz gwineter be sick, an' den hit look
like I wuzzent. Bimeby a little pain showed 'is head an' sorter
m'andered roun' like he wuz a lookin' fer a good place fer ter
ketch holt, an' den a great big pain jump up an' take atter de
little one an' chase 'im 'roun' an' 'roun,' an' he mus' er kotch
'im, kaze bimeby de big pain retch down an' grab dis yer lef'
leg--so--an' haul 'im up, an' den he retch down an grab de udder
one an' pull him up, an' den de wah begun, sho nuff. Fer mighty
nigh fo' hours dey kep' up dat racket, an' des ez soon ez a
little pain 'ud jump up de big un 'ud light onter it an' gobble
it up, an' den de big un 'ud go sailin' roun' huntin' fer mo'.
Some fokes is mighty cu'us, dough. Nex' mornin' I hear Miss Sally
a laughin', an' singin' an' a w'isslin' des like dey want no
watermillions raise in Flurridy. But somebody better pen dis yer
nigger boy up w'en I'm on de town--I kin tell you dat."


"DEY tells me you done jine de chu'ch," said Uncle Remus to
Pegleg Charley.

"Yes, sir," responded Charley, gravely, "dat's so."

"Well, I'm mighty glad er dat," remarked Uncle Remus, with
unction. "It's 'bout time dat I wuz spectin' fer ter hear un you
in de chain-gang, an', stidder dat, hit's de chu'ch. Well, dey
ain't no tellin' deze days whar a nigger's gwineter lan'."

"Yes," responded Charley, straightening himself up and speaking
in a dignified tone, "yes, I'm fixin' to do better. I'm preparin'
fer to shake worldliness. I'm done quit so'shatin' wid deze w'ite
town boys. Dey've been a goin' back on me too rapidly here
lately, an' now I'm a goin' back on dem."

"Well, ef you done had de speunce un it, I'm mighty glad. Ef you
got 'lijjun, you better hol' on to it 'twel de las' day in de
mornin'. Hit's mighty good fer ter kyar' 'roun' wid you in de day
time an' likewise in de night time. Hit'll pay you mo' dan
politics, an' ef you stan's up like you oughter, hit'll las'
longer dan a bone-fellum. But you wanter have one er deze yer
ole-time grips, an' you des gotter shet yo' eyes an' swing on
like wunner deze yer bull-tarrier dogs."

"Oh, I'm goin' to stick, Uncle Remus. You kin put your money on
dat. Deze town boys can't play no more uv dere games on me. I'm
fixed. Can't you lend me a dime, Uncle Remus, to buy me a pie?
I'm dat hongry dat my stomach is gittin' ready to go in mo'nin."

Uncle Remus eyed Charley curiously a moment, while the latter
looked quietly at his timber toe. Finally, the old man sighed and

"How long is you bin in de chu'ch, son?"

"Mighty near a week," replied Charley.

"Well, lemme tell you dis, now, 'fo' you go enny fudder. You ain't
bin in dar long nuff fer ter go 'roun' takin' up conterbutions.
Wait ontwell you gits sorter seasoned like, an' den I'll hunt
'roun' in my cloze an' see ef I can't run out a thrip er two fer
you. But don't you levy taxes too early."

Charley laughed, and said he would let the old man off if he
would treat to a watermelon.


As Uncle Remus came up Whitehall Street recently, he met a little
colored boy carrying a slate and a number of books. Some words
passed between them, but their exact purport will probably never
be known. They were unpleasant, for the attention of a wandering
policeman was called to the matter by hearing the old man bawl

"Don't you come foolin' longer me, nigger. You er flippin' yo'
sass at de wrong color. You k'n go roun' yer an' sass deze w'ite
people, an' maybe dey'll stan' it, but w'en you come a-slingin'
yo' jaw at a man w'at wuz gray w'en de fahmin' days gin out, you
better go an' git yo' hide greased."

"What's the matter, old man?" asked a sympathizing policeman.

"Nothin', boss, 'ceppin I ain't gwineter hav' no nigger chillun a
hoopin' an' a hollerin' at me w'en I'm gwine long de streets."

"Oh, well, school-children--you know how they are.

"Dat's w'at make I say w'at I duz. Dey better be home pickin' up
chips. W'at a nigger gwineter larn outen books? I kin take a
bar'l stave an' fling mo' sense inter a nigger in one minnit dan
all de schoolhouses betwixt dis en de State er Midgigin. Don't
talk, honey! Wid one bar'l stave I kin fa'rly lif' de vail er

"Then you don't believe in education?"

"Hit's de ruinashun er dis country. Look at my gal. De ole 'oman
sont 'er ter school las' year, an' now we dassent hardly ax 'er
fer ter kyar de washin' home. She done got beyant 'er bizness. I
ain't larnt nuthin' in books, 'en yit I kin count all de money I
gits. No use talkin', boss. Put a spellin'-book in a nigger's
han's, en right den en dar' you loozes a plow-hand. I done had de
speunce un it."


"Yer come Uncle Remus," said a well-dressed negro, who was
standing on the sidewalk near James's bank recently, talking to a
crowd of barbers. "Yer come Uncle Remus. I boun' he'll sign it."

"You'll fling yo' money away ef you bet on it," responded Uncle
Remus. "I ain't turnin' nothin' loose on chu'ch 'scriptions. I
wants money right now fer ter git a pint er meal."

'Tain't dat."

"An' I ain't heppin fer ter berry nobody. Much's I kin do ter
keep de bref in my own body."

"'Tain't dat, nudder."

"An' I ain't puttin' my han' ter no reckommends. I'm fear'd fer
ter say a perlite wud 'bout myself, an' I des know I ain't gwine
'roun' flatter'n up deze udder niggers."

"An' 'tain't dat," responded the darkey, who held a paper in his
hand. "We er gittin' up a Good Tempeler's lodge, an' we like ter
git yo' name."

"Eh-eh, honey! I done see too much er dis nigger tempunce. Dey
stan' up mighty squar' ontwell dere dues commence ter cramp um,
an' dey don't stan' de racket wuf a durn. No longer'n yistiddy I
seed one er de head men er one er dese Tempeler's s'cieties
totin' water fer a bar-room. He had de water in a bucket, but dey
ain't no tellin' how much red licker he wuz a totin'. G'long,
chile--jine yo' s'ciety an' be good ter yo'se'f. I'm a gittin'
too ole. Gimme th'ee er fo' drams endurin' er de day, an' I'm
mighty nigh ez good a tempunce man ez de next un. I got ter
scuffle fer sump'n t'eat."


UNCLE REMUS was enlightening a crowd of negroes at the car-shed

"Dar ain't nuthin'," said the old man, shaking his head
pensively, "dat ain't got no change wrote on it. Dar ain't nothin
dat ain't spotted befo' hit begins fer ter commence. We all
speunces dat p'overdence w'at lifts us up fum one place an' sets
us down in de udder. Hit's continerly a movin' an a movin'."

"Dat's so!" "You er talkin' now!" came from several of his

"I year Miss Sally readin' dis mawnin," continued the old man,
"dat a man wuz comin' down yer fer ter take keer er de wedder--
wunner deze yer Buro mens w'at goes 'roun' a puttin' up an'
pullin' down."

"W'at he gwine do 'roun' yer?" asked one.

"He's a gwineter regelate de wedder," replied Uncle Remus,
sententiously. "He's a gwineter fix hit up so dat dere won't be
so much worriment 'mong de w'ite fokes 'bout de kinder wedder
w'at falls to dere lot."

"He gwine dish em up," suggested one of the older ones, "like man
dish out sugar.

"No," answered Uncle Remus, mopping his benign features with a
very large and very red bandana. "He's a gwineter fix um better'n
dat. He's a gwineter fix um up so you kin have any kinder wedder
w'at you want widout totin' her home."

"How's dat?" asked some one.

"Hit's dis way," said the old man, thoughtfully. "In co'se you
knows w'at kinder wedder you wants. Well, den, w'en de man comes
long, w'ich Miss Sally say he will, you des gotter go up dar,
pick out yo' wedder an' dere'll be a clock sot fer ter suit yo'
case, an' w'en you git home, dere'll be yo' wedder a settin' out
in de yard waitin' fer you. I wish he wuz yer now," the old man
continued. "I'd take a pa'r er frosts in mine, ef I kotched cold
fer it. Dat's me!"

There were various exclamations of assent, and the old man went
on his way singing, "Don't you Grieve Atter Me."


"WHAT makes you look so lonesome, Brer Remus?" asked a well-
dressed negro, as the old man came shuffling down the street
by James's corner yesterday.

"You er mighty right, I'm lonesome, Brer John Henry. W'en a ole
nigger like me is gotter paddle de canoe an' do de fishin' at de
same time, an' w'en you bleedzd ter ketch de fish an' dassent
turn de paddle loose fer ter bait de hook, den I tell you, Brer
John, you er right whar de mink had de goslin'. Mars John and
Miss Sally, dey done bin gone down unto Putmon County fer ter see
der kinfolks mighty nigh fo' days, an' you better bleeve I done
bin had ter scratch 'roun' mighty lively fer ter make de rashuns
run out even.

"I wuz at yo' house las' night, Brer Remus," remarked Brer John
Henry, "but I couldn't roust you outer bed."

"Hit was de unseasonableness er de hour, I speck," said Uncle
Remus, dryly. "'Pears unto me dat you all chu'ch deacons settin'
up mighty late deze col' nights. You'll be slippin' round arter
hours some time er nudder, an you'll slip bodaciously inter de
calaboose. You mine w'at I tell you."

"It's mighty col' wedder," said Brer John Henry, evidently
wishing to change the subject.

"Col'!" exclaimed Uncle Remus; "hit got pas' col' on der quarter
stretch. You oughter come to my house night 'fo' las'. Den you'd
a foun' me 'live an' kickin'."

"How's dat?"

"Well, I tell you, Brer John Henry, de col' wuz so col', an' de
kiver wuz so light, dat I thunk I'd make a raid on Mars John's
shingle pile, an' out I goes an totes in a whole armful. Den I
gits under de kiver an' tells my ole 'oman fer ter lay 'em onto
me like she was roofin' a house. Bimeby she crawls in, an' de
shingles w'at she put on her side fer ter kiver wid, dey all drap
off on de flo'. Den up I gits an' piles 'em on agin, an' w'en I
gits in bed my shingles draps off, an' dat's de way it wuz de
whole blessid night. Fus' it wuz me up an' den de ole 'oman, an'
it kep' us pow'ful warm, too, dat kinder exercise. Oh, you
oughter drapt roun' 'bout dat time, Brer John Henry. You'd a
year'd sho' nuff cussin'!"

"You don't tell me, Brer Remus!"

"My ole 'oman say de Ole Boy wouldn't a foun' a riper nigger, ef
he wer' ter scour de country fum Ferginny ter de Alabam'"


UNCLE REMUS made his appearance recently with his right arm in a
sling and his head bandaged to that extent that it looked like
the stick made to accompany the Centennial bass-drum. The old
man evidently expected an attack all around, for he was unusually
quiet, and fumbled in his pockets in an embarrassed manner. He
was not mistaken. The agricultural editor was the first to open

"Well, you old villain! what have you been up to now?"

"It is really singular," remarked a commencement orator, "that
not even an ordinary holiday--a holiday, it seems to me, that
ought to arouse all the latent instincts of patriotism in the
bosom of American citizens--can occur without embroiling some of
our most valuable citizens. It is really singular to me that such
a day should be devoted by a certain class of our population to
broils and fisticuffs."

This final moral sentiment, which was altogether an impromptu
utterance, and which was delivered with the air of one who
addresses a vast but invisible audience of young ladies in white
dresses and blue sashes, seemed to add to the embarrassment of
Uncle Remus, and at the same time to make an explanation

"Dey ain't none er you young w'ite men never had no 'casion fer
ter strike up wid one er deze Mobile niggers?" asked Uncle Remus.
"'Kaze ef you iz, den you knows wharbouts de devilment come in.
Show me a Mobile nigger," continued the old man, an I'll show
you a nigger dat's marked for de chain-gang. Hit may be de fote
er de fif' er July, er hit may be de twelf' er Jinawerry, but
w'en a Mobile nigger gits in my naberhood right den an' dar
trubble sails in an' 'gages bode fer de season. I speck I'm ez
fon' er deze Nunited States ez de nex' man w'at knows dat de Buro
is busted up; but long ez Remus kin stan' on his hin' legs no
Mobile nigger can't flip inter dis town longer no Wes' P'int
'schushun an' boss 'roun' 'mong de cullud fokes. Dat's me, up an'
down, an' I boun' dere's a nigger some'rs on de road dis blessid
day dat's got dis put away in his 'membunce."

"How did he happen to get you down and maul you in this
startling manner?" asked the commencement orator, with a tone
of exaggerated sympathy in his voice.

"Maul who?" exclaimed Uncle Remus, indignantly. "Maul who? Boss,
de nigger dat mauled me ain't bo'nded yit, an' dey er got ter
have anudder war 'fo one is bo'nded."

"Well, what was the trouble?"

"Hit wuz sorter dis way, boss. I wuz stannin' down dere by Mars
John Jeems's bank, chattin' wid Sis Tempy, w'ich I ain't seed 'er
befo' now gwine on seven year, an' watchin' de folks trompin' by,
w'en one er deze yer slick-lookin' niggers, wid a bee-gum hat an'
a brass watch ez big ez de head uv a beerbar'l, come long an'
bresh up agin me--so. Dere wuz two un um, an' dey went long
gigglin' an' laffin' like a nes'ful er yaller-hammers. Bimeby dey
come long agin an' de smart Ellick brush up by me once mo'. Den I
say to myse'f, 'I lay I fetch you ef you gimme anudder invite.'
An', sho' 'nuff, yer he come agin, an' dis time he rub a piece er
watermillion rime under my lef' year."

"What did you do?"

"Me? I'm a mighty long-sufferin' nigger, but he hadn't no mo'n
totch me 'fo' I flung dese yer bones in his face." Here Uncle
Remus held up his damaged hand triumphantly. "I sorter sprained
my han', boss, but dog my cats if I don't bleeve I spattered de
nigger's eyeballs on de groun', and w'en he riz his count'nence
look fresh like beef-haslett. I look mighty spindlin' an' puny
now, don't I, boss?" inquired the old man, with great apparent


"Well, you des oughter see me git my Affikin up. Dey useter call
me er bad nigger long 'fo' de war, an hit looks like ter me dat I
gits wuss an' wuss. Brer John Henry say dat I oughter subdue my
rashfulness, an' I don't 'spute it, but tu'n a Mobile nigger
loose in dis town, fote er July or no fote er July, an', me er
him, one is got ter lan' in jail. Hit's proned inter me."

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