Tuesday, December 18, 2018

C140. A Fool for Luck

21: A Fool for Luck. Text Source: Uncle Remus and His Friends by Joel Chandler Harris. Online at Hathi Trust. I have removed the frame material and standardized the spelling; click here for notes to the story.

Well, one time there was a man what do so funny that folks call him a fool. He was a hard working man, too, and he raise good crops, but he do like he cripple under the hat. He had a crib full of corn, and by and by he begun to miss it. He watch the crib at night and in the daytime, but he ain't see nobody taking none, and the corn keep on getting lower and lower.

The man live on the river, and on the other side the river there was a big woods. By and by somebody tell the man that the squirrels was toting off his corn. The man laugh and say that if squirrels can tote off his corn, seven bushels at a time, they are more than welcome. But he watch all the same. 

He got up 'fore day, and went and sat by the crib, and it weren't long 'fore he seed a sight that make him rub his eyes. He hear a racket on the fence and a clatter in the bushes, and the squirrels begun to swarm 'round the crib, and all of 'em come from towards the river. The man sat and watch 'em. They climbed up in the crib, they did, and every blessed one of 'em took a ear of corn in they mouth and start back 'cross the river. The man follow along after 'em. 

When they* get to the river, they put the corn down, and hunt 'round till they get a piece of bark. They put the bark in the water and lay the corn in it, then they shove out from shore, and hoist their tails for sails and go on across. Every one had a piece of bark, and they ferry that corn across like they done been used to that kind of business. 

The man, he sat there like he dazed. He go back the next morning and watch, and he see the same kind of doings. Every squirrel took a ear of corn, and every squirrel got him a piece of bark, and hoist his tail upon his back and sail across the river. The man ain't say a word. He ain't so much as shoo at 'em. He just sat there and watch 'em and laugh. More than that, he went and told other folks about it and laugh some more. They ask him whyn't he make the squirrels drop the corn, and he just wunk at 'em and grin. Then they say he pleased to be a fool, and he wunk and laugh some more. 

By and by, when the corn begun to get low in the crib, the man took his gun and his ax, and went across the river for to look after it. He was going along, hunting for the corn, when up jump a rabbit. He raise his gun and shot, and just as he shot the rabbit run into a covey of partridges. At the shot a turkey gobbler flopped up and flewed in a big poplar, and the man lammed loose with the other barrel, and the gobbler dropped over and lodged up there. Then he look over the ground and find one dead rabbit, and eleven dead partridges. One partridge had her wing broke, and she scrambled off in the bushes. The man followed on after, and directly he come to where there was a turkey nest with a hatful of turkey eggs. 

Then he climbed up the tree for to get the turkey. When he got up there, he see that the turkey done drop in a hole like, and he pull her out, and down in there was all his corn. He climbed down, he did, and got the ax and begun to cut the tree down. He ain't more than chopped through the bark 'fore he seed something or other running out, and he look at it close, and it was the pure honey. 

He allow, "Hi! I'm getting the rent for my corn!" Then he chopped him out a stub and plugged up the hole, and got his game and his turkey eggs, and put out for home. 

Whiles he going back another rabbit jump up. The man ain't got no load in his gun, so he just flung the gun at him. The rabbit went on, but when the man start to pick up the gun, he feel the ground giving way beneath his foots, and before he can catch hisself he done dropped down in a hole.

Well, sir, it was over his head. It seem like someone had made the hole and covered it with a plank, and then put dirt on the plank. It been done so long that the man come along just in time for to fall through. When he begun to fall, he make up his mind that it was all-night-Isom there with him. But he struck bottom quicker than he expected he would, and when he get over his scare he begun to feel 'round for to see if it's him or some other man what dropped in there. Whiles he was feeling 'round for to see see who he was, and where he was, and what he doing there, he put his hand on something hard and cold. 

Yes sir! Right then and there he put his hand on something hard and cold — and what you reckon it was? Nothing in the round world hut a keg of money! He scrambled out of there, after he lift the keg out, and then he roll it down to his canoe, and took it home. He count it up, the man did, and he find he got forty-eleven hundred dollars in hard specie. 

When he get rested, he took his hoss and wagon and a empty barrel, and went 'round by the bridge, and back to the place where he find the honey. He pull the plug out of the tree and let the honey run in the barrel till it's full, and then he took it home and fetch back two more barrels, and got them full. It went on this away till he got I don't know how many barrels of honey. 

And then, when he cut down the tree and haul the corn home, he find he got more than he had at first, 'cause the squirrels been stealing somebody else corn along with his'n! 

So then, there he was, with as much money as he want, and more honey than a drove of mules can pull, and more corn than what he had before, and all the game he want, and all because he the biggest fool in seven United States.

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