BRER FOX FOLLOWS the FASHION
Some folks cries, and other folks laughs. They got their reasons, too. Now, I don't know that old Brer Rabbit was hard-hearted or cold-blooded any more than the common run of the critters, but it look like he can see more to tickle him than the others, and he was constant a-laughing. Most of the time he'd laugh in his innards, but then again, when something touch his funny-bone, he'd open up with a big ha-ha-ha that'd make the other critters take to the bushes. And that was the way he done when old Craney-Crow had his head tooken off for to be in the fashion. He laugh and laugh till it hurt him to laugh, and then he laugh some more for good measure. He laughed plumb till morning, and then he laugh whiles he was racking on towards home. He'd lope a little ways, and then he'd sit down by the side of the road and laugh some more.
Whiles he going on this a-way, he come to the place where Brer Fox live at, and then it look like he can't get no further. If a leaf shook on the tree, it'd put him in mind of the hopping and jumping and scuffling that old Craney-Crow done when Doc Wolf took and took off his head for him.
As luck would have it, Brer Fox was out in his pea-patch for to see how his crop was getting on, and hunting round for to see if there was any stray tracks where somebody had been after his truck. Whiles he was looking around he hear someone laughing fit to kill, and he looked over the fence for to see who it is. There was Brer Rabbit just a-rolling in the grass and laughing hard as he can. Brer Fox allow, "Heyo, Brer Rabbit! What the name of goodness the matter with you?"
Brer Rabbit in the middle of his laughing can't do nothing but shake his head and kick in the grass.
About that time, old Miss Fox stuck her head out of the window for to see what going on. She say, "Sandy, what all that fuss out there? Ain't you know that the baby's just gone to sleep?"
Brer Fox, he say, "It ain't nobody in the round world but Brer Rabbit, and if I ain't mighty much mistooken, he done gone and got a case of the hysterics."
Old Miss Fox say, "I don't care what he got, I wish he'd go on 'way from there, or hush up his racket. He'll wake the chillun, and them what ain't asleep he'll scare the wits out of 'em."
With that, old Brer Rabbit catch his breath, and pass the time of day with Brer Fox and his old woman. Then he say, "You see me and you hear me, Brer Fox; well, just as you see me now, that the way I been going on all night long. I expect maybe it ain't right for to laugh at them what ain't got the sense they ought to been born with, but I can't help it for to save my life; I try, but the more what I try the worser I gets. I ought to be at home right now, and I would be if it hadn't've been for something I seed last night," and then he went to laughing again.
Old Miss Fox, she fix the bonnet on her head, and then she say, "What you see, Brer Rabbit? It must be mighty funny; tell us about it, and maybe we'll laugh with you."
Brer Rabbit allow, "I don't mind telling you, ma'am, if I can keep from laughing, but if I had to stop for to catch my breath, I know mighty well that you'll excuse me."
Old Miss Fox say, "That we will, Brer Rabbit."
With that Brer Rabbit up and told all about old Craney-Crow coming in the Swamp, and not knowing how to go to bed. He say that the funny part of it was that old Craney-Crow ain't know that when anybody went to bed they ought to take their head off, and then he start to laughing again.
Old Miss Fox look at her old man and he look at her; they don't know what to say or how to say it.
Brer Rabbit see how they are doing, but he ain't pay no attention. He allow, "That old Craney-Crow look like he had travel far and wide; he look like he know what all the fashions is, but when he got in the Swamp and see all the critters—them what run and them what fly—sleeping with their heads off, he sure was took back; he say he ain't never hear of such doings as that. You done seed how country folks do—well, just that a-way he done. I been trying hard for to get home, and tell my old woman about it, but every time I gets a good start it pop up in my mind about how old Craney-Crow done when he find out what the fashion was in this part of the country."
And then Brer Rabbit set into laughing, and Brer Fox and old Miss Fox they joined in with him, 'cause they ain't want nobody for to get the idea that they don't know what the fashion is, specially the fashion in the part of the country where they are living at.
Old Miss Fox, she say that old Craney-Crow must be a funny sort of somebody not to know what the fashions is, and Brer Fox he agree till he grin and show his tooths. He say he ain't caring much about fashions hisself, but he wouldn't like for to be laughed at on the account of plain ignorance.
Brer Rabbit, he say he ain't making no pretense of doing everything that's done, 'cause he ain't that finicky, but when fashions is comfortable and cooling he don't mind following 'em for their own sake as well as his own. He say now that he done got in the habits of sleeping with his head off, he wouldn't no more sleep with it on than he'd fly.
Old Miss Fox, she up and respond, "I believe you, Brer Rabbit—that I does!"
Brer Rabbit, he make a bow, he did, and allow, "I know mighty well that I'm old-fashioned, and there ain't no denying it, Miss Fox, but when the new generation hit on to something that's cool and comfortable, I ain't the man to laugh at it just 'cause it's tolerable new. No, ma'am! I'll try it, and if it work all right I'll follow it; if it don't, I won't. The first time I try to sleep with my head off I was kind of nervous, but I soon got over that, and now if it was to go out fashion, I'd just keep right on with it, I don't care what the others'd think. That's me; that's me all over."
By and by, Brer Rabbit look at the sun, and just vow he pleased to get home. He wish old Miss Fox mighty well, and made his bow, and put out down the road at a two-forty gait.
Brer Fox look kind of sheepish when his old woman look at him. He say that the idea of sleeping with your head off is brand new to him. Old Miss Fox allow that there's a heap of things in this world what he don't know, and what he won't never find out. She say, "Here I is a-scrimping and a-working my eyeballs out for to be as good as the best, and there you is a-projecting round and not a-caring whether your family is in the fashion or not."
Brer Fox allow that if sleeping with your head off is one of the fashions, he for one ain't caring about trying. Old Miss Fox say, "No, and you ain't a-caring what folks say about your wife and family. No wonder Brer Rabbit had to laugh whiles he was telling you about Craney-Crow, 'cause you stood there with your mouth open like you ain't got no sense. It'll be a pretty tale he'll tell his family about the tacky Fox family."
With that old Miss Fox switch away from the window and went to cleaning up the house, and by and by Brer Fox went in the house hoping that breakfast was ready; but there weren't no sign of nothing to eat. After so long a time, Brer Fox ask when he was going to get breakfast. His old woman allow that eating breakfast and getting it, too, was one of the fashions. If he ain't following fashions, she ain't neither. He ain't say no more, but went off behind the house and had a mighty time of thinking and scratching for fleas.
When bedtime come, old Miss Fox was mighty tired, and she ain't a-caring much about fashions right then. Just as she was fixing for to roll herself in the cover, Brer Fox come in from a hunt he'd been having. He fetch a weasel and a mink with him, and he put 'em in the cupboard where they'd keep cool. Then he wash his face and hands, and allow that he's ready for to have his head tooken off for the night, if his old woman'll be so good as to help him.
By that time old Miss Fox had done got over the pouts, but she ain't got over the idea of following after the fashions, and so she say she'll be glad for to help him do what's right, seeing that he's so hard-headed in general. Then come the knotty part. Neither one of 'em knowed what they was about, and there they sat and jowered about the best way for to get the head off. Brer Fox say there ain't but one way, unless you twist the head off, and goodness knows he ain't want nobody for to be twisting his neck, 'cause he ticklish anyhow. That one way was to take the ax and cut the head off. Old Miss Fox, she squall, she did, and hold up her hands like she scared.
Brer Fox sat there looking up the chimney. By and by his old woman allow, "The ax look mighty scary, but one thing I know, and that ain't two, it ain't going to hurt you if it's the fashion." Brer Fox kind of work his under jaw, but he ain't saying nothing.
So his old woman went out to the woodpile and got the ax, and then she say, "I'm ready, honey, whenever you is,' and Brer Fox, he respond, "I'm just as ready now as I ever is to be," and with that she up with the ax and blip! She took him right on the neck. The head come right off with little or no trouble, and old Miss Fox laugh and say to herself that she glad they following the fashion at last.
Brer Fox sort of kick and squirm when the head first come off, but his old woman allow that that was the sign he was dreaming, and after he lay right still she say he was having a better night's rest than what he'd had in a mighty long time. And then she happen for to think that whiles her old man done gone and got in the fashion, there she was ready for to go to bed with her head on. She don't know how to get her head off, and she try to wake up her old man, but it look like he was one of them stubborn kind of sleepers what won't be wokened after they once drop off. She shake him and holler at him, but it ain't do no good. She can't make him stir, spite of all the racket she make, and she had to go to bed with her head on.
She went to bed, she did, but she ain't sleep good, 'cause she had trouble in the mind. She'd wake up and turn over, and roll and toss, and wonder what the other critters'd say if they knowed she was so far out of the fashion as to sleep with her head on. And she had bad dreams; she dreamt that Brer Rabbit was laughing at her, and she start for to run at him, and the first news she knowed the dogs was on her trail and going in full cry. It was that a-way all night long, and she was more than thankful when morning come.
She try to wake up her old man, but still he won't be woke. He lay there, he did, and won't budge, and by and by old Miss Fox get mad and go off and leave him. After so long a time she went back to where he was laying, and he was just like she left him. She try to roust him up, but he won't be rousted. She holler so loud that Brer Rabbit which he was going by, got the idea that she was calling him, and he stick his head in the door and allow, "Is you calling me, ma'am?"
She say, "Lord! Brer Rabbit? I ain't know you was anywheres around. I been trying for to wake up my old man; he more lazier this morning than I ever is know him to be. If my house weren't all 'full up, I'd ask you in and get you to drag him out and get him up."
Brer Rabbit say, "If there ain't nothing the matter with Brer Fox he'll get up in good time."
Old Miss Fox allow, "Ord! I don't know what you call good time. Look at the sun—it's 'way up yonder, and there he is sleeping like a log. 'Fore he went to bed he made me take his head off, and he ain't woke up since."
"And how did you get it off, ma'am?' says old Brer Rabbit, says he.
"I took and took the ax and cut it off," says she.
With that Brer Rabbit flung both hands over his face, and mosied off like he was crying. From the way he look you'd've thunk his heart was broke; yet he weren't crying.He was just a-laughing—laughing fit to kill.
When old Miss Fox see him going long like he was crying, she suspicioned that something was wrong, and sure enough it was, 'cause Brer Fox ain't wake up no more. She allow, "Old honey look like he dead, but he better be dead than out of the fashion!"