Tuesday, December 18, 2018

C127. Brother Fox Smells Smoke

8: Brother Fox Smells Smoke. 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, and this here man had a farm. He had pigs, and he had chickens, and he had ducks. He was going on farming, and raising pigs and ducks and chickens, till by and by, one day, he miss a pig. He ain't say nothing, and next day he miss a chicken. Still he ain't say nothing, and the next day after he miss a duck.

Then he allow, "Hi! What kind of doings is this?"

He study about it, and then he fix him up a trap, and put a pig in it, and set it out by the horse lot. He ain't caught nothing, but he see tracks 'round the trap.

He allow, "Hey! This here look like Brer Fox been foolin' 'round here. I know him, 'cause the hollow of his foot makes a hole in the ground."

Then he took the pig out and put a chicken in the trap. Next morning he went out, he did, en, sure enough, there was Brer Fox sitting in there 'long with some chicken feathers, and he look mighty humble-come-tumble.

The man look at the feathers, and allow, "I glad you brung yo' bed with you, 'cause you'd've slept hard if you hadn't."

Brer Fox, he talk mighty polite. He allow, "I wish you please, sir, turn me out. I was passin' by last night on my way home from the dance, an' I heard a chicken hollerin', an' flutterin', an' I come in for to see what the matter. When I got in, the chicken was done gone, an' then the door shut tight, an' here I had to stay."

Man say, "If that chicken was to holler now, I bound he'd scare you."

Brer Fox allow, "How come?"

Man say, "'Cause he so close to you."

Man got him a rope and tied Brer Fox hard and fast. He tied all his foots together, and then he took Brer Fox home and hung him up on a nail in the wall, and toled his ole woman that she must watch him till he come home. Then the man went to work in the field.

The man's wife, she watch and watch whiles she shelled peas. Then she'd go and stir the stew in the pot, and come back and watch, and shell more peas.

By and by, Brer Fox say, "Look like you got a mighty heap of peas there."

The woman allow, "Lord a mercy, yes! A heap here, and a heap more to come! Hands in the field got to be fed. Lordy, yes! A whole passel of peas, and more to come!"

Brer Fox say, "If you'll take me down an' untie me, I'll shell them peas for you, whiles you are fixin' the rest of the dinner. Then you can tie me up again and hang me on the nail."

The woman, she shook her head, but she keep on studying about it. Brer Fox, he keep on a-talking, and he talk so soft and he talk so smart that the woman put it down in her mind that he ain't bad as they say he is. Then she took Brer Fox down and untied him, and he lit in to shelling peas just as hard as he can. He kept one eye on the woman, and the woman she kept one eye on him. The woman stirred the stew in the pot, and Brer Fox, he fumble with the peas. The woman, she sift the meal, and Brer Fox, he fumble with the peas.

It went on this away, till by and by Brer Fox make a break for the door, but the woman was too quick for him. She slam the door, she did, and chase Brer Fox 'round the room with a battling-stick, and she push him so close that he pleased to run up the chimney. Man, sir! There was trouble then if there never was none before! When Brer Fox light up the chimney he turned the pot of stew over, and put out the fire, and scald the woman. She give a squall, she did, but Brer Fox done gone!

It weren't long 'fore the man and the field hands come home for to get their dinner, and when they find there ain't no dinner there, then there was a rippit. The man, he jower and jower, and the woman, she took and cry, till by and by she flew mad, and then she set in to jowering, and she outjowered the man. She ask him how come he ain't kill Brer Fox while he had him, 'stead of bringing him there where he can cut up his didos, and spoil the dinner, and scald her all on the foots, and ruin her shoes, and put out the fire? The man can't say nothing; he just hush up and go long about his business, hungry though he might be.

The man ain't catch him, but he got caught. When the man left his old woman a-jowering and a-jawing at him, he went out in the pasture, and sat on the fence. He sat dar, he did, and he feel mighty bad. He done plumb outdone. He leaned his head on his hand, and do like somebody got the jaw-ache.

On top of the hill, not so mighty far from there, was the place where Brer Rabbit live at. He see the man come out and sit on the fence, and he watch him. The man still sat there, and Brer Rabbit crept little closer, and watch him. By and by Brer Rabbit come out the bushes and ask the man what the matter. The man up and tell him; and then old Brer Rabbit laugh, and say he ain't know Brer Fox was so sassy and spry. He allow, "I 'spect I'll have to take him down a peg or two. He been fighting shy of me this long time. I feared he been studying up some brand new tricks."

Then Brer Rabbit ask the man how much he'll give him if he'll make Brer Fox feel sorry and sore on account of his prank. The man say he'll let Brer Rabbit grabble in his goober patch, and nibble the cabbage just as much as he want to.

Brer Rabbit allow, "And you won't sic the dog on me?"

Man say, "I won't sic the dog on you."

Brer Rabbit allow, "It's a bargain."

Then old Brer Rabbit begin for to commence for to rope Brer Fox in. He tell the man he must have some chicken gizzards. Man went and got 'em. Then Brer Rabbit went back on the hill where he live at, and got his wallet and his walking cane. In the wallet he put the chicken gizzards, and on his walking cane he hung the wallet. Then he went out for to take a walk.

He ain't gone so mighty far 'fore he see Brer Fox going 'long sniffing the air and trotting with his head up like a blind horse. Brer Rabbit hail Brer Fox, and ask him where he going. Brer Fox respond that he ain't going nowheres in particular, and he ask wherebouts Brer Rabbit going with his walking cane and wallet. Brer Rabbit respond that he hunting for somebody for to help him move in some hay. All this time Brer Fox was walking 'round and 'round sniffing the air.

By and by, he up and allow, "Brer Rabbit, I believe in my soul I smell chicken gizzards."

Brer Rabbit say, "I 'spect you does, Brer Fox, 'cause I got 'em right here in my wallet."

Then Brer Fox jaw begun to tremble, and he fair dribble at the mouth, 'cause if there is anything on the topper side of the earth what he love more than another, it is chicken gizzards.

He allow, "How many is you got, Brer Rabbit?"

Brer Rabbit say, "Somewheres 'twixt seven and elevent."

Brer Fox allow, "What you going do with 'em, Brer Rabbit?"

Brer Rabbit say, "I gonna give 'em to the man what helps me with my hay."

Brer Fox jump up in the air, he did, and allow, "Show me the hay, Brer Rabbit! Show me the hay! I'm the man what can move it."

So Brer Rabbit start back the way he come, and Brer Fox went 'long with him. Brer Fox trot 'long on the side where the wallet was, and one time he went to look in it, but Brer Rabbit too smart for that. He allow, "You can look at 'em when you done earned 'em, and not a blessed minute sooner."

Well, it weren't long 'fore they come to where the pile of hay was. Brer Fox ask Brer Rabbit what he going do with all that dry grass, and Brer Rabbit say he going to feed his cow with some, and some he going to stuff in his bed tick. They sort palavered, they did, but by and by Brer Fox he got a good big turn of the ruffage on his back, and start up the hill. Brer Rabbit took out his flint and steel and struck it on the hay.

Brer Fox allow, "What that?"

Brer Rabbit say, "Cricket hollerin'."

Then the grass begun to crackle and blaze, and Brer Fox allow, "What that?"

Brer Rabbit say, "Grasshopper singin'."

Brer Fox, he mosey 'long, he did, and by and by he allow, "I smell smoke."

Brer Rabbit say, "Somebody burning the new ground."

After while, Brer Fox allow, "I feel mighty hot."

Brer Rabbit say, "Weather monstrous warm."

It weren't long 'fore the hay burn down and Brer Fox, he fetched one squall and jump out from under it. He twist, he turn, he roll, he jump, but it ain't do no good, and then he make a break for the creek. The hair done burnt off of his back, and the hide blistered. That what he get for trying to steal from the man, and for turning over the pot of stew, 'stead of waiting till he got a good chance to go out the door. if he'd've done dat, he'd've saved his manners and his hide too.

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