Thursday, December 13, 2018

C156. Brer Rabbit and Brer Bull-Frog

13. Brother Rabbit and Brother Bull-Frog. Text Source: Told by Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris. Online at Project Gutenberg. I have removed the frame material and standardized the spelling; click here for the original spelling plus all notes to the story.


In them times—the times what all these tales tells you about—Brer Bull-Frog stayed in and around still water just like he do now. The bad cold that he had in them days, he's got it yet—the same pop-eyes, and the same bald head. Then, as now, there weren't a bunch of hair on it that you could pull out with a pair of tweezers. As he bellows now, just that a-way he bellowed then, more specially at night. And talk about setting up late—why, old Brer Bull-Frog could beat them what first got in the habits of sitting up late.

There's one thing that you'll have to give him credit for, and that was keeping his face and hands clean, and in taking care of his clothes. Nobody, not even his mammy, had to patch his britches or tack buttons on his coat. See him where you may and when you might, he was always looking spick and span just like he done come right out of a band-box.

You know what the riddle say about him; when he stand up he sits down, and when he walks he hops. He'd've been mighty well thunk of, if it hadn't but've been for his habits. He holler so much at night that the other critters can't get no sleep.

He'd holler and holler, and about the time you think he pleased to be ashamed of hollering so much, he'd up and holler again. it got so that the critters had to go 'way off somewheres if they want to get any sleep, and it seem like they can't get so far off but what Brer Bull-Frog would wake 'em up time they get to dozing good.

He'd raise up and allow, "Here I is! Here I is! Wherebouts is you? Wherebouts is you? Come along! Come along!"

It was just that a-way the whole blessed night, and the other critters, they say that it surely was a shame that anybody would sit right flat-footed and ruin their good name. Look like he pestered everybody but old Brer Rabbit, and the reason that he liked it was 'cause it worried the other critters. He'd sit and listen, old Brer Rabbit would, and then he'd laugh fit to kill 'cause he ain't a-caring whether or no he get any sleep or not. 

If there's anybody what can sit up till the last day in the morning and not get red-eyed and heavy-headed, it's old Brer Rabbit. When he want to sleep, he'd just shut one eye and sleep, and when he want to stay awake, he'd just open both eyes, and there he was with all his foots under him, and a-chewing his tobacco same as if theyre weren't no Brer Bull-Frog in the whole United State of Georgia.

It went on this way for I don't know how long—old Brer Bull-Frog a-bellowing all night long and keeping the other critters awake, and Brer Rabbit a-laughing. But, by and by, the time come when Brer Rabbit had to lay in some more calamus root, against the time when it would be too cold for to dig it, and when he went for to hunt for it, his way led him down towards the mill-pond where Brer Bull-Frog live at. 

There was calamus root a-plenty down there, and Brer Rabbit, after looking the ground over, promise hisself that he'd fetch a basket the next time he come, and make one trip do for two. He ain't been down there long 'fore he had a good chance for to hear Brer Bull-Frog at close range. He hear him, he did, and he shake his head and say that a mighty little bit of that music would go a long ways, 'cause there ain't nobody what can stand flat-footed and say that Brer Bull-Frog is a better singer than the mocking-bird.

Well, whiles Brer Rabbit was pirooting round for to see what might be seed, he get the idea that he can hear thunder way off yonder. He listen again, and he hear Brer Bull-Frog mumbling and grumbling to hisself, and he must've had a mighty bad cold, 'cause his talk sound just like a bumbly-bee been caught in a sugar-barrel and can't get out. 

And that critter must've knowed that Brer Rabbit was down in them neighborhoods, 'cause, after while, he begun to talk louder, and yet more louder. He say, "Where you going? Where you going?' and then, "Don't go too far—don't go too far!" And, after so long a time, "Come back—come back! Come back soon!" 

Brer Rabbit, he sat there, he did, and work his nose and wiggle his mouth, and wait for to see what going to happen next.

Whiles Brer Rabbit sitting there, Brer Bull-Frog fall to mumbling again and it look like he about to drop off to sleep, but by and by he talk louder, "Be my friend—be my friend! Oh, be my friend!" 

Brer Rabbit wunk one eye and smiled a smile, 'cause he done hear a heap of talk like that. He wipe his face and eyes with his pocket-handkerchief, and sat so still that you'd've thunk he weren't nothing but a chunk of wood. But Brer Bull-Frog, he knowed how to stay still hisself, and he ain't so much as bubble a bubble. But after whiles, when Brer Rabbit can't stay still no more, he got up from where he was sitting at and mosied out by the mill-race where the grass is fresh and the trees is green.

Brer Bull-Frog holler, "Jug-a-rum—jug-a-rum! Wade in here—I'll give you some!"

Now there ain't nothing that old Brer Rabbit like better than a little bit of dram for the stomach-ache, and his mouth begun to water right then and there. He went a little closer to the mill-pond, and Brer Bull-Frog keep on a-talking about the jug of rum, and what he going do if Brer Rabbit will wade in there. 

He look at the water, and it look mighty cold; he look again and it look mighty deep. It say, "Lap-lap!' and it look like it's a-creeping higher. Brer Rabbit drawed back with a shiver, and he wish mighty much that he'd've fetched his overcoat.

Brer Bull-Frog say, "Knee deep—knee deep! Wade in—wade in!" and he make the water bubble just like he taking a dram. 

Then and there, something or other happen, and how it come to happen Brer Rabbit never can tell; but he peeped in the pond for to see if he can catch a glimpse of the jug, and in he went—kerchug! 

He ain't never know whether he fall in, or slip in, or if he was pushed in, but there he was! He come mighty nigh not getting out; but he scramble and he scuffle till he get back to the bank where he can climb out, and he stood there, he did, and kind of shook hisself, 'cause he mighty glad for to find that he's in the world once more. He knowed that a little more and he'd've been gone for good, 'cause when he dropped in, or jumped in, or fell in, he was over his head and ears, and he had to do a sight of kicking and scuffling and swallowing water 'fore he can get where he can grab the grass on the bank.

He sneeze and snoze, and wheeze and whoze, till it look like he'd drown right where he was standing any way you can fix it. He say to hisself that he ain't never going to get the taste of river water out of his mouth and nose, and he wonder how in the world that plain water can be so watery. 

Old Brer Bull-Frog, he laugh like a bull in the pasture, and Brer Rabbit give a sidelong look that ought to told him as much as a map can tell one of these here school scholars. Brer Rabbit look at him, but he ain't say nary a word. He just shook hisself once more, and put out for home where he can sat in front of the fire and get dry.

After that day, Brer Rabbit riz mighty soon and went to bed late, and he watch Brer Bull-Frog so close that there weren't nothing he can do but what Brer Rabbit know about it time it was done; and one thing he knowed better than all—he knowed that when the winter time come Brer Bull-Frog would have to pack up his duds and move over in the bog where the water don't get friz up. That much he knowed, and when that time come, he laid off for to make Brer Bull-Frog's journey, short as it was, as full of happenings as the day when the old cow went dry. He took and move his bed and board to the big hollow poplar, not far from the mill-pond, and there he stayed and keep one eye on Brer Bull-Frog both night and day. He ain't lose no flesh whiles he waiting, 'cause he ain't one of these here king what mopes and gets solemncholy; he was all the time 'twixt a grin and a giggle.

He knowed mighty well—none better—that time goes by turns in these low grounds, and he wait for the day when Brer Bull-Frog going to move his belongings from pond to bog. And by and by that time come, and when it come, Brer Bull-Frog is done forget off of his mind all about Brer Rabbit and his splashification. He rig hisself out in his Sunday best, and he look kerscrumptious to them what like that kind of doings. He had on a little soldier hat with green and white speckles all over it, and a long green coat, and satin britches, and a white silk waistcoat, and shoes with silver buckles. More than that, he had a green umbrella, for to keep from having freckles, and his long spotted tail was done up in the umbrella cover so that it won't drag on the ground.

Whiles all this going on, you better believe that Brer Rabbit weren't so mighty far from there. When Brer Bull-Frog come out and start for to promenade to the bog, Brer Rabbit show hisself and make like he scared. He broke and run, and then he stop for to see what it is—and then he run a little ways and stop again, and he keep on dodging and running till he fool Brer Bull-Frog into believing that he was scared mighty nigh to death.

You know how folks does when they get the idea that somebody's afeared of 'em—when folks take up this idea, they gets biggity, and there ain't no staying in the same country with 'em. Well, Brer Bull-Frog, he get the idea that Brer Rabbit was afeared of him, and he shook his umbrella like he mad, and he bellow, "Where my gun?"

Brer Rabbit flung up both hands like he was scared of getting a load of shot in his vitals, and then he broke and run as hard as he can. 

Brer Bull-Frog holler out, "Come here, you villain, and let me give you the flailing what I done promise you!"

But old Brer Rabbit, he keep on a-going. 

Brer Bull-Frog went hopping after, but he ain't make much headway, 'cause all the time he was hopping he was trying to strut. It was even about as much as Brer Rabbit can do for to keep from laughing, but he led Brer Bull-Frog to the hollow poplar, where he had his hatchet hid. As he went in, he allow, "You can't get me!"

He went in, he did, and out he popped on the other side. By that time Brer Bull-Frog was mighty certain and sure that Brer Rabbit was scared as he can be, and into the holler he went, without so much as taking the trouble to shut up his umbrella. 

When he got in the hollow, of course he ain't see hide nor hair of Brer Rabbit, and he bellow out, "Where is you? You may hide, but I'll find you, and when I does—when I does!" He ain't say all he want to say, 'cause by that time Brer Rabbit was lamming on the tree with his hatchet. He it it some mighty heavy whacks, and Brer Bull-Frog get the idea that somebody was cutting it down.

This kind of scared him, 'cause he know that if the tree fell while he in the hollow, it'd be all-night Isom with him. But when he make a move for to turn round in there for to come out, Brer Rabbit run round to where he was, and chop his tail off right smick-smack-smooth.

When the Frog tail was cut off, it stayed off, but they tells me that it kept on a-wiggling plumb till the sun went down. This much I does know, that since that day, none of the Frog family has been troubled with tails. If you don't believe me you can catch 'em and see.

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