Wednesday, December 19, 2018

C185. Brer Rabbit and Aunt Nancy

Seven Tales of Uncle Remus, 7: Brother Rabbit Doesn't Go to See Aunt Nancy This story was not published in Harris's lifetime, but there is an undated typewritten page in Harris's papers left at his death in 1908. The trickster spider "Anansi" has morphed into a deadly, dangerous creature called "Aunt Nancy" here. I have removed the frame material and standardized the spelling; click here for notes to the story.

It seem like that all the critters, big and little, long-tail, bob-tail, and no-tail, had to go once a year for to make their peace with old Aunt Nancy. She was the granndy of Mammy-Bammy-Big-Money - that's the way they hand it out to me. Her rule went further than where she live at, and when she went to call the critters, all she had to do was to fling her head back and kind of suck in her breath and all the critters would have a little chilld, and know that she was a-calling on 'em.

But old Brer Rabbit, he got over having the chill, and he say he weren't going traipsing way off to the far country for to see no Aunt Nancy.

The critters all tell him that he better come on and go, but he say he done been and seed, and he weren't going no more. He allow, "When you all get where you going just ask Aunt Nancy for to shake hands with you, and then you'll see what I done seed."

The other critters shook their heads, but went on and left Brer Rabbit smoking his corn-cob pipe and chewing his cud. They went on, and by and by they come to Aunt Nancy's house. If you'd've seed it, honey, you'd've said it look just like a big chunk of fog. I expect it was as big as this house, but it kind of waved in the wind just like the fog you see on the two-mile branch.

Old Brer Bear, he hailed the house, and then old Aunt Nancy, she come out with a big long cloak on her and sat down on a pine stump. She look round, she did, and her eyeballs sparkle red just like they was afire. "I hope all of you is here," says she, "and I expect you is, but I'm a-going to count you and call the roll." Every count she made, she'd nod her head, and the critter that she nodded at and had her red eye on, would dodge and duck his head.

Well, she count and count, and when she get through, she say, "I done counted, and if thre ain't one of you missing, I'm mighty much mistooken." She held Brer Fox with her red eye, and he up and say, "I expect it ain't nobody in the round world but Brer Rabbit."

Aunt Nancy say, says she, "I'll Brer him! Is he sent any excuse?"

And Brer Wolf, he took up the tale, and say, "No, ma'am, not as I know of."

Then old Brer Bear, he say, "Brer Rabbit sent word for to tell you howdy, and he ask us for to tell you to shake hands with us, and remember him in your dreams."

Aunt Nancy roll her red eye and work her jaws like she chewing something good. She say, says she, "Is that what he tell you? Well, you just tell him that if he'll come to this place I'll shake hands with him, and if he don't come as hard as his legs'll fetch him, I'll go and shake hands with him where he lives at."

Old Brer Bear, he up and say, "How come you don't shake hands with we-all, when we come so far for to see you?"

Aunt Nancy roll her red eyes and work her jaws. She got up from where she was sitting at, and try for to pull the cloak close 'round her, but it slipped off a little way, and the critters what was watching on her, seed with their own eyes that she was half woman and half spider. She had seven arms and no hands. When they see all this, the critters took to the woods, and got away from there just as hard as they can.

And that the reason the house look like it was made out of fog. It was wovened out of web; it was web from top to bottom.

The critters went back and told Brer Rabbit what they done seed, and he jump up and crack his heels together and holler "Ah-yi!" and then he went on chewing his cud like nothing ain't happen.

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