BRER RABBIT'S CRADLE
Once upon a time—not your time nor yet my time, but some time—Mr. Man took and set a trap for Brer Rabbit. In them days, they hadn't learnt how to be carpenters, and this here trap what I'm telling you about was a great big contraption. Big as Brer Rabbit was, it was lots too big for him.
Now, whiles Mr. Man was fixing up this trap, Mr. Rabbit weren't so mighty far off. He hear the saw—er-rash! er-rash!—and he hear the hammer—bang, bang, bang!—and he ask hisself what all this racket was about. He see Mr. Man come out of his yard toting something, and he got further off; he see Mr. Man coming towards the bushes, and he took to the woods; he see him coming towards the woods, and he took to the bushes. Mr. Man tote the trap so far and no further. He put it down, he did, and Brer Rabbit watch him; he put in the bait, and Brer Rabbit watch him; he fix the trigger, and still Brer Rabbit watch him. Mr. Man look at the trap and it satisfy him. He look at it and laugh, and when he do that, Brer Rabbit wunk one eye, and wiggle his mustache, and chew his cud.
And that ain't all he do, neither. He sat out in the bushes, he did, and study how to get some game in the trap. He study so hard, and he got so irritated, that he thumped his behind foot on the ground till it sound like a cow dancing out there in the bushes, but it weren't no cow, nor yet no calf—it was just Brer Rabbit studying. After so long a time, he put out down the road towards that part of the country where most of the critters live at. Every time he hear a fuss, he'd dodge in the bushes, 'cause he want to see who coming. He keep on and he keep on, and by and by he hear old Brer Wolf trotting down the road.
It so happen that Brer Wolf was the very one what Brer Rabbit wanted to see. They was polite to one another, but there weren't no friendly feeling 'twixt 'em. Well, here come old Brer Wolf, hungrier than a chicken-hawk on a frosty morning, and as he come up he see Brer Rabbit sitting by the side of the road looking like he done lost all his family and his friends to boot.
They pass the time of day, and then Brer Wolf kind of grin and say, "Lord-a-mercy, Brer Rabbit, what ail you? You look like you done had a spell of fever and ague; what the trouble?"
"Trouble, Brer Wolf? You ain't never see no trouble till you get where I'm at. Maybe you wouldn't mind it like I does, 'cause I ain't used to it. But I bound you done seed me light-minded for the last time. I'm done—I'm plumb wore out," says Brer Rabbit, says he.
This make Brer Wolf open his eyes wide. He say, "This the first time I ever is hear you talk that a-way, Brer Rabbit; take your time and tell me about it. I ain't had my breakfast yet, but that don't make no difference, long as you are in trouble. I'll help you out if I can, and more than that, I'll put some heart in the work." When he say this, he grin and show his tooths, and Brer Rabbit kind of edge away from him. He say, "Tell me the trouble, Brer Rabbit, and I'll do my level best for to help you out."
With that, Brer Rabbit allow that Mr. Man done been hire him for to take care of his truck patch, and keep out the minks, the musk-rats, and the weasels. He say that he done so well setting up night after night, when he just might as well been in bed, that Mr. Man promise him something extra besides the mess of greens what he give him every day. After so long a time, he say, Mr. Man allow that he going to make him a present of a cradle so he can rock the little Rabs to sleep when they cry. So said, so done, he say. Mr. Man make the cradle and tell Brer Rabbit he can take it home with im. He start out with it, he say, but it got so heavy he had to sat it down in the woods, and that's the reason why Brer Wolf seed him setting down by the side of the road, looking like he in deep trouble.
Brer Wolf sat down, he did, and study, and by and by he say he'd like mighty well for to have a cradle for his chillun, long as cradles was the style. Brer Rabbit say they been the style for the longest, and as for Brer Wolf wanting one, he say he can have the one what Mr. Man make for him, 'cause it's lots too big for his chillun. "You know how folks is," says Brer Rabbit, says he. "They try to do what they don't know how to do, and there's their house bigger than a barn, and there's the fence with more holes in it than what there is in a seine, and 'cause they have great big chillun they got the idea that every cradle what they make must fit their own chillun. And that's how come I can't tote the cradle what Mr. Man make for me more than ten steps at a time."
Brer Wolf ask Brer Rabbit what he going to do for a cradle, and Brer Rabbit allow he can manage for to get long with the old one till he can persuade Mr. Man to make him another one, and he don't expect that'll be so mighty hard to do. Brer Wolf can't help but believe there's some trick in it, and he say he ain't see the old cradle when last he was at Brer Rabbit house. With that, Brer Rabbit bust out laughing. He say, "That's been so long back, Brer Wolf, that I done forget all about it; besides that, if there was a cradle there, I bound you my old woman got better sense than to sit it in the parlor, where company comes;" and he laugh so loud and long that he make Brer Wolf right ashamed of himself.
He allow, old Brer Wolf did, "Come on, Brer Rabbit, and show me where the cradle is. If it's too big for you chillun, it'll just about fit mine."
And so off they put to where Mr. Man done sat his trap. It weren't so mighty long 'fore they got where they was going, and Brer Rabbit say, "Brer Wolf, there your cradle, and may it do you more good than it's ever done me!"
Brer Wolf walk all round the trap and look at it like it was live. Brer Rabbit thump one of his behind foots on the ground and Brer Wolf jump like someone done shot a gun right at him. This make Brer Rabbit laugh till he can't laugh no more.
Brer Wolf, he say he kind of nervous about that time of the year, and the least little bit of noise'll make him jump. He ask how he going to get any purchase on the cradle, and Brer Rabbit say he'll have to get inside and walk with it on his back, 'cause that the way he done done.
Brer Wolf ask what all them contraptions on the inside is, and Brer Rabbit respond that they are the rockers, and there ain't no needs for to be scared of 'em, 'cause they ain't nothing but plain wood. Brer Wolf say he ain't exactly scared, but he done got to the point where he know that you better look 'fore you jump. Brer Rabbit allow that if there's any jumping for to be done, he the one to do it, and he talk like he done forget what they come for.
Brer Wolf, he fool and fumble around, but by and by he walk in the cradle, sprung the trigger, and there he was!
Brer Rabbit, he holler out, "Come on, Brer Wolf; just hump yourself, and I'll be with you."
But try as he will and grunt as he may, Brer Wolf can't bridge that trap. By and by Brer Rabbit get tired of waiting and he say that if Brer Wolf ain't going to come on, he's going home. He allow that a friend what say he going to help you, and then go in a cradle and drop off to sleep, that's all he want to know about 'em; and with that he made for the bushes, and he weren't a minute too soon, 'cause here come Mr. Man for to see if his trap had been sprung. He look, he did, and sure enough, it was sprung, and there was something in there, too, 'cause he can hear it rustling round and kicking for to get out.
Mr. Man look through the crack, and he see Brer Wolf, which he was so scared till his eye look right green. Mr. Man say, "Aha! I got you, is I?"
Brer Wolf say, "Who?" Mr. Man laugh till he can't scarcely talk, and still Brer Wolf say, "Who? Who you think you got?"
Mr. Man allow, "I don't think, I knows. You are old Brer Rabbit, that's who you is."
Brer Wolf say, "Turn me out of here, and I'll show you who I is."
Mr. Man laugh fit to kill. He allow, "You needn't to change your voice; I'd know you if I met you in the dark. You are Brer Rabbit, that's who you is."
Brer Wolf say, "I ain't not; that's what I'm not!"
Mr. Man look through the crack again, and he see the short ears. He allow, "You done cut off your long ears, but still I knows you. Oh, yes! And you done sharpen you mouth and put smut on it—but you can't fool me."
Brer Wolf say, "Nobody ain't trying for to fool you. Look at my fine long bushy tail."
Mr. Man allow, "You done tied another tail on behind you, but you can't fool me. Oh, no, Brer Rabbit! You can't fool me."
Brer Wolf say, "Look at the hair on my back; do that look like Brer Rabbit?"
Mr. Man allow, "You done wallowed in the red sand, but you can't fool me."
Brer Wolf say, "Look at my long black legs; do they look like Brer Rabbit?"
Mr. Man allow, "You can put another joint in your legs, and you can smut 'em, but you can't fool me."
Brer Wolf say, "Look at my tooths; does they look like Brer Rabbit?"
Mr. Man allow, "You done got new toothies, but you can't fool me."
Brer Wolf say, "Look at my little eyes; does they look like Brer Rabbit?"
Mr. Man allow, "You can squinch you eyeballs, but you can't fool me, Brer Rabbit."
Brer Wolf squall out, "I ain't not Brer Rabbit, and you better turn me out of this place so I can take hide and hair off of Brer Rabbit."
Mr. Man say, "If both hide and hair was off, I'd know you, 'cause it ain't in you for to fool me."
And it hurt Brer Wolf feelings so bad for Mr. Man to dispute his word, that he bust out into a big boo-boo, and that's about all I know.