Thursday, December 13, 2018

C147. Brother Rabbit's Laughing-Place

4. Brother Rabbit's Laughing-Place. 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.

Now, about that laughing-place—it seem like that one time the critters got to disputing amongst theyselves as to which one can laugh the loudest. One word fetch on another till it look like they was going to be a free fight, a rumpus and a riot. They showed their claws and tooths, and shook their horns, and rattle their hoof. They had their bristles up, and it look like their eyes was running blood, they got so red.

Just about the time when it look like you can't keep 'em apart, little Miss Squinch Owl flewed up a tree and allow, "You all don't know what laughing is—ha-ha-ha-ha! You can't laugh when you try to laugh—ha-ha-ha-haha!"

The critters was astonished. Here was a little fowl not much bigger than a jay-bird laughing herself blind when there weren't a thing in the round world for to laugh at. They stop their quarreling after that and look at one another.

Brer Bull say, "Is anybody ever hear the beat of that? Who might the lady be?"

They all say they don't know, and they got a mighty good reason for their say-so, 'cause Miss Squinch Owl, she flies at night with the bats and the betsy bugs.

Well, they quit their quarreling, the critters did, but they still had their dispute; the coming of Miss Squinch Owl ain't settle that. So they agree that they'd meet somewheres when the weather got better, and try their hand at laughing for to see which one can outdo the other. They say they was going to make trial for to see which and is the out-laughingest of the whole caboodle, and they name the day, and all promise for to be there, excepting Brer Rabbit, and he allow that he can laugh well enough for to suit hisself and his family, besides that, he don't care about laughing unless there's something for to laugh at. The other critters they beg him for to come, but he shake his head and wiggle his mustache, and say that when he want to laugh, he got a laughing-place for to go to, where he won't be pestered by the balance of creation. He say he can go there and laugh his fill, and then go on about his business, if he got any business, and if he ain't got none, he can go to play.

The other critters ain't know what to make of all this, and they wonder and wonder how Brer Rabbit can have a laughing-place and they ain't got none. When they ask him about it, he respond, he did, that he expect it was just the difference 'twixt one critter and another. He ask 'em for to look at folks, how different they was, let alone the critters. One man'd be rich and another man poor, and he ask how come that.

Well, sir, they just naturally can't tell him what make the difference 'twixt folks no more than they can tell him the difference 'twixt the critters. They was stumped; they done forget all about the trial what was to come off, but Brer Rabbit fetch 'em back to it. He say they ain't no needs for to see which can outdo all the balance of 'em in the laughing business, 'cause anybody what got any sense know that the donkey is a natural laugher, same as Brer Coon is a natural pacer.

Brer Bear look at Brer Wolf, and Brer Wolf look at Brer Fox, and then they all look at one another. Brer Bull, he say, "Well, well, well!" and then he groan; Brer Bear say, "Who'd've thunk it?" and then he growl; and Brer Wolf say "Gracious me!" and then he howl. After that, they ain't say much, 'cause there ain't much for to say. They just stand round and look kind of sheepish. They ain't dispute with Brer Rabbit, though they'd've like to've done it, but they sat about and make marks in the sand just like you see folks do when they're trying for to get their thinking machine to work.

Well, sir, there they sat and there they stood. They ask Brer Rabbit how he know how to find his laughing-place, and how he know it was a laughing-place after he got there. He tap hisself on the head, he did, and allow that there was a heap more under his hat than what you could get out with a fine-tooth comb. Then they ask if they can see his laughing-place, and he say he'd take the idea to bed with him, and study upon it, but he can say this much right then, that if he did let 'em see it, they'd had to go there one at a time, and they'd had to do just like he say; if they don't they'll get the notion that it's a crying-place.

They agree to this, the critters did, and then Brer Rabbit say that while they are all their together, they better choosen amonst theyself which one of 'em was going first, and he'd choosen the rest when the time come. They jowered and jowered, and by and by, they had to leave it all to Brer Rabbit. Brer Rabbit, he put his hand to his head, and shot his eyeballs and do like he studying.

He say, "The more I think about who shall be the first one, the more I get the idea that it ought to be Brer Fox. He been here long as anybody, and he's pretty well thunk of by the neighbors—I ain't never hear nobody breathe a breath against him."

They all say that they had Brer Fox in mind all the time, but somehow they can't come right out with his name, and they vow that if they had agreed on somebody, that somebody would sure've been Brer Fox. 

Then, after that, it was all plain sailing. Brer Rabbit say he'd meet Brer Fox at such and such a place, at such and such a time, and after that there weren't no more to be said. The critters all went to the place where they live at, and done just like they always done.

Brer Rabbit make a soon start for to go to the point where he promise to meet Brer Fox, but soon as he was, Brer Fox was there before him. It seem like he was so much in the habits of being outdone by Brer Rabbit that he can't do without it. Brer Rabbit bow, he did, and pass the time of day with Brer Fox, and ask him how his family was. Brer Fox say they was pert as can be, and then he allow that he ready and a-waiting for to go and see that great laughing-place what Brer Rabbit been talking about.

(image source)

Brer Rabbit say that suit him to a gnat's heel, and off they put. By and by they come to one of these here clear places that you sometimes see in the middle of a pine thicket. You may ask yourself how come they don't no trees grow there when there's trees all round, but you ain't going to get no answer, and neither is there anybody what can tell you.

They got there, they did, and then Brer Rabbit make a halt. Brer Fox allow, "Is this the place? I don't feel no more like laughing now than I did 'fore I come."

Brer Rabbit, he say, "Just keep your jacket on, Brer Fox; if you get in too big a hurry it might come off. We done come mighty nigh to the place, and if you want to do some old time laughing, you'll have to do just like I tell you; if you don't want to laugh, I'll just show you the place, and we'll go on back where we come from, 'cause this is one of the days that I ain't got much time to waste laughing or crying."

Brer Fox allow that he ain't so mighty greedy to laugh, and with that, Brer Rabbit whirl round, he did, and make out he going on back where he live at. Brer Fox holler at him; he say, "Come on back, Brer Rabbit; I'm just a-projecting with you."

"If you want to project, Brer Fox, you'll have to go home and project with them what want to be projected with. I ain't here 'cause I want to be here. You ask me for to show you my laughing-place, and I agreed. I expect we better be going on back."

Brer Fox say he come for to see Brer Rabbit's laughing-place, and he ain't going to be satisfy till he see it. Brer Rabbit allow that if that the case, then he must act the gentleman all the way through, and quit his behavishness. Brer Fox say he'll do the best he can, and then Brer Rabbit show him a place where the bamboo briars, and the blackberry bushes, and the honeysuckles done start to come in the pine thicket, and can't come no further. It weren't no thick place; it was just where the swamp at the foot of the hill petered out in trying to come to dry land. The bushes and vines was thin and scanty, and if they could've talked they'd've hollered loud for water.

Brer Rabbit show Brer Fox the place, and then tell him that the game is for to run full tilt through the vines and bushes, and then run back, and through 'em again and back, and he say he'd bet a plug of tobacco against a gingercake that by the time Brer Fox done this he'd be that tickled that he can't stand up for laughing. Brer Fox shook his head; he ain't nigh believe it, but for all that, he make up his mind for to do what Brer Rabbit say, spite of the fact that his old woman done tell him 'fore he left home that he better keep his eye open, 'cause Brer Rabbit going to run a rig on him.

He took a running start, he did, and he went through the bushes and the vines like he was running a race. He run and he come back a-running, and he run back, and that time he struck something with his head. He try to dodge it, but he seed it too late, and he was going too fast. He struck it, he did, and time he do that, he fetched a howl that you might've heard a mile, and after that, he hollered yap, yap, yap, and ouch, ouch, ouch, and yow, yow, yow, and whiles this was going on Brer Rabbit was thumping the ground with his behind foot, and laughing fit to kill. 

(image source)

Brer Fox run round and round, and kept on snapping at hisself and doing like he was trying for to tear his hide off. He run, and he roll, and wallow, and holler, and fall, and squall till it look like he was having forty-eleven duck fits.

He got still after while, but the more stiller he got, the worse he looked. His head was all swell up, and he look like he been run over in the road by a four-mule wagon.

Brer Rabbit allow, "I'm glad you had such a good time, Brer Fox; I'll had to fetch you out again. You sure done like you was having fun."

Brer Fox ain't say a word; he was too mad for to talk. He just sat around and lick hisself and try to get his hair straight. 

Brer Rabbit allow, "You ripped around in there till I was scared you was going to hurt yourself, and I believe in my soul you done gone and bump your head again a tree, 'cause it's all swell up. You better go home, Brer Fox, and let you old woman poultice you up."

Brer Fox show his tooths, and say, "You said this was a laughing-place."

Brer Rabbit allow, "I said it was my laughing-place, and I'll say it again. What you reckon I been doing all this time? Ain't you hear me laughing? And what you been doing? I hear you making a mighty fuss in there, and I say to myself that Brer Fox is having a mighty big time."

"I let you know that I ain't been laughing," says Brer Fox, says he.

He run to the East and he run to the West
And jammed his head in a hornets' nest!

(image source)

No comments:

Post a Comment