Tuesday, December 11, 2018

C101. Mink and Terrapin Go Diving

67. Old Brother Terrapin Gets Some Fish. Text Source: Nights with 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.


There was a time when old Brer Terrapin had a tussel with Brer Mink. It seem like that they both live 'round the water so much and so long that they get kind of stuck up 'long with it. Leastways that was the trouble with Brer Mink. He jump in the water and swim and dive till he begun to believe there weren't nobody can hold their hand 'long with him.

One day Brer Mink was going long down the creek with a nice string of fish swinging on he walking-cane, when who should he meet up with but old Brer Terrapin. The critters was all hail fellow with old Brer Terrapin, and no sooner is he seed Brer Mink than he bow him howdy. Ole Brer Terrapin talk 'way down in he throat like he got bad cold. He allow, "Heyo, Brer Mink! Where you get all them nice string of fish?"

Brer Mink was mighty up-and-spoken in them days. He allow, he did, "'Down there in the creek, Brer Terrapin."

Brer Terrapin look astonished. He say, says he, "Well, well, well! In the creek! Who'd've believed it?'

Brer Mink, says he, "Where I gonna catch 'em, Brer Terrapin, if I ain't catch 'em in the creek?"

Ole Brer Terrapin, says he, "Dat's so, Brer Mink; but a highland man like you going in the creek after fish! It looks terrible, Brer Mink—that what it do; it just looks terrible!"

Brer Mink, says he, "Looks or no looks, there where I got 'em."

Brer Terrapin sort of sway he head from side to side, and allow, "If that the case, Brer Mink, then surely you must be one of them there kind of critters what used to the water."

"That's me," says Brer Mink, says he.

"Well, then," says Brer Terrapin, says he, "I'm a highland man myself, and it's been a mighty long time since I got my foots wet, but I don't mind going in washing 'long with you. If you are the man you says you is, you can outdo me," says he.

Brer Mink, says he, "How we gonna do, Brer Terrapin?"

Old Brer Terrapin, says he, "We'll go down there to the creek, and the man what can stay under the water the longest, let that man walk off with that string of fish."

Brer Mink, says he, "I'm the very man you been looking for."

Brer Mink say he don't want to put it off a minute. Go he would, and go he did. They went down to creek and make their arrangerments. Brer Mink lay he fish down on the bank, and him and old Brer Terrapin wade in. Brer Terrapin he make great admiration about how cold the water is. He flinch, he did, and allow, "Ow, Brer Mink! This here water feel mighty cold and it ain't no more than up to my waist. Goodness knows how she gonna feel when she get up under my chin."

They wade in, they did, and Brer Terrapin say, says he, "Now, then, Brer Mink, we'll make a dive, and the man what stay under the water the longest that man gets the fish."

Brer Mink allow that's the way he look at it, and then Brer Terrapin give the word, and under they went. Course, Brer Terrapin can stay down in the water longer than Brer Mink, and Brer Mink might've knowed it. They stay and they stay, till by and by Brer Mink pleased to come up, and he took and caught he breath, he did, like he mighty glad for to get back again. 

Then after while Brer Terrapin stuck he nose out of the water, and then Brer Mink say Brer Terrapin can beat him. Brer Terrapin allow, "No, Brer Mink; it's the best two out of three. If I beats you this time then the fish, they're mine; if I gets beated, then we can take another trial."

With that, down they went, but Brer Terrapin ain't more than dove 'fore up he come, and whiles Brer Mink was down there honing for fresh air, he took and gobble up the last one of the fish, old Brer Terrapin did. He gobble up the fish, and he was fixing for to pick he tooth, but by this time Brer Mink pleased to come up, and old Brer Terrapin, he took and slid down in the water. He slid so slick that he ain't left a bubble. He ain't stay down long, neither, 'fore he come up and he make like he teetotally out of wind.

Old Brer Terrapin come up, he did, and look 'round, and 'fore Brer Mink can say a word, he holler out, "You are nice man, Brer Mink! You are mighty nice man!"

"What I done now, Brer Terrapin?"

"Don't ask me. Look up there where you been eating them fish and then ask yourself. You are mighty nice man!"

Brer Mink look 'round and, sure enough, the fish done gone. Old Brer Terrapin keep on talking, "You took and come up first, and whiles I been down there in the water, naturally aching for lack of wind, here you setting up chewing on the fish which they ought to been mine!"

Brer Mink stand him down that he ain't eat them fish; he deny it to the last, but old Brer Terrapin make out he don't believe him. He say, says he, "You'll keep going on this a-way, till after while you'll be worse than Brer Rabbit. Don't tell me you ain't get them fish, Brer Mink, 'cause you know you is."

It sort of make Brer Mink feel proud 'cause old Brer Terrapin mix him up with Brer Rabbit, 'cause Brer Rabbit was a mighty man in them days, and he sort of laugh, Brer Mink did, like he know more than he going tell. Old Brer Terrapin keep on grumbling.

"I ain't going to get mad 'long with you, Brer Mink, 'cause it's a mighty keen trick, but you ought to be ashamed yourself for to be playing tricks on a old man like me—that you ought!"

With that old Brer Terrapin went shuffling off, and after he get out of sight he drawed back in he house and shut the door and laugh and laugh till there weren't no fun in laughing.

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