One time, there was a woman living alongside of the big road, and this here woman she had one little boy. He was a mighty smart little boy, and his mammy set lots by him. Seem like she ain't never have no luck excepting along with that boy, 'cause there was one time when she had a little gal, and, bless your soul! Somebody come along and tote the little gal off, and when that happen the woman ain't have no more little gal, and the little boy ain't have no more little sister. this make both of 'em mighty sorry, but look like the little boy was the sorriest, 'cause he show it the mostest.
Some days he'd take a notion for to go and hunt his little sister, and then he'd go down the big road and climb a big pine-tree, and get right spang in the top, and look all round for to see if he can't see his little sister somewheres in the woods. He couldn't see her, but he'd stay up there in the tree and swing in the wind and allow to hisself that maybe he might see her by and by.
One day, whiles he was a-sitting up there, he see two mighty fine ladies walking down the road. He climb down out of the tree, he did, and run and told his mammy. Then she up and ask, "How is they dress, honey?"
"Mighty fine, mammy, mighty fine, puffy-out petticoats and long green veils."
"How just they look, honey?"
"Spick span new, mammy."
"They ain't none of our kin, is they, honey?"
"That they ain't, mammy — they are mighty fine ladies."
The fine ladies, they come on down the road, they did, and stop by the woman's house, and beg her for to please and give 'em some water. The little boy, he run and fetch 'em a gourd full, and they put the gourd under their veils, and drunk, and drunk, and drunk just like they was mighty nigh perish for water.
The little boy watch 'em. Directly he holler out, "Mammy, mammy! What you reckon? They are lapping the water."
The woman hollered back, "I reckon that's the way the quality folks does, honey."
Then the ladies beg for some bread, and the little boy took 'em a pone. They eat it like they was mighty nigh famish for bread.
By and by the little boy holler out and say, "Mammy, mammy! What you reckon? They got great long tooths."
The woman, she holler back, "I reckon all the quality folks is got 'em, honey."
Then the ladies ask for some water for to wash their hands, and the little boy brung 'em some. He watch 'em, and by and by he holler out, "Mammy, mammy! What you reckon? They got little bit of hairy hands and arms."
The woman, she holler back, "I reckon all the quality folks is got 'em, honey."
Then the ladies beg the woman for to please and let the little boy show 'em where the big road forks. But the little boy don't want to go. He holler out, "Mammy, folks don't have to be showed where the road forks."
But the woman she allow, "I reckon the quality folks does, honey."
The little boy, he begun to whimper and cry 'cause he don't want to go with the ladies, but the woman say he ought to be ashamed of hisself for to be going on that away 'fore the quality folks, and more than that, he might run upon his little sister and fetch her home.
Now this here little boy had two mighty bad dogs. One of 'em was named Minnyminny Morack, and the the other one was name Follerlinsko, and they was so bad they had to be tied in the yard day and night, except when they was a-hunting.
So the little boy, he went and got a pan of water and set him down in the middle of the floor and then he went and got him a willow limb, and he stuck it in the ground. Then he allow, "Mammy, when the water in this here pan turns to blood, then you run out and turn loose Minnyminny Morack and Follerlinsko, and then when you see that there willow limb a-shaking, you run and sick 'em on my track."
The woman, she up and say she'd turn the dogs loose, and then the little boy he stuck his hands in he pockets and went on down the road a whistling just same as any other little boy, except that he was lots smarter. He went on down the road, he did, and the fine quality ladies they come on behind.
The further he went the faster he walk. This make the quality ladies walk fast, too, and it weren't so mighty long till the little boy hear 'em making a mighty curious fuss, and when he turn 'round, bless gracious! They was a-panting, 'cause they was so tired and hot. The little boy allow to hisself that it mighty curious how ladies can pant same as a wild varmint, but he say he expect that the way the quality ladies does when they gets hot and tired, and he make like he can't hear 'em, 'cause he want to be nice and polite.
After a while, when the quality ladies think the little boy weren't looking at 'em, he seed one of 'em drop down on her all-fours and trot along just like a varmint, and it weren't long 'fore the other one dropped down on her all-fours.
Then the little boy allowed , "Shoo! If that the way quality ladies rest theirself when they get tired I reckon a little chap about my size better be fixing for to rest hisself." So he look 'round, he did, and he took and pick him out a great big pine-tree by the side of the road, and begun to climb it.
Then when they see that, one of the quality ladies allow, "My goodness! What in the world you up to now?"
Little boy he say, says he, "I'm just a-climbing a tree for to rest my bones."
Ladies, they allow, "Whyn't you rest 'em on the ground?"
Little boy say, says he, "Because I like to get up where it cool and high."
The quality ladies, they took and walk 'round and 'round the tree like they was measuring it for to see how big it is. By and by, after while they say, says they, "Little boy, little boy! You better come down from there and show us the way to the forks of the road."
Then the little boy allow, "Just keep right on, ladies — you'll find the forks of the road; you can't miss 'em. I'm afeared for to come down, 'cause I might fall and hurt some of you all."
The ladies they say, says they, "You better come down here 'fore we run and tell your mammy how bad you is."
The little boy allow, "Whiles you are telling her please and tell her how scared I is."
Then the quality ladies got mighty mad. They walked 'round that tree and fairly snorted. They pulled off their bonnets, and their veils, and their dresses, and, lo and beholds! The little boy seen they was two great big panthers. They had great big eyes, and big sharp tooths, and great long tails, and they look up at the little boy and growl and grin at him till he come mighty nigh having a chill. They tried to climb the tree, but they had done trim their claws so they could get on gloves, and they couldn't climb no more.
Then one of 'em sat down in the road and made a curious mark in the sand, and their great long tails turned to axes, and no sooner is their tails turn to axes than they begun to cut the tree down. I ain't dares to tell you how sharp them axes was, 'cause you wouldn't nigh believe me. One of 'em stood on one side of the tree, and the other one stood on the other side, and they whack at that tree like they was taking a holiday. They whack out chips as big as your hat, and it weren't so mighty long 'fore the tree was ready for to fall.
But whiles the little boy was sitting up there, scared mighty nigh to death, it come into his mind that he had some eggs in his pocket what he done brung with him for to eat whenever he get hungry. He took out one of the eggs and broke it, and say, "Place, fill up!"
And, bless your soul! The place fill up sure enough, and the tree look just exactly like nobody ain't been a-cutting on it.
But them there panthers they was very vigorous, they just spit on their hands and cut away. When they get the tree mighty nigh cut down the little boy he pull out another egg and broke it, and say, "Place, fill up!" and by the time he say it the tree was done made sound again.
They kept on this away till the little boy begun to get scared again. He done broke all he eggs, excepting one, and them there critters was just a-cutting away like they was venomous, which they most surely was.
Just about that time the little boy mammy happen to stumble over the pan of water what was sitting down on the floor, and there it was all done turn to blood. Then she took and run and unloose Minnyminny Morack and Follerlinsko. Then when she do that she see the willow limb a-shaking, and then she put the dogs on the little boy track, and away they went.
The little boy hear 'em a-coming, and he holler out, "Come on, my good dogs. Here, dogs, here."
The panthers they stop chopping and listen. One ask the other one what she hear. Little boy say, "You don't hear nothing. Go on with your chopping."
The panthers they chop some more, and then they think they hear the dogs a-coming. Then they try their best for to get away, but it weren't no use. They ain't got time for to change their axes back into tails, and course they can't run with axes dragging behind 'em. So the dogs catch 'em.
The little boy, he allow, "Shake 'em and bite 'em. Drag 'em 'round and 'round till you drag 'em two mile." So the dogs they drag 'em 'round two mile.
Then the little boy say, says he, "Shake 'em and tear 'em. Drag 'em 'round and 'round till you drag 'em ten mile." So they drag 'em ten mile, and by the time they got back, the panthers was cold and stiff.
Then the little boy climbed down out of the tree, and sat down for to rest hisself. By and by after while, he allow to hisself that being he have so much fun, he believe he takes his dogs and go way off in the woods for to see if he can't find his little sister.
He call his dogs, he did, and went off in the woods, and they ain't been gone so mighty far 'fore he seed a house in the woods away off by itself. The dogs they went up and smelt 'round, they did, and come with their bristles up, but the little boy allow he'd go up there anyhow and see what the dogs was mad about. So he call the dogs and went towards the house, and when he got close up he saw a little gal toting wood and water. She was a mighty pretty little gal, but her clothes was all in rags, and she was crying 'cause she had to work so hard. Minnyminny Morack and Follerlinsko wagged their tails when they seed the little gal, and the little boy know'd by that that she was his sister.
So he went up and ask her what her name is, and she say she don't know what her name is, 'cause she so scared she done forget. Then he ask her what the name of goodness she crying about, and she say she crying 'cause she had to work so hard. Then he ask her who the house belong tp, and she allow it belong to a great big old black Bear, and this old Bear make her tote wood and water all the time. She say the water is to go in the big wash-pot, and the wood is for to make the pot boil, and the pot was to cook folks what the great big old Bear brung home to he chilluns.
The little boy didn't tell the little gal that he was her brother, but he allow that he was going to stay and eat supper with the big old Bear. The little girl cried and allow he better not, but the little boy say he ain't feared for to eat supper with a Bear.
So they went in the house, and when the little; boy got in there, he seed that the Bear had two great big chilluns, and one of 'em was squatting on the bed, and the other one was squatting down in the hearth. The chilluns, they was both of 'em named Cubs, to short, but the little boy weren't scared of 'em, 'cause there was his dogs for to make away with 'em if they so much as roll their eye-ball.
The old Bear was a mighty long time coming back, so the little gal she up and fix supper, anyhow, and the little boy he took and scrounge Cubs first on one side and then on other, and him and the little gal got much as they want. After supper the little boy told the little gal that he'd take and comb her hair just to while away the time; but the little gal hair ain't been comb for so long, and it am got in such a tange, that it make the poor critter cry for to hear anybody talking about combing of it. Then the little boy allow he ain't going to hurt her, and he took and warm some water in a pan and put it on her hair, and then he comb and curled it just as nice as you most ever see.
When the old Bear get home he was mighty took aback when he seed he had company, and when he see 'em all sitting down like they come then for to stay. But he was mighty polite, and he shook hands all 'round, and sat down by the fire and dry his boots, and ask about the crops, and allow that the weather would be monstrous fine if they could get a little season of rain.
Then he took and make a great admiration over the little gal's hair, and he ask the little boy how in the round world can he curl it and fix it so nice; the little one allow it's easy enough. Then the old Bear say he believe he like to get his hair curled up that way, and the little boy say, "Fill the big pot with water."
The old Bear filled the pot with water. Then the little boy say, "Build a fire under the pot and heat the water hot."
When the water got scalding hot, the little boy say, "All ready, now. Stick your head in. It's the onliest way for to make your hair curl."
Then the old Bear stuck he head in the water, and that was the last of him, bless gracious! The scalding water curled the hair till it come off, and I expect that where they get the idea about putting bear grease on folks' hair. The young Bears they cry like everything when they see how their daddy been treated, and they want bite and scratch the little boy and his sister, but them dogs — that Minnyminny Morack and that Follerlinsko — they just laid hold of them there Bears, and there weren't enough left of 'em to feed a kitten.
The little boy took and carried his sister home, and his mammy says she ain't never going to set no store by folks with fine clothes, 'cause they so deceitful; no, never, so long as the Lord might spare her.