Tuesday, December 18, 2018

C110. Why the Guineas Stay Awake

5: Why the Guineas Stay Awake. Text Source: Daddy Jake, The Runaway by Joel Chandler Harris. Online at Hathi Trust. I have removed the frame material and standardized the spelling; click here for notes to the story. Also, I have left out a comment from the frame which is of interest because Harris himself had the guineas screaming "Pot-rack!" in an earlier story: "Some folks say that they holler, "Pot-rack! Pot-rack!" but them what talk that away is mostly white folks, and they ain't know nothing at all about them old times. Master John or Miss Sally might know, but if they does I ain't hear 'em say so."

One time 'way long back yonder them guineas was just as drowsy when night come as any of the other folks. They'd go to roost, they would, and they'd drop off to sleep time their head touch the pillow. No sooner did they get up on the roost than they drop off to sleep, and they kept on that away till by and by one time Brer Fox made up he mind that he better be kind of sociable and pay 'em a call after they done gone to bed.

There was times, when Brer Fox took a notion for to walk about in the daytime, but most always in general he done he promenading 'twixt sundown and sun-up. I don't know what time of night it was when Brer Fox call on the guineas, but I expect it was long towards the shank er the evening, as you may say.

Yet, soon or late, when he got to where the guineas live at, he found 'em all sound asleep. Now, some folks when they go anywheres for to make theyself sociable, and find everybody fast asleep, would've turn 'round and made their way back home; but Brer Fox ain't that kind of man. Them guineas roost so low and they look so fine and fat that it make Brer Fox feel like they was his first cousin.

He sat down on his hunkers, Brer Fox did, and he look at 'em and grin. Then he allow to hisself, "I'll just shake hands with one of 'em and then I'll go."

Well, Brer Fox went up and shook hands with one of 'em, and he must've squoze mighty hard, 'cause the guinea make a mighty flutterment ; and he must've held on with a mighty tight grip, 'cause when he took off his hat and bowed good-by the guinea went along with him.

Well, sir, you never is hear tell of such a racket as them guineas kicked up when they discover that Brer Fox done make off with one of 'em. They squall and they squall till they rousted up the whole neighborhoods. The dogs got to barking, the owls got to hooting, the hosses got to kicking, the cows got to lowing, and the chickens got to crowing.

And more than that, the guineas was that scared that they turn right pale on the neck and on the gills, and if you don't believe me you can go up there in the garden and look at 'em for yourself.

And more than that, they got scared so bad that from that day to this they don't sleep sound at night. They may squat 'round in the shade and nod in the daytime, though I ain't caught 'em at it, and they may sort of nod after they go to roost at night; but if a betsy bug flies by 'em, or yet if a sparrow flutters in the bushes, they are wide awake; they most surely is.

It seem like to me, that they must be haunted in their dreams by old Brer Fox, 'cause all times of night you can hear 'em going on, "L-o-o-o-o-k, look, look! There he is, there he is! Go 'way, go 'way!"

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