Tuesday, December 18, 2018

C120. Why the Hawk Catches Chickens

1: Why the Hawk Catches Chickens. Text Source: Uncle Remus and His Friends 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.

What fattens the chickens fattens the hawk. Course, there was a time when the hawks ain't had no mouth for chicken, but that time done gone by. Hawks are done broke in to catching chickens — the goshawk, the swamphawk and the bluedarter, the forky tail and the fan tail, — all of 'em. But way back yonder they ain't know nothing at all about no chicken, 'cause they ain't had the taste of 'em. I don't know what they did eat, but I hear tell that times got so hard with old Brer Hawk that he had to scuffle 'round right smartually. Yet it seem like scuffling ain't do no good. He fly this a-way, and he fly that, yet he ain't find nothing for to eat, and it look like it was going to be all-night-Isom with him.

Whiles he was flying round, he seed the Sun shining up there in the elements, so he bowed his head and say, "Howdy." And the Sun he howdied back, he did, and they struck up a kind of speaking acquaintance. By and by, Brer Hawk made so bold as to tell the Sun about the trouble what he got, and so the Sun, he up and allow, he did, that if Brer Hawk can catch him in bed, he'll give him all the vittles he can eat and show him where to get more.

If Brer Hawk can catch the Sun in bed, then the Sun say he willing for to show Brer Hawk where to get his vittles. This make more trouble for Brer Hawk. He got up sooner and sooner every morning, but every time he lay eyes on the Sun, he was up and a-shining. Then he sat up all night, but that ain't make no difference. He can't catch the Sun in bed. It went on this away till Brer Hawk get so weak he can scarcely ruffle a feather. He got that poor and light that he can't fly again the wing nohow, and then he just naturally give out.

He was hopping about in the top of a great big pine when he hear Brer Rooster calling him. He took a notion that Brer Rooster was just making game on him, so he holler back, says he, "Don't bother along after me, Brer Rooster. Scratch up yo' little grub worms and cackle over 'em, and eat 'em, but don't pester 'long after me."

Brer Rooster holler back, says he, "What the matter with you? How come you look so pale? How come you look so lonesome?"

Well, after while Brer Hawk dropped down and sat on the fence, where he can talk to Brer Rooster, 'cause he so hungry it make his tongue weak. He sat there on the fence, he did, and up and told Brer Rooster about how he been trying for to catch the Sun in bed. This make Brer Rooster laugh till you might are heared him squall all over the horse lot. He allow, says he, "Mercy, mercy! Whyn't you tell me? Whyn't you tell me long ago?"

With that, Brer Rooster up and say, says he, that there ain't no morning but what he can catch the Sun in bed, and he tell Brer Hawk that if he'll just come and roost somewheres close by, he can catch the Sun the very next morning. Brer Rooster say, says he, that when he clap his wing and crow, then the time done come for Brer Hawk to start off for to catch the Sun in bed.

Well, then, old Brer Hawk look like he mighty thankful. He bowed his head, he did, and look just as nice as a black man does when you give him biscuit and gravy; and he say he gonna stay as close to Brer Rooster as he can scrounge. Brer Rooster, he sort of cluck down in his goozle, and allow, says he, "Get just as close as you please, Brer Hawk, but don't hunch me. I'm mighty nervous in my sleep, and if you hunch me enduring of the night, there's pleased to be trouble."

Ole Brer Hawk, he say, says he, "I ain't a touchous man myself, Brer Rooster, yet I expect I got manners enough not to pester them what is."

They sat there on the roost, they did, just like two bluebirds on a fence post, and if there was any fuss made it was when old Dominicker hen dreamt about little Billy Black Mink, and hollered out in her sleep. They sat there, they did, and nodded right along.

By and by, about an hour before day, Brer Rooster woke up, and clap his wings and holler, "Now yo' time to go!" Then he wait little, and holler another time, "Now yo' time to go!"

With that, Brer Hawk riz and flew, and he flewed so fast and he flewed so far that he come to the place where the Sun live at, and he catch the Sun in bed. In bed! Right there in bed. And it weren't no trundle bed neither. It was one of these here big beds with high posties. Yes sir! The Sun was in there, and he had the bed cover all drawed up 'round his head, and he was snoring same as somebody filing a cowhorn. Brer Hawk rapped on the head-board, and holler out, says he, "'Most time for day to break! Get up from there! Breakfast'll be mighty late if you lay there all day!"

Sun allow, "Who that?"

Brer Hawk say, ''It ain't nobody but me."

Sun allow, "What you want to come waking me up for? I bound I'll have the headache the whole blessed day."

Then Brer Hawk put the Sun in mind of the promise what he made. 

Then the Sun got mad. He allow, says he, "How you expect I gonna find you in vittles? Who show you the way to my bed?"

Brer Hawk say it was Brer Rooster. 

Then the Sun raise up in bed, he did, and wink one eye, and allow, says he, "Go back there and tell yo' Brer Rooster that he got to find you in vittles."

Brer Hawk ain't like this much, and he sort of hung 'round, like he waiting for something. This make the Sun mad, and he jump out of bed and run Brer Hawk out of the house with the poker. 

Brer Hawk ain't know what to do. He flewed back to where Brer Rooster was scratching in the trash pile, and told him what the Sun say. 

This make Brer Rooster laugh. He allow, says he, "How I going to find you in vittles? I got a mighty big family to look after, and I be bless if they don't get hungrier and hungrier every day that comes."

Brer Hawk allow, "I pleased to eat, Brer Rooster, and I'm lots hungrier than what yo' family is."

Brer Rooster allow, says he, "Well, Brer Hawk, you are more than welcome to drop down here and scratch in the trash. I expect yo' claws just as good as what mine is. 'Sides that, you ain't pleased to holler and cackle every time you fine a worm."

But Brer Hawk shake his head. That kind of doings don't nigh suit him. It look too much like work. 

So he sail up in the tree-top, and sat there, and by and by here come old Miss Hen with her chickens, which they let in to scratching alongside Brer Rooster. Brer Hawk look at 'em, and he ask hisself, says he, "What make my mouth water?" 

Then he remembered about how the Sun wunk at him, and it come across his mind that chicken meat might taste good. With that he dropped down on one of Brer Rooster's chilluns, and carried it off, and it fit his appetite so mighty well that he been eating Brer Rooster's family every chance he get. Brer Hawk hungry yet. 

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