Thursday, December 13, 2018

C153. Why Turkey Buzzard Is Bald-headed

10. Why the Turkey Buzzard Is Bald-headed. 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.


They was a time when Brer Rabbit live in one side of a hollow tree. One day whiles he was going pirooting round, old Miss Turkey Buzzard come knocking at the door, and when she don't hear nothing she stuck her head in and look round. To see her then and see her now you wouldn't know she was the same critter. She had a fine top-knot on her head, bigger than the one on the Friesan hen, which the wind done blow all her feathers the wrong way. Yes sir, she had a fine top-knot, and she was pretty good-looking.

Well, sir, she peeped in, she did, and then she seed that there weren't nobody in there, neither Grandaddy Owl, nor Brer Polecat, nor Brer Rattlesnake. She take another look, and then in she walked, and made herself mighty much at home. it ain't take old Miss Buzzard long for to fix her nest, 'cause she ain't want nothing but five sticks and a handful of leaves. She went out and fetched 'em in and there she was. She went right straight to housekeeping, 'cause she ain't had to put down no carpets, nor straighten out no rugs, nor move the chairs round, nor wash no dishes.

Well, long towards night, or maybe a little later, Brer Rabbit come home, and like he most always done, he come a-laughing. 

He been projecting with some of the other critters, an he was mighty pleased with hisself. When he first come he ain't take no notice of old Miss Buzzard. He come in a-laughing, and he laugh till he don't want to laugh no more. But by and by he begun to take notice that everything weren't just like it use to be. He allow, "Somebody done been here while I'm gone, and whoever it was, is got a mighty bad breath." He keep still, 'cause it was mighty dark in the hollow, but he keep on wiggling his nose and trying to sneeze. By and by, he say, "I don't know who it was; all I know, is that he better go see the doctor."

This was too much for old Miss Buzzard, and she say, "I thank you kindly, Brer Rabbit! You are in the way of making friends wheresomever you go!" 

Brer Rabbit, he jump most out of his skin, he was so scared. He catch his breath and sneeze, and then he allow, "Heyo, Sis Buzzard! Is that you? I thought you stayed in the trees. What wind blow you here, and how is old Brer Buzzard?"

She say, "Oh, he's doing as well as you can expect a man to do; he's away from home when he ought to be there, and when he's there, he's in the way. Men folks is monstrous trying, Brer Rabbit; you know that yourself." 

Brer Rabbit allow, "I ain't disputing what you say, but when women gets out of sorts, and has the all-overs, as you may say, the men folks has to bear the brunt of their ailments. You can put that down for a fact."

They went on that a-way, disputing about the sexes till old Miss Buzzard begun to get sleepy. She say, "Brer Rabbit, if you took more time for sleep, you'd be lots better off."

Brer Rabbit allow, "Maybe so—maybe so, Sis Buzzard, but I can't help my habits. I'm a light sleeper, but I was born so, and if you so much as move enduring of the night I'll have one eye open."

Old Miss Buzzard say, "If that's the case, Brer Rabbit, I'll thank you for to wake me if you hear a snake crawling. There ain't many things I'm afeared of, and one of 'em is a snake." 

Brer Rabbit laugh hearty, and allow, "If snakes was all that trouble me, Sis Buzzard, I'd be more than happy. Many and many's the time when I've woke up and found 'em coiled up in my britches leg." 

Miss Buzzard, she sort of flutter her wings, and say, "Oh, hush, Brer Rabbit! You give me the creeps; you sure do."

Dat was the first night. By the next day old Miss Buzzard had done took up her abode and lodging where Brer Rabbit was living at. He ain't say nothing, 'cause he just waiting the time when he can play some kind of prank on her and her family. All that he need for to brace him up was to have a mighty strong stomach, and he thank the Lord that he got that. Time went on, and as any kind of sound egg will hatch if you give it time, so old Miss Buzzard egg hatch, and most 'fore you know it, if you ain't had to live there like Brer Rabbit, she hatch out her eggs and have a pair of mighty likely chillun, if you can call Buzzards likely.

Old Miss Buzzard was monstrous proud of these young'uns, and the time come when she was hard put to get 'em vittles. 

She'd fly off and they'd holler for something to eat when they hear her come back, and it got so after while that they'd had to go hungry, they was so ravenous. And then she begun to look sideways at Brer Rabbit. He knew mighty well what she thinking about, but he ain't say nothing. He'd come and go just like old Miss Buzzard want in the back part of her head, but all the time, he knowed what she planning to do, and he act according. 

He allow to old Miss Buzzard that he know she want to be kind of private when she raising a family, and as there was two hollows in the tree, he say he going to make his home in the other one. Miss Buzzard, she say, she did, that Brer Rabbit was mighty good for to be thinking about other people, but Brer Rabbit make a bow and say he been raise that a-way.

But 'fore Brer Rabbit went in the other hollow he made sure that there was more than one way of getting out. He went in there, he did, and scratch about and make a new bed, and then he get in it for to get it warm. He sat there with one eye open and the other one shut. He sat so still that old Miss Buzzard got the idea that he gone abroad, and so when her chillun cry for the* dinner, she say, "Don't cry, honey babies; mammy going to get you a good warm dinner 'fore long, and it'll be fresh meat, too, you can depend on that."

The chillun, they cry worse at this, 'cause they so hungry they don't want to wait a minute. They say, "Get it now, mammy! Get it now!"

Old Brer Rabbit was sitting in there listening, and he allow to hisself, "It'll taste mighty good when you does get it, honey babies!"

With that, he skip out from there, and went off to his laughing-place.

After so long a time, old Miss Buzzard went 'round to the other hollow, and peep in. If Brer Rabbit had've been in there, she was going to ask him how he like his new house, but he weren't there, and she heave a long breath, 'cause when you going to do mischief, it seem like everybody know what you going to do.

Anyhow, she was mighty glad that Brer Rabbit weren't there for to look at her with his pop-eyes. Then she tell her chillun that she going off after some vittles, and she flop her wings a time or two, and off she flewed.

They got along tolerable well that day and the next but it weren't long 'fore their craw begun to feel like a wind-bag, and then they sat up a cry for more vittles, and their mammy ain't got no vittles for to give 'em. Brer Rabbit went abroad mighty soon that day, and after he had his fill of fun and turnip greens he come home and went to bed. 

He went to bed, he did, and went to sleep, but he ain't sleep long, 'cause he hear some kind of noise. He wake up, and open and shut his pop-eyes kind of slow, and wiggle his mouth and nose. He can hear old Miss Buzzard tramping round at his front door, kind of humming a tune to herself. He say, "Heyo, dar! Who that projecting at my front door?" 

Old Miss Buzzard, she say, "Take you rest, Brer Rabbit; it ain't nobody but me. I got the idea that someone was pirooting round the place, and I just got up for to see that everything was all right."

Brer Rabbit say, "It's mighty dark in here," and "A mighty good reason," says old Miss Buzzard, says she, "'cause it's black night out here,' says she; "you can't see you hand before you," says she. 

This make Brer Rabbit laugh, 'cause the morning sun was shining through a knot-hole right in Brer Rabbit's face. 

He laugh and allow to hisself, "Shoot your shekels, old woman, and shoot 'em hard, 'cause you are going to get the rough end of this business. You hear my horn!" He hear old Miss Buzzard walking round out there, and he holler out, "I can't get out! I believe it's daytime out there, and I can't get out! Somebody better run here and help me to get out. Someone done lock me in my own house, and I can't get out! Ain't somebody going to run here and turn me out! I can't get a breath of fresh air."

Well, old Miss Buzzard ain't got no more sense than to believe Brer Rabbit, and she was just certain and sure that he was her meat. She say, "I'm the one what shut you up in there, and I'm going to keep you in there till you are done dead, and then I'll pull the meat off of your bones, both fat and lean, and feed my chillun. I done got you shot up with red clay and white, and I'm going to keep you in there both day and night, till you ain't got no breath in you." With that she went in her own house and sat down with her chillun for to wait and see what going to happen. 

Brer Rabbit he stay still for the longest, 'cause he one of the most fidgety critters you ever is lay you eyes on. He stay right still, he did, till old Miss Turkey Buzzard get tired of waiting and come out for to promenade up and down 'fore Brer Rabbit front door.

He hear the old hussy, and he say, "I know you just joking with me, Sis Buzzard; please, ma'am, let me out. My breath getting shorter, and this here and what in here smell most as bad as what your breath do. Please, ma'am, make haste and let me out."

Then she got mad. "My breath, I hear you say! Well, 'fore I get through with you, you won't have no breath—I promise you that."

After old Miss Buzzard went back in her part of the house, Brer Rabbit took a notion that he'd get out of there, and pay her back for the old and the new. And out of his back door he went. He ain't take time for to go to the laughing-place—no, sir, not him. Instead of that he put off to where he knowed Mr. Man had been clearing up a new ground. There was a tin bucket what Mr. Man had done off and forgot, and Brer Rabbit took that and fill it full of red-hot embers, and went sailing back home with it.

When he get there, he stuck his head in Miss Buzzard door, and allow, "Peep-eye, Sis Buzzard! I hope you done had your dinner to day, and if you ain't I got it right here for you and you more than welcome to all that's in it." 

He ain't more than got the words out of his mouth, 'fore old Miss Buzzard flewed out at him. She flewed out, she did, but she ain't flewed far 'fore she got the hot ashes over her head and neck, and the way she hopped 'round was so scandalous that folks calls that kind of doings the buzzard-dance down to this day and time.

Some of the ashes got on the little buzzards, and from that time on none of the buzzard tribe is had any hair or feathers on their head, and not much on their neck. And if you look at 'em right close, you'll find that I'm a-telling you the plain truth. They look so bare on their head and neck that you want to give 'em a piece of rag for to tie round it to keep 'em from catching cold.

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