Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings/Mr. Terrapin shows his Strength

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Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings by Joel Chandler Harris
Mr. Terrapin shows his Strength
Footnotes are from the original text.

Legends of the Old Plantation[edit]

XXVI. Mr. Terrapin shows his Strength[edit]

“Brer Tarrypin wuz de out’nes’ man,” said Uncle Remus, rubbing his hands together contemplatively, and chuckling to himself in a very significant manner; “he wuz de out’nes’ man er de whole gang. He wuz dat.”

The little boy sat perfectly quiet, betraying no impatience when Uncle Remus paused to hunt, first in one pocket and then in another, for enough crumbs of tobacco to replenish his pipe. Presently the old man proceeded:

“One night Miss Meadows en de gals dey gun a candy-pullin’, en so many er de nabers come in ’sponse ter de invite dat dey hatter put de ’lasses in de wash pot en b’il’ de fier in de yard. Brer B’ar, he holp[1] Miss Meadows bring de wood, Brer Fox, he men’ de fier, Brer Wolf, he kep’ de dogs off, Brer Rabbit, he grease de bottom er de plates fer ter keep de candy fum stickin’, en Brer Tarrypin, he klum up in a cheer, en say he’d watch en see dat de ’lasses didn’t bile over. Dey wuz all dere, en dey wern’t cuttin’ up no didos, nudder, kaze Miss Meadows, she done put her foot down, she did, en say dat w’en dey come ter her place dey hatter hang up a flag er truce at de front gate en ’bide by it.

“Well, den, w’iles dey wuz all a settin’ dar en de ’lasses wuz a bilin’ en a blubberin’, dey got ter runnin’ on talkin’ mighty biggity. Brer Rabbit, he say he de swiffes’; but Brer Tarrypin, he rock long in de cheer en watch de ’lasses. Brer Fox, he say he de sharpes’, but Brer Tarrypin he rock long. Brer Wolf, he say he de mos’ suvvigus, but Brer Tarrypin, he rock en he rock long. Brer B’ar, he say he de mos’ stronges’, but Brer Tarrypin he rock, en he keep on rockin’. Bimeby he sorter shet one eye, en say, sezee:

“‘Hit look like ’periently dat de ole hardshell ain’t nowhars ’longside er dis crowd, yit yer I is, en I’m de same man w’at show Brer Rabbit dat he ain’t de swiffes’; en I’m de same man w’at kin show Brer B’ar dat he ain’t de stronges’,’ sezee.

“Den dey all laff en holler, kaze it look like Brer B’ar mo’ stronger dan a steer. Bimeby, Miss Meadows, she up’n ax, she did, how he gwine do it.

“‘Gimme a good strong rope,’ sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee, ‘en lemme git in er puddle er water, en den let Brer B’ar see ef he kin pull me out,’ sezee.

“Den dey all laff ’gin, en Brer B’ar, he ups en sez, sezee: ‘We ain’t got no rope,’ sezee.

“‘No,’ sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee, ‘en needer is you got de strenk,’ sezee, en den Brer Tarrypin, he rock en rock long, en watch de ’lasses a bilin’ en a blubberin’.

“Atter w’ile Miss Meadows, she up en say, she did, dat she’d take’n loan de young men her bed-cord, en w’iles de candy wuz a coolin’ in de plates, dey could all go ter de branch en see Brer Tarrypin kyar out his projick. Brer Tarrypin,” continued Uncle Remus, in a tone at once confidential and argumentative, “weren’t much bigger’n de pa’m er my han’, en it look mighty funny fer ter year ’im braggin’ ’bout how he kin out-pull Brer B’ar. But dey got de bed-cord atter w’ile, en den dey all put out ter de branch. W’en Brer Tarrypin fine de place he wanter, he tuck one een er de bed-cord, en gun de yuther een’ to Brer B’ar.

“‘Now den, ladies en gents,’ sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee, ‘you all go wid Brer B’ar up dar in de woods en I’ll stay yer, en w’en you year me holler, den’s de time fer Brer B’ar fer ter see ef he kin haul in de slack er de rope. You all take keer er dat ar een’,’ sezee, ‘en I’ll take keer er dish yer een’,’ sezee.

“Den dey all put out en lef’ Brer Tarrypin at de branch, en w’en dey got good en gone, he dove down inter de water, he did, en tie de bed-cord hard en fas’ ter wunner deze yer big clay-roots, en den he riz up en gin a whoop.

“Brer B’ar he wrop de bed-cord roun’ his han,’ en wink at de gals, en wid dat he gin a big juk, but Brer Tarrypin ain’t budge. Den he take bof han’s en gin a big pull, but, all de same, Brer Tarrypin ain’t budge. Den he tu’n ’roun’, he did, en put de rope cross his shoulders en try ter walk off wid Brer Tarrypin, but Brer Tarrypin look like he don’t feel like walkin’. Den Brer Wolf he put in en holp Brer B’ar pull, but des like he didn’t, en den dey all holp ’im, en, bless grashus! w’iles dey wuz all a pullin’, Brer Tarrypin, he holler, en ax um w’y dey don’t take up de slack.

“Den w’en Brer Tarrypin feel um quit pullin’, he dove down, he did, en ontie de rope, en by de time dey got ter de branch, Brer Tarrypin, he wuz settin’ in de aidge er de water des ez natchul ez de nex’ un, en he up’n say, sezee:

“‘Dat las’ pull er yone wuz a mighty stiff un, en a leetle mo’n you’d er had me,’ sezee. ‘Youer monstus stout, Brer B’ar,’ sezee, ‘en you pulls like a yoke er steers, but I sorter had de purchis on you,’ sezee.

“Den Brer B’ar, bein’s his mouf ’gun ter water atter de sweetnin,’ he up’n say he speck de candy’s ripe, en off dey put atter it!”

“It’s a wonder,” said the little boy, after a while, “that the rope didn’t break.”

“Break who?” exclaimed Uncle Remus, with a touch of indignation in his tone—“break who? In dem days, Miss Meadows’s bed-cord would a hilt a mule.”

This put an end to whatever doubts the child might have entertained.


Footnotes[edit]

  1. Holp; helped