Pieces People Ask For/Brer Rabbit and the Butter

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For other versions of this work, see Mr. Rabbit nibbles up the Butter.


"De anemules an' de beastesses," said Uncle Remus, shaking his coffee around in the bottom of his tin cup, in order to gather up all the sugar, "dey kep' on gettin' mo' and mo' familious wid wunner nudder, twel bimeby, 'twant long 'fo' Brer Babbit, en Brer Fox, en Brer Possum got ter sorter bunchin' der perwishions tergedder in de same house. Arter while de roof sorter 'gun ter leak, en one day Brer Rabbit, en Brer Fox, en Brer Possum 'semble fer ter see ef dey couldn't kinder patch her up. Dey had a big day's wuk in front un um, en den dey fotch der dinner wid urn. Dey lumped de vittles up in one pile, en de butter w'at Brer Fox brung dey goes en puts in de spring-house fer ter keep cool, en den dey wen' ter wuk, en 'twan't long 'fo' Brer Rabbit's stummuck 'gun ter sorter growl en pester 'im. Dat butter of Brer Fox's sot heavy on his mine, en his mouf water eve'y time he 'member 'bout it. Presen'ly he say ter hisself dat he bleedzd ter have a nip at dat butter, en den he lay his plans, he did. Fus news you know, w'ile dey was all wukkin' 'long, Brer Rabbit raise his head quick en fling his years forred en holler out,—

"'Here I is. Wat you want wid me? 'en off he went like sump'n wuz arter 'im.

"He sailed 'roun', old Brer Rabbit did, en arter he make sho dat nobody ain't foller'n 'im, inter de spring-'ouse he bounces, en dar he stays twel he git a bait er butter. Den he santer on back en go to wuk.

"'Whar you bin?' sez Brer Fox, sezee.

"'I hear my chilluns callin' me,' says Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'en I hatter go see w'at dey want. My ole 'oman done gone en tuck mighty sick,' sezee.

"Dey wuk on twel bimeby de butter tas'e so good dat ole Brer Rabbit want some mo'. Den he raise up his head, he did, en holler out,— "'Heyo! Wait! I'm a comin'!' en off he put.

"Dis time he stay right smart while, en w'en he git back Brer Fox ax him whar he bin.

"'I bin ter see my ole 'oman, en she's a sinkin',' sezee."

Dreckly Brer Rabbit hear urn callin' 'im ag'in, en off he goes, en dis time, bless yo' soul, he gets de butter out so clear dat he kin see hisse'f in de bottom er de bucket. He scrape it clean en lick it dry, en den he go back ter wuk lookin' mo' samer den a nigger w'at de patter-rollers bin had holt up.

"'How's yo' ole 'oman dis time?' sez Brer Fox, sezee.

"'I'm oblije ter you, Brer Fox,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'but I'm fear'd she's done gone by, now,' en dat sorter make Brer Fox en Brer Possum feel in moanin' wid Brer Rabbit.

"Bimeby, w'en dinner-time come, dey all got out der vittles, but Brer Rabbit keep on lookin' lonesome, en Brer Fox and Brer Possum, dey sorter rustle 'roun' for ter see ef dey can't make Brer Rabbit feel sorter splimmy."

"What is that, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy.

"Sorter splammy, honey—sorter like he's in a crowd— sorter like his ole 'oman ain't dead ez she mout be. You know how fokes duz w'en dey gits whar people's a moanin'."

The little boy didn't know, fortunately for him, and Uncle Remus went on,—

"Brer Fox and Brer Possum rustle roun', dey did, gittin' out de vittles, en bimeby Brer Fox say, sezee,—

"'Brer Possum, you run down to de spring en fetch de butter, en I'll sail 'roun' yer en set de table,' sezee.

"Brer Possum he lope off arter de butter, en dreckly here he comes lopin' back, wid his years a trimblin', en his tongue a hangin' out. Brer Fox, he holler out,—

"'at de matter now, Brer Possum?' sezee.

"'You all better run yer, fokes,' sez Brer Possum, sezee. 'De las' drap er dat butter done gone.'

"'Whar she gone?' sez Brer Fox, sezee.

"'Look like she dried up,' sez Brer Possum, sezee.

"Den Brer Rabbit he look sorter wise, he did, en he up'n say, sezee,—

"'I speck dat butter melt in somebody's mouf,' sezee.

"Den dey went down ter de spring wid Brer Possum, en sho 'nuff de butter wuz gone. Wile dey was sputin' over der wunderment, Brer Rabbit say he see tracks all 'roun' dar, en he p'int out dat ef dey'll allgo ter sleep, he kin ketch de chap w'at stole de butter. Den dey all lie down, en Brer Fox en Brer Possum dey soon drapt off ter sleep; but Brer Rabbit he stay 'wake, en w'en de time come, he raise up easy en smear Brer Possum's mouf wid de butter on his paws, en den he run off en nibble up de bes' er de dinner w'at dey lef layin' out, en den he come back en wake up Brer Fox, en show 'im de butter on Brer Possum's mouf. Den dey wake Brer Possum up, en tell 'im about it; but c'ose Brer Possum 'ny it to de las'. Brer Fox, dough, he's a kinder lawyer, en he argafy dis way,—dat Brer Possum wuz de fus one at de butter, en de fus one fer ter miss it, en, mo'n dat, dar hung de signs on his mouf. Brer Possum see dat dey got 'im jammed up in a cornder, en den he up en say dat de way fer ter ketch de man w'at stole de butter is ter bil' a big bresh-heap en set her afier, en all hands try ter jump over, en de one w'at fall in, den he de chap w'at stole de butter. Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox dey bofe 'gree, dey did; en dey whirl in en b'il' de bresh-heap, en dey b'il' her high, en dey b'il' her wide, en den dey totch her off. W'en she got ter blazin' up good, Brer Rabbit he tuck de fus turn. He sorter step back, look 'roun' en giggle, en over he went mo' samer den a birdflyin'. Den come Brer Fox. He got back little fudder, en spit on his han's, en den lit out en made de jump, en he come so nigh gettin' in dat de een' er his tail kotch afier. Ain't you never see no fox, honey?" inquired Uncle Remus in a tone that implied both conciliation and information.

The little boy thought probably he had, but he wouldn't commit himself.

"Well, den," continued the old man, "nex' time you see one un um, you look right close en see ef de een' er his tail ain't white. Hit's des like I tell you. Dey b'ars de skyar er dat bresh-heap down ter dis day. Dey er marked—dat's w'at dey is—dey er marked."

"And what about Brother Possum? " asked the boy.

"Old Brer Possum, he tuck a runnin' start, he did, en he come lumberin' 'long, en he hit—ker blam!—right in de middle er de fier, en dat waz de las' er old Brer Possum."

"But, Uncle Remus, Brother Possum didn't steal the butter after all," said the little boy, who was not at all satisfied with such summary injustice.

"Dat w'at make I say w'at I cluz, honey. In dis worrul, lots er folks is gotter souffer fer udder folkes' sins. Look like hit's mighty on wrong; but hit's des dat away. Tribbalashun seem like she's a waitin' roun' de cornder fer ter ketch one en all un us, honey." Harris.