sumpin happun dat she kyarn' gin none. Fust, de baby choke
hisse'f wid er hoss-fly dat wen' down de wrong way, den 'er ole
1 Riot insurrection. Irish, ruction.
AND OTHER SORCERERS. 259
man git tromple on by er cow w'en he go out in de medder foh
ketch er mess o' young hoppehgrasses foh suppeh, den HI boy
kyar offde oles' gal in he pottit an' keep 'er dar er week ur mo',
an' all de res' o' de fambly a-ginnin' 'er up foh daid an' mos'
feerd she er hant (ghost) w'en she git back, den one t'ing come
up, den nurr, twell 'twuz mos' time foh w'ite fros'. Den Ole Miss
Toad, she noduss cole weddeh a-comin' on fas' an' she des r'ar
an' pitch an' she 'low she gwine ter gin dat pahty ef de whole
fambly up an' die de day bee-fo' ; she done sot huh foot down
on dat, she tell um all, an' dat sottle hit. So den ! she gun hit,
an' I boun' dat satify huh foh some time, an' dis hyeah am de
w'ys an' de whahfohs : she git out de eenvites airly in de week,
but de time bin sot foh Sat'd'y in de ebenin'. She ax all huh
kinfolks an' 'lations an' all dey kinfolks an' 'lations, she ax all
de neighbehs an' dey neighbehs, she ax hyeah an' she ax dar,
but she ain't ax Ole Gran'daddy Rattlesnake. Deah suhs, but
he wuz mad !
" * Oh, yes ! ' sez Old Daddy, sez 'e ? * I reckin Ole Daddy am
heap too ole foh gwine out ter git some o' dis hyeah lil snack
dat Miss Toad a-aimin' ter fix up ter stay de stummicks o' de
folks twell dey kin git back home an' eat dey regler suppeh,'
" (Miss Toad, she suttingly wuzzent er mighty fine provideh.)
" Uh huh ! co'se Ole Gran'daddy too ole,' sez 'e, ' but, all de
same, I lay he gwine ter hab he own 'musemint outen dat
pahty an' he gwine ter git er big suppeh outen dat pahty too.
De res' un um kin eat de snack,' sez 'e, ' an ' den Ole Daddy
kin go roun' by de back do' an' lick up de crum's,' sez 'e, a-
lookin' lak he knowed sumpin cu'i's, ( an' w'en he thu nobody
gwine ter 'spute dat he got mo' in he braid-bastet den dem dat
got dar foh de fust table,' sez 'e.
" So hit tuhn out, zacry, too. Dem wut got de eenvites
slick deyse'f up de bes' dey kin an' git ter de pahty yarly ez dey
'low dey spectid, an', arter dey hang roun' de do' an' peek an'
260 OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,
dror back er time ur two, dey mek out ter git in, an' den dey
laff ah' dey giggle an' dey tork an' dey chat an', bimeby, de
gayes' o' de young uns git ter darncin' an' a-playin' games wid
walk-erouns inter um. Oh, 'twuz er sassy crowd ! Nemmine,
dough ! nemmine ! some un um a-doin' dey las' hoppin' eroun*
an' hit wuz dishaways hit tuhn out dataways Ole Gran'daddy
Rattlesnake, he keep dat 'p'intmint dat he mek wid hisse'f, an'
w'en dey done et up de suppeh an' drink up de bug-juice
(whiskey) an' feel mo' pearteh den dey done yit, den he come.
He come des lak he say he gwine ter, roun' by de back do', an'
he creep an' he cr-r-r-eep, an' he go thu de back do' an', he come
pun de trundle-baid whah de chilluns bin putt ter baid soster
git um outen de way. He stop dar, but he ain't stir up dem
chilluns an' say ( howdy,' he don't say nuttin, he des retch out
he mouf an' he tek um inter hit. Fus' one, den turr, he tek
um. He gin one gulf, dat one gone ! gin nurr gulf, nurr gone !
an' he bat de eye an' he grin dry, an' so he keep dat up twell
Miss Toad, she outen all dat big fambly ain't got n air one chile
an' she don't know hit yit, but she gwine ter, oh, she gwine
" De nex* off ob dat Ole Gran'daddy wuz ter creep an'
cr-r-r-eep inter de settin'-room whah de ole folks wuz a-settin'
roun' an' a-swappin' dey ijees. He mek out ter gulf one un um,
but de res', dey holler an' run, an' dey ain't got no time ter gin
wa'nin' (warning) unter de young folks in de parlo', dey mek de
scattimint so fas'. De young folks, dey a-hoppin' an' a-darncin'
an' a-cuttin* up so gaily dat dey don't hyeah nuttin but dey
own racket. Dat bein' de case, he creep an' he cr-r-r-eep in
mungs um, a-keepin' closte ter de shaddehs an' he mek out ter
git 'bout fawty-leb'n gulf down 'fo' de res' noduss an' cl'ar out.
W'en dey do noduss, dat de finishmint o' dat pahty. De folks,
dey putt an' run bedoubt dey hats an' bunnits an' nobody ain't
mine dey mannehs ter say ' ebenin', Miss Toad.' Dey run, dey
did, but des 'bout half o' dem dat hed de eenvites wuz et up,
AND OTHER SORCERERS. 261
an' hit mos' sholy wuz de case ez he say hit gwine ter be, dat
Gran'daddy hab de bigges' suppeh dat wuz et in de settlemint
dat night. Yessir ! an' dat w'y Miss Toad, she done gin up
" Me nuttin 'stonish in dat," said Big Angy. " Gran'dad, he
de one dat mek all 'fraid, nah but wut 'e git he come-uppunce
awso. He mos' time git ahaid, but, chut ! de bigges' hog in de
poke git ter de sassidge-choppeh one day. Dataway Grandad,
he too much chilluns mo' speshul de gran'darter hat (that)
wuz er owl."
" Shuh ! shuh ! shuh ! dey's alms sumpin ter larn. Dat's
de fust I hyeah tell dat he got chilluns dat ain't snakes."
Big Angy sniffed a little at the ignorance of her audience,
and then proceeded to enlighten it by telling the story of
In the old times there were no snipe among the other birds.
Afterwards they were plentiful, and one has only to listen in
order to find out that it all came about through the agency of
an owl who was taught magic by her grandfather, old Rattle-
snake. This owl was a very great witch, greater in magic than
her wizard husband, who was also an owl. So much wiser was
she that she hated him for his silliness, and he, in turn, hated
her because her tricks made him suffer. Each sought an
opportunity to kill the other. As one would expect, she
succeeded. One night her evil charm worked and killed him.
In a very secret place between hills she buried him under
a stone. The stone she fastened down with a spell, lest some
one should let his ghost out to worry her. She need not have
gone to this trouble. No one took notice of his death or cared
that he was no more seen. After awhile she cared, for she
found herself very lonely. All shunned her ; even her grand-
father, Rattlesnake, did not care for her society, and took not
OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,
the same notice of her that he did of his other grandchildren.
Soon, therefore, she began to say
" A bad husband is better than no husband at all."
So lonely did she become, that if her magic had been strong
enough to lift the stone and bring her husband back to life, she
would gladly have used it, but, alas ! it was not strong enough,
so she looked about her for another mate. She looked every-
where, but no one would have her, which, indeed, was quite
right ; if husbands had come to her easily, no doubt she would
have had many, and killed them as
soon as she found they had faults.
When she had made many efforts
and failed in them all, she retired to
a quiet place to think. This is what
she resolved on at the end of her
" I will watch my chance and get
me a very young husband. I will
train him in my ways, and we shall
both be very well content."
So she watched her opportunity,
but for a long time caught no
young husband. All the parents
were watching her, that was the reason of her failure. She
perceived this, and promised Hawk a strong medicine if he
would harry the parents when they took the young birds out
to teach them how to fly. She knew that if some one created
confusion at this time she could fly off with a husband at once.
Hawk did as she paid him to do, but she did not catch
a husband flying. She saw a fine young quail hide under a leaf
while his mother looked out for Hawk.
She took the little creature home. He was very small, a baby
only. She pulled his legs till they were very long, longer than
his father's, longer than any quail's that ever was seen. She
THIS OWL WAS A VERY
AND OTHER SORCERERS.
also pulled his bill till it was very long, longer than his father's,
longer than any quail's that ever was seen. This strange deed
she did so that if his mother should meet him anywhere she
would not know him. Poor fellow ! he looked large enough to
be the husband of any witch, but he was only a very young
quail, as foolish as any other baby, but still he had sense enough
to remember his mother, his poor mother who grieved for him
night and day. To be sure, she often saw him, and if she
" SHE PULLED HIS BILL TILL IT WAS LONG.
had talked with him might have recognised him by his voice,
but she never suspected that the long-legged bird was any
relation of hers, so she passed him by in silence. As for
him, he was young and heedless, and did not see her at all.
If he had he would have spoken.
Once, some of the mother's friends heard the witch talking
to the young husband, and heard him reply. Immediately
they went to the mother, and told her that surely the new
264 OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,
bird with the long legs and bill was her son. She refused to
believe it. They insisted it must be so, that he, doubtless,
was enchanted an easy matter for a witch to accomplish.
Still incredulous, she started on a round of calls for the
purpose of asking other acquaintances for their opinions.
She asked Mole.
"I cannot see, but undoubtedly the bird has a voice like
She asked Rattlesnake.
He said a little of this and a little of that, and, after all, his
words meant nothing at all.
She asked Prairie-Dog.
Prairie-Dog pitied her, and said
" Yes, my cousin, that is your son. The witch has pulled
him into that shape so that you may not know him. He
makes her a pleasant husband."
" Husband of a witch my son shall not be ! "
" How can you help it, cousin ? "
" That you must tell me. You are shrewd and kind-hearted.
For the sake of a poor mother can you not coax him into
your dug-out as he goes by, and keep him there until I
come ? "
11 No, no, cousin. The witch, his wife, is always along when
he walks about."
" Then what shall I do ? "
" Do not fret, cousin, that will not help."
" You must help. Your head is stronger than mine."
" My advice is, steal him while the witch is asleep."
" When does a witch sleep ? "
u Soundest at sunrise. Now go. Get ready to steal him in
She did as he advised. She went to the cave where the
witch slept, and stole him and hid him in a slough.
AND OTHER SORCERERS. 265
When the witch found he was gone, she made a great ado,
but could not come at him for the water of the slough, so she
asked Gran'daddy Rattlesnake to help her.
He did not care for her, but he wished no one to thwart a
member of his family, so he started to drink the slough dry.
When he was half through, he found that the water, which
was very dirty and dead, was making him sick. He said a
charm, and kept on drinking. By and by he was so awfully
sick that he vomited himself out of his skin, and had to go off
and hide till a new one grew.
Since that he has always hated his owl relations, and has
shed his skin once a year.
As for Quail, he stayed in the slough till he was old enough
to take proper care of himself ; then his mother brought him
out, but his brothers and sisters made so much sport of his
shape, which no art could free from the witch's enchantment,
that he went back to the slough, and can seldom be coaxed
out. How he and his children lost the name of Quail and
took that of Snipe no one knows ; but no matter for that, the
weight of a name breaks no one's back.
" Lor ! lor ! lor ! dat tek de rag offen de bush," cried Granny,
admiringly. " I gin up on de snake queschin fum dis out. Ef
I git axt ef I know er snake tale I gwine ter tell um no."
" Me too," said Aunt Emily.
" Hit knock de socks offen my tale," added Aunt Mary.
What could Big Angy do but tell another story ?
" Yo' all hyeah 'bout de cow-suckin' snake ? "
" Dem ez mek de cows gib bloody milk ? Sholy. I ain' des
seen um, but I seen de bloody milk, menny's de time."
" De milk prube de suckin'," said Granny.
" Ow-ee, hit do. Ef yo' kin hunnerstan' buhd-tork, dough,
Buntin' gin yo' wa'nin' (warning) 'bout de snake."
" Dar now, Miss Boogarry, dat news unter me."
Big Angy was glad to hear so eminent a scholar in the lore
266 OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,
of the fields as Granny acknowledge this, so she at once related
all she knew about
THE COW-SUCKERS AND BUNTING.
There was once a poor old woman who had nothing in the
world but the cabin in which she lived and three nice cows,
the sale of whose butter and milk provided her with such
necessaries as she had to buy from the cross-roads store. Every
day she drove her three friends the only friends she had,
truly from the clearing where the cabin stood, along the
narrow path that was broken through the underbush so
crowded by the selfish tall trees. Through the forest with
the brush scrambling and tangling about it, she drove her
cows to the open prairie where the sweet, rich grass grew
thick and tall. There, in the middle of the prairie, very near
the little lake and its tributary stream, she left them until
sundown. Then she went to the edge of the wood and called
Usually they went gladly, not running like pigs, to be sure,
called from the mast of the oak-forest to a supper of corn, but
going with a quiet, steady step that allowed time to gather a
sweet mouthful of leaves, now from this side, now from that,
as they advanced along the path. When they reached the
cabin door, they stood calmly and cheerfully to be milked ;
not switching the flies too hard, lest they strike their mistress
or the little cow-buntings who were often so intent on picking
off flies and ticks that they rode quite home on the backs of
the amiable animals. This was pleasant for all, but, alas !
there came a time when all the pleasantness was ended. The
cows became morose and unfriendly. The old woman sighed
" Helas ! " said she, " I am afraid I shall freeze to death this
coming winter. How can I knit stockings and petticoats for
myself if I have no yarn ? How can I have yarn if I have no
AND OTHER SORCERERS. 267
milk and butter to sell ? Too bad, too bad ! My food I could
get very well with plenty of birds and rabbits to trap, and
plenty of dead wood to be picked up when one wished to boil
a pot, but how can I manage about yarn ? Too bad, too bad !
just as butter has gone up to five cents a pound, and milk to
five cents a gallon, too. Oh ! I could soon have all the yarn
I should need for years if those cows of mine were not in such
bad plight. Their milk has been too bloody to use these ten
days past, and it gets no better. How this has happened I
cannot tell. I have been very careful not to kill any field
crickets, and only crickets have power to avenge themselves by
sending bloody milk excepting, of course, the witches. Truly,
a witch must be abroad, but who can it be ? "
She never thought to inquire of the cows what was wrong.
This was a mistake. If she had asked them privately, when they
were at home, what had gone amiss, they would have told her.
Day after day she drove them to pasture. Night after night
they came home drooping and sad. She saw this, she saw also
that they were glad to come home and unwilling to be driven
forth, but she did not reflect as to what might be the cause.
No wonder she was always poor. A woman who does not put
this and that together until she knows all about a business will
never thrive, no matter how hard-working and saving she may
(If your eyes are good for something besides seeing flies in
the milk J and knots in the yarn, thank the good God, and if
you can pi-ece out something besides calico, thank Him twice !)
At last, the cows' friend, Bunting, could stand the trouble
in silence no longer. He flew back from the pasture one
morning, and spoke softly to the woman, saying that he had
it on his mind to tell her a secret the cows dared not speak of.
" To the point at once, then, that is my way," said the
woman. "I never beat around the bush."
1 " Jc cognoys bicn mouches en laict." Francois Villon.
268 OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,
" Here is the news, then, my mother," said he, " there is a
family of snakes down by the stream that runs into the lake,
and these snakes are sucking the milk of the poor cows, and
filling their bodies with torment."
The woman screamed piercingly. She had heard before of
snakes treating cows like this, but she had put so little faith
in the one who told her that the whole story had gone out
of her mind.
" Is it the terrible joint-snake who is doing this thing ? "
she cried. " He is ready for any evil deed, and so very hard
to kill, inasmuch as he grows together again as fast as you
can cut him apart."
" Not so bad as that, my mother. The mischief-workers are
blacksnakes. They are the real cow-suckers. The cows, poor
things ! run and run till they almost run themselves to death,
trying to shake off these villains who rise up out of the grass
and snap hold of the teats. Helas ! they cannot shake them
off. Do you go rescue them, else will they soon go dry and
for ever remain so."
When he had finished this warning Bunting flew away.
The woman took in her hand a spade with a long handle,
and, saying a charm as she went, set forth to seek the
She soon found them, and it was a bad sight to see the
poor things, each with four snakes clinging to her. The first
she reached was red cow, and the woman struck the four from
her with the spade and said the charm, and they lay wriggling
on the ground unable to rise and choke her in their folds, as
is the way of blacksnakes. The charm said over and over
made them helpless ; no wonder they were easily killed.
Then the woman went on a little way, with the red cow
following and looking less sad.
She came up to white cow. She struck the snakes and said
the charm. The snakes fell wriggling to the ground, and she
AND OTHER SORCERERS. 269
killed them and went on with the red cow and the white cow
Soon she came up to black cow. She struck the snakes and
said the charm. The snakes fell wriggling to the ground, and
she killed them, and went home with the red cow and the
white cow and the black cow following.
Next day the woman took them to a new pasture, a long
way from that unlucky place where they had been ; she took
them to a fine place where rushes, calamus, and sweet-pea
grew as thickly as the grass, and that was the end of the
trouble, for she taught the cows the charm that conquers
snakes, as they went along together. It was that old charm :
" The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head," that
she taught them.
She should have done this long before, but then she was not
After the cows had learned the charm by heart, she asked
" Why did you not tell me what was troubling you ? Is
not your trouble my trouble always ? n
The cows said
" True enough, all that, but some things we are not per-
mitted to tell you hoofless creatures unless you ask."
Aunt Em'ly roused from a reverie. Evidently she had not
heard the woes of the cows.
" De way I hyeah dat tale o* Owl wuz diffunt," she said.
" De way I hyeah hit, Owl, she do hab heap o' young hubsums
(husbands) an', w'en she git outdone wid um, she kilt urn in dey
sleep an' tuck out dey hahts and sucked up de strenk ob um.
Dat kip up too, twell she kill Rain Crow w'ich wuz de kinfolks
o' de big T'undeh-Buhd dat lib in de mountins 'way out yondeh
at de eend o' de perarer. De wilier tree see Rain Crow kilt, an'
seen 'im flung in the crik mungs de big flags too, arter he haht
wuz out. De flags wuz w'ite, but dat cole kyarkiss mek um
270 OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,
so cole dey tuhn blue an' dey tell hit ter de wilier tree dat see
de trouble. De wilier tree tell de maple dat hit sholy wuz er
buhnin' shame dat de flag git sarve dataway, an' de maple tell
de cotton-wood, an' de cotton-wood tell de plum tree, an' de
plum tree tell de warnit, an' de warnit tell de hick'ry. De
hick'ry ain't 'feard o' nuttin, an' 'buse dat witch out an' out,
an' holler 'crost de woods ter de ellums ter tell de oaks ter tell
de pines ter tell de whole meanness ter Ole T'undeh-Buhd
hisse'f. Dataway de trees all tek up foh Rain Crow. My !
T'undeh-Buhd (Thunder-Bird Eagle) wuz mad an' up an'
a-gittin', but he ain't git up fas' nuff. Er lil traipsin', wuthless
puff-ball, a-rollin' hyeah an dar, hyeah all de ruckshin an' tole
Miss Owl an' she des putt foh huh gran'daddy, Ole Rattle-
"Ole Rattlesnake, he tuck an' hid 'er in he den, an' Ole
T'undeh-Buhd an' he chilluns, dey hunt an' dey hunt, 'fo' dey
fine 'er. At de las' dey mek out whah she a-scrouchin', an' dey
" 'Bust open, den ! ' an' de den bust open, but, lo an' beholes !
dey ain't ketch 'er yit. She seen urn a-comin' an' flewed down
Ole Grandaddy Rattlesnake's thote.
" Dat dis'pint de T'undeh-Buhds mighty bad an' e-er sence
dey 'spise de snakes. Dey hatter go home bedout killin' Owl,
mo' am de scannel (scandal), but nemmine ! Rattlesnake git he
pay. Owl, she flusteh ,roun' twell Rattlesnake, he git dat sick
dat he fling 'er up an' fling he own hide off inter de bahgin
(bargain), an' he dat mad he go hide, an' good nuff foh de
vilyun ! he kep dat up wunst er yeah e-er sence."
Aunt Mymee jumped up with a yawn that threatened to
rend her countenance in twain.
" I 'low I hyeah snake tale nuff ter las' me de res' o r my
bawnded days," she said. "I reck'n T betteh git 'long up ter
Nobody interposing any objections, she went. As she dis-
AND OTHER SORCERERS. 271
appeared, the other aunties heard her singing, or rather
growling, this uncanny song
" De Debbil, he spit an' he spit out snakes.
De wood-choppeh chop an' he chop out snakes.
He hitch up de cattle an' he snake out logs.
De wood-choppeh drink an' he drink up snakes.
De Debbil git he kyarkiss, de Debbil git he soul.
JACKY-ME-LANTUHNS" SOMETIMES CALLED " WUL-
LER-WUPS"ALSO " PAINTERS AND THEIR
BIG ANGY and Aunt Em'ly arrived at the cabin door together.
Both were agitated and both were anxious to conceal the fact.
They laughed a great deal and talked so rapidly that Granny
told them candidly that they were " kyarin' on lak er half-sled
in er snow-stawm." This uncomplimentary remark moved
them to explain that they " plum fegittit dat twuz too cole ter
onbine dem wuller-wups, air, in consequence, each had mistaken
the other's lantern for that dreaded emissary of the Devil's
wife. They had flung themselves down on the snow and
OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO. 273
stopped their ears and waited thus until they were almost frozen.
Finally, they had courage to look up, then, as they saw that
the lanterns had gone out, they spoke. In another instant
they were on their feet, the lanterns were relighted, and they
finished the walk across the fields together.
" Ise er big fool not ter t'ink 'bout de crittehs bein* hilt fas'
by de cole," said Aunt Em'ly, with another foolish laugh, "but,
Gord know, I des ez liefs meet up wid er painter (panther) ez er
jacky-me-lantuhn (jack-o'-lantern), dat's de natchel troof."
" Hit come ter de same t'ing, honey," said Granny, with her
most oracular air. " Ef yo' meet de painter yo' git et up ; ef
yo' meet de jacky-me-lantuhn an' hit's de se'f-same beastis ez
de wuller-wups yo' git drownded. De onles way in de bofe
case am ter fling yo'se'f down flat an' shet yo' eyse an' hole yo'
bref an' let on lak yo' daid a'ready. Mo'n dat, yo' boun' ter
stop up yo' yeahs too, kase ef yo' hyeah sumpin yo' gwine
ter git up an' foller fust t'ing yo' knows."
" I ruther o' some git drownded nur et up," said Aunt Mary,
"Hit dishaways," said Granny, with a serious and judicial
air, as she presented the "points" of painter and jacky-me-
lantuhn, " de painters, dey's debbils. Dey git yo', dey eat yo'
meat an' dey gnyaw yo' bone an' dey chahm yo' spurrit so hit
boun' ter follow 'urn an' sarve um. x De jacky-me-lantuhns, dey
ain't des zackry debbils, dey's gostes an' dey in de clutch o' de
Debbil's ole ooman. Dey drownds yo' sholy, but yo' spurrit,
hit go free ter de place hit 'long unter. Sidesen dat, drowndin'
am sorter easy-goin', wiles gittin' tored inter smidgins an'
den all mess up in de pluck ob er low-down debbil-varmint
am sorter hahd, e'en medout ter hafter sarve dat critteh,
11 Dat wut / say. Gimme drowndin' in de bog, but don't
gimme up foh sassidge-meat unter er painter ! "
1 There is the same belief in India as regards the tiger. C. G. L.
274 OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,