" Oh, I guess not ! I think I've grown that much since tea
time. Mamma says I grow like Jonah's gourd. Now for the
story, Granny. Big Angy told it me, that day you took me to
her house and we had such a good time."
36 OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,
" Er good time ! Dellaws ! des lissen ter de chile. Dat wuz
de day Miss Boogarry's big brown slut a-most bit de laig off o'
huh foh foolin' wid de young pups. Huh ! dat wuz er good
" So it was. Angy tied my leg up in a big handful of brown
sugar and put a beautiful piece of red calico outside of that, and
she let me have the prettiest pup in my lap when we went into
the house. Besides that, she whistled a tune for me on her
eagle-bone whistle, she gave my two hands full of prawleens
and told me to eat them all, and, when I was through crying,
she told me the story of the wasp being changed into an oriole.
O, let us go to see her again, right away, Granny ! "
" Nemmine, nemmine ! Ef yo' want yo' laig gnawed inter
sassidge-meat we kin git hit done nigher home. Le's (let us)
hab de tale, dough."
Tow Head immediately seated herself on Aunt Mymee's
knee and, with a close imitation of big Angy's manner, which
sent Aunt Mary into a dark corner in a perfect spasm of giggles,
and caused the other three to choke on their tobacco-smoke
more than once, she told this story, which is best reproduced in
a dialect more nearly akin to the King's English than Madame
" When the big black witch from Thunderland came sweep-
ing over hill and hollow to fight the witch of the bright Corn
Country, the world rang with the sound of her terrible voice
and the trees bowed themselves to the ground in terror. In her
anger she danced, she whirled, she whistled. She smote the
trees, she trampled the prarie-flowers, she scattered the corn-in-
the-ear as if it had been blades of grass plucked by a child. She
fought the witch of the Corn Country, striking her fiercely.
She would have prevailed and destroyed the witch and her
country utterly had not a wasp, flung from his nest hung from
the bough of an ancient crab-apple tree, stung her in the eye,
so that her tears fell, and then she became calm and weak
AND OTHER SORCERERS. 37
as the weakest of old women. Then it was that the witch of the
bright Corn Country was able to chase her back to her own land.
" Now the witch of the Corn Country was not forgetful, nor
ungrateful. She took her benefactor, the wasp, in her hand
and besought him to ask for whatsoever he desired, promising,
at the same time, that it should be granted him. Immediately
he answered that he and his wife wished, exceedingly, not to be
wasps, whom every one hated, but birds, well-beloved by all.
" At once the wasp and his wife had their wish and became
orioles ; but, because some of the wasp nature was left in them,
they did not build their nests as other birds do, but made grey
pockets to hold their eggs, which from afar looked like wasps'
nests ; and as they did, so do their children to this day."
" Dat's er fine tale," said Granny, glad of an excuse to talk
and laugh a little. " I 'clar' ter gracious, ef yo' keep up dat
lick, yo' gwine ter beat yo' po' ole Granny all holler, honey."
" Sez me, dat chile am gwine ter tek de bizniz ob yo' folks
right out o' yo' han's ef yo' don't hustle yo'se'fs," cried Aunt
Mary, strangling the last giggle.
Aunt Mymee chuckled and made a tight belt of her arms
round Tow Head's waist, but paid no mock compliments. She
kept silent a long time, musing, doubtless, on the strange
adventures of the various birds mentioned during the evening,
for she suddenly began to sing of a " speckled " bird and the
" Ole Boy." Her song was new to the child, but evidently
familiar to her coloured sisters, for they at once joined in the
queer exclamatory chorus :
" Speckle buhd a-settin' on de ole daid Hm*.
Look mighty peart an' young an' slim .
Hoodah, hoodah, hum 1
Look out lil buhd, de Ole Boy come.
Fiah in he eye, he look mighty glum.
Hoodah, hoodah, hum
38 OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO.
Look out, lil buhd, he gvvine fob ter shoot !
Flap yo' wings an' git up an' scoot.
Hoodah, hoodah, hum !
Oh, sinneh, sinneh, dat des lak you !
De ole Bad Man, he gotter gun, too.
Hoodah, hoodah, hum !
He shoot yo' front an' he shoot yo' back,
Down yo' go, plum claid, ker-smack !
Hoodah, hoodah, hum !
Run, po' niggah, run an' run.
Debbil, big debbil, a-aimin' he gun.
Hoodah, hoodah, hum !
Run, run, run ; run, run, run !
Run, run, run ; run, RUN, RUN !
Hoodah, hoodah, hum !
BILLS OF FARE THE CROWS LITTLE DOV&S
WHEN Tow Head dashed into the cabin in advance of Aunt
Mymee, a delightful odour greeted her nostrils. She knew it
well. It was the fragrance of prawleens, 1 that compound of
New Orleans molasses, brown sugar, chocolate and butter,
boiled together and enriched just before leaving the fire with
the meats of hickory nuts, hazel nuts, pecans, almonds, and the
never-neglected goober 2 dear to the sweet taste of every child,
adult Creole and darkey.
" Prawleens ! " exclaimed the maid, delightedly, as Big Angy
poured the bubbling mass from a little glazed iron pot, usually
kept sacred for the boiling of partridge eggs, into a buttered
pan. " Prawleens ! and nothing in the world is as good."
Big Angy showed all her white teeth. " Punkin-sass is
betteh," she said, slowly. " De punkin-sass dat ain't got no
stow (store) sweet'nin', mais am biled down clost (close) wid
watteh-million (water-melon) juice."
" Chitt'lin'ss is betteh," amended Granny.
" Schewed cawn (stewed corn) t'ickened wid dried buffler-
meat (buffalo-meat) pounded inter dust am de t'ing dat mek de
mouf dribble," cried Aunt Em'ly.
1 Pralines. Burnt almonds. So called from a Duke de Praslin of the time
of Louis XIV., who is said to have invented them.
3 The goober (arachis hypogea) is the pea-nut or ground-nut, which still pre-
serves the name (gu&a) by which it is known all over Africa ; even in Cairo.
3 Chitlings, an old English word.
40 OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,
" Shoh, honey ! shoh ! " exclaimed Aunt Mary. " 'Pear lak
yo' done fegit bake 'possum an' sweet-taters wid coon gravy."
" I stick ter de cawn," answered Aunt Em'ly, with decision' ;
" dough I ain't kick up my heels at 'possum. Torkin' 'bout
cawn 'minds me, Miss Boogarry, dat I seen yo' bilin' an' dryin'
er heap las' summeh. Wut yo' done wid um, seem' dat yo'
ain' got no suller (cellar) ? "
" Cache um."
" Cash um ? De Good Lawd ! How ? "
"Wen," said Angy, with dignity, "de roas'in'-yeahs (roasting -
ears) is in de milk, me git um, bile um, dig de grains offen de
cob wid HI stick, spread um on de big rush mats me mek'
twell dey dry lak sand, den me dig hole in de ground deep,
putt in de mats all round, den tek de cawn, putt um in de big
bag mek outen de eenside bahk o' de linn-tree, fling dat bag
in de pit, putt on de top mo' mat, shubble on de dirt, smack
um down flat. Dat cachevd?
" Uh-huh ! uh-huh ! dat de rale Injun way."
" Torkin' 'bout cawn," said Aunt Mymee, who had not
before spoken, " mek me fetch up de membunce ob how hit
come out dat de crows, dat use ter bin ez w'ite ez er tame
goose, wuz all tuhn brack."
" Tell dat tale ! Le's hab dat tale," said every one, eagerly,
for it was not always that Aunt Mymee would impart her
" Hyeah 'tis," said Mymee.
"In de ole time, de crows wuz w'iter den de driben snow
a-stretchin' 'long de perarer (prairie). Dey might a-bin dat-
away yit ef dey wuz boss by de stren'th o' dey haids stiddi er
de gnawin's o' dey stummicks. Dishaway hit happun : De
time o' de yeah come 'round w'en dey hilt dey big meetin'
whah dey tork 'bout all dey done in de time back an' lay off
wut dey gwine ter do in de time for'a'd. One day dey 'low
dey gwine ter hab er big bank-it."
AND OTHER SORCERERS. 41
" What's a bank-it ? " asked Tow Head, promptly.
" Hit's de biggest an' de finest kine o' er big eatin'. Ise
s'prise yo' don't 'membeh dat, kase I hyeah yo' ma read 'bout
um unter yo', (unto you) des yistiddy."
" Oh, a banquet ! I didn't know that anybody except the
people that make poetry had 'em. Go on with the crows,
" De crows lay off ter had um," continued Aunt Mymee,
avoiding a repetition of the doubtful word, " kase one de ole
crows done fotch in word dat er strange 'ooman dat ain't got
de sense ter hab out her skeer-crow wuz des got thu de plantin'
ob her big fiel ? ob cawn. Dey 'low dey ain't gwine ter leabe
nuttin foh de cut-wuhm (worm), dey gwine ter tek de lastest
grain. Dey didn't know dat 'ooman wuz de ole 'ooman ob er
cunjer-man. Dat whurs dey miss hit. Dat cunjer-man wuz
tell dat 'ooman er chahm (charm), an' ez she plant she say :
' Sprout foh me,
Come out foh me,
Mek um drunk dat steal fum me.'
Dem crows ain't know all dat an' dey dat hongry dat dey ain't
keerin' w'y dat fiel' ain't got no clacker-boy, no skeer-crow, no
nuttin. Dey pick an' dey eat an' dey gobble an' dey stuff.
Bimeby dey laigs 'gin ter trirnmle an' dey eyes 'gin ter budge
(bulge), an' dey fetch one squawk an' down dey flop right 'side
de cawn hills. Den come de ole 'ooman fum ahine er big
hick'ry stump, an' she ketch up all dem crows an' fling um
inter er big splint bag, des lak dem bags dat Miss Boogarry
done putt huh cawn inter. Den dat 'ooman, she mek 'er big
pile ob sticks an' dry wood-moss an' grass an' leabes an' de lak
o' dat, an' she fling de bag 'pun top o' dat, an' den she scrub
two sticks tergedder an' strak 'er light an' set de pile afiah.
Some dem sticks wuz green an' some wuz rotten she wuz dat
mad w'en she wuz pickin' um up dat she don't skursely know
42 OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,
ef she pickin' up limbs ur pickin' up snakes so, arter de fust
flash, de fiah smoke an' don't buhn good. Dem crows wuz smoke
turr*ble, an' swinge some (somewhat singed), but dey wuzn't buhn
up. Dey lay dar twell dat slow, swomickey (smouldering) fiah
buhn er hole in de bag, an' by dat time dey wuz dat skeered dat
dey git o'er de drunk dat de chahm gib um. Wen dey see de
hole, flap ! smack ! whis-sp ! dey go thu an' fly clean off an' leabe
de ole 'ooman a-cussin'. My ! wuzn't dey glad dat dey all git
away ? dat is, at de fust, w' en dey feel so good dat dey ain't all
brizzled inter coals ; but, bimeby, w'en de smoke git out o'
dey eyes, an' dey look dishaway, look dataway, at fust de one,
den de turr, den down at deyse'fs, dey dat 'shamed dat dey
kyarn't hold dey haids up. My ! my ! my ! dey all des ez
brack ez de bottom ob er soap-kittle. Den dey plume an' dey
preen an' dey pick an' dey wash ; dey ain't e'en 'bove tryin'
cunjerin' deys'fs, but 'tain't no use ; brack dey wuz, and brack
dey is, an' brack dey gwine ter be. Deah suz ! yo' all know
dat, kase ef yo' bile er crow-fedder wid pearlash an' sof'-soap,
yo' kin cut um all ter smidgins (bits), but yo' kyarn't bleach um
w'ite. Brimstun kyarn't do dat ! "
Aunt Mymee's adult friends made haste to compliment her
story as soon as she had finished, but Tow Head, contrary
to custom, had nothing to say. She was secretly distressed
at the suffering of the poor crows, having a very vivid reali-
sation of it owing to an experience of her own.
Once she had followed Granny into the " smoke-house," and
looked with great interest at the many rows of hams, shoulders,
and " sides " hanging from the rafters. While Granny was
making a great pile of corn cobs in the middle of the earthen
floor, Tow Head hid behind a barrel in a corner, and waited
for Granny to search for her. Granny did nothing of the
kind ; she poured a shovelful of coals on her cobs, and went
off after closing the heavy door behind her, and " reckoning
dat chile gone ter de house." Tow Head never forgot the
AND OTHER SORCERERS. 43
awful smoking she received before her cries brought rescue ;
therefore she could not enjoy a vision of the strangling, smart-
" Aunt Mymee." she said, by way of changing the subject,
" why didn't you tell us, before you began the crow story, what
is your favourite food ? "
" Wusser-meat," I answered Aunt My mee, without a moment's
" What is it made of, Aunt Mymee ? What is a wusser ? "
" He's a heap o' t'ings," said Aunt Mymee. laughing.
" He's livers an' lights an' kidneys an' hahts all de pluck
biled down' dost an' chopped fine, an' den cooled an' sliced up
lak haid-cheese. Oh ! hit mek my motif dribble now."
" 'Tain' wusser, hit wassa, an' hit mus' hab dried churries in
um," said Big Angy.
" Dried cherries ! How can you get the stones out ? "
" Don't take um out, missey. Git de wild churry, de brack
churry, an' pound um fine, an' putt dat wid de pluck dat
wassa, sho nuff."
Aunt Mymee privately thought it a pity to spoil so excellent
a viand as wusser-meat by the addition of the bitter dust
of wild cherries, but she did not so express herself ; what
she said was, that she did not often eat wild cherries, that
she had known of people who ate them falling at once into
a deep sleep, especially if they were under the tree, and waking
up to find that they had been " tricked " (conjured) by some
unknown agency ; and, of course, if you did not know how
you were tricked, nor who did it, you never could get free.
"Dat so! dat so!" exclaimed Big Angy, eagerly. u Dat
wut happen wid Lil Dove. Me mammy tole me dat, long
Everybody at this was clamorous for the story of Little
1 Wusser, from the German wurst, or sausage.
44 OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,
" Hit mo de tale ob Lil Dove's son," amended Angy.
That would do just as well, everybody thought and said ; so,
after Aunt Mary had handed round generous lumps of praw-
leens, Big Angy told this :
In the old time there was a young maiden called Little
Dove. She was the most beautiful maiden in all the land and
had many lovers, but she cared for none of them, and refused
to go with them or accept their presents, or listen to their
music. She was an only daughter. Her father loved her
very much and would not urge her to marry. The other girls
were displeased at this. They wished her to marry ; for so
long as she remained single the young men would look at
no one else ; they felt a great hatred and jealousy of her,
but this they kept secret and were careful to praise her openly
and seem to be her friends. They did not tell their real
thoughts at all to the old people, though they had no scruples
about admitting them to one another.
One day all the girls went out to gather the little black
cherries. The birds had been before them and they found
but few. They scattered into companies of small numbers
to hunt more trees. Little Dove felt hurt that no one asked
her to go along as a companion, and wandered off alone.
After a little search, she saw a fine tree growing at the edge
of a very deep ravine cut into the soft soil by a feeble little
stream. She set down her basket and tried to shake the
glistening cherries from the branches. The tree was so strong
and firmly rooted she could not shake it enough to bring down
any fruit. She stood off and looked at it as she rested from
her labours. Those cherries were the finest she had ever seen.
Alas ! they were all growing well out of reach instead of some
being on the drooping lower limbs. She felt that she must
have them. Again and again she strove to shake the tree.
She could not. She flung sticks among the branches. Not
one cherry fell. She thought she would go away and find
AND OTHER SORCERERS. 45
another tree, but a great longing for the fruit of that particular
one constrained her, and as often as her reluctant feet turned
away they turned back again. She tried to climb the tree, but
the trunk was as smooth as ice. She sat down and wept
childish tears of disappointment and vexation. So absorbed
was she that she failed to observe that a young man in all the
bravery of a warrior's apparel was coming up the steep, high
bank of the little stream. He approached and called her by her
name. She looked up in surprise. She did not know the
stranger. She saw that he was handsome and very well
dressed. His cheeks and the feathers in his scalp-lock were
painted red. His leggings and shirt were whitened doeskin,
his moccasins and blanket were embroidered with porcupine-
" Why do you weep ? " he asked, and his voice was pleasant.
She hung her head, ashamed to answer, but at last his look
compelled her. She told him her wish with regard to the
cherries. At once he set his foot against the tree and the
fruit fell about them in showers. She forgot the warrior, she
forgot everything in her eagerness to possess that which she
had craved ; she gathered it hurriedly, she ate of it hungrily.
Then a rushing sound came in her ears. Frightened, she
looked up from the ground where she sat and saw the warrior
coming towards her with his arms oustretched. She fell
forward. She knew no more.
When the new moon that shone the night before the cherry-
picking was old, she went home to her father. She had been
searched for. She had been mourned as dead. At first she
was joyfully received, but when she affirmed she had been
gone but a few hours, the faces of the old people grew grave,
the young people became scornful. Her father withdrew into
a dark corner, her brothers went away by themselves. She
had no mother to reproach her else she might have heard
46 OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,
When an old woman told her how long she had been gone,
when she perceived what all thought of her, she begged that
they would go with her to the tree and see if they could not
help her to unravel the mystery. Some from curiosity or pity
went. They found her basket, which she had not thought to
take back to the village, all broken and weather-stained. They
found the tree that grew on the high bank above the little
stream. Alas ! it was an elm, not a cherry-tree. Surely it
could never have showered cherries into the basket or on the
ground beneath its branches.
Little Dove wept very sorely when her former friends went
away in silence and left her there.
After that life was very sad. Her father and brothers
loved her no more. " To go out and gather cherries " became
a byword and an insult in the village. When 'she was ill no
one was concerned. Even her old lovers forgot their former
words and feelings, and avenged their slights with cruel jests.
This was more than she could bear, so she went away from
them all and built her a home under that fatal elm tree.
Daily she looked along the ravine, leaving none of its bramble-
covered nooks and fissure unexplored.
" Without doubt he is a great magician," she told herself.
" He may come again, and surely, if asked, would have pity on
a poor girl and make all things pleasant for her again with her
But he never came.
After awhile, a friendless old woman, whose relations were
tired of her, came begging to her door.
" Let me in, Little Dove," she entreated. " I can fish for
you, I can snare birds and squirrels for you. Let me in."
Little Dove let her in, not for the sake of the fish or birds, for
she could catch those very easily herself, but out of com-
Then she was not so lonely. She told her story over and
AND OTHER SORCERERS. 47
over, leaving out nothing, and the old woman listened, nodding
her head and saying always
" I know, I know. Have courage. Some day all will come
right. The sorcerer will come again he always comes more
than once to those he comes to at all then this people will be
afraid and ashamed."
This comforted Little Dove somewhat.
Then the bitter winter weather came and they never saw
the village people even from afar. No one went by crying
" Where are the cherries ? "
When the winter was past and the cherry-trees bloomed
again, there was a bark cradle swinging from a branch of the
elm tree a low branch that suddenly wa's perceived by two
women. That cradle was the elm tree's only blossom.
When the old woman first saw the boy that swung in the
cradle, she held him up to the light. " Now," she cried, " the
secret magic is revealed."
From the child's crown grew a tuft of vermillion hair,
shining like a coal amid the blackness of the other locks.
When Little Dove saw it she was not so much ashamed ;
when the old woman had been over to the village and told the
wonder and returned with many visitors, she was not ashamed
at all ; she began to be proud.
The visitors invited her to go back to the village with them,
but she would not.
11 This place will do," she said. " We lack for nothing."
Then they entreated her, at the same time offering many gifts.
(They had talked together, privately, and said, " This is the
child of a great father. We know the father's name, though
we do not say it.x Doubtless the son will grow up to be a very
wonderful sorcerer. It would be a bad thing to have his ill-
will. We must get the good-will of his mother now, then he
will be for and not against us after a while,")
She answered them, pleasantly, but would not go from her
48 OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,
tepee, 1 so, finally, all but the old woman went away. They
went away, but, now and then, as they moved about, they
returned to the tepee 1 under the elm to watch the boy's
increasing stature and intelligence.
Never was there a boy like that one. He was soon in
appearance and intellect a man. He asked his mother many
questions. One day he asked about his father.
She told him the story she had told to others so often.
When she had finished he put his hand to the long red lock.
" I will find my father," he said, and the heart of the mother
was both sorry and glad when she heard him say it.
Next day he went away. He wandered far, he wandered
long, but he did not find his father. He went home to his
mother and brooded in silence. One day he lay in the shade
of the old tree and dreamed a dream. He awoke and shouted as
if he were going into battle. " This is the road," he cried to his
mother, and began to climb the tree. He went up very fast ;
on the straight trunk which had been so smooth once, but was
rough enough then ; on the great limbs ; on the small limbs ;
out of sight among the leaves.
The mother called and called.
At first he answered, then he made no answer. He did not
come down that day, though she waited and watched under the
tree. He did not come down the next, nor the next, nor for
His mother feared she had lost him, but one morning she
looked out and, behold ! the tree was black and shining with
" He is coming," she said, and sat down on the ground to
In a few moments he did come, walking and sliding down
He had made a great journey. At the top of the tree, when
1 Tepee, wigwam.
AND OTHER SORCERERS. 49
he went up, was a cloud, and through the cloud was a long
passage-way like the one a spider weaves between rock and
bush. He went through the passage, on and on, till he thought
he should never come to the end, seeing nothing in the dim
light, until finally he emerged into a beautiful land of forests
and streams where the woodpeckers, thick as a flight of locusts,
were disporting themselves. They greeted him in his own
language and conducted him to their chief. The chief addressed
him as his son and talked to him earnestly, instructing him in
all things he could need to know.
"I sent you the dream that brought you here," said the
father to the son. " I wished to make you wiser than the men
who live altogether on the ground."
So the son stayed in the high habitation of the father, learn-
ing of peace and war and all that pertained to success in each.
One thing only that the father knew he would not teach the
son (whom he named " Redfeather) : he would not teach him
how to assume the form of a bird. " Not yet, my son," he
said. " Not until you come again."
When Redfeather seemed well enough instructed, his father
conducted him as far as the tree-top and there took leave of him.
"Go to your mother's people," he said, at parting, "and
instruct them as I have instructed you. Put them above their
enemies, make them so that their young men shall, in future,
know as much as the old ones do now, and that the old ones
shall have wisdom beyond measurement. When this has been
accomplished you may take your choice, either to stay with
them or lead your mother up here."
After saying this the father went back, and Redfeather
descended the tree.
When he had finished relating all that had befallen him,
Redfeather wished to set out immediately to find his people,