" Dat's de bes' chile in de worl'," she cried.
AND OTHER SORCERERS. Si
Tow Head was actually embarrassed by this most unusual and
unexpected compliment ; but she was not the one to waste her
opportunities while she gave her emotions play.
" Tell me a story," she pleaded, instead of returning thanks.
" Tell me a rabbit story, Aunt Em'ly. Mrs. Boogarry and all
the rest of them keep on telling woodpecker stories, and some
of them are funny and some of them scare me."
" Dare now ! I knows un dat ain't gwine ter scare yo', honey,
'bout Grey Wolf an' Old Woodpeckeh. I boun' hit mek yo'
laff. Lemme tell yo' dat."
Tow Head had confidence in Aunt Em'ly, and at once agreed
to listen to anything she would relate ; so the old woman made
one last desperate effort to plant her feet firmly on the floor,
and began :
" One time, w'en Ole Woodpeckeh wuz feelin' dat fat an'
sassy dat 'e t'ink one o' he tail-fedders know mo' den er whole
passel ob de turr buhds, he strut roun' a-huntin' foh some sort
o' debbilmint foh 'muse hisse'f wid. He look hyeah an' he
look dar, he look hidder an' he look yan (yonder), but he don't
see de leastes' mite o' fun, kase w'y, dey wuz wunst er day (they
knew) dat 'e des natch 'ly lam de peelin' offen Ole Jay Buhd, an 1
dat skeer de urr buhds so dat dey dassent neighbeh wid 'im no
mo', dey des tek up dey heels an' git w'en dey see 'im a-comin'.
De mo' dat Ole Woodpeckeh noduss dat de mo' biggetty (arro-
gant) he bin feel. He feel lak he mo' biggeh den Grey Wolf ur
Turkic, ur mos' all dey kinfolks. He des feel lak (as if) Ole Grey
Wolf's whole hide ain't mo'n big nuff ter mek 'im er thumb-
stall. Dat am mos' gin'ly de way, honey, w'en folkses 'gin ter
'mire deyse'fs. De mo' dey 'mire, de mo' dey kin 'mire. Hit's
des lak a-larnin' foh ter chaw de 'backy. At the fust, lawsy me !
don't yo' feel mighty peart ! Den yo' feel mighty squawmish
in de eenside. Den yo' lay yo'se'f back an' 'low yo' feel mighty
mean an' ain't no un gwine ter ketch yo' doin' dat ergin. Ner'
day, dough, yo' 'low dat yo' gib hit nurr trial, des foh ter 'vince
82 OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,
yo' mine (to convince your mind). Dat ain't so bad ez yis-
tiddy. Nex' day hit mo' betteh yit, an' so hit go 'long twell
yo' a-keepin' at hit study, an' so de 'speunce (experience) go
'long, an' de taste foh de 'backy am up an' a-growin', twell at de
las' yo' ain't satisfy medout um. Yessir, dat de way ! 'Backy -
chawin' an' 'mirin' yo'se'f des de same. Yo' got de hand-glass
an' I got de 'backy ; yo' look, 1 chaw ; but hit come ter des de
same, an' boun' ter, now an' ebber an' ebber lastin'ly. Dat wuz
sholy an' suttinly de way wid Ole Woodpeckeh. 'E cock 'e
eye, 'e russle 'e fedders, 'e hole 'e haid on one side, 'e strut w'en
'e walk, an' 'e flop w'en 'e fly. Nemmine, Old Woodpeckeh !
Ole Grey Wolf am a-comin' thu de woods des a-lopin'
" Ole Grey Wolf, he come 'long, tuhnin' he projects in he
mine, an' he ain't see Ole Woodpeckeh.
" All on de suddint him ! Ole Woodpeckeh done hit 'im
er clip des back ob de yeah. ' Well ! ' sez Ole Grey Wolf, sez
'e, sorter slackin' up, * de Fall (autumn) hez got hyeah foh sho,
an' I bin dat press foh time dat I ain't noduss de fack twell dat
maple leaf russle down on me des now.'
" Blam ! Ole Woodpeckeh gin 'im nurr clip right on de top
o' de haid, an' honeys, hit wuz er hahd (hard) un !
" Ole Grey Wolf don't stop, but he sorter tuhn he eye up ter
de trees. * Hit sholy am Fall,' sez 'e, ' kase des now dat mische-
vyous ole Miss Bushytail bin crack HI nut an' shy de shell
" Grashis ! dat mek Ole Woodpeckeh so mad. He fetched
er squall, suz, dat wuz wuss'n er ghostes' whustle, an' mek de
woods ring ergin. Den he des peck all ober Grey Wolf.
" Grey Wolf trot 'long, he do, des ez gay ez de HI fox in de
grape-season, an' he 'low hit kinder late in de yeah foh skeetuz
(mosquitoes), but he sholy feel um nip wunst ur twiste.
" ' Nemmine ! ' he say, * dat wuz er skeeter, but nemmine '
I spoge (suppose) we gwine ter git rid ob um mos' enny night
AND OTHER SORCERERS. 83
now ; kase w'en de leabes an' de nuts fall free, den Ole Jack
Pros' ain't a-settin' in de holler a-smokin' wilier-trigs, he's
a-packin' up he traps ter go a-trabblin'. Yessir, de fros' gwine
ter git hyeah soon an' ketch dem lil skeeter-bugs ' (mosquitoes).
" Oh ! den Ole Woodpeckeh feel mean, I tell yo'. He des
dror off, he do, an' he mek cunjerin' rings, he scratch trick-
mahks on de ground, he cut signs on de trees, but they don't
none un um faze (trouble) Ole Grey Wolf, mine yo'. He des
trot erlong thu dem woodses gwine 'bout he bizniz an' bod-
derin* 'bout nuttin. One ur two times he grin dat long, slow-
comin' grin dat 'e kin grin, an* wunst he look o'er he shouldeh
an' laff. Dat all. He ain't mine dem lil cunjerin' gwines-on.
He done fegit (forget) mo' tricks den all Woodpeckeh know.
" At de las' Ole Woodpeckeh wuhk hisse'f up so dat he plum
crazy a* 'stractid. He fling hisse'f down afront ob Ole Grey
Wolf des a-foamin' an' a-bilin'.
" | Kill me ! ' sez 'e. ' Kill me ! I setch er big fool I don't
want ter lib no longeh. I ain't fitten foh nuttin but buzzahd-
meat. I wanter die an' pe'sh offen de face of de yeath. I hate
myse'f so bad dat I des afiah (a-fire) ! '
" * Afiah, is yo' ? ' sez Ole Grey Wolf, sez 'e, a-grinnin' an*
des skusely a-lettin' up in he pace. ( Den I reckon I got ter
putt yo' out,' sez 'e.
" Wid dat he up an spit right squar' on Ole Woodpeckeh,
an* I lay he wuz put out ! He wuz des nigh onter drownded.
Honey, dat sassy buhd's bones wuz wet t'rough.
" Ole Grey Wolf, he ain't stop dough ; he des rack erlong easy
an 1 mild, an' at de tuhn ob de parf he git plum out o' sight."
<( And what became of Woodpecker, Aunt Em'ly ? Did he
die ? "
" Oh, no, chile ! He ain't ob de dyin' kine. He snuffle an 1
he. sneeze an' he choke an' he gap, an' w'en he git he senses
back he strike out foh home. W'en he git dar he hide, and
des ez sho ez Ise a-settin' hyeah er libbin' niggeh, he ain't come
OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,
out o' dat hole in de tree foh er plum week ! Ole Miss Wood-
peckeh, she bin' bleeged to kyar he vittles in ter 'im, ruther
den see 'im styarve hisse'f ter death, kase he dat cut up dat he
des cudn't come out. I reckon he'd a-bin dar yit ef de baby
ain't tuck sick, an' dat baby wuz he fayvorz'fc, so he kim out
ter kyore (cure) hit up."
Big Angy was incensed at this belittling of her hero, and did
not scruple to make her feelings known. In the language of
her father, for there are no " swear-words " in the tongue of
" OLE MISS WOODPECKER SHE BIN 'BLEEGED TER KYAR. HE VITTLES
IN TER 'IM."
her Indian mother, she " cussed " the insulting tale, and then
made haste to relate one which should offset it.
One evening, late, as a hunter and his dog were walking
slowly towarc^ home, they saw before them, in the narrow
path that wound through the underbrush, a very strange little
red man. He seemed to be very feeble, very old, very lame.
He told them, in faint accents, that he was far from home,
weary almost unto death, and ready to perish from long fasting.
The hunter made answer, " If you can reach my lodge you
will be welcome there. I have plenty of food, and a bed of
AND OTHER SORCERERS. 85
soft furs for you, but it depends on you to get to them. As you
see, I have no horse to place at your disposal."
The little man replied more cheerfully than he had before
spoken that he could not walk, that was quite impossible, but,
as he was so small, he thought the dog could carry him ;
adding that he saw marks on the dog which showed he had
been used to carrying a pack strapped on his back.
" That is very true," said the hunter. " When me move our
lodge this kind and faithful animal does have a pack strapped
THE HUNTER AND THE LITTLE RED MAN.
on his back. Also my children ride him as if he were a pony,
but I will not call on him to carry other burdens unless he is
willing. It is one thing to help the family of which he is a
part, quite another to be burdened by a stranger that, too,
when he is already weary."
Then said the little man, " All that is true and reasonable, I
acknowledge that ; but may I be allowed to speak with the dog
OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,
The hunter gave permission, so the little red man called the
dog close to him, and pleaded very touchingly that he might
not be left to die alone in the thicket of hunger and fatigue.
"Take me," he begged, piteously, "to the hunter's lodge. I
am not heavy when I am at my best, and now I scarce weigh
more than a flake of wild cotton."
The dog was an uncommonly good-natured fellow, so,
although weary and footsore himself, he was won to allowing
the little old man to ride him to the village.
" WITH THAT HE WALKED OFF TO THE OTHER DOGS, WHO RECEIVED
HIM WITH SNIFFS AND YELPS OF DERISION."
When they arrived, the little man, as he dismounted,
whispered in the dog's ear, " You shall lose nothing by this."
" Oh ! that is very well," answered the dog. " You are quite
welcome to my assistance. I desire no present." With that
he walked off to the other dogs, who received him with sniffs
and yelps of derision.
a We met that old man out yonder, too," said they ; " but
AND OTHER SORCERERS. 87
we were not fools enough to become his servants. Oh ! no,
not we. We have enough to do to serve those who feed us."
This mortified the dog, but he was not more mortified than
his master. The people of the village were all jeering at
" Ah ! " said they, " it was you, was it, to whom it was left
to bring that wretched cripple among us ? We saw him, but
he was no relation of ours, not even a friend of our friends.
With game growing scarcer all the time, did you do well to
bring him to eat your children's meat ? "
This made the hunter feel badly, but he did not let his guest
know it. He fed the little man, he gave him a place by the
fire, he gave him a bed of furs.
The next morning, early, the little man awakened his host
" Owing to your kindness I am quite well again. Now I
must be gone. One last favour I ask, will you and your dog
walk a short distance with me ? "
To this the hunter agreed readily. He was glad that the
guest of whom his friends had so low an opinion would soon
be gone. He first set before him what food could be found,
then called the dog.
When the little old man had eaten, off the three of them
went, he leading at a pace with which the hunter and the dog
could scarce keep up.
" Stop ! stop ! Grandfather," cried the hunter, after a little
while. " I perceive that you are making a mistake. You are
going the way whence we came yesterday. Let us retrace our
steps, before we go farther out of your way."
u Come yet a few more steps this way," said the little old man.
So they went on again a long way.
Once again the hunter called out
u Stop ! stop ! Grandfather. You are making labour for
yourself. The place where we found you is not far from here."
88 OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,
" Come yet a few steps more," urged the little man.
So they went on again until they came to the place where
they had met the evening previous.
"Stop! stop! Grandfather," cried the hunter. "We are
on the spot where we found you yesterday."
" That is true," said the little man. " It is where I meant
to bring you. Now, we will stop and talk a little. You only
of all your tribe and relationship have I found worthy of any
friendship or consideration. I think better of your dog than
I do of your chief or doctor. For this reason I mean to confer
benefits on you two that they may not even dream of gaining.
I will make of you whatsoever you choose ; I will make of your
dog whatsoever he may choose after you are done. You two
only befriended me, you two only will I befriend."
So saying, he shot up before them exceedingly tall and
terrible. Nevertheless, as they were not of the kind that quails,
they looked on him undauntedly.
"Wish ! " commanded he who had been the little man, im-
" Oh, great chief, make me the greatest of hunters ! " cried
" You shall be not only the greatest slayer of beasts, but also
the greatest slayer of men," was the answer. " So I say, so
shall it be."
Then turned he who had been the little man to the dog.
"What do you choose?" asked he. "Will you be the
doctor yourself and turn out that old weed-eater who holds the
place ? "
This the dog did not care for. " I have been treated dis-
respectfully," said he, "by the other animals. Wolves have
taunted me for carrying burdens, young dogs have scorned
my slowness, beavers have told me my teeth were rotten as
last year's briers. Make me strong enough to be terrible to
AND OTHER SORCERERS.
" Will you be a mountain lion ? " asked he who had been
The dog joyfully answered he would like that above all things.
"Then a lion you are. So I say it, so shall it be," said he
who had been the little red man.
After this the man shrank to the size he had been when the
hunter and the dog first saw him. Immediately he took
affectionate leave of them and ordered them to go home and wait
patiently for their heart's desire to come to them.
The hunter and the dog started home, but after taking a few
steps they looked back.
No little red man was in sight, but a
great woodpecker rose from the grass and
" This is strange. Where has our friend
gone ? " began the hunter to his old dog,
but he did not finish what he was going to
say. He looked into the usually mild and
friendly eyes of his companion, they were
changed to great yellow moons ; his stature
also was greatly increased. Awestruck, the
hunter shrank back : at the same moment,
with a fierce and terrible cry, the mighty
lion dog no longer bounded into the thicket and never again
was seen by his former master.
The hunter made haste homeward and reached his lodge
before the village was astir. He laid down and pretended to
sleep late. When he finally rose up, his friends told him his
guest was gone, without leave-taking. " Worse than that,"
they added, " he has stolen your dog, the faithful friend
of your children."
The hunter heard them gravely, he said nothing. He
thought of his dog's wish and its fulfilment. He made ready
his arrows, he tried his bow-cord, he had prepared for him a
" A GREAT WOOD-
PECKER ROSE FROM
90 OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,
quiver of panther skin. When all was done, he started out
to hunt, but before he went he said to the people
11 Lend me many horses. Game is not scarce where I go. I
intend to load all the horses I take with as much as they can
The people thought he was bewitched by the little red man,
his relations were sorrowful, but he was so persuasive that he
had his way with them. They went along with him and saw
his wonderful success.
After that, he always brought plenty for all when every one
When there was a war with enemies, he went to battle and
all fell before him. When the old chief died he took his
place and ruled many years. During all that time he kept
secret the cause of his success, but when he was about to
die he told his sons as a warning to them to invite good fortune
home and not drive it to the lodge of others.
Aunt Em'ly, industriously dabbing her toes against the
floor in a vain endeavour to rock her chair a little, took her
mind off her work long enough to say with fervour.
" Datam deputtiest ob all de putty tales dat I donehyeah yo ?
tell, Miss Boogarry. Hit done tuck all de shine offen dat lil
(little) un dat I muse de chile wid. I 'clar' I is shame dat I tole
tale 'tall' fo' yo'."
" Huh ! " began Tow Head, with a toss of her chin, but her
well-meant protest against Aunt Em'ly's humility was never
allowed utterance. Granny knew by sad and oft-repeated ex-
perience the lengths to which her young friend's candour could
be carried ; she knew, too, something of the magnitude of Big
Angy's temper when roused, therefore she hastened to get
command of the conversation herself.
u Dat's er mighty lubly tale yo' tole ; Miss Boogarry, so wuz
de one yo' told, Aunt Em'ly, but, Ian' o' Goshen ! 'pears lak de
mo' tale dat I hyeah, de mo' dat I hones fong) foh ter hyeah.
AND OTHER SORCERERS. 91
Ef one ur turr ob yo' folks don't whirl in an' tell nurr tale, I
boun' dat I don't get er wink o' sleep dis night, I'll be dat
wuhkt up wid a-wishin' an' a-honin'."
11 Ise run out," declared Aunt Em'ly.
"No use a-axin' me," giggled Aunt Mary. U I done tole all I
knowed in des no time."
" 'Tain't my tuhn dis ebenin'," mumbled Aunt Mymee,
looking stubborn and puffing smoke till Tow Head, sitting on
her knee, appeared in the midst of clouds like a cherub per-
petrated by an imitator of the Old Masters.
" I hez ter putt my pennunce (dependence) in yo' ergin,
When Big Angy was in a talkative mood she enjoyed listen-
ing to the sound of her own voice too well to coyly withhold it.
The mood was on her then, and she at once began as glibly as
if she were praising her wares to a customer, on
How THE REDBIRD CAME BY HIS BRILLIANT PLUMAGE.
One time when Woodpecker was far from home and making
medicine, a plain bird, with whom he was very little acquainted,
came flying to him in great haste and distress.
" Fly home ! " cried the plain bird in great excitement.
" Fly home ! " Your enemies are there before you ! They
seek to destroy your children ! Your wife can do nothing, her
threats and entreaties are of no avail ! "
When Woodpecker heard these words he did not even stop
to thank the bird who sent them, faster than the wind, faster
than the lightning he went home.
There he saw a sight most distressing. His wife, wounded
and bleeding, was flying about the entrance to their house, and
by her desperate efforts just managed to keep Blue Jay and his
companion in wickedness, a great snake, from going in to where
the children were. This was an awful experience for the poor
mother, for she had no magical power, but it was nothing to
92 OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,
Old Woodpecker once he was on the ground. In a moment he
drove away his enemies with marks of his displeasure upon
them which they would carry for many a day.
When they were out of sight he went in and comforted the
children and healed the hurts his wife had received from Blue Jay.
This done, he looked around for the plain bird, but saw him
not, and, not knowing the place of his abode, could not seek him.
That was nothing !
Woodpecker made circles and sang songs and spoke incanta-
tions, and so summoned the plain bird into his presence.
The plain one flew directly to the presence of Woodpecker,
and was so simple that he knew not that he had been sum-
moned by magic. When he arrived he was confused and
abashed, and knew not what to say. He wished to go away
again, but Woodpecker detained him, made him very welcome,
and praised him highly.
11 What, benefactor of my family, do you wish as a gift ? "
Plain Bird said he wished for nothing.
Woodpecker insisted that he must receive some gift of his
Often Plain Bird refused to ask for anything.
Often Woodpecker insisted on his asking.
Finally the plain one said
"Oh, mighty conjuror, I am very tired of this dull-coloured
coat I wear ! The dust of the earth is not less pleasing to the
eye. I should like to have all over me fine red feathers like
those on your head."
" It shall be as you wish," declared Woodpecker, pleased
that he had compelled a choice of favours.
Then he took Plain Bird to a secret place. Arrived there,
he scratched his own wing till a drop of blood came.
" See," said he to Plain Bird, " I shed my blood for you, so
strong is my gratitude."
AND OTHER SORCERERS. 93
So saying, he took the drop and mixed it with water and
a red herb that was medicine. With this mixture he painted
Plain Bird. Then he conducted him to a pond, and bade him
look at himself.
Plain Bird looked and saw that he was a red bird, 1 glowing,
brilliant, beautiful. He thought of his grey little wife,
and most humbly entreated that Woodpecker beautify her
" Conduct her hither. Something may be done," said
Redbird flew away and found his wife and brought her to be
painted with the blood and medicine of Woodpecker.
Alas ! there was but little of that magical paint left. For
this reason she is not so gay as her mate, but still she has
bright colour enough to do very well and make her think, as
often as she trims her feathers, of the grateful heart and magical
skill of old Woodpecker.
The child clapped her hands with delight as Big Angy con-
cluded, and her elders children as they were of a larger
growth were moved to follow her example.
" Oh ! " exclaimed the little one with a long-drawn breath,
" that was be-u-tiful ! That was better than a rabbit story.
Couldn't you tell another, Mrs. Boogarry ? "
Mrs. " Boogarry " couldn't, or, what amounted to the same
thing, wouldn't. She nipped her pipe-stem with her teeth
like a snapping turtle taking hold of a stick, and shook her
head without speaking.
" I des now thunk ob one ! " announced Granny, with the
surprised and joyful air of one who had come unexpectedly
on a long-lost piece of silver.
" Fetch um out, Aunt Jinny, fetch um out dis minnit, les*
hit slip yo' membunce afo' yo' knows hit," said Aunt Em'ly,
1 The red-bird or scarlet tanager, a variety of the oriole, is entirely of a
brilliant scarlet colour.
94 OLD RABBIT, THE VOODOO,
slipping off her honourable but uneasy perch, and making her-
self comfortable on a stool.
Granny, nothing loth, told
How BLACKSNAKE MADE TROUBLE FOR WOODPECKER AND
" One time, w'en Ole Woodpeckeh went a-santerin' home,
arter sundown, he hyeah de wussest howdy-do (riot) dat eber
wuz in de worl.' He kine o' stiffen hisse'f up w'en de soun'
strak 'im an' mend he step.
" Toreckly, he hyeah he ole 'ooman des a-hollerin* an' a-
bawlin', an' he putt in he bes' licks an' git home in des no time.
" Dar he see all de neighbehs 'semmle tergedder, some un
um a-scolin' an' a-miratin' (admiring) an' a-chatterin' an'
a-fussin' roun' Miss Woodpeckeh, an' some un um a-dabbin'
an' a-swoopin' at er big brack snake dat wuz a-layin' at de foot
ob de tree all budge out an' fit ter bust.
" * Wut de matteh hyeah ? ' ax Ole Woodpeckeh.
" Ev'body pint at de snake an' shake dey haid mighty sollum.
" Ole Woodpeckeh, he count de chilluns.
" ' Whah de baby ? ' he ax.
" Dey shake dey haid ergin an' pint at de snake some mo 1 .
" Dat 'nuff foh Ole Woodpeckeh. He ain't stop ter ax Miss
Woodpeckeh ter stop hollerin', he ain't smack de chilluns foh
gittin' in de way, he ain't want ter know ob de neighbehs ef de cat
got dey tongue, nur nuttin. He des mek one grab at dat snake
blam ! one eye out a-ready ! Nurrgrab ! blam ! turr eye out !
Den he cotch um by de tail an' hole um up an' shake um, an',
bress de Lawd ! dat baby-woodpeckeh fall outen he jaw ! "
Here Granny paused, knocked the ashes out of her pipe,
blew in the bowl, shut one eye, and pretended to be looking
for obstructions in the stem.
" Is that all ? " asked Tow Head, impatiently.
" Hole on, honey, hole on," said Grarny, placidly, the while
AND OTHER SORCERERS. 95
she hunted for her pocket a cumbrous affair not sewed in her
gown, but dangled between it and her petticoats, and kept
from falling to earth by two long strings sewed to its top and
passed several times around her waist.
" Your tobacco is not in your large pocket. You know well
enough it is in your small pouch at your belt," cried Tow
Head, vigorously kicking her heels against Aunt Mymee in
" So 'tis, honey, so 'tis," said Granny, regarding Aunt
Mymee's vicarious punishment with complacency.
" Is that all ? "
" No, honey, Ise yit got de fine-cut dat yo' pa brung me mm
town. Dar 'tis, on de shelf, yondah."
" I mean, you hateful old thing, is that all about Wood-
pecker's baby ? "
" Shuh ! " exclaimed Granny, beginning to puff at the newly-
filled pipe, " is dat tork mannehs ter de ole folks ? Dat ain't
de way I wuz larnt w'en I wuz young."
Tow Head turned to Aunt Mymee in a fury of impatience,
" Do you know ? " she questioned.
" Ef all yo' got on yo' mine," said Aunt Mymee, looking at
Granny and speaking with deliberate impressiveness, " am foh
ter git dis chile so wuhkt up dat she kyarn't sleep dis night,
I reck'n I mought betteh tote huh right up ter de House."
" Ez I wuz a-sayin', honey," said Granny, sweetly, to the