Maurice G. (Maurice Garland) Fulton.

Southern life in southern literature; selections of representative prose and poetry online

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: * Wat you doin t now, Brer Rabbit ? sezee.

" Short nin de lef stir p, Brer Fox, sezee.

" Bimeby, Brer Rabbit raise up de udder foot.
* Wat you doin t now, Brer Rabbit ? sezee.
* Pullin down my pants, Brer Fox, sezee.

" All de time, bless grashus, honey, Brer Rabbit were puttin
on his spurrers en w en dey got close to Miss Meadows s, whar
Brer Rabbit wuz to git off, en Brer Fox made a motion fer ter
put on brakes, Brer Rabbit slap de spurrers inter Brer Fox s
flanks, en you better b leeve he got over groun . W en dey got
ter de house, Miss Meadows en all de gals wuz er settin on de
peazzer, en stidder stoppin at de gate, Brer Rabbit rid on by,
he did, en come gallopin down de road en up ter de hoss rack,
w ich he hitch Brer Fox at, en den he santer inter de house,


; Ladies, Brer Fox wuz my daddy s ridin boss fer thirty
year ; maybe mo , but thirty year dat I knows un ! sezee, en
den he paid em his spects, en tip his beaver, en march off, he
did, des ez stiff en ez stuck up ez a fire-stick.

" Nex day, Brer Fox cum callin , en w en he gun fer ter laff
bout Brer Rabbit, Miss Meadows en de gals, dey ups en tells
im bout w at Brer Rabbit said. Den Brer Fox grit his toof
sho nuff, he did, en he look mighty dumpy, but w en he riz fer
ter go, he up en say, sezee :

Ladies, I ain t sputin w at you say, but I 11 make Brer
Rabbit chaw up his words en spit um out right here whar you
kin see im, sezee, en wid dat off Brer Fox marcht.

" En w en he got in de big road, he shuck de dew off n his
tail, en made a straight shoot fer Brer Rabbit s house. W en
he got dar, Brer Rabbit wuz spectin un im, en de do was
shet fas . Brer Fox knock. Nobody never ans er. Brer Fox
knock. Nobody ans er. Den he knock ag in blam, blam.
Den Brer Rabbit holler out mighty weak :

Is dat you, Brer Fox ? I want you to run fer ter fetch de
doctor. Dat bait er pusly w at I et dis mawnin is gittin way
wid me. Do please run quick, Brer Fox, sez Brer Rabbit,

* I come atter you, Brer Rabbit, sez Brer Fox, sezee.
* Dere s gwineter be a party over at Miss Meadows s, sezee.
All de gals 11 be dere, en I promus dat I d fetch you. De
gals, dey lowed dat hit would n t be no party ceppin I fotch
you, sez Brer Fox, sezee.

" Den Brer Rabbit say he was too sick, en Brer Fox say he
wuzzent, en dar dey had it up and down, sputin en contendin .
Brer Rabbit say he could n t walk. Brer Fox say he d tote im.
Brer Rabbit say how ? Brer Fox say in his arms. Brer Rabbit
say he d drap im. Brer Fox low he would n t. Bimeby, Brer
Rabbit say he d go ef Brer Fox tote im on his back. Brer Fox


say he would. Brer Rabbit say he could n t ride \vidout a
saddle. Brer Fox say he d git de saddle. Brer Rabbit say he
could n t set in de saddle less he had bridle fer ter hoi by. Brer
Fox say he d git de bridle. Brer Rabbit say he could n t ride
widout bline-bridle, kaze Brer Fox d be shyin at stumps long
de road, en fling im off. Brer Fox say he d git de bline-bridle.
Den Brer Rabbit say he d go. Den Brer Fox say he d ride
Brer Rabbit mos up ter Miss Meadows s en den he could git
down en walk de balance er de way. Brer Rabbit greed, en
den Brer Fox lipt out atter de saddle en bridle.

" Co se Brer Rabbit know d de game dat Brer Fox wuz fixin
fer ter play, en he termined fer ter outdo im, en by de time he
koam his ha r en twis his mustash, en sorter rig up, here come
Brer Fox, saddle en bridle on, en lookin ez peart ez a circus
pony. He trot up ter de do en stood dar pawin de groun en
chompin de bit same like sho nuff hoss, en Brer Rabbit he
mounted, he did, en dey amble off. Brer Fox could n t see
behine wid de bline-bridle on, but bimeby he feel Brer Rabbit
raise one er his foots.

! * Wat you doin t now, Brer Rabbit ? sezee.

Short nin de lef stir p, Brer Fox, sezee.

" Bimeby, Brer Rabbit raise up de udder foot.

" Wat you doin t now, Brer Rabbit ? sezee.

* * Pullin down my pants, Brer Fox, sezee.

" All de time, bless grashus, honey, Brer Rabbit were puttin
on his spurrers en w en dey got close to Miss Meadows s, whar
Brer Rabbit wuz to git off, en Brer Fox made a motion fer ter
put on brakes, Brer Rabbit slap de spurrers inter Brer Fox s
flanks, en you better b leeve he got over groun . Wen dey got
ter de house, Miss Meadows en all de gals wuz er settin on de
peazzer, en stidder stoppin at de gate, Brer Rabbit rid on by,
he did, en come gallopin down de road en up ter de hoss rack,
w ich he hitch Brer Fox at, en den he santer inter de house,


he did, en shake han s wid de gals en set dar smokin his
seegyar same ez town man. Bimeby, he draw in long puff en
den let hit out in er cloud, en squar hisse f back, en holler out,
he did :

Ladies, ain t I done tell you Brer Fox wuz de ridin hoss
fer our fambly ? He s sorter losin his gait now, but I speck
I kin fetch im all right in a mont er so, sezee.

" En den Brer Rabbit smile, he did, en de gals giggle, en Miss
Meadows, she praise up de pony, en dar wuz Brer Fox hitch
fas ter de rack en couldn t he p hisse f."

" Is that all, Uncle Remus ? " asked the little boy as the old
man paused.

" Dat ain t all, honey, but t won t do fer to give out too
much cloff fer ter cut one pa r pants," replied the old man


When " Miss Sally s " little boy went to Uncle Remus the
next night to hear the conclusion of the adventure in which the
Rabbit made a riding horse of the Fox to the great enjoyment
and gratification of Miss Meadows and the girls, he found the
old man in a bad humor.

" I ain t tellin no tales ter bad chilluns," said Uncle Remus,

" But, Uncle Remus, I ain t bad," said the little boy, plain

" Who dat chunkin dem chickens dis mawnin ? Who dat
knockin out fokes s eyes wid dat Yaller-bammer sling des fo
dinner ? Who dat sickin dat pinter puppy atter my pig ? Who
dat scatterin my ingun sets ? Who dat flingin rocks on top er
my house, w ich a little mo en one un um would er drapt spang
on my head ? "


" Well, now, Uncle Remus, I did n t go to do it. I won t do
so any more. Please, Uncle Remus, if you will tell me I 11 run
in the house and bring you some tea-cakes.

" Seein s better n hearin tell un um," replied the old man,
the severity of his countenance relaxing into a smile ; but the
little boy darted out and in a few minutes came running back
with his pockets full and his hands full.

" I lay yo mammy 11 spishun dat de rats stummucks is
widenin in dis naberhood, w en she come fer ter count up er
cakes," said Uncle Remus, with a chuckle. " Deze," he con
tinued, dividing the cakes into two equal parts, " deze I 11
tackle now, en deze I 11 lay by fer Sunday.

" Lemme see. I mos dis member wharbouts Brer Fox en
Brer Rabbit wuz."

" The Rabbit rode the Fox to Miss Meadows s and hitched
him to the horse rack," said the little boy.

" W y co se he did," said Uncle Remus, " co se he did. Well,
Brer Rabbit rid Brer Fox up, he did, en tied im to de rack, en
sot out in de peazzer wid de gals smokin er his seegyar wid
mo proudness dan w at you mos ever see. Dey talk, en dey
sing, en dey play on de peanner, de gals did, twell bimeby
hit come time fer Brer Rabbit fer to be gwine, en he tell um
all good-bye, en strut out to de hoss rack same s ef he wuz
de king er de patter-rollers, en den he mounted Brer Fox and
rid off.

" Brer Fox ain t sayin nothin tall. He des rack off en keep
his mouf shet, en Brer Rabbit know d der wuz bizness cookin
up fer him, en he feel monst us skittish. Brer Fox amble on
twell he got in de long land outer sight er Miss Meadows s house,
en den he turn loose, he did. He rip en he r ar en he cuss en
he swar ; he snort en he cavort."

" What was he doing that for, Uncle Remus ? " the little boy


" He wuz tryin fer ter fling Brer Rabbit, bless yo soul. But
he des might ez well er rastled wid his own shadder. Ev y time
he hump hisse f, Brer Rabbit slap de spurrers in im, en dar
dey had it up en down. Brer Fox fa rly to up de groun , he did,
en he jump so high en he jump so quick dat he mighty nigh
snatch his own tail off. Dey kep on gwine on dis way twell
bimeby Brer Fox lay down en roll over, he did, en dis sorter
unsettle Brer Rabbit, but by de time Brer Fox got back on his
footses ag in, Brer Rabbit w r uz gwine thoo de underbresh mo
samer dan a race hoss. Brer Fox, he lit out atter im, he did, en
he push Brer Rabbit so close dat it wuz bout all he could do fer
ter git in a holler tree. Hole too little fer Brer Fox fer ter git
in, en he hatter lay down en res en gedder his mine tergedder.

" While he wuz layin dar Mr. Buzzard come floppin long en
seem Brer Fox stretch out on de groun he lit en view de
premusses. Den Mr. Buzzard sorter shake his wing, en put his
head on one side, en say to hisse f like, sezee :

5 f Brer Fox dead, en I so sorry, sezee.

" No I ain t dead nudder, sez Brer Fox, sezee. * I got ole
man Rabbit pent up in here, sezee, en I m gwineter git ? im
dis time ef it takes twell Chris mus, sezee.

" Den atter some mo palaver, Brer Fox make a bargain dat
Mr. Buzzard wuz ter watch de hole en keep Brer Rabbit dar
w ilst Brer Fox went atter his axe. Den Brer Fox, he lope
off, he did, en Mr. Buzzard, he tuck up his stan at de hole.
Bimeby, w en all got still, Brer Rabbit sorter scramble down
close ter de hole, he did, en holler out :

" Brer Fox ! oh, Brer Fox !

" Brer Fox done gone, en nobody say nuthin . Den Brer
Rabbit squall out like he wuz mad, sezee :

You needn t talk les you wanter, sezee. I knows youer
dar, en I ain t keerin, sezee. I des wanter tell you dat I wish
mighty bad Brer Turkey Buzzard wuz here, sezee.


" Den Mr. Buzzard try to talk like Brer Fox :
* Wat you want wid Mr. Buzzard ? sezee.
1 Oh, nothin tickler, cep dere s de fattes gray squir l in
yer dat I ever see, sezee, * en ef Brer Turkey Buzzard was
roun he d be mighty glad fer ter git im, sezee.

: How Mr. Buzzard gwine ter git im ? sez de Buzzard,

: Well, dar s a little hole roun on de udder side er de tree,
sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, en ef Brer Turkey Buzzard wuz here
so he could take up his stan dar, sezee, * I could drive de
squir l out, sezee.

" Den Brer Rabbit kick up a racket like he wer drivin sumpin
out, en Mr. Buzzard he rush roun fer ter ketch de squir l, en
Brer Rabbit, he dash out, he did, en he des fly fer home."

At this point, fncle Remus took one of the tea-cakes, held
his head back, opened his mouth, dropped the cake in with a
sudden motion, looked at the little boy with an expression of
astonishment, and then closed his eyes and began to chew,
mumbling as an accompaniment the plaintive tune of " Don t
you grieve atter me."

The se ance was over ; but before the little boy went into the
" big house," U ncle Remus laid his rough hand tenderly on the
child s shoulder and remarked in a confidential tone :

" Honey, you mus git up soon Chris mus mawnin en open
de do ; kaze I m gwineter bounce in on Marse John en Miss
Sally, en holler Chris mus gif , des like I useter endurin de
fahmin days fo de war, w en ole Miss wuz live. I boun dey
don t fergit de ole nigger, nudder. W en you hear me callin de
pigs, honey, you des hop up en onfassen de do . I lay I 11 give
Marse John wunner deze yer sprize parties."



[Mary Noailles Murfree, known in literature as Charles Egbert
Craddock, was born near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in 1850. Being

left slightly lame from a stroke
of paralysis when a child, she
devoted herself largely to read
ing and study. For many years
she spent her summers in the
mountains of East Tennessee,
and thus she became familiar
with the material that appears
in her stories the beauty of
the mountains and the primitive
life of the mountaineers. In
1884 she collected her earliest
stories into a volume entitled
" In the Tennessee Mountains."

l(ii^ This has been followed by other

volumes about the mountaineers,
novels of life in other sections


zme articles. For a number of

years after the war the Murfree family lived in St. Louis, returning
in 1890 to Murfreesboro, which has since been the novelist s home.]


The breeze freshened, after the sun went down, and the hop
and gourd vines were all astir as they clung about the little
porch where Clarsie was sitting now, idle at last. The rain-
clouds had disappeared, and there bent over the dark, heavily
wooded ridges a pale blue sky, with here and there the crys
talline sparkle of a star. A halo was shimmering in the east,

1 Reprinted from " In the Tennessee Mountains " by special arrangement
with the holders of the copyright, Hough ton Mifflin Company.


where the mists had gathered about the great white moon,
hanging high above the mountains. Noiseless wings flitted
through the dusk ; now and then the bats swept by so close as
to wave Clarsie s hair with the wind of their flight. What an
airy, glittering, magical thing was that gigantic spider-web sus
pended between the silver moon and her shining eyes ! Ever
and anon there came from the woods a strange, weird, long-
drawn sigh, unlike the stir of the wind in the trees, unlike the
fret of the water on the rocks. Was it the voiceless sorrow of
the sad earth ? There were stars in the night besides those
known to astronomers : the stellular fire-flies gemmed the black
shadows with a fluctuating brilliancy; they circled in and out
of the porch, and touched the leaves above Clarsie s head with
quivering points of light. A steadier and an intenser gleam was
advancing along the road, and the sound of languid footsteps
came with it ; the aroma of tobacco graced the atmosphere, and
a tall figure walked up to the gate.

" Come in, come in," said Peter Giles, rising, and tendering
the guest a chair. " Ye air Tom Pratt, ez well ez I kin make
out by this light. Waal, Tom, we hain t furgot ye sence ye done
been hyar."

As Tom had been there on the previous evening, this might
be considered a joke, or an equivocal compliment. The young
fellow was restless and awkward under it, but Mrs. Giles chuckled
with great merriment. . . .

" Waal," said Peter Giles, " what s the news out yer way,
Tom ? En ny thing a-goin on ? "

" Thar war a shower yander on the Backbone ; it rained
toler ble hard fur a while, an sot up the corn wonderful. Did
ye git enny hyar ? "

" Not a drap."

" Pears ter me ez I kin see the clouds a-circlirv round
Chilhowee, an a-rainin on even-body s cornfield ceptin ourn,"


said Mrs. Giles. " Some folks is the favored of the Lord, an
t others hev ter work fur everything an git nuthin . Waal,
waal ; we-uns will see our reward in the nex worl . Thar s
a better worl than this, Tom."

" That s a fac ," said Tom, in orthodox assent.

"An when we leaves hyar once, we leaves all trouble an
care behind us, Tom ; fur we don t come back no more."
Mrs. Giles was drifting into one of her pious moods.

" I dunno," said Tom. " Thar hev been them ez hev."

" Hev what? " demanded Peter Giles, startled.

" Hev come back ter this hyar yearth. Thar s a harnt that
walks Chilhowee every night o the worl . I know them ez hev
seen him."

Clarsie s great dilated eyes were fastened on the speaker s
face. There was a dead silence for a moment, more eloquent
with these looks of amazement than any words could have been.

" I reckons ye remember a puny, shriveled little man, named
Reuben Crabb, ez used ter live yander, eight mile along the ridge
ter that thar big sulphur spring," Tom resumed, appealing to
Peter Giles. " He war born with only one arm."

" I members him," interpolated Mrs. Giles, vivaciously. " He
war a mighty porely, sickly little critter, all the days of his life.
T war a wonder he war ever raised ter be a man, an a pity,
too. An t war powerful comical, the way of his takin off ; a
stunted, one-armed little critter a-ondertakin ter fight folks an
shoot pistols. He hed the use o his one arm, sure."

" Waal," said Tom, " his house ain t thar now, kase Sam
Grim s brothers burned it ter the ground fur his a-killin of
Sam. That war n t all that war done ter Reuben fur killin
of Sam. The sheriff run Reuben Crabb down this hyar road
bout a mile from hyar, mebbe less, an shot him dead in
the road, jes whar it forks. Waal, Reuben war in company
with another evil-doer, he war from the Cross-Roads, an I


furgits what he hed done, but he war a-tryin ter hide in the
mountings, too ; an the sheriff lef Reuben a-lyin thar in the
road, while he tries ter ketch up with the t other ; but his horse
got a stone in his hoof, an he los time, an hed ter gin it up.
An when he got back ter the forks o the road whar he had
lef Reuben a-lyin dead, thar war nuthin thar ceptin a pool
o ? blood. Waal, he went right on ter Reuben s house, an them
Grim boys hed burnt it ter the ground ; but he seen Reuben s
brother Joel. An Joel, he tole the sheriff that late that evenin
he hed tuk Reuben s body out n the road an buried it, kase it
hed been lyin thar in the road ever sence early in the mornin ,
an he could n t leave it thar all night, an he hed n t no shelter fur
it, sence the Grim boys hed burnt down the house. So he war
obleeged ter bun- it. An Joel showed the sheriff a new-made
grave, an Reuben s coat whar the sheriff s bullet hed gone in
at the back an kem out n the breast. The sheriff lowed ez
they d fine Joel fifty dollars fur a-buryin of Reuben afore the
cor ner kem ; but they never done it, ez I knows on. The sheriff
said that when the cor ner kem the body would be tuk up fur
a quest. But thar hed been a powerful big frishet, a n the
river twixt the cor ner s house an Chilhowee could n t be forded
fur three weeks. The cor ner never kem, an so thar it all stayed.
That \var four year ago/

" Waal," said Peter Giles, dryly, " I ain t seen no harnt yit.
I knowed all that afore."

Clarsie s wondering eyes upon the young man s moonlit face
had elicited these facts, familiar to the elders, but strange, he
knew, to her.

" I war jes a-goin on ter tell," said Tom, abashed. " Waal,
ever sence his brother Joel died, this spring, Reuben s harnt
walks Chilhowee." . . .

" My Lord ! " exclaimed Peter Giles. " I low I could n t live
a minit ef I war ter see that thar harnt that walks Chilhowee ! "


" I know /couldn t," said his wife.

" Nor me, nuther," murmured Clarsie. . . .

" Tears ter me," said Mrs. Giles, " ez many mountings ez
thar air round hyar, he mought hev tuk ter walkin some o
them, stiddier Chilhowee."

[When the young man had taken his leave, and the house
hold had retired, Clarsie, finding herself unable to sleep, arose
and stole from the house to try a method of telling fortunes she
knew in order to determine whether she was really going to
marry Sam Burney. While she was engaged in these procedures,
she became aware of a stirring in the laurel bushes.]

Her eyes were fixed upon the dense growth with a morbid
fascination, as she moved away ; but she was once more rooted
to the spot when the leaves parted and in the golden moonlight
the ghost stood before her. She could not nerve herself to run
past him, and he was directly in her way homeward. His face
was white, and lined, and thin ; that pitiful quiver was never
still in the parted lips ; he looked at her with faltering, beseech
ing eyes. Clarsie s merciful heart was stirred. " What ails ye,
ter come back hyar, an f oiler me ? " she cried out abruptly.
And then a great horror fell upon her. Was not one to whom
a ghost should speak doomed to death, sudden and immediate ?

The ghost replied in a broken, shivering voice, like a wail
of pain, " I war a-starvin , I war a-starvin ," with despairing

It was all over, Clarsie thought. The ghost had spoken, and
she was a doomed creature. She wondered that she did not fall
dead in the road. While those beseeching eyes were fastened
in piteous appeal on hers, she could not leave him. " I never
hearn that bout ye," she said, reflectively. " I knows ye hed
awful troubles while ye war alive, but I never knowed ez ye
war starved."


Surely that was a gleam of sharp surprise in the ghost s
prominent eyes, succeeded by a sly intelligence.

" Day is nigh ter breakin ," Clarsie admonished him, as the
lower rim of the moon touched the silver mists of the west.
" What air ye a-wantin of me ? " . . .

" Ye do ez ye air bid, or it 11 be the worse for ye," said the
"harnt," in the same quivering, shrill tone. "Thar s hunger in
the nex woiT ez well ez in this, an ye bring me some vittles
hyar this time ter-morrer, an don t ye tell nobody ye hev seen
me, nuther, or it 11 be the worse for ye."

There was a threat in his eyes as he disappeared in the
laurel, and left the girl standing in the last rays of moonlight. . . .

The next morning, before the moon sank, Clarsie, with a tin
pail in her hand, went to meet the ghost at the appointed place.
She understood now why the terrible doom that falls upon
those to whom a spirit may chance to speak had not descended
upon her, and that fear was gone ; but the secrecy of her
errand weighed heavily. She had been scrupulously careful to
put into the pail only such things as had fallen to her share at
the table, and which she had saved from the meals of yester
day. " A gal that goes a-robbin fur a hongry harnt," was her
moral reflection, " oughter be throwed bodaciously off n the

She found no one at the forks of the road. In the marshy
dip were only the myriads of mountain azaleas, only the masses
of feathery ferns, only the constellated glories of the laurel
blooms. A sea of shining white mist was in the valley, with
glinting golden rays striking athwart it from the great cresset
of the sinking moon ; here and there the long, dark, horizontal
line of a distant mountain s summit rose above the vaporous
shimmer, like a dreary, somber island in the midst of enchanted
waters. Her large, dreamy eyes, so wild and yet so gentle,
gazed out through the laurel leaves upon the floating gilded


flakes of light, as in the deep coverts of the mountain, where
the fulvous-tinted deer were lying, other eyes, as wild and as
gentle, dreamily watched the vanishing moon. Overhead, the
filmy, lacelike clouds, fretting the blue heavens, were tinged
with a faint rose. Through the trees she caught a glimpse of
the red sky of dawn, and the glister of a great lucent, trem
ulous star. From the ground, misty blue exhalations were
rising, alternating with the long lines of golden light yet drift
ing through the woods. It was all very still, very peaceful,
almost holy. One could hardly believe that these consecrated
solitudes had once reverberated with the echoes of man s death-
dealing ingenuity, and that Reuben Crabb had fallen, shot
through and through, amid that wealth of flowers at the forks
of the road. She heard suddenly the far-away baying of a
hound. Her great eyes dilated, and she lifted her head to
listen. Only the solemn silence of the woods, the slow sinking
of the noiseless moon, the voiceless splendor of that eloquent

Morning was close at hand, and she was beginning to wonder
that the ghost did not appear, when the leaves fell into abrupt
commotion, and he was standing in the road, beside her. He
did not speak, but watched her with an eager, questioning
intentness, as she placed the contents of the pail upon the
moss at the roadside. " I m a-comin agin ter-morrer," she
said gently. He made no reply, quickly gathered the food
from the ground, and disappeared in the deep shades of the

She had not expected thanks, for she was accustomed only
to the gratitude of dumb beasts ; but she was vaguely conscious
of something wanting, as she stood motionless for a moment,
and watched the burnished rim of the moon slip down behind
the western mountains. Then she slowly walked along her
misty way in the dim light of the coming dawn. There was


a footstep in the road behind her ; she thought it was the
ghost once more. She turned, and met Simon Burney, face to
face. His rod was on his shoulder, and a string of fish was in
his hand.

" Ye air a-doin wrongful, Clarsie," he said sternly. " It air

Online LibraryMaurice G. (Maurice Garland) FultonSouthern life in southern literature; selections of representative prose and poetry → online text (page 22 of 35)