WHY MR. POSSUM LOVES PEACE
"One night," said Uncle Remus - taking Miss Sally's little boy on his knee, and stroking the child's hair thoughtfully and caressingly - "one night Brer Possum called by for Brer coon, according to en, and after gobblin' up a dish of fried greens and smokin' a cigar, they rambled forth for to see how the balance of the settlement was gettin' along. Brer Coon, he was one of these here natural pacers, and he racked along the same as Master John's bay pony, and Brer Possum he went in a han'-gallup (?); and they got over heap of ground, man.
Brer Possum, he got his belly full of persimmons, and Brer coon, he scooped up an abundance of frogs and tadpoles. They ambled along, they did, just as sociable as a basket of kittens, until by and by they hear Mr. Dog talkin' to himself way off in the woods.
"'Supposin' he runs up on us, Brer Possum, what're you goin' to do?' says Brer Coon, says he. Brer Possum sort of laughed around the corners of his mouth.
"'Oh, if he come, Brer coon, I'm goin' to stand by you,' says Brer Possum. 'What're you goin' to do?' says he.
"'Who? Me?' says Brer Coon. 'If he run up onto me, I lay I give 'im one twis',' says he.
"Did the dog come?" asked the little boy.
"Go 'way, honey!" responded the old man, in an impressive tone. "Go way! Mr. Dog, he come and he come a zoonin'. And he ain't wait for to say howdy, neither. He just sail into the two of 'em. The very first pass he made Brer Possum fetched a grin from ear to ear, and keel over like he was dead.
Then Mr. Dog, he sail into Brer Coon, and right there's where he dropped his money purse, 'cause Brer Coon was cut out for that kind of business, and he fairly wiped up the face of the yeth with him. You better believe that when Mr. Dog got a chance to make himself scarce he took it, and what there was left of him went skaddlin' through the woods like it was shot out of a musket. And Brer Coon, he sort of licked his clothes into shape and racked off, and Brer Possum, he lay there like he was dead, 'til by and by he raise up sort of careful like, and when he find the cost clear he scramble up and scamper off like something was after him."
Here Uncle Remus paused long enough to pick up a live coal in his fingers, transfer it to the palm of his hand, and thence to his clay pipe, which he had been filling - a proceeding that was viewed bythe little boy with undisguised admiration. The old man then proceeded:
"Next time Brer Possum met Brer Coon, Brer Coon refused to respond to his howdy, and this make Brer Possum feel mighty bad, seeing as how they used to make so many excursions together.
"'What make you hold your head so high, Brer Coon?' says Brer Possum, says he.
"'I ain't runnin' with cowards these days,' says Brer Coon. 'When I wants you I'll send for you,' says he.
"Then Brer Possum git mighty mad.
"'Who's any coward?' says he.
"'You is," says Brer Coon, 'that's who. I ain't associating with them what lays down on the ground and plays dead when there's a free fight goin' on,' says he.
"Then Brer Possum grin and laugh fit to kill hisself.
"'Lord, Brer Coon, you don't expect I done that 'cause I was 'feared, do you?' says he. 'Why, I wasn't any more 'feared than you is this minute. What was there for to be skeered of?' says he. I knew you'd get away with Mr. Dog if I didn't, and I just lay there watchin' you shake him, waitin' for to put in when the time come,' says he.
"Brer Coon turned up his nose.
"'That's a mighty likely tale,' says ne, 'when Mr. Dog ain't more than touch you before you keel over, and lay there stiff,' says he.
"'That's just what I was going to tell you about,' says Brer Possum, says he. 'I wasn't no more scared than you is right now, and I was fixin' for to give Mr. Dog a sample of my jaw,' says he, 'but I'm the most ticklish chap what you ever laid eyes on, and no sooner did Mr. Dog put his nose down here among my ribs than I got to laughin', and I laughed 'til I ain't had no use of my limbs,' says he, ' and it s mercy unto Mr. Dog that I was ticklish, 'cause a little more and I'd e't him up,' says he. 'I don't mind fightin', Brer Coon, no more than you does*, ' says he, 'but I declare to gracious if I can stand ticklin'. Get me in a row where there ain't no ticklin' allowed, and I'm your man,' says he.
"And down to this day" - continued Uncle Remus, watching the smoke from his pipe curl upward over the little boy's head - "down to this day, Brer Possum's bound to surrender when you touch him in the short ribs, and he'll laugh if he knows he's going to be smashed for it."