Monday, November 5, 2007

V. TRANSLATION. The Story of the Deluge, and how it came about



"One time," said Uncle Remus - adjusting his spectacles so as to be able to see how to thread a large darning-needle with which he was patching his coat -- "one time, 'way back yonder, before you was borned, honey, and before Master John or Miss Sally was borned -- 'way back yonder before any of us was borned, the animals and the creatures sort of electioneered around among themselves, until at last they agreed for to have an assembly. In them days," continued the old man, observing a look of incredulity on the little boy's face, "in them days, creatures had lots more sense than they got now, let alone that, they had sense same like folks. It was touch and go with them, too, mon, and when they made up their minds what had to be done, 'twasn't more than mentioned before it was done. Well, they elected that they had to hold an assembly for to sort of straighten out matters and hear the complaints, and when the day come, they was on hand. The Lion, he was there, 'cause he was the king, and he had to be there. The Rhinocerous, he was there, and the Elephant, he ws there, and the Camels, and the Cows, and plumb down to the Crawfishes, they was there. They was all there. And when the Lion shook his mane, and tucked his seat in the big chair, then the session began for to commence."

"What did they do, Uncle Remus?" Asked the little boy.

"I can't scarcely call to mind exactly what they did do, but they spoke speeches, and hollered, and cussed, and flung their language around just like when your daddy was going to run for the legislature and got left. However, they arranged their affairs, and explained their business. By and by, while they was disputing longer one or another, the Elephant trompled on one of the Crawfishes. 'Course, when that creature put his foot down, whatsomever's under there was bound for to be squished, and there wasn't enough of that Crawfish left for to tell that he'd been there.

"This made the other Crawfishes mighty mad, and they sorter of swarmed together and drawed up a kind of preamble with some wherefores in it, and read her out in the assembly. But, bless gracious! such a racket was going on that nobody ain't heard it, excepting maybe the Mud Turtle, and the Spring Lizard, and their influence was powerful lacking.

"By and by, while the Unicorn was disputing with the Lion, and while the Hyena was laughing to himself, the Elephant squished another one of the Crawfishes, and a little more and he'd have ruined the Mud Turtle. Then the Crawfishes, what there was left of them, swarmed together and drew up another preamble with some more wherefores; but they might as well have sung Old Dan Tucker* to a hurricane. The other creatures was too busy with their fussing for to respond unto the Crawfishes. So there they was, the Crawfishes, and they didn't know what minute was going to be next; and they kept on getting madder and madder and scareder and scareder, until by and by they began to wink to the Mud Turtle and the Spring Lizard, and then they bored little holes in the ground and went down out of sight.

"Who did, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy.

"The Crawfishes, honey. They bored into the ground and kept on boring until they unloosed the fountains of the earth; and the waters squirt out, and rose higher and higher until the hills was covered, and the creatures were all drowned; and all because they let on among themselves that they was bigger than the Crawfishes."

Then the old man blew the ashes from a smoking yam, and proceeded to remove the peeling.

"Where was the ark, Uncle Remus?" the little boy inquired, presently.

"Which ark's that?" asked the old man, in a tone of well-feigned curiosity.

"Noah's ark," replied the child.

"Don't you pester with old man Noah, honey. I bound he took care of that ark. That's what he was there for, and that's what he done. Leastways, that's what they tells me. But don't you bother longer that ark, excepting your mammy fetches it up. There might have been two deluges, and then again there mightn't. If there was nay ark in this here what the Crawfishes brought on, I ain't hear tell on it, and when there ain't no arks around, I ain't got no time for to make them up and put them in there. ** It's gettin' your bedtime, honey."

* Ol' Dan Tucker: See lyrics at :// This song was first published in sheet music in 1843, says Wikipedia, with no composer named. See :// a longer dialect version at //

You can also hear it by following the clicks at the site. Look up Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger also to hear it.
** General comment on the tale - Accepting ambiguity in theology. Not artificially filling in blanks. See Joy of Equivocating, Remus post. You were far ahead of your time. There is no ark here or any deity causing things or judging - and Remus has no problem with anyone's own story including whatever. He just keeps his own.

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